Back in April, we introduced a prototype of our PM1 parallelogram mount at the NEAF Astronomy Convention in NY. After a couple of revisions, it’s finally ready for market. Why a p-mount? For straight-through-view binoculars, it’s really the only way to use them comfortably when viewing the night sky. Combined with our TR3 maple tripod, there is plenty of height (and space) for even the tallest person to get underneath the binocular and view directly overhead (zenith). The p-mount also provides a huge 3-foot range of height adjustment, without losing the binocular’s target image. So it’s ideal for sharing the view with others, especially so when there is a variety of heights. The p-mount can also place the binocular low enough to view from a reclining lawn chair. Because the binocular is well to the side of the tripod, the p-mount is the only way to view the night sky from a wheelchair. So-why the Oberwerk PM1, and not something more affordable? There are other p-mounts available, the most popular being the Farpoint UBM (Universal Binocular Mount). While the UBM is quite functional, it doesn’t comes close to the PM1 in terms of smoothness, construction quality, and great looks. The maple hardwood does a great job of dampening, is very strong, and is also quite beautiful, especially when combined with the Oberwerk TR3 maple tripod. Look closely and you’ll see that some of the PM1 components are borrowed from the TR3, and operation of the mount will be very familiar to owners of the tripod. The PM1 also incorporates the highly-regarded Oberwerk 5000 fluid head, with dual panning handles. This makes steering the binocular much easier than competing p-mounts, which use a large hinged L-bracket. Nothing else pans through the night sky like the PM1. Due to its price point, it’s not for everyone. But for those that do a lot of binocular astronomy outreach, or those that simply want the best, the PM1 is the way to go.
We’ve just been notified that the Oberwerk 15×70 LW has been ranked #2 on the Ezvid Wiki 2019 Best Astronomy Binoculars list. From the Ezvid Wiki website- “Compiled with forty-five hours of research, this newly published Wiki in their binocular & scope category is a broad-ranging, impartial assessment of astronomy binocular options available to consumers in the United States”.
The most expensive binocular on the list, the $769 Celestron Echelon 20×70, was the #1 choice. Of course we’re very pleased that our very-affordable $129 15×70 LW was #2. But frankly, we don’t agree with some of their methodology and ranking criteria. For example, for two competitor’s binoculars on the list, Ezvid Wiki notes that “they may arrive with collimation or alignment problems”- yet they still somehow made the Top 10 list? While we proudly proclaim that Oberwerk binoculars are the most perfectly-collimated binoculars on the market, this was not mentioned as an attribute of the 15×70. We understand that they probably had a price cap for the models tested. But to put together of list of “The Best”, without mentioning our ground-breaking XL Series binocular telescopes? Perhaps it should be titled “Best Astronomy Binoculars Under $1000”- but even then, it would be an oversight to ignore our highly-regarded Deluxe and Ultra Series models. Maybe next time…
Some time ago, we sent an Oberwerk BT-100XL-ED binocular telescope and an Oberwerk TR3 hardwood tripod (walnut) to Astronomy Magazine to be photographed for their “New Products” section. They ended up doing a full review in the May 2019 issue. “…viewing with Oberwerk’s BT-100XL-ED gives a fantastic feeling of swimming through space. Indeed, viewing through these giants is a dream.” Click here to read the entire review.
Come see us at NEAF 2019 (NorthEast Astronomy Forum), Apr. 6th & 7th, at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY. NEAF is the world’s largest astronomy & space expo! In past years, our booth has been pretty cramped with all the tripods we need to bring. But this year, we expanded our exhibit space to 30′, so we can spread out and give visitors plenty of room to try out our new XL Series binocular telescopes mounted on our TR3 hardwood tripods, as well as the rest of the Oberwerk product line. We’ll also be showing our all-new TR3-matching maple parallelogram mount- the Oberwerk PM1!
SPACE.COM went on a quest to discover the best all-around binocular for astronomy, nature, sports and travel. It’s a lengthy article, but concludes with-
“No matter how much — or how little — you have to spend, it makes sense to have one “grab-and-go” set of binoculars that you can trust to bring all the world’s detail in closer; night or day, indoors or out. With their compact size, chunky-but-lightweight feel, superb clarity, lack of color distortion and precise focus, we believe that Oberwerks’ 8×42 ED is the one binocular to have if you can have only one.”
