Gear Re­view


Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - RE­VIEWED BY MATT MER­RITT

We put Swarovski’s BTX scope to the test – but how does it fare?

WHEN SWAROVSKI LAUNCHED their ATX/ STX mod­u­lar scope sys­tem a few years back, how many bird­ers thought the next step would be to bring out a binoc­u­lar eyepiece mod­ule for it? Like all the best ideas, it seems ob­vi­ous, but it took ev­ery­one by sur­prise when it was launched ear­lier this year. In essence, though, it fits to the 65mm, 85mm and 95mm ob­jec­tive lens mod­ules, and al­lows you to view through them us­ing both eyes. So what are the ad­van­tages? Well, I was able to watch more com­fort­ably, for longer, than with a stan­dard scope. Us­ing both eyes feels a lot more re­laxed, es­pe­cially when view­ing a sin­gle sub­ject or lo­ca­tion for long pe­ri­ods, such as while read­ing rings on birds’ legs. Se­condly, the im­age feels deeper and more 3D to me, as it should, with both eyes pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion to the brain. Given that you know a Swarovski ob­jec­tive lens is go­ing to pro­vide a very bright, nat­u­ral, sharp and wide im­age to start with, that’s a great bonus.

En­joy­ing the ben­e­fits

It does take a lit­tle get­ting used to. I found my­self clos­ing one eye any­way to start with, so it took a while be­fore I en­joyed the ben­e­fits of the two eye­pieces. And, as with any pair of binoc­u­lars, you need to set it up right – the eye­pieces twists up and down to three po­si­tions, there’s a diop­tre ad­just­ment on the right bar­rel, and you can ad­just the in­ter­pupil­lary dis­tance. Get them right, and you soon start to see what all the fuss is about. It is heav­ier than the ATX eyepiece mod­ule, but not so much that it would put me off car­ry­ing one. But you do need a good sturdy tri­pod with this set-up, be­cause of that ex­tra weight, oth­er­wise con­stant wob­bles will wipe out the op­ti­cal gains. In short, it’s set­ting a new stan­dard in scopes. If you al­ready have an ATX front end, you’ll want to add it at some stage. If you’re just think­ing of buy­ing your first top-end scope you need to try it.

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