Today I’d like to tell you a bit about the pair of binoculars I use the most. Many of you will already recognize it: a Swarovski SLC 8×56 B. Around one and a half years ago, the date set for my hunting course was approaching and I was going on a large number of hunts with acquaintances to gain more experience. At the time, I always had a pair of old 10×50 Bushnell binoculars with me. But at some point it was no longer enough, especially when lighting conditions were poor. I needed something better, particularly after the hunting test, which I was of course confident I would pass.
Swarovski SLC 8×56 B: User Review of Binoculars
But first a little about the binoculars themselves: The binoculars are the classic 8×56 B model for hunting from a blind, particularly in poor lighting conditions. The binoculars themselves appear to have an extremely high quality of workmanship, from the lenses to the carrying strap. The binoculars are enveloped in green rubber armoring that has a slightly rough structure and hence provides a firm grip even when your hands are wet.
Naturally, I brought along the binoculars to a hunting blind at the first opportunity. I was immediately impressed by the image, which was clear even at the fringes. During the day colors are represented with a hundred percent accuracy, and at night images are sharp and have a very high contrast. It makes spotting game much easier. They are filled with nitrogen, which means that they do not mist up on the inside, and the lenses have been coated such that they do not fog up on the outside either.
There are also two thumb recesses installed on the underside as well. They are located in the rear third of the binoculars, and when you place your thumbs in them, you notice one thing: The binoculars are perfectly balanced. Even though they weigh quite a bit, they can be held for long periods of time without wobbling or requiring much effort.
The twist-in eyecups can be removed, which means that the binoculars can be used by persons who wear prescription glasses as well as those who do not. The eyecups are fitted with a rubber ring that is comfortable on the eyes. However, I have to say that I have lost one such rubber ring in the past. But Swarovski’s customer service is excellent, and after sending a short inquiry, I received two completely new eyecups by mail, free of charge.
Swarovski SLC 8×56 B Binoculars: Optimal Functionality
Located between the oculars is the center wheel knob, which allows the binoculars to be focused. The central position is marked by a slightly larger groove that you can easily feel with your fingertips in the dark. Even with thin gloves, it can easily be felt. The focusing wheel turns easily. But not so easily that it can move out of alignment by itself. Swarovski really found a good compromise here. I did not notice a difference at low temperatures.
Also located on the focusing wheel is the dioptric compensation, which can be adjusted in a range from –2.5 to +2.5 dpt. To do so, all you have to do is push in the labeled knob, after which you can turn it in the desired direction. Upon releasing the knob, the setting remains and can no longer move out of alignment by itself, as the knob snaps in place.
However, one thing about the binoculars bothered me from the very beginning: the protective caps for the lenses. On the front, the design is great: A rubber ring is used to attach the caps directly to the binoculars, and they remain absolutely firmly in place. This means that it is almost impossible to lose them by accident, and the elastic material the caps are made of allow them to be opened and replaced without a sound.
However, the rear caps provided were made of plastic. They were attached to the carrying strap via a loop. When lifting up the binoculars, they always slide backwards, towards the buckle on the carrying strap, leading to a slight rattling. This really bothers me.
Nonetheless, Swarovski does offer a number of accessories for its binoculars. Also via GearTester, I came across the BG bino guard from Swarovski, which also fits SLC binoculars. Hence, I ordered it and mounted it on the binoculars.
Swarovski BG Bino Guard
The outside of the bino guard is made of a type of Cordura, and the inside is made of neoprene. It is particularly nifty that the inside provides additional storage space, as it adds a compartment using a thick, transparent piece of plastic film. Hence, you can insert small, flat items such as ballistics tables or cleaning wipes from the side, and have them ready at a moment’s notice.
The bino guard can be flipped open with a slight swing of the wrist when lifting the binoculars, allowing you to use them immediately. One small disadvantage: it is easier for the ocular lenses to get soiled with dirt than with the plastic caps, which form a tight seal around the eyecups.
A brief comment on the carrying strap: Swarovski came up with a brilliant idea here – namely the length adjustment. To do this, there are plastic catches on both sides that can simply be flipped. This releases the adjustment lock, allowing you to adjust the length of the strap by pulling on the freely hanging strap components. Flipping the catch back will lock the length setting in place. Hence, it can be adjusted in just a few seconds, in a manner that is absolutely silent, and allows adjustments to be made without having to remove the binoculars from around your neck. The strap is comfortably wide and is made of neoprene with a rubber-covered rear surface. This makes it possible to wear it around your neck for long periods of time even though the binoculars are rather heavy.
Swarovski SLC 8×56 B Binoculars: Carrying Case
The outside of the case is made of a type of Cordura fabric. On the inside, it is well-cushioned, and there are even a few pockets available for use. One pocket is on the side, and there is also a smaller mesh pocket. The binoculars fit easily into the case. However, you should not attempt to place any other thick items in the case, as this will make it hard to close. But cleaning cloths and similar items can easily be stored in the case.
There is also a length-adjustable carrying strap attached to the case. It is made of the same material as seatbelts in cars – and will definitely hold up under strain. This strap is attached to the case via clip buckles, allowing it to be quickly removed. There is also a strap affixed to the front that allows you to grasp the case and carry it without a strap.
Swarovski SLC 8×56 B Binoculars: The Technical Data at a Glance
|Effective object lens diameter||56 mm|
|Exit pupil diameter||7 mm|
|Dioptric compensation||+/- 2,5 dpt|
|Lens coating||Multi-coating, Swarobright coating|
|Focusing system||Central focusing (center wheel)|
|Eye relief||22 mm|
|Pupil distance||59 mm to 72 mm|
|Field of view
(m/1,000 m)||115 m|
|Dimensions (L × W × H)||215 mm x 128 mm x 71 mm|
|Surface material||Rubber armoring|
The binoculars cost around 1,500 euros for a new pair, and the BG bino guard costs 45 euros when purchased directly from Swarovski (incl. sales tax/VAT; as of: November 2016).
Swarovski SLC 8×56 B Binoculars: Verdict from a Hunter
I am and have always been satisfied with the binoculars. They allowed me to spot game well, even in poor lighting conditions. The weight of the binoculars is not felt as much as one might expect thanks to the carrying strap. I find the image to be sharp and high-contrast. Naturally, Swarovski is a premium manufacturer, and you need to set aside the extra change if you plan to purchase this piece of equipment. However, it is definitely worth the price, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you might be able to get it for a steal at eGun or somewhere else online. If you are looking for a pair of binoculars for hunting from a blind and greatly value good quality, you should definitely take a closer look at the SLC 8×56 B.
For more information on Swarovski’s high-quality binoculars, have a look at the manufacturer’s website.
Find out more about the Swarovski EL 8x32 W B binoculars right here on all4hunters.com – a top-notch product from the series by the renowned manufacturer.