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Vintage "Focal" optics, K mart!

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#1 MtnGoat

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 12:07 PM

Hi folks
I was at my girlfriends place and of course being obsessed with all things optical the minute I saw a pair of binos on a shelf I had to go check them out. They're a 70's looking set of "focal" 7x35's from our favorite purveyor of high quality optical goodness, K-mart!

This got me to remembering all the optics back in the sporting goods dept there when I was a kid, from astro scopes to spotting scopes to binos. I saw a focal 20-60x 60mm spotting scope on CL recently, as a matter of fact.

So, are there any secret gems from the old Focal line? A scope made by some top manufacturer that wound up being sold by K-Mart? A pair of binos which actually is a decent model? I remember a buddy had a pair of 7x50s back in the day from Focal, they seemed fine but now I'm suspicious, one, that's not too hard to do OK at, and two, I had far lower standards back then!

Anyhow, anyone wanting to carry on about my questions here, relate a good tale or a horror story related to Focal, have at it! Those Focal binos at her place made me all nostalgic and stuff.

#2 orion61

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 12:17 PM

I have one of the Focal Spotting scopes, 20x60.
It is Mint in the box, still has the original plastic bags and instructions. Very well made.

#3 MtnGoat

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 12:45 PM

How are the optics?

#4 orion61

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 03:40 PM

Optics are good, it is great on the Moon, there is a pic of what it looks like a few posts down, Tasco spotting scope, Mines a lot nicer. New condition, not a scratch mark or chip.
It looks to never have been used. They were really built well
I think people are realizing how good some of the old MIJ stuff really was, back in the days BEFORE plastic.

#5 k9yr

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 10:35 PM

My Dad had one of the Focal zoom 20x60 he used at the shooting range. Back in the early 1970's I set it up outside to look at that bright star rising in the east, that star was Saturn and I could see the rings! That was the start of it...

#6 *skyguy*

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 11:48 PM

Back in the early 80's I purchased the Focal 20x60 binoculars from K-Mart. They had coated optics and provided a very nice image. Recently, I replaced them with modern 20x60 binoculars with fully multi-coated optics. When directly comparing both binoculars, I found out there really wasn't much of difference at all between the two! I guess I wasted my money with the upgrade!

#7 MtnGoat

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 04:57 PM

What a blast from the past. I'd completely forgotten they had 20x60s.

#8 Glen A W

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 10:44 AM

I have some Sears 35mm binos, made in Hong Kong, which are just super. The field is not quite as wide as some newer ones, but the construction is all-metal and the optics are very contrasty. I wouldn't be surprised if they look just like yours. GW

#9 pogobbler

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 05:34 PM

Focal optics always have a special place in my heart, since KMart was really the only store in town that carried any optical equipment when I was growing up in the mid 70s to mid 80s. We got a pair of 10x50 binoculars that I remember as being pretty good and I had a typical 60mm AZ refractor that has the usual good optics and mediocre mechanicals. I did see a lot with both of those, though.

#10 MtnGoat

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 02:25 AM

That's the era of my fascination and for the same reasons. After pawing dog eared copies of Edmunds, Cave and Unitron catalogs, and the odd Criterion flyer, Kmart and Sears were my only hands on optical wish list sources. I'd forgotten about the Focal 20x60s, a fascination at the time

#11 Darren Drake

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 09:59 AM

One of my first scopes was a 22X60 Focal spotting scope. It was very well made with good optics..

#12 Mike E.

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 10:53 AM

I bought these 8 x 20s back in 1973, they are just about bulletproof, and have served me well over the years; perfect for bowhunting. A metal disc marked "OPKO"( circle A ) is attached to the hinge pin by the objectives.

I had a pair of the 20 x 60s but didn't get along with them well. If I recall, they had a 3 degree field of view; when the weather was hot the mirage was terrible.

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#13 Mike E.

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 10:54 AM

.

