Swarovski reinvents the spotting scope!
ATX/STX Modular Scope System Review
by Michael and Diane Porter
A Completely New Approach to Spotting Scopes
Swarovski has come out with a completely new design in spotting scopes. The ATX Modular Eyepiece integrates the eyepiece and prisms into one unit. The Modular Eyepiece fits onto your choice of three interchangeble Modular Objective lenses: 65mm, 85mm, or 95mm.
What we found when we tested the Swarovski ATX scopes
To say were were impressed would be quite an understatement.
Of course, the optics are stunning and superb. You'd expect nothing less from Swarovski.
For resolution, contrast, freedom from chromatic aberration, and silk-smooth engineering, there is nothing better than these Swarovski scopes.
New basic design
But what knocked our socks off is the new design. The usual approach is to create a small eyepiece and a long body (sometimes difficult to pack and travel with). But the new Swarovski design divides the scope in a new and unique manner.
Instead of building the prisms into the the same piece with the objective lens, Swarovski put the prisms with the eyepiece instead. The result is two parts that are more nearly equal in length and weight. Separate them, and you will have a more compact and manageable scope to carry or travel with.
New way to zoom
This choice allows for a completely new way of changing the magnification. Instead of twisting a ring on the eyepiece, you now turn a ring around the body of the scope. It's right next to Swarovski's "waistband" focus ring. You can quickly go back and forth between magnification and focus, because the rings are adjacent.
And because the magnification ring offers more resistance than the focus ring, you always know instantly which ring you have touched. We found this a wonderfully flexible and convenient arrangement.
Eye relief that is a real relief
Another advantage of putting the eyepiece and the prisms together is that it allows Swarovski to provide excellent 20mm eye relief throughout the entire magnification range. You can get the full field of view whether or not you are wearing glasses or even sunglasses. It is really easy to look through this scope.
Economy at the high end
The choice of objective modules has an economic advantage as well. You could purchase just one eyepiece module and then get two objective modules: the compact, lightweight 65mm for hiking or trekking up mountainsides; and the 95mm for digiscoping, or just to use on an observation deck or platform, where power and resolution are more important than portability.
At each magnification (25x, 50x, 60x), which are available in the 65mm and the 85mm objective components, we found we could resolve at as much detail as with other great scopes, such as the Leica Televid and the Kowa Prominar, which also go up only to 50x or 60x.
However, with the 95mm Swarovski, you can crank the magnification up to 70x. And with 70x, you can indeed see more detail than you can at 60x with one of the other models. This matters if you want to be able to see very distant birds. It's also simply wonderful if you are interested in digiscoping.
See digiscoping example
See a high-resolution image of a dollar bill shot at 75 feet away using a 95mm Swarovski ATX and a Canon 7D. You may wish to expand your monitor window to see more detail.
The new Swarovski scopes are available in angled or straight-through design.
Angled body design lets users of different heights share the scope without changing the legs of the tripod. The angled design also makes it easier to look upward or to use the scope from a car window. This is the style that almost all of our customers select.
Although nearly all birders prefer the angled design, a straight-through model is also available.
Strong, magnesium body stands up to hard use and resists corrosion.
Rubber armoring provides pleasant tactile experience, protection from dings, and a secure, non-slip grip.
Adjustable eyecup twists up and down for comfortable viewing with or without eyeglasses.
Waterproof optics are sealed with O-rings to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting inside the spotting scope.
Fogproof barrel is filled with nitrogen gas to inhibit internal fogging.
Swaroclean lens coating repels oil and dirt on all external glass surfaces.
Swarovski implements the finest optical technology to provide images with razor-sharp clarity. Improved coating technology and HD lenses set new standards for brilliance and image definition and guarantee optimum contrast in low light situations. Field Flattener lenses create a flat image with razor-sharp details from edge to edge.
Field of view :
Waterproof and fogproof
This chart at right shows how you can combine the Swarovski Modular Scope System with Swarovski digiscoping adapters and your own cameras.
Click the chart to see the full-sized version.
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Copyright 2013 Michael and Diane Porter.