Pros: Fantastic edge-to-edge image quality, sublime ergonomics, great low-light performance and a field of view to rival many 8x binoculars, coupled with outstanding build quality — the NL Pure 10×32 is an exceptional binocular up there with the very best.
Cons: While they are svelte, the barrels on the NL Pure are long for a 32mm binocular, so they are perhaps not as compact as you might expect. Tight-fitting eyepiece rain-guard can lead to accidental movement of eye-cups during use. No lock on the dioptre adjustment, although this was never really an issue during the review.
Price: €2,720 RRP
Swarovski Optik has been at the top of the tree in terms of premium optics for decades, sharing that rarified air with two, perhaps three other brands. With their latest NL Pure line of binoculars, the iconic Austrian optics specialist has again raised the bar at the very top of the premium optics market.
If you have the budget, and you’re looking for the very best binoculars money can buy, but prefer a smaller, lighter package than full-size 42mm binoculars, it’s hard to look past the Swarovski Optik’s 32mm NL Pure.
Check out the Swarovski Optik NL Pure 10×32 on their website.
Swarovski Optik 10×32 Binocular: Full Review
When I reviewed the 10×42 full-size Swarovski Optik NL Pure binocular in late 2020 I dubbed it the best binocular I’d ever used. The ergonomics and handling were sublime, the field of view was epic for a 10x binocular, and the quality of the image from edge-to-edge was unsurpassed by any binocular I’d ever looked through (and I’ve looked through quite a few).
However, I’ve always been a fan of more compact binoculars, so when I got the chance to try out Swarovski’s mid-sized variant of the NL Pure, I couldn’t wait to see how they compared. My intention was to review the 8×32 version — simply because with smaller objective lenses, I reasoned, the wider field of view and brighter image of an 8x would be better suited. However, when the burnt-orange review sample arrived from Austria, I soon realised Swarovski had, in fact, sent a pair of 10x32s . So how did they compare to their full-size stablemate?
As always with Swarovski Optik, attention to detail is apparent from the start. Swarovski’s packaging is, beautifully elegant and understated, perfectly reflecting the quality of the product within. Packaging may seem like a small consideration when it comes to top-tier optics — after all, it’s the performance of the instrument itself that’s important — yet opening the box is the first part of the ownership experience, and it’s something Swarovski gets spot-on.
As for the binocular itself, when I got over the initially startling burnt-orange colour (there were none of the traditional green units available in the Review Pool) the Swarovski NL Pure 10×32 looks superb, and as you’d expect it’s essentially a more svelte version of its 10×42 sibling. It has the same sculpted barrels, their subtle curves lending the NL pure a look unlike any other binocular.
When you first pick up the NL Pure you really can feel the quality and attention to detail that’s gone into its manufacture. The combination of design, weight, balance and high-quality materials leave you in no doubt this binocular is a highly refined optical instrument.
Balance, Handling & Build Quality
As mentioned above, everything about the Swarovski NL Pure 10×32 is premium. Aside from being covered in burnt orange rubber armour, rather than the more traditional Swarovski green, the 10×32 review sample I’ve been using was everything you would expect from an instrument at the very pinnacle of the consumer optics market. The build quality and finish here are second to none.
The rubber armour is quite hard, but yields ever so slightly under your grip, making the binoculars very comfortable to hold, while the slightly textured surface offers plenty of grip. Combine that with the subtly sculpted barrels that fit the contours of your hands perfectly, and the NL Pure 10×32 is easily one of the most natural and comfortable binoculars I’ve ever used.
Thanks to the 32mm form factor, of course, it’s also smaller and lighter than its 42mm sibling at just 640g, making it a joy to carry in the field for extended periods. That said, while it is a very slimline binocular, it is still quite long — so it’s not that much smaller than some 10×42 binoculars. It’s the same length, for example, as my trusty Swarovski SLC HD 10×42, and the Hawke Optics Frontier APO 10×42 I reviewed not long ago.
With the NL Pure, Swarovski has moved the main focusing wheel forward, so it is now incorporated into the single hinge between those elongated barrels. While it looks like quite a change, in practice it is actually perfectly placed. As your hands grip those sculpted barrels, your index finger naturally falls on the wide, ridged focussing wheel. Focusing is fluid, with the wheel going through pretty much two clockwise turns from a close focus of 2m to infinity and offering a nicely balanced degree of resistance .
In the field, that makes focusing quick and snappy, and it’s very easy to get a pin sharp image without hunting back and forth.
The dioptre adjustment mechanism on the NL Pure is also incorporated into the hinge, just above the focus wheel. There are no click-stops as on previous Swarovski models, and surprisingly it doesn’t lock into place, although in practice it is stiff enough to stay put once set, and I never had an issue with it getting knocked and changing accidentally while using the binocular. At first glance it looks like there’s no scale on offer for the dioptre adjustment, but if you flip the binocular over you’ll find clearly marked gradations on the underside, allowing you to take note of and dial in your preferred setting easily.
Eyecups and Eye Relief
Eyecups on the NL Pure are metal with a firm, yet comfortable rubber ring on the outer edge. They can be screwed off, which is great for cleaning and means they are also user replaceable should that ever become necessary. They have six possible positions (more than I’ve seen on any other binocular): fully up, fully down, with four intermediate click stops.
Interestingly, as a non-spectacle wearer I usually have the eyecups on my binoculars twisted all the way up, but with the NL Pure 10×32 I found that twisting them down one click-stop actually gave me a fuller, more immersive view, so it’s worth having a play to find the setting that works best for you. The 10×32 model of the NL Pure offers a maximum eye-relief of 18mm, which means those who wear glasses should still be able to enjoy the full field of view through the binocular.