We couldn’t agree more. Here’s the link-
Best All-Around Binoculars for Astronomy, Nature, Sports and Travel
Last month, the popular Italian website binomania.it interviewed Oberwerk’s Kevin Busarow about the new XL Series binocular telescopes. This month, Binomania publishes their first review of the BT-100XL-ED, comparing it to the finest binoculars on the market. Note that it’s in Italian, but there is a Translate option on the right side of the webpage. The consensus? “In summary- I end this review confirming that the Oberwerk BT-100XL-ED is a quality product, has optics that rival the best (and more expensive) competition, is compact, lightweight, and perfectly adapted to terrestrial observations as well as those astronomical.” We couldn’t agree more!
In 2013, Oberwerk’s Kevin Busarow was trained in “Tail of the Arc” binocular collimation (alignment) on a Navy Mark V collimator by retired Navy Opticalman Cory Suddarth, of Suddarth Optical Repair. Shortly after returning from training in Oklahoma, Kevin built a working collimator from a surplus spy plane camera lens. The other necessary component- an auxiliary telescope- was supplied by Cory, with an extra-tall rhomboid prism for getting a direct view of the collimator image over the top of the larger binoculars that Oberwerk typically sells.
In August of 2018, when an ultra-rare genuine Navy Mark V collimator was put on the market by an optics collector in San Diego, Cory notified Kevin- and he jumped on it! With its massive 5-foot-long iron rail and solid copper housing, it was a beauty! Rather than risk trying to ship such a large, heavy, delicate, and irreplaceable piece of equipment, Kevin bought a one-way ticket to San Diego, rented a station wagon, and drove it back to Dayton, Ohio. Oberwerk has always been proud to say we’re the only binocular retailer on the planet (that we know of) with an in-house collimator- and now we have two at our disposal!
The odds are you had not heard of Oberwerk before you found our website. If so, you’ll probably be quite surprised to learn that for the last two decades, Oberwerk has been the world’s leading supplier of high-power (40x+) binoculars. How can this be? Let’s start by defining “high-power”. There are a number of binocular brands that offer models that have as much as 25x magnification. But there aren’t many that operate at 40x (or higher). Let’s also immediately eliminate all (yes, all) “zoom” binoculars from the mix, as none of them are high-quality optical instruments. “But doesn’t the Spion 20-140×70 ‘Military Zoom’ binocular operate at 140x”? Sorry, that’s marketing hype- it’s a plastic POS (piece of crap), unusable at 140x, and overpriced even at $139. By the way, no military has ever deployed any zoom binocular, from any manufacturer- and for good reason. The lowest-price high-power binocular on market is the small but mighty $1295 Oberwerk BT-70XL-ED, capable of up to 56x magnification.
For long-range observation, the world’s militaries deploy Oberwerk 25/40×100 Long-Range Observation binoculars, which have huge 100mm (4″) triplet objectives and built-in 25x and 40x eyepieces on rotating turrets. Amateur astronomers around the world have made the Oberwerk BT-100-45 binocular telescope, one of the most popular choices for serious binocular astronomy. For the home-with-a-view, the ultimate instrument to enhance a great view has been either the 25/40×100 or BT-100-45. But in 2018, Oberwerk announced the revolutionary XL Series binocular telescopes. Three years in development, the XL Series, with ED objectives, 45-degree viewing, 1.25″ focusers, and ultra-light magnesium-alloy construction, are simply the finest binocular telescopes on the market, regardless of price.
Over the years, Oberwerk has sold over five thousand 25/40×100 Long-Range Observation binoculars and binocular telescopes. That’s more high-power binoculars than all the binocular brands you’ve heard of have sold- combined! Even we think that’s pretty remarkable! By the way, I can personally vouch for that because I was there- every single one of those was set up, thoroughly tested, and aligned-to-perfection by one person- me. In fact I’ve done this for every Oberwerk binocular that has ever shipped, not just the high-power models.
With our new XL Series, which start as low as $1295, not only will Oberwerk continue to dominate the high-power binocular market, we’ll no longer be the brand you never heard of.
Manfrotto recently introduced two new revolutionary tripod heads- the Nitrotech N8 and N12. They are indentical in appearance and size, however the N8 ($450) is rated for up to 17.6 lbs., and the N12 ($600) is rated for up to 26.5 lbs.
What makes the Nitrotech revolutionary is they have a “Variable Continuous Counterbalance System”. They’re not the first heads on the market with this feature, but they’re by far the most-affordable- especially so considering their relatively-high payload capacities. What is “continuous counterbalance”? Higher-quality video heads, such as the Oberwerk 5000, use counterbalance springs to compensate for off-balance loads, however they typically are not adjustable. So while these counterbalance springs do reduce the amount of friction required to hold a binocular at any tilt angle, considerable friction is still required to prevent the head from drifting.
