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Historical Review of Swift 804 Audubon Binoculars (1 Viewer)

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I had two pairs of Swifts over the course of 10 years or so in the late 80's to 90's...these were my primary birding bins. I still have one but it is at my parent's house. I remember that the second pair was not an 'audubon' but still made by the same company. i purchased the first pair which were an "Audubon' simply because I wanted that name on the bins since they recommended the bin. A good binocular, but slow to 'focus' as I recall. Sharp, a bit dark... colors muted but fond memories of this bin.
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Greetings! After 10 years, I figured I'd pick up on this thread where I left off... ;-)

I never posted pictures of my 804 HR/5 type 4b(2) - it's in pretty much the same pristine condition today as it was 10 years ago! For the record, here are a few.

BTW my only "mods" are Eagle tethered objective dust caps, and an Op/Tech USA neoprene strap (I have the originals in the box)

@Elkub, if you're still near Charleston Slough, so am I - I'd love to finish what we almost started 10 years ago! Just message me if you'd like to give this beast a test drive. Yeah, I know we're still under Covid-19 lockdown - but I'm willing to noodle with you on trying to figure something out!

And I checked again tonight - three reflections from the primaries (for those unfamiliar with the 10 year old conversation, 3 reflections from the objective lenses --> cemented, not air-spaced...)

Hi dozercsx,

Nice hearing from you.

As I recall, my interest was to compare your Type 4b(2) with my air-spaced 804ED, which now happily resides with someone else. Moreover, due to age related vision changes, Audubons now only occupy prominent places in my office closet. ;)

I'm using Swarovski SLC 8x42 HDs nowadays.

Thanks for the offer though.

Be well,
Ed
 
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dozercsx

Active member
Greetings @Elkub!
Oh man, I go away for 10 measly years, and you get another pair of binoculars?!?!?! ;-)

I'd be interested to know what makes the Swaro's more eye friendly than the Audubons
(I've never tried the Swaro's, but do know that the Audobons have short eye relief;
it hasn't been a thing for me as I don't wear glasses ,but I could see how it might if one did)
If you feel so moved, let me know - otherwise, great to hear from you!
 

rdnzl

Not Sure.
I have these being sent to me. I should have them in about a week. After reading this entire topic, I thought I'd add a pic of what will soon be in my hands. Serial number starts with 75.
 

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Swift1966

New member
Erfle 5 Lens System

Hello Ed and Renee,
Being a fairly new lover of vintage Swift binoculars, I came across your fine publication regarding the mod 804 Audubon binoculars. I recently acquired a mod 804 HR/5 and that led me towards your research. Being an amateur, I must admit it will take several readings to absorb all your technical info you wrote about. But I did see your reference regarding the Erfle type ocular 5 lens system maybe starting in the 60’s and noting maybe Swift failed to advertise it enough. If I didn’t get that right, forgive me as I’m working from memory not so young! And I wanted to send this attachment from a 1956 Swift catalog showing the wonderful “Medalist” model that does indeed advertise the Erfle ocular 5 lens system. I bought a Medalist and it is a great instrument with a view I think is as good as the 804 HR/5. That’s my humble opinion anyway. I would be interested to hear back from anyone else who has a Medalist and what they think of it. I’ve not found any other reference to this model so may be rare. I also picked up a Trilyte Mod 715 and in the catalog description, it also advertises it with the Erfle ocular 5 lens system. Nice little instrument as well with a few issues but the views are very good.
Anyway, not sure if any of this is new to you guys but thought I would throw it out there and hope it might add to your discussion if I could.

Brgds,

Bruce
 

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elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Hello Ed and Renee,
Being a fairly new lover of vintage Swift binoculars, I came across your fine publication regarding the mod 804 Audubon binoculars. I recently acquired a mod 804 HR/5 and that led me towards your research. Being an amateur, I must admit it will take several readings to absorb all your technical info you wrote about. But I did see your reference regarding the Erfle type ocular 5 lens system maybe starting in the 60’s and noting maybe Swift failed to advertise it enough. If I didn’t get that right, forgive me as I’m working from memory not so young! And I wanted to send this attachment from a 1956 Swift catalog showing the wonderful “Medalist” model that does indeed advertise the Erfle ocular 5 lens system. I bought a Medalist and it is a great instrument with a view I think is as good as the 804 HR/5. That’s my humble opinion anyway. I would be interested to hear back from anyone else who has a Medalist and what they think of it. I’ve not found any other reference to this model so may be rare. I also picked up a Trilyte Mod 715 and in the catalog description, it also advertises it with the Erfle ocular 5 lens system. Nice little instrument as well with a few issues but the views are very good.
Anyway, not sure if any of this is new to you guys but thought I would throw it out there and hope it might add to your discussion if I could.

Brgds,

Bruce

Hello Bruce,

I'll be back with you in the next day or so. Just saw your post.

