New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - My Review of a 8x32 EL; 8x30 SLC NEU and a 8x30 CL
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Check for SWFA's No Reserve and No Minimum bid firearm auctions.

My Review of a 8x32 EL; 8x30 SLC NEU and a 8x30 CL

 Post Reply Post Reply   Topic Search Topic Search  Topic Options Topic Options
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/18/2011 at 21:04
stephen b View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: November/05/2009
Status: Offline
Points: 33
Note:-  Advance notice- this is a long review-

I posted this review over on the "Birdforum" site- in the binocular section. I thought I would also post it here.

This is a review of the 3 binoculars that Swarovski makes in the 30 and 32 mm size- The 8x32 EL, the 8x30 SLC NEU and the new 8x30 CL. This is not the highest level of binocular that Swarovski makes. That category is reserved for the recently released, just this year- the Swarovision and the SLC HD. But these are the best that Swarovski offers in 30 and 32 mm at this time.

I am reviewing newly purchased binoculars. The 8x32 EL and the 8x30 SLC had a manufactured date of 2010 and the CL was manufactured in 2011. This a personal review that is based on my personal empirical observations using my eyes and my hands. No specialized instruments were used -other than a tripod/-viewing platform.

I tested the binoculars by viewing from the second floor and my back deck of my house. From this point, I have a view across the Mckenzie River Valley here in Oregon. I can look across the valley and see the hillside across at about 2.5 miles in distance. So I can see from 1 ft to 2.5 miles +. I have a wide variety of items to focus on to test a binocular for- FOV, image sharpness, clarity, image color saturation and rendition and also contrast. These include tree trunks, bare branches and foliage on evergreens and deciduous trees and grasslands and rock formations across the valley. There is an active logging operation going on across the valley.  I can view the river down below with a beaver den along one bank. I can observe a # of different birds from small song birds to Osprey's, Turkey Vultures, Blue Herons, ducks, geese, etc.

Here is a couple pics:

All of this gives me a wide variety of color and contrast to test the image quality of a binocular. Along with this, I have a # of different specific focal points that I use in this setting to regularly focus on to use as reference points.  I looked at the binoculars during all times of day and different lighting conditions including bright and low light and cloudy and sunny conditions.

 Some Basic specs on the binoculars:

8x32 EL

Price:     $1639 (on sale from reg. price of $1929
FOV         420 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight      21.9 oz
Eye Relief  15mm
close focus 7 ft.

8x30 SLC NEU

Price:     $849 (on sale from reg. price of $1149
FOV         408 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight      20.8 oz
Eye Relief  15mm
close focus 13 ft.

8x30 CL

Price:     $929
FOV         372 ft. at 1000 yds.
Weight      17.6 oz
Eye Relief  15mm
close focus 9.8 ft.

Observations and review:

I will first give a summary of where I ranked these in a few basic categories and then will give a discussion and summary.

Ergonomics (fit and overall handling)

  Rank order- 1. EL 2. CL 3. SLC

Build "Sturdiness "robustness" if you will

  Rank order- 1. SLC 2. I would say tie with the EL and CL

Focus (Knob and use)

  Rank order- 1. EL 2. CL 3. SLC

Diopter (position, build ,use)

  Rank order- 1. SLC 2. EL 3. CL

Eye relief

  Rank Order- All Equal- all listed at 15mm and all was adequate for me and my glasses


  Rank order- 1. EL 2. SLC 3. CL

Optic Image Quality:

 A. Sharpness/ clarity

     Rank order- 1. EL 2. SLC 3. CL

 B. Resolution of detail (using my eyes)

     Rank order- 1. EL 2. SLC 3. CL

 C. Brightness (summary of all times day- so includes low light)

     Rank order- All were pretty good in this test-
        1. EL 2. a tie-  SLC and CL

D.  Image Colors- (True Rendition and Saturation)

      Rank order- 1. EL 2. SLC 3. CL

E.  Image Contrast

      Rank order- 1. EL 2. SLC 3. CL

F. Image "Sweet Spot" size

      Rank order- 1. EL 2. SLC 3. CL

G. Edge to edge sharpness/ performance

      Rank order- 1. SLC 2. EL 3. CL

H. CA (Chromatic Aberration) ** Footnote- I do not have a problem with CA myself and I did look for this and found a little here- minor. The EL was a little worse at the edge compared to the other 2, but this very well might be due to its large FOV. In the cent none of them were a big problem. The SLC NEU seemed to control CA very well and the CL did a good job also.

