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Russian binoculars

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#1 m00nless

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 08:26 AM

I am aware of previous posts about this subject, but would still like to hear opinions about the following Russian binoculars if possible:

BPC 10x40/15x50/16x50
BPC2 10x40/12x45
BPC3 12x45
BPC5 8x30
BPC6 8x30
BPShC 6x30/7x35/10x50

#2 Simon S

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 08:28 AM

You will find a lot of these on my site below.
Search the Russian collection.

#3 Cory Suddarth

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 07:07 PM

Simon,
My experience with the Ruskies are that QA is a real hit and miss event. It's not that they are super bad, but all the inherent anomalies will make you feel like you got a lemon. The most common downfall are the way the focusers feel. They don't have a smooth, well dampened feel. Cheezy! Sometimes you will think the whole glass got swept-up off the floor and put together. General advice, get one, just one, so you can say Cory told me so...

Cory

#4 Simon S

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 12:06 AM

Cory, your comment about the focus system is absolutely correct.
Some, indeed most Russian binoculars such as the Tento budget range of 10x50 offer fantastic optics for the price, we use a pair at work for searching for birds and owls in a field at work.
The Russian 12x40 and the dumpy little 6x24 are the best. The 12x40 gives a well corrected bright view, and although heavy it is robust and tough. The 6x24 is superb, wide angle, sharp fairly light, and one of my favourites.
Oh and don't forget the individual focus huge oculars and almost sharp to edge.

#5 StarStuff1

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 07:24 PM

My 15+ year old 12x45s (BCP2s I think) are not bad. They are lightweight, sharp out to 2/3rds from the center, mechanically solid and have a robust hard leather case. The AFoV is hard to determine as the eye relief from the hard solid eyecups prevent me from seeing the field stop. Decently wide AFoV, though.

Purchased at surplus then for $40 made it a decent binocular for it's cost. There have been no problems with the focuser or diopter adjustments. A tiny bit loose perhaps but very functional.

Terry

#6 Roadbike

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 09:31 AM

My experience with 6x30 and 8x30 sizes is that you may have to go through half a dozen or more to find one in decent condition. Primary problem involved a loose focuser that meant the diopter had to be reset for every change in focus. Secondary problem involved metal particles left over from machining that were inside the barrels. I gave up the search and spent more on good bins from Nikon.

If you can find a good pair for under $100.00 then go for it.

#7 Simon S

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 10:10 AM

Roadbike, yes a lot of the 8x30's are variable in quality and a shop test is a good idea. But a Rusian 8x30 should cost no more that $80, less than 1/3 a Nikon.

#8 Roadbike

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 10:14 AM

Interesting. I only checked 2 websites and the prices were around $140. Maybe the auction site has them for better prices.

#9 Simon S

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 11:34 AM

I paid
£36 for a pair of the 8x30 from the states a few years ago, some places are well overpriced.

#10 m00nless

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 11:39 AM

Simon, where did you get the 8x30 from?

#11 Simon S

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 11:51 AM

I can't remember now, I have bought so many but have search around.