Of course, the NL Pure 10×32 is, as you’d expect, fully sealed and nitrogen purged, making it waterproof, and impervious to the ingress of dust and other small particles, and preventing the potential for internal fogging due to sudden temperature changes.
Image Quality and Field of View
The 10×32 NL Pure delivers a bright, crisp image that’s sharp from edge to edge across a stunning field of view. At 132m/1000m, or 7.5°, this 10x binocular somehow manages to offer a wider view than all but the best 8x binoculars. It makes for a remarkable viewing experience.
That expansive field of view, coupled with the bright, pin-sharp image with plenty of contrast, excellent resolution and detail from edge-to-edge, makes for a fully immersive view that’s up there with the very best I’ve experienced through any binocular.
Colour fidelity and Chromatic Aberration
Colours viewed through the NL Pure are, to my eyes, very natural. They are vibrant and true-to-life, with no discernible colour cast. Chromatic aberration — the colour fringing you can get when viewing some high contrast scenes through binoculars — was practically non-existent. You could detect traces at the very edge of the field if you were actively trying to induce it, but it was never apparent during normal field use.
Low light performance and coatings
The NL Pure has the latest incarnation of Swarovski’s proprietary lens and prism coatings (which they call SWAROBRIGHT, SWARODUR and SWAROTOP) which combine to improve light transmission through the optical system, reduce glare and help to protect the outer surface of the eyepieces and objective lenses from dirt and scratches.
The result is impressive low light performance in even the most challenging of conditions. With its smaller 32mm objective lenses, I was pleasantly surprised to find the NL Pure 10×32 comfortably holding its own in low-light situations alongside high end 10×42 and even some 8×42 binoculars. As light levels dropped further, the best 10×42 binoculars inevitably pulled ahead. Nevertheless, I was very impressed with how well the 10×32 NL Pure managed to keep up, with the image proving very usable well into twilight.
Despite their high-end coatings, I did experience some glare in tricky lighting situations, especially looking towards bright directional sunlight early or late in the day. I guess that’s not entirely surprising, as those sorts of conditions would prove challenging for any binocular, and overall the NL Pure 10×32 performed superbly across a broad range of lighting conditions during the review period.
The accessories provided by Swarovski Optik have always been among the best on offer from any optics manufacturer. As their latest flagship binocular, the NL Pure comes with a suite of high-quality accessories befitting one of the best binoculars on the market.
These include a high-quality field bag, a very wide and comfortable padded neoprene neck strap with innovative new attachment and adjustment mechanisms, tethered (but thankfully detachable) objective lens covers, an eyepiece rain guard that is high quality, but perhaps a little too tight-fitting (a few times I managed to move one of the eyecups accidentally as I removed the rain guard, requiring re-adjustment before use; that’s not ideal when you’re trying to get on a fast moving subject quickly), a branded micro fibre cleaning cloth and a “soap and brush” set (which I assume is for giving the rubber armour a clean should the need arise).
You can also get an optional forehead rest that gives another point of contact to help with holding the binocular steady. I haven’t used one, so can’t comment on its efficacy, but from the promotional images, and seeing other people use them in the field, I can’t say its something I’d want attached to my binoculars while out watching wildlife. I can potentially see it proving useful for the higher magnification, and substantially heavier, 12×42 version of the NL, but with the much lighter 10×32 reviewed here it’s not something you’re likely to need. If you want one though, it will set you back an additional €129.
In general, the accessories included with the NL Pure 10×32 match the quality of the binocular, which is to say they are very good indeed.
The Swarovski Optic NL Pure comes with the usual 10 year manufacturer warranty.
I like compact binoculars, and the 10×32 NL Pure marries the field of view of an 8x binocular, with the improved magnification of a 10x binocular, in a very comfortable lightweight package that’s a joy to use for extended periods in the field, delivers outstanding image quality and can happily go toe to toe with larger 42mm binoculars in all but the most challenging of low-light situations.
While it’s not that much smaller than a 42mm binocular in terms of its dimensions, it is significantly lighter and would be a wonderful binocular if you travel or hike a lot, or generally want to keep the weight of your gear down without compromising much (if at all) on optical performance.
The Swarovski NL Pure 10×32 is, quite simply, one of the best mid-size binoculars on the market today. So if you’re looking for a smaller, lighter binocular for birding and wildlife observation, with the very best optics available, and you have the budget available for them, the 32mm NL Pure is definitely one for your shortlist.
From the manufacturer’s website:
|Effective objective lens diameter (mm)||32|
|Exit pupil diameter (mm)||3.2|
|Exit pupil distance (eye relief) (mm)||18|
|Field of view (m/1000 m)||132|
|Field of view (degrees)||7.5|
|Field of view, apparent (degrees)||69|
|Shortest focusing distance (m)||2.0|
|Dioptre correction at ∞ (dpt)||± 4|
|Dioptre correction at ∞ (dpt)||5|
|Light transmission (%)||92|
|Pupil distance (mm)||54-72|
|Twilight factor acc. to ISO 14132-1||17.9|
|Length approx. (mm)*||144|
|Width approx. (mm)**||130|
|Height approx. (mm)**||65|
|Weight approx. (g)||640|
|Functional temperature||-25 °C / +55 °C|
|Storage temperature||-30 °C / +70 °C|
|Submersion tightness||13 ft / 4 m water depth (inert gas filling)|
|* Value with eyecups twisted in|
** Dimensions at a pupil distance of 2.5 in / 64 mm
I’d like to thank Swarovski Optik for providing the NL Pure 10×32 for review on Ireland’s Wildlife.
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