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Your binocular history.

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#1 Steve Napier

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 10:26 AM

I started using binoculars for Astronomy in 1974, this was a pair of 12x50 the make of which I now have no idea,they were my fathers,I was a young kid then and I quickly dropped them ruining one of the barrels so,it was a case of taking one barrel off and using the good barrel as a monocular.It must have struck a cord with my parents as that christmas I recieved a rather nice 40mm refractor.
Various cheap Japanese binoculars followed until 1988 I made my first decent purchase, a pair of Carl Zeiss Jena 10x50 Dekarems.
So how about you! When did you first start observing and what were those early binocular experiences like?

#2 KennyJ


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Posted 12 November 2005 - 11:35 AM

I completed my first Messier Marathon in 1954 when I was two years old , logging 96 objects , using a 20 x 120 military style binocular , which had been especially built for me in the 19th century by my grandfather Carl ( who was German and from my mother's side of the family ( Zeiss )

My arrival on earth had been predicted in an ancient and famous book thousands of years earlier .

It was a good binocular , but a bit heavy for hand - holding for a two year old , so my late father built me a special kind of P.mount tripod from bits and pieces he'd collected from one of the many old textile mills he once owned , which allowed the binocular to swing over into my
Silver Cross silver plated pram .

For completing this magnificent feat at such a tender age , I was awarded the very rare and much coveted RFBAW ( Royal Fellow of Binocular Astronomy Award ) and a complete set of the Encylopaedia Britannica , with each page lined with gold leaf , which I read in it's entirety that same evening .

At three years of age , I was summoned to the neighbouring county of Cheshire , to design and oversee the erection of the world famous radio telescope at Jodrell Bank .

That project kept binoculars on the backburner for a while , but when I was five years old , I started to enjoy using them for DAYTIME observations of " strange new objects " which were suddenly appearing on the landscape , such as telegraph poles and wires and TV arials , which proved ideal objects to check for various optical aberrations through a variety of top notch instruments , which I carried out as a " freelance inspector " for the military until I was six years old .

I then started taking a selection of my favourite field glasses , literally into the field , to look at wildlife .

About the wildest thing that ever happened in country life in those days in Lancashire was a sheep getting stuck in a wire fence , so for the following 12 years , all I did was study sheep and wire fencing .

In spite of rave reviews , my first book , written at 18 years of age , during a lunch break on one of my rare days of from defending my shin - kicking title , and provisionally entitled " Of Sheep , Wire and Prisms " , was a commercial flop , the resulting failure of which caused me to lose interest in binoculars , and in sheep in general , and to this day , I have never regained the slightest interest in either .

Regards , Kenny

#3 Joad



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Posted 12 November 2005 - 11:45 AM

I've always loved binoculars. When I was young I used my father's 7X35 (can't recall the make) that his father gave to him when he was a boy. Then my parents gave my the 7-12X40 Daylites that I still have. They were my first astro-viewing instrument. I lost interest in astro-viewing for many years, then reentered the field when I got a place up in the mountains with brilliant dark skies. Oberwerk enabled me to indulge my long desire for a really huge binocular with 45 degree oculars, and that got me back into nighttime viewing. All my other bino purchases are pretty much cheap junk (the Pentax 8X22 roof prism bino is pretty good, though). I'd love to look through a Zeiss or Leica set, but probably would never actually buy one.

#4 carlos_dfc


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Posted 12 November 2005 - 11:58 AM

Hmmm! Steve - This is spooky

In the seventies I also got a 40mm refractor one christmas. A Tasco, on a tabletop tripod, yoke mount, no finder, and variable magnification from 25x - 50x - was yours the same?
Got my first binoculars the following summer - also 12x50, made by 'Simor' - unusual design, a central black frame, with silver prism housings, and lens barrels attached onto it.
They also broke, and I ended up using one half (the half with the focuser) as a monocular - It's pretty beat-up, but I still have it today.

Over the intervening 25 years or so, I had a slightly bigger refractor (Tasco 60mm) and a few pairs of cheap bins (I remeber some 16x50 'Halina's out of a catalogue - LOL
Work and family commitments conspired to keep me away from astronomy as a serious hobby, until about 18 months ago:-
I found my old 60mm in my parents attic, cleaned it up & tried it out, and was hooked again. Within a month got a 6" reflector, and dug out the old 12x50 Simor 'monocular', also borrowed father-in-law's 20x50s (Mark Scheffel I think)
Then when Lidl had that offer earlier this year, I bought a pair of those £15 Meade 10x50s - not geat, but very good for £15? - excellent value for money
Got my first proper astronomy binoculars in the summer - Celestron Skymaster 15x70, and realised what i've been missing all these years. After what I was used to, seeing M51 in binoculars was a big 'WOW' moment for me.

