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Pentax PCF now made WHERE???

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#1 Tom T

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 12:51 PM

Just bought what I thought were my first set of decent bino's in a long time - debated between just getting a set of the oberwerks, or popping the extra for something like the Pentax 10x50 PCF WP's...

Decided to go with the Pentax - imagine my surprise when I turned em over and saw the stamp:

"Made in China"

Hmmm - well, I must say they seem to be a nice pair, but I'm dissapointed that they aren't made in Japan any longer. Had I known that I would have been more tempted by the Oberwerks.

The other contender was a Leopold - gave real nice images and was out of Oregon (but dunno where the lenses came from). The image quality was too close to call, and the PCF fit my hands better.

Guess I shoulda asked you guys. I hear many of the Nikon Binos are now coming out of China as well. Are there any decent mid priced units that AREN'T from china? (Seems like the whole world - or a large portion of it - comes from there nowadays...)

Oh well, at least they are better than my Tasco Sonomas.

Tom T.

#2 EdZ

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 12:59 PM

My 12x50 PCF III were made in Japan.

My 16x60 PCF WP were made in China.

I think the Pentax started coming out of China about two years ago.

edz

#3 Tom T

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 01:08 PM

Ed, IYO - are the keeping the QC up to pentax standards? (Or did I just waste my money and shoulda got the oberwerks...)

Tom

#4 EdZ

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 01:30 PM

Well now that you ask, the pinpoint image in my 12x50s (Japan) is not matched with a similarly equal pinpoint image in my 16x60s (China). I'm not talking about off axis sharpness here. I mean on axis central image pinpoint sharp. The 12x50s come closer to the pinpoint image seen in my 16x70 Fujinons than do the 16x60s. Within the constraints of the magnification capabilities of 12x vs 16x, the 12x50s perform better.

Mechanically, both models are equals. Both models have clickstop right diopter and the locking focus mechanism. However my 12x50s have fold out rubber eyecups (which I prefer), the 16x60s have twist out cups. The coatings are slightly different, but both models perform well.

The Pentax PCF III 12x50 is one of those binoculars that produced a WOW factor for me. The performance of my Pentax PCF WP 16x60s is surpassed by the Oberwerk 15x70s.

edz


#5 Tom T

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 01:35 PM

Thanks Ed. That's what I was afraid of. Oh well, at least I only paid $120 for em.

<joke> See this is why I don't buy binos. I can't keep up with who's switched to china. :( </joke>

Tom T.

#6 EdZ

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 01:39 PM

Thanks Ed. That's what I was afraid of.
Tom T.


What's up, don't you like them? Could very well be they are as just as pin point sharp as my 12x50s. If so, my opinion is it's one of the best mechanically designed binocs on the market.

edz

#7 Tom T

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 01:50 PM

Well, I won't know until I get em under the stars, but I would have (perhaps irrationally) felt better about em had the lenses been outta Japan. I'm just not keeping up I guess.

I do like the mechanics. Ergonomically, they are one of the most comfortable units (in their price range) I've used.

I just bought them with the (mis) understanding: Pentax = Japan. I knew Nikon went to China, I never stopped to think Pentax might have done the same thing.

Although - in reality, I suppose if they are still made to Pentax (or Nikon) specs - it really is a non-issue where they are actually made.

Tom T.

#8 lighttrap

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 02:58 PM

Personally, having owned both various Nikons and various Pentax binos from both Japan and China, I'd say that *optically* the Chinese binos really just have not quite yet caught up to the optical excellence of the Japanese optics. I would go so far as to say that's an across the board reality *at the moment*. I do expect Chinese optics to eventually catch up to the standards set by the Japanese, but I don't know exactly when that will happen. That said, the overall quality of many of the Chinese optics in the $125-$200 range is getting quite good, and the prices keep dropping while the quality and features keep rising. For my money, I still think you get the most optical quality in the rough $200-$250 Japanese porro market.

However, having said all that, I'll readily concede that my Chinese Nikon Action Extremes are actually a better binocular in almost all regards when compared to my Japanese Swift Kestrels. Interestingly, the overall quality of construction, and the features included in many of these lower cost Chinese binoculars, is actually a good bit better than any of the Japanese ones. For instance, while the Japanese built Carton Adlerblicks have excellent optics, they aren't waterproof, don't have pop up/down eyepiece covers, and are just generally nowhere near as robust as the Chinese Pentax and Nikons. That's just one example. There are dozens of other similar instances where I'd actually say that the overall quality of construction is better on some of the best Chinese binoculars.