      Rank order- To me-  All 3 binoculars overall tie as far as the center axis with the SLC and the CL having a slight edge over the EL in regards to edge CA.

My Final overall Ranking of these 30 and 32 MM Swarovski binoculars. This is in regards to my  overall Optical and Mechanical summary review.

  1. 8x32 EL
  2. 8x30 SLC NEU

  3. 8x30 CL

Discussion and summary opinion:

This discussion will mostly focus on the new 8x30 CL binocular; as the 8x30 SLC NEU and the 8x32 EL have been out for a while and have been used & reviewed quite a bit. They (the SLC and EL) are about at the end of their run as models. In fact the SLC NEU in any configuration has stopped production and IMO it is only a mater of time that the same can be said about the 8x32 EL- since all other EL's are no longer made and have been upgraded by the Swarovision. Hopefully in a matter of time there will be a 8x30 SLC HD and a 8x32 SV- but who knows.

So to get started with my opinion and explanation of my rankings above- first of all it was my opinion that the EL was quite a bit better than the other 2 and to me that makes sense. I have tested the SLC and the EL in this size before and that was my conclusion then and it is the same thing I found with these samples. I know that Swarovski has said in the past (and I have had their techs tell me the same thing) that the glass and the coatings are the same- only difference is the housing. But, that is just not what testing bears out. I have had a rep from one of the big optic sellers (who does and has had a # of Swarovski's) tell me that there was a definite difference in the resolution between the EL and the SLC. That is what I also found to be true over the last few days with these samples.

The 8x32 EL is considered by many to be one of the all time great 8x32's. I certainly would have to say that it is in that category. It may be debatable (in whose eyes and hands) as to which optic maker makes the best 8x32 (Swarovski; Zeiss; Leica: Nikon- etc.)- but the Swaro 8x32 EL is right in the thick of that discussion. It just has a wonderful ergonomic feel- great FOV and great sharpness and color rendition. It is certainly near the top of the heap. With my testing- I found it to be simply the superior one of these 3. 

As far as specifics with my testing- I will start with ergos and fit- build quality. First of all- these are Swarvski's- so they are all well built. The EL has the best fit and feel. The SLC NEU the most sturdy feel and solid build. The CL is nice for its light weight and if you have small-med. hand size, you can wrap your hands around a good part of the barrel's. If your hands are large- then that might not be as much the case. Mine are (M)- but thick so I wear (L) gloves and I had no problem getting a good amount of the barrel wrapped with my hands on the CL.

Even though they are all well built there are a couple negatives. For some people they can not get use to the focus knob location of the 8x30 SLC NEU and is a real concern for some people. Some people say that the CL has put it back in the "right" place. Well I have owned a SLC in this size since 1994 and the focus knob location has never been a problem for me. In fact when wearing a hat while hunting, or in bad weather- I find the forward focus a good thing since the hat does not get in the way of the forward focus knob location. But for it to work well- the focus has to be smooth enough to be able to operate easily with the ring or little finger. I have never had a problem with 2 different 7x30 SLC's that I have owned - and it was never a problem right from the start. A friend has had a 8x30 SLC for years and it was not a problem either. But.... I do not know what the deal is with the last 3 8x30 SLC NEU's that I have examined? The focus knob on all of them have been stiff out of the box- enough so that forget about pinky finger focusing- but the ring finger is even not the easiest for fine delicate focusing. I can get it done- but it is much more of a chore than my "smooth as fine olive oil" focus on my 7x30 SLC. Maybe with time the knob on the 8x30 SLC NEU would loosen up; I know someone that sent back a brand new one to Swaro to smooth out that focus, and he said it came back better. Well enough on that.

Only problem that I have with the EL as far as build (besides that it might not be as sturdy as the SLC's IMO) is the "plastic" feeling focus knob. I much prefer the rubber type one on the SLC's. They are less slippery in wet weather. Oh, and another thing- I do not care for the diopter adjustment on the EL's being under that focus knob. I much prefer the diopter adj. on the SLC's.

