Looking at the development of sports optics over the years, the demand for small-format binoculars has steadily increased. This is the objective that Swarovski set itself when designing the CL Companion binoculars series: to produce compact, lightweight, and more affordable binoculars than standard models.
High optical performance and quality that has made the reputation of this manufacturer. The current B-series is an evolution of the first version, where some design and component changes have been applied.
If there is no doubt that the price is lower than that of the flagships of the brand, do the CL Companions have a good quality/price ratio?
Are these binoculars suitable for all types of activities?
Should you consider this model or another?
Here is our answer through this test and opinion file!
Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 B Reviews
- Magnification: 8
- Lens diameter (mm): 30
- Perceived linear field at 1000 meters (m): 132
- Exit pupil (mm): 3.8
- Eye relief (mm): 16
- Brightness Index: 14.4
- Minimum focusing distance (m): 3.2
- Dimensions (mm): 127x118x55
- Weight (g): 490
- Interpupillary distance (mm): 55 – 74
- Water resistance: 4 meters for up to 30 minutes
- Sleek, rugged, and waterproof exterior design
- Good light transmission
- No curvature of the field
- Sharp image to the periphery
- Well-balanced color rendering
- Little astigmatism and very weak comas
- Negligible distortion
- No vignetting and homogeneous brightness
- Good quality optical treatments
- Chromatic aberrations at the extremities of the visual field
- Minimum focusing distance which could have been shorter
- No magnesium chassis, but it’s a less important element
Performance, robustness and maneuverability
The CL Companion 8×30 offers high image sharpness. Swarovski does not give information on the number of optical elements integrated into each tube, but their arrangement manages to limit many defects.
We manage to differentiate many details, even over long distances. From the first use, we notice that the CL Companion 8×30 B produces almost no distortion, even at the end of the visual field: the straight lines do not undergo any curvature effect when moving away from the center.
A few commas appear on the outer quarter of the image, but their intensity remains low.
Field curvature, which results in a decrease in sharpness at the image periphery, is minimal. The lenses have only a very slight astigmatism, which makes it possible to benefit from a homogeneous focus in all directions.
The prisms have phase correction which increases the overall sharpness of the field of vision. The image is not completely free of chromatic aberrations: we see them quite faintly in the center of the image without being annoying, but they gain in intensity as they reach the end of the visual field.
They create colored fringes that border the contours of the different objects observed.
High light transmission and virtually balanced colors
Light transmission is a sensitive point of compact binoculars. A lens diameter of 30 millimeters natively captures less light than lenses on large-format binoculars. The level of luminosity then depends mainly on the quality of the optical treatments which amplify the passage of the light rays.
All lenses are treated with a full multi-layer coating using Swarovski’s own “Swarotop” and “Swarodur” processes. These have the effect of reducing the loss of light by reflection on each lens, thus improving the passage of the rays.
The prisms are coated with a layer of dielectric coating, which performs best over aluminum or silver. The overall light transmission is 89%, which is an excellent score for small binoculars.
The color rendering is rather balanced. We only notice that the purple shades are a little less intense than the others without any real influence on the image, which retains a neutral tone that is pleasing to the eye.
For more than $1000, the prisms are obviously made from BaK-4 glasses, the most qualitative. The exit pupil is very circular, and it does not undergo any truncation linked to any vignetting.
The only downside, the brightness decreases slightly at the periphery of the image, but it is almost not noticeable.
The lenses of the CL Companion 8×30 achieve better contrast during the day, although performance at dusk is very decent. With a smaller objective diameter, some details may not stand out as much as with large binoculars, but the image retains significant clarity.
The difference compared to some 8×42 pairs is sometimes even negligible. We, therefore, assign a score of 8.5 out of 10 for brightness.
Precise focusing system
The focus of the Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 is done in a conventional way, using a wheel located between the two eyecups.
The adjustment range is 580 degrees, or just over a turn and a half. Its rotation is rather fluid, and its small inertia prevents it from rotating involuntarily during handling in the field. It is easily accessible with the index finger due to its size and its grooved surface. Even with gloves, you focus simply with your fingertip.
The diopter correction mechanism is integrated with that of the focusing. You have to pull on the central wheel until you see a scale appear, which indicates the difference in diopter selected between the two eyes. The selection is made in intervals of 0.5 units using notches that produce a click.
This design has already been proven on other Swarovski binoculars, and being able to lock and hide the diopter correction protects it from inadvertent adjustment.
The eyecups are extendable over the 15-millimeter eye relief range. Although there are no notches for intermediate positions, their rigidity is sufficient for them to be held in place, even when they are not in abutment (by being fully extended or retracted).
Normally, the 15-millimeter range will be sufficient if one wears glasses, and it is even a rather high value for compact binoculars.
