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Educate me on Vintage/Expensive WWII Binoculars?

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18 replies to this topic

#1 junomike

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 05:44 PM

Curious as to why these are worth so much?

 

The seller linked one and two previously sold samples (in rough shape I may add) that seemed to command a fair sum.

 

Are these costly due to their WWII status, desired optics or something else?

 

Mike

 

 

 

 

 



#2 MartinPond

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 07:22 PM

Many WW2 models command a pretty sum,

  but U-boat models do better than others.

   It's the panache of some much-feared corps, it seems.

  The workings inside are frequently too etched to be nice.

   To be military-cool, it helps the price to be unusually shaped.

 

Many from the Korean War looked like civilian counterparts,

 so they don't fetch much.   The VietNam conflict saw some

  more clearly military ones, so the price goes up again.


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#3 FrankL

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Posted 23 December 2015 - 11:53 PM

First, the two eBay binoculars the seller links are similar but not exactly the same as the one he is selling: one of the eBay ones is the Zeiss gasmask model with a distinctive and unique eyepiece giving long eyerelief and the other looks like a smooth ocular variation. Both usually sell for more than the more common model the seller is offering. Nonetheless, without putting too fine a point on it the only reason these binoculars usually sell for so much is because they are Nazi Kriegsmarine and may (but not necessarily) have been used on U Boats. If the bino has a Kriegsmarine eagle and swastika on it, it will usually sell for even more than one not so marked. This may not seem reasonable and some people find it objectionable but such is the market. Optically (excepting the gasmask version with high eyerelief) these Ziess Porro I 7x50's (called a D.F. 7x50 type) although excellent for their time are no better than most of the many much lower priced ($100-$200) WW II US Navy Bausch & Lomb pattern 7x50's with coated optics, the Navy Mk 28 being one of the most common and familiar to collectors. And build-wise the one piece B&L body is probably superior to the Zeiss pattern build of the German D.F type. Note that when Zeiss designed a different binocular specifically for U Boat use, the U-Bootglas 7x50, they copied the B&L one piece body. 


Edited by FrankL, 24 December 2015 - 12:07 AM.


#4 MartinPond

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 09:01 AM

Awesome extra information, FrankL !!

 

The USN had only a few years to catch up, from awful to great, but

  the Japanese Imperial Navy showed the value of great optics in first engagements,

   and B&L did contribute the   1-piece body, and more important, its prism-carriage. 

    Fujinon adopted that back from B&L  ...and never let it go, to this day.

 

I think...if I wanted to collect but also actually use,

   the USN 7x50 would be top of the list.  The late-WW2 'secret' multicoating,

   especially. It's not usually a ridiculous price, and it's satisfying to look through. 

   It is a key piece, technically.


Edited by MartinPond, 24 December 2015 - 09:05 AM.


#5 FrankL

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 10:55 AM

"The late-WW2 'secret' multicoating,"

I've researched this a bit and haven't found any evidence that during WW II any country manufactured multi-coated binoculars. I haven't seen any such binoculars, and although a number of  U.S. and British primary sources written during and immediately after WWII (some marked Secret and declassified) discuss single layer coating in detail, there is no mention of a multi-layer coating ever being developed. The Germans did experiment with a two layer coating but there is no indication it ever reached production stage in any optical instrument. Note that if such coatings were available the priority for application would have been submarine periscopes because they had  many more air-glass surfaces and consequently much lower levels of light transmission than binoculars did. It's hard to verify but it looks like that the earliest mass production of either civilian or military multi-coated binoculars was by the two Zeiss companies (both East German and West German companies seem to have developed the technology about the same time) in the later 1970's. I've read that camera lenses were multi-coated quite a bit before this (first by Leitz) but am not sure this is true.


Edited by FrankL, 26 December 2015 - 12:09 PM.


#6 MartinPond

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 01:41 PM

Some B&Ls from 1944 clearly have the 2-layer multicoating, that was secret.

I believe the patent was actually jfiled 4 years after WW2.

 

A bit of trivia: multicoatinf en masses was co-devolped by Asahi and Zeiss,

and first first done by Asahi for Zeiss.

