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View Full Version : Vintage binoculars, what is good?


FrankD
Saturday 25th April 2009, 21:27
As Steve suggested how about a discussion on what vintage binoculars are still worth pursuing. My knowledge of some of the binoculars mentioned in the 1960's/1970's thread is very lacking. Thoughts on any vintage modules and their strongpoints would be greatly appreciated.

sammyboy
Saturday 25th April 2009, 21:56
The Carl Zeiss 8x30 Dialyts I got recently are an excellent pair, and (according to Zeiss anyway lol!) they were manufactured in 1970 so no phase coating or T* multicoatings! Imagewise they are not too far behind my modern, phase coated Pentax 8x36 bins and are a joy to hold and use. I especially like the dioptre adjustment being situated on a dial behind the main focus ring, which is also tight enough not to be adjusted accidentally. The sharpness is almost as good as the Pentaxes, maybe a slight yellow/brownish cast on the Dialyts but it is only slight!

They're a bit hard to come by and rather expensive still but that shows in their build quality and image quality. Mine have a few slight issues - the focusser is slightly sloppy but still focusses smoothly and fine (especially after I tightened the screws on the focus ring) and the objective elements look like they've separated a bit at the edges but doesn't effect image quality - just a couple of things to look out for! Mine cost me £111 off Ebay though later examples in better nick can go for quite a bit more than that!

ksbird/foxranch
Saturday 25th April 2009, 22:21
Buy Carl Zeiss Jena 1Q bins multicoated, Dekarems, Jenoptem W, Binoctars (for ultmiate sharpness but small fields, Deltrintems and the 15x60s or 6x18s. Jenoptik 8x30 Waterproof are great, Dokter or Nobilem anything are terrific. Older D&D which became Meopta are terrific. Buy Bushnell Custom 7x26s. Buy Tasco 410 10x50s for a huge surprise of view. Buy Hensoldt IF 10x50 military Bundeswher and be stunned, or Fero D-12 or Fero D-16 8x30. Steiner 8x30, 7x35 and 7x50 Military are terrific. Zeiss Oberkochen 8x30B are fabulous. KOMZ porros are terrific, especially the 12x45 Navy, the 8x30 Baigish and the 5x30 roofers.

Any Korean era 7x50 IF Military bin from Spenser, Canada Leica, SARD or any B&L or Bushnell Zephyr is going to be terrific. The M19 military bin 7x50 from various USA manufacturers is excellent. All of the early Nikon E series or progenitors are super, especially the Gold Ring series or the Black pre-E single coat. All Mikrons are great (made by Nikon. The Tasco 8x30 IF Offshore is really nice especially if the price is low. My wife got hers for $45 delivered. We hate roofers here but the Discovery Channel Store 10x42 at $75 a pair are terrific. Redhaed 8x42 roofers at $50 a pair are also great. I even have a pair of Hensoldt 6x24s with nearly no eye relief that are super sharp and useful during the day and very lightweight.

Any Jason Statesman is going to be good (although I don't like zooms, theirs is "okay"). The 7x50W is outstanding. The Korvette 13 degree field of view 7x35 is a space walk and really nice but very heavy as the prisms are BK7 and huge. Stellar made a terrific 8x25 regular porro and a reverse porro (as did Hoya the galss company), all are excellent. I have a pair of Celestron 6.5x44 ED porros that are still wonderful as are the 8.5x44 ED Swift Audubon. Any Zeiss Oberkochen 7x50 Marine IF porro T8 is fabulous. I like all the Yukon Futuras (sadly discontinued) but especially the multicoated 7x50W and 12x50W.

The Russin Tento and Berkut 7x35 and 7x50 multicoated models are excellent. The KOMZ 10x42 IF is rated the sharpest binoc in the world even today (the color rendition isn't perfect, but whatever). The Zeiss 10x40 Dialyt is considered a great classic roofer.Any of the really good Kern or Swiss porro bins are good. Maybe the KOMZ 7x30 military bin is the 2nd sharpest bin ever but that is a question you need to check yourself. The name Carton and Adlerblick are great bin makers from before. The Takahashi 22x60 is no longer made but it was considered the best flourite bin ever. The Williams Flourite and ED porro bins were also fabulous, but no longer made. The Minox 6.5x32 aspherical IF is also super but discontinued. Go back to any of the older 10x70 IF Nikon Astroluxe or 7x50 IF Prostars and you will have one of the best bins ever.

The entire Fujinon line-up is filled with incredible bins. I have a pair of the first 6x30 FMTRs and they are superb (although the Meopta 6x30 Berlin wall models for Czechoslovakia are superb as well), and the Hensolt Algerian 6x30s are incredible with Neutral/Polarizer/and/Blue filters to add on for desert use, both made in the 50s. The old Steiner 9x40 Bisons(?) were CF, and waterproof. I see incredible deals on Carson XMs from the first series all the time. I have a pair of the Carson filtered 10x50s that are also very good. Tasco Marine 7x50 IF #3222 are also great.

Other reverse porros that are excellent include the 8x25 Steiner Champ MC, the Bushnell Birder 8x30 and the 10x30 Leupolds. I collect binoculars. I often have people offer older bins in trade on stuff I have NIB and when I look thru them I am shocked with WOW. There were allot of Dr Wohler, Heine Ranger, and other bins that are superb. If you ever see the Nikon 10x35 E bin, buy them. You will end up with a collection of bins dominated by superb porros, many in lightweight magnesium and usually razor sharp. Take an extra look at military bins since every one has likely been tested 5x, because lives depended on them. That also means that ANY Yellow body US Coast Guard/Navy bin in 7x50 or 6.5x45 (NATO) is incredible. Older Steiner 7x50 Marine IF and 10x50 Bayreuth are great as well. There are so many it is difficult to list them all from memory.

Kevin Purcell
Saturday 25th April 2009, 23:21
There are so many it is difficult to list them all from memory.

From memory! Wow! I'm impressed ksbird!

Thanks for that great list.

FrankD
Sunday 26th April 2009, 01:28
Thank you from me as well. I am going to go back through and list all of the models you mentioned...then follow them with the characteristics you highlighted.

What a great group of bins to start out with...and very reasonably priced to boot!

Talisker
Sunday 26th April 2009, 20:09
Question about - Nippon Kogaku Tokyo 7x35 (7.3 degrees ZCF) - are likely to be 'progenitors' to the later E series, or just mid-range?

They look rather pretty, and not too dear (!) - link (http://www.mwclassic.com/acatalog/CY015L.jpg) - Thanks, Alan

James Bean
Sunday 26th April 2009, 23:09
I have the early 'Nikon' 7x35 (A series?) which is the immediate successor to the Nippon Kogaku model, and it's really excellent, with a sharp 'mature' image and easy viewing.
All Swift Audubon 804 models are magnificent, as are the '80s Zeiss Jena 8x50 Octarems and later Docter Nobilems, also Zeiss 10x40 Dialyt/Classic (agreeing with ksbird, Kansas).

orbitaljump
Monday 27th April 2009, 04:14
The Nippon Kogakus are good. 8x30, 7x35, 9x35

Swift also has a lot of good glass from yesteryear.

Bushnell Rangemasters, Customs and Featherlights (Banners arent uniformly great, but I do have a liking for the wide angle 7x35 Banners)

B&L Zephyrs and Discoverers (Zephyrs are better) Im partial to the US made Zephyrs, but the Japanese made ones are good as well.

Celestron Nova series

Kowa classic vintage porros

Fuji Meibo

Pentax Marine

Yashica

Tasco 1** and 4** series

Carl Schulz

Taylor Mark 2

Mayflower

Sans & Steriffe (9** series especially)

Sears Discoverer Wide Angles are better than most Sears and used a different manufacturer Hyoshi. These are similar to the Chinon wide angles that have the odd shaped bodies.....very large prism housings and prisms.

Jason Statesman series and Venture 4000 and MagnaVu

Some Atco....some Atcos use Swifts prime manufacturer Hyoshi

Some older Bell & Howells

Some Selsi and Empire

A lot of stuff is hit and miss. Totally off brand no name stuff can be pretty impressive....however digging around the bin, can be rewarding. Just be ready for some disappointments. Ask lots of questions about the condition of the binoculars, interior scuzz, collimation, being most important.

Generally speaking, often the older stuff is better, into the 70s they started cheapening production down, which can be seen in bodies with the introduction of plastics and construction shortcuts. Selsi and Empire are prime examples of this. And that is why they disappeared. Others went with lower and upper quality lines. Bushnell is an example of this.