On a side-note, had to try 3 pairs in the shop to find a well-collimated pair - luckily, the dealer was a birder himself, so understood about collimation, and was happy to let me try a few (the poorly collimated ones were probably sold to someone less fussy)

#5 Mark9473


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Posted 12 November 2005 - 02:53 PM

I started being interested in astronomy in 1977 at age 12. The only instrument available to me was the family 12x50, which had definitely seen too many beach vacations and exposure to sun-tan oil.

Despite their mediocre condition, they served me well at getting to know the sky. I still remember my first evening out with them. I thought I had discovered a planet! It was later I learned about focussing... A while later that fall I was sure I had found my first constellation - Ursa Minor - but that turned out to be the Pleiades.

After a wile I decided they needed a clean-up on the inside, so I unscrewed the objectives. To cut a long story short, I never got them clean, and collimation was lost forever.

I then bought the cheapest 10x50's I could find, for what is now about 50 euros. These were heavy, had only 5 degrees FOV, and the brightests glare and internal reflections you could imagine. I can't recall what brand they were, and they've been on loan to my brother in law for several years, so I can't check.

Then at about end of the '80s I bought my Swift 10x50s SP which were lighter, sharper, had a 6.2 degree TFOV, much less internal reflections, and an overall pleasing view. These are what I would consider decent mid-class porro's from that era.

My Swift Satellite 20x80 and Swift Audubon 8,5x44 were bought in 1997.

#6 refractory



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Posted 12 November 2005 - 03:48 PM

My first experience with astronomy was a 4.5 inch equatorial mounted reflector I got when I was 11 or 12. No instructions. No help. I had to discover the sky bit by bit- but eventually found Uranus (and this has nothing to do with Kenny's mention of his P-mount for his bits and pieces, Jodrell Bank scope erection and later interest in sheep) all by myself.

However, during this period I had no clue about the utility (and fun) of observing with binoculars. Maybe I'd have stayed with astronomy all these years if I had. Eventually I took the scope apart to clean it, and then realized I didn't know how to put it back together. Gave it to a more technically-minded friend when I went to college. And that was that.

And it was a good six months after getting back into astronomy that I bought my first pair of binoculars. Now I'm hooked, and do far more observing through them than I do with my scopes. This forum helped quite a bit.

Jess Tauber

#7 werewolf6977


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Posted 12 November 2005 - 04:02 PM

My first pair of noklars was a pair of Bausch and Lomb 7X50's that I bought for $39.95 USD in 1967. Had a blast with them, until I got curious, and disasembled them (I was 14 at the time), and never quite got them right. I've owned some much cheaper (in price, and quality), and maybe two noklars that were comparable in p & q since. I like noklar astronomy because, it's grab 'n' go, great for suckerholes, and like Kenny J I prefer to use both eyes.

#8 edwincjones


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Posted 12 November 2005 - 05:05 PM

In my PB (pre-binocular) days I had a Jason 60mm telescope/spotting scope, then 30 years bare before getting a Meade 6" Starfinder and returning to astronomy. I had a 10x25 Nikon which was almost useless for astronomical viewing. I then got Fujinon 10x70s, Miyauchi 20x100s, Fuji 25x150s, traded the 10x70s for 7x50s then traded for Swift "A" 8.5x44s to finally get something handholdable.

I can attribute the binocular craze to the stimulation I got as a teenager after finding in my father's trunk a copy of "Of Sheep, Wire and Prisms", a book by some ancient British guy.


#9 Rich N

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 06:10 PM

For years the only binocular I had was a used 8x30 of some strange brand. It had seen some hard use before it was given to me. Later I bought a Bushnell zoom bino.

In the early '90s I bought some Orion and Celestron binoculars. They were a big improvement over my Bushnell zoom. In the late '90s I bought a new Leica roof and I got hooked on high end binoculars.


#10 btschumy


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Posted 12 November 2005 - 06:23 PM

Good thread Steve,

I obtained my first pair of binoculars (Bushnell 7x35) when I was about 10 years old during a family vacation to New York city. I vaguely remember going to some NYC optics store to purchase them. I spent a lot of time up in the NY skyscrapers looking out (and down) in the distance.