CL and the build- it also has that plastic type of focus knob. And here is what I do not understand- it does not even have a locking diopter! The location on the (R) eyepiece is fine- but why could they not build a locking diopter. Swarovski has been doing that for eons and even the cheaper companies usually puts them on there bino's. It seems to stay in place well enough- but time could tell on that.

So now down to the optics of the new CL's,  and "where the glass meets the sky" (similar to "where the rubber meets the road"- but tailored to optics) ;^)

In comparing all 3 of these- even though the 8x30 CL has a nice feel and are fairly bright- The first thing that you notice right away is the  lacking FOV. It is especially apparent when you have all 3 of these and look at them side by side. It happens no matter what order that you look at the scale of the FOV. The EL's 420 ft. seem great and the SLC's 408 ft seems pretty good and you still notice it being less than the EL though. And then when you pick up the CL with its 372 ft FOV- you go- "Whoa- that really seems constricted and tunnel like". When you go back up the ladder so to speak from the CL to SLC and on to the EL- your eyes and mind (at least mine did) goes- "that seems much better" and on to the EL- "Oh, that is quite nice". The CL's 372 ft to me was much more of a constricting view- even when compared to my 378 ft for my 7x30 SLC. In fact I was shocked that there were only 6 ft different in the specs. The 7x30 SLC's 378 ft- does not seem in my apparent (to my eyes) FOV to be that much different than the 408 of the SLC- at least to me- but the CL's seem to be way less that the SLC NEU. With the CL's you seem to really notice the black outline of the barrel- and with the others it was not the case.

As far as edge to edge sharpness- all were not bad, but the SLC NEU had the least amount of fall off and tended to just nicely "feather" if you will to its final edge. The EL edge was maybe slightly more apparent- and this might have been because the sweet spot center is so big, I noticed a more prominent edge for it when compared to the gentle feathered  edge of the SLC NEU.

The CL surprised me- in that especially since it has a smaller FOV than the SLC NEU-  and I would have expected because of that, that its edge to edge would be better than the SLC. But.... it was not! The edge of the CL was more noticeable than the edge of the SLC NEU.

Also concerning edge qualities- my 1999 7x30 SLC has a better edge to edge sharpness than all 3 of these. I know it has just a 378 ft FOV-, but it has a very sharp edge to edge sharpness within that FOV. I read somewhere where the eye piece design of that 7x30 SLC- had a flatter field than the 8x30 SLC of its day.

Image qualities: The El was the best here. The SLC NEU was a step behind as far as resolution- even though the colors seemed quite a bit the same. A lot has been noted in the past by others about these 2- so I am going to get right on to how the optics in the CL were.

The CL was a definite step behind the EL- that was apparent right away.  It was also a step behind the SLC. The colors were not as quite as sharp and especially the clearness and resolution of detail. The contrast was not as good either.

I have some real good items to look at to test these things. One is some bare branches at the top of some Cottonwood trees along the river. There a couple of them that stick up in groups of 3-5 and it is similar to looking at antlers. With the EL esp. and with also the SLC- it was easier to distinguish the separate ones. With the CL the detail was not as fine. Same thing when looking at other foliage and bark on trees and also looking at fine contrast difference between grassy hillsides and rocks with similar colors across the valley. With this test of detail, colors and contrast- it was easily apparent that the EL- it was simply the best, no question. It was also apparent that the SLC NEU was better at this that the CL's. The color and contrast of the rocks, trees, grass etc., etc, and sharpness was better with the SLC.

**** a thing I did notice when comparing all 3- the coatings on the outside of the EL and the SLC NEU looked identical. The CL's were not as dark, or were not the same green color. What this means, I do not know- but it was apparent. Also looking down on the inside of all 3 barrels, one thing stood out. The CL's had a much different baffling rings that surrounded the inside and were prominent when looking inside the barrels. This was not the case when looking down the SLC's or the EL's. What this means, again I am not sure.

