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Binocular Weight, a Triviality? (1 Viewer)

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
Just to wrap up, perhaps an apology is in order if some of my posts have appeared aggressive or demeaning, but the original post was motivated by a personal situation that I was reluctant to disclose.
Many have kicked the bucket before they reach my age, so I have no complaints and sympathy would be unwanted and embarrassing.
However, as a 76 year-old cancer patient on fatigue-inducing anti-growth hormone therapy (the opposite of doping) I don't experience a 1200 g binocular as a burden after a couple of hours in the field and find it hard to understand the discussions on weight.
Many leisure activities involve volantarily induced pain but birding can bring so much pleasure for so little discomfort.

John
 

tenex

reality-based
John: I'm very glad to know that you continue to enjoy birding without finding even your favorite binocular a burden.

My father carried a 1200g glass everywhere (Zeiss 7x50). I could do the same with my SLC 56s now... I just don't. Yet?
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Just to wrap up, perhaps an apology is in order if some of my posts have appeared aggressive or demeaning, but the original post was motivated by a personal situation that I was reluctant to disclose.
Many have kicked the bucket before they reach my age, so I have no complaints and sympathy would be unwanted and embarrassing.
However, as a 76 year-old cancer patient on fatigue-inducing anti-growth hormone therapy (the opposite of doping) I don't experience a 1200 g binocular as a burden after a couple of hours in the field and find it hard to understand the discussions on weight.
Many leisure activities involve volantarily induced pain but birding can bring so much pleasure for so little discomfort.

John
And long may you continue to enjoy your binos no matter what their weight.

Lee
 

adhoc

Well-known member
John/Tringa45, and John A. Roberts, thank you for that information, direct from you and linked, some of it fascinating. As for the question what makes today's top-tier binoculars heavier than those you describe, I see there two of the factors: more lenses, and armoring. Had forgotten that armoring can add so much weight.
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Hi adhoc,

In relation to current products, I suspect that it’s the glass far more so than the RA.

Going back to the image of the three Zeiss 8x56 models in my previous post, the weights are:
• Classic Dialyt 1030 g/ 36.3 oz
• Design Selection 1459 g/ 51.5 oz (42% more than the Dialyt)
• Victory (pre-FL) 1160 g/ 40.9 oz (13% more than the Dialyt)

Looking at the image it’s clear that there’s far more glass in the later two models, but it’s hard to appreciate just how much there is
e.g. the later two clearly have more glass along the optical axis, but in addition the prisms are also wider, and the DS’s eyepiece lenses are also wider.

Since the image is of 3 dimensional objects, small changes can make a big difference
e.g. as I recently posted, a small change in the diameter of a circle can have a big effect on its two dimensional area, see: NL Pure 8x32 and NL Pure 10x32!
And here we’re dealing with cubic volume.

In addition, glass density can vary a great deal. The DS was touted for it’s use of exotic glass, which among other things means more dense, and so more heavy, than usual.
In contrast, the Victory used more sophisticated lens shapes to lessen the glass mass in both the objectives and eyepieces. And with the objectives, it also managed to achieve the same magnification in a shorter physical length (compare the distances from the front objective lens face to the front prism face).


And coming forward to a quick mash-up of the classic Leitz Trinovid 7x42B and the current Swarovski NL x42, the weights are:
• TV 7x42 660 g/ 23.2 oz
• NL 8x42 840 g/ 29.5 oz (27% more)

Considering all of the extra glass in the NL, what’s surprising is that it’s only only 27% heavier. Part of the explanation may be in the use of magnesium for the body shell, but part may also be in the use of synthetic material for internal components
e.g. in relation to the two images of Swarovski products that I recently posted, I presume that 'synthetic material' is not only referring to the RA
- see all of the spacing rings in the image of a disassembled EL x42.


John
 

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adhoc

Well-known member
John, thank you for all that, how thorough, as usual.

Now (addressing others also), in my post before my last I asked what made the newer top-tier binoculars that much heavier, and as examples of the points I sought I listed (in regard to glass, i.e. in addition to other factors): "lenses for closer focus, wider views, flatter views, easier viewing?" I added, to make it easier for whoever replied: "If any of those [reasons], then, although expanding will be appreciated, even a simple Yes for that will do!"

So then, were lenses added for those reasons? Have others been added to refine the image? What does the denser (in mass) "exotic" glass achieve? Thanks.
 
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Binastro

Well-known member
Exotic glass reduces CA or allows a more compact instrument.

However, there are major disadvantages.
Really exotic glass degrades as soon as it is made and must be immediately hard coated.
Even cemented surfaces need to be coated in multi element designs.

