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Do you or a relation still use Older or Vintage optics. (1 Viewer)

tonytoned

Active member
I'm a huge fan of Porro prism binoculars, and I use them on a daily basis. I have several on the most common configurations (8x30, 10x42, 7x50) and have had other flavours in the past. I love the grip, the wide body and the view. However, coming back to the OP question, I realise my binos are not classic or vintage, but some of the latest contemporary Porro prism binocular (Nikon EII, SE, Vixen Foresta and Ultima, Kowa YF, etc.). Over the years I've bought several nice examples of classic binoculars from CZJ, Swift and other brands (mainly Japanese from the golden era), and I've loved their construction, the way it feels as if they could withstand a couple of centuries in perfect operation, and then be serviced and go on for another couple of centuries without much problem. Nevertheless, I've always felt that optically I wasn't getting what I expected. This might sound weird. I'm aware that coatings have come a long way (although in terms of build quality many modern devices lag ages behind), but many times the overall view is not enough to compensate for the lovely feeling and sense of owning a part of history. I don't know if I'm alone in this feeling or if this is something others have experienced.

As a background, I don't have a "past or a history" with binoculars, I've started appreciating and eventually loving them in the second decade of the 21st century, so my "education in optics" is basically fully multi-coated contemporary devices. When using vintage ones I usually miss some sparkle on the view, it's hard to express (maybe it's like demanding a classic car from the 60's the performance of a current Ford Fiesta ST). There's a voice inside that tells me to love them, but then when I compare them to other binos I have, I feel the need so simply pass them on (I'm not a collector, so if I feel I'm not using a device long enough to justify owning it, I simply sell it).

Anyway, there is one Zeiss that keeps catching my eye, the so called "glass of the century", a wide angle 10x50 that looks wide and comfy. It usually appears on the 2nd hand market (usually at pretty hefty prices), and I've been very tempted, but I fear I might find the view underwhelming. What are your thoughts on that one? Some time I go I read Holger Merlitz's review and got really curious about it.
Thank you yarrellii. I love hearing and learning from other members.
 

tonytoned

Active member
Hi Ed,
Thanks for mentioning the Linet Imperial. I have never seen the 8x40, but I had a 7x35 with a claimed FoV of 13.5*---which was an overestimate by about 1*, and I was not very impressed with its optics. There also exists a 10x50 with a FoV=10*. You may be right that such extra wide FoVs exceed what's reasonable for our visual system, which is likely why no current offerings have an AFoV much larger than 70*.
Peter
I'll look up some of these bins.
 

tonytoned

Active member
The case could be British, the binocular imported.

Early on only low priced optics were allowed into the U.K.
Perhaps £5 FOB prices.

There was also 45% purchase tax.

I suppose the binocular might be 1960s with simple coatings, not on every surface.

However, by then I think import restrictions were easing.

There were quite a few Hong Kong and Macau binoculars, but also Japanese.

This binocular might be German?

Regards,
B.
I'll keep investigating B. Many thanks. Tony
 

PeterPS

MEMBER

I'm a huge fan of Porro prism binoculars, and I use them on a daily basis. I have several on the most common configurations (8x30, 10x42, 7x50) and have had other flavours in the past. I love the grip, the wide body and the view. However, coming back to the OP question, I realise my binos are not classic or vintage, but some of the latest contemporary Porro prism binocular (Nikon EII, SE, Vixen Foresta and Ultima, Kowa YF, etc.). Over the years I've bought several nice examples of classic binoculars from CZJ, Swift and other brands (mainly Japanese from the golden era), and I've loved their construction, the way it feels as if they could withstand a couple of centuries in perfect operation, and then be serviced and go on for another couple of centuries without much problem. Nevertheless, I've always felt that optically I wasn't getting what I expected. This might sound weird. I'm aware that coatings have come a long way (although in terms of build quality many modern devices lag ages behind), but many times the overall view is not enough to compensate for the lovely feeling and sense of owning a part of history. I don't know if I'm alone in this feeling or if this is something others have experienced.

As a background, I don't have a "past or a history" with binoculars, I've started appreciating and eventually loving them in the second decade of the 21st century, so my "education in optics" is basically fully multi-coated contemporary devices. When using vintage ones I usually miss some sparkle on the view, it's hard to express (maybe it's like demanding a classic car from the 60's the performance of a current Ford Fiesta ST). There's a voice inside that tells me to love them, but then when I compare them to other binos I have, I feel the need so simply pass them on (I'm not a collector, so if I feel I'm not using a device long enough to justify owning it, I simply sell it).

Anyway, there is one Zeiss that keeps catching my eye, the so called "glass of the century", a wide angle 10x50 that looks wide and comfy. It usually appears on the 2nd hand market (usually at pretty hefty prices), and I've been very tempted, but I fear I might find the view underwhelming. What are your thoughts on that one? Some time I go I read Holger Merlitz's review and got really curious about it.
Without doubt the Zeiss Oberkochen 10x50 is an interesting vintage porro, but you have to be lucky to find a pair that does not require internal cleaning and the other problem is that the ER is rather short even for use without glasses.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Hi Jack,

Posts #14 and #15.

