Warning regarding binoculars covered in PVC "skin"

To: <>
Subject: Warning regarding binoculars covered in PVC "skin"
From: Jack Shapiro <>
Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2001 16:58:49 +1000
Hi birders ,

Recently there has been some information given in Birding Aus regarding binoculars, their performances , price comparisons etc.

Now, I want to add a word of caution.  Last March I reported in Birding Aus about blistering of the "skin" cover in my Celstron Ultima binoculars.  A number of responses have been very helpful with suggestions.  I was going to take the binoculars to DAW Optical Services (Homebush, NSW) to get their advice, after finding out from the manufacturers that all they can do is to completely recover the unit with a new "skin", and that  this can only be done if I send the binoculars to their technical centre in the USA.

No action has been taken  so far because I didn't want to part from the binoculars, and just as well.  In August/ September I went on a birding trip with Kirrama Wildlife Tours to Cape York.  On the second day of the trip I noticed that the binoculars suffered a massive blistering/peeling of the "skin", and from the thumb marks left on the side of the binoculars' barrels, I suddenly realised the source of the problem.

Here it is:

The black skin cover of the binocular is PVC, and it is swollen and eventually softened and dissolved by ketone solvents in sun tan/insect repellent lotions applied to the person holding it.  Within a very short time the skin is destroyed.
So if you have a Celestron/Ultima, or other binoculars,  covered in a  PVC skin, treat them with care and never ever allow sun tan/insect repellent lotion come into direct contact with them.   

How do you know if the skin is PVC ?  ask the retailers or the manufacturers- worth doing it!

As for a "cure", DAW Optical Services couldn't suggest any repairs except a  total re-covering job, or just allowing all the skin to peel off and using the "unclad" binoculars.   Bare binoculars have at least one positive aspect, they are easier to identify, and less attractive to thieves!

One of the suggestions made to me earlier in response to the original message was to recover the binoculars with a new skin of crosslinked polyurethane, and may yet be done.  

I have written to the manufacturers regarding this problem , but they have chosen to ignore the message, only repeating that a full recover is the only option.

So, be careful, and if in the market for a new pair,  look for such binoculars that have a skin covering unaffected by  sun tan or insect repellent lotion.

Jack Shapiro

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