I had a Kalimar 7x50, (that I gave away), it had a standard 7.1 degree FOV and Bk7 prisms, however it was very sharp and well built. Zeiss body style. Ive been tempted to try a 7x35 by the them. However they also have plasticky junk. Look for the classic porro body with good materials...often you can tell by the pics.

orbitaljump
Monday 27th April 2009, 04:48
Burris Fullfield porros heavy and rubber armored, but good glass

Carton Adlerblick

Adlerblick

Agfa 8x30 German make

Japanese made Zeiss fakes

Canon classic porros

FrankD
Monday 27th April 2009, 22:57
My heavens, I had no idea there were that many different makes/models out there. What type of price ranges are we talking about here for some of these models? I imagine some could be had for next to nothing for one reason or another but others probably still fetch a hefty price.

Steve C
Monday 27th April 2009, 23:22
Frank,

It depends on any particular auction. I just got a like new Canon 7x35 (like new in appearance from the photos, I probaly will get it tomorrow), after John Dracon made their recommendation, for $50.00. Several days later an identical appearing Canon 8x30 went for $150.00. I posted on another thread, that I missed an NIB Swift Neptune 7x35 that is a serious good binocular that wound selling for less than $30.00

Swift Audubon 804 type 4's in nearly identical appearing condition go from $125-$225, at least they have in the last couple of months.

I just bought a Carl Zeiss 8x30 Jentopem WA in what looks to be nearly new condition from the UK. That cost $135 or so in US $ including shipping. The one in line just before it sold for nearly twice that much and both were identical appearing Jentopem 8x30 binoculars. So just keep on the lookout, figure what it is worth to you and don't go higher. Pretty soon there will be a good one show up. When I get this Zeiss, I may find why it sold cheap, but I could see nothing from the pictures. Maybe whoever took the one before mine simply took the level of bidding down. Anyway the Deltrintem and Jentopem binoculars show up there (ebay) all the time.

orbitaljump
Tuesday 28th April 2009, 03:10
Stellar made a terrific 8x25 regular porro - ksbird foxranch

I tried bidding on one of these, but it went for good money, like $80. But looked really interesting.

Ive also seen a Stellar 9x35 that looked interesting, but didnt bid on it.


Another name that Ive seen good glass in is Yamatar or some such.

John Dracon
Tuesday 28th April 2009, 04:54
Steve - I would like your opinion on the Canon 7x35 once you have used them. They tend to have stiff focusing - but that can be fixed. One nice thing about them, if you wear glasses is this. Removing the eye cup, you will find a nice flat surface which accommodates my 3 M sticky back rubbery flat rings. I use a set of leather round punches to punch out donuts to fit the older binoculars. This way I can usually get the full field of view and still keep from scratching my eye glasses. The Canon coatings create a rich color to my eyes. I have found the image to be superior to the old B&Lsm and those are pretty darn good. s Canon's 7x50s are also quite good, but I have found their 8x30s not so good. The 7x35 are really solid. No cheap materials in these old binoculars. John

John Dracon
Tuesday 28th April 2009, 05:07
Another old binocular that I have found extraordinarily good is a Bushnell 8x30 CF made in the 1950s. Interestingly, this pair seems to have BAK 7 prisms. And while the colors are a little bit washed out, they are razor sharp over much of the field. Alarmingly good.

Snatch up any pair of Nikon Diplomats. This was Nikon's first foray into compact binoculars with special lens - asphirical, I believe. Sharpest in the center of any binoculars I have used with bright, vivid colors. John

Steve C
Tuesday 28th April 2009, 17:57
Steve - Canon's 7x50s are also quite good, but I have found their 8x30s not so good. The 7x35 are really solid. No cheap materials in these old binoculars. John

John,

Thanks for the comment on the 8x30. There was a pair in the same near NIB mint condition as the 7x35 I won. The 8x30 wound up going higher than I was really willing to pay. I almost bid one more time, but decided not to.

FrankD
Wednesday 29th April 2009, 01:02
Great info guys. I am going to have to go on Ebay and start flaggins specific binocular searches. That way I will get the reminder email anytime someone lists one of these models. For the prices suggested these are a true steal!

John,

I remember Stephen Ingraham's review of the Nikon Diplomats. It was right around the first time anyone started using aspherical lens elements in binocular design. If I remember his comment correctly Nikon went for the sharpest centerfield with them.

Steve C
Saturday 2nd May 2009, 02:41
I received the 7x35 Canon today. It seems in very good condition. It does however need some internal cleaning. But, that being said, it is good enough to post some comments.

This is ergonomically a nice binocular, a reasonably typical example of the metal and pebble porro years. It has an angular fov of 7.5*. It close focuses to just about 15 '. The focus is precise and smooth, operating through just a bit less than one full turn.

Optically it is only adequate. It would certainly do for the majority of binocular uses suited to 7x. But that's it. It will not touch either the 6x or 8x Yosemite for any use I can think of.

For the $50.00 I paid for it, I have no complaint. For now it goes to the closet untill I have something else to send of for service and cleaning.

FrankD
Sunday 3rd May 2009, 00:18
Hmm, $50 for a temporary closet bin? Do you think it will see further use once you get it cleaned?

FWIW the Nikon 7x35 E has the same angular field of view. I do enjoy using it at times. It reminds of how good a simple porro design can be.

Steve C
Sunday 3rd May 2009, 00:36
I may get it cleaned just for the heck of it, but it has too far to go to even be in the same league with the Yosemite. I will have it cleaned before I ever sell it. It is just decent, not outstanding. Multi coatings no doubt would help, but it appears single coated MgFl.

That traditional 7x35 porro design is a neat package. That Canon is about the perfect size and dimension. I like it as an ergonomic package a bit better than the Yosemite.

FrankD
Sunday 3rd May 2009, 13:02
Same here Steve. The little Nikon E feels extremely well made as soon as you pick it up and the focus is just about ideal in terms of speed and tension. I sincerely hope manufacturers start investing more time and energy into this design in porros again...even if it is only at the $100-$150 level.

estcove
Friday 7th August 2009, 09:45
Yashica 8x30...1970's I have had a pair of these for 30 years. Getting a bit tired now but still point perfectly.Have had more expensive and newer binos but none better.

rivergazer
Friday 7th August 2009, 11:14
Wow, I just quickly scanned through all these posts. I'd say you guys must be nuts, but .... I did read through it!!! Even made a few notes ;)

timwootton
Friday 7th August 2009, 12:00
Did anyone mention Optolyth Alpins? I've had a pair of 10x50s for over 20 years and they're still superb.

chartwell99
Friday 7th August 2009, 14:26
Swift also has a lot of good glass from yesteryear.
B&L Zephyrs and Discoverers (Zephyrs are better) Im partial to the US made Zephyrs, but the Japanese made ones are good as well.
.

As Elkcub will no doubt confirm, some of the older Swift porros easily rival most modern roofs. Notable in that list are the very hard to find 8.5 x 44 ED Audubons. The more accessible later model Audubons and their 10 x 50 Kestrel cousins are also exceptional. The Swift Neptune (7 x 35) is an astoundingly good binocular. I have an early MK II example which is brighter, sharper and with a flatter field than any like B & L I have ever owned or examined, including the Rochester Zephyrs and the later Japanese successors. I actually prefer the last versions of the 7 x 35 Discoverer for better coatings and more robust build quality to the predecessor Japanese Zephyrs. The Rochester versions of this landmark model are wonderful binoculars but simply not in the same optical league.

Ironically, the sharpest and flattest field binocular I presently own (my perception of sharpness and not measured on a bench) is a 1950's Japanese copy of the 6 x 30 Zeiss Silvamar marked Zuiho, which I bought on a whim at a local gun show. Since its an individual focus copy of the universally popular military glass, its obviously not suitable for birding but my birding bino snob buddies are always amazed when they look through it.

shaocaholica
Friday 7th August 2009, 17:11
Are these older Pentax 10x42 DCF bins decent?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=350234804279

A local store by me has a pair but I think they are from the 80s so its a bit dated.

henry link
Friday 7th August 2009, 18:29
Are these older Pentax 10x42 DCF bins decent?


No they aren't. 5 degree field, no phase coating, Kellner eyepiece, aluminum mirror coating.

rhendri
Thursday 1st July 2010, 23:29
Hi. I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about Adams brand vintage binoculars. Mine are 8x40. rhendri

spyglass
Saturday 3rd July 2010, 13:00
Hendri.....do u know about how old it is? And does it say Japan somewhere on the bino?

JUMPSEED
Thursday 22nd July 2010, 06:49
Hello all. While searching the house for binoculars with which to watch the grisly but mesmerizing upbringing of our resident red-tailed hawk fledglings, I stumbled upon my grandfather's brass field glasses. They are a straight line design, no offset, presumably without a prism, just two truncated cones with a spiral focusing mechanism between them. They have a nice clear image. They are marked "D & L" and "Paris" and extend from 6" to 8". I have searched Google and ebay for any reference to that maker or clue as to the year (decade? century?) of manufacture, without success. I am hoping that someone will recognize these glasses; the depth of knowledge on this forum is amazing.

