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Old Saturday 25th April 2009, 21:27   #1
FrankD
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Vintage binoculars, what is good?

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.
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Old Saturday 25th April 2009, 21:56   #2
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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!
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Old Saturday 25th April 2009, 22:21   #3
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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.
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Old Saturday 25th April 2009, 23:21   #4
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Quote:
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.
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Old Sunday 26th April 2009, 01:28   #5
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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!
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Old Sunday 26th April 2009, 20:09   #6
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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 - Thanks, Alan
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Old Sunday 26th April 2009, 23:09   #7
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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).
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Old Monday 27th April 2009, 04:14   #8
orbitaljump
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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.

Last edited by orbitaljump : Monday 27th April 2009 at 04:54.
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Old Monday 27th April 2009, 04:48   #9
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Burris Fullfield porros heavy and rubber armored, but good glass

Carton Adlerblick

Adlerblick

Agfa 8x30 German make

Japanese made Zeiss fakes

Canon classic porros

Last edited by orbitaljump : Monday 27th April 2009 at 04:55.
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Old Monday 27th April 2009, 22:57   #10
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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.
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Old Monday 27th April 2009, 23:22   #11
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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.
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2009, 03:10   #12
orbitaljump
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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.
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2009, 04:54   #13
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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
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2009, 05:07   #14
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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
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2009, 17:57   #15
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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.
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Old Wednesday 29th April 2009, 01:02   #16
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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.
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Old Saturday 2nd May 2009, 02:41   #17
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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.
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Old Sunday 3rd May 2009, 00:18   #18
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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.
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Old Sunday 3rd May 2009, 00:36   #19
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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.
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Old Sunday 3rd May 2009, 13:02   #20
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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.
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Old Friday 7th August 2009, 09:45   #21
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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.
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Old Friday 7th August 2009, 11:14   #22
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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
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Old Friday 7th August 2009, 12:00   #23
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Did anyone mention Optolyth Alpins? I've had a pair of 10x50s for over 20 years and they're still superb.
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Old Friday 7th August 2009, 14:26   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orbitaljump View Post
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.

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Old Friday 7th August 2009, 17:11   #25
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Are these older Pentax 10x42 DCF bins decent?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=350234804279

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

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