 

Knowing about and developing multicoating is much older than you think:

 

http://www.binocular...sal_page_3.html

 

Katherine Blodgett was a key US figure, since the 30s.



#7 hallelujah

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 04:19 PM

Some B&Ls from 1944 clearly have the 2-layer multicoating, that was secret.

I believe the patent was actually jfiled 4 years after WW2.

 

A bit of trivia: multicoatinf en masses was co-devolped by Asahi and Zeiss,

and first first done by Asahi for Zeiss.

 

Knowing about and developing multicoating is much older than you think:

I'm too lazy to go back over all this stuff, perhaps it might contain something of interest, I can't remember.

It has been too many years since I read it.

 

http://www.company7....eiss/index.html

 

Stan



#8 ArsMachina

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 04:40 PM

Hey, these are cheap.

If you want to see expensive WW II binoculars click here:

 

http://www.houseofwh...-sea/binocular/

 

Jochen



#9 Henry Link

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 06:14 PM

I've also not been able to find any real evidence for any commercial  binocular being multi-coated before Zeiss T* in 1978. I'd be happy to be referred to some hard evidence for earlier use of multi-coating in binoculars if someone can supply a link.

 

Apparently Zeiss, Leitz  and Pentax could all have multi-coated their binoculars earlier than they did. Some Zeiss camera lenses had T* coating in the early 1970s. Pentax SMC multi-coating was introduced in Super Takumar camera lenses in 1971, but Pentax binoculars continued the wayward use of worse than useless "Interference Filter" coatings into the 1980s (see this thread: http://www.cloudynig...-pentax-12x50s/ ). Leitz reportedly used some sort of multi-coating in camera lenses even earlier without labeling it as such, but AFAIK didn't multi-coat their binoculars until the Leica Trinovid Ultras in 1990. 



#10 FrankL

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Posted 26 December 2015 - 07:21 PM

The authors of this article http://www.binocular...sal_page_3.html  in stating, "It seems that the Alexander Smakula method of multicoating was the best." have their facts wrong.  Alexander Smakula did not invent anti-reflective multicoatings. He is credited with discovering single layer anti-reflective coatings although it is disputed that he was the first to do so.


Edited by FrankL, 26 December 2015 - 08:13 PM.


#11 samovu

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 03:09 AM

Fascinating info and history! Thanks, Mike, for the original post and thanks to everyone that replied and contributed. 

 

Clear views,

John



#12 MartinPond

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 03:25 AM

"

but Pentax binoculars continued the wayward use of worse than useless "Interference Filter" coatings into the 1980s

"

This does not make sense to me.

All multicoatings use the same stepped-index scheme, and it can be characterized (among other ways)

  as 'intereference filtering'.  It seems obvious from most published spectra, though there might be some

without the steep walls of an interference scheme.  

 

Notice that:

https://en.wikipedia...lective_coating

...the section on "interference coatings"  actually describes

  practically all coatings and multicoatings made.

  Various strengths of reflections combine in phase....

   1/4 wave at mod-spectrum is illustrated.

  Now, because you cannot pick the exactly index/dielectric constant,

   various thickness are picked in multi-coating to add up to the result.

  Saying there are coatings systems without intereference is a peculiar statement.

   The pass-through lens coatings are all "thin film interference", according to the Optics branch of Physics.

 

Zeiss has a ref to Smakula:

http://www.zeiss.com...tml#1895-_-1945

...for coating (not multi, it seems)

 

Pentax did dip into the ghastly metallic-looking green-pass realm for a while,

but not on most of their product.   It looked like a red metallic beetle.

I hope you aren't dangling red herring (as it were) with that oddity when you talk about a

"wayward use of worse than useless "Interference Filter""

 

We seems to have an SMC 7-layer scheme for cameras in 1971:

http://www.bdimitrov...nology/SMC.html

 

 

Here the discusiion of camera lenses seems to say that Zeiss starts talking more openly

about multi-coating in 1974, in reaction to Pentax ads, in 1974:

http://photo.net/med...hy-forum/00GrBN

 

Among photograpers it seems the Germans and Japnse both produced multicoatings

before they actually promoted them as such...

