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The vintage binocular discussion thread.

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#26 krehmkej

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 08:30 AM

I have here a KONICA 7x50 WA. Appears to have Konica's reknown optical quality. Optics are sharp across the field and multi-coated a deep purple color. A very solid and nicely made piece. The only Konica binocular I have ever seen. Has anyone seen another?

#27 Glassthrower

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 01:32 PM

Brand name check : has anyone heard of these?

Pilot 7x35 (made in Japan)

Gemini 7x35

Manon 10x50

Bushnell Falcon and Bushnell Ensign (both 7x35) : are these made in Japan? They appear to be early Bushnells.

Clear dark skies...

MikeG

#28 Glassthrower

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 04:37 PM

"Warabi Kokisha" - does anyone know something about this Japanese optics manufacturer? I looked it up on a JB code but I could not find anything about the company (or quality) on the web.

Any help would be appreciated...

Clear dark skies...

MikeG

#29 BillC

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 11:38 PM

>>>They appear to be early Bushnells.<<<

David Bushnell started importing 1947. I believe the Ensigns are from the 70s. Some had plastic field lenses. Some had plastic field lenses AND rear eyelenses.

I learned that the hard way one day while talking shop with a bottle of acetone.

Cheers,

Bill

#30 refractory

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 02:15 PM

Can you tell us, ballpark please, when Bushnell started becoming associated with 'junk'? Thanks.

Jess Tauber

#31 trainsktg

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 03:06 PM

>>>They appear to be early Bushnells.<<<

David Bushnell started importing 1947. I believe the Ensigns are from the 70s. Some had plastic field lenses. Some had plastic field lenses AND rear eyelenses.

I learned that the hard way one day while talking shop with a bottle of acetone.

Cheers,

Bill


Interestingly, during WWII, Bushnell actually imported lenses from Zeiss via the Swiss (I believe) to put in their binoculars produced for the US military.

Keith

#32 brentwood

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 11:04 PM

As far back as I can remember, most Bushnells have been very low end. I say most as the Rangemasters from the 70s & 80s were very good quality, as were the Custom line. I have a few Rangemasters and an earlier 10x50 Custom, which is a beautifull set. Wide angle, great resolution, maybe a bit heavy, the only goofy thing is the text on the inside of the objective rings which includes the immortal phrase "Squint proof lenses"!

#33 Glassthrower

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 11:17 PM

Bill -

Thanks for the input. Sometimes it is very hard to sort out the plethora of Japanese-made vintage binoculars.

I'll avoid the Ensign model in the future.

Ever hear of "Manon" ??

Clear dark skies...

MikeG

#34 Glassthrower

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 10:49 AM

Well, I just won these for the stately sum of $22.00 :

Manon 10 x 50 field 5.50 - 288 ft. at 1000 yds

It looks like a nice binocular in great condition, we'll see.

I think I had to outbid a fellow CN'er. If so, then we vintage-bino nuts need to network and coordinate our bidding, so we don't run the price up on each other.

Any rate, I will post a review when they arrive.

Clear dark skies...

MikeG

#35 trainsktg

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 10:06 PM

Well, how about an 'Elite' 8x30 with M. I. I. marking (Made in Italy???)? It appears to be pre-WW II, possibly a Zeiss clone. Glass is in excellent shape and finish is still spotless. The view is surprisingly consistent across the entire field. My Mom-in-Law picked 'em up for $2.00.

Keith

#36 brentwood

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 11:33 PM

See if there's a Japanese manufacturers symbol under the lower hinge, Ive never seen Italian binoculars. Picked them up for $2.00 ? Sounds like me! The best Ive done was a set of Leitz (Leica) 10x40(wide angle version)with leather case & both straps, for $15.00 !

#37 BillC

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 12:55 AM

>>>Interestingly, during WWII, Bushnell actually imported lenses from Zeiss via the Swiss (I believe) to put in their binoculars produced for the US military.

Keith

Hi Keith:

I think you are confusing Bushnell with Bausch as in Emil, or Bausch & Lomb. Later B & L did purchase Bushnell. However, to my knowledge, David didn't start importing until 1947--two years after the end of the war.

