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Vintage and Classic Binoculars

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2012, 21:10   #1
Simon S
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Vintage and Classic Binoculars

I recommend we start a new thread for those who love old binoculars.
Maybe someone would like to start?
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2012, 23:07   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon S View Post
I recommend we start a new thread for those who love old binoculars.
Maybe someone would like to start?
FrankD already did that . See a few threads below "Revisiting the Classic Porro". Frank has a good number, I have 15 or so and I think it is a marvelous idea. Through PM's generated from that thread several have already asked for a Vintage Porro sub forum. I don't know about anybody else but my requests did not even draw a reply.

This might be a good time to let the Powers that Be know there may be (or not) enough interest in the subject.

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2012, 23:54   #3
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I agree with starting the thread and think Simon's title, "Vintage and Classic Binoculars", is perfect because it encompasses Galilean and roof prism type binoculars as well as Porro types.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2012, 01:23   #4
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Well, if we follow the trend over on cloudy nights then we just need folks to start posting pics.

Here is one for you....I posted this over on CN this morning and here in the Swift forum but it is a start.....

Swift Holiday Mark II 7x35 that I picked up a few weeks ago. Excellent external condition. Internally there is some fungus in the one barrel. It does not appear to affect optical performance. Excellent apparent sharpness. Good apparent brightness and a respectable sweet spot of around 70%. Smaller and lighter than the Swift Sport Kings I also have on hand but just as impressive optically.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2012, 11:58   #5
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I too post mainly of CN but this will possibly capture a larger UK based audience and many people would not be interested in CN.
I think a thread on older instruments has something of interest to any birder, especially the older members (like me) who have owned various models in their life. I will add a few tonight, but would be interested to know how many ex Swift Audubon users, there are out there, maybe some Ross or Bausch and Lomb's to?
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2012, 14:26   #6
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Simon,

I had a Swift Audubon briefly but the particular model I purchased had the twist-out eyecups instead of the twist off variety...and there wasn't enough eye relief for my face....so I sold it. Will be keeping an eye out for another.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2012, 14:31   #7
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Zeiss 7x42 BGAT and swarovski EL mk1 get my vote as "classics"
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2012, 18:19   #8
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Here is one of the Audubon models that changed its name to "Kestrel" in later years, this being a 10x50 with good optics multi coated glass and a offspring from the 805 HR5's. I used this binocular this year to watch Short eared owls hunt in field a few hundred yards away, but went back to my trusty 8.5x44 models as they have a bigger sweet spot.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2012, 23:05   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon S View Post
I recommend we start a new thread for those who love old binoculars.
Maybe someone would like to start?
Should the word antique be added here also? Lots of interesting binoculars going back to the turn of the last century and before.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2012, 23:13   #10
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Zeiss 7x42 BGAT and swarovski EL mk1 get my vote as "classics"
Hello D. Watson,

I certainly agree about the former but I have no experience with the latter. That Zeiss had a wide field, generous eye relief, great ergonomics and a first rate view. Like any binocular it would not suit every situation. My answer is to use it along with the Zeiss 10x32 FL.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur
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Old Friday 3rd February 2012, 15:33   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flossiepip View Post
Should the word antique be added here also? Lots of interesting binoculars going back to the turn of the last century and before.
I cant modify the title now but maybe a member of admin can?
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Old Monday 6th February 2012, 12:24   #12
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I bought a 804 HR/5 in clean shape, but it had received a blow & the prisms had moved slightly. Listed as working great & I'm sure @ 8-10' across the room they worked fine.

Both objectives weren't even finger tight, so I figured someone had already been inside poking around.

Picked up a 6x30 B&L Zephyr that cleaned up nicely and has a spot on view. I've learned much over the last few months & probably 40 or so examples later mix of new/old roof/porro/Galilean w/some being opera glass.

I learned not to bid against Frank as he has deep pockets & isn't skeered to throw it around.(HA!) Between him, Steve, the rest of the lot here & CN it's tough to snag a deal.

Some of the cheaper &/or overlooked turned out to be favorites whilst others that were more expensive were worth the price even though it might have stung a mite. Some people are honest, yet ignorant whilst others are lying through their teeth selling parts bins advertised as working swell wishing to skin you alive.

The B&L Legacy was a cheap dandy & though showed one pic was out of whack a bit. Could be from throwing it in a box big enough for a half a dozen w/no packing material save a piece of butcher paper wrapped twice around the bins. As many of the others I had to invest a little time tinkering to get the pic closer, but it's a wide view and built as a Chinese tank.

Looking through old & new glass separated at times by decades of manufacturing and/or light years of quality gives you perspective. I'm deadlocked in a dispute even as I type and the bay is dragging their feet, but for the most part it's been enjoyable. Even though I went through a stretch where only one out of seven was as described rendering a single view.