 

1971:   The Spotmatic ES camera from Pentax, w/SMC coatings:

http://www.photoxels...ory_pentax.html

 

So, it's not quite clear in cameras,

  other than the marketing dates.....

I can't find the co-development reference yet...

 

 

When it comes to binoculars, Holger Merlitz:

http://www.holgermer.../seven8x30.html

..talking about the 8x30 Deltrintem, puts its use of

  single-coating as in WW2, and an

"amber colored multi layer coating"   is introduced in 1978.

 

Japanese binoculars talk about amber coatings well before that,

but it's hard to say what that means...

 

I think one big problem is that binoculars with multi-coating weren't always touted as such.


Edited by MartinPond, 27 December 2015 - 03:36 AM.


#13 Gordon Rayner

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 05:59 PM

RE  #5, above:

 

The Fuji Meibo   25 x 150  x 2.7 deg,   was   EBC multicoated  from the  1972(?) start, following Ben Ichiyasu's   pioneering   approach to FPO,  to replace  well-worn  WW II  trophy  Nikko, Toko,  Toyokawa Arsenal, etc  production    then in use for fishing.  He had learned Japanese  in WW II US Army.  A tall man,  a net  entrepreneur. ( long before  Internet)    I personally sold and fixed  and used those   from   1973 onward.    The big Porro  II prism cluster, with  the entrance prism  larger than the exit prism,  is BK-7,   though  ads   and misinformation  by reviewers    said BaK-4.    F/5  objectives.

 

There was   more  information   in early Japanese   ads in English, about that model.    Later  , in about 1989  (IIRC),   the lighter, trunnion-less  pintle mounted  current version appeared.    I have fixed some  in  field conditions  outside the US.   One specimen  had   AO's  initials  inside the prism housing.    
They had provided   several years of service,  but   one eyepiece was  jammed.        They are   eccentric-less.  Adjustment   of parallelism of the sight lines  is via  prism lateral pushing,  which can be  slow.  Delicate adjustments requiring repeated  opening and closure  of the prism  housings. 


Edited by Gordon Rayner, 27 December 2015 - 06:02 PM.


#14 Henry Link

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 08:23 PM

Thanks Gordon. That's the kind of credible evidence I was hoping for.

 

I seem to have found my own example of pre-1978 binocular multicoating in this Pentax magazine ad from 1976, which mentions "super-multi coating" on Pentax roof prism models. The image quality is poor, but I know from viewing better photos that SMC is printed on the left side of the brand badge on the front of the roof prism model illustrated in the ad.

 

http://www.ebay.com/...WgAAOxyLchRrBwY

 

I also notice that a photo was posted today of an old Pentax 8x40 Porro model (unfortunately undated) with "Super-Multi-Coated" printed right on it. It's post #40 here:

 

http://www.cloudynig...-2#entry6965586

 

I think it's reasonable to assume that any early SMC coated Pentax binocular will have reflection colors like the one in the photo and will be labeled SMC or Super-Multi-Coated.

 

Martin, 

 

I specifically used the term "Interference Filter" because that was the marketing term used by Pentax from as early as 1963 into the 1980s for what looked very much like a gold mirror coating applied to the eye lenses of their binoculars for the dubious purpose of blocking infrared and ultraviolet. I bought and quickly returned a 6x30 example of it as late as1986. 

 

You wouldn't have any trouble distinguishing between The Zeiss/Jena T3M multicoating Holger mentioned and older "amber" coatings. The word "amber" might be loosely applied to both, but the reflection colors look completely different. I'd be interested if you can supply hard evidence of older amber coatings being more than a single layer.

 

Henry


Edited by Henry Link, 28 December 2015 - 02:09 PM.


#15 MartinPond

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Posted 28 December 2015 - 05:18 PM

"

Martin,

 

I specifically used the term "Interference Filter" because that was the marketing term used by Pentax from as early as 1963 into the 1980s for what looked very much like a gold mirror coating applied to the eye lenses of their binoculars for the dubious purpose of blocking infrared and ultraviolet. I bought and quickly returned a 6x30 example of it as late as1986.

"

That is precisely what I thought.

I think it is not characteristic of Pentax in general and was used to 'poison the well' as they say in debates.