Cheers,

Bill

#38 trainsktg

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 01:15 AM

I think you are confusing Bushnell with Bausch as in Emil, or Bausch & Lomb. Later B & L did purchase Bushnell. However, to my knowledge, David didn't start importing until 1947--two years after the end of the war.


You are absolutely correct. It was B & L. As usual, I type before I think. Thanks for catching the snafu.

Keith (Once again proving you can never be too young to be senile.)

#39 refractory

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 06:31 PM

Once a while back someone told me (don't remember who) that Bushnell was some sort of acronym for Bausch and Lomb (I guess B(a)us©h'(a)n(d)L(omb). Takes all sorts....

Jess Tauber

#40 BillC

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 07:08 PM

After an old wives tale gets spread around so long--unchallenged--people begin to look upon it as fact. That one was a STRETCH at best.

Cheers,

Bill

#41 Glassthrower

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Posted 12 August 2006 - 08:17 AM

Here is a link to a thread about the Manon 10x50 vintage Japanese binocular :

http://www.cloudynig...&Number=1090593

Clear dark vintage skies...

MikeG

#42 Jay_Bird

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 11:40 AM

For about 6 months the family grab-n-go bino’s are 7x35 Sears Discoverer (30+ years old?) found at a pawnshop. Their 11 degree FOV, fairly robust construction, and a price that encourages unrestricted use by kids are their strong points.

Last weekend I shared them with my son to watch an almost overhead pass of the ISS at nightfall Friday. We saw the brilliant ISS glide from low in the SW then overhead across about 150 degrees of the visible sky and finally fade out in earth’s rising shadow above the Arizona mountains across Lake Mead. We both agreed it was non-stellar when overhead, either elongated from partial resolution, or just flaring since it was so bright, looking more Jupiter-like than star-like. After thinking about it later, a 500 ft space station at 200 miles might subtend between 1 and 2 arc-minutes, so it’s possible we saw the elongated shape of the station...

Before the ISS pass we looked at first stars, summer triangle & Jupiter appearing amidst feeding bats and roosting birds. Watching night fall makes differences in brighter stars seem less subtle than under full darkness. Arcturus and Antares seem especially bright, and I wonder if that is partly from color contrast with the last fading blue sky adding to their apparent brightness.

Later on, we resolved a few stars in each of the double cluster members and noticed the ‘texture’ of unresolved stars in the Milky Way background. M34, M31 and M15 turned up as well to illustrate types of clusters and a galaxy. We looked, but couldn’t see M33, which was pretty low in the east for anything but a truly dark site.

In July the local summer parks district concert prompted some sky watching from our blankets on the grass, with Discoverers brought along just in case, and several satellites were seen by all during a slow point in the show.

Having found the ‘Heavens Above’ web site since, we now use these about once a week to watch for something of interest like the ISS. The wide field helps spot and even a 7x35 amplifies satellites quite a bit to make apparent many random passes that unaided eye might miss…

Best, Jay

#43 chris charen

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 01:24 AM

Picked these from a second hand dealer a few days ago for about $25US. Branded 'Limer' - they are 10x50, WA 7*, BaK4, 'fully coated' optics and made in Japan.
Very impressive views - almost clear to edge esp. considering they are 7 degrees. Very difficult to see my face reflected in the main lens. Night time views show pinpoint stars and minimal internal reflections.
Ergonomically they are lovely to hold.
I think they were a bargain. Attempted to do some 'research' but not a lot came up for 'Limer'. Any one heard of used before.? I think maybe 15- 20 years old. Another one for my collection!

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#44 refractory

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 02:27 AM

I've been watching for vintage binos on the 'usual suspects' auction site, and have seen Limer's go by twice in the last year or so. I think they may have been the same mag/ap as yours. Do they say 'coated', 'hard coated', 'fully coated' or 'multicoated'?

Jess Tauber

#45 chris charen

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 03:19 AM

They are 'fully coated'. I am assuming, rightly or wrongly, they were made prior to 'FMC'/ broadband type coatings. The 'Limer' lens however do have a deep purple hue. Most of my 'coated' Japanese lens have the typical single layer Mag. Fluoride 'light blue' reflection.
I do have some other 'fully coated' Japanese binos ['Yashica' and 'Hilkinson'] which reflect a slightly deeper blue, but these 'Limers' have a real purple tinge. They are the 'best' coatings [i.e. no facial reflections / no ghosting ]of my 14 Japanese binos. The only other bino. that had similar minimal facial relections was my new FMC Pentax 20x60 WP 11.
I would suggest if they come up on a auction site - do bid for them - you will be impressed.

#46 Glassthrower

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 04:28 PM

A few further reflections upon the Manon 10x50 and vintage Japanese porros in general...

Eye relief is really short. Too short if you wear glasses while observing, like I do. These Manons have great optical quality, but they also have the same type of eyepieces you see again and again in these 1960's-1980's Japanese porros. Mainly the 6x30, 7x35, 8x40, 7x50, 10x50 and other common models all have hard plastic shrouds around the eyepieces. These shrouds are quite thick and eat up a substantial amount of eye relief. Most are threaded (at least the two models I have sampled were removable) and could be removed. This gains a few mm of eye relief, but it also exposes the seal and lubricant around the eyepiece. Even with these shrouds removed on my Manon 10x50, I simply cannot see the field stop with my glasses on. I lose a substantial portion of the field. What I can see is very pleasing - nice pointy stars and good contrast. But the sense of depth is lost because I am missing a good part of the field. I suppose that manufacturers of that era assumed that everyone has 20/20 vision and nobody observes with glasses on. Ultimately, even without my glasses, I encounter a problem. My uncorrected vision is terrible and I need about 4 diopters to compensate. These Manons are just a wee-bit short on focus travel. So I cannot use them with glasses on or off.

:( This stinks, because I really like the view (albeit abbreviated) and I like the tank-like robust build.

At any rate, this post is also a heads-up, because I am thinking about posting these Manons on the Shop and Swap forum and see what I can get for them in trade.

Clear dark skies...

MikeG

#47 Mike Rapchak

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Posted 03 December 2006 - 08:21 PM

Mike,

This is quite a fascinating topic. Many thanks for creating it.

I'd imagine that many of us here have had the special privlege of being exposed to vintage binoculars while growing up; often as a result of coming into contact with pairs owned by our Dads, relatives, etc. I'd assume that in most cases we this day have no idea what they were, unles they remained in the familiy and/or were inherited.

While this is not the case with me personaly, I do have a couple of my own binos that may rate in the "vintage" category.

How many here recall the Sears "Discovery" series? My first-ever binos were a pair of these, purchased in the spring of 1969. These were the 10x50 extra-wide-angle pair. Quite an impressive piece of equipment. I know little about their tech aspects, i.e., what the body is made of, what kind of coatings they had, etc. What I do know is that this type of bino was pretty common through at least the mid-1980s, and by this I'm referring to the "extra-wide-angle" feature: 8 degrees - 420 feet @ 1000 yards - quite a spec for a 10x50. I am genuinely surprised that no one markets this type of bino anymore.

These binos have 1"-diameter eyepieces. I have no idea of their exit pupil (it must be pretty big). Suffice to say that they functioned quite nicely as "night-vision" binos as the view at bight was surprisingly bright (especially for a 10x50).

They came with a black simulated alligator-hide covering on the body, and very nice screw-up aluminum[?] eyecups (although they were quite cold to the touch in winter).

Price was around $70. Unfortunately this pair was stolen in 1970. So in 1971 I went back to Sears and bought another pair. These I still have. They are (were) quite delightful astronomically. The 8-degree field is stunning. Sure, there is field curvature towards the outer edges, but who cares? One doesn't really notice this while viewing. Resolution (image sharpness) is very good.

Bad News: Sometme during the late 1970s I gave these to my youngest brother for a birthday present. I later bought a similar pair of Swift 7x50s (500+ ft. @ 100- yards!) but didn't like them on account of their minimal maginfication. Gave these to my brother in exchange for the Sears 10x50s (i.e., got them back). Unfortunately they had somehow been knocked out of collimation - a condition they're in to this very day. Then, a few years ago, I loaned them to a friend who was a memeber of one of the Indiana militias. He proceded to wrap them with a camoflauge tape. I eventually got them back; only tonight did I attempt to remove this tape. The tape came off easily, but the glue stayed on. I have to find some method of removing it that won't damage the original surface nor the inscriptions on the back of the prism housings.

