Nov 222010
Swarovski SLC 10x42 HD

The SLC 10x42 HD by Swarovski Optik -- optically superb, unbeatable build quality.


That would have been the reaction when I first looked through my  new Swarovski SLC 10×42 HD binoculars. Except that I was unable to utter a word: I was rendered speechless by the experience.

These binoculars are quite simply sublime.

I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a really good pair of binoculars for… well, all my life really and have been comparing high end models from Leica, Zeiss, Swarovski and Nikon, on and off, for quite a while.

On my mental bins wish list I’d pretty much whittled it down to either Leica Ultravid 10×42 or Swarovski EL 10×42 Swarovision, and I was leaning towards the Leicas mainly because I’ve never really liked the Swarovski EL’s elongated twin-hinge form factor.

I was absolutely amazed when I woke up on the morning of my 40th birthday, just over a week ago, to a pair of Swarovski SLC 10×42 HD binoculars.

Optically outstanding binoculars

That HD is an important new addition to the revamped SLC 42 range. High definition (HD) fluoride glass elements deliver outstanding image clarity and maximum colour fidelity while minimising the chromatic aberration in high contrast subjects you often get with even the highest quality standard binocular lenses.

When you combine that HD glass with Swarovski’s legendary optical coatings  (swarodur, swarotop, swarobright and swaroclean), you get binoculars that optically are up there with the class-leading EL Swarovision, but in a form factor that I, for one, find much more comfortable.

In the field they are brilliant… so far ahead of anything I’ve used for any length of time before that it’s difficult to comprehend, let alone put into words. It takes birding and nature-watching to a completely different level.

Every day I’m surprised by just how well they cope with whatever the Irish November climate throws their way. They are great in high contrast, low directional sunlight, and equally at home in the dull, brooding Irish twilight.

The low light performance is a high point, especially for 10X bins. They really seem to drag in every scrap of available light. I tried them side by side with a friend’s Leica Ultravids 10x42s in fading light last week, and optically there was little to choose between them, but the Swarovskis were noticeably brighter, and were at least on a par in every other department.

Perfectly balanced handling

The SLC (Slim, Light, Compact) form-factor is, for me, as close to perfection as binoculars get. They really are incredibly compact  and the new, lighter magnesium alloy chassis make the new SLCs a joy to use. Despite being light, there’s a solid ruggedness to the design that leave you in no doubt that they could cope with the most demanding field conditions.

I’ve used Swarovski ELs in the past, and they’re great binoculars, but I always found them a bit “strange” to handle. Perhaps you get used to them… but with the SLC there’s no getting used to anything… they just “fit” seamlessly in your hand, and are incredibly well balanced. They just feel right.

As for build quality… it’s flawless. My Swarovski’s are, quite simply, the best quality item I have ever owned.

Technical Specifications

Magnification 10x
Objective lens Ø (mm) 42
Exit pupil (mm) 4.2 / 0.17
Exit pupil (mm) 16 / 0.65
field of view at m/1000 m / ft/1000 yds 110 / 330
field of view (degrees) 6.3
field of view with eye glasses (degrees) 6.3
Subjective field of view, apparent (degrees) 61
Shortest focusing distance (m/ft) 1.9 / 6
dioptric compensation (dpt) ±4
interpupillary distance (mm/in) 56-74 / 2.2-2.9
Twilight factor acc. to DIN 58388 20.5
Length approx. (mm/in) [with eyecups twisted in] 144 / 5.65
Width approx. (mm/in) 120 / 4.7
Height approx. (mm/in) 63 / 2.5
Weight approx. (g/oz) 790 / 28.0
Snap Shot Adapter model S4
In summary… I’m absolutely over the moon with my new binoculars. If you’re in the market for high end optics, make sure the Swarovski Optic SLC 42 HD are on your shortlist.
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  11 Responses to “Swarovski SLC 10×42 HD Review”

  1. Nice review…I too am sold on the swarovskis. I’m wondering if you have an opinion on whether or not the new HD’s are worth the extra $800 over the older model 10×42’s which are selling for $1350 more or less.

  2. Hi Casey, thanks for the comment. I guess whether or not it’s worth the extra cash depends a lot on what you need.

    My gut feeling is that the swathe of improvements introduced with the HD model make a substantial difference to overall performance, and what I’ve read online backs that up. That said, I’ve never used the older model, so it’s hard to say exactly how much better the new SLC model is, and I guess whether that improvement is worth the money is very much a subjective thing.

    Best of luck with you choice, and whichever you choose, you’ll be getting a great pair of bins that will last you for many years.

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  7. Hi There, I’m confused! I’ve been reading about the Swarovski’s best binoculars in the market (about to buy one for my other half, who is a keen bird and nature watcher), but I have found two that might be ideal: the SLC 10×42 WB and the EL10 x 42 HD Swarovision Binoculars inc Snap Shot.

    Which one would you recommend most? The second one seems to be $300 more expensive than the first one… Any good reason?

    Many thanks for the advice! :-)


  8. Hi Maria,

    Firstly, thanks for your comment. I’m sure your “other half” will be thrilled with either binocular. They are both outstanding optical instruments in all respects. One thing — make sure you’re looking at the newer HD incarnation of the SLC rather than the older, non HD model (still a superb binocular, but not in the same league as the other two). The only material difference optically is that the EL Swarovision has what are called field-flattener lenses. That means that the image stays pin sharp right the way to the edge of the field of view.

    That said, on the SLC there’s a huge sweet spot in the centre of the field of view, with very little fall off in focus towards the edge, and the image through the SLC HDs is, by all accounts, a smidgen brighter. One thing to be careful of with the field flattener coating on the EL Swarovision is that it doesn’t suit everyone’s eyes… there are reports online about a “rolling ball” effect when panning with a subject — Google for more info.

    I guess in the end it comes down to personal preference. I went for the SLC HD because I prefer the SLC’s more traditional compact form-factor to the double-hinged design of the ELs — but as I said, that’s a personal preference.

    If you can get to a Swarovski dealer my advice would be to try both binoculars side by side, hold them in your hands, look through them and decide based on your understanding of your partner and his/her preferences.

    Hope that helps… whichever binocular you choose, your partner will be delighted.

  9. Oh, and the SLC HD also includes the Snap-Shot adapter for use with digital compact cameras :-).

  10. Wow!, that was quick Calvin!. Thank you very much. I think your advice of going to a dealer is a good idea, so I can get a ‘feel’ of it and make a decision. :-)

    Many thanks again,

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