Swarovski NL Pure: innovative Design, developed from the ground up - Interview with the binoculars designers

NL Pure Familie
Size comparison: the two NL Pure models from Swarovski 10x42 (left) and the smaller 8x32 binoculars. 

How time flies: just two years ago, Swarovski Optik introduced the NL Pure series of binoculars,which, among other things, set a new benchmark with a wide field of view previously unattained in this class.

With five models to date, ranging from the compact 8x32 and the 10x32 to the classic 8x42 and the high-magnification 10x42 and 12x42, these binoculars cover the important areas of use that customers want in practice. NL-Pure users include not only nature lovers and birdwatchers, but also hunters, because the compact binoculars, which are intuitive and quick to use, weigh between 640 (8x32) and 840 grams (12x42) and are easy to pack and carry in a hunting rucksack. At all4hunters.com we have already presented the individual models in detail in several articles.

Under these links you will find all technical data, all variants and all prices of the NL Pure series from Swarovski Optik:
++ Introduction of the new NL Pure series with three models with 42 mm lenses ++
++ The compact NL Pure binoculars with 32 mm lens ++ 

Ergonomics, outwardly visible through the wasp waist of the NL Pure series (here the Swarovski NL Pure 10x42), was the central starting point in the design, while optical performance should of course continue to set standards among competitive binoculars. 

Looking back on what is now considered a success story, the developers tell the development of the NL Pure, which actually began with the introduction of its predecessor EL Swarovision in 2009, which was greeted almost euphorically by customers. But in the same year, Swarovski's product management started thinking about what could become "the next big thing" after the EL series. Various experts from different departments were invited. They were given the freedom to think and design everything in a new, different way. Dale Forbes, Head of Strategic Business Development: "The best ideas always came from people who brought their different experiences and perspectives to the table. We set out to top EL binoculars – although we knew it would be very difficult. But it was already clear after the first meetings: we wanted to start with the ergonomics. And secondly, the focusing wheel should be at the bottom rather than at the top. We continued to work on these two ideas – how we can improve the handling, the ergonomics even more." 

In a series of workshops, the new team, including an osteopath and a physical therapist (both skilled binoculars users), tried to think from the user's side: 

  • What actually is a "natural hand position"?
  • Where should the shoulders be, where the elbows?
  • How should the strap be positioned so that binoculars can be worn for a long time?
  • Where are the pain points?
  • What causes fatigue when holding?
  • Can you focus with the thumb – or with other fingers, or does it necessarily have to be the index finger?
10 x 32 NL Pure liegend
The classic Swarovski NL Pure green version.

Not everything could then be put into practice, as is the case with most development projects in whatever field; compromises had to be found without giving up the benchmarks and the wishes for product and optical quality. Forbes continues, "It was fascinating to understand how the body works. It was important for us to understand the 'pressure points', i.e. where the weight of a binocular should rest – exactly between the thumb and the palm. But the most exciting thing was that the natural arm shape is slightly tilted outward, not straight. And, that the hand never makes a round circle because that is tiring. For us humans, an oval shape is the natural relaxed hand position."

Perfect with Swarovski NL Pure: precision and ergonomics

In addition to the classic Swarovski green, the NL Pure models are also available in bright orange - shown here with a mounted forehead rest.
The optionally available FRP forehead rest ideally complements the Swarovski NL Pure, because you can hold and see longer without fatigue, especially at higher magnifications.
Design meets marketing: Peter Oettl (left, development engineer) in conversation with Dale Forbes, who had to bring together technology and marketability of the Swarovski NL Pure. 

Peter Oettl: "For me as an engineer, ergonomics was also always connected with the topic of weight and with the idea of how slim you can make a housing. Then, in one of these workshops, we had a real brainwave: while looking at a sketch, I had the idea that the prisms would have to be on the side so that the waist would be slimmer, easier to grasp and ergonomically perfect. That was a big milestone. The next sticking point was the drive: precision plays the central role here. You have to imagine that with one rotational movement of push rod, a lens package is moved back and forth about seven to nine millimeters, and that in both tubes at the same time." With this right-left precision – a few hundredths of a millimeter – they must move together: if the lens packages are just a touch apart, the image simply no longer works.

Peter Oettl is still enthusiastic today: "That's when we came up with the idea of the angled drive. In addition to the fact that we now had an even more direct connection between the focusing wheel and the lenses, this also brought another advantage: when the push rods diverged at an angle, the reach-through could be automatically extended. My ambition was to take away any air space, no matter how small, to make the binoculars lighter and easier to handle."

Also the FRP forehead rest (unit price: MSRP 143 euro) was completely new, but today it is indispensable, especially when using a NL Pure for a longer period of time. It stabilizes the view, especially at higher magnifications, because what may work for a while with a light 8x32, leads to a blurred field of view with the heavier 12x42. And the field of view is another highlight of the NL Pure series that becomes apparent "at first glance".

Dale Forbes: "In addition to ergonomics, we also wanted to set new standards in optics and set ourselves the task of realizing the largest field of view to date with a disappearing field of view edge. The combination of perfect ergonomics and the newly developed forehead rest now enables tremor-free observation even at 12x magnification. And the insanely large field of view means that there are no more restrictions even at high magnification – which is why it is so well received!”

Swarovski NL Pure: Enormously wide field of view, but no thick rim

In numbers: the field of view is up to 71 degrees on the 12x42 model, which equates to 113 meters at 1,000 meters. With the 10x42, the field of view is 133 m at a distance of 1,000 m, and with the 8x42, 159 m. A pleasant side effect of these huge fields of view is that the edge is hardly perceptible – no tunnel vision with a thick outer edge, but a light, almost floating overall image, which also appears three-dimensional due to the view with both eyes.

Currently available models and prices of the NL Pure binocular series from Swarovski (as of 10/2022)

Price (MSRP)
Swarovski NL Pure 8 x 32from 2.490 euro
Swarovski NL Pure 10 x 32from 2.540 euro
Swarovski NL Pure 8 x 42from 2.960 euro
Swarovski NL Pure 10 x 42from 3.020 euro 
Swarovski NL Pure 12 x 42from 3.070 euro

The tip from all4hunters.com: If you now want to test your previous binoculars (or even already a Swarovski NL Pure) for yourself to get an impression of the performance: Swarovski has published an easy-to-follow self-test for this purpose. 

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