• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Historical Review of Swift 804 Audubon Binoculars (1 Viewer)

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
elkcub said:
Hi Arthur,

Nah, there is no basis for saying Nikons are built better. I own an 8x30 Mikron, and a 10x35 E. Each required collimation, the latter when brand new.

Since acquiring my 804R Audubons I've been able to bird longer, well into darker conditions. It's most remarkable. In addition, naturalness of viewing is superior than with anything else I own. That part I can't quite explain, but I think you commented on the same phenomenon.

They'll have to pry 'em out of my cold, dead hands. :king:

-ed
Ed,

Certainly, the Audubon, like few other binouclars, feels like it belongs at your eyes. The basic design has been in production for almost four decades, which is a recommendation in itself.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Serial Numbers and Manufacturing Dates

Dear 804 Audubon owners,

In recording the serial numbers of my own Swift 804 Audubon binoculars, it dawned on me that the first two digits may correspond with the year of manufacture. If true, this would be a great way to refine the dates for each model type.

It would be most appreciated if those who own 804 Audubons could post the Type as shown in our paper attached to Post #15 at http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?p=472573#post472573 as well as the first two (or more) digits of the serial number. The results will be summarized and corrections made to the paper accordingly.

Of course, it is possible that the date is not coded into the serial number, but that should become readily apparent after a few responses.

Many thanks for your assistance,
Ed
 
Last edited:

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Renze de Vries said:
Hi Ed,

Heavens, you could very well be right! See this:

Type 1c - 70****
Type 4a - 86****
Type 4b - 87****

happy new year!

Renze

Renze,

Yes, thanks. So far it's holding up rather well. I didn't know you had a Type 1c. Thought you were after a 1a — but then who can be choosy? Any info. on the Type 3a or 3b you were involved with? I may email Fan Tau about his 4c. Otto also has one or two, plus a Kestrel 726, which also seems to be date coded judging by mine.

Happy New Year to you and yours.
Ed
PS. I take it the 4b is a 4b(1), i.e., an HR/5 marked Multi-Coated Optics. Right?
 
Last edited:

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Pinewood said:
Ed,

Late model 4b 99****

Arthur Pinewood

Thanks, Arthur.

My Kestrel is marked 98**** and has the same HR/5 Fully Multi-Coated optics as your Audubon 4b. So far things are falling into place.

-ed
 

ceasar

Well-known member
I have a late model no. 804 purchased new around 1999/2000 from`Hawk Mt. Store. It is designated HR/5. SN is 9911**.

Hope this helps,
Bob

PS Fine piece of research you guys did!
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
ceasar said:
I have a late model no. 804 purchased new around 1999/2000 from`Hawk Mt. Store. It is designated HR/5. SN is 9911**.

Hope this helps,
Bob

PS Fine piece of research you guys did!

Ceasar,

Many thanks. If your HR/5 were made in 1999 it should have rather green coatings and be marked "Fully Multi-Coated." That would make it a Type 4b(2). Is this correct?

Thanks, and Happy New Year.
-ed
PS. How do you like using the Audubon by comparison with other binoculars?
 

ceasar

Well-known member
elkcub said:
Ceasar,

Many thanks. If your HR/5 were made in 1999 it should have rather green coatings and be marked "Fully Multi-Coated." That would make it a Type 4b(2). Is this correct?

Thanks, and Happy New Year.
-ed
PS. How do you like using the Audubon by comparison with other binoculars?
Ed
It is marked "fully multi coated" and the coatings have a dominant green hue with a magenta undertone.

When I wore glasses I used a Leica 7 x 42 BA for about 15 years and was spoiled by their very wide field. After I had cataract surgery and no longer needed glasses I found out the eye relief on the Leica was a bit too long. I had to hold the oculars a quarter inch or so out from my eyes to get a perfect view. The Swift Audubon took care of this problem and gave me the wide field I wanted with more power to boot and better contrast. My main complaint was their bulk and width. (I use all 70 degrees plus for my interpupillary alignment with it's exit pupils.) I solved this problem a year or two later by getting a Nikon 8 x 30 EII which I find to be the perfect compromise for me. I still use the Audubon around my house and when I am on the deck lazing around and for casual astronomy. Their 44mm objective lens picks up colors in high flying hawks better than any other bin I have. At least that is my impression.

