Taken from Bird Watching's Autumn 2017 issue...
Swarovski CL Pocket Mountain 8X25 factfile
Exit Pupil Diameter: 3.1mm
Eye Relief: 17mm
Field of View: 357/ 1000yrds or 119m/1000m
Close Focus 8.2ft or 2.5m
Warranty: 10 Years
Accessories; strap, case with strap and rain cover.
By Tom Bailey (photographer)
Birding is something I do when the opportunity arises as my work takes me all over Britain.
For years now, I’ve used Zeiss 8x20 binoculars when in the mountains, which is pretty much every week).
They suit my requirements and have been a loyal companion. But the opportunity to try out the new Swarovski 8x25 was one too good to miss.
As soon as I saw them though I had an issue; that of size. They’re just too big for my kind of usage. Imagine taking a male Sparrowhawk out with you in the hills for 15 years, then having that bird swapped overnight for a female (a third bigger); you get where I’m going. I’d been looking forward to this test for a while and it came as a blow when they toppled out of the box.
Optically, yes, these fellas are bright, even to the edge of the field of view. The image is crisp, but as the eye moves towards the edges, there is just the slightest dropping off in sharpness, it’s not much, but it’s there.
Also, there is the smallest amount of colour fringing towards the outer limits of the view. But, remember, these are 8x25 binoculars.
Bearing that in mind, they performed to an insanely high degree. Picture the scene; a lake bathed in sunshine, under a bank side Willow a Heron stands poised. From 50m, I watched the action unfold, the lenses coping fantastically with the subject being in deep shadow on a bright day, focussed through a curtain of Willow leaves. Fish after fish were caught and swallowed, all seen in great detail. So, for what they are size wise, they perform fantastically well.
To operate, however, I found them to be clumsy. I’m up in the mountains of Torridon, hanging on to some insanely narrow ridge when a Golden Eagle puts in an appearance. Out come the bins, off goes the Eagle as I fiddle with opening both barrels to the correct amount.
Alas, I get a very crisp view of the bird as it soars ever further away. The eyecups can be up or down, or any other setting, yet they don’t lock in the latter positions. Trial and error has found this system to be reliable, adjusting the eyecups to a mid-position, folding them away then using them over the next day, continuously putting them in and out of their pouch resulted in little movement, despite them not being ‘clicked’ into position.
The focussing wheel proved troublesome. Only a small amount stands proud of the binocular housing, making contact with a finger a subtle affair. I wear gloves in the mountains and this often makes focusing much trickier than it should be. I’ve taken to focusing with my thumb from underneath. In reality, the close focus proved to be 2m as opposed to the stated 2.5m, so useful for dragonflies.
The thin rope strap is great – it’s comfortable and stylish. The case could do with being a little larger, that way you would be able to put the binoculars away in the position they are used in, speeding up the process of ‘getting on’ to that Eagle. With a belt loop fitting it can be attached to a rucksack, or the case has a detachable strap so they can be carried independently. The case comes with a rain cover.
The temperature range in which these binoculars operate is encouraging; down to -25c. Often in the British mountains I’m out in wind chill temperatures of around this figure, so it is good to know they would perform.
Everything you would expect from Swarovski, optically great (for their size), the build quality is excellent, you know they are going to last for a long time. Handling is a different matter, although once adjusted they perform fine. The main reason I’ll not be taking them into the mountains very often is their weight, a tad on the heavy side.