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Bushnell Rangemaster: Vintage Binocular vs. Modern Birds (1 Viewer)

henry link

Well-known member
James,

At the time these Rangemasters were made the Japanese optical industry standards allowed the use of the term "fully coated" only on binoculars in which all optical surfaces were coated with the single layer coatings that were available then. "Coated optics" could be used on binoculars even if only one surface in the instrument was coated. Each uncoated surface would subtract about 3-4% transmission compared to the same surface with a single layer coating.

I would say that the image in old binoculars with single layer coatings, not to mention those with some uncoated surfaces, looks pretty dim and lifeless compared to most of the fully multi-coated binoculars of the last 25-30 years, even in bright sunlight.

Henry
 
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Steve C

Well-known member
Well, I figured this had to come up ;). As I stated in my OP I tend to think people, in their subconscious anyway, tend to put a lot of advance credence in relationship to the bells and whistles they figure the binocular they have in their hands has. Yes, the old porros do lag somewhat in optical performance. What people need to do is just look at the image of this and ask yourself what does it REALLY need for me to see better. The ultimate objective answer is...not much.

What modern porros do not have is the 7x dof, and the huge field. The latter is useless if you can't use the eye relief, but if you can use it, you will never see an 8.5*, 8x view as wide again. It is surely wide enough, but a 10-12* fov can alter your thinking

These are bright, they are sharp, they have adequate contrast, the color rendition is slightly weaker than some modern marvels, but reds are red, etc. They are not dim in low light. There are brighter, there are sharper, there is better color, and there is better low light performance, but these things are still pretty amazing for what they deliver. The side by side differences will be an eye opener.

The point here is not to compare these to alphas, but to make the point they are pretty astounding today for what a decades old glass can deliver through the system to your eyes. I can easily use these as an only binocular. The size mitigates against that, but the optics sure do not.

If you wish to stress technical superiority in the specification sheet, then the vintage lines are not for you. If you can see these for what they are in terms of real world practical performance, then there is something to be gleaned from their use.

Still waiting for the Fuji. ;)
 
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pompadour

Well-known member
Steve, thanks for those posts, especially for the perspective, and your patience in providing it.

But I'll need to have that experience myself to really appreciate it (won't happen too soon, any bins are hard to come by over here), being one of those who are easily disappointed going from a bin of superior optical quality to a lesser, e.g. "alpha" to even a little less clear and bright!
 
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Simon S

Well-known member
The Rangemaster is a flagship model of the Bushnell, I have the same model but needing attention to an eye lens.
They are despite this fault sharp and wide but not as bright as a modern multicoated binocular.
 

james holdsworth

Consulting Biologist
I guess my experiences with older porro's has tempered my enthusiasm. I have a very mint, late model 8x30 Oberkochen and have tried two examples of the revered 15x60 BGAT, with nearly modern coatings.

Both are sharp, with good-sized sweetspots, but both have somewhat yellow white's, moderate transmission and contrast well below even a mid-tier roof. I still think the 8x30 is really sweet, but it isn't really a contest with a modern roof.

Given the hyperbole that surrounds the 15x60, and the rather pedestrian view I experienced, I have concluded that most of the lavish praise heaped upon some of this older glass is just nostalgia, or not having a suitable, modern sample to compare. Unless, of course, the Rangemaster is much, much better than any of the Zeiss porro's - at 10 times [or more] less cost.....
 

Steve C

Well-known member
I agree they are not as bright as modern stuff. The whole point is, despite those shortcomings (as few/many as they may be), is just how good they really are.

Anybody who can't get detail with these has issues beyond the mechanical optics of the Rangemaster. Sans animus people, sans animus...;)
 

james holdsworth

Consulting Biologist
I agree they are not as bright as modern stuff. The whole point is, despite those shortcomings (as few/many as they may be), is just how good they really are.

Anybody who can't get detail with these has issues beyond the mechanical optics of the Rangemaster. Sans animus people, sans animus...;)

Oh, I think we can all agree on that. I found that out when I compared my $200.00 Bushnell Custom to a new $1000.00+ Leitz Trinovid in 1988. It blew my mind that the Bushnell was sharper and brighter!
 

Simon S

Well-known member
I guess my experiences with older porro's has tempered my enthusiasm. I have a very mint, late model 8x30 Oberkochen and have tried two examples of the revered 15x60 BGAT, with nearly modern coatings.

Both are sharp, with good-sized sweetspots, but both have somewhat yellow white's, moderate transmission and contrast well below even a mid-tier roof. I still think the 8x30 is really sweet, but it isn't really a contest with a modern roof.

