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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 02:19   #1
james holdsworth
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Elite's - manufacturer?

I'm talking about the 1st/2nd/3rd gen.s, from the late 80's into the 90's.

I know that Bushnell licensed the B&L name and logo for the Elite series but would like to know which Japanese OEM was the actual designer / creator of the series. Was it Kamakura?

I've been a longtime fan of the Elite series, having owned / own three models and would be interested in fitting the final piece to the puzzle. Thanks!
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 12:15   #2
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Lotus ? (:

P.S.
I use an old Bausch and Lomb Elite quite often.
It is marked 61-1042P JAPAN BL
AB 15xx
ELITE 10x42 5.6* FIELD.

The list price when new was very high but I got it secondhand a few years ago.
It still gives very good views.

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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 13:14   #3
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FWIW, I was told in that time by the Bushnell rep from Jenoptik (early 90s) that the brand Tamron made the Elite's for B&L.
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 18:23   #4
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FWIW, I was told in that time by the Bushnell rep from Jenoptik (early 90s) that the brand Tamron made the Elite's for B&L.
Tamron, really? I have always associated that brand with lower end optics - did they ever make any higher end stuff that you know of? Considering the Elites were really full alpha competitors in the day- some would say top of the pack - Tamron would be very surprising.
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 18:57   #5
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Tamron's first own name binocular, 7x35 UWA 11 degree field was I think well received.

I think they made and make various optics for the large names without reference to Tamron on the item.

Their own SP lenses are usually good.
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 19:19   #6
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Tamron, really? I have always associated that brand with lower end optics - did they ever make any higher end stuff that you know of? Considering the Elites were really full alpha competitors in the day- some would say top of the pack - Tamron would be very surprising.
Tamron Optical Co. (E-45) is a very old and well established firm. Mr. Tamura, a famous optical designer of that company, designed the very first 8.5x44 Swift Audubon released in 1958; and Tamron Optical made the metalworks for the binoculars through the mid- to late-1960s. The quality of the original Audubons was superb, optically and mechanically, and Tamura's optical design survives to this day. Let's not confuse the Japanese manufacturer with the quality of products that brand-name importers contracted with them to produce.

Ed
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 20:32   #7
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Tamron Optical Co. (E-45) is a very old and well established firm. Mr. Tamura, a famous optical designer of that company, designed the very first 8.5x44 Swift Audubon released in 1958; and Tamron Optical made the metalworks for the binoculars through the mid- to late-1960s. The quality of the original Audubons was superb, optically and mechanically, and Tamura's optical design survives to this day. Let's not confuse the Japanese manufacturer with the quality of products that brand-name importers contracted with them to produce.

Ed
Fair enough. So, would have the 1st generation Elites have been Tamron's 1st roof prism design? If so, they seem to have exceeded the old Masters on their 1st attempt.

On a slightly different note, it has been said that the 1st gen. [and later?] Elites had Uppendahl prisms, like the Leicas of the day, suggesting some shared lineage there as well. Anyone want to wade in on that? Was the Leica a Tamron too?
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 21:13   #8
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James:

There is a good review of the original waterproof, B&L Elite on "Better View Desired".

It is from 10/96, and Steven Ingraham placed it very high, and was a reference standard.
I enjoy his review style, they are all well done.

Lots of good reading about the binoculars of the past, and I'm pleased it has been
preserved and still up.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 29th November 2016, 23:24   #9
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Fair enough. So, would have the 1st generation Elites have been Tamron's 1st roof prism design? If so, they seem to have exceeded the old Masters on their 1st attempt.

On a slightly different note, it has been said that the 1st gen. [and later?] Elites had Uppendahl prisms, like the Leicas of the day, suggesting some shared lineage there as well. Anyone want to wade in on that? Was the Leica a Tamron too?

Check out this old thread about the early Elites.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=216171

Henry
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 00:08   #10
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Thanks Henry, I forgot about much of that and it turned out to be a good read with many excellent contributions from very knowledgeable members.

That said, it still suggests an uncanny resemblance between the Elite and the Leica [copy or collaboration?], and doesn't really answer the question of origin for the binocular. You would think that, if a near identical copy, Leica would have put a stop to it pretty quickly.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 00:12   #11
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James:

There is a good review of the original waterproof, B&L Elite on "Better View Desired".

