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Zeiss Jena NVA DF7X40 Binocular

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/10/2012 at 13:00
jnug View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: January/10/2012
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Hello Guys,

I am new here. I have a Zeiss Jena Binocular that I really do not know much about. I do see many internet postings about these. I had purchased them several years ago when I thought binocular's might end up being one of the collectibles that I might be interested in participating. Also, 7X40 just was not being made by anybody and at the time I thought that it might be nice to have a 7X40 for use.

They perform as the reviews for them suggest they should perform and I bought them as new and never used. They appear to be just that. I also have the illumination kit which is new although God knows how one would charge the thing. I have the kit case as well. The reticular lens are installed and there are new yellow tint and new clear lens with them along with an paper instruction booklet. I got the whole thing at the same time.

I have a contemporary Swarovski 10X32 binocular and that is what I turn to when I need a binocular for something. The NVA's perform like a 7X40 but I always have the other glasses with me.

I see posts from people still using the NVA's and happy to have them for use purposes. Since these are basically NOS I am reluctant to do that as I don't want to deprive a real collector of something special should they be something "special".

I am not an expert at all but looking for direction. Would it make sense to sell them or use them? If sell them, should I sell them as collectibles are are people selling them now as "for use" items?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/10/2012 at 16:57
jnug View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: January/10/2012
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I did find this great piece at a Survivalist kind of web site. The guy doing the "review" seems to have been a little like I was when he bought his, not really sure what he had until he got them in hand. His appear to be not quite in the condition that mine are in...although from the pictures I think some of those $1,500+ versions on Ebay are in better shape than mine. My have not been used but I think those monster high cost versions have been stored new in very controlled environments and appear pristine. I don't think I can say that about mine. The review the guy did is more about now they work and that is my dilemma. They work great but I just don't know if I should use them if these are period pieces that are really a piece of history as much as anything else. The stuff in the rest of this post is from a 2008 post so they are probably even more rare by now. While most were made in the 1970's Mine were made in the 1960's and his might be from the 1970's. This is more info than I have found on these anywhere else so far. The rest of this post is the review.

The DF 7x40 were originally made by Carl Zeiss, Jena. Most were manufactured in the 1970's with production ending some time around 1981. After the end of the East German regime these glasses were apparently used by the unified German armed forces until some years ago when they were finally phased out of service because they lack proper eye protection (laser filter).

Among those in the know, the DF 7x40 have something of a cult status, being arguably the best military binoculars ever produced in any quantity. This is reflected in the price. Used military issue DF's tend to be pretty expensive, starting from about $300 to well over $500 for a pair in good condition. At a price of 250 Euros + shipping the chance of getting cleaned and refurbished binocs at Heger Optik seemed almost too good to miss.

True enough, the postage (with compulsory insurance) was expensive but the package arrived quickly and safely thanks to some first-rate service by Heger Optik. While I'm far from an expert I nonetheless have a bit of experience with scopes and field glasses, and not just the very bottom-end cheap stuff either. So I was naturally very curious to see how the DF 7x40 would perform in real life.

My first impression was favorable. Right out of the box the binoculars looked very well made, showing almost no signs of former military service - really nothing worse than a few scratches on the plastic lens cover. I could tell right away optical performance was superb. However, I was somewhat intimidated by the size and weight of the binoculars. At well over 2lbs they're pretty heavy and certainly a lot more massive than any pocket binoculars.

Over the next weeks and months I began taking my new binoculars on treks, field trips and even longer travels. After a fair bit of relatively casual use I'm not only happy with my purchase but deeply impressed by the performance of these 30-or-so years old glasses. Looking through the DF 7x40's must be one of the most pleasing optical experiences I've ever seen. First, it's the clarity. There is about no perceptible distortion, which is all the more remarkable given the other specs. Mainly the very wide field of view, perfect for field observation whereas most other, especially smaller binoculars are less useful because of the tunnel vision sort of.

As most other military binoculars out there the DF's are individual focus. You have to focus each lens individually, which is not quite as convenient as center focussing in theory. But in the case of the DF 7x40 depth perception is actually so good you barely need to adjust the focus at all, especially at longer ranges.

Another major advantage IMHO is the rangefinder reticular (in mils). I suppose it's a matter of taste but I've always had a preference for binoculars with a mil reticular and it's one of those things you can hardly ever find in civilian glasses. With a little basic math the reticular can be used to estimate distance to target or size of objects quite accurately.

Build quality is top notch. The binoculars are fully rubber armored and waterproof. The aluminum housing seems to be bomb-proof though obviously as with any other precision instrument it's better to handle any binoculars with care. Inside the ocular lens cover there are two small yellow filter lenses that are used as anti-glare protection. Very useful in strong sunlight, especially in an environment with lots of reflected light (sea, desert, snow).

Given the size and weight the DF 7x40 are definitely not the lightest binoculars around. For some people they may be too heavy to take on a hiking trip. However, at the expense of extra weight you get the benefit of heavy-duty construction and reasonably large lenses. Eye relief is long so using eye glasses is not a problem (though for me personally that's a non-issue). These binoculars are really comfortable to use despite the weight, even for an extended time. There seem to be no problems with eye strain associated with most optics.

Eastern Bloc optics were often regarded as excellent or at least very high performance for the money. The East German DF 7x40 may well have been the best of them all, with superior tolerances and high production standards not commonly found in comparable Soviet/Russian models. I have been able to try my DF's alongside Russian BPOs 7x30 (superb binoculars in their own right) and West German Hensoldt 8x30 (also known as great military binoculars). In terms of construction or optical quality, neither comes even close to the East German DF 7x40. IME you'd need to look very hard in the $1000+ range to find optically comparable binoculars but I don't think you could find that combination of optics and rugged construction in any price range.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2012 at 01:22
John H.-S. View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: January/25/2012
Location: Brighton U.K.
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You are very fortunate to own one of these which, at least on this side of the pond, are often called the "Checkpoint Charlie" binoculars.  As this name implies, they were issued to and used by the East German border guards who needed the very best that could be provided; as to why they needed the best, let's not go there.  After the Berlin Wall came down these binoculars were sought after by military personnel and others in the West because they were superior to anything that was issued in the West, also they probably had a certain cachet because they were from behind the Wall.
As to the supposed disadvantage of individual eyepiece focusing, my experience is that, with practice, there is little difference in speed of refocusing compared with centre focus binoculars.  I can turn both eyepieces together while viewing and achieve speedy refocus on a nearer object (bird or whatever); just make sure that the binocular is securely hung round your neck; it ought to be anyway!
It must be remembered that military and navy binoculars always have individual eyepiece focusing because this arrangement is far more robust and easier to proof against the entry of moisture, dirt etc., also after initial adjustment to a person's own eyesight, in armed forces' use refocusing is rarely necessary.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2014 at 14:18
Jaxs View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: September/01/2014
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anyone know how to use the rangefinder in the Zeiss NVA 740 binoculars please emai me at
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/01/2014 at 19:55
Bird Watcher View Drop Down
Optics Master
Optics Master

Joined: August/30/2006
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