 

"

You wouldn't have any trouble distinguishing between The Zeiss/Jena T3M multicoating Holger mentioned and older "amber" coatings. The word "amber" might be loosely applied to both, but the reflection colors look completely different. I'd be interested if you can supply hard evidence of older amber coatings being more than a single layer.

"

I have financial limits, but given the spotty recorded information for both German and Japanese optics,

   I am preparing to cut to the chase and directly measure transmission of known samples.  

   I was going by my experience with the much better documented but still a little spotty camera world,

   and my visual experience,  but most of what I see in the world of binoculars is far less backed and has

    far more cherry-picking and red herring.  So far,

      It's so hard to see the difference with an ordinary analog meter, especially with Selsi and Swift and

     ambers and Bushnell Custom UVC+ambers and Sears ambers.....I will need to go digital. 

     Fortunately, most sensors are wide-spectrum enough that the

   narrower red, green, blue, and UV LEDs can be used to establish selectivity.

  

Chasing documents is less reliable than measuring the real deal, in the

    face of  so much lore and doctrine.  My  experience with

   print colorimetry and spectral material ID may help me sniff out a path....or a deal.

   It's kind of pointless for people to demand fat proof and give slim cherries in the meantime. 

  Holger's information was fascinating.   In terms of manufacturing and marketing, binoculars

   have never been anything like cameras of lab equipment.  


Edited by MartinPond, 28 December 2015 - 05:27 PM.


#16 MartinPond

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 01:27 AM

Looks like almost everyone was off about the years,

  but I am getting more solid information and two years the facts are

   gravitating towards:

 

 

 

We see 1971 over and over as the introduction date of the
7-later Super Multi Coated SMC Takumar in lenses:
http://www.ricoh-ima...tml#decade_next
(granted, in cameras)
Pentax SMC transmission is graphed: it reaches 97-98% after 8 surfaces!

http://www.lenstip.c...and_lenses.html
An open question is: when did SMC make it to binoculars?
A recent post here makes it very clear that it did at some point.
(from the markings).  They had 7 years to do so, after their 1971 camera debut.

 

 

There is another reference to the introduction of 2-layer T* coating in
   Zeiss binoculars:
http://www.lenstip.c...and_lenses.html
There are measured graphs for multicoating (total surfaces) transmission for
eiss Jena (it says, once again,
introduced in 1978), Docter Nobelim, and Steiner Commander 7x50.
None seem as flat or high as the SMC, even when you add 3-4 more surfaces to the losses.

 

 

So it looks more and more like 1971 for the patent and debut of Pentax-SMC, with seven layers and extremely low losses,

and 1978 for the debut (in binoculars) of  Zeiss-T*, as a 2-layer multicoating, with considerably higher losses and

 narrower pasband.

 

I haven't found the magazine ads for SMC-coated binoculars in the 70s yet.

 

I can say that the metallic-looking 'wayward interference coating' makes up a very

  small portion of the used Pentax binoculars on EBay or shopgoodwill, almost entirely

  a particular variant of 7x50.  

 

They both got it later than I thought, but it looks like the Takumar SMC was miles ahead for years.

It was an electron-beam multicoating decades earlier than now.


Edited by MartinPond, 29 December 2015 - 01:29 AM.

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#17 hallelujah

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 01:32 AM

I certainly don't know how you do it, but, thanks for all your research & for sharing it with us. :bow:

 

Stan



#18 MartinPond

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 01:37 AM

It can be brutal at first, until you discover the 'idioms' of the sources.

Sometimes I hit a jackpot with historical ads, but other times...no appropriate hits.

They play peekaboo and ask for subsrciption fees at many newspapers.

 

Patent searching is cool.   uspto can be really sluggish, though.

and it takes 10-20 iterations before you hit your intended vein.....

 

There's vetting the sources, too...so many off references propagating out there..


Edited by MartinPond, 29 December 2015 - 01:38 AM.