It is from 10/96, and Steven Ingraham placed it very high, and was a reference standard.
I enjoy his review style, they are all well done.

Lots of good reading about the binoculars of the past, and I'm pleased it has been
preserved and still up.

Jerry
Yes, I owned that version but never really warmed up to it. Problems were - very fast and imprecise counter-clock focus, uncomfortable shape with poorly placed thumb grooves, poor contrast and poor white rendering.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 12:58   #12
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Thanks Henry, I forgot about much of that and it turned out to be a good read with many excellent contributions from very knowledgeable members.

That said, it still suggests an uncanny resemblance between the Elite and the Leica [copy or collaboration?], and doesn't really answer the question of origin for the binocular. You would think that, if a near identical copy, Leica would have put a stop to it pretty quickly.
A collaboration seems unlikely to me. Just consider the timeline. The Trinovid was introduced in 1962, the Elite more than 20 years later. A near copy is much more probable. I don't see how Leica could have put a stop to it unless it held a patent for one or both of the only unique features; the Uppendall prism and/or the internal eyepiece focuser.

Henry
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 13:23   #13
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For you collectors, I found a very nice, one owner, Browning 7x35, which is similar to the
B&L.

Note, I have no connection with the seller. This would make an ideal gift.

Jerry

Edit: I forgot to add, it is on the famous auction site.

Last edited by NDhunter : Wednesday 30th November 2016 at 16:12. Reason: add on
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 15:03   #14
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So, do we settle on Tamron as the maker?
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 15:05   #15
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A collaboration seems unlikely to me. Just consider the timeline. The Trinovid was introduced in 1962, the Elite more than 20 years later. A near copy is much more probable. I don't see how Leica could have put a stop to it unless it held a patent for one or both of the only unique features; the Uppendall prism and/or the internal eyepiece focuser.

Henry
Henry, I read that the Uppendahl had fewer internal reflecting surfaces that either a porro 1 or AK prism. If that is true, and assuming the optical advantages presented in that case would be genuine, why did the Upp. disappear?
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 17:12   #16
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James,

No, That's not true. Uppendahl has the same six internal reflections as Schmidt-Pechan and, just like S-P, one of them has to be mirror coated. The one advantage Uppendahl has over S-P is that it can be cemented rather than air spaced. A-K has four reflections, like Porro 1 and 2, and can be cemented. I've read that Uppendahl is more expensive and difficult to make. One of the recent Geovids still uses it.

Henry

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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 17:28   #17
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Quote:
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You would think that, if a near identical copy, Leica would have put a stop to it pretty quickly.
James
I would think they would only do this if it threatened their own market position, for example if it was priced just under the Leica. For example anyone considering buying a $2,000 bin wouldn't normally consider a $500 copy to be a candidate for their cash, but if it was priced at $1500 with the right quality then that might be different.

I am sure this is why Swaro has tolerated open hinge bins from other brands at much lower price levels. And before anyone chimes in about SF, that has a triple bridge design so is significantly different.

Lee

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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 18:17   #18
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Lee,

In this particular case price was not a factor. The original B&L Elite with Uppendahl prisms was in direct competition with Leitz Trinovids. Thanks to my pack rat tendencies I still have dealer price lists that go back to the 1980s. One from Astronomics dated 9/1/88 shows identical prices for the 8x42 Elite and the 8x40 Leitz Trinovid - $749.00.

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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 19:12   #19
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Lee,
I think that the Bausch and Lomb 10x42 Elite had a higher list price than any competitor, although it may have been sold for less.

I still use the 10x42 often. It is very nice to use but has a small field at 5.6 degrees.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 19:23   #20
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Lee,

In this particular case price was not a factor. The original B&L Elite with Uppendahl prisms was in direct competition with Leitz Trinovids. Thanks to my pack rat tendencies I still have dealer price lists that go back to the 1980s. One from Astronomics dated 9/1/88 shows identical prices for the 8x42 Elite and the 8x40 Leitz Trinovid - $749.00.

Henry
Wow Henry, that is an eye opener. Thanks for posting. A B&L the same price as a Leica? Mind you, if my memory is correct, my B&L Discoverer scope was quite pricey.
In that case it is a mystery as to why Leica didn't take action unless they hadn't protected aspects of the design in all markets.

