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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Lifespan of binoculars, and ways to make them last (1 Viewer)

coopershawk

Well-known member
Assuming you have a quality made binocular and don't mistreat it outside of normal use, is there any reason to believe a pair of binoculars won't last forever?

For example, will coatings naturally deteriorate over time? Will grease used for the focus wheel go bad? Will hinges or eyecups go loose naturally? Is there a limit to the number of times the focus wheel can go back and forth?

What are some ways to ensure that your binoculars last longer than you do?
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Assuming you have a quality made binocular and don't mistreat it outside of normal use, is there any reason to believe a pair of binoculars won't last forever?

For example, will coatings naturally deteriorate over time? Will grease used for the focus wheel go bad? Will hinges or eyecups go loose naturally? Is there a limit to the number of times the focus wheel can go back and forth?

What are some ways to ensure that your binoculars last longer than you do?

A silly answer would be keep it in the carton in a cool dry place and don't use it.

More practical would be to do things the makers recommend like not leaving it in sunshine coming through any window especially in a car as the temperatures can get unfeasibly high and do nasty things to the grease. That is definitely a life extender.

Being silly again: Never loan them to your neighbour and never toss them for your dog to fetch back.

Lee
 

Loud Green Man

Well-known member
A bino bra will go a long way to keeping them away from the Service Department.

You make a good point about focusing wheel longevity.

LGM
 

Steve C

Well-known member
Use vs abuse. Usage is fine. Just keep them out of extremes as Lee noted above. Keep in mind the public enemy number one of binoculars is dust. Keep the lens covers on and in the case when you don't use them. Leaving in a vehicle should cause no lasting harm if extremes are avoided. Take care to use proper cleaning technique. Letting the glass sit and not using the focus wheel will dry the grease faster than usage will. I do not know what the rotational life of the focus wheel is.

I have a Swift Nighthawk porro 8x40 that is 46 years old. After years of what I now consider abuse, it had to be serviced, it looks worn from the outside, but is stellar inside. The big things I did was ignore dust and proper lens cleaning technique.

I think normal use with adequate user maintenance, avoidance of abuse and aside from unusual physical damage, most really good binoculars should outlast the user.
 

Bencw

Well-known member
In general, a binocular can last a very long time but that does not mean it will never need servicing or new grease at some point. Different issues may arise with different binoculars, rubber eye cups will eventually dry and crack, but replacing is often possible. I picked a up a 1937 Zeiss Sportur, it had obviously been well looked after, the focus wheel was stuck due to dried out grease, and it was a bit dusty inside, other than that near perfect. It was a simple task to dismantle it, clean the focus screw, re-grease it and clean the prisms, re-assembled it was then near as good as when made, if it is looked after it will be useable in another 80 years, but not many people would want to use a 1937 binocular now, let alone in another 50 years, it is a collectors item now really and as such, yes, it can last forever.
 

Pinewood

New York correspondent
United States
Hello,

Eve roof prism glasses can need collimating after many years of reasonable use. In the states, most high quality binoculars come with a good guarantee, which comes with the high price tag, so aside from rubber armour, often not covered, the binocular is good for the lifetime of the company.
I have a 1917 Zeiss binocular but I think that it was obsolete by 1942. My oldest truly useful binocular has a twenty year old design. So I would guess that one could expect a useful life of 20 years, if you can manage a little resistance to marketing pressure.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Don't try to overclean the eyepiece eye lenses, where dirt can scratch even the hardest coatings.

Some people are hard on optics, some not.

Mechanically sympathetic or not.

For instance, I wouldn't let some of the participants in some of the motoring T.V. shows anywhere near my car.
They just destroy cars for no reason at all. They are not even particularly fast.
Also I allowed family to drive my Mini Cooper S. Engine blown up.
Rover 2000 the same etc.

It is mostly up to the user of the binocular, not the good quality binocular that determines how long it will last.

Young boys can destroy anything. They should be used in product testing.
 

Roadbike

Well-known member
Assuming you have a quality made binocular and don't mistreat it outside of normal use, is there any reason to believe a pair of binoculars won't last forever?

For example, will coatings naturally deteriorate over time? Will grease used for the focus wheel go bad? Will hinges or eyecups go loose naturally? Is there a limit to the number of times the focus wheel can go back and forth?

What are some ways to ensure that your binoculars last longer than you do?

I don't think they will last for anything close to forever. As with almost any other consumer product maintenance and repair are a part of the experience. The grease will gradually thicken over time and need to be replaced. If moisture or fungus gets inside the optical surfaces and blacking can be damaged. Optical coatings can be abraded over a long time from contact. If they are dropped a service may be needed. Plastic and rubber components will eventually begin to dry up and shrink.

