Oooooo I can finally tell you. I got invited to by Swarovski Optik to visit Hungary in the middle of June for a world launch event. ‘Twas all a bit hush hush.
OK pause game. Turning back the wheels of time, to the 1970’s,I remember the big leap in going from my Boots Pacer 10×50 binoculars (anyone else use them?) to my first pair of Carl Zeiss Jena Jenoptems. Fast forward a few years and I discovered the Opticron range; inexpensive, excellent and light weight.
Few moments are remembered with crystal clarity. On such for me was birding at Killybegs in Co. Donegal and blagging a view through a pair of the newly released Swarovski EL’s. It felt like a quantum leap in the experience of looking through binoculars. Same magnification, but suddenly everything felt closer sharper, clearer. Like you had been propelled much closer to your target. It took me a few years but now they’re my staple bins. Still 8.5 x42 Swarovski EL’s.
Fast Forward: June 11th 2012. Arriving at our accommodation with a scenic Hungarian lake behind us and the anticipation of a big announcement; we were summoned to ‘The Meeting’. A tad more was being launched, than expected:
The reinvention of the telescope?
Not one new product but a three year gestation to produce a whole new concept.
Seemed rather remarkable to see this normally crepuscular species out all day flying around the lake and feeding. Of course got me a chance to check head patterns (amount of white over and behind the eye) and just like the bird above they all showed the expected European pattern rather than the more restricted white of many North American hoactli (We had one of the latter in norther England a couple of winters ago.)
First the beautiful monster. My context: My current telescope is the top of the range Swarovski ATS. It’s an 80 mm objective lens and my jealously guarded zoom lens goes between 25 – 50x. It’s a superb piece of kit. The big momma of the new ATX/STX range which we field tested for 5 days in Hungary rocks in at a 95mm objective lens and the zoom leaps up to cover 30 – 70x magnification.
In keeping with their legendary ergonomics, the zoom ‘ring’ has moved from the eye-piece and now sits right behind the big focusing wheel. Well you can imagine when this beast appeared on the table in front of us, jaws dropped and a few of us just couldn’t wait to give it a go.
I’m not a techy-spec guy, so first thing was to get out on the lake, crank it up to the full 70X mag. WOW! I was delighted to find there was no loss of light and the image and detail was tremendous.
Last year I did a 3 way scope comparison with friends as we ruminated (and struggled) to see feather details of distant godwits. One streamlined the discussion. “It’s simple. You want the biggest magnification with the most light you can get”.
This is going to be the must-have telescope for detail. Crazy thing?
It wasn’t just one new monster type of scope, that would have been enough! No… a whole new system. The big word, buzz word is ‘modular’. Instead of changing the little lens, you change the big lens! I’ll talk about that again. And a third curve-ball, an amazing piece of kit for digiscoping with my DSLR camera body that takes photos/ video and telescopes to a whole new level. More for sure to come…
New ATX/STX range. Big momma at the front- 95mm with 30-70 X zoom and bayonet fitting 85 and 65mm (25-60 X zoom) objectives lens. The ideal combo seems to be the big and little ones which can be swapped for different types of birding or travel.
Great Reed Warbler Have a listen here
You get hint that he’s there with a few gruff call notes at the start with more song following, rough and loud, near the end of the recording
Penduline Tit, 1st recording: listen here
Early morning on the lakeside. Plenty of bird and wildlife sound with the thin piercing whistle which descends gently in pitch
Penduline Tit, 2nd recording: listen here
Lovely long thin whistle in middle of recording. One to know- both for local reed bed discoveries and maybe a fly by migrant.
They just sound weird! Have a listen here, with competing song of Nightingale and Blackcap: