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Old Monday 5th December 2011, 18:23   #1
FrankD
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Swift Sport King 7x35

In my constant search for high-performing 7x binoculars I have started to explore some of the porro prism models from yesteryear. This was based on my experiences with the venerable Nikon 7x35 E series of which I now own three. In my "travels" I started looking at some extreme wide angle models and purchased two Tasco units circa 1970s. They provided the ultrawide field of view that I was looking for (11 degrees) but lacked a bit in the apparent brightness and apparent sharpness categories.

Further exploration led me to the Swift Sport King 7x35. Same field of view as the Tasco and approximately the same size and weight. The fact that it was a Swift model did sway my decision to purchase them. I received them about a week ago and after determining how to remove the metal eyecups I have to say that I am thoroughly pleased with this purchase.

I may now be beginning to understand why Swift porro prism binoculars have such a following.

What I found appealing about them is....

- Huge field of view

- Large sweet spot for such a huge field of view. Initial impressions lead to me to estimate something in the 70-75% range though I am sure actual measurements would be a bit less. Still, 75% of 578 feet is still 430+ feet!

- Great apparent sharpness. I have good eyesight but these are one of those binoculars that actually make me feel as if my eyes are the limiting factor in the amount of detail I can see.

- Well controlled CA. I have to look for some extreme conditions to see it and then it typically is only noticeable outside the sweetspot.

Of course, there are some disappointing optical performance characteristics as well. For one it is only a single-coated binocular so the light transmission levels are most likely lower which subsequently leads to lower levels of apparent brightness. Contrast is also affected.

They are big, heavy binoculars because of the oversized prisms.

Speaking of prisms, these must utilize Bk-7 prism as the exit pupils clearly are square inside of the circle.

Still, I have to admit that I am having a hard time pulling these binoculars away from my eyes. They are such a joy to look through. Furthermore they are addicting!

I have read back through several pages of this forum to get somewhat of an understanding of Swift porros but am not anywhere near complete in my desire for more information. I plan on continuing to read more from the forums plus surfing the net. However, if any of you Swift fans can shed some more light on the Sport Kings it would be sincerely appreciated.

Are there any other Swift 7x models I should be keeping an eye out for?

Thank you.
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Old Monday 5th December 2011, 20:47   #2
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Frank,

It seems you have pretty well described a Swift porro prism binocular. If there is in fact a significant enough desire from those who lament the ongoing demise of porro prism binoculars, Swift is ideally placed to do something about it. I would love to see any of the old designs, particularly your Sport King, and another is the Holiday, dressed up with modern glass and coatings. Whatever the porro need is, there is a Swift design already to hand to fill the need. Swift has the easy on the eyes view down pat, as they seem to always have had that as one of their strongpoints.

The first binocular I ever bought was a porro Swift Nighthawk 8x40. This has a 499' (9.5* angular) fov. Like your Sport King, there is a fair bit of edge softness, but even then the sweet spot is so wide it is almost impossible to see the distortion. That, while being a level or even two, down from the venerable Audubon, is still close enough to give the Audubon a serious run for its money.

As close as you are to Nicholas Crista, there isn't really one of Swift's binoculars I would not be interested in.
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Old Tuesday 6th December 2011, 00:30   #3
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Hi Frank,

As I'm aware of at least 4 types of Sport King, differing in FoV, body design and even model number, I think it's worthwhile to inform us about the specific type you bought (and appreciate). If you can give the serial number and FoV I think we're there.

I don't know the Sport King from personal experience but the fact that it was among Swift's models elected to make the change into the new body designs of 1985, says something.

Other low power wide angle Swifts worth checking out:

7x35 Neptune #802 ('miniature Audubon' says Ed)
8x36 Hunter #718 (USA version of 8x36 SPWA)
7x35 Triton model # 748 and 740 (the latter, Triton Mk II, possibly identical to Sport King)
8x32 Ultralite # 748
7x35 Vulcan # 718 (rare!)
7x35 Panoramic # 766 (could be identical to Holiday)


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Old Tuesday 6th December 2011, 02:44   #4
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Renze,

Thank you for all of the info. It has a 578 foot field of view and it is model number 704. Serial number is 4-605836.

I will keep an eye out for the other models. I did see a few Triton models but they all had a relatively narrow field of view.

Steve,

The is my first foray into the Swift porro market and I do have to say that I am impressed. I wonder what some of these other models are like. I do have to agree with you. Update a few items on some of these older models and they would give serious competition to just about anything out there...at least for my preferences.
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Old Tuesday 6th December 2011, 02:44   #5
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A few more pics....
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Old Tuesday 6th December 2011, 02:45   #6
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.....
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Old Tuesday 6th December 2011, 02:46   #7
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Lastly....
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Old Wednesday 7th December 2011, 08:16   #8
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Frank,

Thanks for the pictures, they're welcome as I had a terrible hard disk crash which robbed me from some of my archives.

