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The new Swarovski SLC 56's under the stars

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#26 Erik Bakker

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 05:20 PM

Is the likening of the FL to an apo of f/5, an the SLC to one of f/9, due to a difference in focus gearing ratio, or do you mean there's some subtle difference in image quality?
Ron


A bit of both Ron. The new SLC's have a solidness to their image at focus and the way they are approaching that point while focussing, that has some similarity to a medium-long (say f/8-f/9) focus apochromat. You slowly but steadily approach the point of best focus and than with razor precision you are there, no ifs and buts. At f/5 , an apo can have a similar great point of best focus, but it just feels differently approaching it. That is more like the Victory FL 7x42. The 10x32 FL is a different animal and is more comparable to the SLC's.

#27 Erik Bakker

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 05:23 PM

In this area I find the FL good enough but not red hot, and the Swarovision EL near perfect, so is the SLC in between or what?
Ron


Yes, the SLC's are in between the 42/56 FL's and the EL's. The 10x32 FL's are very similar to the SLC's. I will report on this in my comparison between the SLC's and the FL's later on.

#28 Erik Bakker

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:20 PM

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.


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#29 KennyJ

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:33 PM

Erik,

Thank you for your tremendous effort in providing these intriguing revelations.

Two questions:

1. Does the Nikon 18x70 REALLY have a 70 degree AFOV?

2. What is the EFFECTIVE eye-relief with the Nikon 18x70?

Thanks in advance!

Kenny

#30 Erik Bakker

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:40 PM

1. Does the Nikon 18x70 REALLY have a 70 degree AFOV?


Yes Kenny, or even a bit wider.

As far as the eye relief goes, the Nikon are fine without glasses, but (too) tight with glasses I reckon. Never measured the eye relief and I don't wear glasses while observing

#31 JustaBoy

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:42 PM

Kenny,

For eye relief in a big binocular, have you ever considered the 15x85mm BA8? - I don't think that the 15x70mm would cut it for you, as they use the 19mm FL eyepieces, rather than the 27mm FL ones used in their lower power models of the series (7x50, 10.5x70, 15x85, 20x110).

Thanks,
-Chuck

#32 KennyJ

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 07:02 PM

< Kenny, For eye relief in a big binocular, have you ever considered the 15x85mm BA8? >

Not that I can recall, although may have done so once, perhaps for a fleeting moment, a few years ago, when short of anything more interesting to consider.

In any case, I'm more interested in 15x binoculars no larger than 70mm, and preferably 60mm or less.

Kenny

#33 hallelujah

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 07:29 PM

In any case, I'm more interested in 15x binoculars no larger than 70mm, and preferably 60mm or less.

Kenny


According to specs the Orion 15x63 has excellent eye relief. (19mm)

http://www.telescope...ni-Giant-15x...

The Nikon Action Extreme 16x50 has an advertised eye relief of 17.8mm.

http://www.nikon.com...ard/ex_x35x4...

Stan

#34 Stellarfire

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 01:40 PM

Hi Erik,

A comparo between the Swaro SLC 15x56 and the Docter 15x60 would be interesting to many of us. Do you have access to a Docter?

Stephan

#35 Erik Bakker

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:02 PM

Hi Stephan,

No, I don't have access to a Docter 15x60 for comparison. My educated guess is, that the Swaro SLC will have better brightness, sharpness and contrast in a much smaller package. The Docter will have slightly less performance, but at a much lower price.

#36 Stellarfire

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:20 PM

Thanks, Erik, for your feedback.

Stephan

#37 KennyJ

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 02:55 PM

< According to specs the Orion 15x63 has excellent eye relief. (19mm)>

< The Nikon Action Extreme 16x50 has an advertised eye relief of 17.8mm. >

Thanks for that info, Stan. Credit when due! :-)

For some reason I often forget all about that Orion 15x63 Mini-Giant.

I wish now I'd have bought one of those all those years ago instead of it's slightly bigger sibling, the 15x70 Little Giant 11.

Kenny

#38 hallelujah

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:01 PM

Thanks for that info, Stan. Credit when due! :-)

You're Welcome!

For some reason I often forget all about that Orion 15x63 Mini-Giant.

I wish now I'd have bought one of those all those years ago instead of it's slightly bigger sibling, the 15x70 Little Giant 11.

