New Swarovski ELs & Contest

One of the things I wasn't able to talk about right away from the Swarovski Blogger Event (or Swarblogski as Non Birding Bill calls it) was that we got to see the new Swarovski ELs. They just debuted them at Bird Fair so now I'm allowed to talk. Honestly, I wasn't expecting that much of a change. Swarovskis are really great binoculars and I'm incredibly grateful for all the support they give my blog and I LOVE my 8x32s. Even when I worked for Eagle Optics and people would come up and ask me what the best bino is, I would say that if I were a woman of unlimited means, it would be the 8x32 EL. Optics are subjective and what works for me, may not work for everyone, but the clarity, ergonomics, and light weight of Swarovski really works for me.

The biggest difference that you can see besides the slightly different design is that the eye piece lenses are bigger--and the edge to edge clarity is superior to the current ELs (not that it's that bad anyway). Swarovski has also greatly improved the close focus ability of the binoculars. I was able to focus within about 5 and a half feet with the new ELs. They are coming out with new ELs in the 8.5x42 and 10x42 models, not the 8x32s or 10x32s. They will be available in the US early next year. They'll probalby be at Bird Watch America in January 2009. What does this mean for you? If you're probably going to see current models of ELs going on sale in the US (just in time for the holidays). So, if you've been saving for a great pair of bins, you have a choice: get the current model at a discount or keep saving and going for the new ones. I don't have exact pricing on what they're going to be at the moment.

I also got to hold the new 80mm scope--it's lighter than the current model. There's also a new eyepiece coming, a 25-50 zoom. I currently use a 20 - 60 zoom. I'm curious to play with that for digiscoping.

Also, Clay was telling me how surprised he was that not more people in the US entered Swarovski's Digiscoper of the Year Contest. Here are what the winners get:

The three entrants chosen as “Digiscoper of the Year” will receive the following products from Swarovski Optik as their prize:

1st Swarovski Optik ATS or STS telescope and eyepiece of the winner’s choice

Swarovski Optik binocular EL 8.5x42
3rd Swarovski Optik binocular SLC 8x30

The best 20 images (places 1 to 20) will be published with the photographer’s name in the Swarovski Optik Digiscoping Yearbook 2009. This will attract a publication fee of EUR 300 (that's like $600 in the US).

National Winners:
National winners will also be chosen from the five countries with the largest number of entrants (the number of images does not count). The five national winners will receive an award of EUR 200 for publication in the Swarovski Optik Digiscoping Yearbook 2009 in addition to the publication fee referred to above.

You don't have to be a Swarovski customer either. Check out the rules:

Any digital camera format - from a compact digital camera to a bridge or digital single lens reflex camera - may be used.

Field Spotting Scopes:
Any commercially available spotting scopes and eyepieces may be used, with or without an adapter.

The contest closes on September 30, 2008. Read the full rules here. I've seen some of the winning entries from last year, and there are some awesome digiscopers in the US that could totally win the contest. If you digiscope, go for it.