To the best of my knowledge you have the second type Sport King in line (there was a 1950's type marked Vega coated optics).
With respect to the 7x35 Triton, the earlier types had a 7 deg. FoV but later editions suddenly jumped to a whopping 12 deg.
Here's a thread on the subject: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=76417

If you need more information don't hesitate to drop me a PM

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Old Wednesday 7th December 2011, 14:51   #9
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Renze,

Thank you very much for the information. I did a little diggin' of my own and did find one thread from over on Cloudy Nights about this binocular. The binocular referenced there appears to be the first type whereas mine is the second.

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthrea...v=#Post4618147

One question for you though, in my search for 7x35s UWAs I am running across various models that look practically identical but are badged under different names. Based on my experiences with current Chinese OEMs I am guessing that much the same thing happened with Japanese companies "back in the day". In your experience, have you found this to be the case? If so then are there any apparent differences between models?

Thanks.
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Old Wednesday 7th December 2011, 17:00   #10
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Frank,

I guess you're right about Japanese companies manufacturing same binoculars for different agents, but unfortunately I don't have information on this. The reason is that Swift alone is so full of inconsistencies and riddles already, juggling with names and numbers and what have you, that I won't risk more headaches with other companies or brand names. Beware, what you're looking for is quicksand.

But lots of luck anyway.

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Old Wednesday 7th December 2011, 19:07   #11
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I cant think of a better performer from Swift in this era, but at the 8x range, the Saratoga is really good.
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Old Thursday 8th December 2011, 01:30   #12
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All,

Here are catalog pix of Sport King 704 models for the years 1959, 1960/1, 1969, and 1975. The 1981 catalog doesn't show the model, so I assume it was discontinued somewhere in the late 1970s. Frank has the 1960 version, which I like the most as a collector keeper.

I have no idea when the name "Vega" entered the scene, so it's not clear if the Sport King shown on CN is older or younger than Frank's.

Except for FOV, the 1959 and 1960/1 versions look to be identical, but one could still argue they are different. In 1959 the company was Swift and Anderson, and by 1960 it had become Swift Instruments.

Saratoga pix are also on three of the images for comparison. Based on 1960/1 prices the company valued the Sport King more, $75 vs. $56.50. The 804 Audubon was almost twice the price at $125. Better prisms for sure.

Ed
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Old Thursday 8th December 2011, 02:40   #13
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Simon,

Thank you for chiming in. I believe I saw some of your posts in either an earlier thread here in the Swift forum or over on Cloudynights.

Ed,

Our optics pursuits haven't crossed much in the past but I am glad they have now. I think I have found a new path to follow in my binocular experiences. I do sincerely appreciate the catalog pics and the effort it took to post them. The "kicker" is that you helped me twice. Once for posting the info on the Sky King and, twice, because I just spent a good amount of money for a Swift Navigator 7x50 Mk1 on Ebay. I believe it is advertised on the last page of your documents. The field of view is narrower at 525 feet but the exit pupil is obviously larger. I cannot wait to compare the two in question.

Thank you gentleman very much.

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Old Thursday 8th December 2011, 04:55   #14
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When Humphrey Swift died the company went to daughter Allison. She closed most operations back east and started working with microscopes on the west coast. She sold Swift Binos to a woman in Nevada and I think Allison is totally out of it now, altogether. Thus, try before you buy; you can't count on the old reputation.

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Old Thursday 8th December 2011, 09:09   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcub View Post
All,

Here are catalog pix of Sport King 704 models for the years 1959, 1960/1, 1969, and 1975. The 1981 catalog doesn't show the model, so I assume it was discontinued somewhere in the late 1970s. Frank has the 1960 version, which I like the most as a collector keeper.

I have no idea when the name "Vega" entered the scene, so it's not clear if the Sport King shown on CN is older or younger than Frank's.

Except for FOV, the 1959 and 1960/1 versions look to be identical, but one could still argue they are different. In 1959 the company was Swift and Anderson, and by 1960 it had become Swift Instruments.
Ed
Hi Ed,

This is what we needed, catalog pics.
They show four types, in accord with my information. The first type is labelled Vega coated precision optics, the next three types are all Fully Coated. In my experience 'Vega's' are always from the 1950's and early 1960's. The four types are also in accord with the type arrangement in our Audubon survey, dont you think Ed?
The fourth type, with the small focus wheel and the tripod connector in the body, raises a problem as I have its FoV as 630 ft. instead of 600 ft. Unfortunately I can't back it up with pictures.
There's a fifth type, made from 1985 on and so in the new lighter and more compact housing and carrying the model number 714 instead of 704, which was not issued in Europe (Europeans by then were in favor of 8x32's) and is known in two versions, one showing its configuration as 7x36 and the other as the more common 7x35. I know one of our members, SteveF, owns a 7x36. To this day I haven't been succesful in determining what it should be really. I think they're identical and so there should be a misprint, but on which one I don't know. See the picture.