Also, my late father's WW2 10x50 Dientsglas blc+ Carl Zeis binoculars have developed a light film of fine dust particles on the inner side of one lens. They are otherwise in good shape and are my regular glasses. I gather that despite the easily accessible screws, it would be unwise for even a careful amateur to disassemble and dust them out internally. Is this true? If so, how does one identify a skilled binocular cleaner; and approximately how much might one anticipate spending? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you.

20_20
Tuesday 31st August 2010, 23:21
Great thread Guys, I love Wide Angle Binos. I have been really Impressed with WWII U.S. 6X30 Binoculars I have a very HAMMERED pair of Nash kelvinators and they impress the Hell out of me they are coated 1944! I have Several Pairs of these 6X30 Army and Navy. Also A pair of Sard 6X42 and Hayward 7X50's incredible views. I also have several German 6X30 dienstglass. They may be lighter and smaller than B&L style U.S. Binos but i will take the view on my U.S. makes any day. Most of the German war binos Have gotten dirty inside and have fogging issues more than U.S. models. I am sure though that the Navy rebuilt most of them after the war.

etudiant
Wednesday 1st September 2010, 02:34
Hi 20 20,.
Your collection inspires envy!
The Sard 6x42s are collectors items and worth hundreds, if not thousands, depending on condition. They are very susceptible to corrosion, but they are the epitome of a wide angle glass.
My guess is that we are on the threshold of a boom in WW2 collectibles, as the older generation dies out and people try to find links to that era. Binocs are a pretty good choice imo.

birdazzLED
Wednesday 1st September 2010, 03:11
My Nash Kelvinator (green) looks hardly used but they don't seem to have any coating on them.

I like my Zeiss Oberkochen 8x30 (clean and clear inside) for it's size but it's nowhere near the image quality of the Zen Ray or most modern, mid to upper range, bins. (unless i'm just looking at stars, etc)

Milt DuCharme
Wednesday 1st September 2010, 20:42
I have a pair of Bushnell Custom 7x35 from the mid 70s that I still use for watching the feeders. They are well built with an 80% sweet spot. The eye relief is too short for a full field view with glasses.

ronh
Thursday 2nd September 2010, 18:50
I recently bought, for $135, a Hensoldt DF 8x30 in good condition. Hensoldt is the military branch of Zeiss, and the Hesoldt binoculars come from the same plant at Wetzlar where the modern Zeiss FL, and several previous generations of Zeiss, are made.

The little DF is an individually focusing military glass probably from the late '60s, and was used by NATO forces during the cold war. It is waterproof, and has a reputation for sturdy prism mountings and ruggedness. It only weighs 20.0 ounces, so it's easy to hold it up to the eyes and work the eyepieces at the same time. The individual focusing is fast in gearing ratio (3/8 turn from infinity to 12 ft closest focus), and so easy to turn, that it is surprisingly quick and easy to use. I had practiced with a Fujinon 6x30 IF already, and looked at moving up to 8x as a challenge, and was surprised to find that despite the higher power, it is in fact much easier with the Hensoldt. I go birding with it, and can get it focused about as quick as you please.

The eye relief, said to be 12mm, is too short for glasses wearers, but after removing about a mm of eyecup material, I can get the entire 8.5 degree view, which works out to an impressive 68 deg apparent view. The sweet spot seems plenty wide to me, and there is some acceptable degradation, and pincushion distortion, at the edge. The central image looks very sharp, and this little binocular gives the most pinpoint star image I have ever seen (and I am quite a fanatic on binocular double stars) although this is partly a product of the small amount of light, which would reveal the binocular's aberrations only weakly, and the small exit pupil, which has the same happy effect on my eyes.

Its main weakness is its single layer coating, but at least the simple optical system works in its favor here. The daylight image seems about as bright and contrasty as an 8x42 Leica Trinovid BA, with silvered prisms, that I once owned.

As dark approaches, it is crushed by a modern 8x42 or 7x50, but hey, it's little. In good lighting, the view is enjoyable, and I'd recommend one to anybody who dares to try individual focus on the cheap.
Ron

Simon S
Thursday 2nd September 2010, 19:17
Buy yourself a late Jenoptem with the T3M coatings.
Otherwise a Swift Audubon, Swift Saratoga, various early Ross models....
But most will need a clean so be warned.
Please have a look at my collection, there are so many good binoculars out there for not a lot of money.

stephen b
Friday 3rd September 2010, 00:18
ronh,

Does yours have the range finding reticle in it? , and if so what do you think of that?

Thanks- Stephen

NDhunter
Friday 3rd September 2010, 00:35
I have a question here, just does what Vintage mean? Is it over 20 years? 30?

When was the last Zeiss 8x30 made?

I have seen Simons collection, vintage, yes, impressive !

ronh
Friday 3rd September 2010, 04:46
Stephen,
Yes it does have the reticle. I should have mentioned that. The reticle comes into focus only at infinity, and consists of very narrow black lines, so it can be annoying, or at least clearly visible, if viewing a bright scene far away. But it is invisible against a dark background like in the woods or the night sky, or when the focus is set as close as 20-30 yds. It is far enough below the center of view that it is only an annoyance and not really in the way of where one normally looks.

It creates a ghost image in the right side when looking at the moon, but I can't see any other optical harm from it as hard as I have looked.

I keep meaning to unscrew the right eyepiece, and try to remove it, but that sucker is really on there tight, and sealed with some kind of waterproofing glue or putty which I kind of hate to violate, so I find myself just putting up with and getting used to it. It reminds me of the military heritage, you know!
Ron

etudiant
Saturday 4th September 2010, 02:26
The reticle is a useful device for estimating distances to a target, by measuring how large a distance an object of known size takes up in the binocular image. Near essential for some kinds of hunting,, much less so for birding. Principal downside is the extra light loss, as reticles are generally inserted into the optical path rather than scribed on the prisms. Most glasses with reticles have light transmission of 70-80%, well short of the 90+% achieved by quality commercial binos from Fuji or Zeiss,
but for the user these differences are imperceptible except for brief periods at dawn and dusk. where the civil glass might get enough light to see a little longer.

Kevin Purcell
Monday 6th September 2010, 22:44
Most glasses with reticles have light transmission of 70-80%, well short of the 90+% achieved by quality commercial binos from Fuji or Zeiss,

That would be news to some porro makers with a reticule who claim 90 to 90% transmission.

It is true though that the M-22 7x50 spec only requires a minimum of 70% transmission (which is rather low for a porro these days).

e.g. http://www.usmc.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%208000.5.pdf

An AR coated reticule as it should be will have very little impact on light loss. Even an uncoated one would cost 8% at most.

You can't "inscribe the reticule on the prisms" the reticule has to be at the focus of the eyepiece so that it is in focus with the image.

etudiant
Tuesday 7th September 2010, 01:54
Points well taken.
Newer designs may well be better performers than the Hensoldt FeRo 16 or the Zeiss Jena 7x40 vintage gear that I was thinking of.

John H.-S.
Thursday 9th September 2010, 06:20
ronh,
If the reticle bothers you, just have your local friendly binocular technician take it out!
He will have the necessary tools and know how to do it and he will then be able to reassemble the instrument and renew the sealant.
For my part, it doesn't bother me at all and, as you say, it does keep you in touch with the military heritage.

hover
Thursday 9th September 2010, 23:36
John H.-S. - i'm in your part of the world, please can you point me to my local friendly binocular technician?

truly superb thread by the way. will post here any results of my forthcoming spending spree..

John H.-S.
Friday 10th September 2010, 04:55
hover,
The local friendly binocular technician to whom I refer is:
Optrep,
16 Wheatfield Road,
Selsey, W. Sussex,
PO20 0NY.
Tel. 01243 601365.
email: info@opticalrepairs.com
The technical director is Antony L. (Tony) Kay, who is very friendly and a thoroughly nice man. I recommend him without reservation.
When I have something for his attention, after telephoning him I go by train to Chichester then No. 51 bus to Selsey, get off at Beach Road from where it is about 5 - 10 minutes walk. The Pagham Harbour nature reserve is not far away.

looksharp65
Friday 10th September 2010, 21:25
I have a Swift Newport Mk II 10x50.
Its image has a quite heavy blue tint, and the sweet spot is ...uhm, tiny.
But is has one quality one will not find in a modern binocular...A truly wide FOV.
The cover claims 420 ft/1000 yds which should translate to 140 m/1000 m, which is very impressive for a 10x bin.
However, when I compare it to my Minox 8x33 that has 131 m/1000 m FOV, it seems to be exactly the same.
This translates to an AFOV of 75 degress and let me tell you, it is like standing by a window. Now and then I look through it, and it is amazing and great fun.

hover
Saturday 11th September 2010, 01:04
John H.-S. many thanks, i will contact said friendly optics technician the next time i need. have made that journey before, when i guiltily twitched the white-billed diver that was languishing off the bill. the smudgy blob that i subsequently 'saw' may well have been no more than some dirt within my fieldscope for all i know.

thanks again

ksbird/foxranch
Saturday 11th September 2010, 04:03
I am back for a short time before the pear harvest.

