The binocular enthusiast website binomania.it just released a 17-minute video review the Oberwerk BT-70XL-ED. This is a follow-up to their 2019 Review of the BT-70XL-ED. Filmed at an incredible location in Italy, it’s in Italian but there are English subtitles.
Here’s yet another product scam that apparently lots of people are falling for. This one isn’t quite as egregious as the “10-300x40mm Super Telephoto Telescope” we warned you about previously, but it’s still full of deception. Despite the false claims of military-grade magnification, better than $3000 Telescopes! and …will give you the power of a $4000 DSLR in your pocket, it’s just an ordinary low-end Chinese-made monocular. Note that it’s claimed to be 12x50mm, but the exterior diameter is 53mm, and with the thickness of the objective cell, body, and rubber covering, the objective lens itself could be no more than 42mm. The exit pupil diameter is listed at 3mm, which if correct means it’s actually 12x36mm.
They’ve even created a number of fake review websites, such as “Best Honest Reviews“, which asks the question StarScope: The REAL DEAL Or Just Another SCAM?, but sadly, concludes with the wrong answer.
Here’s another website called “Top Reviews Daily“, with a fake reviewer named Douglas Jones. Douglas is a gadget lover. He has two sons aged 7 and 16. Douglas loves good wine and stand-up comedy.
While Douglas doesn’t appear to be a real person, the claims for the StarScope could be a stand-up comedy routine. Here’s a sample (I’ll be the heckler)-
Douglas: The team behind this amazing product was tired of carrying around heavy, expensive monoculars and binoculars with their huge bulk. And because they have the skills, they created a brand new monocular that is both easy to carry around and affordable.
Me: Ah, they have the skills! “Girls like guys who have skills” (Napoleon Dynamite voice).
Douglas: Because technology was advancing so fast, the team behind StarScope Monocular used modern CNC equipment, optical programs on the fastest computers, and high-tech designs to create a reasonably-priced telescope that was as good as those from the most expensive brands.
Me: Fast technology, fast computers- and the skills!
Douglas: StarScope Monocular is a success beyond its creators wildest dreams. It is now being offered to perfectionists who appreciate quality…
Me: I’m a perfectionist that appreciates quality. I don’t appreciate this.
Douglas: Perhaps the finest monocular ever built, it can be handheld or mounted to a tripod for more stability. It comes with a built-in tripod socket, perfect for mounting to a camera or for long term observation!
Me: The finest ever built- yet it doesn’t even use expensive ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass. It’s a miracle!
Douglas: The StarScope Monocular team wants to get its awesome telescope out to people who will tell others about it, and that’s why they are offering such an AMAZING DEAL!
Me: When buyers tell others about it, this scam will be over.
Douglas: The magnified viewing of StarScope Monocular has been tested, and found to equal or exceed the zoom and photo quality produced by some of the most expensive brands on the market.
Me: But StarScope doesn’t zoom or take photos- your phone does that!
Gotta admit, Douglas is pretty funny! I bet you’re LOL right now too- unless you already ordered one of these?
Conclusion: The price for the StarScope “special offer if you buy now” is around $57. While this is pretty high for the low-end Chinese 12×36 monocular that it is, it’s not a complete rip-off. While the claims for the StarScope are ridiculous, it should function as well as, but no better than, other sub-$50 monoculars.