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#14 MtnGoat

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 11:59 AM

I gave in to temptation and picked up Focal spotting scope last night off of CL....
Diamond Z optics?

Works OK...eyepieces have come a long way, the apparent FOV is the smallest I've seen in a while. On the other hand, it's fixed size, unlike the Meade ED60 and Celestron Ultima 100ED I own, both of which change with the zoom.

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#15 MtnGoat

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 11:59 AM

Badge...when I get it home this evening I'll give it a lil workout

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#16 MtnGoat

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 12:02 PM

And a pic of the binos which are responsible for tickling my memory banks, no cool 'siam optics' or 'comfort-vue' eyecups...but they work OK

I think these are newer than the siam optics era

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#17 pogobbler

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 03:21 PM

I still recall the scent of the binocular case and, to a lesser degree, the binoculars. It wasn't an unpleasant scent at all, but was distinctive and have associated it, rightly or wrongly, with quality optics ever since. When I bought a used pair of made in Japan Celestron 20x80 binoculars several years ago, that same scent hit me as soon as I opened the case. Funny how scent can be so evocative.

#18 Glen A W

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 07:25 PM

Looks like Sears did indeed get theirs from the same makers, as those look just like mine. GW

#19 StarStuff1

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 11:22 PM

About 10 years ago, just before my mom passed away, she gave me a pair of Focal folding opera glasses. About 3x20 IIRC. Original box, kinda old, excellent condition. I'll never sell 'em.

#20 orion61

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 12:24 AM

I still recall the scent of the binocular case and, to a lesser degree, the binoculars. It wasn't an unpleasant scent at all, but was distinctive and have associated it, rightly or wrongly, with quality optics ever since. When I bought a used pair of made in Japan Celestron 20x80 binoculars several years ago, that same scent hit me as soon as I opened the case. Funny how scent can be so evocative.

Yes indeed I know the scent you are describing exactly,
Also the somewhat Musty smell of the Russian 20x60 binos
that came in the soft case, they had yellow filters with them.
I remember being amazed by seeing the Ring nebula from the Middle of town Sioux City Ia. those were dirt cheap but now they sell for about 4X as much as they did in the 90's.
Great thread folks!

#21 Mike E.

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 03:53 AM

I still recall the scent of the binocular case and, to a lesser degree, the binoculars. It wasn't an unpleasant scent at all, but was distinctive and have associated it, rightly or wrongly, with quality optics ever since. When I bought a used pair of made in Japan Celestron 20x80 binoculars several years ago, that same scent hit me as soon as I opened the case. Funny how scent can be so evocative.

Yes indeed I know the scent you are describing exactly,
Also the somewhat Musty smell of the Russian 20x60 binos
that came in the soft case, they had yellow filters with them.
I remember being amazed by seeing the Ring nebula from the Middle of town Sioux City Ia. those were dirt cheap but now they sell for about 4X as much as they did in the 90's.
Great thread folks!


Yeah, that musty old scent is present on these 1963 vintage Russian binocs also. I believe its from the tanning acids used in the leather strap. I recognize this smell from a holster and other leather surplus that comes from Europe. The yellow filters are great when there's fog or snow.

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#22 wcstarguy

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 04:49 PM

I have a "Focal" microscope from Kmart I received for Christmas while in Jr. High about 1969. Still in the wooden case with some of the accessories (lost a few). Still looks great but haven't used it in years...I will have to get it out now...as I recall it always worked great and seems to be well made...I received a label maker that same Christmas and the word "Genius" on a red label with white letters is still on the box...(this did not quite pan out over the years, ha ha). Just found this thread and wanted to post on the microscope...wc

#23 t.r.

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 11:07 AM

I have a 70's Focal Kmart 40mm zoom telescope. It has (W) stamped made in Japan. I know there are all sorts of different manufacturers like (T)Towa, <Z> and the like and have seen the sticky but what is this circle W I have?






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