The Nitrotech, utilizing a nitrogen-charged piston to variably-counterbalance the load on the head as it moves off-axis (tilts forward or backward), allows for precise counterbalance adjustment, requiring only a minimal amount of friction to prevent the head from drifting, regardless of the amount of tilt.
We tested the N8 and N12 with our new XL Series Binocular Telescopes, and found that the N8’s counterbalance actually works a little better than the N12 for the weight range of our BT-82XL and BT-100XL binoculars. With the relatively-light load of the magnesium-alloy XL binoculars, the counterbalance on the N12 needs to be set near its lower limit, which makes makes dialing in counterbalance and friction, and minimizing backlash, a little “fussier” than the N8, which is operating in the mid-range of its counterbalance setting with these binoculars. For this reason, we’ve decided to offer the lower-cost N8 as an option for the Oberwerk TR3 hardwood tripod for the XL Series. It’s still a substantial $330 upgrade over the very-capable Oberwerk 5000 head- but once you’ve experienced the ability to maneuver your binocular to any position with one finger- and have it hold position when you let go- you might feel that it’s money well-spent. Besides that, like the XL binoculars, the Nitrotech has an attractive hi-tech look- and the red-anodized accents nicely-match the red-anodized trim on the XL-ED models.
For the last three years, we’ve been working on an updated replacement for our BT-80-45 that was discontinued in 2010. Inspired by the iconic Bj100-iC “Galaxy” from now-defunct Miyauchi, as well as the sleek Kowa Highlander, our goal of the XL-Series was highest-possible optical performance (“to excel”) with the lowest-possible weight (Xtra-Light). After testing eight or so prototypes over the last two years (some were actually 3-D printed), we finally achieved that goal, and the BT-82XL and BT-82XL-ED were approved for production. Around that time, our engineer surprised us with a 100mm ED prototype using the same body, which was tested and found to be optically-fantastic, but quite objective-heavy. With two simple modifications (magnesium alloy objective tubes and an offset mount foot), the balance issues were solved, and the BT-100XL-ED was also approved for production.
A few new colors were tested until we were down to two- a bad-ass “Big Eyes” Gray and a lustrous “Luna Pearl” White. We couldn’t agree on a favorite, so for now, all models will be available in your choice of these two colors. The first production models were received and tweaked to perfection just 2 days before heading for New York to introduce them at NEAF 2018 (Northeast Astronomy Forum- the largest astronomy expo in the world).
For the technically-minded- what we now have is a combination of highest-possible optical performance using FK-61 ED doublet objectives, in a all-magnesium alloy 10.3 lb. 45° BT-82XL-ED (fl=450mm) and 12.5 lb. 45° BT-100XL-ED (fl=560mm) binocular telescope, at prices far below anything comparable. The prisms have a clear aperture of 24mm, which means the 82XL can operate as low as 19x, and the 100XL as low as 25x. These models also have an effective aperture that is very close to the actual objective size, with just enough baffling to eliminate the less-than-optimal performance delivered from the outer-most edge of all objective lenses. The IPD range is the widest of any binocular ever produced- from 50mm to 80mm, which means even the smallest child can view through both eyepieces. The handle is a industry-standard Picatinny rail, so can be used to mount a variety of finder-scopes and laser pointers, including our new Deluxe Multi-Reticle Finder.
While magnifications as low as 19x and 25x can be used, the XL Series is supplied with the finest eyepieces we’ve ever offered- a 70° 14mm pair that delivers 32x in the 82XL and 40x in the 100XL. The views are so spectacular that you may not need any other eyepieces. But with their ED objectives, chromatic aberration is so minimal that magnifications up to 75x can be used in the 82XL-ED, and up to 94x in the 100XL-ED!
We also offer these models without the ED objectives, the BT-100XL and BT-82XL. These offers remarkably-good performance, with minimal chromatic aberration- up to 64x in the BT-82XL and 80x in the BT-100XL- at most-affordable prices. For the home-with-a-view, the BT-82XL mounted on one of our gorgeous TR3 hardwood tripods, is well-under $2000. Even the BT-100XL with the TR3 tripod is less than $2500. Not only are these absolutely beautiful, and highly-portable at just over 20 lbs. for the entire setup, they will optically out-perform anything else on the market anywhere near there relatively-low price- especially so the $2500 Skyhawk 9600.