When ever anybody asks me what is the best binocular they can buy for a reasonable amount of money I always recommend they get Swift's model 804. Unless they wear glasses. Then the discussion gets more involved.

Happy New Year,
Bob
 
Last edited:

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Bob,

I always used Swaro SLCs, starting with the 8x30 and moving on to the 10x42 and both pocket binoculars. An impulse buy of a 1950s wide-field Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) 8x30 got me interested in a wide view, but it wasn't until my first Audubon 804R purchase that the combination of image size and wide field started coming together. Too bad they're getting harder to find than chicken lips. :-O

Happy New Year,
Ed
 
Last edited:

Otto McDiesel

Well-known member
elkcub said:
Bob,

I always used Swaro SLCs, starting with the 8x30 and moving on to the 10x42 and both pocket binoculars. An impulse buy of a 1950s wide-field Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) 8x30 got me interested in a wide view, but it wasn't until my first Audubon 804R purchase that the combination of image size and wide field started coming together. Too bad they're getting harder to find than chicken lips. :-O

Happy New Year,
Ed

I've used a Kestrel 10x50 marked HR/5 for two years of daily work. They were an absolute joy, and i loved them to death. Beautiful bright wide angle views, sharp and true colors. Really magnificient. They had the best depth of field of any binoculars that i have seen, and wonderful tridimensional views. Close focus was about 4.5 meters, good enough most of the time. They died a horrific death, submerged in an alkali lake.

The roof prism Swift 8.5x44 is a really good binocular, and i found that the 8.5x42 Brunton Epochs ($1500) were not better.
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Otto McDiesel said:
I've used a Kestrel 10x50 marked HR/5 for two years of daily work. They were an absolute joy, and i loved them to death. Beautiful bright wide angle views, sharp and true colors. Really magnificient. They had the best depth of field of any binoculars that i have seen, and wonderful tridimensional views. Close focus was about 4.5 meters, good enough most of the time. They died a horrific death, submerged in an alkali lake.

The roof prism Swift 8.5x44 is a really good binocular, and i found that the 8.5x42 Brunton Epochs ($1500) were not better.

Otto,

I greatly appreciate your comments. A few months ago I lucked out with a mint HR/5 10x50 Kestrel on eBay. (Your earlier comments led me to buy them. $67 wasn't too much to pay, I hope? ;)) Like the most recent Type 4b(2) Audubon, they are fully multi-coated. The weight and balance are superb, and the combination of 10x and 70 deg. AFOV addictive. I also experience magnficent spatial depth that can't be equalled by my 10x42 SLC. No doubt this is aided by the very wide stereo base.

Frankly, I've been so taken with the Kestrel that I use them to the exclusion of all else, except in very bad weather and for butterflies. I guess you summed it up as well as can be: they are a joy to use. How sad that yours met with such a horrible fate. How frustrating that they are no longer made. Since far fewer were probably sold than HR/5 Audubons, this story of bino-excellence could be lost forever.

I'm now looking to see if the Model 826's history can be pieced together as a sequel to the 804's. Any information about them in the form of catalogs or ads would be appreciated. Maybe Swift will help out again too.

Many thanks,
Ed
 

ceasar

Well-known member
elkcub said:
Ceasar,

Many thanks. If your HR/5 were made in 1999 it should have rather green coatings and be marked "Fully Multi-Coated." That would make it a Type 4b(2). Is this correct?

Thanks, and Happy New Year.
-ed
PS. How do you like using the Audubon by comparison with other binoculars?

Ed,
My apologies for this belated question. On these binoculars, at the front end of the left prism housing, is an indentation in the plastic where it attaches to the focusing wheel mechanism. Inside this curved, trapazoidal shaped indentation is stamped the following: J-B56.

