The efficiency of combined use of different optical techniques for flow diagnostics is demonstrated with the practically important case of intense swirling flows. It is shown that, when applied separately, commonly used optical measuring techniques, such as laser Doppler anemometry and particle image velocimetry, frequently give erroneous results, especially for the transition flow and developed nonstationary flow. However, their combined use in diagnostics of unsteady (intermittent) flows significantly improves both the temporal and spatial resolution of measurements. Such a complex approach is for the first time applied for diagnostics of the flow pattern in a closed cylinder with a rotating end face with the aim of studying the changeover from the steady axisymmetric to unsteady asymmetric flow over a wide range of flow parameters. It is found that such a transition is notable for azimuthal disturbances with characteristic modes and frequencies.