Swarovski EL FieldPRO 8.5x42 

Factfile:

Field of view (@1000m): 133m
Close focus: 1.5m
Eye relief: 20mm
Dimensions: 160mm x 131mm x 61mm
Weight: 835g
RRP: £2,000

Ratings (out of 5)

Optics 3.5
Handling 3.5
Price 4
Overall 4

Review by Matt Merritt

Swarovski’s EL binoculars were revamped to great effect only a few years back, so the launch of the FieldPro package represents more of a fine-tuning of an already outstanding product, rather than a reinvention of any kind. So what’s new, exactly? In terms of optics, the image is still very bright and very sharp right to the edges, giving a ‘walk-in’ feel that brings a wide panorama into precise focus.

The cutaway design is the same, but the rubber armour has a more ‘grippy’ feel, and the focus wheel, which takes 2.5 clockwise turns from close focus (1.5m) to infinity, is easier to grip and move (very smoothly). The dioptre setting is precise and stays in place well.

Binocular extras

The extras are where things have changed. The objective lens covers have a new attachment, which keeps them secure but stops them flapping about, and can be removed easily and replaced with lugs to stop the hinge getting damaged. 

The neoprene ‘comfort’ strap now has circular rather than flat cords at the end, making moving the rainguard much easier, and these attach quickly and simply using a twist mechanism. This enables you to switch rapidly and easily to accessories such as a floating strap (seawatchers might like this), a harness or a bino-guard in the field. Finally, the length of the strap itself can be adjusted and then secured instantly using two twist controls.

Focus wheels and attachments

The focus wheel feels easier to grip, especially through gloves, thanks to more pronounced and harder ridges. The pullout dioptre adjuster is easy to set, and locks in place, preventing accidental movement in the field. The new attachments make the strap easier to fit or swap for other accessories such as a harness, while the length of the strap can be altered very quickly by twisting the discs on the end of the neoprene section.

Verdict

A subtle but effective evolution of outstanding binoculars – the optics are the same, but the design even more user-friendly.  

This review was first published in the June 2016 issue of Bird Watching magazine.