If you're directly comparing *the exact same model* where ALL that is changed is the country that manufactured the lenses, then I'd say you're better off going with the Japanese glass over the Chinese. But, that's seldom a possibility, since Nikon, Pentax, Leupold et al. keep changing the design of the binoculars, even though they may call them by the same or similar model designation. That's one of my real frustrations with both Nikon and Pentax. It's often pretty hard to know just exactly which glass, or which incarnation of it is being discussed. In the case of both the Nikon Action series and the Leupold Wind River series, there have been previous models that were terrible, and there have been some real sleepers in terms of excellent value and performance. Guiding folks through the minefield can be tough, though because it's like trying to hit a moving target with all the changes.

#9 KennyJ

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 03:01 PM

Tom,

Fujinon FMT SX are a decent mid -priced bino that I don't believe come from China.

It mystifies me why there is such a mystery about where binoculars are actually made -- but there sure is.

Even some people who KNOW seem reluctant to reveal the truth and I think that is quite sad.

You could always get a little "made in Japan" sticker to cover the "offending item" :-)

Finally ,I hope you like these binos regardless of their place of origin.

Regards , Kenny.

#10 Tom T

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 03:18 PM

Thanks Guys.

Mike, that's pretty much what I figured. I was hoping the Pentax QC would be as good as say TV (where I can tell you the taiwan / japan thing does not matter a bit), but suspected it wouldn't be.

Kenny - I actually did look at the FMT's but they are a little more than I was looking to spend.

~$200 was my price range.

I did want comfortable binos that could take a good bit of knocking around and really preferred a waterproof / fog proof model. I also was shopping for Japanese optics. Oh well.

I actually bought the PCF's for 185, and then took em back. I figured when I found em online for 120 (from a reputable dealer), I couldn't turn em down.

I suspect I'll still like em given my intended use and what I paid for em. If not, I'm sure I can find someone who wants em.

Tom

#11 BarrySimon615

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 08:17 PM

I believe the negative associations about binoculars being made in China is slowly changing. As the owner of a pair of Pentax PCF III 12x50's and the previous owner of Pentax PCF III 7x50's, I was somewhat disappointed when I saw my first pair of PCF V 10x50's. I have to admit that I did like the black color better than the grey color of the PCF III's, and wasn't initially sold on the pop-up eyecups, but it was the China label that really got to me. After looking thru them and finally owning a pair (8x40's) my opinion changed. These are Japanese designed binoculars with Japanese specifications made in China with chinese labor. Subsequent purchases included the 10x50 and the 16x60 PCF V. I find the PCF V 16x60 to be extremely sharp and the equivalent to my 16x70 Fujinon FMT-SX. The only real difference is the smaller field, lighter weight and central focus with the Pentax pair.

As previously stated, the Nikon Action Extreme are made in China, so are the Minolta Activa as well as a host of other name brand binoculars.

While TeleVue eyepieces (to my knowledge) are not yet made in China, some are being made in Taiwan, ROC. Initially many felt they would be inferior to the Japanese made TeleVues; they are not.

Consider too that the Chinese have put an astronaut in space, the Japanese are yet to do this.

Trivia - there are no Pentax PCF IV, as "4" is an unlucky number in Japanese culture, I have been told.

Barry Simon

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 07:14 AM

In an e-mail reply by Olympus, the rep told me that all 'prime optics' for Olympus binocs are made in Japan. Does 'prime optics' mean all lens elements?

If that's true, then that would mean all Olympus full-size binocs have Japanese made optics; The Magellans are entirely made in Japan, the Pathfinder and Troopers are made in China with (apparently) Japanese-made optics.

Check out Olympus America (olympusamerica) on eBay: they sell factory reconditioned and new binocs with scuffed packaging. The winning bid is usually about 1/2 the new price. Shipping to anywhere in USA or Canada is only $3.

#13 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 08:16 AM

Tom,
Wait until you turn those puppies on the stars before beating yourself over the head. Those Pentax binos may be made to Pentax standards (or very close to them).

Unfortunately the move to have Chinese made products by name-brand labels boils down to economics IMHO (cheaper to make things in China). BTW, I've been to China and witnessed some of the manufacturing operations and know first hand why some things can be made cheaper there (I won't elaborate except to say the conditions would not pass in the U.S.)! And, as was mentioned in another reply here, the companies keep changing their standards as well ... not always for the better (again economics, I believe, play a major roll in the reduction of quality for the improvement of profit). But, bottom line is that you will hopefully be getting a higher level of standards and quality with the Pentax binos as opposed to the other mass produced and cheaper alternatives.