Query? Do you know what this means?

Thanks,
Bob
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
ceasar said:
Ed,
My apologies for this belated question. On these binoculars, at the front end of the left prism housing, is an indentation in the plastic where it attaches to the focusing wheel mechanism. Inside this curved, trapazoidal shaped indentation is stamped the following: J-B56.

Query? Do you know what this means?

Thanks,
Bob

Bob,

You may wish to review the article Renze de Vries and I published on this thread, Post #15 (if you haven't already). J-B56 is the hallmark of the Japanese manufacturer, Hiyoski Kogaku, Ltd. All indications are that this firm made Swift 804 Audubons starting with Type 2 (see article). The original Type 1, back in the early 1960s, were made by Tamron Optical, J-E-45. The symbol "J-," incidentally, combines the two letters "J" and "L." The article provides a link to a useful list of Japanese manufacturers.

Ed
PS. I assume you are referring to a model 804? If you're talking about model 820, then finding this hallmark on it is very interesting. Please let me know.
 

trashbird

Well-known member
I owned a pair of the old Swift Audubon 804s for awhile. I wish I could tell you more but it was several years ago. My only experience with top-notch optics has been taking a look through others' binoculars, but I would say the Audubon 804s had the best center-field resolution and overall brightness I have ever seen (I haven't looked through the Nikon E2 or Nikon SE though). The reason why I sold them is because of the 10-12 mm of eye relief, and I just couldn't deal with it as a glasses wearer. I would take off my glasses and look through the 804s and feel very sad that this wasn't the view I could see all the time when birding. This binoc also kicks butt for sky observation as well, with its huge FOV.

I wonder -- it was said that the eyepieces are a 5-element design. Is this the classic Konig design that is in so many wide-field telescope eyepieces? And what kept Swift from making the new waterproof Audubon porro with more eye relief? The laws of physics? Or just basically puttting the same optical design in a different body?
 
Last edited:

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
trashbird said:
I owned a pair of the old Swift Audubon 804s for awhile. I wish I could tell you more but it was several years ago. My only experience with top-notch optics has been taking a look through others' binoculars, but I would say the Audubon 804s had the best center-field resolution and overall brightness I have ever seen (I haven't looked through the Nikon E2 or Nikon SE though). The reason why I sold them is because of the 10-12 mm of eye relief, and I just couldn't deal with it as a glasses wearer. I would take off my glasses and look through the 804s and feel very sad that this wasn't the view I could see all the time when birding. This binoc also kicks butt for sky observation as well, with its huge FOV.

I wonder -- it was said that the eyepieces are a 5-element design. Is this the classic Konig design that is in so many wide-field telescope eyepieces? And what kept Swift from making the new waterproof Audubon porro with more eye relief? The laws of physics? Or just basically puttting the same optical design in a different body?

Sorry to take this long in responding. I didn't notice your post.

Swift refers to the 5-element eyepiece as an Erfle ocular. I don't know the difference from a Konig design, but apparently the Erfle type is used for wide field applications. There are 6-element versions too.

I get the feeling that you may have been using one of the early large body type Audubons with 445 ft. FOV and 11-12 mm eye relief. The later small body Type 4's and the current Model 820 with 430 ft. FOV have a much nicer eye relief of about 14 mm. Could you take a look at our article on Post #15 and tell me which model you had?

The Type 4's, starting with the 804R, and Model 820 also have first class multi-coatings. They are commonly found on eBay at reasonable used prices, and will be re-collimated, if necessary, by Swift for about $60. This is one instance where I think a repair cost is very reasonable to get this kind of value.

Ed
 

trashbird

Well-known member
elkcub said:
Sorry to take this long in responding. I didn't notice your post.

Swift refers to the 5-element eyepiece as an Erfle ocular. I don't know the difference from a Konig design, but apparently the Erfle type is used for wide field applications. There are 6-element versions too.

