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Swift Skipper Binoculars

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Old Wednesday 13th June 2007, 20:08   #1
craig braddick
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Swift Skipper Binoculars

Hi People:

Newbie here!

I have just won a pair of Swift 7X50 Skipper Binoculars.

Does anyone have any knowledge or thoughts about these?

How do they compare ot the audubons porro prisms?

Thanks

Craig

Last edited by craig braddick : Wednesday 13th June 2007 at 21:10.
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Old Thursday 14th June 2007, 04:30   #2
elkcub
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Craig,

in general, the 7x50 configuration was promoted for boating applications, hence the name Skipper. There was also the 7x50 Commodore, which was part of the same "Mark II" series as the Audubon of it's day. And then there was also the 7x50 Admiral.

The model 789 Mark I "Skipper" has a modest 372 ft. FOV and probably BaK-4 prisms with magenta lens coatings. In 1981 it marketed for $144, by comparison to $240 for the Audubon and $208 for the Commodore. The 7x50 Armored "Storm King" was the most expensive Porro in the line up at $380. It was individual focus and only had a 383 ft. FOV.

Comparatively, I don't know what to say about the optics, but the construction looks first class — and Swift had a way of hiding some real gems in the lineup. The narrow field is probably it's limitation.

Hope this helps. Enjoy them.

Blue Skies,
Ed
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Old Monday 26th November 2007, 18:01   #3
Simon S
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For the record, the Skipper MKII's use BK7 prisms and are slightly cool in colour tone much like the MKII Saratoga's.
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Old Thursday 29th November 2007, 05:46   #4
elkcub
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon S View Post
For the record, the Skipper MKII's use BK7 prisms and are slightly cool in colour tone much like the MKII Saratoga's.
Thanks for the correction. Assuming you mean the #789 MKI Skipper with FOV=372', I don't know why I suggested BaK4 glass. In fact, to my dismay I've discovered that at least some of the MKII #766 Holiday 7x35/600' use BK7 prisms. All the Mark II were supposed to have "...the finest center-pot Barium Crown glass." Is nothing sacred?

Ed
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Old Thursday 29th November 2007, 18:20   #5
Simon S
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcub View Post
Thanks for the correction. Assuming you mean the #789 MKI Skipper with FOV=372', I don't know why I suggested BaK4 glass. In fact, to my dismay I've discovered that at least some of the MKII #766 Holiday 7x35/600' use BK7 prisms. All the Mark II were supposed to have "...the finest center-pot Barium Crown glass." Is nothing sacred?

Ed
No elkcud, these are MKII's but unsure of model number. FOV is [email protected] yrds.
Want a pair of MKI's though.
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Old Thursday 29th November 2007, 20:23   #6
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"No elkcud" Geez, I hope Ed wasn't reguritated and chewed over again.:-)
Regards,Steve
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Old Friday 7th December 2007, 20:19   #7
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I have a pair of the 7x50 Skippers from Swift and I'll have to pull them out. They have only yellow/brown or blue single coatings but actually have a rather warm view. What is also interesting about them is that they definitely have Bak 4 prisms and also a triplet objective lens. They seem to be razor sharp. I don't have them with me today but I stopped in for email and then a quick peek at Bird Forum and well ... I thought I'd comment before I forgot. I'll dig up the model number, FOV etc. probably tomorrow or the next day. They really are fine bins although a tiny bit heavy and not at all waterproof.
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Old Saturday 8th December 2007, 20:56   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksbird/foxranch View Post
I have a pair of the 7x50 Skippers from Swift and I'll have to pull them out. They have only yellow/brown or blue single coatings but actually have a rather warm view. What is also interesting about them is that they definitely have Bak 4 prisms and also a triplet objective lens. They seem to be razor sharp. I don't have them with me today but I stopped in for email and then a quick peek at Bird Forum and well ... I thought I'd comment before I forgot. I'll dig up the model number, FOV etc. probably tomorrow or the next day. They really are fine bins although a tiny bit heavy and not at all waterproof.
It does look like the later model has had cutbacks made. I will have to try a MK1 along side the MK2 to see if the earlier model is superior.
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Old Sunday 9th December 2007, 17:40   #9
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Okay then ... I went to our barn and found the Skippers I have. They are marked "Fully Coated", "Skipper", "7x50", "376 Ft at 1000 yds", "Model No. 789", "No 1-647115", and then the protective cover surrounding the objective lens has engraved on it "Trilar 7x RLE 76.4". The housing is the one piece construction type and this bin definitely uses Bak 4 prisms. The coatings are the weakest part of this system because it uses single coatings throughout. But at the same time the contrast and sharpness are excellent. The outer coatings on the objective and eye lenses are the true brown-gold types that were common way-back-when because they were (I think) the hardest coatings available at the time and that allowed the coatings to be relatively scratch-free for a long time. Mine are in great shape with almost no scratches on the eye or objective lenses, the housing is excellent, the focusing works great, as does the diopter. The twist up eyecups still have a "thick" stickiness that keeps them wherever I set them.

