From time to time we'll do a brief review here on the Blog Cabin of products we love, gear we really depend on. Let's start with my favorite binoculars, the Swarovski EL Swarovision 8x32 Binocular.
First off let me start by saying that I'm a bit of a gear nut. I tend to do a lot of homework before buying anything (skis, hiking boots, cameras, binoculars, knives, etc) and my general approach is buy the highest quality I can afford and then to take care of my stuff so it lasts a while.
When I'm not working at Ursa Major I spend a lot of time in the woods hiking, scouting around, taking photos, birdwatching, hunting, etc. and I've come to view binoculars as a truly indispensable piece of equipment that can greatly enhance one's outdoor experience.
Without binoculars you can just be walking along, enjoying yourself, taking in the scenery… nothing wrong with that at all. However having a good pair of binoculars handy allows you to stop and observe things in their magical detail, things you otherwise wouldn't notice or even be able to see.
The detail could be the glistening coat of a chipmunk chewing on a crabapple, chips flying as a pileated woodpecker hammers on a decaying beech tree, the whiskers on a moose's odd-shaped nose. It could be a skein of geese high above the Greens (notice they're Snows not Canadians), or the ten points of an asymmetrical whitetail buck intently rubbing a spruce on the opposite ridge.
I've been poking around the binocular market for 10 years or so, trying to find the perfect pair. For me that means several different things: I want brilliant, razor-sharp optics; I want a 7-8x factor zoom for steady, fatigue-free viewing; I want a wide and deep field of view; I want binocs that are lightweight, compact and smooth-handling; I want something well-built that will last forever if I take good care of'em.
(A slightly more technical requirement: I also need a binocular with decent "eye relief" because I have a big noggin' and wear eyeglasses meaning I can only get so close to the surface of the binocular lens. Sufficient eye relief allows me to see the full picture, even if the surface of my eye is a ways back from the binocular lens.)
Over the years I've tried various binoculars that promised a lot for less $ but have always been left wanting because they failed to meet the criteria I've listed above. I was beginning to lose hope when I stumbled on a review of the EL 8x32s
… they were way over my budget but the review intrigued me and I just had to try them.
A year later, with plenty of diverse field use, I can flat out say these are fantastic binoculars, as one might expect with a four-digit price tag. Every time I look through them I am blown away by how good they are. Jaw-dropping. As a result I take them along whenever I head outdoors (using a shoulder harness - strongly recommended), even if for a short walk in the woods behind our house.
They have awesome optics with plenty of contrast, true color rendition and edge-to-edge sharpness. At 8x they have plenty of power without the jitteriness and eye-fatigue/feeling of vertigo that came come with frequent viewing through higher power binos. They have a huge field of view (420 ft @1,000 yards) as well as a wide depth of field making them perfect for locating and observing moving game or birds flitting about in the tree tops. And they're a dream to handle and use in the field, even for someone with big mitts like me.
No doubt these guys are expensive, but what isn't these days? I get as much enjoyment from them as one might get from a top-of-the-line mountain bike or a canoe or hiking boots and I expect them to give me a lifetime enjoyment. Every outdoorsman should own a great pair of binoculars - consider these even if they're beyond your budget.
Be warned however because once you try them, it's difficult to put them down or look through "lesser glass" again. (I can't resist slipping this in here: this is similar to what happens when folks try our Stellar Shave Cream, etc.
for the first time... it's hard to go back to inferior quality once you've had a taste of the good stuff!)
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