I have been spending a great deal of time and resources in acquainting myself with some classic porros. What I am referring to is, predominantly, Japanese made 1950-1980 7x models. These mostly consist of 7×35 Ultrawide angle models from a variety of manufacturers (Tasco, Swift, Sears, Manon, Jason, Binolux, etc…). You don’t typically hear much discussion on the forums about these binoculars. Yes, Cloudy Nights has their Vintage binocular thread and there are some rare threads on here about this type of binocular but they are few and far between.
I wish I could remember how I got started on this track but I can’t say I do at the moment. It started a little over a month and a half ago with a purchase of two Tasco International 7×35 EWAs. They turned out to be “ok” overall. Their field of view was impressive at 11 degrees but there were some optical characteristics that didn’t really appeal to me as well. So, then I picked up the Swift Sky King 7×35. There is a thread posted about that experience along with some great input from our resident Swift experts over in the Swift forum.
Since then I have binged a bit and picked up quite a few Extra/Ultra/Super wide angle models via the bay. You really can find some great deals on these models on there. Some are in mint condition and for very small sums of money. Yes, they are not waterproof and their apparent brightness and contrast levels typically aren’t at the level of current binoculars. This is mostly the result of their only being single-coated. If you can get past those issues then you are in for a treat. These binoculars can be quite addicting. The field of view is wide. Really wide. They make many current “wide angle” models seem like looking through a porthole. Their apparent sharpness, collectively, is also very, very good. I can see some very fine details on birds visiting the backyard feeder.
I have tried to find out as much information on them via the web as possible and have turned up some great tips. There isn’t as much as I would like though. One forum contributor both here and over on cloudy nights, Simon S, has a wonderful Flickr page with some great pics and descriptions. With his pages in mind I decided to start one of my own. The link is below. I just started working on it today but thought that every little bit helps add to the collective wisdom on these models. I will continue to add to it as new models arrive.
Hope it provides some enjoyment for those that appreciate this classic porro design.