SWAROVSKI BTX 65/85/95

FIRST LOOK BY MATT MER­RITT

Bird Watching (UK) - - Gear -

OVER THE PAST 10 years, the qual­ity of op­tics has ad­vanced to such an ex­tent that you won­der where it’s pos­si­ble for top-end man­u­fac­tur­ers to go with their prod­ucts. Built-in elec­tronic fea­tures, maybe? Cam­eras, or even some sort of bird ID sys­tem, have been ru­moured to be the next step for­ward. So it’s safe to say few saw Swarovski’s new BTX binoc­u­lar scope com­ing. At the launch at the com­pany’s HQ near Inns­bruck, Aus­tria, there were au­di­ble gasps from the gath­ered European bird­ers, jour­nal­ists and op­tics ex­perts. Com­pat­i­ble with the ATX/STX ob­jec­tive mod­ules, it of­fers 30x mag­ni­fi­ca­tion for the 65mm and 85mm mod­ules, and 35x for the 95mm. These can be in­creased to 50x and 60x re­spec­tively with use of the ME 1.7x mag­ni­fi­ca­tion ex­ten­der, which fits eas­ily and quickly. The ATX/STX scopes, of course, al­ready pro­vide images that are bright and sharp right to the edges, with im­pres­sive field of view and a very nat­u­ral colour. So what’s new? Well, the BTX is the most com­fort­able scope to look through that I’ve ever come across, for a start. You can ad­just the in­ter­pupil­lary dis­tance eas­ily, and there’s then none of the squint­ing and eye-strain­ing in­evitable with any con­ven­tional scope. A day of scan­ning huge wild­fowl flocks on the Rhine Delta at Lake Con­stance passed with­out my eyes ever get­ting tired, and there’s a built-in ad­justable fore­head rest to help. More im­por­tantly, per­haps, the fact you’re us­ing both eyes means your brain is get­ting more in­for­ma­tion, and that what you see thus feels more vivid, more three-di­men­sional, and has a greater depth of field. It feels, in short, like us­ing binoc­u­lars rather than a scope. There’s a re­mov­able aim­ing aid, which is both more use­ful and more ro­bust than pre­vi­ous sim­i­lar fea­tures, and a new BR bal­ance rail and PTH tri­pod head are avail­able to help keep the whole sys­tem sta­ble and bal­anced, and to scan smoothly. It is heav­ier, as you’d ex­pect, but not enough to put most peo­ple off, I’d sug­gest. So, I look for­ward to get­ting a much longer look at it, when it ar­rives in this coun­try in May. You can, too – keep an eye on Btx­tour.swarovskiop­tik.com, and birdwatching.co.uk for de­tails of how you can try it out.

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