Given the hyperbole that surrounds the 15x60, and the rather pedestrian view I experienced, I have concluded that most of the lavish praise heaped upon some of this older glass is just nostalgia, or not having a suitable, modern sample to compare. Unless, of course, the Rangemaster is much, much better than any of the Zeiss porro's - at 10 times [or more] less cost.....
Is your Zeiss clean inside? These binoculars gas inside resulting in misty prisms. Worth a check.
 

pompadour

Well-known member
I agree they are not as bright as modern stuff. The whole point is, despite those shortcomings (as few/many as they may be), is just how good they really are.

Anybody who can't get detail with these has issues beyond the mechanical optics of the Rangemaster. Sans animus people, sans animus...;)
Steve, I cannot figure out if James is approving your first paragraph or both, but I can agree with your second. I only said that's how it is with me (these days) - was not trying to justify it!
 
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Steve C

Well-known member
Pomp,

I do not expect everyone will see these in the same light as I do ;). The satisfaction gained form the magnified view is compelling and deeply personal. To add a bit to my second sentence above the non binocular issues can be a wide range of things. Certainly there are the physical attributes of the users eyes. Visual acuity, eye health, age and certainly others. However (and I mean nor intend nothing personal to anyone, I likely fit here someplace too :eek!:), I think there is a lot of self inflicted optics OCD issues swimming around out there in the world.

I give thanks often in that I seem to have eyes and a subconscious that lets me satisfactorily use almost any decent sort of a binocular and still be able not to get tied up in all its faults.

By the way the mailman just delivered the Fuji Rangemaster...more to follow. Looks like new except for a little missing finish on the left objective cover.
 

pompadour

Well-known member
Steve, "...to have eyes and a subconscious that lets me satisfactorily use almost any decent sort of a binocular and still be able not to get tied up in all its faults," and your sign-off line, "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have" are ideals quite a few of us fall short of most of the time - am still trying reach your state!

"The satisfaction gained form the magnified view is compelling and deeply personal." This applies mostly, of course, to lesser optics, as the best "wow" nearly everyone. This too can lead astray. There can be some dishonesty as in my case: straining to justify one's particular possession, sour grapes, etc. Another reaction by me - and this not always subconscious - is to think of a less-than-alpha-clear image as being like a painting with individual character. (Obviously, I draw the line well short of van Gogh.)

"I likely fit here someplace too". I can believe that, seeing the way your collection is going! - or already gone - afraid I forget if this has been conveyed by your earlier posts. Personally I feel uneasy with even my present - transitory - collection of a 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16x, and am trying to get this down to three: 7/?8, 10 and 12-?16x. But - some bins, even, as you show, ones less than ideal in current fashion, are wonderful things.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
I guess my experiences with older porro's has tempered my enthusiasm. I have a very mint, late model 8x30 Oberkochen and have tried two examples of the revered 15x60 BGAT, with nearly modern coatings.

Both are sharp, with good-sized sweetspots, but both have somewhat yellow white's, moderate transmission and contrast well below even a mid-tier roof. I still think the 8x30 is really sweet, but it isn't really a contest with a modern roof.

I agree, to some extent. My 8x30B (serviced by Zeiss in Wetzlar a couple of months ago) is certainly darker than a modern roof, and the contrast is lower. The sharpness in the image center, however, is *excellent*. I don't no many modern roofs than can compete with it in that compartment.

Hermann
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Pomp,

I do not expect everyone will see these in the same light as I do ;). The satisfaction gained form the magnified view is compelling and deeply personal. To add a bit to my second sentence above the non binocular issues can be a wide range of things. Certainly there are the physical attributes of the users eyes. Visual acuity, eye health, age and certainly others. However (and I mean nor intend nothing personal to anyone, I likely fit here someplace too :eek!:), I think there is a lot of self inflicted optics OCD issues swimming around out there in the world.

I give thanks often in that I seem to have eyes and a subconscious that lets me satisfactorily use almost any decent sort of a binocular and still be able not to get tied up in all its faults.

By the way the mailman just delivered the Fuji Rangemaster...more to follow. Looks like new except for a little missing finish on the left objective cover.

Steve:

I've enjoyed your review of the Bushnell, and I do agree with
your thoughts on classic optics. There is a lot to be appreciated
with lots of older models, and this is one of them.

I do have a question, the first ones were made by Tamron, and
the later one you are getting is made by Fuji?

I have been enjoying the Nikon Widefield porro, after Frank made
the most recent post on how well the 7x35 performs.

They don't make these kind of binoculars anymore.

Coatings have improved, but the optical design still reigns.

Jerry
 
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Steve C

Well-known member
Jerry,

The Tamron was the last of the Rangemaster series, but the one I got first. The Fuji Rangemaster was the first of the series, mine I think dates to about 1952-56, and was the last one I got personally. For a 60 year old binocular it is flat out amazing. There has to be a whole lot of flat out old fashioned handcrafted skill involved there.

