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7x35 – a forgotten class of binoculars

21 July 2021
Arkadiusz Olech

9. Secondary market comes to your rescue – other producers

Most of Sears, Swift, and Tasco models, described above, had their equivalents, or even direct copies, in line-ups of other, less popular companies. It's enough to mention such producers as Chinon, Jason, Mayflower, or Cardinal. That last firm sold an almost exact copy of the cult Discoverer 7×35 that many collectors also consider to be a very sought-after, tasty morsel.

7x35 – a forgotten class of binoculars - Secondary market comes to your rescue – other producers

While talking about historical 7×35 models you have to mention the Bausch & Lomb company, creators of the Zephyr 7×35. One of the versions of the Zephyr, produced in the 50s and 60s of the 20th century, is different from the majority of binoculars, described earlier, because of its place of production – it was made not in Japan but in the USA. Even though its field of view was narrow, amounting to just 7.3 degrees, it was really appreciated by many generations of American bird-watchers for optical properties. It also had another asset, weighing just 540 grams, while its rivals could weigh even almost twice as much.

7x35 – a forgotten class of binoculars - Secondary market comes to your rescue – other producers
I've managed to find one specimen of Zephyr, a 'Made in USA ' version, in mint condition and it is one of more important items in my private collection.

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7x35 – a forgotten class of binoculars - Secondary market comes to your rescue – other producers

Of course the Zephyr is not the only good 7×35 binoculars produced by Bausch & Lomb. Later the company offered the Discoverer series, that time produced in Japan, that also featured a 7×35 model.

Nikon also used to be active in the 7×35 class of equipment. In 1959 they launched a classic metal Porro so the 7×35 A with a field of view of 7.3 degrees. Further on, their line-up featured other models with such parameters (even including a roof prisms pair of binoculars) but, undoubtedly, the 7×35 E model, presented along the 8×30 E and  10×35 E in 1988, was the peak of their performance, especially when in comes to quality. That pair of binoculars was produced up to 1999 when Nikon decided to launch the E II models. They kept 8×30 and 10×35 parameters but let go of 7×35 devices; also beautiful leather cases, originally added to the E series binoculars, were swapped for cases of far more inferior quality, made of soft artificial leather.

Several years ago I managed to buy the Nikon 7×35 E CF in shop condition and now it is one of the more interesting pairs of binoculars in my collection.

7x35 – a forgotten class of binoculars - Secondary market comes to your rescue – other producers

Also Russians were active in the 7×35 class and the Tento BPC 7×35 with a field of view of 8.5 degrees was one of the most popular of their products. Many people own and praise this model even nowadays but in my opinion it is one of the weakest pairs of binoculars produced by our Eastern neighbour. Anyway the specimens I've handled failed to impress me completely. They did have one asset – low price.

7x35 – a forgotten class of binoculars - Secondary market comes to your rescue – other producers

The BPWC2 7×35 was a far better option, with a field of view of as much as 11 degrees (still there are opinions that the field was actually narrower) and an eye relief distance amounting to 17.5 mm. A curiosity – in the 7×35 class Russians also offered a roof prism device called Foton; still its optics was rather mediocre.

7x35 – a forgotten class of binoculars - Secondary market comes to your rescue – other producers

I could go on and on here, listing many more producers of different 7×35 models; let me just mention one more company with great traditions, that even now remains active on the sports optics market. I mean Japanese Kowa. They weren't idle in the 7×35 class either. Their top-of-the-range Prominar series featured at least two models, one with a quite narrow field of view, that of 7.5 degrees, and the other with a field of 10 degrees. The latter is a prized, and sought-after collectible item, really hard to purchase it in mint condition with a full set of accessories.

7x35 – a forgotten class of binoculars - Secondary market comes to your rescue – other producers