Renze
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Old Friday 9th December 2011, 01:38   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renze de Vries View Post
Hi Ed,

This is what we needed, catalog pics.
They show four types, in accord with my information. The first type is labelled Vega coated precision optics, the next three types are all Fully Coated. In my experience 'Vega's' are always from the 1950's and early 1960's. The four types are also in accord with the type arrangement in our Audubon survey, dont you think Ed?
The fourth type, with the small focus wheel and the tripod connector in the body, raises a problem as I have its FoV as 630 ft. instead of 600 ft. Unfortunately I can't back it up with pictures.
There's a fifth type, made from 1985 on and so in the new lighter and more compact housing and carrying the model number 714 instead of 704, which was not issued in Europe (Europeans by then were in favor of 8x32's) and is known in two versions, one showing its configuration as 7x36 and the other as the more common 7x35. I know one of our members, SteveF, owns a 7x36. To this day I haven't been succesful in determining what it should be really. I think they're identical and so there should be a misprint, but on which one I don't know. See the picture.

Renze
Hi Renze,

Gene Harryman has two listings: one for a 7x35 and the other a 7x36 714 Sport King. Both were made by Hiyoshi, FC, and had BAK-4 prisms. They have blue letters and white triangles on the cover plate, as shown in your picture. For one with s/n 88xxxx (the listed 7x36), he comments "...Quite possibly one of the best 7x ever made." He must have been impressed! My guess is that he made a typo and they were both 7x35. That's how legends are born.

At least one of the earlier 7x35 SKs in his listing, perhaps more, was made by Futaba (JL-26). So, perhaps Frank can tell us the maker's mark on his new 1960 specimen. One marked Vega in his listing has s/n 4-135372. I think this says less about the date than the manufacturer, since from what I can determine only Hiyoshi Kogaku products included the date in the s/n.

Ed
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Old Friday 9th December 2011, 02:52   #17
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Ed,

The bins have two marks on the objective end of the housing. One is JB-26 while the other is J-E45.

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Old Friday 9th December 2011, 04:01   #18
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Ed,

The bins have two marks on the objective end of the housing. One is JB-26 while the other is J-E45.
The JB codes for the individual suppliers are listed here:
http://home.europa.com/~telscope/jbcode.txt It gives:
JB 26 Futaba Kogaku Kogyo Co. Ltd.
JB 45 Taisei Kogaku Kogyo Co; Ltd.

Fan Tao ( http://binofan.co.cc/bino/index.htm ) had some comments on the various ultra wide angle binoculars offered by mass brands such as Tasco for retailers such as K-Mart. Swift was drawing on the same supply network and probably got the pick of the litter for its offerings. Some of the designs produced were pretty impressive, 12.5 degrees field of view, albeit with minimal eye relief. With modern facilities, these could be restored to life and still be very competitive imho.
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Old Friday 9th December 2011, 04:20   #19
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When Humphrey Swift died the company went to daughter Allison. She closed most operations back east and started working with microscopes on the west coast. She sold Swift Binos to a woman in Nevada and I think Allison is totally out of it now, altogether. Thus, try before you buy; you can't count on the old reputation.

Cheers,
BillC
Hi Bill,

Welcome back to BF. I've been wondering about you and hope that you're doing well.

Yes, Alison Swift wasn't so swift as a business woman. The bankruptcy is still in litigation.

Unfortunately, she also didn't have a sense of history. Almost all the technical records were destroyed when she consolidated the company from Boston to San Jose. Dumpsters were literally loaded with "junk" that dated back to the early 1930s, and which now can't be replaced for love nor money. The only complete set of catalogs from the customer service department was also lost as far as I know. A least Ted Carter (bless him) copied the Audubon pages for us from that file before he left, so we may have the largest collection of aggravatingly incomplete Swift historical materials on the planet.

Ed
PS. I interviewed Alison in San Jose a few months before the binocular and rifle scope business was sold. I wasn't impressed with the China made models they had started to import, and she commented that reliability was a big problem.
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Old Friday 9th December 2011, 04:33   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
The JB codes for the individual suppliers are listed here:
http://home.europa.com/~telscope/jbcode.txt It gives:
JB 26 Futaba Kogaku Kogyo Co. Ltd.
JB 45 Taisei Kogaku Kogyo Co; Ltd.