#19 Henry Link

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Posted 30 December 2015 - 12:23 PM

Looks like almost everyone was off about the years,

  but I am getting more solid information and two years the facts are

   gravitating towards:

 

 

 

We see 1971 over and over as the introduction date of the
7-later Super Multi Coated SMC Takumar in lenses:
http://www.ricoh-ima...tml#decade_next
(granted, in cameras)
Pentax SMC transmission is graphed: it reaches 97-98% after 8 surfaces!

http://www.lenstip.c...and_lenses.html
An open question is: when did SMC make it to binoculars?
A recent post here makes it very clear that it did at some point.
(from the markings).  They had 7 years to do so, after their 1971 camera debut.

 

 

There is another reference to the introduction of 2-layer T* coating in
   Zeiss binoculars:
http://www.lenstip.c...and_lenses.html
There are measured graphs for multicoating (total surfaces) transmission for
eiss Jena (it says, once again,
introduced in 1978), Docter Nobelim, and Steiner Commander 7x50.
None seem as flat or high as the SMC, even when you add 3-4 more surfaces to the losses.

 

 

So it looks more and more like 1971 for the patent and debut of Pentax-SMC, with seven layers and extremely low losses,

and 1978 for the debut (in binoculars) of  Zeiss-T*, as a 2-layer multicoating, with considerably higher losses and

 narrower pasband.

 

I haven't found the magazine ads for SMC-coated binoculars in the 70s yet.

 

I can say that the metallic-looking 'wayward interference coating' makes up a very

  small portion of the used Pentax binoculars on EBay or shopgoodwill, almost entirely

  a particular variant of 7x50.  

 

They both got it later than I thought, but it looks like the Takumar SMC was miles ahead for years.

It was an electron-beam multicoating decades earlier than now.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the link, Martin.

 

I recall that piece from when it first appeared at the Allbinos.com site. I guess I’ll have to disagree with some of your reading of the information in it and a few of your other points. Can you point to a Zeiss T* coated binocular included in the article? The only “Zeiss” binoculars I see mentioned are East German Zeiss/Jena 7x50s, one using their T3M multicoating, which was developed independently from West German Zeiss T* coating and was unrelated to it. Can you supply a reference for T* beginning as a 2 layer coating?

 

I think you’ll find that “electron-beam multicoating” was first developed by Fuji Photo for their professional TV camera lenses in 1964. We know from Gordon’s post that Fuji EBC coating was available on 150mm Fujinon binoculars in 1972. By the time I first encountered Fujinon binoculars about 1984 EBC coating was available on the smaller MT-SX series, which included 14x70, 10x70, 7x50 and 8x30 models. Perhaps Gordon knows when those first appeared. The item below appears to be accurate, or at least it’s in agreement with other sources, as to dates and the 11-layer Fuji EBC coating.

 

http://www.dpreview..../thread/3543288

 

On a different but related subject I noticed this scrap of information about single-layer “amber coating” in an old Zeiss binocular brochure that predates T* coating.

 

“A purple-violet tint of the optics indicates that the lenses are properly coated. If it is too blue, the coating is too thick; if the coating is yellow as in so-called “amber” coatings, then it is too thin. In either case, a loss of light will be the result.”

 

Of course that’s the Zeiss take on “proper” coating, but it's probably a reasonable explanation of why amber coating is amber. I own a 7x50 Leitz Marseptit and a 6x30 Bidoxit from the 1960s. They both fall into the amber coated category and they certainly appear to me to have more neutral color presentation than any of the old binoculars I own with single-layer “purple-blue” coatings, including Zeiss. That impression of neutrality is in good agreement with the light transmission chart for the Marseptit in the lenstip.com link above. It does make sense for a thinner coating layer to render the maximum transmission peak at a shorter wavelength than a thicker coating. Perhaps that reduces the peak transmission in the yellow that is potentially possible with a thicker single layer of MgF2, but then visually compensates with an overall flatter transmission curve with less relative loss in green and blue.

 

Finally, as for Pentax “Interference Filter” coating being a minor anomaly confined to only one 7x50, I think if you examine the links above you’ll find a clear implication that it was applied to the entire line of Pentax binoculars in the 1963 ad and to all but the SMC coated roof prism models in the 1976 ad. You can easily find more examples of it if you do a Google search, including images of 7x35, 8x40 and other models with gold mirror coated eyepieces.

 

Henry


Edited by Henry Link, 30 December 2015 - 07:49 PM.



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