No one can argue that the year 2020 has been exhausting. The pandemic has led to numerous security measures adopted in managing the pandemic, among them being social distancing and consequently, the cancelling of events. An event extremely valuable for all optics fanatics, SHOT Show, was also not carried out in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic does not have to halt all of your outdoor fun, as many optics manufacturers have found their way around the problem, and Kahles still introduced two new innovations, one of them being HELIA S 42 binoculars, which seem promising.
Kahles’ Connection to Swarovski
In the Past
Kahles has actually been the subsidiary of Swarovski OPTIK for the past 43 years. After Swarovski bought Kahles, the two companies split their segments - Swarovski produced optics for the hunting, birdwatching, and the general outdoor segment, while Kahles took over the tactical shooting segment. Three years ago, Kahles recreated their brand, namely, they acquired a new logo, the brand obtained a new look, and their signature colour was altered from blue to orange.
In the Present
Kahles also established a fresh business tactic: their products were no longer all produced in Austria, but in parts of Asia as well. This is the reason why their product range has also expanded (now they also produce red dots, LRF binoculars, etc.). However, this change in production has evoked some mixed feelings among their customers. Now, things have taken a turn and Kahles is back with more Austrian-made products, one of them being HELIA S 42.
Rumor has it that this new pair of binoculars resembles the Swarovski SLC pair, which was discontinued not long ago. So Kahles took the SLC under their wing in a slightly disguised form. This has already been implied by the looks of the optics device and the optical properties as well. Even though this seems unusual, it is, however, true, that the SLC was practically the best buy in its price range, which was €1,500, hence a similar product would not be all so bad. HELIA S 42 will therefore be sold at the same price.
Model Range and Housing
In terms of the model range, two models of the HELIA S 42 binoculars will be available in April 2021, namely:
Regarding the looks, there are not many differences compared to Swarovski's SLC. The colours are one feature that sets them apart - HELIA S 42 is available in Kahles' signature combination of brown and orange. The binoculars are brown, but each barrel has an orange line on it, which makes it appear bolder. The company stuck with the single bridge design, quality eyepieces, and the first-rate focusing system.
The housing is made of magnesium, which makes the binoculars more robust. Dropping them in water should not pose a problem, as they are waterproof, and can withstand temperatures as low as -25° C. But since accidents do happen, Kahles provides a 10-year warranty. When it comes to accessories, you get an ocular objective cover and a carrying strap with a quick-release fastener.
We have not yet had the chance to test out the new product, but if the talk of the town is true, and if this pair of binoculars truly is SLC in disguise, then it is a top-notch matter. We can confidently state that in the price range of €1,500, no binoculars are a match for the Swarovski SLC, especially in terms of its optical properties. What also makes it je ne sais quoi is the fact that when you start observing, the image instantly fills your whole field of vision. The bright colours, contrast, the sharpness - everything is superb.
It was a major disappointment learning the news of Swarovski discontinuing our favourite binoculars in the €1,500 price range, namely the SLC 42 mm models, which we marked as the upper crust in many outdoor tests. On the one hand, we believe it is odd for Kahles to reintroduce an already familiar product but on the other hand we, as great admirers of such optical performance, are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for this model which now bears Kahles' disguise.