In the above-mentioned late '70s I began a search for a comparable pair of binos. Sears no longer sold this particular "Discoverer" make; instead they offered a decidedly inferior model of it, which I bought but soon discarded. A few others were tried, inlcuding a horrendous piece of garbage I got from an outfit called The Astronomical Unit (advertising in Astronomy Magazine, among others). After a while I sinply gave up. Then, in 1984, I found Nirvana in the form of a pair of Celestron binos of the exact same specs as the original Sears brand - the "Nova" 10x50 EWA. They weren't cheap - something like $230. I ordered a pair (from Roger Tuthill) and that was the end of my binocular quest. These Celestrons were everything the Sears brand was and more - much better coatings for one. Star colors were so much more evident. Contrast was superior. I can't say that construction was any better (the Sears Discoverers are very robust) but it was more than adequate.

And yes, I still have these, too. These binos have been subjected to merciless abuse. I never keep them in their supplied case. Matter of fact, I never even use the supplied eyepiece/objective caps. The just sit on my table collecting whatever airborne *Gosh, dang dibbity dag nabbit* is available (which in my house is a lot). How do I clean them? Pick up whatever is handy - a paper towel, shirt, rag, etc. And yet they still perform magnificently - no sign of scratching on lenses or oculars, coatings are still good - and views - daylight or of the night sky - are still superb. Conclusion: I would not part with these unless someone offered me a "royal" sum. I've been through many pairs of binoculars in the past four decades; none have equalled the overall performance of these Celestrons.

Anyway - I thought that this account might be of merit to those interested in vintage binoculars. :)

Mike Rapchak Jr.

#48 Glassthrower

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 02:32 PM

Hi Mike,

I loved the story, thanks for sharing it. With me, it was my Uncle Veach and his pair of old binoculars. I don't know what power they were (I suspect, in hindsight, it was a 7x50 or 10x50, based on heft and size), but I really enjoyed them as kid when I would go to visit.

Your Sears binos likely have a lightweight magnesium body, which was very common during that period. By "alligator skin", are you referring to that black pebblegrain fake-leather/vinyl type of covering? Again, that was very common during that period - most of the binos from the 50's to the 80's were covered in that stuff, before rubber armoring came onto the scene.

As for restoring them, you have two main options :

1) scour the archive of this forum, concentrating on posts by Bill Cook, and soak up all the knowledge you can about these old binoculars. Others in this group, whose names I shamefully forget at the moment, also have impressive collections of these older binoculars, and they can give you some tips on cleaning them up. If you open them up, take care not to seperate/rotate/molest the orientation of the lens elements. I disassembled an old pair of 7x50 Binolux binoculars, and the objectives were seated in a threaded, cone-shaped, cell that screwed into the prism housing. By unscrewing the objective housings, you can get to the inside surface of the objectives and give them a good cleaning. If you have mold or other stuff between the doublet objective elements, then you have a steeper hill to climb. Turn around and go back to base camp! If you stop there, and do not molest the prisms or their housing, then may screw the objectives back into the body, then collimation should not be disturbed. Since you said collimation is already lost, then you have less to lose by going deeper into the binocular. Prisms are held in place by metal clips which are screwed into the magnesium prism housing. Unscrew them, carefully remove the clips, and then carefully remove the prism which will fall loose into the housing and get scratched if you aren't careful. You can clean these if they are dirty. Again, make careful note of the positioning and orientation of all glass you remove, especially the prisms. On common porro binoculars of that type, there should be a pair of prisms on each side, for a total of 4. Make sure you put them back together exactly the way they were when you clip them back in. I've never dissected a binocular eyepiece, but I do know that they typically unscrew from the prism housing in the same manner the objective tubes do. Some will simply twist right out. Treat disassembly and cleaning of the eyepieces in the same manner you would a telescope eyepiece - again, making very careful note of the position and relative orientations of the elements. If you use a solvent on the lenses, you may remove some of the blackening at the edges of the lenses/stops. You will have to re-black them if necessary. If you notice anything inside the binocular that can be cleaned up or improved upon, now is the time to do it while the bino is laying open. If the thread-baffling or any other part of the inside frame is shiny exposed metal, then consider painting it with flat black paint. Flat black the whole inside of the binocular if necessary. The coatings on the older binoculars are not great, and every little boost in contrast you can get is worth a shot, especially if you are doing surgery anyway. Just remember that glues and paints will need a proper amount of time to outgas before re-assembly, or chemical fumes could collect and interact with your optics to detrimental effect. Then, put everything back together, cross your fingers, say a prayer, and look through them. ;)

