Your best bargain?

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Hampshire Astronomer
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Your best bargain?

Post by Hampshire Astronomer »

Hi All,

Recently my son bought me a pair of binoculars with his birthday money (ahhh bless him)

They cost £9.00 (of which of course I readily gave him back) and the binoculars turned out to be a cold war period pair of soviet bino's....the images are stunning....contrast brilliant, images clear and crisp.

Apart from smelling like a cold war russian submarine lol they are a fantastic piece of equipment and only cost £9.00!!!

This got me thinking.....whats been your best bargains over your astro lives?

Regards

Dave
David Scanlan

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David Frydman
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by David Frydman »

Dear Dave,
What are the specs of the binocular and the first 2 digits on the serial number may give the date?

In binoculars, I found a binocular in a junk bin at a camera fair that turned out to be a coded WW2 Leitz 7 x 50 waterproof. I paid the £5 asked. The view through it was very good but the code was hidden under the perfect condition rubber tops. Only when I got it home did I realise what it was.
And a 16 x 56 Hensoldt (sorry not 15x my error), which is one of the finest binoculars ever made almost as new with case in a charity shop.
This 16 x 56 Hensoldt outresolves any modern binocular except some large image stabilised ones.

But these finds are fairly rare.

Regards, David

The Soviet ones that smell the worst are the Fotons, which is a shame as they are very good.
Also some of the Soviet and early Chinese cases smell awful for decades.

If I were using a Foton and the early Chinese film camera and case even a skunk would probably give me a wide berth.

If anyone out there is using this combination I can tell you quietly why your friends are deserting you.
Don't ask what the glues are made from and the method of tanning the leather. You don't want to know
Last edited by David Frydman on Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
brian livesey
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by brian livesey »

The best bargain bins I had cost £18 from a secondhand shop in the 1970s and were in mint condition. They were 7X50s and had independent focusing eyepieces.
There was no maker's name on the bins, only a serial number. I sent the number to Franks of Glasgow for indentification. They replied that I probably had a German naval glass. The bins gave superb definition right to the edge of the field-of-view.
brian
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by Hampshire Astronomer »

Didnt even think about the serial number but on closer inspection I actually found a stamped date inside the original case 29th June 1983 :-)

The binos are a pair of Tento 10X50's

One quick question....on closer inspection today ive found two small pockets inside the case which seem to hold two orange coloured eyepiece things....still wrapped in their original grease proof paper it appears....not unwrapped them yet

Any ideas what these are?

Regards

Dave
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by David Frydman »

Dear Brian,
The 7 x 50 would have had the code, probably 3 letters somewhere. Maybe hidden under rubber if it had that.
The waterproof Leitz in very good condition £500 plus now.
A 7 x 50 Zeiss waterproof maybe £1,000 now, maybe more depending which one.
Also possibly Hensoldt or Emil Busch or even satellite factories in other occupied countries.
The code is all important.
Some may have had reticules.

Regards, David
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by David Frydman »

Yes Dave.
These eyepiece clip on filters are common with Soviet binoculars. 20 x 60 and others.
They are for use to stop glare in bright conditions.
And they work although you get a yellow image in addition the the slightly yellow glass that many Soviet/Russian binoculars use.

I recently looked at the gibbous Moon in daylight with the 12 x 40 and yellow filters and quite a lot more detail was seen.
Brian also says that the yellow filters reduce chromatic aberration if I remember his comments correctly.

You sometimes find 2 red and 2 yellow filters in the pockets. Often they are wrapped. You may also find instructions, specs and a signed quality control booklet with them with a date stamp. Either in Russian, or sometimes Russian and English.
The binoculars were wrapped in tissue paper new.

French cars used to have yellow headlamps.

The 10 x 50 Tento is quite good, though I did not appreciate that at the time.
This was before the modern consumer Chinese awful optics destroyed the Russian and other countries binocular industries.
There is no quality control on these Chinese binoculars until you get to about the £200 level, when they seem to be good.

I very much like Soviet optics, but when the Soviet Union broke up the quality of some items dropped alarmingly.

Your Tento, luckily, is a good vintage.

Regards, David
Last edited by David Frydman on Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by David Frydman »

In WW2 binoculars, particularly with naval binoculars one commonly finds yellow, green, red, grey, clear, and open space filters, often in two filter wheels, so you can rapidly change filters.
Usually the filter wheels contain about 4 filters and with some I think you can change the filters.
But being waterproof I don't know how this is done.
Usually the binoculars were are are nitrogen purged and repairers commonly still replace the nitrogen.
There are little nozzles on the binocular for this and I am told it is not a difficult job.
There were also I believe polarizing filters to stop glare from the water.
The various filters enabled the outline of ships to be made out and to penetrate mist or light fog.

The bargain I want to find for a fiver, but never will, is the Sard 6 x 42 U.S. binocular in good condition.
I won't find this because.

a. They are not found in good condition because of decay of the materials.
b. They are not found because binocular people know how rare and valuable they are.

