Swift UltraLite 8x42

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Brand and Model:Swift UltraLite 8x42
Price ($USD):$440.00
Attributes:un-checked Waterproof checked Armored
Objective Lens Size:42 mm
Magnification:8 x
Prism Type:
Field of View:6.6 degrees
Eye Relief:0 mm
Near Focus:0 ft
Weight (lbs):21 oz.
Dimensions (w/h/d):5.7 " high

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Swift UltraLite 8x42
I wanted a reasonably priced (around $200), wide field, lightweight, 8X binocular I could use for both birding and casual stargazing. Even the best "birders have too poor an edge (field curvature) for astronomy; however, a couple people recommended the Swift 8X42 Ultra-Lite as a good dual-purpose binocular, and it's listed as "Best Buy" in several birding journals so I bought one.

The Ultra-Lite is a two-piece German-style binocular with dark gray rubber armoring that's textured for gripping around the binocular's mid-section. The thin rubber eyecups feel like latex and are hard to roll down evenly. Although the FOV might actually be closer to 6* rather than the listed 6.6, it still has a nice wide clear view. False color is only noticeable off-axis; I would rate the color correction as very good.

I could see lots of detail on a variety of winter birds and squirrels feeding in my backyard. The one drawback for birding is the Swift's long close focus (16.5'). Being able to move in closer would increase the detail especially on small birds, but to get closer, I'd have to trade-off the good edge performance for astronomy. When you expect a binocular to be "all-purpose", some compromise is necessary.

I wear glasses for astigmatism so eye relief was an important factor especially for stargazing. While the useable ER is less than the 22mm advertised, it's generous enough to see close to the entire FOV with my thin polycarbonate glasses.

The focuser is well placed and fairly smooth except near the extremes of focus where it gets a bit stiff. The depth of field is good; I can see birds a few feet apart without having to refocus. The FOV is very sharp up to about 75% out where there is some softening but still fairly sharp almost to the edge.

I finally had the opportunity to try the Swifts on the night sky on a rare couple clear nights. The conditions were fairly good, very good transparency and fairly decent seeing.

I read about the Audubons not being able to sharply resolve the outer stars in Orion's belt due to a bad edge so I tested the Ultra-Lites on Orion's belt. The inner and outer stars were all pinpoints with no distortion. When I moved the belt stars to the edge of the FOV, the stars softened at about 75-80% from the center but with no coma. I then viewed the Pleaides star cluster, which was smaller than I'm used to seeing with my other astronomical binoculars (9X-12X) but very crisp. I counted 23 pinpoint stars in the cluster.

The Orion Nebula was a bit disappointing, the nebulosity being small and ghost-like. The nebula is usually quite a striking with my 10X50s and 9X63s even from my light polluted skies so the smaller aperture is noticeable here. The Double Cluster was visible though the stars were not easy to resolve. The Hyades and the Alpha Persei clusters looked very, very nice, I could fit the entire Hyades in the FOV and Aldebaron.

The brightest stars in the sky were fuzzy balls rather than pinpoints (this may be partly due to the seeing), but the Swifts showed no ghosting or flaring on bright stars even Sirius, which was still fairly low. Saturn was football-shaped, but also clean.

I am happy to say that despite being very picky, this is a "keeper". In my opinion, the Swift 8X42 Ultra-Lite is a very good birding binocular and a decent wide-field stargazing binocular, limited only by its 42mm aperture. Highly recommended.


Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Value:10
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.71.70)
Link to this vote: http://excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=174971

Swift UltraLite 8x42
Got mine at a very reasonable price. Clear views with fantastic clarity. Mine have a near focus of about 6.5ft, so I can get really close up to the objects. I was watching some ladybugs eat the aphids on my roses...now that's getting close up.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:9 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.64.112)
Link to this vote: http://excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=434407

Swift UltraLite 8x42
Excellent, especially for the money.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.35.62)
Link to this vote: http://excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=390980

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