In top end lenses some of the glass costs more than gold.
The lenses cost more than $20,000.
Also there are not many glass makers who can consistently meet the specs.
Some Chinese glass just does not meet requirements.

Exotic glass doesn't last very long unless the maker takes great care.

I have 1800s lenses made of simple glass that are free of fungus or degradation.

The Cooke photovisual telescopes from the late 1800s that performed so much better than previous telescopes were found to degrade after about seven to ten years and had to be repolished periodically.
The glass becomes opaque over time.

Some older Leica lenses were famous for failing glass.

It is mainly improved coating techniques that allow the use of exotic glass.

Regards,
B.
 
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Boogieshrew

Well-known member
Reading this thread I can't help but fixate on the old backpackers saying that an ounce at the beginning of a days walking (change to birding) feels like a pound at the end of a days walking (birding).
Weight matters to me. I have stopped using/sold lots of binoculars because they are more than I can carry all day.
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
I just came across an image of a disassembled Zeiss Design Selection 8x56 on the Dutch site De Kijkerspecialist ('The Binocular Specialist'), at:
Projects - De Kijkerspecialist (I’ve slightly adjusted the exposure to show more detail)

It helps to highlight that unsurprisingly the internal design and construction of binoculars has evolved over time, reflecting the development of different production techniques and economies.


In terms of a chronological progression, see:
a) Zeiss 8x30 Jenoptem Porro prism; the post-WWII version of the Deltrintem that was introduced in 1920 *
b) Zeiss 8x56 Design Selection roof prism introduced in 1994
c) Swarovski EL SV x42 introduced in 2010, and
d) Maven B2 x45, also a current design *

As can be seen, in several ways the DS’s detail is similar to that of the much earlier Jenoptem design. In contrast, both the EL SV and the B2 make use of far more parts, including many standardised rings and washers.
And notwithstanding the Maven branded B2 (from the Japanese OEM company Kamakura?) has a significantly simpler focuser mechanism than the EL SV, it makes use of even more parts - especially what seem to be off-the-shelf ones **


* The sources are:
• The Jenoptm is from Ant1 at Cloudy Nights: Service Manual for Zeiss Jenoptem 10x50(w)? - Binoculars - Cloudy Nights
(unfortunately, the image is no longer attached to the post)
• The Maven B2 is from Todd McLellan at Popular Mechanics: We Tore a Pair of Binoculars Into 172 Parts


John


** A Correction:
Looking more closely at the EL SV image, and doing a manual count, the B2 and the EL SV have around the same number of parts at 170 or so
(in the EL SV image there are several groupings of very small components).
However, this still confirms the initial impression given when looking at the two images
i.e. the B2 with its much simpler focuser, is using more components elsewhere in its construction.
 

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etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Thank you for a really enlightening set of images.
They strongly imply that the way to lower binocular cost is to reduce the individual design effort, even if that increases the parts count.
Iirc, the push to standard parts is under the rubric of 'group technology', it aims to eliminate one time design costs and inventory issues by more aggressive use of standard parts, even if that makes the product somewhat bigger or more complicated. For small volume items such as binoculars, one time costs must be minimized. Maven shows the consequences of this constraint.
 

dries1

Member
Thanks as usual John for an enlightening post. Goes to show the design/parts manufactured on the Zeiss 8X56 - very low tolerances, German engineering at its finest.
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
I’ve located a labelled image of the EL x42, the 1999 predecessor to the EL SV of 2010. It's from a document about Swarovski Optik’s ISO 9001 certification.
The 25 page document can be found by Googling 'ISO 9001 - mit Zertifikat zu nachhaltigem Unternehmenserfolg bei Swarovski Optik'.

The page indicates that the EL had 270 parts - so considerably more than the EL SV. Which likely means that the EL is the most mechanically complex hand-held binocular ever produced *

Most of the additional parts are probably in the the focuser mechanism, which was redesigned and seemingly much simplified in the later EL SV.
For more details see various posts at: Pre Swarovision EL vs SLC HD


The full text on the page, per Google Translate is:
"Swarovski Optik Quality Assurance
Components: 270
Jobs: 25
Work Instructions: 60 pages
QA parts and assemblies: Samples
Final acceptance - number of measurement parameters: 88".

. . . However, it doesn't seem that the correct meaning of 'Arbeitsplätze' is expressed in the translation to 'Jobs' ?


John


* Another contender might be the fabulous Zeiss 20x60 S with it's mechanically controlled image stabilisation!
See posts #58 to 60 at: Zeiss: Collection of cross-section and cutaway images
 

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Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello,

Re post #45, Zeiss binoculars.
The Dialyt has a moving bridge and a doublet objective; The DS and Victory have triplets and a lens for internal focussing. So the DS has more glass but saved some weight by eliminating the moveable bridge, a substantial piece of metalwork and using some exotic glass. The Victory went a step farther with exotic glass.
I hope that I properly understand the changes.

