This question has come up many times, including in a current thread. While the discussion would be better had in the mounts forum, I am generally unable to start a thread there. So I will start it here instead.
To me, the "premium" term is all that we have been able to come up with for a descriptor. In general, I feel that it refers to mounts that:
- are largely handmade, one at a time (as opposed to assembly line made),
- are known to be made consistently with the highest-quality materials (e.g., billet aluminum, stainless steel, etc. with appropriate alloys used for the purpose vs. cast metals and thin plastics),
- have consistently excellent fit and finish,
- are mostly, if not entirely, machined rather than cast,
- are very consistent from unit to unit and batch to batch, etc.,
- perform very consistently, hour to hour, night to night, etc.,
- perform consistently with a high degree of accuracy AND precision,
- are consistently well supported by the manufacturer,
- consistently require very little, if any, support for the mechanical aspects of the mount,
- consistently require very little, if any, significant adjustment by the user for the highest performance.
Now, before people jump in and try to say "my mount does this but it is not considered a premium mount", please consider the underlined and bold words. A premium mount is most, if not all of these things, not just a few of them. Most important though, is the consistency of these factors, not that any individual factor might be met be any particular mount or brand.
While "premium" mounts tend to cost more, the cost really has nothing to do with the designation as "premium." Cost is only a reflection of the reality of the cost of materials, the manufacturing time and precision (including expensive machining time), time for individual testing before it leaves the manufacturer, etc. A mount that can meet all these qualities at half the price would still be considered "premium."
There are definite exceptions to meeting all of these factors such as some mounts that are not machined from billet aluminum, some mounts that require a lot of fiddling, some mounts that are not well supported, etc.
If there are people that think there are other factors that should be included, feel free to bring them up.
PLEASE, DO NOT CONSIDER THIS AS AN INVITATION TO BEGIN ANOTHER ARGUEMENT OF "MY MOUNT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED PREMIUM BECAUSE..." That is not the topic here and not what I and other people are looking to discuss. If you are looking to argue about what specific mounts should be classified as, then please start a new thread about that in the mounts forum.
Edited by EFT, 30 June 2019 - 01:54 PM.