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Swift Audubon Mark II 804 porro vs. new 820 ED version (1 Viewer)

dbuss

Active member
Several years ago I purchased a Swift Audubon 8.5x44 Mark II 804 binocular. It is in excellent condition -- I believe I only used it about 6 or 7 times over the last 17 or 18 years. Now that I am approaching retirement, I anticipate many more opportunities for birding in the near future. I have read several favorable reviews of the 820 ED Swift Audubon porro and I am wondering whether the "improvements" justify a purchase. The obvious changes of water proofing, lighter weight, and more compact size make it attractive. I have read several conflicting accounts regarding eye relief in the new version. I wear glasses and this is a concern. Unfortunately, I am not near a store that has the 820 in stock -- so I need advice about this potential problem. Second, will I notice a discernible difference in sharpness, brightness, contrast, and clarity with the 820 over the 804? Are there any color fringing (CA) problems with the 820? Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice.
Dennis
 

dbuss

Active member
An answer to my question

I called Mirakel Optical Company in West Coxsackie, NY. They sell and service Swift Audubon binoculars among others. The opinion I received from the man who answered the phone was that there was no appreciable difference, optically, between the two binoculars. Although the 804 label refers to the binocular as "fully coated," apparently the "fully multi-coated" feature of the 820 version doesn't make it much better in his opinion. Moreover, he claims that there is no detectable advantage with the ED over the non-ED version of the 820. Since there is no real gain in optical performance, the only reason to consider the 820 is its lighter weight, more compact size and waterproofing.
Dennis
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Dennis,

I would first recommend that you go to post #15 on the following thread and read about the 804 models. http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=42944.

Based on your opening comments my guess is that you own a Type 2, large body model, but you can check that out. The first two digits of the serial number will show the date of manufacture.

If you'd like to have your 804 checked out or repaired, the person to send it to is Mr. Nicolas Crista:
NRC Optics
25 Crescent Place
Hanson, MA 02341
781.294.2039

Mr. Crista was the head of Swift's optical repair when they were headquartered in Boston. He has worked on five of my 804 binoculars with excellent results. His prices are quite modest. He knows everything there is to know about them.

Unfortunately, I must also report that I had a very bad experience with Mirakel a few years ago, probably from the same man you talked to. They managed to destroy a mint Canon 6x30 binocular I sent in for a simple collimation job, and didn't even refund the repair price much less compensate for the loss of the binocular. (This is the only negative endorsement I've ever made.)

Although I'm not expert on the 820, from my limited observations, and those I've talked to, there is little if any difference in view between the standard and ED models. This is not the case when comparing the standard 804 and 804ED models (Type 4), which are discussed at the end of the article. But, the 804ED is no longer made and very difficult to find. Fairly regularly a Type 4 shows up on eBay, but only rarely an 804ED. If fully multi-coated and in good condition they are outstanding buys. The standard 820 is well regarded for both birding and astronomy applications. The eyecups are easier to use with glasses than the 804's, but the bridge is not as rigid and this sometimes adversely effects focusing precision.

Hope this helps.

Blue skies,
Ed
 
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dbuss

Active member
Swift Audubon 8.5x44 Type II

Ed,
Thanks for the information -- I never realized that the Swift Audubons have attracted such a devoted following. The serial number on my 804 indicates it was made in 1982. However, it may have been sitting in a shop shelf for some time since I purchased it new in the late 1980s. Up until recently I have been only an occasional, fair weather birder. Consequently, I have used my 804 perhaps a half-dozen times since I purchased it. It is in nearly mint condition. In the meantime, of course, a lot has happened in the world of binoculars! Thus my interest in finding out whether the newer Swift Audubon 820 weather proof porro models were significantly better for me to consider buying one. Thanks again for your thoughts.
Dennis
 

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Dennis,

Addressing that issue specifically, I think the 820 would be an improvement for general birding. By the same token, there are also other binoculars (some even with an 8.5x format) that might be an improvement in terms of lens coatings, weight, or size.

Blue skies,
Ed
 

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