Magnification and Price

Our customers are often surprised that our binocular prices aren’t influenced by magnification, when all other features and qualities are equal. For example, the 8×56 LW and 11×56 LW are both $109.95. The 9×60 LW and 12×60 LW are both $119.95 and the 11×70 LW and 15×70 LW are $149.95. Our 10×42 Sport ED is the same $349.95 as the 8×42 version. For many (most?) other brands, all other things being equal, the higher magnification binocular is typically priced higher.

Consider our BT-100XL-ED binocular telescope, which uses interchangeable eyepieces.  Magnification is determined by the focal length of the eyepieces that are used, and range from 25x to 80x on this model.  Likewise, the magnification of fixed-power binoculars is determined by the eyepieces.

There are numerous things that influence cost to manufacture a binocular- objective size, optical quality, mechanical quality, etc.  Just the quality of anti-reflection multi-coatings, and the number of surfaces where they are present, can double or even triple the cost to manufacture.  This, as well as other manufacturing shortcuts, explains why we’ll sometimes see similar-looking binoculars from other manufacturers selling in stores for less than our cost to manufacture– even after their multiple levels of distribution markup! But the one specification that does not affect cost to manufacture is the focal length of the eyepieces that are used- which determine magnification.  Magnification will have a direct relation to FOV (Field of View), and steadiness of view if hand-holding- but should have no bearing on price.

 We have to wonder how other manufacturers can justify a higher price on higher magnification models.  Might it be that the lower magnification models didn’t meet optical testing standards required for the higher magnification models? In other words, “good enough” for 8x, but not good enough for 10x?  Really?  Or is it simply a marketing tactic that a company can charge a higher price for higher magnification based on the perception that higher magnification must be more costly to manufacture?
Whatever it is, we don’t subscribe to that- and just to be clear, an Oberwerk binocular that does not pass testing at 10x is not going to be “good enough” for 8x.

When you buy an Oberwerk binocular, you can choose the magnification based on how you’re going to use it- do you need to brings things in as close as possible, or do you want to take in the larger scene the lower magnification will offer? How magnification influences hand-holdability, by magnifying any shake or tremor by that much more (or less), might be part of the decision. But the one thing your decision on magnification won’t involve is price.

-Kevin Busarow, Oberwerk Corp.