I went into this testing with an open mind and eyes. I know that I had some theories before hand and posted some of those. And I had already been told by a dealer that in his opinion- the CL was a step optically behind the SLC NEU. But.... when I tested these- I put all that behind me and had  open eyes. I spent probably 3-4 hours over the course of 3 days testing these and going back and forth. And some things were just always there. I would be extremely surprised if I had 10 people testing the CL and the SLC for pure optic qualities to have any one of them tell me that the CL was better than the SLC NEU. It was that apparent. And not to mention the CL even being anywhere close to the 8x32 EL; that is just not the case!

*** side note -  The CL was to me not near as good with clarity and fine detail as my 1999 7x30 SLC. Even with its (CL) 8x- it did not do as good with sharpness and fine detail as the 7x30. The CL's had nice color and were bright, but they lagged behind with the sharpness, clarity and contrast. The difference was somewhat surprising to me.  I went back and forth with them over all 3 days. Also as can be imagined- the 7x30's had a better overall depth of field, but... they also to me had a much more pleasing- relaxed view. Plus on top of all that- my 7x30 SLC has a much better edge to edge sharpness when compared to the CL.

Now IMO- my 7x30 SLC's are superb? When I sent them in last year to Swaro to have the hinge tightened up and to check on the possibility of getting the EZ clean lens- this is what Melissa from SONA wrote back to me:

"...When you called you asked for the new lenses with the EZ to clean coatings , unfortunately the glass is not available for 7x30 SLC’s, they have been discontinued.  According to the technician, your lenses are in almost perfect condition....."

**** also on another side note- the 8x30 CL's were not near as good optically as my 8x32 Pentax DCF ED's. But that is a whole other discussion.

So where does this leave the CL?- To me, exactly where Swarovski had targeted and planned for them to be. A lightweight sub-midsized,  lower tier (for them) bino compared to their HD's and The SV. These allow someone to get into the Swaro line at a lower tier/ price point than their other ever increasing higher priced  top tier ones. These will compete with other mid level binos and will give someone the ability to have a Swaro bino without spending close to 2K.

Here is a link to the somewhat cheesy video about the CL's  on the Swarovski website (BTW- the main emphasis of the video is on the CL's lightweight and small size):

in the website's video- one of the quotes is:

" This is a great introductory binocular for the consumer who hasn't had the chance to kind of jump into the Swarovki family, so to speak"... "so for those people who have, you know,  never stepped into the Swarovski family"....

 They were not making a brand new mouse trap and have it have all the greatest features and then charge half of their upper tier. These CL's do not defy the laws of physics or economic sensibility. Would I have liked a 17 oz. non- ED/HD small FOV 30 mm glass to be as good as one with HD and one that costs twice as much? As Sarah Palin would say- "You Betcha"

 They (Swarovski)  will probably either upgrade the 8x30 SLC NEU or the 8x32 EL at some point in time to the next tier of HD's/ SV's and then they will certainly cost more.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/19/2011 at 17:26
coyote95 View Drop Down
Optics Professional
Optics Professional

Joined: January/24/2009
Location: michigan
Status: Offline
Points: 762
thanks for your review     nice pictures Smile
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/17/2011 at 06:32
IanSmith View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: October/17/2011
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1
wow, quite impresing
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Similar Threads: "My Review of a 8x32 EL; 8x30 SLC NEU and a 8x30 CL"
Subject Author Forum Replies Last Post
My Review of a 8x32 EL; 8x30 SLC NEU and a 8x30 CL stephen b Binoculars 0
Swarovski CL 8x30 vs EL 8x32 BobH Binoculars 8
Swarovski: 8x30 SLC vs 8x32 EL pedi Binoculars 1
Swaro SLC 8x30 neu FS skywalker Optics For Sale 1
Swaro CL 8x30 or Leica Ultravid 8x32?? nyrifleman Binoculars 9
Leica 8x32 BR vs Swaro 8x30 SLC ? tjsshl Binoculars 16
SOLD: SLC 8x30 Swaro Binos yellowdog Optics For Sale 0
Swarovski 8x30 SLC Binoculars niles coyote Optics For Sale 1
Swarovski 8x30 SLC binoculars Nitrosteel Binoculars 1
Swarovski 8x30 slc binaculars little cleo Binoculars 0

This page was generated in 0.108 seconds.