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Old Sunday 19th February 2012, 02:04   #1
Steve C
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Vintage Porro: Wards 11.8* Ultra wide angle

Montgomery Wards Ultra Wide Angle 11.8* 7x35 porro

This is the latest of my vintage porro binoculars. I had been looking to explore the differences in view as the angle of the view increased. In 7x, I had 525’, 551’, 578’, and 604’ fov binoculars. I saw this one pop up, at a just wider 620', and I figured the price was right, so I used the buy it now option.

This is a somewhat interesting binocular, different in many ways, and sort of disappointing in others. The first thing is the focus. This has to be the fastest focusing binocular I have ever handled. There is not quite one turn of total travel and just under half of that goes to focus past infinity. It also seems to have about the same focus rate throughout its usable focus travel, which like all my other porros, is clockwise to infinity. Just a bump of the wheel is all it takes. It is something that will take some getting used to. It is much faster than any of my other vintage porros. It does have a sweet focus spot where the focus can be set to give the same sort of “no focus needed” depth associated with the 3-D dof of a 7x porro. It takes some getting used to. I think I’ll mark that spot with a dab of model paint to use as a visual reference, a center of focus spot.

It is a little disappointing in that it has what appears a solid magnesium alloy body with massive, solidly mounted prisms you would expect to see in a well built binocular. But, the prism plates are plastic as is most of the hardware on the ocular end of the binocular. There seems no play or wobble in the ocular bridge. Additionally, the objective lens assembly is housed in a plastic affair that screws into the body. It seems kind of a hybrid between the typical large B&L style housing, with the removable objective assembly of the German style housing, but no rear prism plate. There is the remnants of a JTII inspection sticker, but there are no J-B or J-E numbers.

Edit to add, the ocular tubes and the focus bridge do seem to metal as do the bottom of the ocular housings. Posted a bit quick on the plactic thing.

While it feels solid and substantial enough, it is not the rugged, solid feel of a Tasco. I use this with eye cups removed. I cover the eye cup attachments with inner tube bands to protect the recesses and the diopter screws.

The view is very nice and is certainly the best part of this binocular. It is hard for me to determine any real difference in the width of the view compared to a 604’ sample. The edges do not seem much softer and the contrast and sharpness are pretty good. I would hesitate to use this real hard, but whoever had it before me used it quite a bit and the binocular is none the worse for wear. Its view is certainly good enough I would have no problem using it as a primary glass. The drawback there would be getting used to the somewhat unique focus.

Photos included which should finish the description.
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Last edited by Steve C : Sunday 19th February 2012 at 02:18.
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Old Sunday 19th February 2012, 02:13   #2
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A few other shots.
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Old Tuesday 21st February 2012, 17:01   #3
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I have a pair too.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/binoculars/3177710722/
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Old Tuesday 21st February 2012, 18:06   #4
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Count me into the group that has used at least one Wards wide angle similar to these two models..... first pic below.

I also have a different style Wards as well....

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7302996...in/photostream
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Old Thursday 23rd February 2012, 00:55   #5
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As to the manufacturer, it occurs to me that SMC (under the serial # on front hinge) is associated with the Pentax optics division.

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Old Friday 24th February 2012, 12:31   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Swain View Post
As to the manufacturer, it occurs to me that SMC (under the serial # on front hinge) is associated with the Pentax optics division.

David
David, in the Pentax brand, SMC stood for Super Multi Coated, and often seen on the Takumar lenses.
This model is only single coating, so I think another meaning is likely.
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Old Friday 24th February 2012, 12:56   #7
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Mine is the same as Franks w/funky soft case except mine didn't make it w/left side prism cover. Instead there's some gray textured vinyl upholstery that at casual glance appears factory as it's shade is only slightly darker than the pebble grained body colour.

W/only 11.5* I'm missing the extra .3 experience. I think the oculars might be 2mm difference as well.

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Old Friday 24th February 2012, 18:02   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon S View Post
David, in the Pentax brand, SMC stood for Super Multi Coated, and often seen on the Takumar lenses.
This model is only single coating, so I think another meaning is likely.
It was a shot in the dark, so to speak! Thanks.

David
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Old Friday 24th February 2012, 19:11   #9
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I agree with Simon, as mine is apparently only single coated, it does have the round exit pupil of the Bak-4 prisms.

I greased the focus assembly the other day and that gave a much more precise, easier feel to the very fast focus.

Nix, I can't see any overtly obvious differences from the extra .3* fov. However, this is a very nice performer optically. Not really stellar, but at least the average or above of the japanese porros. Certainly good enough to use without need for great regret you didn't bring something better. Assuming you can adapt to the fast focus. This one would be better suited to the rocker arm style fast focus I think.
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Old Saturday 25th February 2012, 12:14   #10
Nixterdemus
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Just a little tongue in cheek as I'm sure I couldn't detect a half or a third of a degree if I tried. For the price I didn't expect a whole lot. Couldn't detect all the plastic from the pic, yet it covers a good bit of territory.

Doesn't seem to have as much PC when panning as the 11* Legacy though oddly enough I don't care for the vertical scan as well.

The focus is fast, but I'll never own a rocker arm as I feel they are an abomination of design. Granted, I'm clueless on why they designed a fast focus on a 7x.
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