Octarem 8x50B, Nobilem 8x50B Super, Yashica 7x50
I found this forum whilst seeking information on my Octarem 8x50Bs bought new for £199 from Jessops in the UK just before Germany re-united (I seem to remember reading an article giving them a great review and saying East German optics should be bought ASAP). They're stunning. Rubber armoured and haven't been used much and the lenses etc. are still nice and I know they haven't been knocked. There's some wear and tear on the rubber coating and the eyecups are perishing a bit but they're sharp and bright.
However, after finding out how much they're worth now, I thought I should get some binoculars for "abusing", keeping in the car, always to hand in various rooms around the house and I had a bit of a wild session on ebay recently where I bought some
Swift Belmont 8x40 extra wide
Tecnar (by Swift) 20x50
I'd earlier bought some Clubman 10x40ZCF-Vs from a camera shop in the UK I'll mention again later.
I should mention here I also have an interest in Astronomy and Microscopy ... basically interested in pretty much anything ...
I have one or two Optomax lenses and they're respectable and the Optomax 8x30s are no disappointment though they are getting on a bit and not the best.
The Swift Belmont 8x40s are worth carrying around and pretty sharp.
The Tecnar 20x50 are pretty woolly and may have been knocked. OK for close up stuff but when used for Astronomy alignment seems a bit of a mess. I reckon they're not unusable for work from a hide though on fairly close-by bushes.
The Praktica/Pentacon CN10x50Rs are not bad though I find the controls too sensitive.
The Yashica 7x50s are the opposite, too much adjustment is needed before I see what's going on though that MAY be a good thing since I know I COULD set them up exactly for my eyes knowing a slight rub in the wrong place won't make much difference.
The Tecnar 8x40s were good enough to go to my son as his first "serious" pair of binoculars (he's shown no interest in having any though and I hope he does SOMETHING with them other than watching the girl next door's bedroom!)
The Clubman's are really not bad at all and I can see myself using them. Not a well known brand but mine were bought used for £20 and must have had an easy life. They're as good as anything above.
Now we come to the Zeiss Jena stuff ..... I visited the camera shop where I bought the Clubmans to see what they had in. They had a pair of used little Olympus' I already have (bought to replace some small Nikons I had but which left my car when it was stolen in Oslo). I'm keeping my little Olympus'. They're better than the Nikons despite them having a weird "plasticky" design.
I digress, I was chatting to the camera shop owner about my Octarems and how I'd never looked through anything that made me want to get anything else but wanted more stuff worth less money to actually carry around or keep in less than ideal conditions and and he pulls out from under the counter a pair of Nobilems 8x50Bs ... or so he said ..... I took them outside. had a peek, 30 seconds later, they were mine including a hard, brown case.
Only when I got home did I discover they were the "super" version.
Anyway, the moment you've all been waiting for .... which are best? I'm sorry, but I think the Octarems have it. I don't know the history of the 8x50B Nobilems and when I've spent more time with both pairs working side by side, I may change my mind. There's no denying the Nobilems are a different class of binocular but the Octarems are just so tight and bright.
Maybe that's why you have more chance of seeing Lord Lucan on "Big Brother" than you have of finding a good deal on a pair of Octarems.
Before I finish, I'll just do a quick "side-by-side" test ..... yes, the Octarems have it. The Yashicas are worth getting though. I don't know if Yashicas co-operation with Contax affected their binoculars but they're serious bins.
Beware of anything "new" badged with "Yashica". As a brand, it has changed hands and, pretty much like Rollei, cannot really be trusted now as they're simply badging anything that comes out of Far East factories.
In 1987 I owned the same two Zeiss/Jena binoculars and came to the same conclusions about their optics. I sold the Nobilem "Super" and have lived to regret it. What's special about the "super" is the design extravagance, the huge prisms and triplet objectives. I also think it's preferable to the Octarem as an astronomical binocular because of the wider field and reduced vignetting near the field edge. If I were you I wouldn't break up the set.
The Zeiss Jena 8x50B Octarem = one of the all-time greats. So good, I have two. One is an armoured BGA version, the other has traditional leatherette covering. Holger Merlitz prefers the Octarem to the early Nobilem, if I remember rightly, even if the latter was a tour de force in optical technology. The simpler Octarem excels in general use, the Nobilem in star-gazing. I recall a respected optics dealer in Chester telling me that, in all his experience, there was nothing to touch the Octarem at any price. Admittedly, that was back in the 1990s, was probably not wholly true then and is no longer valid now, but nevertheless the Octarem is still a superb binocular if you don't mind its size and weight...
I suppose that since I already have the Octarems, I have to decide if there is anything out there that would outperform them and how much they'd cost. Do I want to spend a fortune on some gear where I may see relatively little improvement? I'm not really planning on selling either of these bins. The Yashicas aren't bad and the Swift Belmonts are portable, affordable and, if I was needing something compact (like travelling light with a budget airline that allows you only 10kg cabin luggage), I'd perhaps take them or the Optomax 8x30 though the Olympus (I found them yesterday, they're marked "7x21 PC") are excellent, as I said earlier, better than my Nikon 7x21 but I presume 8x40s would have better light gathering towards dusk.
A tip for anyone who DOES want to travel light with budget airlines: Get a smartphone that will communicate with a Freedom Keyboard. They're bluetooth, fold out keyboards that weigh next to nothing and can go in a pocket. Your phone works as a phone as normal but IF you need to type quite a bit for some reason while you're away ... emails, facebook etc., you can easily. Your notebook can be left at home. I don't even bother taking my netbook on some trips.
I'll wait until I get a clear sky before I try the binoculars for Astronomy. I know the Octarems are fabulously "tight". A tiny dot in space is resolved as a tiny spot, not a couple of merged points of light. Thanks for your replies.
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