When I was about 19 and in college my parents when on a vacation to Germany and Switzerland. They brought me back a pair of 8x32 Leitz Trinovids. I was in awe of owning such a fine pair of binoculars. They have served me well for a long time. Alas, the mirroring on the prisms is deteriorating and it sounds like it will cost $600 to fix them. They have great sentimental value, but I think I'll let them get a bit worse before sending them in.

Around 1988, I purchased a pair of Bushnell 11x80 binoculars for astronomy. They were very good and I only just recently sold them on Astromart.

I have since had numerous others, but we are getting out of the realm of "history" and into "current events".

#11 Pinewood



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Posted 12 November 2005 - 06:41 PM

Steve and all,

My first binocular was a B&L 6x30 model EE, made for the U.S. Army for WWI. It was not very useful for astronomy. My next binocular was a Leitz Marseptit 7x50, made in 1948, purchased in 1978. I pointed it at Jupiter, at dusk, and saw the four Gallilean moons strung out and was hooked. For some time, I had a Meade 7x40 roof glass, bought in 1985. I have used a Kern 8x30 and other binoculars. My prime glass, for astronomy, is a 12x50 Leica BA on a monopod. On the run, I may use an eight or seven power.
Clear skies,

#12 Swedpat



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Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:19 PM

I have been interested in astronomy and binoculars since I was a little child. To my 12 years birthday 1979 I wished a 10x50 binocular advertised at the "Expert" photo-chain of stores in Europe, and my wish became filled. It has also the Expert-logo. This binocular pleased me very well with the great 70 degrees AFOV and bright at dusk and dawn, in comparison to a 15x30 telescope which was useful only daytime.

I still have the 10x50 binocular as a memory, but don't use it. The quality isn't very good and the ER is uncomfortable short even without eyeglasses.

After that I have bought and sold a lot of binoculars. The first binocular I bought was a Nikon compact 7x20, it was around 1989. The sharpness really impressed me. I then experienced I could see more details than using the 10x50, because of the much better sharpness and more stable image.

Carl Zeiss Jena 7x50, Celestron 8x56 Ultima, Nikon Sporting 7x35, Vixen 8x32 Ultima, Steiner 8x30 Rally, Pentax 16x60 PCF WP are other binoculars I have had but are sold.

I love binoculars, and the last one is surely not ordered. Since more than 10 years I have a passion to hold me up-to-date with the evolution of binoculars. I regularly seek at internet for information and reviews of new binoculars, and as fast I get the chance to visit a new photo-store or optician I take it, to see if they have any interesting binoculars...

This year I have mail-ordered 4 binoculars on a "satisfied or return" (what do you call it?)-buy. I have returned all 4...

My dream would be to have an own binocular-store.

Regards, Patric

#13 John F

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:24 PM

My 5-year old son got me started. He used to like to take home books from the library about space related subjects (comets, planets, moons and galaxies). To further encourage his interest I started thinking about getting at telescope. A friend of mine who is an amateur astronomer recommended that we try binoculars first. Up to that point I had never heard of anyone using binoculars for astronomy.

Anyway, he gave me one of his Orion Telescope catalogs and I saw a pair of their 9x63 Mini-Giants in it decided to give those a try. The day the arrived was clear so that night we set out in search of our first dark sky site. We were fortunate enough to find one and when we got out of the car I was blown away by both the naked eye and binocular views of the Orion constellation, M45, and the Winter Milky Way (I didn't know their names then). Unfortunately, the binoculars were a poor choice for my son. They were just too heavy and too high of a power for him to hold steady enough to get an enjoyable view.

I continued to go out however and as the summer months came around I did my first all-nighters. As a was learning the sky better and was able to track down many of Messier objects I then wanted to be able to get a better view of them. That led me to get my first telescope which was a 94mm F/7 Apo refractor. Once I got that (and later some Nagler eyepieces to use with it), my interest in binocular astronomy abated. Another reason for that was because the quality of the optics in the refractor were so superior that the views through the 9x63s that the binoculars did not satisfy anymore.

After several years of almost exclusive telescope observing I decided to get a higher quality binocular to replace the 9x63s. The ones I choose were the Alderblick 7x50s. Those were a big improvement in quality over the 9x63s but their magnification was too low to review much detail and unless I was at a really dark sky site the sky background was just too bright in them.

A year of so later I learned that there was a small company in Pennsylvania that was importing Carl Zeiss Jena binoculars from East Germany and selling them at very reasonable prices compared to their West German counterparts. They also had an 8x50 model that appealed to me so I decided to take a chance and ordered a pair. They arrived in April and the first few times I used them I felt they were clearly better than my 7x50s but not radically enough better that I was really excited about them. However, one night in June I took them to a much higher elevation/darker sky site than I had been able to get to prior to that and the views of the Milky Way clouds through those 8x50s far exceeded any binocular view I had ever seen before and in some ways they even made my telescope views pale by comparison. A few days after that I placed an order for their 12x50 model. When those arrived I took them up to Mt. Rainier and was blown away by them. I can still remember the excitement of that night. I couldn’t believe that I could get such views in a hand hold-able instrument.

That experience got me thinking about what the 15x60s must be like if the 12x50s were that good. So throwing all budgetary constraint aside I whipped out my credit card and ordered a pair of those a few days later. By now that I had almost $2000 invested in three fabulous binoculars so I started looking for a good mount to use them with. That was just around the time Orion started selling the Grand View binocular mount and it was far better than anything else up to that time. It was great for binocular astronomy in all respects except one - it was not good for comfortable zenith viewing. So a year later I got another new mount that was - the Sky Hook. I stayed with those mounts and binoculars from 1993-1999 and then I started looking at some of the newer models that were becoming available (e.g., Nikon 18x70s) at that time and one by one I replaced my 8x, 12x and 15x CZJs with even better models over the next few years. I also upgraded my mounts. Finally over this past year I got a good deal on some used Nikon 7x50s and 10x70s I added those and one binocular with much higher power that my 15x60s (i.e., the 22x60 Taks). At this point I don't lust for anymore binoculars - just more clear nights.

For most of the 1990s I wanted to have a 40x or 50x binocular but they were always either too big or financially out of reach. In 1999 I got a binoviewer to use with my telescope and that gave me the long sought after 50x binoviewing capability (plus many powers above that). However, on my 4-inch telescope the binoviewer did not perform as well as I would have liked on deep sky objects. In 2003 I ordered one of the first NP-127s and I also got an accessory that enables me to binoview with it at powers as low as 26x. The binoviewing performance of that system is much better than my old 4-inch so I've been satisfied enough with it that I've been able to resist the temptation to get a pair of really large binoculars such as the Kowa Highlander or the Fujinon 40x150.

So 17 years after getting hooked on binocular astronomy I know deep inside that I'm never going to get unhooked.

John Finnan

#14 Steve Napier

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 05:22 AM

Hi Carlos.
The 40mm refractor I was given was not Tasco,It was a cheap Japanese make but it had "Achromatic" on the box and I had no idea what that meant.It was the usual push pull draw tube and top magnification was 45x,actually looking back it was NOT a bad telescope at all. I discovered Saturn with that scope.

#15 DJB


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Posted 13 November 2005 - 05:37 AM

A reply,

My first binocular was purchased by my father as a birthday gift, as was my first microscope (now I have four in-house). The binocular was a Palomar 7x50, shipped from California to West Virginia.

Well, as an historic perspective, that year was 1957. My father and I went to the college stadium to view comet Arend-Roland (in Fairmont WV, USA). Light pollution was unheard of down there at the time. What a beautiful comet--even the local papers ran articles on our visitor.

This, too, ended up as a monocular. I loaned it to a good friend, Mrs. Kathern Beltzhoover Hess. She returned it before she crossed over. The disposition of which I have no idea. I loved it, tho.

I also had a 3" reflector Criterion, again a gift from my parents; a buddy of mine and I used to compare observations using my scope and his "superior" 3" refractor, a Unitron, no less. Of course, it was quite superior, but his parents had the $$$$. Still loved that binocular.

Anyway, the binocular was coated, built like a tank, and it probably spured my interest in astronomy and binoculars--hence, why I am here now.

OT: I don't understand most of what Kenny posted early on. Is he really a real person from our planet earth? LOL.

Regards all,


#16 Steve Napier

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 05:38 AM

Its been great reading all {apart from one nit-wit} your stories.What comes across loud and clear is how much we all love using binoculars despite their limitations.
Infact I reckon that the most satisfying views Ive ever had of the Moon and,definately the most comfortable have been with my 20x60 Tento cheapies.
I have to balance this statement and say that my {again} cheapo binoviewer and new TMB has shown outstanding views too but,at obviously a much higher magnification.
For sheer beauty though I would have to say the view with the 20x60 has been the tops for me.

#17 KennyJ


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Posted 13 November 2005 - 05:42 AM

Steve ,

May I suggest that YOUR next bino purchase could be a Miyauchi 60mm ?

You seem to have a special affinity with 60mm objectives and the magnification of 20x or thereabouts would provide a nice change from the 7x hand - held views you enjoy with your beloved Zeiss FLs .

Regards , Kenny

#18 Steve Napier

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 05:48 AM

I have NO desire to talk to crackpots at this time of the morning.

#19 Loren Toole

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 09:08 AM

A GREAT thread.

The first pair I used (in the early 70s, my college time) were my father's Selsi 7x35s which
he won as part of some magazine promotion. I remember my "wow" reaction in 1970 while viewing
the Pleades rising over treetops during my Thanksgiving break. I had just completed building a
8 inch netwonian reflector which was my real optical passion so the bino views were just
one thrill on the way to higher powered sights.

My binocular interests after that tended to be motivated by a need to see various comets. In
1974 I decided to buy a pair of 7x50s to see Comet Kohoutek. They were carefully selected
Tasco's from the local K-Mart but seemed adequate for this limited task. As I remember, the
comet was a flop and the binos didn't get frequent use over the next 10 years. I was married
in 1981, moved to New England, and continued to use the 7x50s for wildlife and occasional comets,
especially Comet Halley in 1984. Again, adequate for the task. In 1995, Comet Hyakutake started
approaching and was forecast to exhibit a spectacular tail. So, I decided to upgrade to a better
bino pair. This time it was Celestron Pro 9x63s on sale at half price. Optically a much improved
view, I was beginning to get hooked on bino viewing at this stage. This pair was also used to
view Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 which proved to be the best of my astro career to date. The Pros
were harder to hold (due to balance and higher magnification) so I soon constructed a mirror
mounting for them. Never worked out the finding system to my satisfaction however, my red dot
finder was awkward to use and it didn't offer the freedom I wanted to simply pan over wide areas.
Design fault in my mounting, I guess.

In 2000, I traded the 9x63s for my first "giant" pair, Orion Little Giant 15x70s. This pair had
abominable eye relief but the views of larger Messier clusters were mesmerizing. I bought a
parallelogram mount at that stage. My first view of M46/47 on a frigid February night with this
pair is still vivid. My telescope time started declining noticably at this point as bino views
became the main passion for me. Finally I sold the 15x70s for other pairs which include those
listed in my signature block. After all of this, I still get a frequent "wow" view from binos
which surprises me... that remains a main motivation for using this type of optic.

#20 Glassthrower


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Posted 13 November 2005 - 09:58 AM

The first pair I remember getting my hands on belonged to my Uncle Veach. I don't recall the model or size, but it appeared to be the typical 7x or 8x bino that was old, heavy metal, and had black-pebblegrain finish. My aunt gave me these when Veach passed away and I had them for many years after that. This was when I was about 13 years old.

Later in my teens, I started getting into astronomy and bird watching (in addition to my Dungeons & Dragons and running from girls who had cooties). I used Uncle Veach's binos for some time, then I inexplicably sold them off and I cannot remember why. Probably to buy the new Metallica album or some such nonsense.

Next pair I owned was the 8x42 Bushnell Audubons, which I still have. Good Japanese-made bino, circa 1990-1992. These received general and birdwatching use, but I rarely turned them skyward until recently.

My wife bought me a pair of Celestron 15x70 Skymasters from Edmund Scientific for the stately sum of $99.00 plus ship. This was my Xmas present last year. I was blown away. These binos lighted a fire in me that still burns bright. I ran out the next day and bought a ~$25.00 camera tripod from Walmart to mount them. Started doing my first serious stargazing. Discovered Cloudy Nights and came down with a case of raging aperture fever.

In April of this year, I bought my 25x100 Skymasters. These giants overwhelmed my Walmart tripod, so went on eBay and got a used Tiffen Magnum with fluid head for ~$36.00.

Make a long story short, had to return the 25x100's to Celestron for defect issues, got a replacement pair back that was much better than the first. I decided to stick with these as my primary. Got a red-dot finder, which greatly helped navigation. Made some custom dewshields - a necessary thing here in swampy, humid Louisiana.

After hearing all the talk about parallelogram mounts here at CN, I used my bonus check to leverage a Raytheon surveyor's tripod and order a custom-made, wood parallelogram mount (which is now on order, due for delivery in January).

Admittedly, I still drool over the big Miyauchi and Fujinon cannons, but these will likely be forever out of my price range.

#21 Glassthrower


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Posted 13 November 2005 - 10:01 AM

BTW, Kenny -

That first reply of your's in this thread was pure Pythonesque gold. Outstanding.


#22 Paul G

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 10:39 AM

I started at 5 years of age in 1958 with a 7x50 no-name. My father and I would lie on a blanket in the back yard with the National Geographic star map. I used those same binos for over 30 years before I bought my first telelscope and my next bino. It was downhill from there.

That star map of which I was particularly fond was borrowed by Lenny, the fat weasel who lived next door, and never returned. Funny what one remembers. I am horrible about people's names, and usually can't remember a name for 5 minutes. But Lenny the Weasel... :flame:

#23 JCB


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Posted 13 November 2005 - 04:14 PM

As long as I can remember, I have always played with binoculars.
When I was young, my grandparents grew a small vine for their personal consumption. It was located in a beautiful landscape, with a very nice viewpoint. I often went with them to the vine, and they generally brought their binoculars, so that I could observe the landscape while their were working. It was no name Japanese 10x50s, and they always told me that they cost a lot. I really enjoyed playing with these binoculars, it was for me totally magical, despite the fact that there were too heavy for my hands. I was very young.

Later, probably because they had noticed that I liked very much binoculars, my parents gave me a small 8x30 binocular : it was a very strange model, made in plastic, the brand was Bushnell. Not that good. I preferred the old 10x50.

Later, (I was 12 years old) they gave me a "great present" : a no-name zoom 7-15x35. In fact there were somewhat disappointing too. I still preferred the 10x50.

Then my father bought a Zeiss Dialyt 8x56 for hunting. I remember the first time he aimed the binoculars at the moon : they were put down the car, and wedged by a piece of cloth. Wow ! It was fantastic. For the first time I learned what a GOOD binocular was.

After many years using the old 10x50 for astronomy, saving as much money as I could, I bought the Zeiss Dialyt 10x40 BGAT. They blew up the 10x50. It was a huge expenditure for me (I was only 24) but they represent until now one of my best purchases. They gave me a lot of pleasure during 11 years.

Two years ago, I began to have more resources, and bought the Takahashi 22x60, and last year the Zeiss 10x42 FL. I have also purchased some "stupid" binoculars, a 10x25 for 10 E and two Meade 10x50 for 20 E, with surprising sharpness for one of them (I was certainly lucky that day). Although this cheap bino is of no use for me, I can't help looking through it from time to time and be amazed by the image. In fact I am interested in SHARP binoculars, whatever their brand and whatever their price. I know that in the future I will continue to buy binoculars, because it's my main pleasure.

Today the vine of my grandparents has disappeared, but the beautiful landscape is still there, and from time to time I go to this place with several of my binoculars, and like 30 years ago, I marvel at the magic of binoculars.


#24 medinabrit


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Posted 13 November 2005 - 05:07 PM

thanks Jean Charles it was a pleasure to read . hope to get to France next year . you do have some beautiful scenery over there.

#25 John Flannery

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 09:02 AM

great thread folks!

my first look at the sky was 30 years ago (when I was ten) with my Dad's 10x50mm Zeiss.

after being carted off to boarding school at age 11 I purchased a 50mm refractor with my first weeks wages from a Summer job when I was 13 (Now here's a confession. The scope cost 15 pounds and my first week's wages were 14 pounds. I promised the shop I'd return the next week with the other pound but never did. To this day I intend to visit that shop and repay that pound with interest before going off to the great observatory in the sky. Amazing how that guilt still nags!)

in boarding school we were allowed two hours of TV on a Saturday night. Interestingly enough, the bedroom I shared with two other students faced a row of houses 500 yards away outside the walls of the school. One family used to watch TV with the sitting room curtains open so the refractor was used more often to lip-read off TV . . . I kid you not! Ah, those were memories.

following a period using a Celestron Comet Catcher I sold it and purchased a pair of Helios 20x60mm at an Amateur Astronomy Centre meeting (Todmorden, UK). They've been my almost exclusive binocular for the last 15 years. And they've travelled a bit too . . . I agonised over bringing them to Africa (because of the weight) in 2001 when there for the total solar eclipse. Thankfully I did and what views they gave! The southern sky is absolutely magnificent! Go if you never have seen it's wonders before.

at the moment I'm thinking of upgrading to 100mm instruments but may wait 'til I'm in California for the RTMC next year.

anyway, gotta get back to work.

all the best,


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