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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 20:59   #21
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James
I would think they would only do this if it threatened their own market position, for example if it was priced just under the Leica. For example anyone considering buying a $2,000 bin wouldn't normally consider a $500 copy to be a candidate for their cash, but if it was priced at $1500 with the right quality then that might be different.

I am sure this is why Swaro has tolerated open hinge bins from other brands at much lower price levels. And before anyone chimes in about SF, that has a triple bridge design so is significantly different.

Lee

Lee
Lee, as Henry pointed out, the Elites were very pricey and [in their day] were likely the best selling alpha in the US and Canada. Reviews often ranked them at or near the very top as well. For a few years they were everywhere. Even now, at hotspots like Niagara or Pelee [and even in the tropics] I still see lots of people with early Elites.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2016, 21:01   #22
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James,

No, That's not true. Uppendahl has the same six internal reflections as Schmidt-Pechan and, just like S-P, one of them has to be mirror coated. The one advantage Uppendahl has over S-P is that it can be cemented rather than air spaced. A-K has four reflections, like Porro 1 and 2, and can be cemented. I've read that Uppendahl is more expensive and difficult to make. One of the recent Geovids still uses it.

Henry

Thanks again Henry. I pulled that info. from a bino. collectors flickr page and should have known better to take it on faith as it seemed dodgy.
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Old Thursday 1st December 2016, 00:35   #23
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Lee,
I think that the Bausch and Lomb 10x42 Elite had a higher list price than any competitor, although it may have been sold for less.

I still use the 10x42 often. It is very nice to use but has a small field at 5.6 degrees.
Binastro,

I have the 7x36 Elite and have a question for you regarding the close focus of your 10x42 - I owned two versions but no longer have them and can't compare.

Anyway, with my 7x36, as I approach close focus, most of the field outside of the centre FOV becomes very distorted and blurred, far more than when focusing at a distance and the usable sweet-spot becomes quite tiny. I know some would say this is typical of many binoculars of vintage but, to me, it is a very extreme example and I certainly don't recall it from my previous 10x42's. The areas outside the small sweetspot almost seem to be swimming underwater such is the blurring. These areas are in the same focus plane as the centre, so it isn't just normal DOF effect.

Does the 10x42 do the same? Just wondering if mine have a problem or this was representative of the model.
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Old Thursday 1st December 2016, 09:06   #24
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Hi James,
I don't think I can help you on this one, as there is and was a mechanical focus problem on this old 10x42 Elite.
It was listed at 250 secondhand as well used from a store that normally has high prices.
Because it hung around a long time I only paid 100. I had not seen one before and took a risk, but it has proved to be most useful.

As I rarely use close focus the focus problem is of no consequence for me.

It has sat on my desk ready for instant use for several years and when I want to look at something it is usually at least 50 feet away.

The binocular is also good near the streetlight at night, where many other binoculars are very flawed, and the long slim barrels give it very nice handling.

It seems to have very good coatings but I have no idea what type of prisms.

So I can't give you a reliable answer to your post 23.

P.S.
With many optical instruments, they usually have only one distance of best performance.
For instance SCT or Maksutov telescopes only perform at their best for one separation of the elements.
The compromise for other positions is usually good enough.

An extreme example is the complex Sigma 500mm f/4 mirror lens. It only performs reasonably at one distance. It becomes very poor at other distances.
They were cleared at fire sale prices.
I used it as a 50x125mm telescope using a monocular converter.

(I just looked up internet comments on this lens, and the posters who haven't used this lens are so way of the mark in their statements it is like a comedy show. One really has to use an optic to know what it can or can't do.)

I would think that binoculars also are a compromise at most distances, but good enough.

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Old Thursday 1st December 2016, 10:03   #25
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James,
I actually just had a go, and the focus problem has vanished, at least at present.

I focused as close as I could, about 14 feet. I am far sighted and others can probably focus quite a bit closer.

There are no problems at all with the 10x42 Elite as I focus closer. The edge is not sharp, but depends on the position angle with some positions sharper than others. I find this with most binoculars.

The view is good at 14ft approx.

I am not an expert at close focusing, as I seldom use binoculars close up.

Maybe your 7x36 is not typical?
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