2) Keep them on the shelf as a sentimental item, and buy another similar pair on the web. These types of binoculars show up all the time on eBay. just be sure to ask for plenty of good photos and ask specific questions about the condition of the glass. Many eBay sellers know nothing about optics, binoculars, or their care. AstroMart is a safer bet, Cloudy Nights Shop and Swap as well, although these binoculars show up less often on AM and CN.

Good luck and clear dark skies...

MikeG

#49 Mike Rapchak

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 02:49 PM

Mike,

I'm glad you found my story of interest! As far as disassembling those Sears binos I'd be quite leery as I currently know very little about their inner workings. However, if I do decide, I'll use the instructions in your reply as a guide. Many thanks for the information!

Now that I think of it, you are correct in stating that the binos have a magnesium body. I managed to scrape off a bit more of the camo-tape glue with my fingernail and can see a portion of the inscription. BTW, they also have BAK-4 prisms. If I ever get them cleaned up maybe I'll post a photo of them here.

The covering is pretty much as you described it - a large-pebble-texture that looks like leather (I call it "alligator hide"). The center-focus barrel and ocular housings (not just the right diopter) appear to be aluminum, with nice ridged surfaces. The top of each ridge is aluminum-colored while the low areas between each are black. I can't decide if these binos look hi-tech or just plain cheesy (probably the latter). :lol:

Again, thanks for your reply!

Mike R.

#50 pcad

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 03:33 AM

Hi Mike

Thanks for starting this thread. It coincides with a few purchases that I've made recently. These include a couple of old Hensoldt binos, a 10x50 and a 6x30, both center focus. I didn't spend a fortune on them and saying they were in good condition was a bit of a strech for the 10x50.

Mechanically, both worked but were a little stiff. One side of the bridge on the 10x50 had some play in it. Optically, both were hazy, but otherwise seemed intact. There wasn't any serious fungus or problems with the cemented doublets. Cosmetically, both are obviously old instruments and were well used. The leather is still intact, but frayed a little at the edges.

Both of these binoculars use Abbe-Konig roof prisms that have been a corner stone of modern Zeiss binoculars. One of the reasons I bought them was that I was curious about this roof prism design having heard that it's the best available. I also knew that these optics had no coatings whatsoever. I realized that even in new condition they would have less light transmission then equivalent modern binos.

I realized pretty quickly that these binos needed to be cleaned. Fortunately they had straight foward designs and were easily disassembled. The objective tubes unscrew revealing the prism cells. I took note of the position of each tube before unscrewing them so I could rebuild them accurately. The prism cell is snugly seated in the housing and is just gently pulled straight out. Each prism is secured by a registration pin, an aluminum ledge and a clip pressing down on the prism. After removing the prisms I gently cleaned them until the was no sign of grim on any of the surfaces. I reblackened the unused faces and reassembled the prism cell and loaded it back into the body of the binos. The objectives were also gently cleaned.

After reassembly I checked the alignment of the binoculars. To the eye there was no appreciable differance in alignment before or after the cleaning.

The difference in the performance of these binos was remarkable. Where they were foggy before they were now much clearer and almost bright. These are now much more usable than before and see a fair amount of use.

One big difference between these classic binos and modern ones is the eyepieces. It seems that they used simple 2 lens designs on the binos. This means that the AFOV is quite narrow. My guess is that the AFOV is about 45 - 50 degrees.

Now that they work better, I find them to be enjoyable, interesting binoculars to use.


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