I own a pair of the above mentioned 9x35 Stellar brand porros and they are very good. They actually made my grab-&-go shelf by the back door because there aren't many small-ish 9xs (9x63s don't count), and they have a very wide FOV. The old Pentax roofer 9x30s are surprisingly good for tiny bins I can put in my jeans pocket when I'm running out to the back pasture with a shovel because so fool let his stallion pony loose, it's in one of my pastures (thus the bins) trying to get to my quarter horse mares, and my Arabian stallion will kill the little SOB pony. See below a big reason why this Pentax roofer is nice for me.

The 10x50 W I like is either the Yukon 10x50W or the Zeiss Jena Dekaren 10x50 MC 1Q if you can find them and afford them. But it is the 7x35 and 8x30 sizes (+ a few 8x40s) that have huge fields of view.Speaking of Canons and wide views, check out the Canon 6x30 with the magenta classic Canon coatings. The size of the image really starts to get small-ish for me at 6x (although my 6x30 FMTR Fujinon is fabulous for astronomy, because a star should be a point and so a 6x point is just as good as a 7x, 8x, 9x or 10x point). Did I mention the older Fuji Meijis because they are super nice too.

As far as vintage bins and image quality goes, I find that most of the Nikon porro bins like the recent SEs are much better than any roofer ever made and I'm not alone in that judgment. Coatings aren't everything either. For viewing birds in arboretums or aviaries I don't find a huge difference between single and MC. Sometimes old craftsmen took allot of time grinding lens sets that worked incredibly well. Even the vintage Baigish 8x30s are super sharp and according to Holger Merlitz the KOMZ 7x30/10x42-10x40s are about the sharpest bins he's ever seen, so don't discount the Russian bins.

I have always been surprised how well SARD views were when they used nice coatings on their 7x50s in the late 40s and 50s. Usually light transmission isn't a big problem for birding during the Spring/Summer/Early Autumn seasons so coatings aren't always important and less light transmission is sometimes easier on the eyes. Speaking of which, the polarizing filters that came in the kit with the Pentax 9x30 roofers I mentioned above are sheer genius. This filter set improves the view dramatically on bright/glare-y days. I'm used to yellow filters that help the view on overcast (too-blue) days, and Hensoldt NDX4 filters from Hensoldt for desert bins, but polarizers designed for a bin are very helpful on over-bright days.

I recently bought a pair of Russian Fotem 15x50 bins with literature marked 1972. The yellow glass problem is there, and the literature was for the German market. Remarkably the bins came from a group found in the old East Germany, and were all NIB. They are made extremely well, razor sharp and lightweight with magnesium housings. The image is as sharp as the KOMZ 10x42. They have CF and a nice grippy pebble coating. The 3 inch long (75mm) main center bridge seems like it could withstand dropping without coming out of alignment. I am surprised that these bins are so light and sharp and in winter when glare and over-blue-ness is a problem, I will switch out my Yukon 16x50x for this bin. Clearly they are vintage even if they are like new, so I recommend them here. The seller on eBay had 10-12 pairs when I bought mine.

I don't know if I recommended the D&D Czech bins in 6x30 format that were used along the Iron Curtain in years past. Many of these came on the market in the last 4 years and they may be vintage but they often have 1980s MCs on the lenses. The Czech Republic Meopta brand bins are made by many of the previous D&D employees.

I do like many modern porro bins from Zeiss (7x50 Marine), Steiner (9x40 and 7x50), and Nikons SEs. But the vintage porro bins that were made well often had huge FOVs (great for sports), and the center field was very sharp, due to hand polished lenses. Although Leica Trinovids were not phase coated, the Leica Kern porros of the late series were stupendous (as one of the employees who retired from the microscope company currently owning Kern discussed on this forum). The 10x40 habicht was so good and well liked that Swarovski brought it back. Maybe I am one of the 10% of the population who have 4 color peaks instead of 3 peaks of highest color sensitivity and so roofers cannot be made to ever make a view as good as a porro for me, but the lack of really super and ultra wide field bins, I think is very much due to the stampede to roofers that seems unwarranted.

I have the new Kruger waterproof, CF 10x30 porro bin in my hands many days now. It is pretty sharp, low weight, rubberized in a good way, CF, and has excellent MCs. The bin sells for about US$120. If Kruger made a Nikon Se knockoff in a waterproof version (or better with LD glass) and then an ultrawide, so they had 3 different 10x choice (with maybe a 4th in a 10x60 or 10x70 size, as a waterproof model for astronomers with Low Dispersion glass), then I'm sure that all of these bins would sell for hundreds of dollars less than Leica, Swaro or Zeiss roofer models of comparable magnification, sharpness and objective light-gethering.

Maybe the Zeiss 7x50 IF is the best ever astronomy bin ever (or maybe it's the Nikon Prostar or Fujinon FMT), so there seem to be enough 7x50 IFs out there. But a superb 7x50 CF porro would be nice for low light situations (though Pentax makes one the IP distance is way too tiny for my and my friends, but women I know like them). Kruger has a Yosemite competitor now too, so why no waterproof high end 8x30s with LD glass, or ultra-wide 8x30s (like the Hensoldt DF FOV) in CF porro versions.

It is not impossible to make waterproof 7x35 and 8x40 multicoated, wide angle bins with aspherical eyepieces because Nikon does this now. Why not an ultra high end version of the Extreme Action 7x35s and 8x40s (or an 8x30 UW Extreme Action). Roofers are greatly over rated and over priced from what I can see in testing them here at the ranch. This was incredibly obvious before phase coatings came along and so manufacturers looked far other niches to fill with porro bins (like ultra0wides). But since it is very very difficult to make a roofer with an 11 degree FOV we lost the entire super and ultra wide bin group when manufacturers felt compelled to tell consumers that roofers are more expensive so they HAVE to be better, which is absolutely untrue.

ANY 7x50 non-ED roofer will look lousy compared to the Zeiss 7x50 Marine, and when Zeiss puts ED glass into the Marine then it will be better than any roofer 7x50 ever. If the new Habichts get the same multicoatings and ED glass as the roofers Swaro make, then the Habichts will produce a better image and be less expensive (and probably have a wider field of view).

So this sums up my recommendations of vintage bins, and why they make allot of sense. First of all, vintage porros are the only way to get a true 11 degree FOV bin or wider. Second, some of the multicoated Zeiss Jena 1Q MC models, Dokter porros, Jenoptiks, Habichts/SLCs and some others from the USSR and Japan are still nearly as good as anything else made today. And third the rush to roofers has made the cost of many vintage bins so low, they represent incredible values compared to new models.

I find my friends buying model after model of newer bins (95% roofers) and then becoming dissatisfied with them after a few months (or weeks) because they just aren't as sharp as their Nikon SEs or older vintage bins, and the new purchases are expensive. Roofer sellers promise everything and inexperienced buyers laud these new models to the skies on forums. But the real shock comes when my friends buy a 10x30 Kruger porro or an 8x30 Leupold porro that's so good for so little money. Then it becomes obvious that the real problem is this: people are hypnotized (for some reason, like retailer profits per item) by advertising whose logic is "Roofers are more expensive for a given magnification and objective than porros, SO roofers MUST be better." It's a shame this ruined the porro market, because porros are always going to be less expensive whenever a roofer and porro of similar quality are sold.

Hermann
Saturday 11th September 2010, 07:23
ANY 7x50 non-ED roofer will look lousy compared to the Zeiss 7x50 Marine, and when Zeiss puts ED glass into the Marine then it will be better than any roofer 7x50 ever. If the new Habichts get the same multicoatings and ED glass as the roofers Swaro make, then the Habichts will produce a better image and be less expensive (and probably have a wider field of view).

What I'd like to see are new production runs of the old Zeiss Oberkochen 10x50 (with modern multicoatings and the eyepiece Zeiss used for their 15x60 BGAT) and the last version of the 8x30B. The 10x50 in particular was well ahead of its time. Zeiss called it a "semi-apochromat", and it does indeed show less CA than most 10x porros I've seen, including the Nikon 10x42 SE. It was also much better sealed than most other porros.

Unfortunately, even when Zeiss produced a short run of the 10x50 in the 1980's they stuck to the original single-layer coatings. When I spoke to one of their representatives at the time he said the glass types that were used in the 10x50 couldn't be multicoated. Go figure.

Given that Zeiss will probably never do another production run of one of these great porros, we'll have to stick to what's still available. There's been some talk of the military surplus Hensoldt 8x30 IF on this board, a nice porro, but the much newer Hensoldt Fero-D16 8x30 IF is in some ways a lot better with better coatings an so on. Well worth getting, especially if you can get hold of one without laser filters. It's IMO better than the Leica/Kern 8x30. Unfortunately it's got a fairly narrow field of view (56 degrees, 124m/1000m), presumably because they wanted to save some cost by using a simple eyepiece design.

