Often the main reason for wanting compact binoculars is to be able to easily transport them anywhere without the bulk. Indeed, the size and number of optical elements are reduced accordingly. Getting good image quality also requires impeccable design.
With its CL Pocket 8×25, Swarovski offers top-of-the-range binoculars with very attractive technical characteristics: multiple lens treatments, wide viewing angle and featherweight.
Sold in two different colors, do the Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 offer good image quality, and are they as easy to handle as the Austrian manufacturer claims?
This is what we will see through our complete opinion of this model.
Swarovski CL POCKET 8×25 Binoculars Review
- Magnification: 8
- Lens diameter (mm): 25
- Perceived linear field at 1000 meters (m): 119
- Exit pupil (mm): 3.1
- Eye Relief (mm): 17
- Brightness index: 10
- Minimum focusing distance (m): 2.5
- Dimensions (mm): 110 x 98 x 46
- Weight (g): 345
- Interpupillary distance (mm): 50 – 74
- Water resistance: 4 meters for up to 30 minutes
- Sturdy yet light
- Easy-to-handle frame
- Good light transmission despite small lens diameter
- Neutral color rendering
- Little astigmatism
- Very homogeneous image sharpness
- Well-controlled distortion
- Wide field of view
- Very short minimum focusing distance
- Some vignetting visible on the exit pupil
- Brightness decreases slightly at the periphery of the image
- No lens protection
Image resolution over the entire visual field
The Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 returns a sharp image with a good level of detail. The prisms are equipped with a phase correction treatment, which accentuates the resolution by limiting the phase shift of the rays of light from one prism to another.
The field of view suffers almost no loss of sharpness at the edges, and astigmatism is low which ensures consistent focus in all directions. Some comas are however noticeable on the outer quarter of the image. But they are not noticeable all the time and not very often during the day.
We see them a little more at night when looking at the stars.
Some chromatic aberrations are visible on the periphery of the image, but not on the center of it. They appear in the form of colored fringes around objects, which are noticeable in the backlight or when observing a surface that strongly reflects light (water, snow, etc.).
The distortion is well-controlled. The first straight lines which undergo a curvature effect only appear from the last outer third of the image.
High light transmission
Image brightness is the most sensitive point for compact binoculars. The smaller lens diameter means less light can reach the inside of the tubes. It is therefore necessary that the quality of the treatments applied to the lenses be particularly careful. Fortunately, this is an element that Swarovski masters. On the CL Pocket 8×25, the maximum light transmission is 88%, which is a high score.
The Schmidt-Pechan-type roof prisms are made of BaK-4 glasses. Their size is perhaps a bit too small since we can see a vignetting on the outline of the exit pupil, which remains however negligible.
They are coated with about thirty layers of dielectric coating, which substantially improves the passage of light. This corresponds to Swarovski’s “Swarobright” treatment.
The lenses are also treated with a full multi-layer coating, which means that all surfaces are completely covered. The purpose is to reduce the reflection of the rays and therefore the loss of light. According to Swarovski, each treated surface limits this light reduction to less than 0.5%.
If this statement is quite credible, a slight drop is still visible on the edges. The rendering of colors is meanwhile correctly balanced, which gives a neutral tint to the image.
Some reflections are reflected in the tubes and these do not have a completely matte internal surface. However, this does not generate a luminous halo on the exit pupil, which is very positive.
It is only 3.1 millimeters in size due to the 8×25 caliber of the CL Pocket. It is sufficient during the day but it can complicate observations at dusk.
When the ambient lighting dims, the contrast ratio remains acceptable, and we still manage to spot certain animals and birds in the vegetation. At night, the moon is clearly visible, but the stars are less so: it is preferable to choose more powerful binoculars.
Focus mechanism design
On the Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25, the focusing wheel is integrated into the junction bridge between the two tubes. It has a diameter of 18 millimeters and a height of 16 millimeters, which is not very big.
For normal use, this is not a problem. But it becomes less accessible in hasty movements, or when wearing thick gloves. It is a choice of Swarovski which is justified by the optimization of the dimensions, but which can also slightly reduce the precision of the focus.
Nevertheless, the rotation of the knob is very flexible without play and jerks. It extends over two revolutions between infinity and the nearest point, which brings a lot of finesse to the focus.
The diopter correction is adjusted with a second wheel located on the front of the pair (between the two tubes). It’s a fairly unique design that makes it stand out of the hands, so there’s little risk of unintentionally messing it up when handling the binoculars. It offers sufficient adjustment for any difference in visual acuity between the eyes, from -5 to +5 diopters.
