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Tiny, Miniature, Pocket instruments

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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 04:39   #1
eronald
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Tiny, Miniature, Pocket instruments

Hi,

I keep thinking of buying a Nikon Mikron via ebay but can't decide between 6x15 and 7x15. I have heard there is a version with better prisms. And then there are used Trinovids and Ultravids, even I think an old 6x20 Zeiss, and of course the Svaro 8x25 and the incredible Zeiss Victory 8x25. And the Zeiss monoculars, I own an old one and it's not terribly good.

SO let's have a thread about stuff that really fits in a pocket, and especially the Nikon Mikron recent versions - which is best?

Oh and btw, did I say this about things that really fit in a pocket?

Edmund
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 06:10   #2
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I have the Swarovski 8x25 CL-P, Leica Trinovid 8x20 and the Nikon Mikron 7x15 and I have had the Zeiss 8x25 Victory. First of all even though the Zeiss Victory was very good I personally preferred the Swarovski 8x25 CL-P because the Zeiss had way too much eye relief for the length of the eye cups for me. I had to hold it further away from my eye sockets than the Swarovski. So the Swarovski was more comfortable. Also, even though the Zeiss had a bigger FOV than the Swarovski the Swarovki's FOV was sharper at the edge and flatter so a higher % of it was usable and I preferred the sharper edges. I tried the 6x15 Nikon Mikron and I felt the 6x magnification was a little too weak for me. I think the 7x15 Mikron is the perfect magnification for the aperture size. 7x is easy to hold steady and you have a big enough exit pupil so it is comfortable. In comparing the Nikon Mikron to the other two compacts the Swarovski is obviously going to be a little better and easier to use but it is MUCH bigger with bigger exit pupils. Even the Leica Ultravid is twice the size of the Nikon Mikron being 8oz. versus the 4oz. weight of the Mikron and it is only SLIGHTLY better optically than the Mikron if at all. If I had to choose to carry the 8x20 Ultravid or the 7x15 Mikron it would be the Mikron. For it's incredibly SMALL size the Mikron is incredibly good optically because it is a porro and just like any porro gives you more value for your money. You can EASILY carry it in your front pocket on a whim and it will give you an amazing view. It has amazing build quality being totally built out of aluminum and comes with a REAL leather case. For the price it is a great value like any porro and it is easier to use than you think being easier to hold than the 8x20 Ultravid. I really like mine and I highly recommend it. I have tried many monoculars and they do not give you near the view of a small binocular because you are losing the advantage of using your two eyes. You lose the stereoscopic view, DOF and the 3D effect of a good small porro binocular. I never used my monocular's much compared to a binocular for that reason and the Nikon 7x15 Mikron binocular is ALMOST as small and light as a monocular!

https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-7392-7x.../dp/B00006JK6B

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Last edited by [email protected] : Sunday 26th May 2019 at 14:41.
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 06:26   #3
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Denco,

Thanks for all that interesting info.

I like your recommendation of the Mikron. When forum members said the 7x Leica UV had an easy view and I bought one, they were right, so I value what people here say.

I wear glasses. I've heard it said that the old Nikon 5x15 has the best eye relief of the Mikrons, but I don't know how it compares to the latest version in transmission. Has anyone compared new and old versions?

There was a thread on Cloudynights which had some Mikron info but it was spread around a lot. There's also a site, http://www.miniaturebinoculars.com/part1/Page2725.htm but it seems historical in focus, mainly.

Edmund

Last edited by eronald : Sunday 26th May 2019 at 06:34.
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Old Sunday 26th May 2019, 06:36   #4
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Both the 6x15 and 7x15 Nikon Mikron have only 10mm of eye relief so that could be a problem with glasses. I don't know what the eye relief is on the older 5x15 is. I don't wear glasses. The coatings were updated on the newer Mikron's by Nikon so I would guess the transmission is better than the older version.
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Old Tuesday 28th May 2019, 08:06   #5
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I have the Nikon 7x15 Special Anniversary Edition binoculars. I don't know if they improved the coatings compared to the regular edition. They are surprisingly usable, even with glasses.

The Zeiss monoculars are terrible compared to Leica or Nikon, with cheap and nasty plastic construction unworthy of the price. The only one worth considering is the doubler used in conjunction with binoculars.

The Nikon 5x15 and 7x15 monoculars are excellent, extremely well built and tiny. The Leica Monovid is slightly better but has much longer minimum focus distance without the accessory close-up lens. With the close-up lens, it becomes a stand-off loupe, but obviously screwing it on and off is a hassle.
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Old Tuesday 28th May 2019, 14:47   #6
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I have both the older 5x15 and 7x15 M-types single coated plastic eyecup and also a new 7x15 multicoated version with rubber eyecups. All very nice, tiny and solidly made. I find the view easy and relaxed but I don't wear glasses other than for reading so can't comment much re eye relief but they seem similar on the two older pairs. The newer rubber eyecup version may be better if you wear glasses I expect and the multi-coated optics to sharpen the image compared to the older models.
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Old Wednesday 29th May 2019, 21:52   #7
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I have the Nikon hg 5x15. It has more than enough eye relief for any pair of glasses. I have large frames and no problem with getting the entire fov in. It close focus around 27". I think it is very nice but out of production.

