With the evolution of technologies, Swarvoski marketed a new version: the Swarovski EL 10×42, which introduced new optical treatments to produce an even better image. The performances then reached a new level and upset the market and its competition.
However, if the optical components have evolved, the external appearance has initially remained the same. Even though the ergonomics were already excellent, Swarovski decided to push the bar even higher by doing a design overhaul.
The Swarvoski EL 10×42 is a pair that represents a substantial investment, and despite the obvious optical finesse, it is the quality/price ratio that can be difficult to judge.
Many marketing terms are used by the Austrian manufacturer to describe the various innovations, but what about in practice? Do ergonomics and performance ensure observation is worth the cost?
Here is the answer with our full review!
Swarovski EL 10×42 Binoculars Review
Swarovski EL 10×42 Features:
- Magnification: 10
- Lens diameter (mm): 42
- Perceived linear field at 1000 meters (m): 112
- Exit Pupil (mm): 4.2
- Eye relief (mm): 20
- Brightness index: 17.6
- Minimum focusing distance (m): 3.2
- Dimensions (mm): 160x131x61
- Weight (g): 840
- Interpupillary distance (mm): 56 – 74
- Water resistance: 4 meters for up to 30 minutes
- High image brightness in all conditions
- Perfectly balanced color rendering
- Completely homogeneous sharpness, no astigmatism or comas
- No vignetting or darkening of the exit pupil
- Precision of the focusing mechanism and progressive amplitude that adapts to the observation distance
- Ergonomics, viewing comfort and ease of adjustment
- Impeccable build quality
- Some chromatic aberrations visible at the edge of the image
- Distortion that appears quite early away from the center
- Maybe a little too heavy for 10×42 binoculars
Image sharpness & field of view
The Swarovski EL 10×42 offers excellent image resolution with relatively high magnification. Whether during the day or at dusk, the level of detail is high. We can clearly distinguish the small birds hiding in the trees, or the wild animals which mingle with the surrounding vegetation.
The design of the Swarovski EL 10×42 is one of the most elaborate since there are no less than 12 optical elements in each of the tubes.
The sharpness is very homogeneous: whether in the center of the image or at its extremity, the development gives a precise view in all directions.
Comas aberrations are small and astigmatism is negligible, which is an inescapable advantage for astronomy. The stars have a nice round shape without halos or intense peaks of light. The prisms benefit from phase correction, which is necessary to maintain optimal resolution at all points.
The lenses are equipped with Field Flattener technology. It limits the loss of sharpness that can be observed when moving away from the center of the image, also called the curvature of the field.
This technology is not too powerful to the point of creating a feeling of “rolling” of the image, which could have appeared during movements and generated discomfort.
We make the most of the range given by the viewing angle.
Swarovski uses “HD” fluoride lenses, which match the ultra-low dispersion glasses found on other models. Their function is to limit the dispersion of light rays relative to their initial direction, and therefore to reduce the chromatic aberrations visible on the contours.
If these aberrations are corrected in absolute terms, they are still perceived at the periphery of the image. Without reducing the optical performance, they are a little too numerous for binoculars of this price.
Another negative point, the distortion is quite marked. The first lines that undergo a curvature effect can be spotted from the second third of the image, starting from the center. This area should have been weaker.
High luminosity and neutral color rendering
Each lens has a complete multi-layer treatment under the name “SWAROTOP”. This means that light loss between each lens is minimized using multiple layers of anti-reflection coating, ensuring high image brightness. They give a characteristic green tint to the eyepieces and objectives.
The Swarovski EL 10×42 uses roof prisms of the Schmidt-Pechan type. They are also coated with a layer of dielectric coating according to Swarovski’s own process called “SWAROBRIGHT”.
With the combination of the lens treatment, the light transmission reaches 93%, which is an excellent result. The contrast remains at a good level even when the ambient light decreases, such as at dusk or in a dense forest for example.