#12 Collimator

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 07:52 AM

Russian binoculars can be variable in quality depending on who imported them.
My understanding is that there are export versions, Soviet and Russian home versions and military versions.
The ones imported officially in Soviet times into the U.K. were on average good with some being outstanding.
Over the years I have tested well over a hundred of many types.
For my own use the selected 12 x 45s are excellent. They are durable and the central resolution is high.
I could easily separate Mizar an unequal double star at 14.4 arcseconds if the binocular was very well braced but not tripod mounted.
This is more difficult now due to some eye deterioration.
In context I could just separate Mizar in a braced 10 x 30 Canon IS and also with several fine modern roof prism binoculars.
I believe that someone with exceptional sight with exceptional resolution could separate Mizar with an 8 x top quality binocular or even 6x. Many people cannot separate Mizar with a good 12 x 45, but part of this is lack of experience.
For me the 12 x 45 Soviet binocular is excellent and I used it daily for over a decade.
The 20 x 60 Super Soviet binocular I used was simply superb.
I believe that these were specially made with selected prisms better than 1/10th wave and selected O.Gs and selected eyepieces. Then hand assembled and tested by master craftsmen.
There will be very few of these around.
When the Soviet Union broke up the quality of the 20 x 60s dropped alarmingly. They look the same but are not.
An average Soviet 20 x 60 seems better than the best 20 x 60 Kronos Russian of which I have tested many.
They are O.K. for Deep Sky work, but in resolution they are not in the same league.
Also mechanicaly they are shoddy.
They are still good value despite this.
When the State subsidies stopped some of the Russian binocular quality went into free fall.
The EWA 6x30, 7x35, 8x40 and 10 x 50 are interesting because they are almost unique nowadays regarding the field of view. But they are poor mechanically.
There are many varieties of some Russian/Soviet binoculars. Some with reticule, some without.
Some with the ridiculous ruby coatings. At least this is option is offered but thankfully I have never met one.
There are various finishes. Leather, camoflage etc.
If you test a Soviet binocular or even a Russian one you may find it outstanding, but it might be not so good.
I have the greatest respect for Soviet optics.
The sloppiness of the focussing is partly due to poor tolerances. Some certainly work at minus 35C as I have used them in winter. They are claimed to work at minus 45C and I am sure they do.
Leather cases and straps are essential as at these temperatures plastics usually fail completely. They become brittle and break into fragments as I have found to my cost.
The 10 x 40 version of the 12 x 45 is not so good having ghost images.
And some maybe the 15 x 50 and 16 x 50 are variable.
Compared to the Chinese consumer binocular offerings at the lower end nearly any Soviet binocular is outstanding.
I find there is almost no quality control of these Chinese binoculars and vast numbers should have have never been allowed out of the factory gate.
It is the Wild West with these Chinese makes.
Some Soviet optics I have tested are as good as anything made anywhere.

At mid and high price the Chinese binoculars can be very good especially with a good name on them.

Hope this helps.

#13 laserrain

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:30 AM

I do quote everything collimator says :bow:
I've got a 10x50 Tento, two (separated from birth) halves 20x60 of different brand (the left half has a wonderful resolution but it shows dimmer stars than the right half), a 10x46 plastic prismatic mono which showed a defective coating on the cemented doublet (despite that, it was capable of excellent sharpness), a 10x50 half, a 7x35 half and finally a fine all metal 20x30 with erecting lenses (same brand as that of many telephoto lenses, "made in russia").
I know, chinese binoculars are quite ugly compared to the worst russian production in the early '90s.
This post recalls my views through a heavy MTO 4" produced in 1984, a real masterpiece.
Anthony

#14 Binojunky

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:54 AM

I had at one time a Tento 7x50,came with a solid leather hard case and filters, always regretted selling it, one thing that is consistant with Russian binos is the lack of eye relief for eyeglass use, this has caused me in the past to get rid of another pair, an 8x30 Zeiss lookalike, again it was an outstanding binocular however with my classes off I coudn,t get enough focus at infinity.I own at this moment a 20x60,7x35 roof prism,4x36 Galilaon,8x30 monocular and last year I picked up a NOS Made in the USSR 10x30 "Tourist 3" draw tube telescope. At one time Russian stuff could be picked up very reasonable however today the prices have got crazy.Worth noteing is that the Russians still make some outstanding mechanical wrist watches, cockpit clocks etc,of which I have several,DA.

#15 Collimator

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 09:16 AM

Thanks Anthony,
My 10 x 46 works fine except the focussing is rough.
They make useful telescope finders.
The Russian metal spotters with erecting lenses are I think the 10 x 30 and 20 x 50. The resolution and image quality of the exported 20 x 50s is usually outstanding.
Compare that with the fancy Chinese 10x,12x,15x and 20 x 50
monoculars, which generally are poor optically showing astigmatism and they also have backlash in the focussing.
Again poor or no quality control.
These Chinese monoculars have to my knowledge at least 8 different brand names, all seemingly identical with the same cartons. Badge engineering at its worse.
The Russian drawtube spotters are far and away better optically although they have a narrow field.
There is also a zoom.
There are also other make Russian zoom spotters such as the 40mm with rotating focussing which are very good optically as well as 66mm and 70mm good quality Soviet/Russian spotting scopes.
Some of these have 3/8 inch tripod bushes but small adaptor bushes to 1/4 inch are available.
The 8 x 30 Soviet/Russian binoculars of which vast numbers were made are usually excellent. There is an advert showing a Russian Jeep type vehicle driving over one with no ill effects.
It is also available as a monocular. They have good eyepieces, very good also as Erfle or Bertele astro eyepieces. They even fit 0.965 inch drawtubes if necessary.
One was very good on my 6 inch modified Maksutov Cassegrain.

