Supply Chain Woes / Christmas 2021

Oberwerk has experienced tremendous growth over the last two years. During this time, we’ve been able to to manage our supply chain and overseas shipping to keep our warehouse well-stocked most of the time. The cost of sending cargo by air has increased greatly, but we’ve been able to absorb that for now because 1) shipping cost for our larger/heavier binoculars is still a small percentage of their cost and 2) less-expensive models are relatively-lightweight, so shipping cost is still a manageable percentage of their cost. So even though many of our most popular binocular models keep running out of stock, we’re bringing in air shipments as often as possible to prevent long back-orders. Customers that placed out-of-stock binocular orders in November should receive those orders before Christmas. For orders placed in December for out-of-stock products- we’ll do our best, but we can’t guarantee delivery by Christmas.

The situation is different with our popular Model 5000 aluminum tripods. The cost of air freight is prohibitive because these items are rather heavy, yet sell for a relatively-low price. In fact the current cost of air freight, plus the cost of the tripod, exceeds the selling price of the tripod! So we’ve had to put our most recent order of 5000 tripods on a sea shipment. We’re hoping to have these sometime in late-Feb./early-March. We know the 5000 is a popular choice for several of our binoculars, so what to do if you can’t wait until then? For binoculars up to 10 lbs., our Model 4000 (which uses the 5000 head), will work almost as well as the 5000- and is $70 less. If you were considering the 5000 for one of our XL Binocular Telescopes, we highly recommend the TR3 hardwood tripod instead. While the cost is over $300 higher, the TR3 is much steadier and is the best choice for binoculars that are capable of such high magnifications.

Please contact us by phone or email if you have any questions about availability, as well as best mounting choices for our various binocular models.

Oberwerk PM2 Awarded a “2021 Star Product” by Astronomy Magazine

We’re pleased to announce that Astronomy Magazine just named our PM2 Parallelogram Mount a “Star Product” in their October 2021 issue. A parallelogram mount is the best way (only way?) to view the night sky comfortably with a straight-through view binocular, especially when combined with a reclining chair. They’re also great for astronomy outreach, as the 28″ vertical range easily accommodates most adults and children.

StarScope Monocular Scam

The StarScope Monocular is 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 ridiculous 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.

StarScope Monocular scam promotion

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? If you did, once you receive it and realize that you’ve been scammed, you’ll want to return it for a refund. Then you’ll discover that they’re not based in the USA- you have to return it to China- and the least-expensive shipping method will cost more than the Starscope! If you try to contest this with Paypal, as well as most credit card companies, they’ll side with the seller- and say that you must return it in order to get a refund. So unfortunately, you’re stuck with it.

Conclusion: The price for the StarScope “special offer if you buy now” is around $50. While this is pretty high for the low-end Chinese 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, the sub-$50 monoculars on Amazon.

Considering the BT-127XL-SD?

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 $5400 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.

10-300x40mm Super Telephoto Telescope!

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

So You Read the 8×40 Mariner Review on…

Back in 2014, 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 review, the 8×40 Mariner is our second-most-popular model (the 8×42 Sport ED is #1 – thanks again!). 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.

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