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KennyJ
The British Flash


Reged: 04/27/03
Posts: 20139
Loc: Lancashire UK
Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50
      #67124 - 03/07/04 01:48 PM

Swift Audubon Kestrel 10 x 50 ( model 826)

A non -technical review by Kenny Jones

Introduction

Much could be (and has been) written about the virtues of a 10 x 50 binocular.

10x is about the maximum magnification most people can hold reasonably steady.

50mm is about as large a pair of objective lenses most people feel comfortable handling for any considerable period.

A 5mm exit -pupil is what many people find easy and comfortable to view through and generally speaking is one agreeable for all round day and night time use.

The Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 is a central focussing , extra -wide field ( 70 deg. AFOV )porro prism model.
It is very much the larger sibling of the original , venerable Swift Audubon 8.5 x 44 non -waterproof porro -prism model revered by a generation of “birders”.

When first introduced in the 1990s it’s R.R.P was in the region of $500 US.
Street price is now around half that figure.
Somewhere in between there was brief period of confusion when Swift released a different 10 x 50 bearing the name Kestrel , but this was quickly rectified.
The model number 826 is what this review refers to.

Specifications

Type -------------------------Porro Prism
Focus ------------------------Central with right diopter
Finish----------------Charcoal grey pebble grain leather
Coatings----------------------Fully Multi-Coated
Prisms ------------------------BAK 4
Magnification----------------10x
Objective Size----------------50mm
Exit -Pupil--------------------5mm
Eye Relief-------------------16mm * ?
T.F.O.V-------------7 degrees / 367ft @1000yds /122m@1000m
A.F.O.V----------------------70 degrees
Twilight Factor--------------22.36
Weight------------------------32 ozs.
Height------------------------6.5 ins.
Width-------------------------7.5 ins. ( at 67mm I.P.D)
Close Focus-----------------17 feet
Waterproof-------------------No
Fog proof---------------------No
Tripod Adaptor--------------Yes - spring loaded


Build Quality

Of solid Japanese construction it is of squat ,wide -bodied appearance, slightly on the heavy side of comfortable and finished in unfashionable charcoal grey pebble grain leather. It is also unfashionable in having
( very stiff) fold -back rubber eyecups.
It comes with a built -in spring -loaded tripod adaptor which I find a useful feature even in a 10x binocular.
Some people under estimate the improvement in what can be resolved when a 10x binocular is mounted over when not.

As with most centre -focus porro -prism binoculars this
10 x 50 is neither waterproof nor fog proof, and like it’s smaller , more widely-known sibling , is vulnerable to moisture ingress.

It has a wide central focussing wheel allowing smooth , fast but positive adjustment that tends to stay set ,
a feature which once enjoyed is always missed when absent and one which I normally only associate with very fine binoculars.

In spite of it’s decidedly middleweight class and some might say ugly chunkiness , it is a binocular which is well balanced and somehow “feels right” in my medium sized hands. This is a major consideration with any hand -held instrument regardless of optical quality.

Presumably as a result of keeping length and weight minimal the barrels only extend 3mm beyond the lenses.
This regrettable design decision seems to not only contribute to ,if not be wholly responsible for glare and ghosting in certain viewing conditions , but also exposes the fine fully multi -coated objective lenses to relatively high risk of accidental surface damage.

The specimen I own was bought as "used" and shows signs of hard use.
It looks much older than it is , so perhaps this is not a model that ages well.

Optical Impressions

This binocular provides bright , wide -field , high contrast images with outstanding colour rendition and no noticeable spherical aberrations I have noticed.

The general image caste appears quite white until seen against a Nikon Superior E , which makes it appear distinctly off -white in a side by side comparison.

On -axis resolution is equal to that of any 10x model I’ve had the pleasure of looking through , which includes some of the most expensive models available.

Coatings are predominantly green with a hint of amber.

Like my beloved Zeiss 7 x 42 ( also reviewed here on Cloudy Nights ) and the coveted Nikon Superior E , it is one of those rare binoculars that seems to almost magically provide an instantly adorable , addictive image that snaps into focus with minimal effort and stays there.