Hermann

ksbird/foxranch
Sunday 12th September 2010, 02:20
Thanks to Hermann,
I did get a reply via birdforum email from someone who was unhappy with a current bin FOV for a Nikon Action Extreme 7x35. IMO Nikon is just afraid tey will sell fewer roofers if they make a wide angle version of the Extremes. The eyepiece needed is not that mush more expensive but they could easily make many of Nikon's expensive roofers look really bad.

On the other hand, going through my collection of bins for vintage seekers, I have 2 pairs of Nikon 9x25 Travelites(?) that are completely different so I hope to sort them out via serial numbers. One is a later series Travelite w/serial # 167920 (multicoated) and another Nikon Travelite Ser # 508545 (single coated, blue). The serial numbers don't seem to jibe with what I am looking at as I write this post, because the early number is multicoated. They have no model number or item name on the bins themselves. They are both great bins for sharpness. The FOVs are identical at 5.6 degrees. If you can get these cheap they are well worth the money, although I'd appreciate it if one of you out there know what models these bins really are.

I also searched through my Spindler bins (not Spindler and Hoyer, just Spindler), and found a pair of 7x35 Lightweight Wide Angle bins. They are very sharp and wide angle (likely 9 degrees), I recommend these as well.

Simon S
Sunday 12th September 2010, 09:11
Here is my list
Zeiss jenoptem 8x30 7x50 10x50
Swift Audobon, and model if it is in good condition.
Ross Stepnada, Stepron, Stepruva.
Kershaw Olympic 8x30
Yashica 8x30
All the A series Nikons.
Barr and Stroud CF24
Mirador 8x40
B&L 7x50
Pentax Marine all models
Early Russian 7x50 with hard eye caps
Early Russian 12x40 (bloody amazing)
Leitz (E) Wetzlar Binuxit 8x30
G.Fournier Champax 8x32 83925
The MK1 Swift Skippers and Newports.
The list goes on, but these are a few of my goodies.
Have a look on my site, it is not meant to be a technical review more an idea of what to expect.

PHA
Sunday 12th September 2010, 12:25
Hello ksbird/foxranch,

I agree about your comments on the Porro vs. Roof prism binoculars. I have not an extensive collection now, but I have had some Porros Zeiss 8x30 B, Leits 8x30, Nikon 7x35 and 9x35 and, for me, the best of all in these powers, the Swarovski Habicht 8x30 and 10x40. I have had 5 of these Habicht since 1975. Now I keep one S Habicht, a 10x40 WGA of the last, 2 years old. This is the first, for me, Habicht that have true colours in the view, without that characteristic "yellow" tint in the old Habicht and in almost all vintage Austrian optics, by the way! This new Habicht have exelent optics, better than a Nikon SE I see recently and almost in par with my roof Zeiss FL 10x42. And its construction seems to be good to last forever, not too common today... But, I must said actually, this Zeiss FL have the best optics I have seen in a binocular...! Porro or Roof.

Regards

PHA

mooreorless
Sunday 12th September 2010, 13:25
Hello all. While searching the house for binoculars with which to watch the grisly but mesmerizing upbringing of our resident red-tailed hawk fledglings, I stumbled upon my grandfather's brass field glasses. They are a straight line design, no offset, presumably without a prism, just two truncated cones with a spiral focusing mechanism between them. They have a nice clear image. They are marked "D & L" and "Paris" and extend from 6" to 8". I have searched Google and ebay for any reference to that maker or clue as to the year (decade? century?) of manufacture, without success. I am hoping that someone will recognize these glasses; the depth of knowledge on this forum is amazing.

Also, my late father's WW2 10x50 Dientsglas blc+ Carl Zeis binoculars have developed a light film of fine dust particles on the inner side of one lens. They are otherwise in good shape and are my regular glasses. I gather that despite the easily accessible screws, it would be unwise for even a careful amateur to disassemble and dust them out internally. Is this true? If so, how does one identify a skilled binocular cleaner; and approximately how much might one anticipate spending? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you.

Hi Jump, Welcome to Birdforum. You asked about someone to work on your binoculars. This fellow comes highly recommended.
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/4039379/page/0/view/collapsed/sb/5/o/all/fpart/1#Post4040252
Regards,Steve

rdmadison
Tuesday 21st September 2010, 00:01
Simon has had better luck with Swift Mark I's than I have. I think the real sleeper for Swift is the Neptune Mark II 7x35 of 1963-1968 It's a modest wide angle. One just made $100 on the bidding site so maybe it's not a sleeper anymore.

Earlier this summer I picked up a pair of 1965 Commodore Mark II 7x50's for astronomy. Whoo-ee! I think for static civilized viewing (where you're not lugging them around, or birding in the rain), these old 7x50's are magnificent. Even then, though, the BaK4 was significantly brighter than a BK7 equivalent (e.g. my Swift z-body Nighthawk 7x50 of a few years earlier, which is a fine daylight binocular but no galaxy quester).

vangelis7
Saturday 2nd November 2013, 05:30
Does anyone have any information on a brand of binoculars called Aktor?

FrankD
Saturday 2nd November 2013, 16:56
Wow, you pulled this one out of the depths.

Sorry, I cannot help you with that brand though I have see. Them on that popular auction site from time to time.

Bencw
Saturday 2nd November 2013, 21:10
As Steve suggested how about a discussion on what vintage binoculars are still worth pursuing.

Well, as this thread has come to life again, speaking as an binocular addict, at the right price they are nearly all worth pursuing.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/95019762@N07/

OPTIC_NUT
Thursday 7th November 2013, 12:10
On my top-most oldies shelf:

---A "Carl Wetzlar" 7x35 ultrawide (no relation to Zeiss or Germany but a super view)

---3 slightly different Binolux 7x35 wides, 1950s-1960s
(perfect alignment, very little film buildup)

---7x35 Swift NightHawks (love these: they are a stubby size but are wide view,
and the prisms are pristine, the focuser is rock-steady)

---A pair of Sans+Streiffe (~early 60s) 8x30s. Sharp, clear, wide.
S+S does have trouble in shipping sometimes, and often needs cleaning on the
field lens of the eyepiece, but has excellent 'best case' performance. They had
BAK4 prisms, mag.Flouride full coatings, very solid focuser, etc..

The easiest hi-quality antiques to find are the Binolux, or Empire sometimes (the ones
with heavy-duty focusers). Bear in mind, Binolux now is a name stamp put on
really cheap stuff.. not like the old stuff.

--------------------


There are some awesome K-Mart units. I look at the running gear and coatings in
photos to ID the super ones.

JC Penny had some great optical ones, but they mostly had chintsy end-covers
and hardware...a shame.

Sears was good....built like a tank.... but their "amber coating" (all the rage at
one point) seems to produce slightly hazy, lower contrast results now. I'm not sure
how that happens...maybe it didn't age well. Fun, but not the best.

Selsi's usually have incredibly deep contrast and clarity. They get bumped out of
alignment over the years or in the vans, though. I'm 1 for 3 on those. Haven't learned
prism alignment yet, just front/back lens cleaning.

Empire or Jaspn/Empire has great ones. The later the less solid the construction though.
Look for thick die-cast focuser arms.


And, a biggie:

I avoid all "fast focus" binocs. That carves a big hole out of the 70s and 80s,
but those focusers are so loose that the sharpness and left/right focus tracking
are almost impossible to get perfect. A shame: a lot of good glass is in front
of some really sloppy running gear.

FrankD
Friday 8th November 2013, 13:14
Out of all the bins I collected during my "vintage period" I only kept a handful. Not surprisingly they do include a Binolux and and Empire...as well as a few Sears (love the 7x50 wide angle), a Minolta and one or two others.

OPTIC_NUT
Friday 8th November 2013, 14:30
I only recently discovered the Empire "stubby 11 degree" design and the stubby
10-degree (525 ft @ 100 yd) design. The 525-ft's are super sharp. They carried a little
into Jason/Empire days. That's very rare type. Not as bulky. K-Mart had reprise models
for both Binolux and Empires. since they're more recent, they are typically more
pristine inside. Focusers at least Empire-grade.

