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Anyone know anything about Apollo 8x30mm WP Field 7.5 binoculars?

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#1 Coldlight

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 04:02 PM

I'm a complete novice whose interest in binoculars is all of a week old and I now own 7 pairs or sub-$50 Canadian ($36 USD) binoculars that I bought as a learning exercise - unfortunately it has rained continuously since I acquired my new hobby and so I'm limited to procurement and online research.  You'll hear more from me about my experience with these old binoculars in due course but today I'm curious if anyone can tell me anything about these Apollo branded 8x30mm binoculars I picked up the other day.  I've had no luck finding anything specifically about them on this site or online generally.  The seller indicated that they were quite old - although age is relative to the beholder. My gut feeling is that they date to the 1990's. The closest thing appearance-wise are Steiner Marine binoculars which I've included a photo of for comparison at the link below. More recently there are some cheap Chinese-made binoculars of the same basic style on Amazon. I was not able to find another Apollo binocular in this particular style - but I did find a different green military-style Apollo mini for sale on eBay.  Here's a link to photos of the Apollos and one of a pair of Steiner Marine for comparison.  https://photos.app.g...JSdcHDbjH2CRVQ7

 

I believe the Apollo mark on the hinge refers to the German company Apollo Optik Gmbh, a German optics company owned by Essilor-Luxottica focusing on retail eyewear. Apollo was founded 1972 in Schwabach, and is operating in 40 countries. It is the biggest optics company in Europe.  The Miniature Binoculars website has this to say about Apollo:

 

    "Apollo was a German trade marked binoculars brand of the German company Apollo-Optik Gmbh, also trade marked in Israel, Australia, USA, and the UK., and perhaps some other markets, and with some related Apollo trademarks later owned by the German     Foto Quelle camera-optical retail chain. My smaller 7x18 Apollo binoculars post date the US occupation period, but predate JB codes,     so date 1952 to Nov. 1959. They marked as assembled by TOA /Toa Optical Co., Ltd. (Toa Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushiki-geisha )( 東亜     光学株式会社 ) of Japan, and are German language market marked. My larger yellow Apollo 7x50 binoculars post date JB codes and carry an exporter mark I can’t identify. The yellow rubberized design is typical to targeting the maritime market. My largest 10x50 Apollo binoculars were assembled by JB17/ Otake Kogaku Kogyo, of Japan."

 

My new-to-me Apollos have a Japan Inspection oval stamp and are marked JB-46 which indicates Japanese manufacturer was Otsuka Kogaku Co. Ltd., Tokyo. which continues to operate.  I found an interesting undated article about Otsuka that indicates they were assembling binoculars in Japan using Chinese lenses https://hinode-bino-...optical-co-ltd/ . There is no obvious way to tell if that's the case with these particular binoculars.  

 

I am less sure of the following aspects of my research: 

 

There is printing on the binoculars "WP" on the right side and "Para Water" on the left that I believe mean they were waterproof - although that is no longer the case because there is a small split in a seam that reveals the rubber skin is a relatively thin rubber membrane.

 

There is also mark on the hinge face that indicate "GPC Body" and based on this post https://binocularsky...reviations.php 

G refers to the German work "Gummi" or Rubber and the "PC" refers to "Phase Corrected" which suggests they would be roof prism binoculars (unlike the Steiners). Wikipedia indicates that "phase-correction coating or P-coating on the roof surfaces was developed in 1988 by Adolf Weyrauch at Carl Zeiss. Other manufacturers followed soon, and since then phase-correction coatings are used across the board in medium and high-quality roof prism binoculars."   So if my interpretation of the GPC Body reference is correct these binoculars would have been manufactured no earlier than ~1990.  Steiner's website has this to say about their similar-looking binoculars:  "Battle-proven Steiner lenses and prisms are built into unbreakable, rubber-armored Makrolon® polycarbonate binocular housings, and seamless, high-strength alloy scope tubes. Then purged, sealed and shielded to be fog-proof, waterproof, impact resistant and immune to extremes of every kind. Now, and for lifetimes to come."  It seems doubtful to me that my Apollo's would qualify as military-grade binoculars (only the right ocular lens adjusts) or are anywhere near as robust as their Steiner counterparts. That said, they seem to work quite well - although the weather hasn't been cooperating for a more in-depth consideration of their strengths and weaknesses. 