Perhaps the 15x63 was not being manufactured at that time.

Kenny


Stan

#39 KennyJ

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:05 PM

< Perhaps the 15x63 was not being manufactured at that time. >

I'm pretty sure it was actually, Stan.

#40 hallelujah

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:11 PM

Kenny,

What is your opinion of the Nikon 16x50 Action Extreme? :thinking:

Have you ever looked through one?

Stan

#41 KennyJ

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:14 PM

Never looked through one, Stan.

Edit -- Perhaps I should!

#42 JustaBoy

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:15 PM

I'd like to learn about the 16x50 AE too.

Seems like no one gets that one. - I don't see it as being too much power with the mid-quality optics of the Nikon AE.

-Chuck

#43 hallelujah

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 04:46 PM

I'd like to learn about the 16x50 AE too. Seems like no one gets that one.

-Chuck


Several years ago I had the Nikon Action 16x50.
My number one complaint was the excessive ghost images on the full moon.
The Action series has fewer AR coatings than the Action Extreme binoculars.

I sold the Action 16x and purchased the Pentax 16x60 PCF WP binocular and never looked back. :like:

I wouldn't mind having an Action Extreme 16x50 because of the smaller size & the close focus of 23';
however, I really don't need one. ;)

Stan

#44 JustaBoy

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:01 PM

Of course you Need one, Stan:-)

Re: Pentax 16x60s - Why does it seem that every time someone makes something really good, and at a reasonable price, they discontinue it:-( ? :thinking:

Lying in a Zero Gravity chair with my arms all braced up, I "might" just "might" be able to hand-hold these. - The 20x scares me, as I'm not as Big, Strong, Tough, Young or Inexperienced as some are here:-(

As the French Say - "That's Life" . :smirk:

~Chuck

#45 Stellarfire

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 05:17 AM

Fields were sharp for 3/4 of the field with only slight deterioration towards the edge. Almost EL-class. But without the rolling ball effect of the EL. All in all a great combination of sharpness over the field of view and comfort of the view.

Erik, comparing the Swaro SLC 10x56 WB with the Zeiss Victory 10x56 FL on the night sky, I guess both are giving on-axis the same pinpoint sharpness. But which of both models shows the better off-axis sharpness, before it deteriorates towards the edge of field of view? Is there a clear winner in this discipline?




When the moon is far (40-50 degrees) outside the field of view in the SLC 56's, it generates a weak reflection, but nothing to worry about in the field.

Comparing the Swaro SLC 10x56 WB with the Zeiss Victory 10x56 FL, which one wins the moon (outside FOV) reflection contest?


Stephan

#46 Erik Bakker

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 07:09 AM

Comparing the SLC 10x56 vs FL 10x56 for edge sharpness, the SLC's win. That is from memory, but the new SLC's are definitely sharper towards the edge than the 56 FL's.

Reflections with the moon outside the field I cannot say, have not compared that side-side. But that is nothing to worry about in real life observing IMHO.

I am still waiting for a pair of loan FL 56's from Zeiss for direct comparisons. As soon as these arrive, I'll see how they perform.
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#47 Stellarfire

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 09:28 AM

Erik, thank you so far. The comparo between the Swaro and Zeiss 10x56's will be hot awaited!

With its improved off-axis sharpness (compared to the Zeiss Victory), the Swaro SLC 10x56 WB might become the new shooting star to all prospective buyers looking for a high-end 10x56.

Without image stabilization, and regular and extended observation sessions in relaxed lying position in mind, I think a 10x56 is the sweet spot of a handheld astronomical binocular. Larger models need a tripod or image stabilization. This is just my subjective opinion, based on personal experience with my beloved 1980's vintage Zeiss-Jena Notarem 10x40B (made in DDR/Eastern Germany), new purchased back in 1991 and still going strong.


Stephan

#48 Sgt

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 07:13 PM

I wonder if it's worth upgrading from the previous generation 15x56SLC?

#49 Erik Bakker

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 08:44 PM

I wonder if it's worth upgrading from the previous generation 15x56SLC?


Yes! The new SLC 15x56 is a big step forward, foremost in color correction.
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#50 Jae

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 10:34 PM

Erik,

Thank you for your detailed, insightful review.

Jae


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