Comparisons of the SLC 56's and some other binoculars
In the coming section, I will compare the new SLC 15x56 with the Nikon 18x70 IF-WP. In a separate thread, I will compare the new SLC in 8x56 and 10x56 with the equivalent Zeiss Victory FL 8x56 and 10x56 models.
New SLC 15x56 versus Nikon 18x70 IF-WP
The new SLC 15x56 is a serious challenger for the Nikon 18x70. In side by side tests, I found out how they compare.
1. earthbound observing
The SLC 15x56 are the clear winner here. With their compact size, relatively low weight, good hand-holdability, superb image quality, close focussing roughly 20x times nearer as the Nikons and convenient center focussing, they win big time for observing anything on our planet or flying above it during the daytime and from dusk 'til dawn.
2. observing the night sky
While the Swarovski new SLC 15x56 are the better choice for hand-held observing of the sky by means of their lower weight, smaller size and lower magnification, the game changes when you mount these binoculars on tripods.
As soon as the Nikons feel the solidity of a good tripod and video-head underneath them and are pointed at the deep-sky, they simply take-off, leave the SLC 15x56 in the dust and never look back. At night on a tripod, the Nikons are no longer hindered by their bigger size, weight and individual focus. You focus once for each eye and unless your eyes change, you can observe without refocussing for years to come. By means of their bigger aperture, the Nikons pull in much more light. Their 18x magnification feels like a much bigger step up in observable detail than the bare 18x - 15x difference suggests. And last but not least, the views in the Nikons are much more involving. Their 70+ degree AFOV is just awesome. While in the Swaro 15x56 you are looking AT the sky, the Nikons make a convincing case that you are IN the skies and are surrounded by countless stars and deepsky objects.
One look at the M42 area, the Pleiades, M31/M32/M110, M81/M82 or the Double Cluster to name but a few, and you realize that the old king still reigns supreme here.
On the moon, the SLC 15x56 can hold their own because of their phenomenal contrast and clarity, which is a notch above the Nikons. But again, the more involving views of the Nikons with their higher magnification and wider AFOV are stunning in their own right.
While the SLC 15x56 show slightly tinier stars than the Nikon 18x70, that does not help them enough to win the title for best medium sized binoculars for observing the night sky. That title still goes to the Nikon 18x70 IF-WP. Even if it means having to mount them on a tripod to be at their best. They are simply worth doing that. Period!
In case you do not wish to use a tripod, the SLC 15x56 are the best choice, but at the price of a less involving, dimmer view with less detail than the Nikon.
So really, the winner here is a matter of personal preferences.