There is one point where the EL 10×42 stands out from the competition: the color rendering is perfectly balanced. Whatever the lighting conditions, the color spectrum is always transmitted neutrally. The lenses are not very sensitive to the appearance of luminous halos, especially in backlight.
The only small downside, the tubes are not completely matte, you can see some reflections around the exit pupil (but not on it).
The losses of luminosity are negligible in the periphery of the image. The prisms are obviously made from BaK-4 glasses given the price range of EL 10×42. No vignetting and the exit pupil is completely circular.
The focus wheel of the Swarovski EL 10×42 is as you would expect for the price, very flexible and highly precise in its rotation. But above all, its mechanism offers a unique adjustment capacity compared to other models.
On high-end binoculars, the focus range extends on average over a rotation of one turn of the wheel. This gives a great speed of focusing, which makes it possible not to miss any moving target.
Here, the wheel rotates two turns, which is significantly more than elsewhere. But all the finesse of the mechanism lies in the fact that the amplitude is not linear: for the same rotation, the focus speed is faster towards infinity, and it becomes slower for a closer object.
For a focusing distance between 6 meters and infinity, 3-quarter turns are sufficient. More than one turn is then available to focus on short ranges. It is a very ingenious design that adapts to two opposing constraints: to observe very close objects, you need a very fine adjustment capacity where more amplitude is necessary on long ranges.
The Swarvoski EL 10×42 is thus versatile in many situations.
The diopter correction is not adjusted via a ring usually placed under the right eyecup. Instead, it is directly integrated into the focus wheel. Just pull on the latter until you see a graduation, which corresponds to the degree of diopter applied to the correction.
The adjustment step is half a diopter, which is validated by a click when the wheel is turned. This instantly finds the desired position, which is practical if another person wishes to use the binoculars in turn. Once adjusted, the diopter correction locks in position, and there is no risk of unintentionally adjusting it.
The eyecups are extendable to 4 levels when pivoted to 2, 5, and 12 millimeters respectively. Notches hold them in intermediate positions. The eye relief of 20 millimeters is more than enough to take advantage of the entire field of vision, even when wearing glasses with thick lenses.
Ergonomics and weight
With a lot of optical elements that result in top image quality, the weight inevitably becomes impacted. The EL 10×42 weighs 840 grams, which is not negligible for 10×42 binoculars. But in return, the ergonomics are optimal. The ocular lenses have a large diameter which makes it easy to enjoy the image.
The tubes have a rough texture but are pleasant to hold, which gives a good grip. The material used on this part would also be hypoallergenic. A small cavity is present on the underside to position the thumbs. The focus wheel is quite large and easily accessible with the index finger.
The double-bridge junction between the two tubes leaves more space for the fingers, which ensures a firm grip. It was Swarovski who first introduced this design, although it is now being taken over by other manufacturers. It also has the advantage of making the binoculars less sensitive to the cold, which is more comfortable in winter, or when temperatures are low.
The eyecups have all the necessary flexibility to rest evenly around the eyes. You don’t feel any localized pressure that could be unpleasant over long periods of time.
For frequent trips, you can use the strap provided in the packaging of the EL 10×42. With its large width and padded thickness, it will be very comfortable to pass around the neck, and it will not produce any friction on the skin. For stationary observations, the Swarovski EL 10×42 can be mounted on a tripod, provided you purchase the universal adapter from Swarovski (sold separately).
Design and finish
Swarovski has gradually improved the exterior appearance of its EL 10×42 as various redesigns have taken place. The dark green color of the chassis with the inlaid eagle logo gives an additional graphic touch while remaining sober.
The chassis is made of a magnesium alloy, which lightens the weight while maintaining greater rigidity than plastic. The tubes are then less sensitive to the deformations that can occur with temperature variations, thus guaranteeing the alignment of the optical components over time.
The rubber coating is thick, it provides good protection against shocks.
