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The Undistorted View

May 11 2020

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Image quality is one of the key features of a long-range optical instrument. High image quality ensures you see the world in its most natural form. Franz Erler and Daniel Rotter from SWAROVSKI OPTIK have pulled out all the stops to ensure their devices meet the very highest standards.

Franz Erler joined SWAROVSKI OPTIK in 1979 and now heads up Quality Assurance. He is currently passing on his wealth of knowledge to his successor, Daniel Rotter. These two natives of the Austrian Tyrol and their team play a vital role in ensuring that every long-range optical device manufactured in Absam meets the very highest standards. They know binoculars and spotting scopes inside out and understand exactly how to meet their customers’ expectations and requirements.

 

Mesmerized by the moment

Image quality is what separates premium products from mass market goods. It is composed of:

-        high color fidelity,

-        minimal color fringing, and

-        a razor-sharp image right to the edge.

“Our philosophy is to create an image of the scenery that is as precise and natural as possible – just bigger,” says Franz Erler. The idea of virtual reality glasses – often referred to with the buzzword “immersive” – has long been an issue in the field of long-range optics. “The viewer should feel connected with the moment and with nature,” stresses Daniel Rotter.

 

Every hour invested is visible

This requires what Erler calls a “balanced overall optics package.” For him, this starts with clever design, continues to manufacturing technology involving tolerances of 1/10 of a hair’s breadth, and moves on to regular inspections during assembly. “It’s vital to ensure that all the different areas and technologies are interlinked. It’s a big help that all the technologies we need are available at our Tyrol facility,” says Erler. “We also take the time to make sure the product is perfect when we launch it on the market. That’s how we created our greatest masterpieces, such as the EL binoculars.”

Every SWAROVSKI OPTIK product passes through quality assurance before it leaves the factory. The team subjects it to a rigorous set of checks. They still use visual testing, similar to the test card that was used on TV in the 1990s. The trained eyes of the inspection team are able to “pick out an incredible amount,” says Erler. For high-precision measurements, the optics are tested with lasers.

However, the hard work that goes into making the best possible product is not an end in itself. High image quality allows users of the devices to immerse themselves in a beautiful moment, but it also has many practical advantages.

 

With the gaze of a birder

In birding, image quality is crucial for correctly identifying bird species, which can often only be distinguished through slight differences in their color, shape, or size. The natural representation of colors – color fidelity – is vital for birders.

Franz Erler and Daniel Rotter give some practical tips to birders who want to test the quality of their binoculars and scopes for themselves here. This kind of test can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to optical instruments.

 

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Technology is human

“Delivering the best possible image quality means premium components, from lenses and prisms to the tiniest mechanical parts,” says Daniel Rotter. An example of this is again the EL binoculars, which combine the whole optical package that Franz Erler referred to at the beginning. They have field flattener lenses to flatten the image, coatings to optimize the color rendering, and an HD optical system with fluoride-containing lenses to minimize color fringing while increasing resolution and contrast.

So are we at the end of the journey? Have we reached absolute perfection in terms of image quality? “We’re already very close to perfection,” says Franz Erler, “but it’s always possible to tweak it a little more.” Daniel Rotter points to the latest trends in technology: new types of glass, better lubricants and auxiliary materials, the use of magnesium for housings, new surface coatings, and increasingly precise manufacturing processes have revolutionized long-range optics in recent years. For him, the most exciting development is “aspherical lenses,” which are being used in smartphone cameras.

They both agree that what matters most is the people behind the products. “The desire of the project team to build the best device in the world is a hugely important factor,” says Erler. “In other words: technology can only be as good as the people who produce it.”

 

Learn how you can put your optical devices to the test: Test your device yourself and feel free to download the test in German or in English.

Find out more about the fascinating world of optics and the parameters defining it: Every Sunday on our SWAROVSKI OPTIK Facebook Channels

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