Ed
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Hi Bruce,

I'm not sure that I can add anything insightful about Erfle eyepieces, which seem to have been used in the earliest Audubon's and other Swift products as well. What interests me a great deal more is your 8x40 Medalist binocular itself and the 1956 Swift catalog (brochure?). The earliest 1950s S&A Catalog I have is for 1959 and it's still a puzzle as to when the first Audubon was made/marketed. So far, I think 1958 is the date of origin, but that could change if your catalog/brochure mentions an Audubon model. So, does it?

With regard to your Medalist (the name reminds me of my beloved 22 Cal. Browning 'Medalist' target pistol) it is truly rare! I can't even find the model mentioned in our Swift database. Do you own the center focus or individual focus model? Also, are there any markings to identify the Japanese manufacturer, such as JL E-45 (which would be Tamron Optical)?

Ed
 

Swift1966

New member
Hi Ed, thanks for the come back. I couldn’t find any other reference to this Medalist binoculars except for a Swift Anderson flyer on the website
https://miniaturebinoculars.com as attached. You’ll see no mention of the Audubon in this 1956 flyer.

https://miniaturebinoculars.com/1956SWIFTANDANDERSON.PDF.pdf

If you look under the “Binoculars Catalogs #5” on the home page and scroll down to the Swift brand, you’ll see the attached as well as a 50’s flyer and a couple of other catalogs.

The only markings on the binoculars is “FPO” on the bottom cap of a hinge where you would find the tripod connect, which is not available on this model. The view is really good with good definition right out to the edges. What blows my mind is the price of $125 for the CF model, which this is. I was very fortunate to pick these up at a good price and in beautiful condition. I had them cleaned and lubed as they had some haze. I’ll attach a couple photos but they’re not that great. I can send some more if desired. It would be very interesting to find some more info on this pair.
Thanks Ed, take care,
Bruce
 

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elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Bruce,

It appears that you have Swift's "alpha" of the day. $125 in today's money is $1,193.

I have a rare original 1958 Audubon made by Tamron that's also quite amazing. Fantastic build quality, but insufficient eye relief for me. Even without multi-coatings it presents an outstanding image that would be a pleasure to use.

Thanks for the pictures and catalog.

Ed
 

Renze de Vries

Well-known member
Truly great information. FPO = Fuji Photo Optical. The Neptune in the catalog/brochure is also FPO. Fuji made some excellent binoculars at the time: Neptune, Vulcan, Medalist, quite an achievement.

Renze
 

karmantra

Well-known member
Build date for a 804r HR 5?

Just picked up an excellent Swift 804r HR5 with the fully multi optics (FMC). It had the black nylon bino bag, not the leatherette brown hard case, so I knew it was a newer build. The serial number showed #201xxx—does that make it a year 2000 build? I thought they ceased production of the HR5 in 1999. Thanks in advance!
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Just picked up an excellent Swift 804r HR5 with the fully multi optics (FMC). It had the black nylon bino bag, not the leatherette brown hard case, so I knew it was a newer build. The serial number showed #201xxx—does that make it a year 2000 build? I thought they ceased production of the HR5 in 1999. Thanks in advance!

Hi,

Could you attach photos? Something doesn't jibe. The US version of 804R was introduced in 1985 and retained that designation until about 1989. However, it was labeled "Multi-Coated Optics," not "Fully Multi-Coated." As for the serial number, — it is what it is. Your instrument fills in our knowledge that the 804 was produced until 2000. Lacking detailed evidence we only could say it was made until 1999 (approx.)"

Thanks,
Ed
 

karmantra

Well-known member
Hi,

Could you attach photos? Something doesn't jibe. The US version of 804R was introduced in 1985 and retained that designation until about 1989. However, it was labeled "Multi-Coated Optics," not "Fully Multi-Coated." As for the serial number, — it is what it is. Your instrument fills in our knowledge that the 804 was produced until 2000. Lacking detailed evidence we only could say it was made until 1999 (approx.)"

Thanks,
Ed

Ed: I screwed up! It does say 804 NOT 804r, and it does say fully multi coated. I was going from memory and didn’t have the binos in front of me. Having a hard time loading pictures, but the serial number is correct. I’ll try to get the pictures to you, one way or another! It is ***Type 4b(2)—as shown in the history of the 804, but with the 2000 year serial number.***
 
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elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Ah, so what you have may be from the last year of issue of the 804s. It's a great binocular, so enjoy using it. Make sure to treat the eyecups with ArmorAll periodically. :t:
Ed
 

karmantra

Well-known member
Ah, so what you have may be from the last year of issue of the 804s. It's a great binocular, so enjoy using it. Make sure to treat the eyecups with ArmorAll periodically. :t:
Ed

Ed: Thanks for the advice on the eyecups, they do have a nice view!
 

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