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CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.
Oberwerk 11x70mm Binoculars
We have all gotten aperture fever at one time or another, and I am no exception to this, it was due to an accident
(crushing a disc in my back) that I decided it was time to go a different route. It was time to downsize. I started
by doing the usual amount of research, reading everything I could lay my eyes on. I started on Cloudy Nights reading
article after article. I tried to tell myself that a small scope would be the answer, maybe a Televue Pronto or
possibly a William Optics Megrez 80. Well these definitely did not do the trick, I was still looking for an easy
to set up and easy to use system. It then dawned on me, a friend of mine had shown me a pair of binoculars once
and I had really enjoyed the view. I thought why not look at the binoculars that were available, and and see if
this would do the trick. I then set out on the quest for the perfect binos.
It was late Thursday evening when I decided to look up as much info about binos as I could. I started out by doing the usual internet searches and not finding what I was looking for. I then decided to check AstroMart. Well guess what, right there on the home page is www.bigbinoculars.com. I decided to check them out, and I was very impressed with the selection and prices. Not wanting to go into a purchase blindly I decided a little reading was in order. I checked all of the review sites and found that they all praised the Oberwerk binos, it was time to make a call. I called Kevin Busarow at BigBinoculars.com on Friday afternoon and we talked for about 15-20 minutes he asked what experience I had with binocular viewing and if I wear eyeglasses (yes I do). We decided that a pair of the newly developed Oberwerk 11x70 FMC would be the best choice. I was at least somewhat familiar with binocular viewing, my friend has a pair of Fujinon 10x70 FMT SX Polaris. So I thought this would be close to the same view as what I was used to, and Kevin agreed.
I got the Binos shipped 2nd day air only $5.00 more.I was waiting anxiously when the UPS truck arrived, I signed for the package and proceeded to open it checking for any damage. I was very happy, Kevin did an excellent job of packing the binos, no damage.
As I took the binos from the box I immediately noticed that they were very light, much lighter than most 11x70 binos, 49.6oz to be exact. I was pleased to see that they came with a lightly padded soft case, certainly not the most protective but it will do. I carefully removed them from the case, to reveal a very impressive set of binoculars, rubber armored and very detailed construction. I removed the objective covers to see a nice dark green Multi-coating, well blackened barrels with no silver or shiny spots inside. They were very dark inside and you can see the fine knife edge baffle this is far better than one would expect from an inexpensive set of binoculars. I then removed the eyepiece cover (a one piece cover) and found very nice coatings and excellent soft eyecups. I noticed right away that these binoculars were far better made than you would expect for $149.00. The backs of the prism housing read: Oberwerk, Fully Multi-Coated, BAK-4 Prisms. The other side read 11x70, Long Eye Relief, 240ft at 1000YDS, 80M at 1000M. I must say that I am very impressed with the overall build quality. Kevin also includes a very useful 1" wide neck strap. So far I would rate them a 9.9 on a scale of 10, the only small detraction was the soft case, I would rather have a hard case.
I was headed to a cabin in northern Wisconsin that weekend and decided this would be the perfect time to try
them out, well I forgot about the weather curse..duhhh. It was not until a week later when the clouds rolled away
leaving a nice dark sky and good seeing. It just so happened that my buddy Al, who owns the Fuji's 10x70 FMT SX
was going to be here and we could do a side by side comparison.
We decided to use the Pleades and Orion Nebula for comparison, we also took a look at Blanco 1 in Sculptor. These are the results.
- Edge sharpness - Excellent overall. The Oberwerks were ever so slightly sharper right up to the edge, I don't mean the Fujis were not, however the Oberwerks were just a little better.
- Brightness - The Fuji's seemed a little brighter. This is not to say the Oberwerks were dim, it was just that the background sky seemed a tad brighter in the Fuji's. Maybe the Oberwerks had better contrast than the Fuji's? This may be stretching it a little. I also noticed that there was no ghosting or extra reflections at all, this is a sign of really good coatings and great baffles.
