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Thread: Some helpful advice on sourcing optic products

  1. #1
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    Some helpful advice on sourcing optic products

    For several years I've been using rather 'average' quality Bushnell BAK-4 porro prism binoculars for hunting & bird watching, namely, Legend 10x50 and Sportec 7x35. I've long desired a decent quality set that would comfortably cover both activities. However, rather than spending an exorbitant amount on alpha grade binoculars (eg. Swarovski EL 10x42, Leica Ultravid HD-Plus 10x42, Zeiss Victory HT 10x42, Nikon EDG 10x42, Steiner Wildlife XP Ultra HD 10x44) I elected to alternatively compromise on relatively comparable but less expensive units like the following;
    Meopta MeoStar B1 HD 10x42, Kowa Genesis XD44 Prominar 10.5x44, and Vortex Razor HD 10x42’s.

    Unfortunately, no one local retailer offers a broad range of brands for a direct hands on comparative test, hence why I essentially relied on related data and reviews submitted online by others. Following much deliberation I finally settled on the Kowa binoculars, refer; GENESIS Series?BINOCULARS | KOWA PROMINAR OFFICIAL WEB SITE

    However, during my first trial viewing I soon noticed a small but distinctive 'black' chip like blemish INSIDE the right hand side lens assembly (located at the almost 3 o’clock position, just in from the perimeter). I was truly shocked and understandably disappointed because, being their premium line, I fully expected Kowa’s associated quality control to be such that obvious optical defects would be readily identified prior to being sealed and packaged in Japan - resulting in 'faulty' units being rightly withdrawn from sale. Questionably not so in this case.

    I immediately emailed my concern to the online supplier and here’s an extract of his prompt and praiseworthy reply;

    “I’m sorry to hear the binoculars you've received apparently are faulty in some way. I know that Kowa have a quite good quality control ‘normally’, nevertheless it happens from time to time that a faulty product comes into sale. You know, we're selling about 2000 pairs of binoculars plus 500 spotting scopes and riflescopes a year, and I can tell from (painful) experience: there´s not a single manufacturer who does a ‘100% quality control’. We've already had faulty binoculars from Swarovski, Zeiss and Leica, even a faulty TSN-883 scope from Kowa within the last 12 months, so this does happen, it clearly shouldn't but it does.

    However, ‘there's no use crying over spilt milk’ here, so let´s see how we can solve this as best as possible. My first offer to you is, of course, to exchange the binoculars for another pair (which I would personally control before sending them if you agree) and take back yours at our expenses. You can return your pair, I'd refund your postage expenses (Auspost standard parcel with signature or equivalent), and we´d send another pair (and claim yours with Kowa later). Alternatively you could send your pair to the next Kowa representative to have it exchanged there and I'd refund your expenses for this procedure, but I don't want to ask that from you, so if you want to return it to us that's fine. Third option is to return your pair for a refund and choose a different make, I'd accept that too”.

    For consideration, to me, that’s what I call outstanding customer service. Following subsequent emails, the supplier also appears to be quite knowledgeable and experienced in various optics. The outcome – we arranged the return shipment, he promptly refunded my related postage expenses, and soon thereafter personally inspected and posted off a fault free replacement. In short, if anyone’s interested in the highly recommended online optic (binoculars, riflescopes, spotting scopes etc) supplier’s identity, or who wants further input regarding related comparative binocular reviews/links etc, then feel free to message me. Call it a form of karma, I’m simply keen on helping others to be both well informed and confident with their equipment source.

  2. #2
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    Who was the online supplier?

    That is better service than ive received from anyone anywhere ever

  3. #3
    Member oneipete's Avatar
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    I can also freely tell you from my painful experience that there is a shit ton goes wrong with Swarovski gear and they are a total bastard to deal with trying to get stuff fixed even under warrantee. They seem to take it as a personal affront that you complained.

    Yes, who was the supplier ? im in the market for some decent binos.
    Guy Fawks the only man to enter parliament with the interests of the people in mind

  4. #4
    Member Shooter's Avatar
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    Keen to know the supplier too. Outstanding service I must say!

    Sent from my SM-G800F using Tapatalk
    "Professionals are predictable but the world is full of dangerous amateurs"

  5. #5
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    I have always maintained that it is the service from a company when something goes wrong that sets them apart from others. Every manufacturer and wholesaler I have ever dealt with has had faulty product of some sort. It how they deal with it that sees me returning.
    oneipete and Tommy like this.

  6. #6
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    For consideration, I hope the following related data benefits those interested in optics. I advised the supplier that Bushnell, Leupold, Kahles, Schmidt & Bender, Sightron and Vortex optics are quite popular here in Australia. Then, bearing in mind the previously mentioned list of ‘alpha’ grade binoculars, I asked what he would personally select and/or recommend, and why.
    Here’s an extract of his response;

    “It appears you´ve spent a lot of time reading up on binoculars to pick the best model for your needs. I know some of the references you´ve posted, especially Holger Merlitz’s related comparative review, (refer; Review: Kowa 8.5x44 Prominar XD vs. Meopta 8x42 Meostar B1 vs. Vortex 8x42 Razor) who is some kind of ‘institution’ when it comes to evaluating the technical and optical parameters of binoculars (i.e. the physics and construction). His way of giving credit points in comparison of different binoculars may be questionable, yet definitely knows what he´s writing about very well.

    Naturally, many reviews and evaluations are quite ‘technical’, focused on the physical facts, which I find a bit difficult because ‘seeing’ is a deeply subjective matter. You can compare field of view, light transmission, weight, eye relief and other parameters, but you still don´t know how it feels to look through the binoculars. That´s always the dilemma when you have no other chance but buying ‘blind’.