I get the feeling that you may have been using one of the early large body type Audubons with 445 ft. FOV and 11-12 mm eye relief. The later small body Type 4's and the current Model 820 with 430 ft. FOV have a much nicer eye relief of about 14 mm. Could you take a look at our article on Post #15 and tell me which model you had?

The Type 4's, starting with the 804R, and Model 820 also have first class multi-coatings. They are commonly found on eBay at reasonable used prices, and will be re-collimated, if necessary, by Swift for about $60. This is one instance where I think a repair cost is very reasonable to get this kind of value.

Ed



I will look at the article -- which I want to do anyway when I get the time -- and try to see if I remember which model it was.

There is an astronomy shop here in my city that sells a lot of used binoculars. I remember seeing the HR4 as well as the newer 804s. I do remember that the older models did not have the multicoatings. I am curious now to visit this shop again -- its been a few years. If he still has some different models for sale, I will see if I can take some digital images of them.

As a side note, I bought from this same shop a pair of 7x35 Audubon roof prisms that are discussed on another thread. They were waterproof, but achieved this through having a glass cover over each eyepiece, and the entire eye piece would move up and down underneath the glass as you focussed. They were nice binocs, built like a tank -- there was a focus knob both in front of the central hinge and behind that worked together. Because of the moving eyepiece for focussing, the eyerelief was better close up and got worse far away. Which was why I returned them and got a different binocular. I can see now that these were something of a rarity. Oops! (Not the forst "oops" and not the last, I am sure.)
 

trashbird

Well-known member
elkcub said:
Sorry to take this long in responding. I didn't notice your post.

Swift refers to the 5-element eyepiece as an Erfle ocular. I don't know the difference from a Konig design, but apparently the Erfle type is used for wide field applications. There are 6-element versions too.

I get the feeling that you may have been using one of the early large body type Audubons with 445 ft. FOV and 11-12 mm eye relief. The later small body Type 4's and the current Model 820 with 430 ft. FOV have a much nicer eye relief of about 14 mm. Could you take a look at our article on Post #15 and tell me which model you had?

The Type 4's, starting with the 804R, and Model 820 also have first class multi-coatings. They are commonly found on eBay at reasonable used prices, and will be re-collimated, if necessary, by Swift for about $60. This is one instance where I think a repair cost is very reasonable to get this kind of value.

Ed



Hi Ed,

I scanned through your fine history, and I can tell you with some certainty that I had the 804 4b2. It was definitely fully-multicoated. Maybe it technically had 14mm of eyerelief, but it still cut off a good 20% of the FOV for me. As Steve Ingrahm pointed out, this still leaves an eyeglasses wearer with a large FOV. I just really like to see the field stop when I look through binocs.

Interesting about the Erfle 5-lens design. I think that Edmund Optics still offers an Erfle-design telescope eyepiece. From what I have read, Erfles have a wide FOV but definitely lose resolution on the outer part of the field. Konigs, I think, are much more prevalent these days in lower-priced wide-field eyepieces. It too apart an inexpensive binoc once -- a Swift Plover, I think -- and saw that the eyepiece was a Konig design. Shockingly, one of the lens elements was plastic! (I really try not to take binoculars apart because I have never put one back together again).

The super-duper wide-field telescope eyepieces, the Naglers, Pan-Optics, etc., have over 8 elements, I think, and may be a variation on the Erfle design. These kind of eyepieces are huge, and would really weigh a binocular down -- not to mention, all those elements really dim the image. However, with new thinner lens designs, and an oversize objective, I am thinking you could build a dream binocular -- say an 8x56 with 8-element Nagler type eyepieces, and 80-degree FOV sharp to the edges, with the brightness of a good 8x42. Porro-design probably, to get the big prisms necessary. And with a reinforced polycarbonate body and modern thin-lens design, it wouldn't weigh much more than the Audubon 804.

At any rate, I'm no engineer. Just a dreamer.

By the way, it was indeed the Swift 825 7x35 roof-prism Audubon that I owned for a short while.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top