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The OG Leather Wrapped Bausch & Lomb Elite (1 Viewer)

greekgeek

Well-known member
United States
I wanted to share a few pictures of my 8x42 B&L Elite. I picked it up recently and I have to say, I truly enjoy the views it provides and the look of it. The proportions seem spot on.

I feel very immersed in the image when looking through this pair. I am now always reaching for it over other (limited...) options. It provides great clarity with high resolution for even the finest of details. I am blown away by how it can maintain a very sharp focus in one plane, while at the same time keeping an only slightly less precise focus over a significantly large depth of field.

It's like everything is in focus, all at once, (of course it's not really true, but immersive) with only tiny twists of the focus knob to get to an incredible detailed view of a given plane.

The center holds the best view and towards the edges there is quite a drop off but you have to go looking for it. The clear central real estate is large enough to satisfy, not sure on percentage maybe 75-80.

Compared to a modern Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 there is a hint of a 3-D feel to the image these provide, but not so much as some porros like the old Legacy 7x35 wide angles.

The M5 has a narrower field of view but it is brighter, higher contrast, the colors warmer and appear higher chroma. Great views but where it falls apart compared to this 36 years old B&L Elite is on the feeling of immersion (shallower depth of field) and the sharpness of resolving to see the finest of details.

This last part surprised me, because I assumed the phase coated M5s would have a higher resolution image. They do not, and so I am left wondering what this B&L's are missing due to their lack of phase coating. Maybe it's the color or contrast that benefits? Because the detailed resolution is so remarkable, I am looking forward to see something much better. I have a Conquest HD on order and am looking for a Monarch HG. Should be a fun comparison.

Anyhow just wanted to share this one and also say thanks to those who have posted here on the forum about the old B&L Elites. It helped me to learn something about them and helped prompt me to secure this pair.

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For those interested in more information on and images of the Bausch & Lomb Elites
(and the Browning 7x35 - a rebadged B&L 7x35), see: Early Elite's


John
I am somewhat skeptical of the Browning being merely a rebadge, I suspect there could be more to it. I compared a Browning 7x35 side by side to my 8x42 and the Browning had exactly none of the optical attributes I described above. The lenses had a different coating (single?) and the internals (blacking/baffles) were completely different.

The carcass on the other hand down to the diopter was a dead ringer so, they likely did emerge from the same factory. The Browning I had also struck me as something of an earlier version based on both the coatings and the design of the paperwork that came with it. Different generations and maybe a later Browning matched the Elites? (B&L a Browning rebadge? Hmmm....)

Adding to my uncertainty here is the fact that the Brownings were dropped and either damaged from the drop or subsequent repair. But at a minimum the optical coatings were very different.
 
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Here are some comparative pictures for reference. Unfortunately, the B&L Elite looks were only skin deep for this particular Browning. Perhaps others out in the world are a closer match.

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Here is the original case, strap, and rainguard. The case is a single zippered bag constructed of foam padded leather. The leather is very nice and supple, but the foam has more or less disintegrated over the years.1000020786.png
 
I assumed the phase coated M5s would have a higher resolution image. They do not, and so I am left wondering what this B&L's are missing due to their lack of phase coating. Maybe it's the color or contrast that benefits? Because the detailed resolution is so remarkable, I am looking forward to see something much better. I have a Conquest HD on order and am looking for a Monarch HG. Should be a fun comparison.
While I'd choose a phase coated version of the same binocular in every instance (as would most of us, I'm sure), it doesn't mean that binoculars that don't have it are unusuable, far from it. When I tried an old 10x40 Leitz a few years back, albeit under very good observing conditions, I thought it was perfectly adequate for most birding situations. The higher the magnification the more phase coating helps, so your 8x42 with its lower magnification ought to be an effective birding tool.

I'd be cautious about comparing it side by side with much moder modern devices though (like the Conquest HD which is extremely good). I have, with my 10x40 Dialyt (phase coated) - and for what it's worth found the Conquest and comparable models eg. MHG to be slightly but noticeably superior - but in general I think it's best for older binoculars should be appreciated for their own particular qualities. Having said that, I've always wondered how these B&L badged roofs (presumably the best Japanese made roof binoculars at the time - wonder which factory they came out of?) compared to things like the Dialyt or Trinovid (pre phase coatings), or even the East German Notarems...

That leatherette does make for a handsome and hard wearing finish compared to many rubber formulations.
 
While I'd choose a phase coated version of the same binocular in every instance (as would most of us, I'm sure), it doesn't mean that binoculars that don't have it are unusuable, far from it. When I tried an old 10x40 Leitz a few years back, albeit under very good observing conditions, I thought it was perfectly adequate for most birding situations. The higher the magnification the more phase coating helps, so your 8x42 with its lower magnification ought to be an effective birding tool.

I'd be cautious about comparing it side by side with much moder modern devices though (like the Conquest HD which is extremely good). I have, with my 10x40 Dialyt (phase coated) - and for what it's worth found the Conquest and comparable models eg. MHG to be slightly but noticeably superior - but in general I think it's best for older binoculars should be appreciated for their own particular qualities. Having said that, I've always wondered how these B&L badged roofs (presumably the best Japanese made roof binoculars at the time - wonder which factory they came out of?) compared to things like the Dialyt or Trinovid (pre phase coatings), or even the East German Notarems...

That leatherette does make for a handsome and hard wearing finish compared to many rubber formulations.
I am looking forward to seeing just what the phase coating brings to the table for these B&L Elites. Having recently picked up a phase coated 7x36, my first impression is better color and higher contrast. However, I did not yet compared them side by side. Very curious to see if there is an appreciable difference there and in sharpness.

The genie is out of the bottle so to speak, as I picked up a 10x42 Conquest HD and it does handily outperform the old Elite 8x42 virtually across the board. The brightness, contrast, and color is especially impressive. They are a keeper.

But as you indicated, on their own these older glasses are still very, very enjoyable. And when I have grabbed them these past few days for some backyard scoping I was perfectly satisfied with the (daytime) views.

I believe someone mentioned Tamron as the maker on the forums, but I couldn't help to substantiate that in any way.

I'd really like to try an 8x42 or 8x30 MHG one of these days. Have not yet found a local dealer who stocks them.
 
I have now spent some time comparing this binocular to it's little brother in 7x36. Both have a lovely image and incredible sharpness but I do give the edge to the 7x36.

Here is why:
Between the years the coatings are improved on the 7x36, with just a little more color pop and bump up in contrast. Sharpness is about the same however, and this really surprised me. I expected the phase coating of the 7x36 to improve the sharpness or resolution. It improves the detail resolution just a little at long distance, but seems to do it only by boosting the contrast. Somewhat closer focus is also welcome.

Guess the marketing guys had taken some liberties on the PC-3 hoopla. The differences are incremental improvements, not night and day.

Meanwhile the field of view is superior in the 7x, as expected. But the the additional depth of field in the 7x vs 8x is the big surprise, wow. Clear focus over many more yards, and I already held the 8x in high esteem for excellent depth of field.

Lower magnification should have have greater depth of field, and these Elites really excel in that dept. Moreso than my Nikon or even some B&L porros.

Great glass design and fabrication, would love to see these in a more modern coating system but again as is, they are both very enjoyable views.

For those interested in vintage binoculars, would suggest to not be put off by the lack of phase coatings. So long as one is not comparing side by side, the additional contrast is not missed meanwhile the view is just as sharp, not soft in comparison as I expected.

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