Some of the older glass is nice, not great and some are turds. The older higher magnification will have a greater chance of being out of alignment. They almost always will be described as working great. The 12x36 Nikon DCF, 22x80 Beck CBS, 25x100 Apogee, 14x70 Orion & 16x60 Pentax porro were fine. Others in the 10/14/16/20/40 range weren't.

There's plenty of lower power glass that isn't right as well. I have a 2.5X opera glass that shows double vision & several porros in the 7-8x that are parts bins if I can't repair them.

I'm saying it's pot luck on the open market. Astromart w/15 clams membership fee seems to be associated w/folks more likely to be honest about condition & knowledgeable from what I hear, yet the auction sites have a wide variety.

Good luck & happy bin hunting bois & gurlz.
====
ETA: I have a couple of antiques, yet they tend to be a tad too expensive for my blood & I have to search for the lower tiers not in the best of shape sometimes. Still enjoyable in their own right.

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Old Monday 6th February 2012, 13:52   #13
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Nix,

I loved reading your post. Your experiences tend to mirror my own even though you didn't go into any great detail with some of them.



On the other hand, that wasn't you last night that drove up the price on those Sears Discoverer 7x50s that I won now was it?

I almost didn't rebid but then in a fit of excitement over the Giants winning part way through the 2nd quarter I decided to rebid on them. :p I never expected them to go for in excess of $120. The first pair I bought only went for $30-ish but I think I snagged them on one of those "Buy It Now" deals before anyone else got wind of them. Absolutely excellent glass especially after I removed the eyecups completely.

Or, was it possibly another model? Do PM me if there is something you are gunning for and you know I am bidding. I certainly bow out of auctions when I know it is one of the guys from here at Birdforum that are bidding against me.
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Old Monday 6th February 2012, 15:15   #14
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You know there's more detail & stories though I try to skim through for a decent representation of what I've experienced w/o being too long winded. Can't reveal all two of the secrets I've learned at one setting.

I've was out of the market for about two weeks. The Swifts & double vision opera glasses were the last to come in & I've paid my bill early. I've been a mite disgruntled over the bottom of the barrel Barska 20x/40x100mm I picked up & filed a dispute over tout de suite. 40x @ 100yds shows a complete truck bumper & license plate image on top or bottom of the bumper. 10x12mm chip out of the bottom of the left tube w/scratches leads me to believe that's the side w/shifted prisms. Plus I can read a decal parking sticker w/right side, yet the left regardless of which eyepiece will not quite resolve the letters. They still sell them @ Adorama for 799 clams delivered w/1yr warranty, but I had good luck w/apogee. So, I rolled the dice & crapped out it would appear. I like the 45* as I'm not up under it as the Apogee & I played w/it a bit using the shorter 40x in the left & longer 20x in the right as a 16lb 20-40 twin sorta variable spotting scope. Looking at planes the 20x is handy as a spotter & the 40x is such a narrow beam it's hard to pan smoothly as the FOV fills up quickly.

Oddly enough or not the Apogee shows right at/almost the same detail in 25X as the Barska does @ 40x looking @ lunar craters. When I shifted to Jupiter & the four big moons they're larger on the 25x, but terrestrial viewing the 40x reaches out farther. I don't know what to think about the differences. The Apogee's EP looks a lot better than the Barska. It's suffering so bad from truncated pupils that it almost looks as Bk-7 except not nearly as symmetrical.
Thirty yards away a grey woodpecker was on hickory tree. I used the 20x to find him and then zeroed in w/40 in the other tube. No doubt it's cheap glass/construction, however it's somewhat unbelievable how detail 40x on a tripod will bring out. Same w/soaring turkey vultures/crows/hawks/eagles. Because the eyepieces interchange by pushing in/pulling out I can get on target w/40 after locating w/20 on the other side. W/them flying & me panning I can't tell the difference @ 40X between one side or the other, so being right eye dominate I use short 40 in the left tube. On stationary targets I put it in the right and the 20x in the left not pushed in all the way. There's still adjustment to focus & then when I'm ready to look through the right I just pull the longer 20 out of the left, so I don't have to turn my head sideways on a 45.

Glad you enjoy my little schpiels & I hope Simon accepts my apology for drifting a bit from all the hot air I'm blowing around.
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2012, 18:05   #15
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My latest binocular is a very poorly Busch Marlux 7x50.
This central focusing binocular is in a poor state, I have never seen fungus so bad as this. All the external leatherette has started to peal, and despite this poor old binocular being so badly stored the glass is unmarked although some staining from the fungus will always remain on the internals of the objectives and prisms.
The tough job for me is to try and replace the covering over the binoculars chassis, I have bought some camera leatherette that looks very similar to the original stuff.
Notice the strange cutout of the top prisms, similar to a few of the wide angle Dollonds and Wrays, but more severe.
You will also note that each handed part, prisms, objectives etc are marked from which position they come from.
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2012, 18:07   #16
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Ready for covering and reassembly.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2012, 01:27   #17
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Simon,