#16 hallelujah

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 09:43 AM

The 20 x 60 Super Soviet binocular I used was simply superb.

I believe that these were specially made with selected prisms better than 1/10th wave and selected O.Gs and selected eyepieces.
Then hand assembled and tested by master craftsmen.

An average Soviet 20 x 60 seems better than the best 20 x 60 Kronos Russian of which I have tested many.

I have the greatest respect for Soviet optics.

Some certainly work at minus 35C as I have used them in winter.
They are claimed to work at minus 45C and I am sure they do.

Some Soviet optics I have tested are as good as anything made anywhere.


I have a made in Russia "TENTO" 20x60.
Optically it is very user friendly to my 65 yr. old eyeballs.
I use it without my eyeglasses. To my eyes it is sharper than my Pentax 20x60, during the daytime.

Mechanically my sample has yet to show any problems or defects. :fingerscrossed:

The Tento 20x60 is one of the best binocular bargains that I have in my collection.

I think that I paid $60.00 for it and it is brand new.

I purchased it from a Russian gentleman here in Colorado who bought it new in the Soviet Union approx. 15 yrs. ago.

I have a small, paper, owner's guide of 6 pages written in Russian.
The date of manufacture is hand stamped either 1991 or 1997.

An excellent piece of craftsmanship. :like:

Stan

#17 Collimator

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:13 AM

Hi,
The 20 x 60 Pentax I tested was rather poor as far as image quality is concerned. I was disappointed. Also the field is very narrow. Pentax could have done better.
Pentax optics can be fantastic. I have a very old 8 x 24 Japanese Pentax which is fabulous and equals Leica etc. It is unfortunately not waterproof. Many Pentax were actually contracted out and made by other Japanese makers. The Chinese made 8 x 25 Pentax I believe is inferior in every way. I was told by the retailer it would be better. It is not in the same class as the ancient one.
The 16 x 60 Pentax is better optically than the 20 x 60, at least the one I tested. They should have kept the 16 x 60 rather than the 20 x 60 when they stopped making one.

There should be a date stamp on your 20 x 60 Tento. Either on the bottom of the hinge or in the serial number.
The Tento 20 x 60s are usually good, but I would go for a Soviet 20 x 60 rather than Russian one.
Unfortunately some have fungus after all this time.
If one finds an as new one it can be excellent.

#18 Gordon Rayner

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:19 AM

How is the TAL (Novosibirsk) 15 x 110 faring these days?

#19 Collimator

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:57 AM

Unfortunately that was too large a binocular for me and I never tested it. I have seen several of them.I may have looked through one casually but in the daytime with a 3mm pupil it is a 15 x 45. So of course it looks great. I think they are still available maybe secondhand but possibly new.
There was also I think another version with higher magnification.
Also an amazing large Russian binocular with very complex 100 degree eyepieces of multielements that is meant to be an optical wonder.
I have not seen this in the flesh.
This can probably still be bought for a large sum.

The 6x to 100x 100mm Yukon Spotting scope is great if you get a good one. They vary.
They are now made straight through and inclined eyepiece.
They are extremely light, use mirrors and are great fun and a good one can easily handle 100x.

My 30 x 50 Yukon, I think, binocular using mirrors instead of prisms has fantastic resolution and collimation is spot one. The star images are much smaller than with most prismatic binoculars and it is great for double stars.
There are also Yukon spotters hand held using mirrors, as well as drawtube ones.
However, Yukons are variable in quality and some are not so good, so you really have to test and select the best.
For me a 15 x 110 binocular was not sensible as it is a long time since my pupils were over 7mm.
I think they are still used by coastguards and border guards.