However , when compared side by side with a 10 x 42 Superior E the image through the latter appears brighter in spite of the smaller exit-pupil and sharper across the entire field ( admittedly only a 6 degree TFOV )

But I still rate this Swift very good for daytime terrestrial use , especially for the price.

Not quite so for astronomy.

Although chromatic aberration ( colour ) is practically absent ,as is usually the case , the extra -wide field comes at the expense of decreased sharpness and noticeable curviture within the outer regions of the field .
If not looking for this you might not even notice it.

It is natural for the eyes to concentrate on around 50 degree AFOV , which in this case equates to roughly the inner 60% of the area . But it is also my impression that once a viewer becomes aware of image degradation at the edges , or is more used to higher quality , flat -field optics it becomes a thing difficult to ignore.

In other words , anyone familiar with the images through the very best Japanese models optimised for astronomy ( in alphabetical order Canon , Fujinon , Kowa, Miyauchi , Pentax or Takahashi ) is likely to be dissatisfied with this.

Eye -relief is shorter than stated ( probably around 14mm ) so it is essential to fold back those stiff rubber cups if you wear glasses. Even then you have to squash your glasses right up to the oculars to get the full field in view , which is not a very comfortable situation.

On the other hand , for those fortunate enough not to need glasses , the eye -relief is within that narrow zone which enables a full field of view without blackouts when the eyes are cushioned against the cups the block out stray -light.A wonderful aspect which does not apply to either Zeiss 7 x 42 or Nikon Superior E.

Summary

I would recommend this model to anyone looking for a reasonably priced high quality wide -field binocular for daytime use , providing waterproofing and fog proofing are not major considerations and the user does not wear glasses.

I would hesitate to recommend it specifically for astronomy.

For anyone on a restricted budget looking for a 10 x 50 for astronomy , my advice since the summer of 2003 ( when I took advantage of a rare opportunity to try one at night ) has been to take a look at the Pentax PCF WP.

One final word about the Swift 10 x 50 Kestrel .

It is my most used binocular by day , is almost a “classic” in it’s own right and is a “little gem” that I would be saddened to part with.


Kenny Jones March 2004









--------------------


Milton Wilcox R.I.P






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Anonymous
Unregistered




Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: KennyJ]
      #67134 - 03/07/04 02:00 PM

Another great review, Kenny! Just as with your last review you kept it very interesting the whole way through, now you have me looking forward to your next review.

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KennyJ
The British Flash


Reged: 04/27/03
Posts: 20139
Loc: Lancashire UK
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: Daniel_Schwartz]
      #926570 - 04/24/06 06:02 PM

Original post deleted by Kenny J.

Sent FROM and intended to be sent TO the CLOUDY DAYS forum .

Sorry for any misunderstanding .

Kenny

--------------------


Milton Wilcox R.I.P






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Joad
Wordsmith


Reged: 03/22/05
Posts: 18002
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: KennyJ]
      #926600 - 04/24/06 06:22 PM

Hi Kenny!

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mooreorless
Just worried


Reged: 07/05/05
Posts: 2248
Loc: Cornpropst Mills,Huntingdon,Pa
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: KennyJ]
      #926607 - 04/24/06 06:26 PM

Hi Kenny,Sorry I missed this fine mini-review by you.I find it interesting that they have a name posted for Anonymous as Daniel Schwartz.
Steve

--------------------
Regards,Steve M



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williamichang
super member


Reged: 02/13/06
Posts: 189
Loc: Beijing, China
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: mooreorless]
      #926795 - 04/24/06 09:00 PM

After someone hasn't logged in for a few months, his or her account is removed and all prior postings carry the byline Anonymous.

(Yes that happened to me.)