Still, I would like to look through a really good one because it is meant to be a visual experience like no other.

In addition aircraft camera lenses from WW2 often have large or not so large red and yellow filters.
Some of these contain quite a lot of uranium.
Some of these filters having varying radial densities.
I was surprised by this but spectral analysis shows it to be uranium.
Many of the lenses contain full thorium glass.
And don't touch the astro compass radium beads light source. It sent my monitor screaming for cover. They contain perhaps hundreds of radium beads in a glass phial.
I suppose if one wants to glow in the dark one could achieve this by playing with these.

Regards, David
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by mike a feist »

I once bought a reasonable Tento binocular in a secondhand shop near Hove Station ...these also came with these yellow filters wrapper in tissue. The seller, who knew absolutely nothing about optics - obviously-, told me that they were to enable you look at the Sun!!!!!!! Scarily, dangerously wrong in deed!!!! Fortunately I knew better.
As for good bargains re instruments, I thought that the Optus 60 that I bought from Aldi for £25, although not perfect, was worth the money and has certainly given me lots of pleasure + interest and is set up on the tripod at the bedroom window. Also the other day I came across a Vivitar zoom light weight 50mm spotting-scope on sale at Cash converters for £10. Once again rather poor 'chromatically' at high power, but certainly worth the small sum, showing good lunar views, jovian moons etc.
Neither is classy and expensive but it does show that skywatching does not have be that costly. maf
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by mike a feist »

The worse purchase must have been the mall monocular bought at Astrofest many years ago. It basically was like a maksutov with a small mirror centred on the front object glass reflecting the image back to the eyepiece. Even before I got home on the train I knew it was a mistake as you could aways see the mirror as a shadow in the fov. Obviously there was no way of trying it out in the distance and it was not obvious when used close up indoors. Had I bought it in the local shop I would have returned it but was hardly worth visiting London again to return it. Eventually someone that I worked with said that they would have it but he too decided that it was no use.........then we took it apart................maf
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by David Frydman »

Dear Mike,
I have had my share of bad purchases also.
I just put it down to a learning curve, and now I always ask extensive questions if buying from private ads or even good shops.
This is wise, as often the person quizzed finds fungus in the instrument they did not realise was there.

If I get something useful but not for me I will give it to a charity shop etc.
If really bad it either goes in the bin or is used for spares.
Sometimes a charity shop binocular is enough out of collimation to bother me, but can be used, so I just give it back after thorough testing.

The sums involved are usually small so it does not hurt too much.
Charity shop binos are often only £5.
And small refractors £7 to £10.
Tripods are cheap, but only rarely good and solid.
Beware missing quick release plates, which can render the tripod useless.

Regards, David
Lady Isabella
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by Lady Isabella »

I very well remember the Russian 10x50.
Tento was an export division in Moscow, and their name was stamped
on all types of things that were exported to the West.

On the prism cover there should be the logo of the factory
that actually made the binocular.
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by David Frydman »

Thanks for that.
Generally Tento optics are of high quality.
On another site it says the prisms were tested as 1/10th wave when checked by a user here.

One of the shop dealers I speak to a lot says they don't take in secondhand Russian binos.
I don't know why as they sell low priced items, in fact all prices, and generally old Soviet optics have a better chance than most of performing well. They are also good value,

All secondhand optics and also new optics need to be tested if possible before purchase.
I must admit than when the 10 x 50 Tentos were new I did not appreciate them.
I favoured 12 x 45 Soviet and 12 x 50 Japanese binoculars probably because of light pollution and the extra resolving power.

Regards, David
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by brian livesey »

My 20X60 TENTO's are good, but a pair of 10X50's of the same make that I looked through, but didn't purchase, were disappointing. I think they had unusual green coatings too.
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by David Frydman »

Dear Brian,
The 10 x50 with green coatings may have been from just after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The standards dropped alarmingly once state subsidies stopped.
This applies to various models of binoculars. They look identical but some are very poor mechanically and optically.

Nowadays some models are still made, but either they are expensive or difficult to find, although they are available over the internet.
But this means you have no idea what quality they are as you cannot test them and select the best one.
Also they seem expensive, but they are not if you happen to get a good binocular.
And they look basic compared with the cosmetically enhanced Chinese binoculars.

One feature of even the best Soviet binoculars is that often the coating colours of the two eyepieces is different. Like someone with two different colour eyes.
I think this just shows they were much more hand made than offerings from other sources.
This does not seem to make any difference to the performance, which can still be excellent.

Regards, David
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Re: Your best bargain?

Post by brian livesey »

I understand that some Soviet-era ( state capitalism ) cameras and binoculars were assembled in the gulags.
This probably explains why these products were cheaper to buy than their competitors' exports. Of course, being a newly-industrialised country, Russia's quality control techniques were pretty basic.
brian
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