Optical instruments at the time


Arun Vajpey

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This is not meant to be a loaded or even a suggestive question in relation to the Titanic but what I want to know is how good or otherwise were optical instruments at the time? More specifically, if one bought the best available 7x50 binoculars (large exit pupil), how good would they be from today's standards? I think Carl Zeiss company was in existence by the Edwardian era?

I am also guessing that things like good binoculars and cameras were very expensive in those days for the common man to afford.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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For whatever it's worth, the optics were about as good as anybody could manage in 1912, but one of the features none of their instruments had were modern coated lenses which tend to gather and concentrate light.

In the dark of the night, the handicap this would present should be obvious.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Sure. The reason I asked was that I happened to be reading about Carl Zeiss a few days ago and learned that by the late 19th century he was leading the manufacture of "high quality" lenses for optical instruments. Of course, quality is always a comparative term to what else was available at the time.
 

Dave Gittins

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As to the cost, Ross binoculars, as supplied to the Admiralty, came in two kinds. There were prism binoculars, much like modern ones, and night glasses, which were Galilean glasses. The prism glasses had an aperture of no more than 40mm (My estimate). The 6X version sold for £7-10 and the 12X for £9. The night glasses had an aperture of 50 -60mm and magnified 4 or 5 times. They cost only £3-15 because of their simpler optics.They were all fairly expensive by comparison with wages.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Thanks Dave, that helps. I assume that around £9 would have been quite a sum in those days. Any idea how much a pair of high quality Carl Zeiss binoclars would have cost back then?
 

Arun Vajpey

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I looked-up. One example is a specilaist optical instrument dealer named Moritz Hensoldt & Sons, of Wetzlar, Germany. They used to manufacture and sell very high quality binoculars from 1897 and these included military supplies, travel models etc. They even briefly had a branch in London.

Looking at the specs on the web, those binoculars problaly cost a lot more than the Ross ones. Incidentally, Ross used Zeiss lenses on some of their models.
 

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