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Quality in the binocular

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#1 ECP M42

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 09:09 PM

I find this binocular industry rather pathetic. 

 

Many greetings,

 

Holger

 

smirk.gif ... in some ways I feel in agreement with this statement ... which has a rather technical basis.

 

The text from which it was taken is a good argument about the quality of prisms (see forum), the discussion of which is much more subtle and focused, but in fact it covers an even wider field related to binoculars in general.

 

What do you think of the quality in binoculars?


Edited by ECP M42, 18 October 2021 - 09:10 PM.

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#2 DeanD

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 01:10 AM

OK, I'll bite. (I am on a coffee break...)

 

It seems to me that at this point in the referenced discussion Holger is commenting on the lack of (technical) information that the manufacturers are willing to give, not the quality of binoculars per se. The wider quote (according to Google translate) is: "you always run into walls as soon as you want any technical questions clarified. Excellent solutions such as the Perger prism are (almost) not used by Leica and are otherwise protected by patent so that no one else can install them. I find this binoculars industry pretty pathetic."

 

All competitive industries keep their cards close to their chest and don't want to share any more information than is absolutely necessary, and protect their products by patent if at all possible. Likewise, all competitive industries produce their product/s to a price point. Holger might find any competitive industry "pretty pathetic" if he is annoyed by their secrecy, especially when it comes to technical details that a rival might steal.

 

In terms of binoculars there are many quality price points, and very few (if any) are produced without an awareness of the ultimate cost of production. Maybe the limited edition Nikon WX series were produced without regard to cost, and perhaps the very top end "alphas" like the Swaro NL Pure or the Zeiss Victory SF have less regard to cost of production than cheaper binos...

 

Also, like many products, you have to put a lot more time and effort in research and manufacture to get an increase in quality and quality control at the point of releasing the product for sale, so the cost can go up a lot for seemingly relatively small gains.

 

So, in terms of the "quality in binoculars", I think in general you get what you pay for, but even the entry level (say $100+) are not too bad given that a binocular incorporates two objectives, two eyepieces and lots of mechanics bits and pieces to enable focussing, strength, collimation of two optical trains, etc. You can spend many $1000's on high-end refractor telescope OTA's, and many $100's (or $1000's) more on a diagonal prism or mirror, eyepieces, mount etc. to complement the OTA before you can even use it. With binoculars you are basically getting two telescopes with prisms and eyepieces that are matched together and you can use right out of the box: and in that sense binoculars are generally pretty good value.

 

- Dean


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#3 ECP M42

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 02:45 AM

Ok Dean, without detracting from your contribution of the coffee break, which touches on other important points, I have read a different message.
Since they were talking about the defects of the roof prism vs Porro prism, the phrase "excellent solutions such as the Perger prism are (almost) not used by Leica", seemed to me to sound like an overture to the theme I mentioned "I find this binoculars industry pretty pathetic", defining pathetic as: but why not use the Perger prism also on the Noctivid and on all the other models that can mount it?
That is, why limit the quality that could be offered?

Since many design choices are often focused on saving on work to earn more in sales.

 

Henry


Edited by ECP M42, 19 October 2021 - 02:47 AM.


#4 Rokkor

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:34 PM

From what I see, a Perger prism just offers the advantages in transmission of a Porro prism but with a shorter lateral offset which could make a binocular more compact, but then you would lose some of the stereoscopic effect that widely separated objectives gives, right? 

 

It seems like a novelty at best or am I missing something? What would be the reason to convert roof binoculars to the Perger design? 

 

If other companies thought this prism configuration was useful and profitable, then they would have researched and patented it themselves I reckon. That's just the way things go in all industries. 

 

In China, Japan and less so Russia, the view in the past was different on proprietary technologies so that the industry in each country - which was collectively inferior and poorer than Western competitors - would try to cooperate on novel innovations and even assist in setting industry standards. Major companies would cooperate in research with universities to develop new technologies for the whole nation that would benefit the industry as a whole. Even the largest and most advanced companies took advantage of this. Basically, each company tried to compete more against besting the foreign companies while encouraging healthy & fair domestic competition - otherwise they would cannibalise themselves. I think this is the reason why in these countries, the prices and quality of optical products were all quite similar to each other while greatly undercutting the foreign competition. Of course proprietary advantages were there but fortunately in optics there are many novel solutions which satisfy the same requirements. It wasn't necessary to make numerous patents covering the same idea just to prevent your competitors. 

