Reasons Behind the Review
Sadly I have recently lost my current pair of binoculars in the line of duty. Well not exactly, my brother took them hunting and they have never been the same. Oh well I needed a reason to buy new ones anyway – the old ones were junk. The only problem is that I may not be able to secure the necessary funds for a good new pair of binoculars for a while. So I needed something to fill in, I can’t go long without a pair of binoculars.
One day while cleaning my basement I found an old pair of binoculars that I am pretty sure once belonged to my Grandpa. They were extremely small and dirty but I figured I would give them a shot.
Once I cleaned them off I found that they were made by Micronta Optics (T.O.C) of Japan in the early 50’s or late 40’s. They are quite small 6x30mm and very light – much lighter than my last pair of 10x50mm binoculars. They are slightly coated and the lenses were in surprisingly good shape. Best of all the mechanics were still in excellent condition and may I dare say are much higher quality than most of the good binoculars out there today.
I did some research on the internet into the history of these binoculars and came up almost empty. Only one web site (in Japanese) had any information directly relating to Micronta Optics in occupied Japan. If anyone has ever heard of this brand please send me an email with any information you may have – email@example.com.
OK. 6x30mm are way too small for any astronomical work. Well maybe not. At first I thought that they were going to be too small for any useful observations but I was soon to be quite surprised.
Like I said earlier the mechanics are excellent. The focuser is extremely smooth and the diopter adjustment is also extremely smooth. When you focus the binoculars they never “fall” out of focus like some of the newer brands. It takes quite a bit of pressure before the binoculars start to lose focus. Other than that they are made of aluminum and have an almost military rigidity to them. The look like they have taken quite a beating but it also looks like they were made to take that beating.
Optically they are absolutely wonderful. The low power yields a huge 7.5 degree field of view. On top of this the lenses are in excellent to very good condition while the prisms could use a bit of attention. I have yet to find a way into the binoculars to clean the prisms. The only problem is the extremely short eye relief. If you wear glasses you might as well not even pick them up. I have to basically shove my eyes right up to the lenses to catch the full field of view. However, at this point in my life this is not much of a problem.
When I first found these I quickly cleaned them and ran right outside. It was daytime but I figured that I could get a hint of what they really offered. For 30mm binoculars the view was extremely bright and the definition in the tree line some 300 yards away was excellent. I couldn’t wait for the sun to go down.
Later that night – that’s right, it was actually clear that night – I had a chance to give them a quick test. I said it was clear but it was quite cold, even for Michigan. Once I held these up to my eyes and focused I was amazed by the tack sharp field spanning almost the entire field of view. I was absolutely shocked, compared to my old muddy 10x50mm pieces of junk these were clearly in an entirely different league.
My first stop was the moon just a few degrees above the horizon. While not my favorite target for binoculars I had to give it a shot. The view was extremely sharp albeit a little small due to the super wide 7.5 degree field of view. Nonetheless the moon was about as sharp as I have ever seen it in any magnifying instrument. Next stop were the Pleiades in the Eastern and very light polluted sky. The stars in the cluster were absolutely amazing. They were super crisp against a very dark background. I found no hint of astigmatism or any other major defect that commonly plagues low quality binoculars.
Perhaps the two best objects I viewed were the most surprising of all. After a quick glance at the Pleiades I just had to give Jupiter a shot. As soon as I found Jupiter I clearly noticed the major moons surrounding the Planet. I thought that I was seeing things. My old 10x50mm binoculars could barely pick these up. I thought for sure that these would be well beyond 30mm aperture but I guess not. They were very clear and very sharp. I also noticed a lack of the annoying reflections that used to plague the view in my old binoculars.
A few weeks later – the next time I got out due to the incessant clouds here in West Michigan – I had the chance to give the Great Orion Nebula a quick glance. Once again, WOW, the nebula was extremely bright as were the various clusters filling the huge field of view. The view easily rivaled my old binoculars as well as my 50mm finder on my main telescope. I was truly impressed.
Perhaps the best surprise I have had in quite a while. While the 30mm aperture seems quite small I live in such terribly light polluted skies it really does not matter. I am however still looking for new 50mm binoculars but not as a complete replacement for these but as a complementing pair for when I get out to some dark skies during the summer. I believe that they are a true testament to the level of quality found in older instruments of all types. It seems like they tried harder back then, and the fact that these work over 50 years since they were made is amazing when you compare them to my other binoculars that lasted a little over one year. On a scale of 10 these would easily get a 9 – 9.5 on optical quality alone.
Submitted by Curt Irwin - firstname.lastname@example.org - Grand Rapids, Michigan