Swarovski has succeeded in offering an ergonomic pair of binoculars. The small format and the condensed assembly of the various optical components have made it possible to significantly reduce the size of the CL Companion 8×30 since they do not exceed a length of 13 centimeters.
The weight of 490 grams remains light in absolute terms: no problem handling this pair for many hours. As such, there’s no mounting notch for using a tripod, but that’s pretty normal for this caliber.
The eyecups of the CL Companion 8×30 B are perhaps the most comfortable available. Their flexibility is perfect, and their contact on the face is very pleasant.
Their diameter is 34 millimeters, which is neither too big nor too small. The tubes are covered with a rubber coating with a texture that adheres well in the hand, and they have a recess for the placement of the thumbs in order to have a better grip. The single bridge design for joining the tubes also leaves more room for the fingers.
The CL Companion 8×30 can easily be carried in a pocket or in a bag with limited bulk. A lanyard is supplied with the set. It will be very practical for hiking, and its padded thickness at the neck will prevent any friction on the skin. It’s a 10 out of 10 for ergonomics and maneuverability.
Good build quality
With a lower price than its premium binoculars and an optic that remains high-end, Swarovski has kept a distinguished manufacturing quality.
In addition to the lanyard, the package includes a zippered storage case, protective covers for the objectives and eyepieces, and a lens cleaning kit. All these accessories are functional but also relatively standard.
In addition, it should be noted that the CL Companion is manufactured in Austria, just like the other optics of this manufacturer.
The finishes are neat on all parts, and the movement between the moving parts is fluid without mechanical play. The rubber coating around the tubes greatly improves robustness against shocks and falls to optimize ergonomics.
The objective lenses are well protected by being placed 1 centimeter deep in the tubes. The latter has a completely matte interior appearance, which greatly limits the halos of light which can alter the quality of the image.
The chassis is made from a composite of aluminum and polycarbonate, and not a magnesium alloy like other binoculars in this price segment. It’s a way to keep a lower price, but that doesn’t mean it’s badly made.
In addition to being robust, the chassis will keep its exact geometry over time, without the risk of deforming and moving the optical components inside.
The CL Companion 8×30 B is waterproof up to 4 meters deep for a maximum of 30 minutes. The tubes are filled with nitrogen, which prevents the formation of fogging inside, which would result from condensation.
The “Swaroclean” treatment applied to the exterior lenses offers anti-scratch and anti-dirt protection, by limiting the stagnation of water, grease, and dust on the lenses.
The old attachment for the lanyard has been replaced by Swarovski’s new system, with bayonet attachment. The ends no longer feature clips but quick connectors that mount to the chassis via studs, with a “push-turn” movement. This particular design offers much better versatility: it allows you to attach different types of accessories (harness, camera or phone holder, etc.) instead of the strap.
Minimum focusing distance a bit too high?
The minimum focusing distance of the CL Companion 8×30 has been reduced in version B. It is not quite 3.2 meters as announced by Swarovski, but it is closer to 2.3 meters. This is a value that is reasonable but could perhaps have been a little less compared to the magnification of 8.
However, we will be able to look at objects very closely without problems, such as certain animals, birds, or even insects, for example.
Wide viewing angle that offers an expansive panorama
The Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 B has a wide field of view of 132 meters at 1000 meters distance. This is a good score that provides extended horizontal visibility.
We will always keep an eye on the surrounding landscape, on the periphery of the center of the image. This allows you not to miss anything, without having to look away from the main target.
Are the Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 B suitable for my activities?
With their reduced weight and their small dimensions, the CL Companion 8×30 B is a pair with which we will travel without problem. Whether it’s hiking, sailing at sea or watching sporting events, you’ll enjoy an image that’s easy to stabilize in all conditions. They will fit in any bag or luggage.
The good robustness and tightness of the tubes make these binoculars a pair that will not fear harsh environments, such as rain or mud. You can easily observe many birds and animals with it from morning to dusk.
For astronomy, we nevertheless recommend a larger objective diameter and slightly higher magnification, even if we will still be able to observe the moon and some stars.
With its CL Companion 8×30 B, Sarowski has succeeded in offering compact, light and less expensive binoculars than their more “elitist” models while maintaining a high level of optical performance. It’s also a way to reach a wider and less niche market.
The quality is one of the best available. The image sharpness is optimal and with the exception of some chromatic aberrations, and the observed objects have excellent resolution and precision. The many coatings applied to the lenses and prisms provide much better luminosity, whatever the lighting conditions.
By adding mastered ergonomics and meticulous manufacturing quality, the CL Companion 8×30 are binoculars that will accompany you everywhere for a long time, requiring only minimal maintenance.
To conclude, if you have the budget to afford this pair, we recommend it without hesitation.
If you want a slightly cheaper variant, you can check out our other Reviews: