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Swarovski 8x25 CL Pocket Binoculars

Hands-on Review

by Diane Porter

Always at hand

Diane PorterI'm just going to town for groceries and the library, and I have my shopping bags, handbag, and library books to manage. There wait my binoculars on the shelf by the door. I might see a bobwhite on the roadside fence. Is it too much bother to take the binoculars along?

Swarovski CL PocketNo matter how great your binocular is, if it's left on the shelf, you can't see anything with it.

That's why I love pocket binoculars. They always whisper, "Take me! I'm no bother. I'm small."

They slip easily into your purse or pocket.

The problem with most pocket binoculars

Trouble is, most tiny binoculars are less fun to use than regular, full- or mid-sized binoculars. Too small for a comfortable grip in your hands. It seems awkward to use the focus knob. The eyecups are too small to rest easily against the eye, and if you don't wear glasses you might find you have to hold them away from your eyes. Ooh, unsteady!

Yes, they're compact, and OK if nothing else is available, but most birders don't want to use them as their main binoculars.

CL Pocket (Sand)What's right about the new Swarovski CL Pocket?

Swarovski has a new pocket binocular, called the CL Pocket, that answers these issues. I recently tested the 8x25 version. And here are some of the great things I discovered about it.

Big, comfortable eyecups

One of the first things that struck me about the CL Pocket was its big eyecups. In many pocket binoculars, the eyecups are too small to rest against the bony orbit of the eye, making it harder to hold the binocular steady. I don’t wear glasses, and when I first put the CL Pocket to my eyes, I was impressed with how comfortable its generous, large-sized eyecups are compared to all the pocket binoculars I’ve tried before.

Bigger objective in the 8-power Pocket

CL Pocket (Sand)The CL Pocket I tested was an 8x25, with a larger exit pupil than you get with most 8-power pocket binoculars, which are usually 8x20. I found it easier to position in front of my eyes. That could save me seconds when trying to get on a bird. They'll also be brighter in dim light.

Long eye relief

Michael, my husband, who wears aviator-style glasses and requires long eye relief, said that the 8x25 CL Pocket worked wonderfully for him and gave the best big-picture experience he’s had with any pocket binocular. Other pocket binoculars sometimes don't offer enough eye relief, so a glasses wearer may not see the whole image. With the Swarovski CL Pocket, you get to enjoy 100% of the field of view.

Hand friendly

The big surface area on the CL Pocket's bridge made it easy to grip. I got full hand and finger contact. That will make it easier to grip the binocular the same way each time. It naturally points better, so it's easier to spot a bird.  It felt more like a mid-sized 8x32 binocular than a pocket binocular.

The armored surface covering was grippy and as pleasant to the touch as any binocular I've ever used.

PocketEven though, at 12.2 ounces it's a little heavier than some other pocket binoculars, it's still really very compact. And the ergonomic advantages overwhelm the slight increase in size and weight. But it will still fold up and fit in your shirt pocket.

Focus knob

A good focus knob makes big points with me. It lets me forget about focusing and focus on the bird!

Many pocket binoculars have fussy or awkward focus knobs, requiring a learning curve when you switch from a normal binocular. In contrast, the CL Pocket’s focus knob has an especially comfortable and instinctive ergnomic design.

A sloped recession in the top surface of the binocular guides your finger to fall naturally on the focus knob. The knob turns smoothly, with no backlash or glitchiness, and with just the perfect amount of resistance. It’s the most comfortable focus knob solution of any of the pocket binoculars I've tried.

I love it. Good job, Swarovski!

Interpupillary distance

CL Pocket (folded)Customers are always asking me for a binocular that will fit close-set eyes. The CL Pockets have an interpupillary distance with a huge range, from 1.9 to 2.9 inches. It would work even for a small child, as well as for an adult with either narrowly or especially wide-spaced eyes.

If you ever bird with kids, this would be the binocular to share. And if you wanted to provide a child with a superb birding experience, the CL Pocket would be a binocular he or she would never outgrow.

Optics

Nobody beats Swarovski on optical quality. The CL line provides an experience of high-end optics at a moderate price. The 8x25s cost a fraction of what you'd pay for the 8.5x42 Swarovision ELs. The CL Pocket seems like an excellent bargain. And because they're Swarovski quality, they'll last and keep a high resale value.

Of course, they are nitrogen filled, fogproof, dustproof and dirtproof, watertight to a depth of 13 feet. They focus as close as 8.5 feet.

They come in two sizes and three colors: 8x25 and 10x25; green, sand, and black.

For more details and specifications, click either of the green buttons below.

8x25 or 10x25?

After testing the 8x25 CL Pocket, I liked it a lot. It does have a wider field of view than the 10x25. However, I prefer to use a 10-power binocular. My hand is steady enough to allow a stable image, and I appreciate that bit of extra magnification. I thought it over and ordered the 10x25 Swarovski CL Pocket for myself. (Read about my first experience with my new 10x25 CL Pocket)

Price info  Buy it

Northern Bobwhite


 

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Copyright 2013 Michael and Diane Porter.