Stay safe,
Arthur
 

pshute

Well-known member
Australia
I can't hang anything from my neck for long without getting a neck ache, but can go all day with a harness. I use those instead of worrying about weight. I'm surprised more people don't use harnesses. Mine is basically just a double cord joined at the top, and would weigh less than a normal padded strap.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
I can't hang anything from my neck for long without getting a neck ache, but can go all day with a harness. I use those instead of worrying about weight. I'm surprised more people don't use harnesses. Mine is basically just a double cord joined at the top, and would weigh less than a normal padded strap.
Been there, done that. Alas, harnesses don't work for me, for a variety of reasons. For instance, harnesses are a hassle when you put on / take off clothing.

Hermann
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
I find a harness helpful to prevent some neck pain, but you still have to raise the bino up to your eyes many times. If it's migration and a lot of warblers and little birds around you're raising and lowering the bino constantly. I get neck and especially shoulder pain with a heavy binocular. Even after using my 17 ounce, 30mm this past 3-day weekend I had some mild soreness. When I was using a 27 ounce, 42mm bin last migration I had to take ibuprofen each time when I got back home. 10 ounces less makes a big difference to me.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
Just to wrap up, perhaps an apology is in order if some of my posts have appeared aggressive or demeaning, but the original post was motivated by a personal situation that I was reluctant to disclose.
Many have kicked the bucket before they reach my age, so I have no complaints and sympathy would be unwanted and embarrassing.
However, as a 76 year-old cancer patient on fatigue-inducing anti-growth hormone therapy (the opposite of doping) I don't experience a 1200 g binocular as a burden after a couple of hours in the field and find it hard to understand the discussions on weight.
Many leisure activities involve volantarily induced pain but birding can bring so much pleasure for so little discomfort.

John

I appreciated the original post and subsequent discussion. I don't think you were hostile, but rather, curious about other's experiences and the subjective bases for their preferences. That is how I understand questions of this nature, which is why I don't understand why they sometimes evoke anger or responses to the effect that there is no point to asking about or discussing matters of taste. We can't tell others what they do or don't like, but we can ask them to tell us what they subjectively experience such that they have those tastes. Just part of understanding our fellow binocular enthusiasts and further, consumer demand, perhaps as a window into understanding the products that are brought to market.

Your topic is one that I've often wondered about in similar fashion. I rarely find binocular mass of much importance. With a simple stretchy neoprene strap that shapes itself to my neck or shoulders (e.g. fashion bino strap from Op/Tech), I am perfectly comfortable. A full-sized bin is a trivial addition to my neck or the base of my neck. Consequently, I use my Swarovski 8.5x42 EL SV pre-FP for almost all birding, because I appreciate the optical benefits of full-sized bins. My main reasons for sometimes using other bins are (1) to get better focusing performance (esp. speed with precision, and secondarily a tighter close limit--it kills me that Swarovski never gave the EL SV variable-ratio focus, but rather, took away its close-focus ability in the latest model!) when birding+butterflying, and (2) to get better pack size. The latter is my main reason for sometimes using smaller bins--small size, not lower mass. Besides the importance of pack size per se to me (allowing me to slip them into an accessory pocket on a bag, or tuck them strap-on-neck into a front shirt pocket), I also appreciate small bins around my neck when I'm juggling other equipment such as a camera, travel guidebook/map, and/or lumbar pack. As noted before, small bins are easier to tuck aside into a short pocket or hook behind a strap to keep them from flopping around when bending over to look at things on the ground or when negotiating walking in awkward areas with slopes, rocks to climb over, brush/limbs to slide past or through, etc.

--AP
 

PeterPS

MEMBER
I rarely find binocular mass of much importance. With a simple stretchy neoprene strap that shapes itself to my neck or shoulders (e.g. fashion bino strap from Op/Tech), I am perfectly comfortable. A full-sized bin is a trivial addition to my neck or the base of my neck.

--AP
Alexis, you're much younger than many members of the BF. Tell us again 30 years from now how you feel with 1kg hanging on your neck.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
Alexis, you're much younger than many members of the BF. Tell us again 30 years from now how you feel with 1kg hanging on your neck.
Yikes, 1 kg? I only carry that much or more when I have full-sized bins plus a camera, which isn't often. Maybe I should be carrying more on my neck now on a regular basis to build up my muscles and bones to prevent decline over the next 30 years. If you are still around then, I'll certainly tell you how it works out. Stay tuned!

--AP
 

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