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Historical Review of Swift 804 Audubon Binoculars (1 Viewer)

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
trashbird said:
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.

Hello trashbird,

I feel blessed that I don't really have to wear glasses, although the 828 Audubon roof has proven the value of correcting my unbalanced astigmatism by keeping them on. I was out today with the 804R (Type 4b(1)), and again enjoyed the wide FOV and larger 8.5 image with unadorned eyes. The eyecups are wisely engineered to narrow down and hence fit my eye sockets so well there's very little opening for sidelight. In the end, that what turned me off about the 8x30 E2. I couldn't adapt to the very wide eyecups that let in so much sidelight.

My requirements for binoculars are very modest. Of course, they should provide an excellent view and be comfortable to use, but they must also be quality made and good looking. For some reason, brands beginning with "Sw" have these qualities. One of the things I like about 804 Audubons is their rich history and collector potential. I just got an 804 HR/5 ED on eBay, incidentally, which may turn out to be the centerpiece. It's even named after me. :'D

ED
 

ceasar

Well-known member
elkcub said:
Hello trashbird,
In the end, that what turned me off about the 8x30 E2. I couldn't adapt to the very wide eyecups that let in so much sidelight.


Ed,
Did you try blinders?
Bob
:'D
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
ceasar said:
elkcub said:
Hello trashbird,
In the end, that what turned me off about the 8x30 E2. I couldn't adapt to the very wide eyecups that let in so much sidelight.


Ed,
Did you try blinders?
Bob
:'D

I may look like one, but I'm not a horse. |:p|
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Pinewood said:
Ed,

He might have boufght two for his children. He uses a 1918 Talbot Reel 6x30 Signal Corps. Model E, which I gave him, twenty years, ago. Talbot Reel made fishing reels, but got a contract to assemble binoculars for the U.S. Army.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood

Ah ha, ... two at $9.99 each. The kids must love the blister packs as much as the binoculars. Okay, more than the binoculars.

I'm still contemplating a fishing reel company being contracted to assemble Army binoculars. Was that the US Army? There must be a basic principle here somewhere. Sounds fishy, but still deja vu. :-C

Ed
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
ED's New Eyes

elkcub said:
...
I just got an 804 HR/5 ED on eBay, incidentally, which may turn out to be the centerpiece. It's even named after me. :'D
ED

Today was my first opportunity to put them to the test at Shoreline Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. The mid-1990s BVD comparison by Steve Ingraham with the standard 804 really didn't prepare me for this extraordinary experience. The difference was not subtle at all, more like being given a new pair of eyes. No doubt that sounds like a dramatic overstatement, but, trust me, you're not likely to hear me say that again about another optical product. The previously owned specimen that arrived two days ago from England is tack sharp and literally bursts with vivid color that simply can't be described. Having a standard 804 Audubon with multi-coating to compare it with, as well as a fully-multi-coated 826 Kestrel, I have no hesitation saying that ED glass coupled with air-spaced objectives and improved eyepieces made this the veritable masterpiece of all 804 Audubons. In addition to being my reference standard for optical quality, it will be my personal birding binocular from now on, replacing the penultimate Kestrel for all but long distinace viewing. Even for that application, though, the virtual absence of color fringing may still make the 804 ED a better choice.

Perhaps to usher in my new eyes, all three teal species showed up today in full plumage: cinnamon, green-winged, and blue-winged. What better instrument to admire them simultaneously, within the same extra-wide field of view? Twenty three other species also showed up for close inspection, and all passed with flying colors.

Ed
 

richt

Well-known member
elkcub said:
T I have no hesitation saying that ED glass coupled with air-spaced objectives and improved eyepieces made this the veritable masterpiece of all 804 Audubons. In addition to being my reference standard for optical quality, it will be my personal birding binocular from now on, replacing the penultimate Kestrel for all but long distinace viewing. Even for that application, though, the virtual absence of color fringing may still make the 804 ED a better choice.



Ed

Hi Ed

Glad you have had an enhancing experience with the 804 ED's
I wonder if the 820 ED later model shows this colour purity
I know some BF members prefer the build style/quality of the 804 but if the 820 ED is on par optically then for some its smaller lighter body might be the best thing at the price
Can anyone comment on the ED benefit in the later models ?

Just as an aside a near mint Swift Supreme 10 x 50 (420 ft fov) went for less than £90 recently on the famous bid site
I was sorely tempted as this appeared to be a wide field version of the Audubon but at 10 x

Regards
Rich
 

Renze de Vries

Well-known member
richt said:
Just as an aside a near mint Swift Supreme 10 x 50 (420 ft fov) went for less than £90 recently on the famous bid site
I was sorely tempted as this appeared to be a wide field version of the Audubon but at 10 x

Rich,

As far as I'm informed, Ed had to let this one go because he splashed out on the ED...
But you're right, this Supreme IS the Audubon at 10 power. And as such the precursor to the Kestrel. As far as our information goes the Audubon 10x50 was issued in the USA under that name, while in Europe it was called (and designated) Supreme. Later the Audubon as well as the Supreme designation disappeared and it became the Kestrel. Important to note here is that in the meantime the revision of the Audubon took place (more compact, lighter body, etc.), with the result that the 10x50 Supreme belongs to the large body, heavyweight category, while the 10x50 Kestrel is much lighter and smaller. However, a 'true' Audubon 10x50 can be found in the large as well as the small body type.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, Ed.