 

Observations, comments, most welcome and thank you in advance for same!  


Edited by Coldlight, 09 December 2023 - 04:39 PM.


#2 MisterDan

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 06:26 PM

Hello, and thanks for sharing!

 

"Apollo" has been a model and/or brand name used on Japan-made binoculars for several decades - as far back as the early 1950s, if not earlier.

 

For anyone interested in the miniaturebinoculars page you quoted, here is that link:

https://www.miniatur...t5/Page6190.htm

 

The Apollo binoculars Mr. Ohno discusses are about midway down the linked page.

Incidentally, the trademark/symbol Mr. Ohno references (as found on his yellow, armored 7x50 unit) is a stylized letter "S" and identifies mid- or late-'70s (and later) binoculars made by Seiwa Optical (J-B191).

 

"Para - water" may indeed be translated as "waterproof," but I myself would relate the term more to "shielded against water" or "water resistant".  -And while "WP" is a commonly used abbreviation for "waterproof" these days, but I would not place full confidence in any binocular's waterproofness based solely on the presence of "WP" and/or "Para - water" - especially when noted on a decades-old porro model.  Also - the presence of rubber/poly armor does not signify waterproofness.  Many binoculars without armor are rendered waterproof via o-rings and other internal seals and construction details.  The split seam you noted likely has no bearing on whether the unit is (or is not) waterproof.  Unless "waterproof" is explicitly specified and defined by a reputable/reliable manufacturer as being applicable to a particular model/unit, I myself would not expect any binocular to be waterproof.

 

Many armored (and even NON-armored) binoculars utilize ribbing to help with secure handling/gripping. While it is often associated with Steiner, it is just as common on other manufacturers' binoculars and has been a design feature for decades (in some cases, even before Steiner ever utilized them).

 

I hope another member can verify this, but I believe "GPC" may refer to the materials & construction of the binocular chassis, itself.  I seem to recall it signifying the use of injection-molded polymer(s) and/or polycarbonate(s).  -And don't immediately dismiss any optical instrument that utilizes "plastics" in its construction.  The finest manufacturers can and do utilize polymer materials where they are appropriate and/or optimal and/or a better choice than any metal.  This includes Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, etc. - and, obviously, Steiner.

 

As for your Apollo's "vintage," I am more inclined to believe that it dates to the early '80s.  I'm basing that on two factors:  the presence of the oval/gold JTII sticker and the presence of the JL code "J-B46" (for Otsuka).  As the '70s progressed, JL and JTII certification became less common.  Many Japan-based manufacturers moved their construction facilities (and often their corporate headquarters) to places beyond Japan (i.e. China, Taiwan, Macau, Philippines, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc.), where JTII and JL certifications were not required and did not apply.  Even in the case of binoculars made in (and exported from) Japan, the JTII/JL era was at a close.  Larger makers, like Nikon, Seiwa, Kowa, Fujinon, Warabi Kokisha, etc. simply stopped stamping B codes on their binoculars, as they had long established their reputations and were capable of exporting/marketing their own products, regardless of JL/JTII certifications.  On the other hand, some companies continued to certify their binoculars via JL & JTII simply because those stickers and stampings meant something.  They signified quality and standards, and those were still important marketing aspects for Japan-made binoculars - even into the '80s.

 

I'm sure I speak for many other members who are quite curious about your Apollo 8x30.  It's obviously an uncommon unit, and we'd like to hear/read your impressions of its performance.  I hope it "knocks your socks off." grin.gif   -And if it does, then some of us might decide to look for one, ourselves!

 

Best wishes and kind regards.

Dan


Edited by MisterDan, 09 December 2023 - 08:25 PM.

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#3 Coldlight

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Posted 11 December 2023 - 07:41 PM

Thank you Dan, I very much appreciate your insight. The "GPC body" reference in was a hard one to figure out because the acronym has different meanings. Based on your comment and ~10 minutes of online research I think GPC refers to the composite consisting of the vinyl-rubber cover and the PVC binocular body and whatever was used to graft them together. They weigh 542 grams or 19.2 ounces which may have been light weight in their day but I think this is slightly heavier than today's average 8x30mm.   