 

This is completely the opposite of (forgive me for not having a better example) companies in the West like Lego which are incredibly innovative in their business practices and their product, but they work equally as hard to cut their domestic & foreign competition out before they can even get started by patenting all the different ways a similar product could be made or shaped, or fit together, as well as a lot more - even if they never use the designs. Check for yourself, they hold more than 1,000 patents and have many more applications. If they were any other industry they would have been labelled a patent troll. 

 

If you don't patent something, others simply will. My understanding is that the US (and possibly large parts of the world?) are now just 'first to file' in the patent system and not 'first to invent' which was too hard to prove. It means you can release your product or idea to market or present it with investors in private negotiations first but have it copied and filed for patent by a competitor, because you didn't use an NDA or the meeting was not secretive enough. 

Leica would probably license the patent to competitors if the product wasn't strictly the same, so in the way the system would be working as intended. Leica is a very small company (more than 10x smaller than Zeiss and 6x of Swarovski) especially compared to the Japanese giants. They deserve to protect their small commercial advantage even if that means not using it at all - because they may change their mind, but obviously that is a fine line to tread with regards to patent-blocking. 



#5 Rich V.

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:50 PM

From what I see, a Perger prism just offers the advantages in transmission of a Porro prism but with a shorter lateral offset which could make a binocular more compact, but then you would lose some of the stereoscopic effect that widely separated objectives gives, right? 

 

It seems like a novelty at best or am I missing something? What would be the reason to convert roof binoculars to the Perger design? 

 

Sure, you lose a bit of stereoscopic vision with any inline bino but the "3D" advantage of Porros is really only at short distances anyhow.  It seems many users prefer the compact "roof" body shape anymore.

 

Perhaps a good reason to use a Perger prism over a roof prism is that there is no roofline bisecting the light cone, so no diffraction spikes and no need for phase coatings.  

 

Rich


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#6 KennyJ

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:57 PM

I wouldn't be too sure about the "Sports Optics" division of Leica being "around 6x smaller than that of Swarovski".

 

Worldwide, there are less than 1000 people employed by Swarovski Optiks.

 

https://en.wikipedia...Swarovski_Optik


Edited by KennyJ, 19 October 2021 - 03:58 PM.

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#7 j.gardavsky

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 04:30 PM

I wouldn't be too sure about the "Sports Optics" division of Leica being "around 6x smaller than that of Swarovski".

 

Worldwide, there are less than 1000 people employed by Swarovski Optiks.

 

https://en.wikipedia...Swarovski_Optik

The Leica Sports Optics https://uk.leica-cam...om/SPORT-OPTICS belongs to the Leica Cameras AG.

The Leica Cameras AG is one of the independent companies in the Leica Brands,

https://www.leica.com/

 

Together with the brands of ZEISS, Nikon, Olympus, they hold in optics most of the patented designs, and trade marked designs or names, manufactured world wide.

 

Best,

JG


Edited by j.gardavsky, 19 October 2021 - 04:35 PM.

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#8 Rokkor

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 04:56 PM

Sure, you lose a bit of stereoscopic vision with any inline bino but the "3D" advantage of Porros is really only at short distances anyhow.  It seems many users prefer the compact "roof" body shape anymore.

 

Perhaps a good reason to use a Perger prism over a roof prism is that there is no roofline bisecting the light cone, so no diffraction spikes and no need for phase coatings.  

 

Rich

The roof designs are still more compact by the looks of it so to me it was a solution looking for a problem. Given the popularity of roof binoculars and their dominance in the market, the roof spike would hardly seem to be a thing that bothers people and in any case, doesn't seem to be visible when the prism is large enough, and well made. At least, that is what some users have reported here. 

 

There must be a higher associated cost with it and in their view, no tangible benefit for using it across a larger range of products. 

 

I wouldn't be too sure about the "Sports Optics" division of Leica being "around 6x smaller than that of Swarovski".

 

Worldwide, there are less than 1000 people employed by Swarovski Optiks.

 

https://en.wikipedia...Swarovski_Optik

Yes but Swarovski Group, like Zeiss, owns all of its operations and divisions while Leica Camera is independent, and so the funding situation and the ability to patent ideas and fund research (one of the things that put Leica into financial ruin in the first place) should theoretically be a lot smaller. I'd like to think that it's the largest and most profitable divisions of the business which support and subsidise the weakest, and not the other way around. lol.gif Of course, we don't have access to Leica financial statements because they are privately owned... maybe it's the binoculars that are in fact most profitable for them! 