Nick

#14 Tom T

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 01:18 PM

Nick, Barry and everyone - Thank you.

Nick, you are exactly right. Before I beat myself up too much, I absolutly should try them under the stars.

I'll let you folks know the results once I do.

T

#15 BillC

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:01 PM

It mystifies me why there is such a mystery about where binoculars are actually made -- but there sure is.

Even some people who KNOW seem reluctant to reveal the truth and I think that is quite sad.

Regards , Kenny. [/quote]

Hi Kenny, et al.:

It is not so much a matter about telling the truth as it is a matter of not wanting to lose friends or get sued into oblivion to help folks who won’t believe a bloody thing you say, anyway.

You know I am a straight shooter; I take no prisoners when it comes to the truth about the consumer optics industry. This has cost me more than one false friends. Still, ultimately, truth is more valuable than friends.

Even so, why should anyone tell all they know? The information is going to be convoluted and misquoted on the net before the pixatory ink is dry. For ten years, my editorials in ATM Journal kept EVERYONE apprised of EXACTLY what I was doing and why. They were told EXACTLY that (at least for the first 7 years) it was a one-horse operation with me being the horse. Still, idiots would call and rake me over the coals because, as one man with a family and a real job, I could not run the thing as a multi-million dollar publishing house.

So, I will say what I have so many times before, in other places:

1) There are hundreds of brands and models of binoculars coming out of Asia, and they all come from only a handful of OEMs.

2) Some of the best binoculars being sold by some of the biggest names in optics are not actually made by the companies bearing those names.

3) This is not at all a bad thing, unless the buyer is so enamored with a name that he or she will buy a lousy binocular because of it. Many to most of the BIG names buy SOME third party products and slap their names on them. ‘You want to buy 1- 10,000 binos at once? If so, you can get your name on the side, too!

Finally,

4) THERE ARE NO TOTALLY US BINOCULARS . . . PERIOD! I don’t care what the little axle cover says.

TASCO mercifully went out of business 3 years ago, BUT Bushnell bought the name, so I guess TASCO will go on. And, while I won’t allow TASCO in my store, some of their imports were / are not bad.

“Well, Bill, at least the TASCO name has been purchased by a good old American firm.” American firm: yes. But, American product??? Dave Bushnell (now 93) hasn’t been in charge of the company that bears his name in YEARS, and even when he was, he was an IMPORTER, not a manufacturer.

Just about every week I will try to help someone understand the realities of the industry only to be told that this or that company makes their binoculars right here in the USA. Most recently, I have been regaled with how it is being done by Leupold (pronounced “LU POLD”—hunters will call it Lee-o-pold, forever) in Oregon, or Brunton in Wyoming. But, while I would love to work for either of these two fine companies, they don’t make their own binos.

A month ago, I was taken to task by a fellow who assured me that he KNEW Bruntons were made in the states because he was a friend of the vice-president of the company. Sounded pretty impressive to me. Immediately, upon his leaving the store, I fired off an email to Brunton. I always want to give my customers accurate information. I didn’t see how something like this could get past me. But, I had to be sure. Following, is the company’s word-for-word response:


>>>”Mr. Cook,
The customer you had spoken with was misinformed or interrupted the information incorrectly. We do purchase our glass used in scope from PA, TX, and now some from Japan. As for binoculars and spotters they have always been imported. Our catalogs and web site denote this with the import symbol on the bottom of each page.

Thank you,

Gordon Grashorn
Customer Service Manager<<<

“They have always been imported” coming from the Customer Service Manager sounds pretty definitive to me.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

1) Let a name take you in a DIRECTION; but, buy THE particular unit.

2) It is not uncommon for one product to be manufactured in Japan and China at the same time.

3) The real players start at about $250- $300

4) Some binos are exported to more than a dozen different labels.

5) Some big names have junk in their line-up.

6) Some names with reputations for pumping out junk have SOME good products in their line-up.

7) The Chinese are getting better at optics production all the time.

8) When the Russians learn something about fit, finish, QA, and axle grease, they are going to do some HEAVY butt kicking in the optics industry.


Well that’s enough blathering for today; I apologize.

Just some thoughts,

Bill

#16 EdZ

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:46 PM

Oh, we're going to enjoy having you around. Good stuff!

edz

#17 lighttrap

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:51 PM

Bill, that post is absolutely right on. Thank you for that.

Regards,
Mike Swaim

#18 KennyJ

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 05:30 PM

A BIG thanks to you Bill !

