Swarovski 8x42 EL range-finding binoculars - test & review
PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 May 2021
Chris Parkin reviews the Swarovski 8x42 EL range-finding binoculars with Tracking Assistant & Bluetooth connectivity
Swarovski’s Premium EL Range binoculars have now added Bluetooth connectivity and ballistic functionality to their legendary optical talents. Weighing in at 930g, the sage green rubber armour extends beyond the 42mm objective lenses to offer protection in addition to removable lens covers. The underside shows a Bluetooth activation button as well as peep sight alignment aperture, rarely seen on binoculars these days. But why not, eh?
Further back, the parallel roof prism tubes offer plenty of hand space with low-profile quick-release anchors at the rear for the included neoprene neck strap, which also features a quick-release length adjuster and paired eyepiece caps. Twin-hinged bridges offer 56-74mm interpupillary adjustment and the twist-up eyecups provide four positions. These fit into my eye sockets comfortably and show a versatile eye relief to cater for varied positioning and physique.
Initial set up
Optical set-up requires the right-side bridge’s laser illuminator button (on top of the device) to be activated, thereby lighting up the internal reticle. You then lift the right-side collar, (located below the eyecup) to focus the right eye on the internal screen. Follow this with the central focus on a distant image and then, using the rubber-covered central focusing dial, finish with the left eye. Click up the collar, rotate to sharpen and balance focus and then lock it back down.
From now on, all you need is central image focus to produce a crisp, perfectly balanced image with no colour imbalance between left and right tubes, regardless of the fact that the right contains additional lens elements for the LED display.
When the laser is fired, it ranges to target; the binos also measure temperature, pressure, inclination, and, if set up through the app, will also display a shooting solution on the underside line in the display. App connectivity requires Bluetooth to be enabled; a three-second press of the upper and underside buttons reveals a clear blue LED on the underside, a function I really like as it makes activating on/off immediate, without a descent into the menu functions.
Both buttons are tactile while wearing gloves and are sufficiently separated to avoid confusion. The Bluetooth shuts off automatically after a few minutes, but if not, the same combination will power it down, allowing the rangefinder to work again. If the rangefinder isn’t working, that’s why; just turn off the Bluetooth!
Set-up on the app provides control for screen brightness, measurement units and a selection of three pre-programmed rifle set-ups, with corresponding ballistics and readouts in your chosen units such as clicks, mRad or minutes of angle for dialling-in prior to the shot.
Bluetooth and app connectivity
Once set up and transferred, the EL stores the data in a single solution and you won’t need the app day to day, unless altering variables to refine your shooting solution. The menu screens are clear with good contrast. I have used most of the competition and the Swaro’s rate highly for clarity and after the first pairing set-up was complete, I had no issues with connection.
This begins to matter as each laser shot stores range and compass bearing as well as inclination, so if you link with Bluetooth, these are displayed after transfer, allowing further functionality. Swarovski suggest this ‘Tracking Assistant’ capability is to track fallen game, and although I haven’t nipped over to the mountains of Croatia recently, I can see how it would help.
If you have 4G/5G signal on your phone, you can instantly overlay your location, and that of the laser measurement, onto a generated map which makes for a very handy resource – as long as you have signal. Because of this, it makes sense to screenshot the range, bearing and shot inclination, then correlate this with more traditional navigational info if required.
The complete package
Swarovski have delivered a wonderfully bright image with 90% light transmission with easily controlled focus to the area of specific interest. Field of view is flat across its 140m@1,000m span. The neoprene strap spreads the load on the neck and shoulders but the adjustment buckle interferes with rifle positioning in your shoulder, so I’d replace that.
The green protective rubber coating is grippy and wipes clean and you get a compact clamshell case for durable storage with space for the instruction book, although the app is notably intuitive compared to others, with factory-based ballistic data or ‘handload’ input offering more precise control than simple muzzle velocities from your barrel.
Ballistic coefficient, zero distance and click values are input. The app only seems to show Swarovski scope options for naming profiles, with no ‘blank’ available, but that doesn’t really matter. Metric and imperial are simultaneously displayed to avoid any confusion. It’s a shame the app only stores three profiles but in fairness, how many are needed on a single hunting trip?
I was concerned Swarovski might make the app too simplistic and arty for what are fairly technical matters but I’m pleased to say I was very impressed with the way that functionality and clarity is prioritised with a focus on facts, not fantasy.
The online bullet database shows most hunting options and I would stress to not just type in the factory data and hope for the best. The shot solutions displayed have all been more accurate to single clicks values on the scope, or to my ability to perfectly judge windage on extended shots.
The rangefinder was not the strongest I have used, but in full daylight with rain, still gave accurate results over 1,100m, in what are very harsh conditions for signal return – clear air and weak light are the easiest conditions for any rangefinder.
Magnification: 8x, 10x also available
Effective objective lens diameter: 42mm
Exit pupil diameter: 5.3mm
Exit pupil distance: 19mm
Field of view: 140 m/1000m
Field of view degrees: 8 °
Shortest focusing distance: 5m
Dioptre adjustment: -7 to +5
Light transmission: 90 %
Pupil distance: 56-74 mm
Twilight factor acc. to DIN-5838818.3: 8.3
Length: 172 mm
Width: 136 mm
Height: 79 mm
Weight without batteries: 930 g
Operating temp: -25 to +55 / -10 to +55 °C
Measuring range: 30m to- 2,000 m
Measuring accuracy: +/-1 m
Measuring time: ≤ 0.5 s
Angular measurement: ± 90 °
RRPs: 8x42 £2,810 or 10x42 £2,890
Contact: Swarovski Opik