Renze
 
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richt

Well-known member
Renze de Vries said:
Rich,

As far as I'm informed, Ed had to let this one go because he splashed out on the ED...
But you're right, this Supreme IS the Audubon at 10 power. And as such the precursor to the Kestrel. As far as our information goes the Audubon 10x50 was issued in the USA under that name, while in Europe it was called (and designated) Supreme. Later the Audubon as well as the Supreme designation disappeared and it became the Kestrel. Important to note here is that in the meantime the revision of the Audubon took place (more compact, lighter body, etc.), with the result that the 10x50 Supreme belongs to the large body, heavyweight category, while the 10x50 Kestrel is much lighter and smaller. However, a 'true' Audubon 10x50 can be found in the large as well as the small body type.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, Ed.

Renze

Hi Renze

Thanks for the additional info it did indeed look like the heavier larger bodied Swift model type
Not many 10 x binoculars have an 8 degree field and good image qualities so still an optical bargain i believe at under £90

Regards
Rich
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
richt said:
Hi Ed

Glad you have had an enhancing experience with the 804 ED's
I wonder if the 820 ED later model shows this colour purity
I know some BF members prefer the build style/quality of the 804 but if the 820 ED is on par optically then for some its smaller lighter body might be the best thing at the price
Can anyone comment on the ED benefit in the later models ?

Just as an aside a near mint Swift Supreme 10 x 50 (420 ft fov) went for less than £90 recently on the famous bid site
I was sorely tempted as this appeared to be a wide field version of the Audubon but at 10 x

Regards
Rich

Hi Rich (and Renze),

Yes, I was also sorely tempted by the Supreme, and sorry to see it go. However, binoculars are flowing in and out of my house at a prodigious rate. It would have been great to have it, in preparation for the Kestrel history Renze and I are considering.

Not owning an 820 ED I can only speculate that it might be superior to the standard model by an equal margin. It would certainly be worthwhile to look into, since they are still available. However, I'm stopping with the 804s, primarily for financial reasons. I have briefly compared the standard 804, Type 4b(1), and 820 — and came away liking the 804 better. This may have been because I was more familiar with the feel of the 804, or because the demo models were not cared for properly. In any case the bridge construction seemed to be the weak point of the 820, which has been commented upon by others. Again, the binocular had not been well cared for.

Now having observed this ED glass effect, I'm also very curious about other products, such as Minox. As is often the case, however, other variables are also mixed in, e.g, aspheric lenses.

Regards,
ED
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
ED Revelations and Reflections

elkcub said:
Today was my first opportunity to put them to the test at Shoreline Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. The mid-1990s BVD comparison by Steve Ingraham with the standard 804 really didn't prepare me for this extraordinary experience. The difference was not subtle at all, more like being given a new pair of eyes. No doubt that sounds like a dramatic overstatement, but, trust me, you're not likely to hear me say that again about another optical product. ...
Ed

:news: After using the 804ED (between torrential rains), they continue to hold me in thrall. I can recall only one similar experience. It occurred after I finally put my analog HiFi equipment together and found myself eagerly playing each record as if it were brand new, to reflect on the subtle nuances that were now revealed.

It's happened again. These wonderful binoculars reveal every bird in a new and subtle light, and I find myself eagerly marveling at commonplace species that have long escaped my attention. Since I recently changed to Kenn Kaufman's field guide, it will be used to reflect the new ED's life list.

ED
 
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trashbird

Well-known member
elkcub said:
:news: After using the 804ED (between torrential rains), they continue to hold me in thrall. I can recall only one similar experience. It occurred after I finally put my analog HiFi equipment together and found myself eagerly playing each record as if it were brand new, to reflect on the subtle nuances that were now revealed.

It's happened again. These wonderful binoculars reveal every bird in a new and subtle light, and I find myself eagerly marveling at commonplace species that have long escaped my attention. Since I recently changed to Kenn Kaufman's field guide, it will be used to reflect the new ED's life list.

ED

Hmm, comparing the ED experience to the analog audio experience. What sort of audio equipment were you using? It's an interesting comparison to make. There is a lot of argument about whether analog is an improvement over digital -- or what the nature of the "improvement" is.

As far as the ED Audubons go, didn't you mention that there are other optical improvements in this binoc as well? I certainly believe you about the dramatic difference between the 804s and the EDs -- but could it be something else -- or the sum of all the improvements?
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
trashbird said:
Hmm, comparing the ED experience to the analog audio experience. What sort of audio equipment were you using? It's an interesting comparison to make. There is a lot of argument about whether analog is an improvement over digital -- or what the nature of the "improvement" is.