The excessive eye relief means that some modern binoculars don't touch my face.
So there is excessive hand shake and sometimes blackouts.

Also the extra eye relief means narrower fields of view.

Frank Nipole was a Charles Frank of Glasgow trade name.

Also the Bresser Super wide and clones such as Ascot etc.have almost 90 degree fields.
They use mirror prisms, but for me the aberrations give me a headache.
7x32 over 13 degrees.
8x42 over 11 degrees.
Also 10x50.

The Minolta Standard MK 7x35 has over 11 degrees measured field.
The Canon 18x50 IS 3.85 degrees measured field.
Swift HR/5 8.5x44 8.26 degrees measured.
The older Swift 8.5x44 slightly wider.

Regards,
B.
 

Foss

Well-known member
Thanks, B.
Good to know that excess eye relief at least partially contributes to a pet peeve of mine, blackouts when my eyes are not positioned exactly right. When I'm birding, there's usually some sense of urgency when I put them to my eyes so wider latitude in eye placement is better.
Thanks also for the Frank Nipole info.
Jack
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Swift HR/5 8.5x44 8.26 degrees measured.
The older Swift 8.5x44 slightly wider.
That's interesting. The HR/5 has 430' @ 1000 yds on the cover plate. Dividing by 52.4 yields 8.21º, which is only .05º less that your measurements—well within rounding error or the effect of distortion. :geek:

Ed
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello,

In the last week, I used an 8x32 Zeiss FL, only recently discontinued; an 8x40 Zeiss Victory I, discontinued perhaps fifteen years, ago; a Bausch & Lomb 8x30 from 1939, which had coated elements[!], for garden bird watching. For astronomy I may use an IOR 7x40, about fifteen years old,a Zeiss 7x50 Nautic, also fifteen years old, or a WWII US Navy Spencer 7x50. The IOR is very handy for looking for planets in the evening twilight.

Stay safe,
Arthur
 

tenex

reality-based
You may be right that such extra wide FoVs exceed what's reasonable for our visual system, which is likely why no current offerings have an AFoV much larger than 70*.
Astronomical eyepieces with 82 to 100° FOV (described by terms like "spacewalk") have been popular for years now, even in bino-viewers and large binoculars. I think they tend to have peripheral distortions that make them less than ideal for daytime use, but no one complains that the view is too wide for comfort.

Anyway, there is one Zeiss that keeps catching my eye, the so called "glass of the century", a wide angle 10x50 that looks wide and comfy.
We had this one in our family long ago, along with the 15x60, both of early 1960s vintage. As high-powered bins of that era, they had low eye relief (the 15x was ridiculous), a limited zone of central sharpness, and simple coatings. Eyepiece and coating technology have improved tremendously, leaving me in the same position as you: mere nostalgia. I could appreciate these as a collector, but try not to be one, and would really rather use something more modern.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
Zeiss West Porros: 8x30, 8x30B, 8x50B, 10x50. Any of these with modern coatings would take some beating even today, especially the 8x30B and the 8x50B. Most of them bought cheaply over the years. All of them serviced in Wetzlar by Zeiss, a service they sadly don't offer anymore nowadays.

Others: Baigish 7x30, Komz 12x40. The Baigish is quite an interesting binocular for many reasons, read up on it on Holgers website.

Vintage: I have (and use regularly), the Leica 8x32BA and the original Zeiss Victory 10x40 BGATP, much maligned after Ingraham's ridiculous attacks on his website. Kimmo did a review back then in Alula that came to quite different conclusions. My Zeiss 10x40BGA (still without phase coatings) is retired though.

I don't count the Nikon SE as "vintage" even though they're out of production. Fair weather binoculars, still nice. The true dinosaurs among my binoculars are the Habicht 7x42 and the 10x40. Optical construction dating back more than half a century - but with up-to-date coatings.

Hermann
 

richard866945

Bino repair man
That it is interesting B. I have a few WW2 Ross binoculars 6x30 1937 and 1945 respectively and Wrays of London WW2 6x30. I also have a pair if Charles Frank DDR 8x30 Binoculars which I don't know much about at the moment. I love the Swift binoculars though especially the 8.5x44 Audubons, very popular.

Thanks

Tony
The CF DDR looks like an Agfa to me.

I recently picked up a 'scope from BHF charity shop. Only used it in the garden so far but impressed by the images.
Greenkat 30x60
 

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richard866945

Bino repair man
Hello Everyone

Purely out of curiosity and interest. How many of you or your relations (for example Parents or Grandparents, Aunt's, Uncles and so on) have or still use older or vintage optics, either casually or seriously.
My main binoculars during the 1980s was a pair of Carl Zeiss 8x30 Jenoptems and a Swift Telemaster 15-60x60 spotting scope, unfortunately I don’t have those original optics now, but I do have another pair 8x30 Jenoptems and a Bushnell spacemaster II 20-60X60 spotting scope purchased a few years ago which I still thoroughly enjoy using now, especially when I visit my old haunts. Obviously I use modern optics as and when I need to.
I look forward and would love to hear what you used, are using or any of your stories.
I thank you for your time, all the best and stay safe.

