Swarovski 8x42 EL Range Binoculars
- By Chris Parkin
- 93 Comments
- Last updated: 20/08/2021
Always the innovator, Swarovski has now added not just Bluetooth connectivity to their EL range binoculars with ballistic functionality, but also the new ‘Tracking Assistant’ (TA). Ballistic calculators within a Binocular Rangefinder (BRF) is certainly not new, but the company has done it well by using a visually uncluttered app, with reliable connectivity for both setup and refining trajectory solutions. The keen eyes will want to know what the TA is and this is where Swarovski has got ahead of the competition. Essentially, when you are setting up or have taken a shot, the binoculars can either pair with your phone to overlay a range and compass bearing onto a map or, as is perhaps a little more likely in remote hunting areas, allow you to record and retain that bearing and range from the firing point so when locating the animal, reverse your bearings and distances from the firing point to pinpoint the fallen.
Weighing in at 930-grams, the green rubber armour extends beyond the 42mm objective lenses to offer protection, in addition to the folding lens caps. The underside shows a Bluetooth activation button as well as a peep sight alignment aperture, which isn’t a common sight. The parallel roof prism equipped tubes offer broad hand space with low profile, quick-release (QR) anchors for a neoprene neck strap (included). This features a QR length adjuster and paired eyepiece caps slotted on for protection. It certainly spreads load comfortably, but the adjustment buckle somewhat interferes with rifle positioning in your shoulder. The interpupillary spacing ranges from 56-74mm as the twin hinged bridges open, while the twist-up eyecups offer four positions for eye relief/positional preference.
The binoculars deliver a wonderfully bright, 90% light transmission image with crucially, easily fingertip-controlled focus without backlash, to allocate your depth of field to the area of specific interest. The field of view is flat across its [email protected] span and colour rendition is what we expect from this premium maker, rich and with detailed contrast. It’s especially noticeably in the greens and brown we so often require. The outer grippy green protective rubber coating wipes clean and you get a compact clamshell case for durable storage. Inside is space for the physical instruction book, which I find most helpful, even if the app is notably intuitive.
The right tube’s collar, below the eyecup, focuses the right eye on the internal red LED reticle/display screen, which is activated by the upper initiation button. Follow this with the central focus on a distant image before balancing the left eye’s dioptre. The reflected laser ranges to target as expected, while the EL’s also measure temperature, pressure, inclination and after app setup, display a ballistic shot solution.
App connectivity requires simultaneous three-second hold of the upper and underside buttons and a blue LED clearly identifies status, making activation on/off immediate, without additional menu functions after the first time ‘paired’. Bluetooth shuts off automatically after a few minutes if you haven’t done so manually, either way, it needs to be ‘off’ for regular BRF operation!
App setup on your phone enables chosen screen brightness, measurement units and the selection of three pre-programmed rifle setups with corresponding ballistics and a readout in chosen units (Clicks, mRad or MOA). The EL’s store a single solution once set up and transferred, but swapping to another takes less than 30 seconds. The app is not needed day-to-day unless altering variables to further refine shot solution precision.
The menu screens show good contrast and I rate them highly for clarity. I never had any issue with immediate pairing connection, which is crucial, as each laser ‘shot’ stores range, compass bearing, and inclination within the EL’s so after Bluetooth connection is re-established, the last three transfer to tally with the TA capability. You can overlay your location from laser measurement onto a map as long as you have 4/5G signal. If you don’t have a signal, the compass bearing, and range details can be used for more traditional navigational tracking to/from the firing point. With network functionality, everything works smoothly, real-time positional updates were almost instantaneous as you move from firing point to target. Without 4/5G (which isn’t exactly unlikely in the wilderness), it’s more work and isn’t an absolute problem solver. But as long as you recorded that bearing and range, it’s definitely a useful ‘assistant’ as the name advertises.
Factory-based ballistic data is offered or ‘handload’ input for more options than just muzzle velocity 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 this does not really matter with technical units supported as a priority. It’s a damn good first offering and of course, future firmware updates may well alter it further. Metric and imperial are simultaneously converted with both displayed at setup, which is superb as it removes any confusion.
It’s a shame the app only stores three profiles but in fairness, how many are needed on a single hunting trip? Minimalism avoids complication on what is a hunting product for realistic hunting shots. I was concerned Swarovski might make the app too arty, a non-technical tool, but I’m pleased with the balance of functionality and clarity prioritised.
The online bullet database shows most hunting options and I would always stress to not just type in the factory data and hope for the best, but shot solutions displayed have all been within single click adjustments on the scope. The rangefinder was not the strongest I have used for ultimate range but again, this is a hunting, not a target tool and in full daylight with rain (the harshest conditions for signal return), still gave accurate results out to just over 1100m.
For the hunter, regardless of Tracking Assistant, these offer a fine balance of technical functionality while still maintaining premium optical capability.