 

It just means that if suddenly Swarovski or Zeiss sports optics become very unpopular, the company would not immediately resort to closing it down. If Zeiss didn't research and patent new prism designs, it's not because they could not afford to. So they would only want to use the design anyway if it proved more popular than existing roof prism models. 



#9 ECP M42

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 06:07 PM

Leica ... deserve to protect their small commercial advantage even if that means not using it at all

The Perger-prism patent started in 2010 (if I remember correctly) and in 10 years it is discovered (2030). So I don't quite understand what they are waiting for.

It is true that that prism basically serves to avoid the further projection slide of the rangefinder data in the Geovid, but it would also be a very interesting solution to building binoculars with narrower Porro prisms and more "similar" to binoculars with SP-prism.
I don't quite understand this whole patent thing. I guess it's related solely to money. Everything you have said about patents and national strategies of various countries around the world may also be true and it is certainly interesting, but that is not the point, in my opinion. The point is that this system of working and producing (in the world) is "pathetic", because in the end it always tends to produce and offer a quality that is inextricably linked and conditioned by profit at all costs, even at the cost of producing garbage (in the most extreme cases).


Edited by ECP M42, 19 October 2021 - 06:13 PM.


#10 DeanD

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 09:04 PM

The Perger-prism patent started in 2010 (if I remember correctly) and in 10 years it is discovered (2030). So I don't quite understand what they are waiting for.

It is true that that prism basically serves to avoid the further projection slide of the rangefinder data in the Geovid, but it would also be a very interesting solution to building binoculars with narrower Porro prisms and more "similar" to binoculars with SP-prism.
I don't quite understand this whole patent thing. I guess it's related solely to money. Everything you have said about patents and national strategies of various countries around the world may also be true and it is certainly interesting, but that is not the point, in my opinion. The point is that this system of working and producing (in the world) is "pathetic", because in the end it always tends to produce and offer a quality that is inextricably linked and conditioned by profit at all costs, even at the cost of producing garbage (in the most extreme cases).

I suspect the problem for Leica is that while the Perger prisms may give a slight advantage for the purist they would probably cost them a lot to manufacture and market as a refined product, and they may not give a noticeably better view in the daytime when diffraction spikes would be less visible. They may therefore appeal only to the very small astronomy market as opposed to the high-volume birder and hunting markets and so could be a financial disaster for Leica. Meanwhile they can hold the patent at no additional cost, and either sell it to another manufacturer or use it down the road if they feel the market could warrant it.

 

With respect (and while I agree with being sceptical about the profit at all cost approach that seems to drive a lot of manufacturing), I don't think there is anything "pathetic" about that: it is simply common sense for a manufacturer who already produces excellent products that compete at the "alpha" level, and doesn't want to go bust...

 

BTW, I think a lot of us don't understand the workings and legalities of the "patent thing", but after all Albert Einstein was a Patents Clerk when he produced his "Annus Mirabilis" papers in 1905...  ;)



#11 ECP M42

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Posted 20 October 2021 - 04:47 AM

I suspect the problem for Leica is that while the Perger prisms may give a slight advantage for the purist they would probably cost them a lot to manufacture ...

I don't know, but in my opinion it's not an extra piece of glass that makes the difference in costs. For the Trinovid 35-40mm remakes, they used much larger SP prisms than normal ones (for example, those used in Ultravid or Noctivid), yet those binoculars cost much less.

 

More likely it is a question of foresight of the projects. Since it is more profitable to keep the same model for many years (if it works), than to change it every year. Because the improvement between SP and Porro is certainly there. And the "pathetic" note is more than anything else the fact that all the available technological possibilities are never exploited.

 

Who knows, maybe in a few years they will only use Perger prisms on all models (except 20-25mm) ... or maybe not smirk.gif   



#12 j.gardavsky

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Posted 20 October 2021 - 05:42 AM

The roof designs are still more compact by the looks of it so to me it was a solution looking for a problem. Given the popularity of roof binoculars and their dominance in the market, the roof spike would hardly seem to be a thing that bothers people and in any case, doesn't seem to be visible when the prism is large enough, and well made. At least, that is what some users have reported here. 

 

There must be a higher associated cost with it and in their view, no tangible benefit for using it across a larger range of products. 