- Field of view - I know it doesn't seem like much difference but the extra magnification 11x Vs.10x (10%) did make a difference, the Oberwerks produced an ever so slightly larger image scale. The Oberwerks were very wide and gave you that space walk experience, but the Fuji's did seem about 1/2 degree or 3/4 degree wider. This is about what it should be according to the listed FOV. Oberwerks 4.5 degrees Fuji's 5.25 degrees. Both produced very wide panoramas of the sky. There really is no substitute for using both eyes.
- Overall field sharpness - I had a very hard time with this one. I thought over all they were both EXCELLENT. My first impression is that the Oberwerks were as good as or slightly better than Fuji's, as I said this one was very difficult.
- Eye relief - Both of the binos are excellent if you wear glass's like me. The rated eyerelief is: Oberwerks 23mm, Fuji's 23mm. This seems correct, as they were both very comfortable to use with my glass's on. I did notice that the eyelens on the Oberwerks was a little more open, I think this was due to the thickness of rubber used on the eye cup.
- Off axis color/ Chromatic aberration - I chose Jupiter for a really tough test. I was very impressed with the Fuji's ability to show very little color both on axis and off, however the Oberwerks were slightly better I thought the view was a little more color true in the Oberwerks. Again this was very difficult to judge, because they both were excellent..
- Collimation - They both were perfect. If you want to be able to easily collimate the binos yourself then the Oberwerks have your number. If you want to send it back to the factory if it needs collimating then the Fuji's are it.
- Weight - Well this is where we separate the men from the boys. The Oberwerks are rated at 3.1 pounds, and the Fuji's are rated at 4.7 pounds. It is possible to hand hold the Oberwerks for a decent amount of time, but forget about it with the Fuji's. I use a Vincent Bahr parallelogram mount and it holds the Oberwerks like a dream.
- Build quality - I must admit the Fuji's win here and yes they are full Mil-Spec rated this does give a new meaning to the term "built like a tank". The Oberwerks are as good in looks and craftsmanship as the Fuji's but they do not have the full Mil-Spec rating. What does this mean? Well just don't throw them down the stairs or take them swimming and you will be OK. The Oberwerks are great looking and are rubber armored, they are also able to be user collimated with ease.
- Focusers - This is where we get into a personal preference thing. I am partial to the individual eye focus of the Fuji's, I think it is easier to focus one eye at a time. The Oberwerks on the other hand have an extremely smooth center focus and right diopter adjust. It is probably one of the best center focusers I have ever used in the terms of smoothness and ability to hold focus, it just doesn't move unless you want it too.
- Value - I can honestly say that if you want a pair of binoculars that performs better than you would ever expect, then the Oberwerks are for you. They have the Best performance per dollar available. If you are a person who needs the full Mil-Spec rating then buy the Fuji's. The 10x70 FMT-SX cost $589.00 and I feel are worth it. The Oberwerks 11x70 FMC are $149.00, yes that $149.00. You can buy a pair of the Oberwerk 11x70 FMC's, a parallelogram mount, and a tripod for around $400.00 this means you will still have almost $190.00 left over for other astro goodies, like sky maps, a red flash light, an observing chair and gasoline to get to a dark site.
- Service - Probably the first thing I look at from any dealer is how good the service will be after the sale. I can honestly say that Kevin Busarow is a true gentleman. I have purchased from many online merchants, and it is easy to see the difference it makes when someone who cares about the product runs the show.
If you are in the market for a pair of larger binoculars, then you owe it to yourself to take a look through the Oberwerk 11x70 FMC's. I can say that you wont be disappointed, unless you have a need to take the binos swimming with you.
I originally set out on a quest to find the perfect binos. Did I find perfection, well, perfection is different for every person. If perfection to you means an almost flawless optical system, great build quality, superb value, and service beyond the call of duty (Kevin actually checks EVERY pair of binoculars he sells for quality and collimation, if they need collimating Kevin does it before shipping them) then yes, I think I found perfection. I know there is always something better. But at what cost, do I spend 35 times as much and get the Nikon 20x120's or 40-100 times as much and get the 25x150 Fujinons? No, not for me.
I will whole heartedly recommend these Oberwerks to anyone who is looking for a pair of astronomical binoculars.