As far as the ED Audubons go, didn't you mention that there are other optical improvements in this binoc as well? I certainly believe you about the dramatic difference between the 804s and the EDs -- but could it be something else -- or the sum of all the improvements?

Well, I was really referring to the totality of the experience, which in each case has made me enthusiastic to start afresh. Auditory and visual experiences can explode with "color," and devices that bring this out can result in a kind of revelatory experience (epiphany?).

Several factors might account for the improvement including the ED glass itself, air spacing of the objective lenses, or modifications to the oculars, which, incidentally, resulted in a slightly improved shorter eye relief (1mm). It could be a combination of the above, or that minor optical tweaking was done with the air spaced lenses, or greater care was taken in component matching during assembly. What reinforces my belief that that this is characteristic of the 804ED, however, is Steve Ingraham's earlier BVD comment:
...The ED glass in the objective does, as you might expect, improve color depth and definition. Colors are slightly more intense, and you can see more different shades and gradiations of the same color. The yellow of a Meadowlark's breast or the blue of a Mountain bluebird's, one solid color through standard binoculars, shows an amazing range of subtly different hues through the ED glass. The improvement, when compared directly to the standard Audubon is very subtle, but definitely there. The effect is probably heightened by the slightly improved contrast that the full multicoating provides. (c. 1993)
Note that he distinguishes between the intensity of colors vs. their shades and gradations, and clearly associates the latter with the presence of ED glass. This brings me to the simile you picked up on: analog vs digital sound. The use of ED glass seems to represent a continuous analog mechanism for control of the color spectrum, whereas, multi-coating, by analogy, is a discrete filter. It's akin to the audio difference between my superb Grace F-9E cartridge with ruby stylus, also no longer on the market, and the much less delicate hi-end Monarchy D/A converter.

Ed
 

Pileatus

"Experientia Docet”
United States
elkcub said:
Well, I was really referring to the totality of the experience, which in each case has made me enthusiastic to start afresh. Auditory and visual experiences can explode with "color," and devices that bring this out can result in a kind of revelatory experience (epiphany?).

Several factors might account for the improvement including the ED glass itself, air spacing of the objective lenses, or modifications to the oculars, which, incidentally, resulted in a slightly improved shorter eye relief (1mm). It could be a combination of the above, or that minor optical tweaking was done with the air spaced lenses, or greater care was taken in component matching during assembly. What reinforces my belief that that this is characteristic of the 804ED, however, is Steve Ingraham's earlier BVD comment:

Note that he distinguishes between the intensity of colors vs. their shades and gradations, and clearly associates the latter with the presence of ED glass. This brings me to the simile you picked up on: analog vs digital sound. The use of ED glass seems to represent a continuous analog mechanism for control of the color spectrum, whereas, multi-coating, by analogy, is a discrete filter. It's akin to the audio difference between my superb Grace F-9E cartridge with ruby stylus, also no longer on the market, and the much less delicate hi-end Monarchy D/A converter.

Ed
Ed,

You could simplify by saying the 804ED is similar to the amazing Nikon SE, a binocular that delivers more color and detail than one can imagine.

John
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
John Traynor said:
Ed,

You could simplify by saying the 804ED is similar to the amazing Nikon SE, a binocular that delivers more color and detail than one can imagine.

John

If you enjoy the Nikon SE as much as I do the Swift 804ED, you're also happier than words can express.

Ed
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Historical Note #1: SP Series

For those with historical interests, it has come to light that "SP" and "SPWA" binoculars mentioned on several earlier posts were of British/European origin. SP stands for Swift-Pyser. Of course, WA still means wide-angle. More digging is being done in this area, but it appears that several SP configurations were marketed that did not have US counterparts, such as a 9x42 (not called an Audubon). Renze has a mint one in his possession.

Ed
 
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Renze de Vries

Well-known member
Thanks for the invitation Ed. Right, it came in from Italy a week ago. So I'll report.
Well, the 9x42 was mentioned by Otto McDiesel in an earlier thread (http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=47263) as one of the more illusive Swifts. Information was scarce then (and now) but one thing was clear: the 9x42 wasn't an Audubon but one of a series of three (as we do know now: four) models just below the top range, with prices at about 75% of the Audubons. The series must have ran for a short time and indeed, were probably issued in Europe only.
But what is it like, this rare 9x42? Well, it's of amazing quality. It uses exactly the same housing as the Swift Audubon, only the SPWA is just a tad lighter, possibly from using one ocular lens less (?). Comparing the two I am completely unable to see any difference in optical quality! Sweet spot: same. Coating and colour bias: same. Brightness: same. FOV: according to specs there is a difference, but it's so marginal I can't see it. Because of the slightly higher magnification, resolution is better, and the shorter eye relief - just a few millimeters, eyecups exactly the same as on the Audubon - helps to completely avoid blackouts.
What's intriguing is, what Swift (or Pyser-Swift) could have motivated to put this instrument to the market. The configuration is unusual, but wasn't the 8.5x44 unusual enough? And why give it an optical quality indistinguishable from their flagship? Questions, questions, so we're still digging.

cheers,

Renze
 
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