--------------------
... too many ideas, too little time


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EdZ
Professor EdZ


Reged: 02/15/02
Posts: 18806
Loc: Cumberland, R I , USA42N71.4W
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: williamichang]
      #926820 - 04/24/06 09:17 PM

So Kenny, what prompted you to go searching for one of your old reviews? Any comment about the binocular? Or just digging up the past? BTW, I remember Daniel Schwartz, young kid. He's been gone probably two years.

edz

Oh, I see this Kestrel reference is tied to your discussion on favorite field of view. I also not that in this review you mention this is your most used binocular by day.

--------------------
Teach a kid something today. The feeling you'll get is one of life's greatest rewards.
member#21

Edited by EdZ (04/25/06 07:10 AM)


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pcad
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/17/05
Posts: 2447
Loc: Connecticut
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: williamichang]
      #926822 - 04/24/06 09:19 PM

Kenny,

Thank you, it is indeed a pleasure to see you here. A fine report anyway.

That's interesting. How do you do that?

Peter

--------------------
Peter

Telescopes 25 - 318 mm
Binoculars 12 - 100 mm
Microscope 50x - 1000x

Edited by pcad (04/24/06 09:21 PM)


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ngc6475
Fearless Spectator


Reged: 03/02/02
Posts: 5024
Loc: 38°21'N 120°55'W
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: pcad]
      #926950 - 04/24/06 11:29 PM

That was a fine review. How did I miss that?

--------------------
Walter

"There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."
-George Carlin



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DJB
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/23/05
Posts: 1742
Loc: Lisle NY
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: ngc6475]
      #927119 - 04/25/06 04:06 AM

Hi Kenny,

Very nice review, indeed, as it is so well structured. Back in 2004 I didn't even know these forums existed!

What caught my eye more than anything else is this: What is a spring-loaded tripod adpter? I've never encountered one, and I'm a bit perplexed as to the advantage of same. I see that you feel that this is a good thing.

Regards,
Dave.


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mttafire
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/02/06
Posts: 1114
Loc: midwest
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: DJB]
      #927229 - 04/25/06 08:17 AM

Glad to see you Kenny!!! This forum IS NOT the same without you..Please let us here from you more often!!

--------------------
God Bless America

Binocular astronomy
for me ONLY.
8x45 Garretts
15x70 Skymasters
2 eyes!


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Art Fritzson
sage


Reged: 01/29/05
Posts: 315
Loc: Northern Virginia, USA
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: mttafire]
      #927243 - 04/25/06 08:41 AM

Amazing that no one commented on this earlier. An outstanding review. Thanks Kenny! And good to hear from you!

- Art

--------------------
2006 "Bagging on a Budget" Award for Excellence in Binocular Astronomy
Garrett 25x100 IF, Oberwerk 15x70, Celestron Noble 10x50, Meade 10x50 and 8x42 Travelviews
William Optics Zenithstar II 80mm APO
Teleport 10" - an incredible all-in-one Planetary/DSO/"Grab and Go"


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EdZ
Professor EdZ


Reged: 02/15/02
Posts: 18806
Loc: Cumberland, R I , USA42N71.4W
Re: Mini -Review of Swift Kestrel 10 x 50 new [Re: Art Fritzson]
      #927492 - 04/25/06 11:44 AM

Quote:

Amazing that no one commented on this earlier




Not really too uncommon at all. In fact very normal.

There are over 150 minireviews. There have been over 30,000 reads, and that's just the reads that have been recorded by access thru the pinned post. There are many times more. Very rarely do we see articles brought forward with new comments by anyone. In fact, that's pretty standard throughout the forums. That does not mean the article is not read. It simply means the many hundreds of people that did visit, treat the resource like a book. They open it up and read a chapter. They don't write in it.

At the time this Swift Kestrel review was written two years ago, this forum had only about 2-3% of its current post content. Number of participants and activity was a tiny fraction of current levels. Yet even now, once a thread hits maybe page 3 or page 4, it attracts no further comment. A perfectly normal forum. However, you can see since two years ago, this worthwhile review has had hundreds more reads. You may choose to appreciate the "anonymous" benefit that has been provided.


edz

--------------------
Teach a kid something today. The feeling you'll get is one of life's greatest rewards.
member#21

Edited by EdZ (04/25/06 01:32 PM)


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