    Disregarding Japan, middle Europe is the heart of the optical industry. It´s almost a question of belief, especially in the community of hunters, whether one prefers Swarovski, Zeiss or Leica in the alpha grade level, respectively Meopta, Kowa, Steiner or Minox in the more affordable range. Vortex doesn´t play a major role in Europe, it´s only little known, probably because of the poor distribution.

    I personally like Swarovski very much, especially the EL, in my opinion (still) the best binoculars available in defiance of the new Zeiss Victory SF/HT and Leica Ultravid HD-Plus.
    I think the EL are just perfectly balanced binoculars, with a neutral, absolutely true to color image, excellent edge sharpness and the field-flattening lenses bringing ‘brilliance’ and deepness to the image. Zeiss Victory SF comes close to that, but I must say that I generally don´t like the Zeiss design, which I find a bit too ‘matter-of-fact’. Victory HT are not as good I would say, Zeiss concentrated on maximum light transmission in this model which, in my opinion, has led to a declined edge sharpness and an image that tends a little bit to cold. There´s nothing bad to say about the Leica, yet neither the Leica nor Zeiss can produce the ‘brilliance’ that distinguishes the Swarovski from all the other makes. Like I said, it´s a subjective thing and a matter of taste in the end, when you must choose between several excellent products that differ only in little nuances.

    Regarding the more affordable binoculars, I´d agree with Holger Merlitz that the Kowa are probably the best optics, Meostar are pretty good too, don´t know the Vortex from personal experience. There´s other binoculars in this price range like Minox HG and Zeiss Conquest HD, but none comes close to the Kowa and Meopta, maybe the new Leica Trinovid HD, they´re pretty good, probably better than Meopta and very close to the Kowa.

    One word about Steiner, you´ve mentioned the Wildlife XP: for some years, Steiner have been struggling to reach the optical quality of the “big three” with first the Nighthunter XP roof prism models, then the Discovery and now the Widlife XP as their top of the range. However, their efforts were not successful, the Wildlife XP are, like the Dicovery and Nighthunter were, not even as good as Kowa Genesis or Meopta Meostar, yet about 50% more expensive, absolutely no challenge to Zeiss, Swaro or Leica. They´re trying to find a place in the ‘no man´s land’, but this doesn´t work, the less since Steiner have been taken over by the Beretta holding and are consequently being transformed into a “pseudo-German” brand for the US market mainly.

    Just some short comments on the brands you´ve mentioned…

    Bushnell: the brand as a whole is not of much interest for me, even though it´s widely spread throughout Europe and other parts of the world. Reason is that European dealers just can´t offer competitive prices for products of US based companies like Bushnell. Even though Bushnell have several branches in Europe with their dealers being distributed directly from a central European warehouse in France, recommended prices for Bushnell optics in Europe are up to double of what they are in the US. So, especially when it´s about export listings for my Australian customers, it just doesn´t make much sense with Bushnell.

    Kahles: very interesting you mentioned this. Kahles is an old Austrian brand which is only very little known here. I think they´re more popular overseas than they are in Germany actually, possibly because they focused pretty early on exporting rather than struggling for a little share in the very partitioned German market. Maybe I´m going to have a closer look at their assortment at the next opportunity.

    Schmidt&Bender: very well known and reputable (and expensive) over here. The thing here is: they´re doing only riflescope and won´t supply me. The gun/hunting gear market is a very complicated (restricted) thing here. Manufacturers of top quality riflescopes like Schmidt&Bender, Zeiss and Swarovski distribute their riflescopes through this sector exclusively, i.e. you can get a Schmidt&Bender riflescope only where you can get a gun too. Quite absurd I think, but that´s the way it is: I get supplied with binoculars and spotting scopes from Zeiss and Swarovski and I´m an ‘authorized dealer’ for these product lines, but I can´t order any riflescope from them, not even if I want it for my personal use.

    Vortex: are little known here. Yes, they´re being noticed in the specialized press and they do attend some trade fairs, but since they´re American and not as big as Bushnell, their European distribution is a bit fitful (quite the same with Leupold, to mention another important US brand). Further, it´s the same here as with Bushnell: European dealers can´t compete with the prices of US dealers by any means (same with Nikon).

    Furthermore, apart from the pricing problem, there´s several restrictions (set up by the manufacturers) that prevents me from offering all my products to buyers outside the EU".

    An extract of my response : In hindsight, buying 'blind' is a rather daunting experience. Sure, we can initially take into account the various views and opinions of others but, in reality, 'seeing' and actual handling is in deed a subjective manner. In fact, having only ever previously handled porro prism binoculars, I found the comparatively slim / narrow structural nature of the Kowa roof prism unit to be somewhat awkward. No doubt I'll soon become familiar and competent with their usage.

    Otherwise, here's some hopefully helpful links about binoculars :

    The different types of binoculars, refer:
    Different Types Of Binoculars & Other Optics

    Choosing binoculars guide, refer;
    https://procular.com.au/how-to-choos...FQsnvQod1g8FiQ

    How to focus binoculars, refer;
    How to Focus Binoculars | Calibration using the Diopter

    A glossary of optical terms, refer;
    Binocular Glossary

    Some general info about binoculars, refer :
    BINOCULAR BASICS

    How & why power effects magnification and field of view, refer;
    Binoculars: How 8 is more than 10

    A binocular oriented website….various reviews, types of usage, related explanations etc, refer:
    World of Binoculars - Articles - Best Binocular Reviews

 

 

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