Fan Tao ( http://binofan.co.cc/bino/index.htm ) had some comments on the various ultra wide angle binoculars offered by mass brands such as Tasco for retailers such as K-Mart. Swift was drawing on the same supply network and probably got the pick of the litter for its offerings. Some of the designs produced were pretty impressive, 12.5 degrees field of view, albeit with minimal eye relief. With modern facilities, these could be restored to life and still be very competitive imho.
Based on my limited experience with two EWA 7x35s I tend to agree. I have my eye on a few more. Hopefully more will prove to be as impressive as the Swift. I have been reading through the Cloudy Nights forums and have found many threads on EWA bins. Some great reading and another good place to get an education on the subject.
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Old Friday 9th December 2011, 06:26   #21
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Here are some quick pictures of a top quality 8x40 binocular made for Linet by Hiyoshi Kogaku. This one has the same body and mechanical works as the Swift Type 2 Audubon series. The "violet" coatings are different than Swift's, and yellow filters are built into the ocular covers. Notably it sports a 12 TFOV.

What this instrument showed me is that sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. An apparent field of 96 = 48 is almost disorienting, particularly if one is at all inclined to look towards the edge. Otherwise, it's a very good optic, providing great peripheral cues if gaze is maintained near the center. Alas, I've never had it out birding. Others may have a different take on it.

Fan Tau had a 10x40 Linet, incidentally, but he told me it was deleted from his collection for some reason. He may have traded it.

Ed
PS. The s/n isn't dated, so this may be something Hiyoshi did for Swift products only.
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Old Friday 9th December 2011, 18:24   #22
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Originally Posted by Renze de Vries View Post
Hi Ed,

This is what we needed, catalog pics.
They show four types, in accord with my information. The first type is labelled Vega coated precision optics, the next three types are all Fully Coated. In my experience 'Vega's' are always from the 1950's and early 1960's. The four types are also in accord with the type arrangement in our Audubon survey, dont you think Ed?
The fourth type, with the small focus wheel and the tripod connector in the body, raises a problem as I have its FoV as 630 ft. instead of 600 ft. Unfortunately I can't back it up with pictures.
There's a fifth type, made from 1985 on and so in the new lighter and more compact housing and carrying the model number 714 instead of 704, which was not issued in Europe (Europeans by then were in favor of 8x32's) and is known in two versions, one showing its configuration as 7x36 and the other as the more common 7x35. I know one of our members, SteveF, owns a 7x36. To this day I haven't been succesful in determining what it should be really. I think they're identical and so there should be a misprint, but on which one I don't know. See the picture.

Renze
Yes, I agree that the four types accord with our "Type" arrangement in the Audubon survey. In addition, looking at your picture (right) I can't help but note that the blue markings (including the objective rings) and the white triangle on the prism cover, mimic the 804R (left) that was introduced in 1985. Of course, the 804R had MC optics.

From this discussion it would appear that the early 704 Sport Kings were not made by Hiyoshi. Might it be that the Model number was changed to 714 just to correspond with a change in manufacturer?

What do you think?
Ed
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 18:34   #23
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different versions of Sport King 7x35

Hi Frank,
I am also lucky to have the Sport King, actually two different versions.
The ones with serial number 6315500 have the large focus wheel, and a bit of an amber hue to the glass coatings. Looking through the objectives, I can see an inner cone baffle extending toward the prisms.
The other Sport King, serial number 604844, has the smaller focus wheel, there is a slight violet hue to the glass, and does not have any inner cone baffle extending from the objectives toward the prisms.
So I think the sn 6315500 dates from 1963, but I'm not sure if the 604844 serial number indicates 1960 manufacture.
I had a third Sport King, also with a large focus wheel, but gave it to my brother-in-law for deer hunting.
The wide angle view and great depth of field makes this model Swift a please to use.
Phil
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Old Sunday 11th December 2011, 22:38   #24
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Phil,

Thank you for the info. Coincidentally I just picked up another Sport King via ebay yesterday. I should have it in a few days. Serial number is 4-655036. I look forward to comparing the two. The first one has the smaller focus knob. The last one I picked up has the larger one.
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Old Monday 12th December 2011, 15:34   #25
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I contacted SteveF and he generously supplied us with pictures of his Sport King 7x36. As you can see it's indistinguishable from the 7x35 (pictured above) which was also made by Hiyoshi in the 1985 new housing so I believe one of the configurations is a misprint. Note that the model name on the box is misprinted too.
Why the model number was changed from 704 to 714 I don't know for certain. The procedure used by Swift to denote a model which made the change into the 1985 redesigned housing was to add an R to the serial number, i.e. 804R for the Audubon, 789R for the Skipper. In these cases however the configuration was unaltered, so maybe Swift chose to change the model number for the Sport King because its aperture went from 35 to 36.

Renze
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