The eyecups are extendable to adjust the effective eye relief margin. Although there are no notches for intermediate positions, they are assembled with a slight clamping in the tubes, which prevents them from moving with simple pressure from the face.
The visual field remains complete up to a maximum distance of 17 millimeters between the eye and the eyepiece. This is enough to be able to wear glasses while using the CL Pocket 8×25.
Ergonomic & easy to use
With components reduced in size and number, the Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 becomes very light: they weigh no more than 350 grams. We will handle them all day long without tiring our arms.
The tubes are not directly linked together thanks to the double bridge design of the frame. Instead, they’re each mounted on a hinge, so they take up even less space when folded up. Their width is then about 6.5 centimeters: these are real pocket binoculars whose size is almost zero.
The rubber part of the eyecups is about 4 millimeters thick, and its diameter is a bit larger than that of the lenses. One would think that this would lead to a lack of flexibility, and yet the eyecups flatten around the face without creating an uncomfortable pressure point.
The interpupillary distance varies between 50 and 74 millimeters, which also allows children to use these binoculars. The coating of the Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 chassis offers good grips in the hand, and its rectangular appearance ensures a firm grip even when the binoculars are soaked.
To carry the CL Pocket more easily, you can use a strap provided in the packaging by Swarovski. This strap is not padded but it is about 2 centimeters wide, which with the light weight of the binoculars, will distribute the pressure on the neck evenly, for maximum comfort.
Manufacturing quality and robustness
The frame of the Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 is metallic, thus making the binoculars more resistant than plastic. The rubber coating covers the tubes and the central part, giving increased resistance to shocks and falls that may occur.
Three colors are available: black, dark green or brown (sand). The areas where the metal is not covered appear to be anodized aluminum, which will prevent them from developing corrosion over time for limiting reflections that could cause the loss of discretion.
The lanyard clips are made of stainless steel, not plastic like most other models. The objective lenses are located 5 millimeters deep in each tube, so they are better protected from rain and direct shocks.
The exterior lenses are also protected by the “Swaroclean” treatment, which limits the stagnation of water and dirt and provides anti-scratch protection. The eyecups are removable to facilitate the cleaning of the eyepieces, but this should only be done periodically
All the mechanical parts are correctly assembled together with no movement play, and the finishes are specific to each part of the pair.
The Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 is waterproof up to 4 meters deep, and the tubes are treated against internal fogging thanks to a nitrogen filling. The collimation of the two lenses is perfect.
Among the accessories included with the Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25, we find a nylon storage case, a lanyard, protective covers for the eyepieces, a microfiber cloth to clean the lenses, and the user manual which includes the card of guarantee. This spans 10 years. The case incorporates a zipper, which is more reassuring and practical than a simple scratch.
Excellent minimum focus distance
The minimum focus distance is announced at 2.3 meters. However, we managed to obtain a clear image from 1.8 meters. This is a very low value and therefore excellent for observing close objects.
With these binoculars, one will be able to watch a lot of insects, small animals, and birds over short distances. This will be a big advantage for many activities.
The field of vision
The field of vision of CL Pocket 8×25 has a horizontal range of 119 meters at 1000 meters distance, which corresponds to a viewing angle of 6.8°. This is an excellent value for a compact model with 8x magnification (far greater than many competing pairs).
The main advantage is being able to easily follow a moving target such as a bird or a fast-moving animal. Otherwise, it’s a big plus to observe a landscape extensively.
What uses for Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25?
The Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 is a versatile pair of binoculars. With their small size, they make an ideal travel companion for all activities that require moving: hiking, safari, hunting, etc.
To practice certain sports which sometimes require recognition of the terrain, they are also recommended: climbing, skiing, bivouac…
This pair is also suitable for sailing on the water thanks to the waterproofness and the magnification of 8 facilitating the stabilization of the picture. In short, they are suitable for many uses.
For observations at dusk, the exit pupil will be a little dim. But the level of brightness will manage to give often satisfactory contrast. For astronomy, if you can see the Moon without too much effort, the distant stars will still require a more powerful magnification.
With the CL Pocket 8×25, Swarovski has found a compromise between optical performance, ergonomics and affordability. The result is very satisfactory: between the homogeneous sharpness and the relatively high brightness in all conditions. The image has a certain quality that allows you to enjoy many details in many environments.
The design of the Swarovski CL Pocket is light, compact and very handy. The initial investment will quickly pay for itself through the comfort of observation and the visuals that you will obtain.
In short, we recommend this model without hesitation.
If space is not too important a criterion for you, you see our other compact binoculars test reports…