Since the announcement of the BT-127XL-SD, we’ve been surprised by the large number of pre-orders we’ve received, even before any customer reviews have come in. While we do sincerely believe it’s the finest binocular telescope that money can buy, at least that one person can easily manage, it may not be the best binocular for you. The BT-127XL-SD was intended for the serious amateur astronomer. When used under very dark skies, it excels at bringing out detail in the faintest nebula and galaxies. But we’ve noticed that some are buying it simply because it’s our most expensive model, apparently assuming “most expensive” means “best”. For those that are mostly interested in watching whales from their oceanfront home, or those that mostly want to view Saturn and Jupiter from their somewhat light-polluted skies, the BT-100XL-ED could be the better choice. The only real difference between the 100XL and 127XL, when used for daylight viewing, as well as viewing brighter night-sky objects, is the 127XL is operating at 93x with our optional 7mm eyepieces, while the 100XL is operating at 80x with the same eyepieces. This is not a noticeable difference, and therefore the much higher weight, size, and cost of the 127XL may not be worthwhile. Besides cost, the much heavier 127XL has some other disadvantages. The carbon-fiber elevator that we normally equip with the TR3 hardwood tripod, which allows up to 18″ of instant height adjustment, can’t be used with the 127XL. The only way to have an elevator with the 127XL is to opt for the much more expensive (and not as pretty) Manfrotto 161MK2B tripod. The 127XL, in its huge trunk-style wheeled case, weighs 54 lbs., while the 100XL, in its much smaller case, weighs 25 lbs.- something to be aware of if you intend to transport your binocular.
If it sounds like we’re trying to talk customers out of buying our $5000 binocular, that’s not the intent- we’d be happy to sell them as fast as we can build them. We just want to make sure that you end up with the binocular that makes the most sense for your intended usage- and for most, that’s very likely something smaller than the 127XL.
One of the biggest scams we’ve ever seen in the optics biz was the “Rated #1 Best Nightvision High Powered Waterproof Binoculars” promoted on Facebook. But recent ads for a “4K 10-300x40mm Super Telephoto Zoom Monocular Telescope”, also on Facebook, take fraudulent advertising to a whole new level! We received several calls from customers asking if we carried these things, and someone even drove to our office to see if we might have them. Knowing the ad was pure BS, we blew $80 on one just so we could do a factual review, and save you from wasting your hard-earned dollars on garbage. You’re welcome.
Here’s the ad copy-
The telescope was invented by Johns Hopkins University and released on July 1 (2020). The purpose of this study is to achieve maximum magnification at the smallest effective aperture while ensuring the luminous flux and resolution angle of the telescope. This telescope is the first attempt to use nano etching technology, nano array technology, mesoporous assembly technology, thin-film mosaic technology and nano-optical materials to make the flatness error of the lens reach 10nm. The luminous flux reaches 30 times that of ordinary telescopes with the same diameter. The resolution angle is 47 times that of ordinary telescopes with the same diameter. The maximum magnification reached is 300 times. This is the first monocular to achieve this magnification and clarity on such a small scale.
The Facebook ad included slick video showing this marvelous device zooming in on someone’s face from miles away, as well as a close-up shot of the moon (actually an Apollo shot of the back side of the moon!) and planets. Those unfamiliar with optics would likely be quite impressed by all this. Sorry to disappoint you, but Johns Hopkins University had nothing to do with this, and there was no “study”. Much of the mumbo-jumbo terminology above has nothing to do with optics, and none of it pertains to this monocular. It’s 100% BS, every single claim is a lie. There’s no nano-anything. The magnification is 10x to 30x, not 300x, and our measurements show it is actually 8x to 24x. The objective diameter is just 25mm, not 40mm. Even the anti-reflection coatings found on all but the crappiest of modern optics are only used on the two exterior surfaces, the rest of the optics are uncoated. In other words, it’s a POS (piece of crap) zoom monocular, worth no more than $10. As expected, the image quality is very poor, especially at 30x (24x).
The shell is made from a titanium alloy with a higher specific strength and weighs only 1.1 pounds. After retracted, the length is only 7.87 inches and you can easily put it in a backpack or pocket when hunting, traveling, or camping.
It’s not made of titanium, just ordinary aluminum and plastic. The monocular we received (see photo below) is much smaller than what’s shown in their photo. Actual weight is just 3.7 oz. and the length is 5″.
Waterproof, dust-proof, and shockproof design: Nitrogen-filled waterproof and O-ring sealed optics prevent moisture, dust and debris and ensures the living waterproof function.
