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Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Binocular Review (Open Bridge Design)

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Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Binoculars in Green Color
Image Credit - Swarovski

Magnification: 8.5X
Power Variability: Fixed
Objective Diameter: 42 mm
Close Focus Distance: 4.9 ft
Dimensions: 6.3 x 5.2 x 2.4 in
Weight: 29.5 oz
Field of View: 399 ft/1000 yards
Eye Relief/Exit Pupil: 20 mm/4.9 mm
Optics Coatings: Fully multi-coated
Glass: Swarovski
Prism System: Roof
Focus System: Center
Waterproof/Fog-proof: Yes
Eye cups: Twist-up
Tripod adaptable: No
Rangefinder: No

Best Uses: Hunting, For the Range, Bird Watching, Event Observation, Hiking, Sight Seeing

Swarovski EL 8.5x42 Binocular Review

In my opinion, every Swarovski binocular deserves featuring, but they're so darn expensive. It may be its only drawback, but I do get that Swarovski doesn't do a "low-end" line in fear of degrading their reputation and glass quality. Despite the outrageous prices, Swarovski is every bit justified in demanding high costs for high-performing and high-quality binoculars.

Swarovski 8.5 x42mm EL Binoculars Green in Color
Image Credit - Swarovski

One such optic is the EL 8.5x42 binocular. You might remember we reviewed its sibling, the EL 10x42 binoculars. It's superb in every which way, but the EL series did undergo a face-lift for its debut in 2016/17. This model here is the new and updated version of the already popular binocular.

You have the open bridge design with a sleek and slim profile that's been fitted with the same rubber armor as the old models. The armor is relatively thin compared to other binoculars, but it does feature thumb indents and a very fine texture for comfort and non-slip grip.

The objective lenses are also set quite deep into the objective bell at 15 mm from the ends of the barrels. Being so far back, they're more protected from dust and rain drops from settling on the lenses as well as acting like a short sunshade to prevent glare.

The optical quality is exactly as expected for a Swarovski. Outfitted with SwaroVision, SwaroBright, and SwaroClean, you can't really add anything more without being over the top. But, we'll save the optic good stuff for the Q&A below.

Even for an expensive optic, people still buy it. Why? It's a Swarovski - one of the absolute best optics in the world. There's no way you'll find a gripe about this baby, maybe except for the price!


  • World-class glass
  • Unparalleled coating quality
  • Open bridge design
  • Magnesium alloy chassis
  • Metal eyepieces


  • Price

Swarovski EL 8.5X42 Q&A:

What are the Differences between the Old and the New EL 8.5x42 binocular models?

Most of the upgrades have been in the way of redesigning the exterior for improved aesthetics, ergonomics, and functionality. One such obvious upgrade is the change in the neck strap connection system. Another upgrade came in the way of new objective lens covers, and some cosmetic changes. One obvious cosmetic change is where their logo is placed on the binocular.

Is the EL 8.5x42 Swarovski binocular heavy?

This model weighs 29.5 oz, and is on the heavier end for its magnification and aperture platform. Lending to its still light weight is the extremely durable magnesium alloy chassis that's corrosion-resistant, robust, and is far superior to polycarbonate plastic or even aluminum. A benefit of this slightly heavier optic (compared to other mid-size binoculars) is its ability to be held steadier in the hands with a high power range of 8X.

What is the Eyepiece Size on the 8.5x42 EL Swarovski's?

Again, for a mid-size binocular, it sure does feature full-size performance. The ocular size is 23 mm - about as large as any other eyepiece on a full-size binocular.

What is SwaroVision?

SwaroVision technology is a comprehensive process that includes field flattener lenses, fluoride HD glass, and Swarovski patented lens coatings to provide unprecedented image quality never seen before.

What are Field Flattener lenses?

This is a feature only seen on premium, high-end optics. These lenses are found in the eyepieces of the binocular and they prevent distorted images across the entire view of the image. When focusing on a target in the center of the image, the edge of the image may become out of focus, and vice versa. To prevent these distortions, field flattener lenses bring into focus the entire image into the same focal plane so that you have edge-to-edge clarity and perfect focus.

What is Fluoride HD glass?

Target Tamers recognizes this quality of glass as ED (Extra-low dispersion) glass. The glass itself contains elements of fluoride crystals to provide a sharper image. This type of glass reduces chromatic aberration by reducing light dispersion within the optical plane of the binocular.

What are Swarovski's patented Lens Coatings?

The lenses and prism glass get a coat of Swarovski's Swarotop and Swarodur coatings. It's a multi-layered coating with wide-band anti-reflective properties to prevent glare and unwanted reflections. Swaro also claims that they can reduce "surface light reflection from a level between 4 and 6% to an impressive 0.2%."

What is SwaroClean?

This is an external coating application that's non-stick and allows for easier cleaning of dust, debris, dirt, and smudges. Eliminating having to apply too much pressure to clean the lenses, you reduce your chances of accidentally scratching the coating and the glass.

Noteworthy Features:

  • Unparalleled image quality with multiple optical technologies
  • Swarovski glass - high-end, top-of-the-line, world-class
  • Swaro's P-Coating for phase correction coatings in roof prism binocular
  • New to 2016/17 model with upgrades
  • Made in Austria

Our Verdict on the EL 8.5x42 Binoculars

To glass it up, the EL 8.5x42 is our favorite Swarovski binocular. To be honest, every Swarovski binocular is our favorite. They're excellent products that have value and hold it year after year. However, it is a bit of a "bite the bullet" moment when you decide to spend this amount of cash on not just a binocular, but realistically, anything.

Swarovski 2016 binoculars in Green
Image Credit - Swarovski

Just to ease the pains of spending so much cash at once, you could bigger and go all out with another flagship brand with the Vortex Razor HD 12x50 binoculars for less than half the price of the Swarovski!

But, in the end, can anyone do it better than Swarovski? No matter the price drop, no matter the extra features piled on, it's still not a Swarovski at the end of the day.

Perhaps, if you change your perspective from "biting the bullet" to a "seize the day" kind of attitude, you'll understand that you're getting your once in a lifetime buy today. Will you ever get to do it again? Probably not. Good thing for you, buying a Swarovski is a lifetime buy!

Further Reading

Photo of author

Simon Cuthbert - Founder

Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the founder of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. Simon has contributed to notable publications online and teaches beginners the technical side of optics through his extensive library of optics guides.

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