I'm getting closer to the point, but I'd never try that one. Keep us posted on what happens. I'm guessing you will have to seperate the barrels and remove the focus rod etc to properly re cover that.
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2012, 20:20   #18
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From my experience of starting to bird watch in the UK in the mid 70s.
The popular new models amongst birders which deserve the title of classics were
Swift Audabon 8.5x44 porro
CZJ 8x30 and 10x50 porros
For better off birders
Zeiss West 8x30b porro
All of the Zeiss roof classics 7x42, 8x30,10x40 and 8x56
Leitz (Leica) 7x42, 8x30 and 10x40 roofs
Almost out of production but well worth mentioning
Barr and Stroud 8x30 and 10x42 porro
Ross 9x35 Septrem?porro
I think many older birders were using Barr and Stroud 7x42 and 7x50
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Old Wednesday 15th February 2012, 20:27   #19
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Well I have fitted the leatherette and internal parts, prisms, baffles and covers. The only remaining problem is a stripped thread on one objective bell, meaning you cant tighten the objective housing without it slipping. This was a result of someone forcing the threat without removing the set screw that locks the thread.
I will try them tomorrow, but I don't expect to much.
Simple two element eye pieces usually mean a poorly corrected image, tomorrow will tell.
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Old Friday 17th February 2012, 21:19   #20
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Robert, Ross didn't make a Septrem.
The 9x35 is the Stepruva?
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Old Tuesday 21st February 2012, 07:38   #21
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Is there a list of recommended makers or models of vintage bins. There are so many different names on the net that I find it near impossible to sort out the good from the bad. Also some manufacturers made turkeys whilst also having a brilliant model at the same time. So basically a list that points towards the better models.

Cheers,

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Old Tuesday 21st February 2012, 09:57   #22
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List? Whatever happened to trial & error, OJT & discovery?

Treasure binos of the Sierra Madre, Lists? We don't need no stinkin' lists!
--------

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=222373&page=6

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Old Tuesday 21st February 2012, 12:11   #23
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Thanks Nix, A few bins there to point me in the right direction.

I find that trial and error usually end up being expensive. Yesterday whilst recovering from surgery I was quite happy surfing through ebay and found numerous vintage porros and when the pain killing drugs started kicking in I started bidding left right and centre for numerous bins in my own little happy world. Suffice to say I luckily only ended up with one pair. A pair of Zuiho vintage bins which cost 25 of which I know absolutely nothing.

I'm sure there is a moral in there somewhere but having a list of recommended vintage bins will help those of us who are not of sound mind and body who surf the bay.

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Old Tuesday 21st February 2012, 14:11   #24
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The moral of the story is should one find themselves under the influence of alcohol or narcotics stay off the internet, yet if you can't resist there's always porn & the aftereffects as a rule will not sting as a lark on any auction site.

You didn't become burned over one inexpensive bin. I have several to remind me of red flags I blatantly ignored whilst stone cold sober. Rough now I twiddle me thumbs over a 8x30 Komz listed as having a rough body.

Later offering w/made in Russia instead of USSR, but before Baigish(at least I think so as I'm not well versed on these offerings from behind the former iron curtain)), & apparently designed w/no need for screws to hold the prism covers in place. The body isn't rough at all & it's spot on collimated.

However, it would've been better described as seller restored. Both eyecups have rims epoxied on them, the diopter side eyepiece is cracked and one ocular is multi-coated w/other of older amber variety.

I previously purchased an 8x30 made in USSR version w/magenta coloured oculars that's clear & in good shape except for it's remarkably clear double vision. The shipping alone was $25 from the Ukraine to the states.

After buying a lowly 7x35 11* B&L Legacy of Chinese build I purchased a later model from Japan manufacturing. Lots of PC, but 11* covers a lot of territory. It's more of a two piece design & you'll be able to recognize it by the gaudy golden triangle inside the golden circle prominently displayed betwixt the objective lens.

I think of it as a lure for birds masquerading as a perch. The less expensive bins don't cost much, yet the shipping will eat you alive after a number of them. I find value in cheap glass, but the most in $50-$175 w/fairly recent coatings unless I'm looking for antiques.

However, still I buy them as I am no match for the lure of the siren's song. Happy hunting.

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Old Tuesday 21st February 2012, 18:13   #25
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Nix
What is it you do not seem to like about the 7x35 Legacy 11 porro as your post seems to disparage it as nothing better than a bird perch?

Also your claim to an earlier Chinese made B&L 7x35 Legacy 11 is puzzling as the 7x35 11 Legacy's were made in Japan and disappeared from the B&L catalog before Bushnell moved production to China, with the 8x40 Legacy porro being the smallest Legacy to make it into Chinese production. Strange that an early model would be Chinese and later models Japanese. Can you clarify for me?

Tom
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