SWAROVSKI NL PURE 10X42
Verdict: Superb optics, and very well thought-out ergonomics. They come at a price, of course, but take a look.
Sometimes, a new bit of kit comes along that you just can’t wait to get your hands on for testing – Swarovski’s new NL Pure binoculars fit that bill, exactly.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been using the Austrian company’s EL bins for a good few years now, and I find it very hard to pick fault with them (OK, OK, I’m still not keen on the strap attachment system, although that’s fairly minor).
But the NLs are being marketed with as much emphasis on their ergonomics as their optics, so is it possible that they could offer better views than ever, while also being the most comfortable bins you’ve ever handled?
The first thing to say is that the open-bridge design of the ELs has been abandoned in favour of something more traditional. Except, not that traditional.
The NLs look like two scopes side by side, with the barrels narrowing considerably around the bridge, and that does, it has to be said, make them sit in your hands extremely comfortably, as well as shaving off a few grammes of weight (they’re 850g, but feel like less), and giving them a perfect balance. That’s particularly important with the 10x magnification, because any wobbling is exaggerated, but these are easy bins to hold steady.
In other respects, much of the design is familiar. There’s the thick rubber armour you’d expect, and those strap attachments I mentioned. Don’t get me wrong, they allow the bins to sit very flat against your chest, which is great – they can just take a bit of time to use, initially, and you need to make absolutely sure that the straps are securely attached.
The eyecups are covered in soft rubber, and twist up and down to five distinct positions, offering a maximum of 18mm eye relief. They stay in place well in extended use, and they’re really very comfortable, too.
The bridge area did take a little bit of getting used to. The dioptre adjustment is closest to you, a sliding lever that is well protected from accidental knocks and stiff enough to stay in place in everyday use.
That pushes the focus wheel forward a bit (or at least, it feels like it if you’re used to the ELs or similar), so it takes a while to get used to its position. It’s just over a finger wide, and well ridged to make grip easier, and takes exactly two clockwise turns from close focus to infinity, moving ultra-smoothly and with moderate stiffness.
All things considered, then, the NLs live up to their billing as regards ergonomics. So what about the optics?
Well, if you’re used to the ELs, you won’t be taken aback by the very true to life colour of the image, the brightness even in very low light conditions, and the excellent contrast and sharpness. The lack of any colour fringing won’t surprise you, either.
But you will, I’d guess, still give a little gasp of amazement when you see just how wide the image is – a hugely impressive 139m@1,000m. As with all Swarovski’s recent binoculars, you get absolutely full value for that, because there’s only the merest hint of any milkiness at the edge of image. These really are ‘walk-in’ views, and made birding in all sorts of habitat easier and more enjoyable
Accessories include a detachable forehead rest (it will cost you a bit extra), and a very well designed neoprene strap. Try the NL Pures yourself – they’re a pleasure for the eyes and the hands.
Swarovski NL Pure 10x42 specification:
Eye relief: 18mm
Field of view: 139m@1,000m
Close focus: 2m
Size (LxWxD): 158 x 131 x 71 mm
Supplied with: Padded case, neoprene strap, rainguard, detachable tethered objective lens covers