#20 StarStuff1

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:22 AM

About the time of comet Hale-Bopp I purchased more than 20 12x45 Russian (Soviet?) "armored vehicle commander" binoculars. This was a group purchase for my astro club. Anyway I still use one occasionally. The images are soft at the edges but very sharp in the center. Build quality is robust. I still have one in the box. Tested but not used.

FWIW, the Chinese can make binoculars as good as you want to pay for.

#21 hallelujah

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 12:08 PM

The 16 x 60 Pentax is better optically than the 20 x 60, at least the one I tested.
They should have kept the 16 x 60 rather than the 20 x 60 when they stopped making one.

There should be a date stamp on your 20 x 60 Tento. Either on the bottom of the hinge or in the serial number.
The Tento 20 x 60s are usually good, but I would go for a Soviet 20 x 60 rather than Russian one.


There is a cap at the bottom of the hinge, it is stamped 91, so it was manufactured in 1991 instead of 1997.
Thanks for the heads up.

The serial number is also visible on the cap, in white paint, #N9110667.
I assume that the first two numbers (91) are also the year of manufacture.

Are you able to post some pictures of the Soviet 20x60 that you are referring to?

I have both the 16x60 PCF WP & a newer 20x60 PCF WP II & and an older 20x60 PCF WP.
I really haven't done any comparisons between the three aside from the optical coatings.

The newer 20x60 PCF WP II appears to have better optical coatings, at least on the front objectives.

Less reflection on the newer coatings & ghosting is not as noticable with the newer optical coatings compared to the older 16x60 PCF WP.

I still reach for the 20x60 first, rather than the 16x60 when it comes to stargazing & long distance bird watching.

There obviously are some sample variations between the Pentax 20x60 PCF WP's as well as the WP II's,
since all are manufactured in China. :(

Stan

#22 Collimator

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 12:49 PM

Hi Stan.
Unfortunately I don't know how to post images.
The 20 x 60 I used was obtained from a top optics professional maker, who somehow obtained a very special batch, probably less than ten.
I have tested at least fifteen other ordinary 20 x 60s and none has come close to mine.
The special batch were made I think regardless of true cost.
It would not surprise me if the prisms are 1/20 wave.

The only thing that equals them is a 16 x 56 1955? Hensoldt. But even here the 20x outresolves the 16x.
The 30 x 50 Yukon mirror binoculars outresolves both, but does not have the light grasp.

An original 4 inch Soviet Maksutov from the 1950s with a serial number in single digits is much better than a 3 1/2 inch Questar.
It is clearly hand made by an optical master.
The U.S. Quantam might be as good, but I have not tested one.
A 5 1/2 inch Dutch compound Maksutov is also as far as I can tell flawless, probably by Den Oude Delft.

The 20 x 60 Pentax I tested has mushy star images. It is just not up to Pentax traditional standards.
I had a Pentax 100mm refractor, which was amazing.
Unfortunately some of Pentaxes Chinese optics are just not as good as they should be.

Regarding low quality Chinese optics that flood the world.
I cannot think of any optical factory in the last hundred years in the Soviet Union, Russia, All of Europe, All of the U.S.
Japan, Korea ,Macau, even Hong Kong and maybe Taiwan that would allow such poor optics to leave the factory.

In WW2 there were some very poor lenses made in the U.K. that were needed in great haste.
The alloy they were made from crumbled away. Yet they worked for perhaps a year which is all that was needed.
I am thinking of 8 inch f/2.9 Pentacs.
The 7inch U.S. Aero Ektars were much better, but even here there were Kodak coated and outsourced coated.
They are mostly starred now due to balsam failure.

And the Chinese made 30 to 100 x 30mm binoculars sold by Mail Order in large quantities. And other similar spec. Chinese binoculars.
I would think about 2% work in a fashion. The rest well, I don't want to comment.

So it is not a question of getting what you pay for.
Many of these binoculars are not fit for purpose.
In addition the stated specifications on some of the Chinese binoculars is totally divorced from reality.

So how is the consumer to know, when even the retail shop workers don't know what they are selling.

We have an amazing choice nowadays, probably far too much, but every binocular needs to be tested before purchase.
As to Chinese made binoculars. If it has a good name like Nikon then the chances are it will be good.

Hope this helps.