I was rather hoping my original post MIGHT just bring out what I consider to be the "best" of you Bill !

You ought to know from a while back how much I really appreciate your straight talking , but not as much I respect your vast knowledge and experience.

I DO understand why , for professional and personal reasons ,it would probably be unwise for you go into any more detail , but your frankness and insight ought to be enough to give many members here a much clearer picture of the situation as it stands.

Thanks again Bill -- this "virtual community" is a much wiser place for your presence.

Kind regards , Kenny.

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 09:12 PM

Well said Bill. I look forward to your continued direct commentaries.

#20 Tom T

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 09:16 PM

3) The real players start at about $250- $300


Ok, so what are the real players?

Tom T.

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 09:22 PM

"Ok, so what are the real players?"


It is not "what", but "who".....I think...

#22 BillC

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Posted 23 July 2004 - 01:19 PM


3) The real players start at about $250- $300


Ok, so what are the real players?

Tom T.


Thank you all for the kind words.

Yes, I do know something about binos. However, always be leery of those who seem to know too much. Often they KNOW more than they UNDERSTAND. That can get everyone in trouble. When it comes to spending money for binoculars, the laws of common sense can mean more than a degree in engineering.

Also, what I know has NOTHING to do with smarts. With a pocket full of degrees, I’m still “hawking ‘nocklars” at Captain’s, and still planning to live on ALPO Helper as I get older, knowing that I have no retirement. Smart people do not find themselves in such situations. It’s just that I have been doing what I do for so long, it would be impossible not to have learned something along the way.

As for Tom’s question:

It would be foolish for me to discuss the “players” because while I have 150 models in my cabinets, that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what’s available. And, for EVERY good buy I might mention, there would be dozens just as good—or better—that I have never seen. That, of course, would lead to endless email messages from disgruntled people wanting to know: “Well, what about my this?” or “What about my that?” I just can’t afford to go there, right now.

Besides, I would undoubtedly wind up talking to people who were comparing apples to apples, thinking they were comparing apples to oranges. Case in point: find an old Swift Storm King and compare it to the Tamaya BIFR. Then compare that to the Simmons 1170. Then, compare that to the Celestron “waterproof.” Then compare that to the TASCO . . . Well, you get the picture.

In 1996, when S & T asked me to discuss my eight favorite binos for astronomy, I saw problems coming. However, as a writer, I weighed the ramifications against the size of the check. The check won. Then, before the ink was dry, people were calling me at work to complain about THEIR favorite binocular not making MY cut. I stressed to everyone that I KNEW there were hundreds of binoculars that could have filled the bill, but that my assignment was to discuss eight—not 80 or 800.

I do have a right to discuss what I own or use.

My primary birding glass is the Nikon Superior E 8x32 (That’s not a slam on Zeiss, Leica, or Swarovski. I just don’t have that kind of money.) I still have my Swift 8.5x44’s and 10x50’s at the ready. Another killer in this arena is the Nikon E II. This is a fantastic binocular for the money. It also has an 8.8-degree field of view.

For astronomy, I use a Nikon ProStar 7x50 (which I got at a great price, otherwise I would be using a Fujinon FMT-SX), a Fujinon 10x70, and a Celestron 25x100. I would love to have a Myauchi, but when Swift stopped importing them, we stopped carrying them.

Well, that’s enough rambling for now.

Cheers,

Bill

#23 KennyJ

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Posted 23 July 2004 - 02:25 PM

Bill,

I just LOVE reading your ramblings !

Good shout with the Nikon E11 by the way.

Regards -- Kenny.

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Posted 23 July 2004 - 07:48 PM

Bill,
Absolutely loved your comments and insights. Informative and refreshing. Thanks for sharing. Nick

#25 Tom T

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Posted 24 July 2004 - 07:57 AM

Bill,

Maybe a better question would be:

What would you buy from the NEW market in the following price ranges:

$100-$200

$200-$400

$400-$600

$600-$800

Since - as a bino novice - I have no idea what price range your choices are in - I could use a little clarification.

Basically - what does a beginner buy? The choices seem FAR more complicated than with telescopes.

Your musings are oh-so-accurate when I consider my experience with scopes, (and important to keep in mind) but as a dabbler in binocular astronomy, I (along with others, I'm sure) am just looking for a recommendation of a decent model on the market.

I will say - ironically enough - the views in my $110 used edmund astroscan (bought for my kid) look to be quite preferable - to me - over any set of bino's I've ever used - maybe - as I've thought so many times before - I'm just not destined to be a bino guy.

Tom T.


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