Birdwatch News Archive
The different sized modules of the ATX allow maximum flexibility in response to any given birding situation. Photo: Swarovski Optik.
Swarovski launches revolutionary premium telescope range
Posted on: 20 Jul 2012
The new modular ATX/STX telescope series from Swarovski is radically different to all others, as Birdwatch discovered at the world launch.
Emulating the stir its ground-breaking EL binoculars caused more than a decade ago, Swarovski is set to make fresh waves in the optics world with the launch of its new TX/STX telescope range. Speculation had been mounting as to what products the company had been developing, but the recent launch in Hungary of three angled models with an innovative modular design took everyone by surprise. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that Swarovski has effectively reinvented the telescope.
Leaving the straight-bodied, later-launching STX aside for now, the ATX appears like nothing else. The top angled model has a class-dwarfing 95 mm objective, and there are also 85 mm and 65 mm versions. The three-model line-up shares a unique modular design; instead of having detachable eyepieces, the objective sections detach from the eyepiece end by means of a bayonet fitting, and are interchangeable. For situations in which, all other things being equal, you might use different telescopes, it’s the perfect solution – the powerful, bright 95 mm for, say, seawatching, but the compact 65 mm for travelling overseas.
Furthermore, the zooming function has been positioned next to the focusing ring, meaning that zooming and focusing can be performed quickly with just one hand on the same central part of the scope. This means that every scope in the range has a built-in zoom facility – 25-60x for the 65 and 85 mm models, and 30-70x for the larger 95 mm.
The unique central zooming and focusing system of the ATX allows the fastest and easiest use of these features. Photo: Swarovski Optik.
The other end of the eyepiece module is simplified, enabling a quick change from observation to digiscoping. A camera and adaptor can be slotted straight on for immediate use, and Swarovski is simultaneously launching two digiscoping adapters: the TLS APO is an apochromatic telephoto lens system that the company says is the first lens adapter specifically designed for high-quality digiscoping, including with digital SLRs, while the DCB II swing adapter offers a universal means of marrying any digital camera to the new scope.
Birdwatch Managing Editor Dominic Mitchell tried out the largest-objective 95 mm model on the wide open vistas of the Hortobágy marshes, where it was perfect for distant feeding groups of Red-footed Falcons and soaring Eastern Imperial Eagles. The 65 mm version also got a brief field test in the woodland and hills of the Bükk National Park, where Collared Flycatchers in the beech forests made for interesting test subjects.
Initial impressions were very favourable indeed. It takes a while to adjust to using the centre of the telescope’s barrel to zoom rather than the eyepiece, but after a while it becomes second nature, and an obvious improvement. The image was extremely impressive: Swarovski has used field-flattener lenses within a new optical design for the ATX, and claims the result is a “significant improvement in resolution, rich contrast and saturation, and exceptional colour fidelity”.
|Options for digiscoping are immediate, and the swing adaptor allows the use of any digital camera with the scope. Photo: Swarovski Optik.|
The difference in weight between the 65 mm and 95 mm models is significant, even if the latter does not feel especially heavy. Throw the 85 mm into the mix, and some careful thought will need to be given by purchasers as to which options are the best solutions. Cost will have a keen bearing on this, and confirmation of retail prices is keenly awaited.
In the meantime, the launch of the product in the marketplace will surely have a dramatic effect. If it proves as popular with the public as it did at the press launch, other manufacturers will have to look closely at their product development and try to match or better this game-changing scope.
- For more information see the preview in August’s Birdwatch, on sale from 26 July.
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