I'm hoping a nice modern pair (maybe 8x42 Monarch 5's) will end my vintage habit.
Those monster 11-degree views of the heyday are hard to put away, though.
The competition for full-field perfection has pretty much crushed the ultras.
I can except a little fuzzing.

vangelis7
Sunday 10th November 2013, 16:26
I went to a Salvation Army Thrift store and picked up a pair of Aktor binoculars. I tried to research them before I bought them online, and found absolutely nothing about them. They come in a pigskin leather case, and the optics are surprisingly good, I got a 20x50 model 1442. The attention to detail seems to belie german manufacturing, but when I listed it, someone said they are Japanese. Any information or clues about this product would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Binastro
Sunday 10th November 2013, 16:52
A Photograph might help with the Aktor 20×50 binocular.
Often binoculars purporting to be from one country are actually made elsewhere. The name is often just a sales tactic.

vangelis7
Sunday 10th November 2013, 18:11
Here are some pics

Steve C
Sunday 10th November 2013, 18:38
Give us a photo of the objective end of the binocular. Typically with vintage Japanese porros, there are JB and JE numbers stamped on the end of the hinge. The numbers can identify which of the myriad of Japanese optical firms making glass and bodies in the JTTI heyday made the binocular. If there is just a JB #, then one firm (identified by the number) made the whole binocular. If there is a JE #, then that firm did the chassis and the JB source did the rest. The J is often tilted inward at an angle, then a dash, then the B or E designation, then a number. If not a photo, then list the numbers.

There can be some variation in the old vintage porros from the JTTI era, but mostly they were quite good, particularly those with 7.5* or wider fields, and corresponding afov values of 60* or more (which is the case with your Aktor). There were some plain garbage models with narrow fields of view. The triple tested slogan I think originated with David Bushnell. It was a marketing slogan which meant 1, he'd tested it, 2, the factory tested it, and 3, the consumer tested it.

I have seen lots of those old porros, but Aktor is not one I am familiar with.

vangelis7
Sunday 10th November 2013, 18:58
Here is a pic of the objective

vangelis7
Sunday 10th November 2013, 19:11
Is it possible to know when the binoculars were built from this number?

Gijs van Ginkel
Sunday 10th November 2013, 19:12
vangelis7,
If I read the lettering correctly, the binocular is Japanese and made by Suzuki Kogaku Seiki Co. Ltd.
Gijs

vangelis7
Sunday 10th November 2013, 19:15
Can you give me an approximate date?

Binastro
Sunday 10th November 2013, 19:29
. If the magnification is genuinely 20 times and the field 3.5° I would think that there must be a lot of pincushion distortion or severely curved field or maybe both. As it seems to have simple three element eyepieces.
Perhaps 1960s.

I used some very good 20×50 Japanese binoculars similar to these but maybe 3° fields. They showed really faint stars because of the high magnification and I used them handheld very successfully. I'm not sure however, how good the Aktor are.

The number 1442 seems to be the serial number.

Gijs van Ginkel
Sunday 10th November 2013, 19:33
vangelis7,
No I do not know anything about the production date.

Frank,
In addition to the many nice binoculars mentioned in the previous posts I like to mention the Hensoldt Nacht-Dialyts 7x56 and 8x56 and especially the 16x56 Tele-Dialyt with a weight of 670 grams. The image quality is very good and the handling comfort is excellent.
Hensoldt started production of the 16x56 Dialyt in 1936 and a newer series started in 1948 and it was produced until 1963 with Hensoldt E-coating.
Hns Seeger mentions in his first binocuar book, that the 16x56 Hensoldt was especaially liked for observations in the mountains and for birding.
Gijs

Steve C
Sunday 10th November 2013, 20:52
Where there is a JE # there should be a JB # as well. Gijs is correct with his identification (or else we both misread the JE # ;)).

There probably is not a way to precisely identify the year of manufacture. With some makes, notably Swift there is a serial number that is coded to the year of manufacture.

My best guess for the Aktor binocular you have is from 1965-1970. And that is just that, a guess.

Binastro
Sunday 10th November 2013, 21:28
. Yes Gijs,
The 16×56 Hensoldt is indeed an amazing binocular. Amazingly light and in my experience almost unequalled resolution. The quality of the optical workmanship seems better than anything made nowadays.
I was not aware that it is called a Tele-Dialyt, thanks for telling me that.

james holdsworth
Sunday 10th November 2013, 22:27
. Yes Gijs,
The 16×56 Hensoldt is indeed an amazing binocular. Amazingly light and in my experience almost unequalled resolution. The quality of the optical workmanship seems better than anything made nowadays.
I was not aware that it is called a Tele-Dialyt, thanks for telling me that.


If I may ask, how does a non-phase coated roof achieve such high resolution? I thought that would be quite impossible with the phase shift.

OPTIC_NUT
Monday 11th November 2013, 04:22
If I may ask, how does a non-phase coated roof achieve such high resolution? I thought that would be quite impossible with the phase shift.


Speaking strictly from a technical POV, oversized prisms and using other elements
to compensate could cover that. Not without trading off some other properties,
though. The phase-coating just beats one kind of trouble at the source (still the best
way if money is to be thrown). Going oversize can be used to alter the angles,
but the barrels swell up and get heavier..

Binocular tweeking at the high end is amazing these days..

Hermann
Monday 11th November 2013, 04:42
If I may ask, how does a non-phase coated roof achieve such high resolution? I thought that would be quite impossible with the phase shift.

So do I. I only had a chance to look through a pair once, and at the time I wasn't terribly impressed. I thought the Zeiss 15x60 porro was better. The Zeiss is a lot bigger and heavier though.

Hermann

henry link
Monday 11th November 2013, 13:01
Speaking strictly from a technical POV, oversized prisms and using other elements
to compensate could cover that. Not without trading off some other properties,
though. The phase-coating just beats one kind of trouble at the source (still the best
way if money is to be thrown). Going oversize can be used to alter the angles,
but the barrels swell up and get heavier..

Binocular tweeking at the high end is amazing these days..

It's not oversized prisms, but a large exit pupil that can occasionally accidentally cancel the destructive interference from the roof prism, but only when the pupil of the eye is small and offset within the exit pupil in a direction that removes the roof edge from the part of the light cone accepted by the eye.

I've been around long enough to remember when most everyone thought the image from un-phase corrected Leitz and Zeiss roof prism bins was completely sharp. Oddly, in those days the softness of high dollar roof prism bins was mostly not noticed even when they were compared to cheaper sharper Porros.

LPT
Monday 11th November 2013, 13:04
If I may ask, how does a non-phase coated roof achieve such high resolution? I thought that would be quite impossible with the phase shift.
Holger Merlitz makes an observation similar to Binastro's in regard to the Hensoldt Dialyt's 10X50 center of field resolution: "Image sharpness: The central resolution of all three binoculars is fine enough so that stars are imaged as proper point-like structures. It may well be the case that a most critical investigation using resolution charts would reveal a certain deficiency of resolution with the Dialyt as a result of a missing phase-shift correction coating (which was invented in the late 1980s only), and it might be that ambitious bird watchers were able to see the difference to Zeiss or Ross (which, being of Porro design, do not suffer from such a phase shift). In my field tests and without using resolution charts I was unable to make out any significant difference in center resolution..." (see http://www.holgermerlitz.de/ross10x50.html )
I have had the same experiences with the Hensoldt 6X42 Jagt Dialyt pre-war, uncoated), 7X56 Dialylt (WWII military, uncoated), 8X56 Nacht Dialyt (post-war, coated), and 10X50 Dialyt (post-war, coated). I've consistently found (without doing formal resolution tests, however) the center of field resolutions of all these binoculars to say nothing of their general optical performance is equal to or better than that of the best Porro I's being made during the same period. I understand that theoretically this should not be the case, and suspect their lack of phase coating is in large part compensated for by optical design and quality of glass.
I also have an 8X30 Dialyt (uncoated pre-war) in almost mint condition and its center of field resolution is, in fact, rather mediocre lacking the crispness one finds in the best 8X30's of the period possibly supporting Henry's comment, "It's not oversized prisms, but a large exit pupil that can occasionally accidentally cancel the destructive interference from the roof prism, but only when the pupil of the eye is small and offset within the exit pupil in a direction that removes the roof edge from the part of the light cone accepted by the eye."

Binastro
Monday 11th November 2013, 13:40
. The 16×56 binocular was found in a charity shop as new although the beautiful case is a bit marked.I think it is from about 1955 and single coated and of extremely high quality basically handmade.
It was I think occasionally used for watching horseracing.
I mainly use binoculars for astronomy and my resolution tests are actual double stars.
My other tests are large clocks on distant towers often at night where I use the minute marks for very fine resolution tests.
I don't use test charts.
Undoubtedly with a low contrast object the 16×56 binocular may not perform so well.

I've tested it against top-quality 13×56 and 15×58 roof prism binoculars. Also 12×56 roof prisms two types. 15×60 Zeiss Porro prism but not in good condition. 18×50 Canon.
15×50 and 16×50 Soviet binoculars. 20×60 Soviet the very best. 20×70 Japanese 20×80 Japanese, all the latter are porro prism binoculars
taking into account the slightly different magnification I'm quite satisfied that the 16×56 hensoldt is the equal or better to any of these. At least on the stars. Also both star images are immaculate and only beaten by the 18×50 Canon which is a seriously underrated binocular at least if you get a good example maybe I was lucky 10 years ago.

The 16×56 does lose 0.5 magnitude in the faintest stars seen compared with if it had been multicoated to the best standards.