Tony

View attachment 1369502

View attachment 1369503

Hello Everyone

Purely out of curiosity and interest. How many of you or your relations (for example Parents or Grandparents, Aunt's, Uncles and so on) have or still use older or vintage optics, either casually or seriously.
My main binoculars during the 1980s was a pair of Carl Zeiss 8x30 Jenoptems and a Swift Telemaster 15-60x60 spotting scope, unfortunately I don’t have those original optics now, but I do have another pair 8x30 Jenoptems and a Bushnell spacemaster II 20-60X60 spotting scope purchased a few years ago which I still thoroughly enjoy using now, especially when I visit my old haunts. Obviously I use modern optics as and when I need to.
I look forward and would love to hear what you used, are using or any of your stories.
I thank you for your time, all the best and stay safe.

Tony

View attachment 1369502

View attachment 1369503
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Hi Richard,

The Greenkat looks like a micro monocular attached to a long slow objective.

Thanks for the Agfa.

Regards,
B.
 

tonytoned

Active member
The CF DDR looks like an Agfa to me.

I recently picked up a 'scope from BHF charity shop. Only used it in the garden so far but impressed by the images.
Greenkat 30x60
Hello Richard

Yes I saw you about a year and a half maybe two years ago with the said binoculars, to see if you had a replacement objective lens guards, but unfortunately you didn't. I remember you saying then that they might be an Agfa make.
The Greenkat scope is something else I've not seen anything like that, very interesting.
 

willisoften

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I have a pair of Komz 8x30s made in 1979 which I use everyday, more in fact than any other binocular.
They sit on my dining room table and I use them to view the birds in the garden.

They are quite sharp enough in the middle 60%, sharpish for the rest of the way. Although the last 5% round the edge fades to very furry.
Contrast is good and colour is good providing you like yellow! Deliberate policy I think as the Ocular lenses are a pinkish hue while the lenses in the barrel are greenish and the objectives very slightly blue.

Cosmetically they are excellent despite banging about uncased in the bottom of fishing bags backpacks and boat-boxes. (Soviet crossover Tractor / Optical engineer). They do stick a very little at the extremes of focusing. As if you've gone a milli-tad too far. 40 years of wear and tear.

They do have a large semicircular artifact appears At the bottom of the image if the bright sun is in your immediate FOV. Disappears if you hold them so that two or three fingers project over the objectives.

I've often wished they were optically better because everything about them even the odd eye-relief suits me perfectly. I love the focusing wheel too. It just falls under my fingers. Unfortunately despite the good points they can't really compete with my Leica compacts as fishing binoculars anymore.
 

CharleyBird

Well-known member
In the early 1970's my parents bought two pairs of Bushnell Expo 8x30 and we still have a pair in the family, though they're rarely used. Lightweight, plastic, waterproof go-anywhere binoculars with poor optics. We have photos of us as kids on holiday e.g. leaning on the Stonehenge Sarsen stones, with the Expo round our necks. Were they made for boating?
In the 1980's they bought a pair of CZ 8x30 Jenoptem which remain on the window sill of our old home and are still used frequently.
Then there's a pair of late 1970's Nikon 9x30 DC.F in the car glove box, inherited from an Aunt.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

let me think... confession time...

SE 10x42 - if we want to count it, it's an early example with serial 005xxx so probably around 1990.
Leitz Trini 7x42 - mid 80s from the Trini articles in here, iirc
Sotem (formerly ZOMZ) 7x50 early russian so probably too new to count - but multicoated unlike the soviet examples
KOMZ 6x24 from 1975. 11.5 deg true field - need I say more? Also the sweet spot is quite large. On the flip side, no ER and quite rare.
Swift Audubon 8.5x44 - version 3b "gold ribbon" - late 70s or early 80s
Hartmann Bernina 8x60 - needs work, no idea about year of manufacturing - could be anything from 1961 to early 90s... serial # 152618 - Hartmann Wetzlar serial number list, anybody?
Kronos 20x60 - 1993, so probably too new to count
Olympia branded 7x50 made by Itabashi Kogaku (J-B 22) - no year given but probably 70s... 9.9 deg true field... but the sweet spot is fairly small and edges are terribad.
Nikon Venturer II 8x23 reverse porros - were my pocket pair (jacket, not shirt) of choice for some time until the Papilo 6.5x21 came along.

I'll leave out the spotting scopes as these have been listed elsewhere, but my TSN-3 (probably late 80s) is by far my most used vintage instrument as it is my regular spotter - albeit pimped with a modern Opticron SDLv2 EP.

For the bins, the Trini 7x42 is most used as I grab it quite often for a walk or relaxing view off the balcony, lately also the Audubon which is the current "shiny new toy". The SE is the only 10x42 so it's the beauty of the day when high mag is called for.

Joachim
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I have tried a lot of different vintage optics and most don't perform like the newer binoculars. That being said I do like the Leica BN 8x32 because of its form factor.
 

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