| Winter 2017 | Swarovski | CL Companion | 8×30 |

Guest Reviewer: Dragan Simic

Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 – The Weight of Five Chocolate Bars By Dragan Simic

When I opened the package, the first impression was that binoculars have ideal dimensions and are ergonomically well shaped – only the case is way too large for such compact bins.

The next morning, I used them outdoors for the first time and kept my initial impression: the CLs are just perfect – the only criticism I have is that their case takes up half of my backpack. The optics are superior; the colours are bright and the contrasts strong, but what I like the most is their size and weight.

That is largely a matter of personal choice. Some people do not mind having something as heavy as a brick hanging around their necks, but after 20 years with bins around my neck – half of which with such a brick, I’ve certainly learned to appreciate the qualities that this little guy has to offer.

CLs are well balanced and rest easily in the hands, even in just one hand. Their construction allows your thumb to lie comfortably in its notch, your index finger lying on the focusing wheel, and the remaining fingers grasping a binocular tube without anything to hinder you from doing so. The morning I first tested them was filled with migrating flocks of European bee-eaters and their constant bubbling voices. They sound just like bubbles, one after another noisily appearing on the surface. One bird was flying towards us, and, just prior to avoiding us, only slightly raised its head (showing us its yellow throat) before picking up an insect in mid-air. Needless to say, their colours – bright yellow, sky blue and chestnut red – were truly magnificent through the CLs.

But only when you give your bins to others, do you get really meaningful impressions that much better describe CLs: Wow! Weighing 500 grams? Like five chocolate bars! Inside those bins of yours, small birds live, so you always see them whenever you look through! And indeed, I do. Few weeks later, I was guiding a EuroBirdwatch event in Belgrade, Serbia. Next to the Ratno Island Reserve, a group of about 30 adults and kids was watching their first Pygmy Cormorants, White-tailed Eagles (a cooperative young eagle even pulled fish out of the river) and, especially, very active and even playful Kingfishers that were chasing each other, fishing, or just showing off. And all the time I was testing the CLs, I was wondering what is the difference between them and their big brother, the ELs. This time a friend of mine came with ELs, so we swapped our bins and come to the same conclusion – on a bright sunny day, they are equally bright and sharp. You know that feeling when you put another pair of bins to your eyes and immediately spot the difference? This time, I could see no difference!And just one more impression I’d like to share… a month or so ago, before these grey clouds, when September sun was shining brightly, the three of us were surveying birds. Two of us were enjoying (yes, enjoying – when was the last time you actually enjoyed your job?) a young White-tailed Eagle, high in the sky, but our colleague was saying: I can clearly see its white tail! What white tail?? Young birds do not have white tails yet! Or was it because she was using a beginner grade bins? And finally, even higher in the sky, yes, she was right, there it was, an old eagle, its white tail as a bright road-sign in the sky, but with such sunlight, seen through CLs, the entire bird appear glowing with light, like a neon eagle (old birds develop very light coloured feathers). I’ve observed this species many times, it was the subject of my first published paper, its scientific name is my bird-blogging nickname, and yet, I have never seen it so light, so glowing, so angel-like, so special. The quality of the bins made all the difference.