The lens protectors on early versions of the EL 10×42 were simple caps that fitted directly over the ends of the tubes. Many users have complained that they lose these protectors too easily because they don’t stay in place. Swarovski remedied this problem by modifying the initial design.
The caps are now directly attached to the tubes, but it is still possible to remove them according to preference. On the side of the eyepieces, there is a “Rainguard” protective cover which remains in place once fitted on the eyecups. It can attach to the lanyard for more comfort.
The lanyard uses a fastening system unique to Swarovski. The traditional attachment has been replaced by a bayonet attachment: on each tube, removable studs attach a button fixed to each end of the strap.
This attachment system is also the same for the various accessories sold separately by Swarovski, such as the harness or the additional protections. You can adjust the length of the strap with two tightening rollers. This design brings much better reliability.
Old notch mounting system on the left and new bayonet mounting on the right
The various moving parts are assembled without mechanical play and the focusing wheel turns smoothly without any micro jerks that could reduce precision.
The double bridge junction of the tubes involves a very compact focusing mechanism, and therefore less sensitive to shocks. To facilitate thorough cleaning of the ocular lenses, you can disassemble the eyecups by unscrewing them.
However, this will remain very occasional, since the EL 10×42 have the “SWAROCLEAN” treatment, which is a coating that repels water and dirt that can accumulate on the lenses. Its action also has an anti-scratch effect.
The Swarovski EL 10×42 is waterproof thanks to the addition of O-rings at the ends of each tube. They will withstand immersion in water up to 4 meters deep for a maximum of 30 minutes. Tubes are purged and nitrogen filled to prevent condensation fogging.
It’s definitely a pair that will last you for many years without requiring extensive maintenance.
The packaging also includes a storage case with a zipper, which is much more elegant than the first version with simple Velcro. Swarovski really focused on the accessories, and with the binoculars, it’s no-nonsense on the workmanship.
Minimum focus distance
The Swarovski EL 10×42 has a minimum focusing distance of 3.2 meters announced by the manufacturer. If this is not the best score you can find for premium binoculars, it is still an acceptable value for 10×42 binoculars. You will be able to observe targets quite close to you, such as certain animals, birds, and even insects.
The visual field of the Swarovski EL 10×42
The latest Swarovski EL 10×42 reaches 112 meters horizontal range at 1000 meters distance. This is a fairly standard value for high-end binoculars. You will always be able to keep an eye on what is happening around you without having to deviate from your main target. Otherwise, it will be good for contemplating panoramas with a wide angle of view.
Which activities to use the Swarovski EL 10×42?
The Swarovski EL 10×42 has optical performance compatible with any activity. For stargazing, the high image brightness will allow you to detect many distant celestial bodies.
For birdwatching, the sharpness the lenses provide will give you a good sense of detail in every bird you observe. Ditto for hunting and animal observation: it is easy to distinguish the fauna hidden in the surrounding vegetation.
For hiking, the Swarovski EL 10×42 may be less suitable. Even if their dimensions remain relatively small, the weight of 840 grams may be a bit heavy to carry for some people. For us, it’s not important, but it’s a choice that will depend on each person. In short, versatility remains at the rendezvous.
Our rating of the Swarovski EL 10×42
- Sharpness – 9/10
- Brightness – 9.5/10
- Accuracy and Adjustment – 10/10
- Ergonomics – 9/10
- Build Quality – 10/10
- Close Focus Distance – 8/10
- Visual Field Range – 8.5/10
There is no doubt that the Swarovski EL 10×42 are excellent binoculars and a substantial investment. The field of vision is clear over its entirety, and it offers very high luminosity thanks to the many optical treatments applied to the lenses.
The color rendering is entirely neutral and the image quality is optimal. Even if the EL 10×42 weighs quite heavily, Swarovski has paid special attention to ergonomics. Adapted to day and night activities, the Swarovski EL 10×42 will only be criticized for presenting a distortion that appears a little too early,
If weight is an issue for you, let’s see more compact binoculars…