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Changes to 7x42 Traditional / Habicht Porro

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Old Tuesday 16th June 2020, 12:21   #1
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Changes to 7x42 Traditional / Habicht Porro

I've been reading through a few threads on these venerable porros, still in production after 71 years...

...and wondering what changes have been made over the last decade (in much the same way the Nikon 8x30 E2 porro has been discussed).

If they are produced in batches every couple of years, will the latest batch be 'slightly better' than those produced say 5 or 10 years ago, e.g. because of improved optical coatings or focussing mechanism?
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Old Wednesday 17th June 2020, 08:12   #2
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Hi Andy,

As you indicate the Habicht line of binoculars is long established. And in terms of coatings it’s hard to imagine that significant change is possible
The Habichts:
- already have extremely high transmission, stated by Swarovski to be 96% for all 3 models
- and are known for their paper white image

This performance dates back to 2009, when Swarovski in anticipation of the EL Swarovsion introduction acquired new coating machinery,
and applied the new coating processes to all models
See the comments by Dale Forbes of Swarovski at:

Various tests by Gijs van Ginkel confirm the transmission
e.g. see the graph for an 8x30W from a May 2016 test which can be found at:
It shows peak transmission of 96%, and even more impressively minimum transmission at the two ends of the recorded spectrum at around 92% and 91%

If anything the 7x42 may have higher transmission, as it has a simpler eyepiece of 3 elements in 2 groups verses 6 in 3 for both the 8x30W and 10x40W
Though any increase is likely to be minimal

Even prior to the 2009 update, transmission levels were already high e.g. see the graph for a 7x42 unit from a 2010 test
It shows maximum transmission of 86%, and around 84% and 85% at the two ends of the range

- - - -

In relation to the focuser mechanism, see my recent comments in post #15 at: )
It seems that the mechanism does not necessarily need to be as firm as it is

- - - -

I’ve previously posted some information about Swarovski’s production process at:
Like other manufacturers, they would include computerised inventory management and Just In Time supply, to minimise on-hand inventory
(though there may potentially be hold-ups in the current C-19 situation)

From looking at the serial numbers of models for sale on the net, it’s clear that Swarovski assembles Habichts as needed to meet orders
All 3 magnifications are assembled and dispatched at least several times a year (and for the last few years that's around 2,000 units per year)
- though presumedly components may be actually manufactured on a less frequent basis

Swarovski's numbering practices allow a product to be dated to its week of production. However, this seems to contribute to a degree of unnecessary customer worry
In contrast, as other brands cannot be so precisely dated, customers seem much more ready to accept that any new example of a current model is up to date,
and therefore 'the best'

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Last edited by John A Roberts : Wednesday 17th June 2020 at 10:42.
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Old Wednesday 17th June 2020, 16:40   #3
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John, sincere thanks for this, and to you and all those on the other linked threads; such a lot of interesting Swarovski history & information to enjoy.

From my reading so far: the latest 7x42 do not have a wide view, but are bright and have a central image that is sharp with excellent contrast. They are light and have been waterproofed since 1984.
Likely to have originally been designed with the military & hunting in mind rather than bird watching. Suitable for people who need something easy to hold, although the focussing mechanism may be noticeably stiffer than modern roofs.

Since 1991 the date of production is in the serial number on the right side by the ocular, add 1930 to the first two digits to get the year.
Last updated (optical coatings) in 2009, and used instruments from that year have serial numbers starting with 79xxxx (80xxxx =2010 etc.).

Of the 2000 of the three traditional instruments manufactured yearly, I wonder how many are 7x42? And the ugly rubber-coated version?
Any guesses? Will the 8x30 be the most popular followed by the 10x40 ?

I hope to be holding up to 12x for a fair few years yet, but I do fancy a pair of these !
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Old Thursday 18th June 2020, 04:13   #4
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Hi again Andy,

As you're aware I'm a big fan of the current Habichts for much general use, while having strong reservations as to their suitability for much birding,
primarily due to the stiffness of the focuser
However, not withstanding their limitations, in many ways they are a unique combination of performance and value

In relation to the points that you raised . . .

- - - -
One advantage of the numeric serial numbering used on the Habicht line until the end of 1990, was that it was model specific
So we can determine the total of each model produced

I’ve previously posted a table showing the serial number ranges for the various leatherette models to 1989
(a new marking ‘Swarovski Optik’ was then briefly used on the leatherette models from 1990 to 1994)
See the 3rd attachment at:
Using that info I’ve attached a table that instead shows the various totals

I’ve also attached another table showing the observed numbering of RA units from the first introduction in 1971 until the end of 1990

As can be seen:
- the first year of production by Swarovski KG was around 4,000 units, and then
- the main production under the new business entity Swarovski Optik KG, for the period from 1949 to 1990 was around 622,000 units

However, that 622k total is somewhat less than the actual production
There were also runs of units using various different markings and numbering e.g. variations on the single coated/ Falke lines;
along with various runs of contracted military production with their own numbering

So the total SO production to 1990 was likely somewhat more than 630,000

- -
What’s interesting when looking at the first table is the way that popularity - expressed as production - changes over time:
- while the 6x30 and 7x42 were initially as popular, from 1952 on the 6x30's popularity increasingly declined until it was by far the least popular of all the Habichts
- in contrast, the 7x42 was the most popular of all the Habichts - by an overwhelming amount!
- and the 8x30W and the 10x40W were near equally popular

continued . . .
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Last edited by John A Roberts : Thursday 18th June 2020 at 07:26.
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Old Thursday 18th June 2020, 06:55   #5
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When Alpha-Numeric numbering was introduced in 1991:
- the A prefix was used on all CF production, both leatherette and RA, and
- the B prefix was used on the IF production

While A-N numbering makes it easy to determine annual production, it no longer distinguishes between the particular models in a lineup
By my observation, since 1991 around 115,000 units have been produced, and all but 5,000 or so are CF ones
(the highest IF number I've seen is #B8117 05269 - so less than 5,300 in around 20 years to 2011)

Based on all of the above, the total production from 1949 to date would be around 3/4 million units (630,000 + 115,000)

- -
Looking at the admittedly incomplete information that I have on A-N production from observing various sales sites:
- the leatherette models are about twice as popular than RA ones
- with the leatherette models, the 8x30 is more popular than the other two combined, and the 7x42 is more popular then the 10x40, and
- with the RA models, the 7x42 is about twice as popular as the 10x40

Keep in mind that current Habicht production is small, at perhaps 2,000 units per year. So as I’ve said before, it’s a tribute to Swarovski’s sense of history and continuity
in keeping alive such a marvellous anachronism!


Last edited by John A Roberts : Thursday 18th June 2020 at 07:09.
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