#23 laserrain

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:40 PM

My 10 x 46 works fine except the focussing is rough.
They make useful telescope finders.
The Russian metal spotters with erecting lenses are I think the 10 x 30 and 20 x 50. The resolution and image quality of the exported 20 x 50s is usually outstanding.
Compare that with the fancy Chinese 10x,12x,15x and 20 x 50
monoculars, which generally are poor optically showing astigmatism and they also have backlash in the focussing.
Again poor or no quality control.
These Chinese monoculars have to my knowledge at least 8 different brand names, all seemingly identical with the same cartons. Badge engineering at its worse.
The Russian drawtube spotters are far and away better optically although they have a narrow field.
There is also a zoom.
There are also other make Russian zoom spotters such as the 40mm with rotating focussing which are very good optically as well as 66mm and 70mm good quality Soviet/Russian spotting scopes.

I quote again, but sure I own a 20x30 spotter all black painted. Fine mech, performance is interesting if related to the small aperture and the ultralow cost (I got it for a nothing, many years ago...). The rear section, once the spotter is extended, can be firmly aligned by a slight rotation. The optical scheme shows a sort of Barlow in front of the erecting double-doublet, instead of the relay lens contained in the common 10x30, which I used as a 14x30 finder (without the erecting lenses, magnification increases; the modified 20x50, turns to 30x or more without the relay group and shows a very beautiful Moon).
The eyepiece was the same in all cases: nice symmetrical 15 mm Plossl, perhaps it had a narrow field and the mount was rather uncomfortable for the eye, but one - without the original metal cap - is still working on my Dobsonian 10" as a default eyepiece.
The two small doublets of the erector group became a symmetrical eyepiece for a 46mm finder...

Anyway, ghost images affect a lot of the optics we're talking about. But once upon a time they were the cheapest. All my finders are Russian derived...

An original 4 inch Soviet Maksutov from the 1950s with a serial number in single digits is much better than a 3 1/2 inch Questar.
It is clearly hand made by an optical master.
The U.S. Quantam might be as good, but I have not tested one.
A 5 1/2 inch Dutch compound Maksutov is also as far as I can tell flawless, probably by Den Oude Delft.



The MTO 1100 f/10.5 contains a double meniscus, the outer meniscus has a secondary mirror (not Mangin-like), the inner meniscus has a hole which acts as a baffle, then a spaced doublet flattens the field near the primary mirror.
Once collimated, the old MTOs are wonderful. After the doublet is removed, the MTO turns to a f/7 and still mantain a nice field of view.
At f/10.5, no doubt that planetary performances were very good. Unfortunately I never compared it to other catad systems. The new MTO 1000A has nothing to do with the older, to my knowledge.
Didn't know about that rare dutch 5"1/2 mak, but someone told me about larger MTOs than 4"...

Great discussion :jump:, folks, thank you all...
Anthony

#24 Collimator

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:58 PM

Thank you Anthony for the correction.
The 20 x 30 in black must come from the factory that makes the black 8? to 24? x40 with rotating focusser and rotating zoom.
I forget the details as it must be ten years since I used it.
I think they also made a 32mm?
The Turists, at least the ones I have seen, are a greyish colour. 10x30 and 20 x 50.
I have also learnt something new from you in that if you remove the erector lenses you get a higher powered telescope.

The Broadhurst Clarkson fine drawtube brass telescopes leather covered have very nice erector eyepieces.
These make wonderful flat field magnifiers perhaps 20x.
In fact I have sometimes bought broken drawtube scopes just to get these types of terrestrial eyepieces, which I use as flat field magnifiers.
I think most of them have the same arrangement.
The problem with them is that dust usually gets on the elements and one of these is in clear focus, so nearly all the old ones need cleaning.
But usually the machining is so beautiful they come apart nicely even after 50 to 100 years.

Thanks again.

#25 hallelujah

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 02:15 PM

The 20 x 60 Pentax I tested has mushy star images. It is just not up to Pentax traditional standards.

As to Chinese made binoculars. If it has a good name like Nikon then the chances are it will be good.


My Pentax PCF WP binoculars do not have mushy star images.

Fortunately Pentax is also a good name coming out of China.

Thanks for sharing with us, I hope that you will continue to do so.

Where do you live?

Stan






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