Some months ago I got a Swarovski SLC 15x56 WB PRE NEU series (second hand) and I would like to share here in CN my main impressions about these ''big eyes'' with those who have some interest about their general performance (I have posted already my impressions at the Excelsis Ratings website).
Based on it serial number I sent some questions to Swarovski Optik in Austria asking them about their optical differences versus the NEU SLC 15x56's series and they told me that the only one (apart their body shape changes) is the SWAROCLEAN coating present on the NEU series - a kind of optical coating which helps to make an optical surface easier to clean in comparison with the pre NEU - they told me the mine have already the SWARODUR, SWAROTOP and SWAROBRIGHT coating as of the NEU series.
First of all I would like to say that I just found these ''big'' 15x56's truly fantastic! They are the absolute top notch in my opinion in their power class/aperture nowadays!
SWAROVSKI 15X56 GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS:
Lens aperture = 56mm
Magnification = 15X
Linear field of view = 4.4 degrees
Angular field of view = 77mts at 1.000 mts
Apparent field of view = 64 degrees
Eye Relief = 13mm
Exit Pupil = 3,73mm
Shortest focusing distance = 8 meters
Dioptric compensation = ± 5
Interpupillary distance = 59 - 76mm
Brightness = 13.9mm
Twilight factor = 29
Prisms = BAK-4
Prism type = ROOF (Schmidt-Pechan)
Objective lens = 3 elements
Waterproof = Nitrogen filled
Lenght = 215 mm
Width = 128 mm
Height = 71 mm
Weight = 1.290 grams / 45.5 oz
BODY AND CONSTRUCTION - Their body are slim (despite the 56m in aperture) and very well balanced, nice to hands allowing to use them without a tripod for some casual watching,but,to get the best of them a good tripod is needed. They are very well built, very strong but not really heavy, I found these much better (comfortable) to handhold than the Leica Trinovid 12x50 or the Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50. Their focuser system is not as good to my taste (regarding smoothness I mean since it is just a little bit more stiff in comparison) as the Leica Trinovids focuser is but I am not meaning however that it is bad, this is only a personal preference.
ORIGINAL EYECUPS - The original ''rotating eye cups'' are pretty friendly to eye sockets (better than the Trinovids eye cups and much better - to my taste - than that regular fold down rubber eye cups of Fujinons, Nikon SEs, etc) and allow those who wear glasses to get the entire field of view simple rotating they down.
OPTIONAL EYECUPS - A ''winged style'' rubber eye cup is available (sold separately, I just bought a pair), they are really very useful to prevent the entry of ambient light - I recommend these to use day or night if you do NOT wear glasses ***note*** - since their eyepieces are not moveable as they are in many binoculars (their focus system works quite internally and the right eye dioptric compensation is made just rotating a small button located behind the central focus wheel) so these winged rubber eye cup works very well not requiring frequently some extra facial feature adjustment - one time in place and they will remain always fitting your face OK.
INTERPUPILAR ADJUSTMENT - According the Swarovski specifications the interpupilar adjustment is about from 59mm to 76mm BUT I would like to comment that when whit their captives frontal cap's rings ''in place on the tube'' the minimum aperture possible is around 64mm due to their captive ring thickness (2,5mm each) since my IPD is about 66mm then for me this is not a problem at all. For someone bellow than 65mm in IPD they must be off.
TRIPOD ADAPTER - A smart quick-release tripod bracket is supplied - this adapter is very fast to use and it is really strong, a great accessory to long sessions.
OPTICAL PERFORMANCE - They are first of all very bright, sharp and clear even at the extreme edge due to their big prisms set and thanks to the special SWAROBRIGHT coating present on them ***note***: - The SWAROBRIGHT DIELECTRIC PRISM COATING was introduced starting the serial number D68XXXXXXX and this was a big improvement regarding brightness and color correction in comparison with the pre-Swarobright binoculars(they are dimmer and show a yellow cast according some reviews). the collimation is 100% ''spot on'' and I honestly couldn't experience any eye strain (even minimum during a long session) BUT the dioptric compensation ''is very critical'' and it must be always very well balanced.
UNDER THE DAYTIME = As said before the picture is very bright (considering the small exit pupil of 3,73mm) with well saturated and vivid colors. I would say that the overall image cast tends more to a ''very light warm cast'' than to a ''cold cast'' although this is actually almost indistinguishable for many people who claim their color cast as neutral. For me some ''light'' warm cast over the image used to deliver a more calm and comfortable views than a cold cast. They are almost quite free of any visible CA (I am very critical and sensitive about CA) even under some high light condition. The apparent field of view is very good (64 degree) and the field stop is sharp and quite visible around the picture which help to keep the eyes relaxed.
UNDER A STARRY NIGHT SKY = (if possible far from some light pollution) they are simple stunning! Tiny stars seem like millions of ''wonderful sharp pinpoints diamonds'' against a black velvet sky with their different colors easily distinguished and they remain sharp almost to the extreme edge - some bright stars (when high in the sky) seem like shine tiny ''spheres'' free of CA and free of spikes (depending on the sky atmosphere condition of course) and no one glare is sprayed over or around them (they seem almost as through an APO refractor) even Vênus is not a ''challenge'' to these - it's very easy to split double stars mainly those very close. Jupiter is showed with his Moons very sharp and free of CA.
WATCHING THE MOON - The Moon (when well centered in the FOV) seems practically free of some false color and very very sharp showing a good amount of Moon´s surface features. I can't notice any significant light reflection (ghost reflection) over the image even under a full Moon condition, some hint of lateral CA could be noticeable depending on of the ocular eye position (or if the object is closer to the field edge) the more properly aligned the eyes with both of the eyepiece exit pupils axis the less some lateral CA would be noticed.
UNDER LOW LIGHT CONDITION - As they are really ''bright'' they are suitable also under some low light condition allowing to find some hard objects where another some binoculars at this same aperture and power range can fail, this is why these are very popular among the hunters.
ABOUT ME - I have tried and owned several very good binoculars over the years (but NOT at the same time unfortunately to be able to make some direct comparison - so just by memory) in the 12X to 18X range some as the Leica Trinovid 12x50 BA, Docter 15x60, Zeiss 15x60 (the old model pre T* coating) - Canon IS 15x50, Minox 15x58 ED BR, Fujinon 12x60, Fujinon 15x60, Fujinon 14x70, Fujinon 16x70, Nikon Astroluxe 18x70,Takahashi 22x60 and for me the best high powered binoculars to day and night use (all the best in just one package I mean - if I need to choose just one HIGH POWERED pair to keep forever for all purpose) this is The Swarovski 15x56mm no doubt, a true piece of art! The only possible REAL drawback IMO is its price!
*** Please keep in mind - I am just a binocular user and many things above are based on my own binocular experience and personal preferences so they may vary (of course) from person to person.
Hope it help!