 

I was out yesterday and today comparing the Apollos against three other vintage Japanese binoculars (Bushnell Custom 9x36 and 7x50, and a pair of Kurt Muller 7x50). I don't have the knowledge or experience to provide a qualified opinion. What I did was: a) head down to the waterfront to focus on a mooring buoy ~500 meters away while being photo-bombed by gulls and seals and also some houses on a point ~2 miles up the coast, and; b) a rainforest setting focusing on coniferous trees from 50-200 meters away. Rain drops hanging off pine needles, etc. In each setting I rotated through each pair of binoculars numerous times.  

 

The Apollos are an excellent pair of binoculars - the coatings seem fine, there's no evidence of glare as you look around; the alignment is good, it's easy to get them focused and they're easy on the eyes and comfortable to use. Excellent depth of field. Not a lot of eye relief. The image is sharp and flat all the way to the edge and the color of images seemed more vibrant than either the Mullers or Bushnell 9x36s both of which distort at the edges.  All of the binoculars tested generate a 3D effect and this is apparent when you're looking through forest, but the Apollos stood out with amazing forest penetration - a couple of 3D layers beyond the others. The Bushnell Custom 7x50mm aren't really an apples to apples comparison and for me they have a wow factor - suddenly everything is big and bright! They produce a whiter image vs the other binoculars tested - which to my eyes have a faint brown/tan tint compared with what you see with your bare eyes. Even so I'd describe the Apollos as having a bright sharp image. I love those big daddy Bushnell Custom 7x50mm's but I think the Apollos work just as well. I'd love to have someone with a more discerning eye work through these with me sometime to help me understand what I'm looking at - hopefully someone who can bring along a luxuriously expensive pair or two to put everything into context. 


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#4 Coldlight

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Posted 15 December 2023 - 07:58 PM

Question: Facing westward into a low hanging sun while panning 120° north to south along the valley below my Apollo 8x30mm produce a white circle in the right lens that gradually disappears as I turn the binoculars away from the sun. Can someone help me understand the effect these binoculars are producing? More details below.

 

We had a decent day here for this time of year - 10C (50F) and sunny after several days of rain and so I drove up to a place near here called Little Mountain Lookout and took along my Apollo 8x30mm 7.5° and 3 Bushnell Customs (10x50mm 7°, 7x50mm 7.5°, 9x36 8°). The lookout faces westward to mountains ~5km (3mi) and overlooks a forested valley ~120M (~400') below. The sun had generated a lot of haze in the valley after the rains and there's a lot of people heating with firewood in the valley. By this time the sun was getting low over the mountains but I had no shortage of things to explore. I enjoyed panning up and down the valley with each pair of binoculars - the 7x50's let me follow a couple of ravens for at least a minute. I just received my 10x50 Customs today - I'm in awe. The Apollos were excellent except for the issue noted in my question above.  I get that I was scanning past a setting sun and that's what produced the white circle - some sort of reflection - but none of the 3 Bushnell Customs produced this effect. 



#5 Astronoob76

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Posted 16 December 2023 - 11:15 AM

There were two "Apollo"-brands, one was indeed German, the other (with a different fonts) was used for binos from different Japanese manufacturers. I have an "Apollo" as well, which is probably Japanese.

Here's a "Made in Germany" Apollo:

https://www.ebay.de/...:Bk9SR4KHmLaOYw

The name "Apollo" in this case also doesn't hint to a certain manufacturer I think. It might in fact have been made by Steiner as they made binos for other brands, too. (edit: judging by the fonts used for the "10x50" it might also be an "Optolyth" -- they made binos for other brands, too, like "Porst" (a German photo-chain mostly selling cameras and developing film).

There is a lot of confusion going on with all those brand names.

I have a few "Hartmann" binos for example, who also sold binos under the name "Hanseat".

Steiner made binos that were labeled "Weltblick". Russian Komz binos were sold as "Revue" or "Bresser", etc.

Not all that easy to find who made the German Apollo-binos.

And here is another "Apollo" with yet another logo and probably also made by a manufacturer unrelated to the others:

https://www.ebay.de/...:Bk9SR4KHmLaOYw


Edited by Astronoob76, 16 December 2023 - 11:19 AM.

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