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Old Thursday 30th May 2019, 13:23   #8
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I had a pair of 6X15 many years ago and ended up giving them away.
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 11:49   #9
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Maybe this is a format where some innovation could happen ...

Edmund
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 12:21   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fazalmajid View Post


The Zeiss monoculars are terrible compared to Leica or Nikon, with cheap and nasty plastic construction unworthy of the price. The only one worth considering is the doubler used in conjunction with binoculars.
Me and Troubadoris have each used a Zeiss 6x18 mono for close-up work since 1997 and they have given super service.

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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 18:11   #11
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Maybe this is a format where some innovation could happen ...

Edmund
Innovation probably wouldn't help. The over 100 year old Nikon Porro-Prism design of their 7x15 Mikron is for all practical purposes as good as the modern roof prism Leica Ultravid 8x20 compact IMO. A Porro-Prism is a more efficient design than a roof especially when it comes to light transmission and when you add high quality glass and updated coatings like Nikon did with the Anniversary 7x15 Mikron in most cases they are going to outperform or be neck and neck with the latest roof. Case in point is the Swarovski Habicht Porro's. They have updated EL glass and coatings with a simple porro design. Outside of edge sharpness they give up very little to my Swarovski SV's and they have better 3D and are brighter with 96% light transmission.

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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 20:25   #12
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Innovation probably wouldn't help. The over 100 year old Nikon Porro-Prism design of their 7x15 Mikron is for all practical purposes as good as the modern roof prism Leica Ultravid 8x20 compact IMO. A Porro-Prism is a more efficient design than a roof especially when it comes to light transmission and when you add high quality glass and updated coatings like Nikon did with the Anniversary 7x15 Mikron in most cases they are going to outperform or be neck and neck with the latest roof. Case in point is the Swarovski Habicht Porro's. They have updated EL glass and coatings with a simple porro design. Outside of edge sharpness they give up very little to my Swarovski SV's and they have better 3D and are brighter with 96% light transmission.
Edmund

Of course I agree with you that the porro design is solid mature tech! And engineers love tried and true solutions!

I have asked in various places, and am getting conflicting reports on the usability of the Mikrons from people who own them. As you point out, the competition are the miniature roofs, and it's not obvious who wins. Here is a typical anonymised contribution:

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"I have five or six of the "since 1917" marked 6x15 or 7x15 Nikon Mikron binoculars. These were sold as fairly high end binoculars ($300-$400 +) from around 1997 I think. I believe that B & W photo had one of the models still available new until a year or two back, but don't seem to today so I assume they were selling NOS after production ended. They had all the modern coatings and are bright for binoculars of the small size. I dug a new pair out of 7x15s out and a pair of 6x15's and the rubber eyepieces are usable with glasses on do limit the view quite a bit. New ones are still readily available on US Ebay but shipping from Japan around around $270-$290 or so, and they seem to be marked since 1917, so presumably are NOS anniversary editions..

The older 1950's/1960's 1970's Nippon Kogaku & Nikon with silver metal eyepieces don't work with glasses, but those with plastic eyepieces will work with the black eyepieces removed. Limited in coatings.

But none of the miniature binoculars have a lot of light gathering capability anyway.
Innovation might be eg. 6x20 or 7x20, and really good eyecups/eyeglass protectors. Or even re-doing the 5x15 with rubber eyecups and updated prism glass. I don't see why Leica should claim that the Ultravid HD Plus is a class better than the HD because of the Schott glass prims, and then suddenly when it comes to porros the spectral transmittivity of the prisms doesn't matter.

Innovation might take place in the porros precisely because it is a good design that works, and so it could be conjugated in various form factors exactly like the roofs. Leica and Zeiss now do 8x20, 8x25, in addition to 8x30, and afaik these smaller ones sell well, see all the raves here about the Zeiss Victory 8x25. .

I have just carried my Ultravid HD 7x42 on a seaside vacation for 3 days, and they have been wonderful, I used them on a bunch of gulls in particular, but most of the time I would prefer to walk around with a bino in my pocket rather than a huge thing slung over my shoulder. After a couple of miles of beach, the weight starts to speak almost as loud as the image. One interesting factor with the 8x42 btw is that at dusk/night one loses color much faster than acuity. By day looking through the bino is like a direct look, at dusk the bino gets dark while direct view is still fairly light. This disturbs me as a painter but might not disturb a normal user.

I can afford a pair of new Mikrons or used small roofs, but I do want to get something that will be useful in practice.

Edmund

Last edited by eronald : Sunday 2nd June 2019 at 20:54.
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 07:37   #13
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The 7x15 Mikron's are very competitive with the Leica Ultravid 8x20's optically and they are almost 1/2 their size and weight and I find them more comfortable to use. Porro's are hard to beat for value.
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 12:08   #14
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Edmund
I have asked in various places, and am getting conflicting reports on the usability of the Mikrons from people who own them.
With binoculars that small, a lot of personal factors influence the overall quality of the experience: whether you wear glasses, what kind of frame and prescription, how deep your eye sockets are, how long your eyelashes, and so on.