What’s a “living waterproof function”?? The instruction sheet that comes with the monocular says “Because the lens and prism etc. are adjusted accurately, if it drops or is hit, the center will be made with excursion, the field of vision will not be matched and the picture will deflect, please us it with care. Please don’t let it be wetted or drop into water if it drops into water please repair it by dissembling it as quickly as possible.” Hmmm, doesn’t sounds very shock-proof or water-proof to me? Good thing that it comes with a “portable rope” 🙂
The built-in night vision function allows you to use it normally at night.
Ummm, no- there’s no “night vision function”.
The telescopic anti-shake system and special tripod 3D gyroscope make the telescope’s field of view very stable when it reaches a magnification of hundreds of times. Its performance is even much better than most astronomical telescopes with thousands of dollars.
A 3D gyroscope anti-shake tripod? All we got is a mini-tripod you can buy at the dollar store (for $1)! And better performance than astronomical telescopes with (“worth” apparently) thousands of dollars? Holy cow, our binocular business is doomed… 🙁
On the Facebook ads, people ask “where is this made”. The seller repeatedly claims it is made in California. Apparently the technology is so advanced, “it could only be made in California”.
BS. If it was invented at Johns Hopkins, and made in California, why does it ship from China? The humorous translation of the instruction sheet, some of which you’ve already read, leaves no doubt to the origin. Here’s another- “Please don’t look at the sun absolutely. If you look at the sun, your eyes may be ache and blind sometimes.” The first thing to fall out of the box is a card that says “Kindly Notice: Complaint-Suggestion & Refund- Paypal and credit card takes time.” Translation- good luck getting your money back!
Who’s really at fault here? There will always be scammers out there trying to rip people off. But it’s Facebook that gives scammers the appearance of legitimacy. How often have we seen Facebook ads for products that we know are junk- like that plug-in gadget that will save 40-60% on your electric bill? There’s absolutely no vetting of ads as long as Facebook is paid. When presented with any ad, Facebook gives us the option to report it as a scam. But Facebook’s response is “we will no longer show you this ad”, meaning they don’t care that it’s a scam, and they will continue to show the ad to everyone- except you! So I blame Mark Zuckerberg’s greed more than anyone else for this. Buyer beware on Facebook!
-Kevin Busarow, Oberwerk
Back in 2014, space.com requested that we send two binoculars to them for an upcoming binocular review. They requested the 8×40 Mariner and 15×70 Ultra.
We were very pleased when they proclaimed the 8×40 Mariner “Editor’s Choice” in the “Best Small Binocular for Astronomy” category, and the 15×70 Ultra a runner-up in the “Best Astronomy Binocular” category (the Ultra came in second only because of its high cost). While we generally agree with their reviews, and what they reported was accurate- keep in mind they only looked at 2 of our 30+ models.
In 2018, they requested an 8×42 Sport ED for review. They absolutely loved it, and the subheading of the review was “These are the best binoculars to buy, if you can buy only one“. We totally agree with that as well. While the Sport ED’s are our finest bird-watching binoculars, due to the excellent image quality and perfect color rendition from the ED objectives, they’re also great for astronomy.
But back to the 8×40 Mariner. Thanks to the space.com review, the 8×40 Mariner is our second-most-popular model (the 8×42 Sport ED is #1 – thanks again space.com!). While the 8×40 Mariner may be just what you’re looking for, keep in mind that we have many other models that may be more appropriate for your usage. Most of the LW Series models gather significantly more light, are less expensive- and for many of our customers, are the ideal entry-level astronomy binoculars. The newer 8×42 Deluxe, at the same price as the Mariner, has a much higher “effective aperture”. If you need a binocular that needs to do double-duty as a daylight binocular, then the already mentioned Sport ED is best, followed by the more affordable Sport HD II models, that also have ED objectives.
Tim Russ, perhaps better known as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, the Vulcan Head of Security on Star Trek: Voyager, was recently interviewed by Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes about his passion for amateur astronomy. He owns several telescopes, as well as an Oberwerk Binocular Telescope, which he mentions at the 5:50 mark.
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…