The Best Antique Tripod Mounted Binoculars

A review of the best antique binoculars with tripod

March 30, 2023

Tripod-mounted antique binoculars evoke a sense of nostalgia and sophistication, transporting us to a bygone era when observation and exploration were highly valued. These magnificent optical instruments were not only functional but also a symbol of craftsmanship and elegance. With their classic design and sturdy construction, they embodied the spirit of adventure and the pursuit of knowledge.

Tripod-mounted binoculars were primarily used for long-range observations, such as birdwatching, stargazing, wildlife observation and military purposes. Large binoculars were designed to be mounted on a tripod to ensure stability and provide a steady platform for extended viewing sessions. The tripod mount eliminated hand-held shakiness and allowed users to focus on the details with enhanced clarity and precision.

One of the defining features of antique tripod-mounted binoculars is their timeless design. Crafted from high-quality materials like brass, steel, and leather, these binoculars exuded a sense of durability and refinement. The barrels were often covered in leather or adorned with intricate engravings, adding to their aesthetic appeal. The craftsmanship involved in their creation showcased the dedication and attention to detail of the artisans who meticulously crafted each piece.
The optical performance of these binoculars was and still is exceptional, considering the era that they were designed and built. The lenses were often made from high-quality glass, carefully ground and polished to ensure optimal light transmission and minimal distortion. Antique binoculars typically featured a larger objective lens diameter, providing a wider field of view and brighter images. This made them ideal for observing distant objects or capturing the wonders of the night sky.


Tripod mounting allowed for more comfortable and extended viewing sessions, especially important for military binoculars, when observing stationary subjects or tracking objects. The tripod head provided smooth panning and tilting capabilities, enabling users to easily follow moving targets without straining their arms or neck. The stability offered by the tripod ensured minimal vibrations, resulting in a clear and steady view even at high magnifications.

Owning a pair of tripod mounted antique binoculars today not only grants you the opportunity to experience the past but also provides a functional tool for appreciating nature and the world around us. While modern binoculars offer advanced features and technology, the antique and vintage counterparts hold a unique charm and a sense of connection to history when observation and exploration were pursued with passion and curiosity.

Whether displayed as a conversation piece in a study or actively used in the field, vintage binoculars continue to captivate and inspire. Their fusion of form and function represents an era when craftsmanship and attention to detail were highly valued, reminding us of the enduring beauty and utility of these timeless optical instruments.

Here is our pick of three of the best antique binoculars engineered to be mounted to a tripod. 
  1. 1950’s Fuji Meibo 15x80 Binoculars

1950's Fuji Meibo 15x80 Binoculars mounted to wooden military tripod


The 1950's Fuji Meibo 15x80 binoculars were primarily designed for military and surveillance purposes. During this time, Japan was recovering from WWII, and the country's defence forces required reliable and high-performance optical instruments for various applications. 

The Meibo 15x80 binoculars feature a magnification power of 15x and an objective lens diameter of 80mm, providing excellent long-range capabilities. This allowed users to observe distant targets with enhanced detail and clarity. The high magnification was particularly advantageous for military reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence gathering, where identifying and monitoring targets from a safe distance was crucial.

The large objective lens diameter of 80mm enabled the binoculars to gather ample light, even in low-light conditions or during dusk and dawn. This was essential for military operations conducted in low-light environments, ensuring that users could maintain visual clarity and target identification during critical situations.

The optical design of the Meibo 15x80 binoculars incorporated high-quality glass lenses and prisms, ensuring optimal light transmission, image sharpness, and contrast. The lenses were typically coated to reduce glare and improve image quality. These optical features were vital for military personnel, as they allowed for clear and precise observation of targets, terrain, and potential threats.

Today this fantastic set of antique binoculars can be used for birdwatching & wildlife observation, astronomy or a collectible with huge historical significance and wonderful vintage aesthetic. They represent a piece of optical technology from the mid-20th century that can be enjoyed by enthusiasts or collectors of antique binoculars.

  1. 1943 Nikon 15x80 Binoculars1943 Nikon 15x80 Bronze binoculars mounted to wooden tripod

 The Nikon 15x80 binoculars were made in Japan in 1943 by Tokyo Kogaku Kikai (Tokyo Optical Company) as an instrument for wartime battleships predominantly used by the Japanese Navy who were more reliant on optics for surveillance rather than the developing radar detection systems. A beautiful set of military binoculars as an investment piece. 


  1. 1940’s Carl Zeiss BLC Flak 12x60 Binoculars



These binoculars were manufactured by the renowned German optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss Jena during WW2 marked as BLC. The Carl Zeiss binoculars were primarily designed for military use, specifically for anti-aircraft artillery (Flak) operations. In 1942 the German Armaments Ministry assigned three letter code marks to the companies that manufactured military hardware to use instead of their normal trademark. This was so that their factories could not be identified and bombed by Allies.

These binoculars were designed to be used in conjunction with a 4-meter-long range finder for directing heavy Flak guns and were engineered to be tripod mounted.

Here are some details about these binoculars:

  1. Magnification and Objective Lens Diameter: The "12x60" specification indicates that these binoculars have a magnification power of 12x and an objective lens diameter of 60mm. This combination allows for a relatively high level of magnification and good light-gathering capabilities.

  2. Prism System: The BLC Flak binoculars employed a porro prism design, which provides excellent image quality and light transmission. Porro prisms were commonly used in high-quality binoculars of that era.

  3. Coatings: These binoculars were likely uncoated or had simple single-layer coatings on the lenses. Advanced multi-coatings that improve light transmission and reduce reflections became more prevalent in later decades.

  4. Construction: The Carl Zeiss BLC Flak binoculars featured a durable and robust construction, suitable for military use. They were typically built with metal bodies, including aluminum or steel, and designed to withstand rough conditions.

  5. Rangefinder: Some versions of the BLC Flak binoculars might have incorporated an integrated rangefinder. This feature allowed users to estimate the distance to the target, which was crucial for anti-aircraft artillery operations.

  6. Weight and Handling: The BLC Flak binoculars were relatively large and heavy due to the combination of high magnification and larger objective lenses. As a result, they were often tripod-mounted for stability during prolonged use.

Read all about the history of Carl Zeiss, one of the most respected names in optics.

The Vintage Tripod

At Loomlight we specialise in the restoration of vintage lights, clocks and large binoculars. We pair our binoculars with a vintage tripod of a similar era. We source wooden military tripods and make a bespoke part so that the binoculars and tripod fit together perfectly.

For more information on any of these binoculars please visit the product pages. If you are looking for something in particular please get in touch, as we may be able to source it for you.