That's why some people including myself love the Zeiss 8x25 Victory Pocket and others don't. I recently changed prescription and frames, and the new frames have a longer distance from lens to eyeball and made for a noticeable degradation in the view.

The rubber eyepieces mentioned on the Nikon 7x15 are not fold-up rubber eyecups, but just a rubber bumper ring that prevents the ocular from scratching your eyeglasses like bare metal would, similar to the bumpers on camera viewfinders.

One example of the innovation you mention is the "optical box" design in the Swarovski 8x30 CL B Companion that makes them more tolerant of eye positioning variations. Unfortunately those are not miniature instruments.

I find the Nikon 7x15 Anniversary Edition quite usable with or without glasses, my only caveat is the focusing ring has a lot of damping tension and shallow knurling, and can be hard to turn in a hurry. I wouldn't put them in the same class as the Leica 8x20 Ultravid, and certainly not as the Zeiss Victory Pocket 8x25, but it's amazing what you can do with such a small pair. The design was inspired by the 1919 "Fata Morgana" design from Germany. If you have a few hours to spare, there are some exceedingly detailed pages on the subject.
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 14:02   #15
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I don't find the tension on the Nikon 7x15 focuser too much harder than the Nikon 8x30 EII. I have grown to like tighter focusers and I even like the Habicht focuser which is harder than the Nikon 7x15 because I had a series of binoculars with mushy focusers with backlash one of which was the Nikon EDG that makes me appreciate a tight focuser. At least when you move it it changes your focus. I don't have a problem with the rubber eyecups on the Mikron but I don't wear glasses. I find the porro shape is easy to hold even being as tiny as they are. They are remarkably usable and wonderfully portable and compact.
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Old Wednesday 5th June 2019, 07:37   #16
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Wow, those sound cool. I might get one. Thanks
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Old Friday 7th June 2019, 06:46   #17
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Does anyone have a photo comparison of the Mikron ready for storage vs a folded 8x20? Thanks
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Old Friday 7th June 2019, 15:12   #18
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Does anyone have a photo comparison of the Mikron ready for storage vs a folded 8x20? Thanks
Here are some side by sides of the Nikon Mikron 7x15 and the Leica Ultravid 8x20. The Nikon weigh's about 4 oz. and the Leica weigh's about 8 oz. Twice as much!
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Old Friday 7th June 2019, 22:52   #19
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In keeping with how diminutive the Mikron is, in an early post-WWII flyer it's referred to as the 'shirt pocket' model

Such a carry would maximise it's convenience and use compared to that enormous folded Leica 8x20!


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Old Saturday 8th June 2019, 00:02   #20
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That third photo REALLY shows how small the Mikron is! The Ultravid 8x20 looks HUGE next to it. The Mikron is truly pocketable and surprisingly good optically.
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Old Saturday 8th June 2019, 03:04   #21
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Here are some side by sides of the Nikon Mikron 7x15 and the Leica Ultravid 8x20. The Nikon weigh's about 4 oz. and the Leica weigh's about 8 oz. Twice as much!
Denco,

Thank you for those pix!

Edmund
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Old Saturday 8th June 2019, 06:45   #22
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Denco,

Thank you for those pix!

Edmund
No problem. A picture says a thousand words.
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Old Sunday 9th June 2019, 09:37   #23
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Wow, thanks for the photos. That's a great help. Thanks, Dave

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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 08:11   #24
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Well I purchased both the anniversary 6x and 7x. I preferred and kept the 6x. I find that they are so small it's hard to get a steady hold and found the 6x better for my whatever. The quality is outstanding. I have to say the image quality of my 8x20 Leica Ultravids are better when comparing to the 7x Nikons. I was looking at the Kaneohe Air Station runway 2 miles across the bay and could clearly make out the larger markers (numbers) with the Leica's. But, maybe that's because they are easier to hold. It's not an apples to apples test. But, the Nikon's are super cool, outstanding quality, and the image is impressive for the size. The center focus is not too stiff. The only improvement I would suggest is making the diopter adjustment stiffer since its easy to move out of place.
Overall a very impressive and unique optic.
Dave
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Old Tuesday 25th June 2019, 20:31   #25
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Well I purchased both the anniversary 6x and 7x. I preferred and kept the 6x. I find that they are so small it's hard to get a steady hold and found the 6x better for my whatever. The quality is outstanding. I have to say the image quality of my 8x20 Leica Ultravids are better when comparing to the 7x Nikons. I was looking at the Kaneohe Air Station runway 2 miles across the bay and could clearly make out the larger markers (numbers) with the Leica's. But, maybe that's because they are easier to hold. It's not an apples to apples test. But, the Nikon's are super cool, outstanding quality, and the image is impressive for the size. The center focus is not too stiff. The only improvement I would suggest is making the diopter adjustment stiffer since its easy to move out of place.
Overall a very impressive and unique optic.
Dave
Dave,

Does the 6x15 have any special anniversary markings?

Edmund
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