The internal coatings on the lenses and prisms are variously blue-green-ish (like turquoise), magenta, green-bluish (like cyan), true yellow, and light blue. All these except for the true yellow coating were pretty common for their era. The color balance is a tiny bit warmish, but not too bad (especially compared to similar era Pentax bins for example or worse yet, Konica bins of this era). The cell holding one of the objective lenses came apart at one point in its history (before me) and when it was reassembled by a non-Swift technician, a mastic, like silicone (RTV) was used to remount the lens. It holds fine and the positioning is perfect, but it has allowed me to view the objective lens elements from the side. It's a triplet and perhaps this accounts for the ultra-sharp view, although perhaps the coatings account for the slightly less than expected brightness from a 7x50-w/Bak4 prisms.

The Skipper I have was produced by J B2 (also marked JE 4). JB2 is supposed to be Katsuma Kogaku Kikai Co. Ltd. This "company" was really a division of a 1930s merger group (cartels were popular in Japan) of one of the Seiko groups (the Seikosha factory of Hattori Tokei), one of the Tokyo Union groups and Katsuma Kogaku Kikai, becoming . This all became Tokyo Kogaku (Tokyo Optical) or Shimura (Shimura and Tokyo Kogaku in Japanese symbols are written almost the same and the Katsuma Optical group was located in the Shimura district of Tokyo). This "group" probably had 15 different small companies all getting direction and financing from one main, bank-affiliated "headquarters" like Mitsubishi, C Itoh, Fuji, Sanwa or others since they have always been affiliated with the military like the Japanese Imperial Army.

They were very good at lens making and design and were up and running immediately after WW2. The same group that produced this Skipper also made most Leotax, Lord and Topcor/Topcon lenses and Topcon was one of the finest brands available in the 50s mostly because of its lens quality. Ryoii Tomita was the driving optical design force in this group, having designed 2 excellent triplet lenses before WW2 and continuing after (including selling one of his triplet lenses to the US Military in the 50s). Today JB2 seems to be making Ednar military binoculars for the Dutch NATO forces.

This Skipper binocular is sturdy and very well made. It IS very heavy though. Similar quality Tokyo Union binoculars made by this same group during this era use much lighter weight Zeiss-style Z bodies, with multiple sections that screw together. But Swift must have been involved in specifying the coatings used, because a multi-colored group of coatings is a much more complicated production process. Obviously a company that is the primary producer of Topcon lenses can make almost anything, but there was nothing cheap about the way this particular Skipper model was made. Swift may have made better models in this same time period and this Skipper wasn't IF waterproof (as the name might indicate it should be), but it was a very nice product and still usable (if you want to develop Popeye arms).

A touch heavy for extended use doing bird watching while being carried, the Skipper works great when mounted up to a tripod using the 1/4 20 threaded, front tripod socket. We have observing decks here with trees on one side, marshy areas in front and open hillsides with hawks and buzzards (turkey vultures) that cruise nearby. Having more than one tripod mounted binocular and a swivel stool allows observation of various types of bird.fox/deer behaviors at the same time. The Skipper's focusing is slow so it definitely works best when permanently positioned (like on a tripod). But the view is very sharp all across the field and that's what can give you goose pimples when you see mating activity "up-close" or if you lean back in a chaise lounge recliner and watch the hawks, harriers, or even owls drifting over cleared lands, suddenly dropping down to grab a tasty rabbit, mouse or or squirrel. If you have this model Skipper, it's a keeper (I've had my pair for 15 years).

Last edited by ksbird/foxranch : Sunday 9th December 2007 at 17:43.
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Old Wednesday 27th August 2008, 16:21   #10
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Just bought a pair of Skippers and they have BK7 prisms. Image is bright and sharp, a nice binocular indeed. Makers are JB2 and JE46 which differs from KSBIRD's slightly.
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Last edited by Simon S : Wednesday 27th August 2008 at 19:05.
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Old Friday 13th May 2016, 13:32   #11
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Sorry to bump this rather old thread, but I have been reading through the past threads relating to vintage binoculars, and encountered this posting, which peaked my curiosity:




Quote:
Originally Posted by ksbird/foxranch View Post
I have a pair of the 7x50 Skippers from Swift and I'll have to pull them out. They have only yellow/brown or blue single coatings but actually have a rather warm view. What is also interesting about them is that they definitely have Bak 4 prisms and also a triplet objective lens. They seem to be razor sharp. I don't have them with me today but I stopped in for email and then a quick peek at Bird Forum and well ... I thought I'd comment before I forgot. I'll dig up the model number, FOV etc. probably tomorrow or the next day. They really are fine bins although a tiny bit heavy and not at all waterproof.

It is mentioned that the 7x50 Skippers have "triplet" objectives. Is this in fact the case? And if so, are they "triplets'' in the sense of three closely spaced (perhaps even cemented) elements, or something else like a cemented achromat at the front of the binocular with the third element considerably further back (before or after the prism cluster). Finally, is the term "Trilar" that Swift used synonymous with this lens configuration or does it refer to something else altogether, like perhaps the coatings that were used. Thanks to all who reply.
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Old Friday 13th May 2016, 15:26   #12
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I think that some Vixen 7x50s have triplet objectives. Forestas?
Maybe similar.
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Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 15:07   #13
Tippo83
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Hi Chaps,
Just bought a set of Swift Apollo 8x30 MK11. No, 814584. & J-56 on the left arm
in very good condition but not the original case but for 8 what do you want.

Cheers
Tippo >>>UK.

Last edited by Tippo83 : Thursday 1st September 2016 at 09:33.
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