One of those Nikon's is on my list of watches, but I am not real interested in pursuing many more binoculars for a while..
 

Steve C

Well-known member
Well Steve, did I give you a bum steer?

John

No, we are in agreement that the Fuji Rangemaster is the best ultra wide angle binocular ever produced. The Tamron is only ever so slightly behind. The Tamron is sharper, but the Fuji is deeper and has better edges. I'll have the full Fuji comments up in a day or two.

I'm still trying to come to grips with the idea that the Fuji must be some 60 years old.
 
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perterra

Well-known member
No, we are in agreement that the Fuji Rangemaster is the best ultra wide angle binocular ever produced. The Tamron is only ever so slightly behind. The Tamron is sharper, but the Fuji is deeper and has better edges. I'll have the full Fuji comments up in a day or two.

I'm still trying to come to grips with the idea that the Fuji must be some 60 years old.

I consider this a re-affirming of what I have been whining about forever on many different subjects. Just because something new or better has come along, the old stuff doesnt work any less well than it did in its prime.
A binocular that gave a good view in 1960, if taken care of will give a good view in 2013. The only change is our expectations.
 
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Steve C

Well-known member
"I likely fit here someplace too". I can believe that, seeing the way your collection is going! - or already gone - afraid I forget if this has been conveyed by your earlier posts. Personally I feel uneasy with even my present - transitory - collection of a 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16x, and am trying to get this down to three: 7/?8, 10 and 12-?16x. But - some bins, even, as you show, ones less than ideal in current fashion, are wonderful things.

Pomp,

I don't want to convey the impression I'm swinging into the porro camp, I'm not. In fact if the house was on fire and I could only save one binocular as i dived out the fire escape, I'd grab the Leupold Gold Ring HD 8x42. In many ways I prefer modern roofs.

The collection aspect of vintage porros is one of economics. You can get most for less than $50, and $150 is a lot to spend. That and if I can teach myself how to fix most issues, anybody else can too.

I also am not a collector in the sense of having a bunch on hand. What I have, I have kept only because I can grab any one on my way out the door and go enjoy the view.

I learned to bird with a good, now vintage porro, a Swift Nighthawk 8x40. So I have no intention of throwing the porro overboard either. Sometimes a significant learning experience comes from taking a step back, relaxing and taking a deep breath. B :)
 
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cjfrbw

Well-known member
I bid on six wide field vintage porros on ebay, figuring it would take that many to get one or two good ones. Two were, in fact, useless due to damages, one a Tasco 7x35 and another a Sears 7x35. Two others had issues but were still useable, a Sears Discoverer and a K mart Siam Cat optics 7x35. The K mart 7x35 has one ocular with some kind of greasy residue, but has a clear spot that you can see through.

The last two, another K mart Siam Cat 8x35 wide field sample and the Bushnell Fuji Rangemaster IF second generation 7x35, were pristine.

The Sears Discoverer has the most color perfect rendition I have ever seen, in addition to the wide field, with huge prisms. It looks just like a slice of what you are looking at magnified with a slightly better contrast. However, the one I got has a bit of additional astigmatism in the left, very clunky, rattly eyepieces, and a difficult diopter. It is not ergonomically easy to use, but the view is great when adjusted.

The best of the bunch is the Rangemaster. Very slight saffron warmth, but not much, the colors come through very well, bright image, VERY sharp, very contrasty, and the 3D is wonderful. The image is just so crisp and immersive, you know that you are seeing something special.

The K mart Siam Cat samples, one 7x35 and one 8x35 are pretty darn good, but have a heavier saffron tint, not color perfect, but ergonomics, lightness, sharpness, and 3D are excellent. The 7x35 has close focussing, to, to about 12 feet or so, but my sample would need cleaning of the left ocular to be optimal. The eye-brain white balance correction seems to improve the view after a minute, but in spite of being immersive, sharp, mechanically excellent and wide field, the Siam Cat samples would not be the choice for color rendition.

I took the Rangemaster and my Nikon LXL 10x25 to the Sonoma optics show. None of the porros were nearly as good as the Rangemaster. Nothing really had better characteristics in image until you got to the expensive Swarovskis, and even they couldn't touch the immersive 3D effect of the Rangemaster or the wide field. I left the show thinking I already had a couple of the best binoculars, even comparing with the alpha models at the show.

I love taking both the Nikon and the Rangemaster for ocean viewing, the Rangemaster for the gorgeous sharp and wide field view, and the Nikon to spot in on things. For portability, the Nikon's the one, but for sheer beauty of image, the Rangemaster is about the best I have seen so far.
 
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