Frankly I don't think that phase coating makes much difference or any difference in the resolution of double stars which are high contrast objects.

Another surprise is the 30×50 Yukon binocular that uses mirrors instead of prisms. The
Example that I have gives amazing results with close double stars. Again I may be lucky to have a good example. It does however lose out because of the basic coatings although the glass used is quite good. It is a little bit heavy. The transmission is not high.
I think that now there is also a 20×50 similar Yukon binoculars but I don't have one of those.
In addition the lightweight Yukon six times to 25 times to 100×100 mm folded refractor Yukon spotting scope is remarkable if you get a good one.
However, there is a lot of variation in the quality of Yukon brand optics so you need to get a good one. In this case I would say it is remarkable because of the light weight and that it is not expensive. I would not.like to drop it however. It works very well at 100 times.

It is nice to get surprises and the 16×56 hensoldt was one of the best.
It would be nice to test it against 15×56 Swarovski or Zeiss roof prisms but I don't have access to these.

hinnark
Tuesday 12th November 2013, 13:08
If I may ask, how does a non-phase coated roof achieve such high resolution? I thought that would be quite impossible with the phase shift.

James,

the phase shift doesn't have an effect on resolution but on contrast. That means that a virtual perfectly (= zero centerfield aberrations) crafted vintage roof bin with perfect lenses and prisms is able to outperform in respect of resolution a recent sample with the newest coatings but less than perfect optics.

BTW, that 16x56 Hensoldt is also very good at the stars. It's so amazingly lightweight that one really has to wonder why nobody produce something like this nowadays.

See here what was under the christmas tree last year: http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/477916/limit/recent The Hensoldt 16x56 is in the front with a Leica Ultravid 8x32 for comparison behind.

Steve

jjpharm
Saturday 15th February 2014, 04:12
Steve - I would like your opinion on the Canon 7x35 once you have used them. They tend to have stiff focusing - but that can be fixed. One nice thing about them, if you wear glasses is this. Removing the eye cup, you will find a nice flat surface which accommodates my 3 M sticky back rubbery flat rings. I use a set of leather round punches to punch out donuts to fit the older binoculars. This way I can usually get the full field of view and still keep from scratching my eye glasses. The Canon coatings create a rich color to my eyes. I have found the image to be superior to the old B&Lsm and those are pretty darn good. s Canon's 7x50s are also quite good, but I have found their 8x30s not so good. The 7x35 are really solid. No cheap materials in these old binoculars. John

Just saw it today, I bought one 8x30 on ebay since i gave up on the 7x50. why the 8x30 is not so good? could you explain for me? thanks. I really want that 7x50 but it bidding too high (90) including shipping and missing cap. I got my 8x30 for 85 dollars including shipping. i see there isn't a lot of vintage canon bins out there on ebay. what u think?

John Dracon
Sunday 16th February 2014, 06:40
Responding to your question about the 8x30 Canon "not being so good." Before Canon went mainly into stabilized binoculars, they marketed some roofs and porros. The roofs were of middling quality and so were their initial porros. Interestingly, the first Canon porros coming with a high polished black leather case don't match up with the latter porros coming with a polished brown leather case, as strange as that may sound. All one has to do is compare them side by side to understand the difference.The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The latter porros came in 7x50, 7x35, 8x30, and 6x30, all CF. When the 8x30
Canon is compared to other makes in 8x30 such as Zeiss, B&L, Nikon, and Bushnell, the Canon lacks the resolution and contrast found in those lines. My comment of course is subjective. But I'll stick with it. The latter Canon 7x35 is superb comparing it with any other 7x35 of that vintage. It will come as no surprise that not all models found in a line are of equal quality, particularly in mass produced instruments put together from a host of vendors. Again, one has to make side by side comparisons to make those judgments.

John

MPeoples
Sunday 16th February 2014, 18:51
Bring on the memories, wow!!!! The old Swift 8.5x44 Audubon's and Ultra Lites we sold Hundreds of them. The B&L Elites 8x42 B&L Custom 7x26, the Celestron Ulitma ED and Non ED binoculars , Zeiss 7x42 and 10x40 Dialyts, The Tasco 7x50 made in Japan. The 8x30 Jena etc.

Mike

OPTIC_NUT
Monday 17th February 2014, 14:48
I see binoculars like the Bell+Howell 8x40 wides either described as excellent or
horrible. Having gotten a few pair (and others like them from Wards or JC PEnney),
I think the answer is: Both!

Very nice glass in shaky and sometimes brittle plastic hardware.

Bushnell Customs bear up very well, but sometimes have really dinged
and caps on the objectives...study the photos!

Simon S
Saturday 22nd February 2014, 18:04
The worst problem with the Bell and Howell binoculars is the rock in the focus shaft. Results in focus shifting about all the time.

WJC
Saturday 22nd February 2014, 23:16
Hi Simon:

I’m probably going to be ready to steal some of your photos soon. I’m in talks with SPIE and Springer about the book.

After retiring and having the time, I went back through it. What a disjointed mess! So, I had to rewrite EVERYTHING. So, I have sent out the “official” proposals and we’ll see what we see when we see it. It’s gotten to the point that I just want to see it . . . gone. I have other things to do.

Cheers,

Bill

PS on this forum, I’m WJC.

NDhunter
Saturday 22nd February 2014, 23:43
Hi Simon:

I’m probably going to be ready to steal some of your photos soon. I’m in talks with SPIE and Springer about the book.

After retiring and having the time, I went back through it. What a disjointed mess! So, I had to rewrite EVERYTHING. So, I have sent out the “official” proposals and we’ll see what we see when we see it. It’s gotten to the point that I just want to see it . . . gone. I have other things to do.

Cheers,

Bill

PS on this forum, I’m WJC.

Bill:

It is good to see you posting again. You are on my "goodguy" list.

I am looking forward to what you have to say about binoculars.

Jerry

WJC
Sunday 23rd February 2014, 00:09
You're too kind, but then . . . you knew that. I'll TRY to be as active as I can be, until HE shows up. Then, I'm outta here, too.

Bill

looksharp65
Sunday 23rd February 2014, 09:50
Just bought an old roof, a Mamiya 7x with 155 m FOV. I believe it is a 7x20 but time will tell. Their other 7x21 porro II (?) is found now and then although it's not common.

Well I know porros are a better bet. The lack of multicoating, phase-coating and the fact that it probably has aluminium coated prism should mean it has an image that's not spectacular.
But Mamiya knew how to make great optics and great mechanics, and from the images it looks to be in a very good condition.

It has quite small ocular lenses so the eye relief should really be on the tight side.
After finally having found 1-day toric contacts that suit my eyes, I can practice some more freedom.
My only other decent vintage binocular is the Meopta porro. Its eye relief is so tight (despite the about 50 degree AFOV) that it requires pushing it very closely to the eyes. 6 mm?
But the image is nice.

The Mamiya seems to have push/pull eyecups, if adjustable at all.

http://www.ebay.fr/itm/VINTAGE-PAIRE-DE-JUMELLES-MAMIYA-2-8-687019-7X-155-1000M-BINOCULARS-COMPACT-ZOOM-/201040747435?ssPageName=ADME:L:OC:DE:3160

//L

Simon S
Wednesday 26th February 2014, 19:51
BilllC Its great to hear from you. I tried rocking the apple cart only to receive a few warnings from CL admin.3:-).

WJC
Thursday 27th February 2014, 05:03
BilllC Its great to hear from you. I tried rocking the apple cart only to receive a few warnings from CL admin.3:-).

They're big on warnings. Several people who know my biggest crime was standing up against self-serving ego maniacs who preyed on the unwary. From what I hear, some of them have received warnings. Their forum is for the average guy, unless the average guy says anything they don't want said. Being of value to the community makes no difference.

I queried them 3 weeks ago, after being invited to do so. The response was that they were thinking about it and (after a year's time) would get back to me when they made their decision.

Perhaps my decision will be made first. It's plain to see, they are much more about pacifying and learning.

RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP--1958

Bill

mooreorless
Thursday 27th February 2014, 09:05
Bill add me to the glad to see you posting on here!! I still have that picture of the person balancing on one foot.

WJC
Thursday 27th February 2014, 17:05
Bill add me to the glad to see you posting on here!! I still have that picture of the person balancing on one foot.

Hi Steve!

I don't think I can be as helpful here as over there. And, unlike some, that's what I'm all about. After 44 years at the bench and on the sales floor, I don't have to convince ME of anything. I just try to save some from themselves by injecting things they may have not considered.

Cheers,

Bill

PS I'm in negotiations with a couple of firms for the book.

elkcub
Friday 28th February 2014, 00:34
Hi Steve!

I don't think I can be as helpful here as over there. And, unlike some, that's what I'm all about. After 44 years at the bench and on the sales floor, I don't have to convince ME of anything. I just try to save some from themselves by injecting things they may have not considered.

