Swarovski BTX Review
From the May-June 2017 Issue of MuleyCrazy Magazine
By Steve Monk
A truly revolutionary product from a leader in optical excellence is here!
Since their announcement on March 3, the latest products from Swarovski have attracted A LOT of attention! Social media excitement has had our phones constantly ringing, with serious deer hunters asking about, and pre-ordering, the new BTX dual eye piece module for Swarovski’s modular spotting scope system. What was already the best spotting scope on the market now has the option of a revolutionary, binocular-type of eye piece that eliminates what we all hate about spotting scopes; peering through one eye for extended periods of time. I’ll get into the specifics on the BTX, but it’s not the only new product worth talking about.
ME 1.7x Magnification Extender
Another exciting addition to Swarovski’s modular spotting scope lineup is the 1.7x Magnification Extender. This extender goes between the eyepiece and the lens and gives you 70% more magnification. If you slap this extender between the BTX eye piece and the 95mm objective lens, your magnification is now 60x (from 35x). Also, on the spotting scopes, if you put it between the ATX or STX eye piece and the 95mm lens, your magnification range is a whopping 50-120x (previously 30-70x). Yes, that’s 120 power zoom! In a lot of glassing conditions, compressing the elements in the atmosphere that much could cause some serious heat waves, etc. But imagine the possibilities on a crisp, clear summer morning, Phone-Skoping a giant buck several miles away on 120x zoom! Talk about a serious, long-range piece of glass!
BTX vs. Big Eyes
So how does the new BTX stack up against the traditional “Big Eyes”? Starting with the weight, the Kowa Highlander Prominar 32x82 weighs a whopping 13.5 lbs, the Docter Aspectem 20-50x80 is 9.5 lbs, and the Swarovski BTX 35x95 weighs in at 6 lbs. Consider also that a 10+lb piece of glass requires a large tripod and head to support it.
Obviously, the lighter weight is because the BTX has one objective lens, and the others have two, but how does the single objective lens affect its performance? The first thing you think of is a reduced field of view, because you’re not looking through a full-size spotting scope on each eye, like the Docters and Kowas. I’ve compared the numbers supplied by the manufacturers and here’s what I found.
The BTX 35x95 has a field of view of 96’ at 1,000 yards. The Docters with a fixed 30x eyepiece have a FOV of 115’. Keep in mind that that’s with 5x less magnification, so I would estimate that at 35x (same as the BTX) it would be about 105’. The Kowas with 32x magnification have a FOV of 116’. Assuming you bumped it up to the same 35x, it would be around 110’. If the magnification was equal, The BTX would have a FOV that is about ten and fifteen feet smaller than the Docters and Kowas respectively at 1,000 yards, with a single objective lens! What I’m getting at is the fact that you are looking through a singular objective lens doesn’t lose nearly the field of view I would have thought. That being said, even with the higher magnification of 35x, the 95mm BTX’s field of view (96’) is sweet! And if you’re using the 85mm or 65mm objective lenses, the magnification is 30x, so your field of view 112’!
At 6 pounds, having the ability to come in half (for packing), and a small add-on to boost your magnification (the ME 1.7x), you’ve got something that’s a grand slam, in my opinion. Being familiar with the optical quality and performance of all three of these, to me, the BTX is an absolute no-brainer!
So, what about the price? What we are talking about here is top-end glass, and the price tag is reflective of the highest quality, in both the construction and the optical elements. All three of the Big Eyes (and the BTX 35x95 is now included) will run you close to the same amount of money; just shy of $5,000 (retail). If you already have an ATX or STX spotting scope, the new BTX eye piece, which attaches to your 95mm, carries a retail price tag of $2,689.
To wrap this up, let me say that I am beyond impressed and excited about the quality, performance and versatility of the new BTX. From my own experience, I believe that the ATX / STX spotting scope glass is the clearest, brightest piece of glass on the planet. But previously, it was still a spotting scope and no matter how good it is, you could only look through it for a limited amount of time. Now, with the new BTX eyepiece, you can do what you never could do with a spotting scope; glass for hours and hours with the comfort of binocular eye pieces - with the ultimate in optical performance! And at 6 pounds, it’s still packable, and doesn’t require a huge tripod. My advice would be this: if you can afford it, buy it! It will be a huge boost to your game!