There are things that fill the dreams of many a birder. For some its trips to exotic locations that promise a bucket of lifers, for others, it is seeing a special species such as an African Pitta displaying and showing off their stunning plumage, and others it is owning a pair of Swarovski Binoculars.
As a birder, I have been able to visit many special places, and seeing an African Pitta is still a dream of mine. However, over the last few months in some small way, a small dream was realised when I was able to use a pair of Swarovski Binoculars.
The reality is that all too often the idealistic dreams of how certain things pan out do not always match up. Would this be the case with a pair of dark green binoculars with a Northern Goshawk as its logo?
These binoculars at first glance may invoke mixed feelings in many a birder.
You see, I have been using 10x40 binoculars up until now, and when you first see the CL Companion 8x30 binoculars they seem a little too small. Birds are often small and many times when one sees them, they are not as close as you would want them to be. The first thing that will go through the mind of some birders is how will a pair of 8x30’s suit my needs (I know this was something that crossed my mind).
The pair I used came in a stylish dark green colour with subtle touches of grey on the bridge and on the eyecups. They were accompanied with the UJ (Urban Jungle) Accessory Pack, which included a simple, yet at the same time stylish, green bag and a grey strap that allows the binoculars to hang on your hip. I found the strap extremely comfortable as it took the strain off the back of the neck. The strap attaches to the binoculars with a button mechanism that ensures that it is securely attached. This may seem like a small detail, but I have had a pair from another brand that has come loose resulting in irreparable damage, so I am happy with this small yet important feature.
The CL Companions are part of Swarovski’s compact series, so they only weigh around 500 grams (just over 1Lbs). They are approximately 13cm long and 12cm wide when opened. When I initially held them in my hand, what surprised me was that even though they were small and lightweight – the magnesium housing which is reinforced with rubber ensured that they still had a solid feel and are durable.
What is impressive about Swarovski as a manufacturer is their attention to detail. After first receiving the bins, I noticed how even the boxing is well presented and carefully considered. I know that what matters most is the performance in the field, but when you look at the box and open it up – there is a sense of pride that rises up and there is a sense of awe.
When it comes to birding (and going into the wild in general), keeping your equipment clean is generally not easy. I have had many pieces of dirt getting trapped in often hard to reach places in the binoculars I have owned. With the CL Companions, the eyecups are removable – this makes it super easy to clean them once you get back home. While in use, once the eyecups are extended, they need to be twisted to return to their storage position or to offer those with prescription glasses eye relief. This ensures that you don’t have to constantly deal with eyecups unnecessarily twisting back into the body. The diopter setting is in an interesting place (the control knob that allows one to compensate for differences in sight between your two eyes). On most pairs of binoculars, it is usually found on the right eyecup. What tends to happen, especially with aging binoculars, is that it keeps slipping out of alignment and needs to be constantly adjusted. On these binoculars the diopter setting is found on the middle barrel between eyecups, this allows one to set it or make subtle adjustments without it being accidentally adjusted by bumps or shifts when twisting the eyecups. I must admit, this is a setting that I do not use often on binoculars so it’s difficult to say if this is a good position no