Cheers,

Bill

PS I'm in negotiations with a couple of firms for the book.

Bill,

I have no doubt you can be a lot more helpful being :loveme: here than braving the :storm: over there.

Ed

WJC
Friday 28th February 2014, 02:15
Hope so! So far, I've not seen as many outlandish comments. That's a good thing. I'll bet the folks here even know how to pronounce "Leupold."

Bill

Pierre D.
Monday 14th April 2014, 20:50
Hello to all, have just joined the forum today and came across this thread - glad to find others with a shared interest in vintage binoculars !

I have found most people just "don't get it" when it comes to this area interest and look at me as though I were crazy when I tell them I own a number of vintage binos as well as new ones. The reply I usually get is "Why do you need more that one set of binoculars, I don't understand?"


But ... more to the point of "What's good in vintage binos?"

I just acquired a vintage Japanese-made Swift Audubon 8.5 x 44 model 804 binocular this past Friday via eBay. Circa 1961, very good condition externally, but most importantly: crystal clear optics, perfect collimation !

Photos attached for reference.

I own a French made 60s era 7x35 bino that is on par with other contemporay European binoculars, as well several Japanese-made binoculars from the "Golden Era" of the Japanese Telescope Inspection Institute (JTII)
in 7x35, 7x50 and 10x50. They are all solidly built binos with very good optics from a time when the JTII imposed strict production and quality standards on Japanese binoculars and affixed the little gold or silver JTII oval sticker you see on those old binos.
This Swift Audubon outdoes them all in image quality, build quality and refinement.


Overall impression:

Superb image quality, especially considering its age - 1961! Clear, sharp image with minimal distortion at edges of field of view and good control of chromatic aberration (ie: distortion of colors especially at the egdes of an object you are viewing). They also produce a remarkably bright image even when dark, such as during dusk/dawn so very good light-gathering ability.

I am sure modern fully multi-coated high end binos can outdo these, but to me they lack the appeal of the black, all metal-pebble-grain era of the vintage binos! And with these Swifts I don't feel I am giving much up at all in image or build quality. (I can find absolutely NO plastic parts on these, not even the Inter-Pupillary Distance scale !)


Without any doubt, the best image quality of any binocular I own. On a par with or better than some high-end binos I have personal experience with, to include the modern Japanese made Nikons we own for birdwatching, the US military issue M22 Steiner & M22 Fujinon binoculars - as well as various allied forces Hertel & Reuss, Carl Zeiss, Leica, Kern binos I have had an opportunity to use during a 20 + year career in the US Army.


I was also surprised at some of the other features of this 53 year old bino:

- screw-up/down aluminum eyecups with a 5mm range of adjustement.

- 22mm ocular lens diameter. Significantly larger than most binoculars, is of the 'Erfle"-type 5-piece ocular design - a different design than most typical porro prism binoculars.

- BaK4 prisms

- Fully Multi Coated optics (though the prism cover plates only read "FULL COATED OPTICS" )

- Neoprene seals - designed to keep internal optics clean
(NOTE: just sealed, not dry inert gas-purged so weather resistant but not waterproof or fogproof)

All this is verified by a research paper on the History of the Swift Audubon 8.5x44 bino - link to download this 3-part research paper is at post #15 on another thread on this forum:
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=42944

other data:
Stamped on front of objective end of hinge arms:

JB45 - which indicates Tamron Co., Ltd., Tokyo as the final assembly company.

JE47 - which indicates Tokuhiro Koki Seisakusho Inc., Tokyo as the manuf of the bino body.


In summary:
Excellent binocular for bird watching & most other use. Sharp bright image which allows you to discern even minor variations of a bird's plumage, color, beak shape and all the other small details other binoculars often cannot pick up.

The Swift Audubon binoculars were designed specifically for birdwatching from the very first model - they have been in continuous production since approximately 1960 - and it is abundantly obvious when you make use of them. I now understand all the accolades this bino has gotten over the years and why it has achieved near-iconic status.

Highly recommend it if you can locate this bino. There are usually several posted on eBay. You could also consider the current version now made in a roof prism as well as a porro-prism model; the new ones have the advantage of being dry-nitrogen purged & O-ring sealed and thus waterproof and fogprooof. The Swift Sport Optics company is a US Company that is still owned and managed by the same Swift family that founded it in the 1920s.




All the best,
Pierre

FrankD
Tuesday 15th April 2014, 01:44
Pierre,

How was the eye relief on these with the eyecups fully screwed in?

NDhunter
Tuesday 15th April 2014, 01:48
Hope so! So far, I've not seen as many outlandish comments. That's a good thing. I'll bet the folks here even know how to pronounce "Leupold."

Bill

Bill:

Leupold, is it "Leo" or Loo". I think I know the answer. How many others
know the answer to that one.

That's why I like having you around. ;)

Jerry

WJC
Tuesday 15th April 2014, 02:50
Bill:

Leupold, is it "Leo" or Loo". I think I know the answer. How many others
know the answer to that one.

That's why I like having you around. ;)

Jerry

Leupold (as in Leupold & Stevens), is pronounced, LU-pold, not LEO-pold; LEO-pold was an orchestra conductor (Leopold Stokowski, 1882-1977) referenced in a Buggs Bunny cartoon and Disney’s Fantasia. . . . One down; 999,999 to go. :eek!:

Bill 

stereotruckdriver
Tuesday 15th April 2014, 02:52
Bill:

Leupold, is it "Leo" or Loo". I think I know the answer. How many others
know the answer to that one.

That's why I like having you around. ;)

Jerry

Looopold! : )

Bryce...

Pierre D.
Tuesday 15th April 2014, 15:55
Originally posted by FrankD
Pierre,

How was the eye relief on these with the eyecups fully screwed in?




Frank

Not great - I would say near 0 mm !!
With eyecups fully screwed in, I still have to touch the lenses of my glasses to get as wide a view as possible - and still get the black ring "tunnel effect" compared to the clear full view I get when I take my glasses off.

The 60s/70s binoculars in my experince over the years all seem to have little to no eye relief. However that may just be my personal experience based on the binoculars I own and remember using.

I have just looked through the small collection of vintage binos I still own.
I consider all to have good optics and image quality, but they all have the same lack of eye relief regardless of the varying fields of view, magnification, exit pupil size between them.

French made: "STESCO' 7x35 (circa early 60s)

Japanese made - JTII era, all from 60-70s :
1) Manon 10 x 50
JB191: Seiwa Optical Co., Ltd., Wako-Shi
JE17: Otake Kogaku Kogyo Co. Ltd., Tokyo

2) Consort 7 x 35
JB4: Toei Kogaku Co. Ltd., Hatogaya-Shi

3) K-Mart 7 x 50
JB133: Kamakura Koki Co. Ltd., Warabi-Shi
JE54: Suzuki Kogaku Seiki Co. Ltd.

4) Swift Audubon 8.5 x 44 (circa 1961)
JB45: Tamron Co., Ltd., Tokyo
JE47: Tokuhiro Koki Seisakusho Inc., Tokyo


For comparison I also tested a newer Nikon Action Egret binocular we own
and they do have an improved eye relief, approx. 10mm as close as I can tell.

I also recently tested the new model Swift Sport Optics Audubon 8.5 x 44 porro prism (regular & ED model) the long eye relief is noticeable when I looked through these with my glasses on. Nikon specs state 16mm for these
and it's abvious when using them.

In my case, I do wear glasses, but always take them off when using binoculars as this is most comfortable to me, even with the newer long eye relief binoculars available.


All the best
Pierre

OPTIC_NUT
Tuesday 15th April 2014, 16:50
The strongest showing in my 'oldies' collection is the 1950-1965 7x35
Binolux extra-wides (10 and 11 degree). Such flat, sharp views.
When I screw off the shallow eyecups, there is usually decent eye relief
from the giant Plossl-plus oculars.

There are a fair number of ordinary binoculars from the 40s and 50s that do well, too.
They are designed so you unscrew the very deep eyecups and put them right on
your glasses. That's a strong trend from 1947 to about the mid-50s:
standard eye relief and deep screw-off cups. It got muddled later.
Amost all the 6x30 monocs I made from 6x30 IF binocs have great eye relief, but
you have to unscrew the Bakelite. Stellar is one of the finest, for coatings and
sharpness and good eye relief. From photos you can tell by the depth of the
eyecup. 8x doesn't usually have as much eye relief. Bear that in mind: more
power is less eye relief, without extra measures.

Pierre D.
Thursday 17th July 2014, 15:36
Good Morning to all

Just a quick heads-up for for those interested in a Swift Audubon

On ebay right now there is a 1965 8.5x44 model 804 with orig leather case and straps up for auction

- current bid is $31.00, 2 bids in so far (much lower starting price than I have ever seen on ebay for one of these.

- auction ends on 20 July '14 at 7:32 AM (Pacific time or 10:32 Eastern)

- eBay item number: 151356080989