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Southerner 16x50 any information?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/19/2016 at 21:38
erehweslefox View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: August/12/2016
Location: Allentown, PA
Status: Offline
Points: 4
I have a pair of Southerner 16x50 binoculars. They were made in Japan, and date, I think, from the 50s or early 60s. Belonged to my Grandfather who was an engineer on the Nike/Hercules missile project. He was a range officer, and a lot of what he was up to is still classified.

I have some pictures, combined with my smaller spotting binos, and my SAK for size

If anyone knows anything about these binoculars, I'd love to hear it. They are a heavy serious piece of kit, but the magnification and light gathering is phenomenal. I regularly use them both close to dusk, and after, and they still gather light. They are great on a full moon night, and seem good for astronomy. On a clear day, I am amazed at what I can see with them.

As they are heavy and solid, I have little problem with shaking. I think also that they are 50's helps.

Thank you for your time

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2016 at 23:12
WJC View Drop Down
Optics Apprentice
Optics Apprentice

Joined: May/28/2014
Location: Twin Falls, ID
Status: Offline
Points: 145


Hi Todd: 

Welcome, and don’t think because you’re not being besieged with responses that no one is interested in a new member. I have frequented many, been thrown off a couple, and can tell you you are, generally speaking, better off here. When you see too much traffic ... beware.

Internet forums can be a trap for consumers and new enthusiasts. Frequented by scholars, engineers, seasoned mariners, master birders, amateur astronomers, and others with a strong interest in binoculars, they can be troves of valuable information and insights. But, they are also magnets for needy individuals to whom the forum is life itself and who sometimes have a less than helpful agenda. These folks have learned that by sprinkling names and phrases they’ve only read about throughout their posts, they can present themselves as optical sages to the novice and those unfamiliar with the language used in the original post. It’s a beautiful pool; just watch out for the ‘gators.

“Southerner 16x50 binoculars” 

I think you will find that “Southern” is just the name of the vendor. While some folks have a hissy at the notion, there hasn’t been a CONSUMER line of binocular made in the United States since right after WWII and, sometimes, the same basic binocular will be imported by a dozen or more vendors, differing only in coatings, cosmetics, and price.

“Coated Optics” 

While it says “coated optics” on the left backplate, the ocular on the same side shows no coatings at all. Thus, they may be only coated on the objective lens; David Bushnell got on the “coatings” bandwagon early on, but chose to have only the objective coated. That was early in the game.  

“piece of kit”

Are you originally from the UK?

“the magnification and light gathering is phenomenal”

Sixteen power is 16 power on a binocular that’s good, great, or garbage. Also, the light GRASP of a 50mm bino is the same regardless of the quality. Light TRANSMISSION is a different story. Every square inch of a binocular’s “clear aperture” will GATHER the light of 9, young, fully dilated eyes. You may figure the area with common math. Sadly, the brain does not work on mathematical constants and accepts just VERY slightly more than offered by one objective. 

Light TRANSMISSION is affected by quantity and type of coatings, blackening of edges, baffling, size and position of the field stop, structure of the eyepiece, and more. 

Now then, aren’t you sorry you asked? Again, welcome. Things may be a bit sluggish here, but they’re good people, all. Stick around.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/27/2016 at 07:04
erehweslefox View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: August/12/2016
Location: Allentown, PA
Status: Offline
Points: 4

well on 'piece of kit', I guess I have hiked with enough brits for the turn of phrase to stick, and enough not to realize it wasn't Brittish of terms. Actually thinking hard back, probably got it from my scoutmaster who was former RAF. Real Baden-Powell scouter.

Now my interpretation of the light gathering is objective, personal, and based on use, and I admit I should likely not have used superlatives. However, these are fundamentally better in magnification, field of view, and light gathering than, say my less than stellar 8x20 binoculars. I haven't done a side by side of a high quality pair with a similar set of specs, though.

I'm interested to hear Southern was a catch all company. These are from my grandfather, and would have been obtained from right after WWII, or perhaps during. I'm not sure whether they were an issue item, which I doubt as they have no military markings, or he got them himself. If he did he was a Captain in the Air Service and an engineer, who needed a set of binoculars for range tests. I do suspect he might have been on a budget. I do know he kept and used these most of his career as a missile guy and back through to his civilian job working for bell labs which involved far fewer missiles.

One of the reasons I am asking is that these are a sight above most of the compact binoculars I've used, but I hate hauling them about. I love the magnification and field of view on them. They have a lot of magnification compared to other binoculars I've used, but I've often wondered if it was just that they were LARGER than others I've tried.

Given their history I speculated if they were in any way special, and you say 'Southern' says they are not, as they also don't seem to have a coating I guess? So they are just a large, heavy, higher than usual magnification binocular of medium quality manufacture given the time with traits appropriate to their size and aperture?

You are giving me an excellent argument on buying a Bushnell Legend 10x42 when they go on sale, and a response to my wife who will say 'you already have binoculars'. Now if I start to ask 'what binoculars should I buy' I would be indeed a tragic newbie, and also probably kick over a hornet's nest. I can and shall do some research.

I do thank you for telling me a little more about my favorite pair of binoculars, and thank you for your time in responding.

And no, not sorry I asked.



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