 

Yes but Swarovski Group, like Zeiss, owns all of its operations and divisions while Leica Camera is independent, and so the funding situation and the ability to patent ideas and fund research (one of the things that put Leica into financial ruin in the first place) should theoretically be a lot smaller. I'd like to think that it's the largest and most profitable divisions of the business which support and subsidise the weakest, and not the other way around. lol.gif Of course, we don't have access to Leica financial statements because they are privately owned... maybe it's the binoculars that are in fact most profitable for them! 

 

It just means that if suddenly Swarovski or Zeiss sports optics become very unpopular, the company would not immediately resort to closing it down. If Zeiss didn't research and patent new prism designs, it's not because they could not afford to. So they would only want to use the design anyway if it proved more popular than existing roof prism models. 

Swarovski Holding is in Switzerland,

https://www.company-...ny-History.html

 

and the Swarovski Optik is just a spit in the company operations, which are mainly jewerly, fancy crystals, and fine mechanics.

 

It sounds funny to compare company-to-company Swarovski-to-Leica, as Leica is involved in optics research, development, and supports the university education,

whereas Swarovski main activity is imitation of precious stones and crystals, kitsch crystal animals, glitter, etc.

 

Trying my best to keep my wife away from Swarovski window shopping,

JG
 


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#13 lunardave

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 04:25 PM

My Oberwerk 10 x 50 roofs are sublime. Really nice 3D effect even on the Pleiades.

 

Blackness surrounds the stars.

 

I don't care if the objective is ED, it isn't.

 

A world class view awaits anyone brave enough to buy the 10 X 50 roof from Oberwerk.

 

Leica and Zeiss are fine I am sure.

 

But to a poor person who thinks a TV85 is a good scope, it's a revelation.


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#14 DeanD

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 07:15 PM

My Oberwerk 10 x 50 roofs are sublime. Really nice 3D effect even on the Pleiades.

 

Blackness surrounds the stars.

 

I don't care if the objective is ED, it isn't.

 

A world class view awaits anyone brave enough to buy the 10 X 50 roof from Oberwerk.

 

Leica and Zeiss are fine I am sure.

 

But to a poor person who thinks a TV85 is a good scope, it's a revelation.

The Oberwerk's look nice (I assume you have the Sport HD's?): I have always found it a pity that I can't get Oberwerk binos in Australia, as it seems their QC and customer service is very good. Even in this hard-to-please forum I haven't heard a bad thing about them! They seem to be one of those retailers who are very demanding of the manufacturers, and don't take their "seconds", unlike some of the larger re-brands.  wink.gif

 

It is not the ED glass per se that makes a huge difference: it is more to do with the right design and then care and QC in manufacturing. In my limited experience I have certainly seen a difference with the "alphas" I have tried, but like most things optical you pay a huge amount extra to get a relatively small improvement in the view. It is still subjective though: I loved the view through some Swaro EL's I had a look at (and would happily accept a pair if someone donated them to me!!!), but when I tried some Zeiss Victory's recently I found the rolling ball effect and the curved lines at the edge-of-field to be very off-putting, even though I appreciated their ergonomics, bright view, and centre sharpness. I very happily went back to my Fuji 10x50's which are not ED but had better CA correction towards the edge, a wider sweet spot and flat field, and was not at all tempted by the Zeiss at 6x the price (or 15-20x the price of the Oberwerks...).

 

BTW, there is nothing wrong with the TV85: it holds its own in terms of build quality and optics with anything out there...

 

All the best, and happy Oberwerk viewing,

 

Dean


Edited by DeanD, 22 October 2021 - 07:18 PM.

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#15 garret

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 04:56 AM

 

They seem to be one of those retailers who are very demanding of the manufacturers, and don't take their "seconds", unlike some of the larger re-brands.  wink.gif

+1

 

It is a pity that Oberwerk does't have an official European importer.
An good importer where you can also go for repairs, maintenance and parts such as bags and eyecups.



#16 ECP M42

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 06:19 AM

Until a few months ago (when I bought my Deluxe 10x50) RPOptix was active in Italy, which served Europe. Competent and kind guys.

But I just saw that the Oberwerk.eu page no longer works.
However, an office in Europe would be of little use (or of lesser interest), as Kevin B. (as he told me) does not control parts sold in the EU. 

 

Although, I mean, it would still be possible to get normal quality control from the EU staff ... performed by equally competent and kind people. smirk.gif


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