Hands on with a reinvented spotting scope: The all new Swarovski Modular Telescope


Image curtesy of Swarovski Optik

For me, one of the highlights of the 22nd British Birdwatching Fair was the opportunity to try/test the Swarovski’s reinvented spotting scopes. This brand new product was unveiled a few weeks prior to the Birdfair and took many birdwatchers’ interest. This attention was clearly visible in the Optics Marquee as well.


Image curtesy of Swarovski Optik

The new Swarovski ATX/STX Modular Telescope family brakes every rule when talking about spotting scopes. This interesting concept fully supports travelling birdwatchers as well as serious bird surveyors who requires large magnification at the same time. The time of interchangeable eyepieces has partially ended as Swarovski let the birdwatchers change the front lens instead. As Dale Forbes, the Head of Marketing at Nature Swarovski Optik, said, “The eyepiece module works like a DSRL camera and any of the three lens modules can be attached to it”. What an amaizing idea!


Image curtesy of Swarovski Optik

I remember when I had issues packing for overseas birdwatching trips and the weigth and volume of optical equipments made a real headache. Now the spotting scope uses as little space as a binocular and it could easily be packed into the carrying bag. Of course it all depends on the usage as the largest model weigths a bit lot for traveling but it all depend on the target. The 25-60×65 objective modul with the ATX eyepeice module is lightest of all and weights as low as 1,585 g, while the “big gun”, the 30-70×95 objective module with the same eyepiece module is considerably heavier (2,150 gramms). I clearly remember the times when the heaviest first generation scope was carried on a very heavy tripod head and steel tripod. Carrying the largest objective module on a light weight carbon tripod would be comfortable even while tracking.


Image curtesy of Swarovski Optik

 Depending on the ‘depth’ of one’s pocket there is a nice opportunity to get both objective modules while using the same eyepiece module. If there is a need for higher magnification the light weight objective module could easily be changed into the big objective module.


Nice Modular Scope Display. © Gyorgy Szimuly

By the way, this big lens just rocks. I suspiciously tried the big objective module at the Birdfair as this is the only scope in the market which has an incredible 95mm front lens diameter. When I looked through the lens the image quality was just mindblowing in terms of the amount of lights flown towards my eyes. The Optics Marquee was placed at a lake of Rutland Water but I was directing the scope to the opposite hill where sheep were grazing. They were about 500 m away from the scope. The details of the grass and the animals were incredible and the picture was edge to edge sharp.


Image curtesy of Swarovski Optik

 Another unique feature of the largest module is the 70 times magnfication! What an opportunity for on-shore seabird-watching or shorebird counting at a large estuary! It really stunned me. The unique focusing ring is placed next to the zoom ring and it cannot be missed as both has different structure and surface. While the focusing ring is placed on the objective module, the zoom ring is on the eyepiece module. The two modules are precisely attached by a bayonet ring. To avoid accidental detachment of two modules a secure, ergonomically perfect release button is placed on the eyepiece module.

There are other features which makes Swarovski’s new product outstanding such as the excellent field of view (41 m at 25x magnification) which is perfect for raptor watching or finding songbirds in the canopy of the tropical rainforest. The brilliant 2,1 m closest focusing distance (for the 25-60×65 objective module) is also outstanding. Butterfly or dragonfly lovers will definitely love it.


Image curtesy of Swarovski Optik


A well known celebrity was also visiting the Swarovski Optik’s stand. Jonathan Scott who is regularly appearing on the Animal Planet’s TV program. He is perfectly introduces Africa’s wildlife especially the Leopards. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I hope I can manage to test these modules in the field with a good tripod and write a more detailed review of these groundbreaking products. Until then an image of this product group is placed into the collage image of the desired birding and photography tools I wish to get by time. Better to see my targets every day…