That's a long list. Chances are they will last several decades at minimal cost if you take reasonable care of your bins and store them in a dry place.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I treat armored binoculars, and especially eyecups, externally with ArmorAll (original) or similar. Keep it off the glass and don't let it get under the armor. I know for a fact (small but controlled sample) that it can prevent cracking in eyecups compared to untreated, at least those from Nikon (made from the crack-prone material Nikon has used for many years).

--AP
 

WJC

Well-known member
Assuming you have a quality made binocular and don't mistreat it outside of normal use, is there any reason to believe a pair of binoculars won't last forever?

For example, will coatings naturally deteriorate over time? Will grease used for the focus wheel go bad? Will hinges or eyecups go loose naturally? Is there a limit to the number of times the focus wheel can go back and forth?

What are some ways to ensure that your binoculars last longer than you do?


170509

For example, will coatings naturally deteriorate over time?

— Yes, coatings are columnar and things can penetrate. But, there is no reason for a person who takes care of his equipment to worry. However, there are knuckle-draggers who have a skewed understanding of what “takes care” means.

Will grease used for the focus wheel go bad?

— Yes, but this usually happens because the instrument has been left in the sun or a hot trunk too long. Don’t leave it there and its grease may outlast yours!

Will hinges or eyecups go loose naturally? Is there a limit to the number of times the focus wheel can go back and forth?

— Yes and yes. Buy quality, take care of it, and don’t worry about it.

What are some ways to ensure that your binoculars last longer than you do?

— Read the sentence, above.

But if you believe $100 or $200 will buy that quality, stand by for all your above dreams to come true. :cat:

Bill
 

coopershawk

Well-known member
I treat armored binoculars, and especially eyecups, externally with ArmorAll (original) or similar. Keep it off the glass and don't let it get under the armor. I know for a fact (small but controlled sample) that it can prevent cracking in eyecups compared to untreated, at least those from Nikon (made from the crack-prone material Nikon has used for many years).

--AP

Very interesting, I should give that a go. Thanks Alexis
 

coopershawk

Well-known member
170509

For example, will coatings naturally deteriorate over time?

— Yes, coatings are columnar and things can penetrate. But, there is no reason for a person who takes care of his equipment to worry. However, there are knuckle-draggers who have a skewed understanding of what “takes care” means.

Will grease used for the focus wheel go bad?

— Yes, but this usually happens because the instrument has been left in the sun or a hot trunk too long. Don’t leave it there and its grease may outlast yours!

Will hinges or eyecups go loose naturally? Is there a limit to the number of times the focus wheel can go back and forth?

— Yes and yes. Buy quality, take care of it, and don’t worry about it.

What are some ways to ensure that your binoculars last longer than you do?

— Read the sentence, above.

But if you believe $100 or $200 will buy that quality, stand by for all your above dreams to come true. :cat:

Bill

Thanks Bill. Seems like you have a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Buy quality, be nice to your bins, and store them properly. Got it! :t:
 

WJC

Well-known member
Thanks Bill. Seems like you have a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Buy quality, be nice to your bins, and store them properly. Got it! :t:

Hi Coopershawk:

Intentionally or not, you can learn a lot from dealing with a subject every work day for 45 years. Although I was once an optical engineering wannabe, I was once a relatively big dog in the optical screw-turning field. But, when the economy collapsed, I went from a big dog to “Who the heck is he” in about 72 hours. But, as they say, “The times they are a changing.” In optics, they are changing so fast about all I can do is reminisce the things I HAVE done, the greats I HAVE known and the few contributions I HAVE made. Today, WHEN THIS BLOODY BINO BOOK IS FINALLY PUBLISHED, I’ll be back to articles on optics. My last article was for Deer & Deer Hunting (3 years ago) and my last review was for Stryka (last year). I’m not exactly setting publishing on fire.

My choice was to grow old gracefully or just grow old. Obviously, I chose the latter; thinking has never been my strong suit. I just hope to get this book out of my hair before eyeballs become obsolete. :cat:

Bill
 
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nacmancer

Well-known member
Use the heck of your binoculars, who cares about getting them worn out, do you really want to use a single binocular for the rest of your life? No!

You keep on buying the latest and greatest binocular every few years to add to your collection!
 

coopershawk

Well-known member
Use the heck of your binoculars, who cares about getting them worn out, do you really want to use a single binocular for the rest of your life? No!

You keep on buying the latest and greatest binocular every few years to add to your collection!

Hah I don't really think that way. I want one or two that'll last as long as possible, no need to get excessive.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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