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WW2 German Binoculars - best ones for general use today??

Article about: Hello all, I have a (subjective, I know...) question on WW2 German binoculars. I am looking to buy a pair of service binos for a mannequin I'm putting together. Hence I'm looking at the stan

  1. #1

    Default WW2 German Binoculars - best ones for general use today??

    Hello all,

    I have a (subjective, I know...) question on WW2 German binoculars. I am looking to buy a pair of service binos for a mannequin I'm putting together. Hence I'm looking at the standard 6x30, 7x50 and 10x50 models. Not after any fancy KM ones or the like, just a "field" pair.

    However, here's the thing, as well as for my display I would also like them to be useable. In the sense that I could use them, on the odd occasion, in the area surrounding where I live just like any other pair of modern here's my question (finally!) which model do you guys think would be the best to fulfil my needs stated above?

    Would it be naive of me to just assume that the 10x50's would be the best, or do different manufacturer variations also play a part in the end optical quality? I've never owned a pair so I've not had any experience with any of the above models.

    Thanks for your time and input

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  3. #2


    I have a casual collection of military binoculars and am not an expert, but I think you will find the optical quality of all ww2 German binos is very good. Obviously you will need to buy a pair with optics free of dust and mould etc. In my experience, 6 x30 are of rather limited use for birdwatching (if thats what you intend to do with them) as they are not very powerful and they perform less well is low light conditions. 10 x50s are far better in evening conditions, and more powerful, but also harder to hold steady and are heavier to carry. Finally I would say that I dont personally get on very well with using wartime binos due to the slow focusing (you need to adjust both eye pieces individually on all my models) but with modern binos this is controlled by a single focusing wheel and is much more efficient.


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    That's a massive help thanks Doug!! Really appreciate it. Haven't really looked into the weights of each but that's a good point you make.....! As I say these aren't going to be used much (maybe if at all, it's just incase I ever wanted to do so) so my main priority is for my display.

    I notice that with the 10x50's there seems to be two shapes? A wide, short version and a long, more narrow type - any real differences between these do you know at all?

    Thanks again mate,

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    There are two basic types of binos, Roof prism and poro prism. Roof prisms are the longer straighter type, and tend to be superior in image quality, but are expensive. The very highest quality modern optics such as those made by Leica are all roof prismatic types. (its worth going into a camera shop and looking through a pair of roof prism leica's costing £800, it really is a surprisingly impressive experience) Poro pisms view through a right angled prism and are the usual wartime type and they are cheaper to make (and buy) but optically inferior and restrict the light entering the lens to a greater extent. I was the manager of a camera shop for a number of years and I was always the most impressed with our roof prism binoculars, though the larger types are heavy and costly.

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    A big thank you again!! It appears there's quite a big fundamental difference between the two than I'd first thought!! The poro prism types I'd heard of, but not the superior roof prism type until now. I think I'll definitely have a go at trying to find a set of those, IF I can afford it haha! Onto their modern equivalents today I too have had the privilege of using a Leica pair (and a Swarovski I think...) and I agree, absolutely superb!

    The weight and size is obviously a slight drawback, but it's optical quality I think I rate highest. Thanks again Doug

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    A pair of 7X50 binoculars are a good all-rounder. The larger objective gives you the greater light gathering power - important for viewing in poor lighting conditions. I personally prefer the individual eye focusing found on the older model of binoculars. Once set to suit your eyes they will be fine - and they tend to be a much sturdier frame than the centre focusing. The magnification isn't as important as the light gathering powers of the objective. The greater the magnification the more difficult it is to hold the image steady. The largest I have are a pair of 15X70 which I use for astronomy. But at this size and above, it is imperative to have a good sturdy tripod. Binoculars, like most things in life is very much an individuals preference. What suits one person will not suit another. I wouldn't be too put off by dust inside vintage binoculars either. You would be surprised how much dust it actually takes on the inner optics before the quality of the image really begins to suffer! I have several pairs of binoculars in the 90 to 100 year-old bracket, and all give perfectly good results. Even Galilean-type (non-prismatic) can give good images.
    Books published to date... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack - Andersonstown'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

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    I've continued to search and have a look round. Thanks Harry, I think I've settled on going for a pair of 7x50's since they appear to give the best of both worlds should I ever use them. Also a good point on the dust situation as that was something I was wondering about! Thanks for clearing that up for me.

    Funny you mention the larger magnification binos. Eventually I'm also going to try and get a set of the 10x80 flak binoculars! Thanks again for your input. Pat

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