Did We Really Need Another Collimator? Yes- it’s an Ultra-Rare Genuine Navy Mark V!

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!

Oberwerk- the World Leader in High-Power Binoculars!

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 $1450 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 $1450, not only will Oberwerk continue to dominate the high-power binocular market, we’ll no longer be the brand you never heard of.

$450 for a Tripod Head??

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.

New Oberwerk XL Series Binocular Telescopes

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.

Oberwerk at NEAF 2018

The Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), held at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY, on Apr. 21st and 22nd, is the world’s largest astronomy & space expo. Oberwerk will have a large display, featuring all of our products, including our new line of made-in-Dayton TR3 hardwood tripods. We’ll also be introducing our all-new XL-Series Binocular Telescopes! Stop by and see us, or stay tuned to this website for more info…

Farpoint UBM

Can the Farpoint UBM mount to a standard camera tripod? Can it only mount to your tripods?
Thank you

The Farpoint UBM comes with a 3/8″ mount post, so it can mount to any tripod with a 3/8″ stud. Keep in mind though that the tripod has to support the combined weight of the mount, the binocular, and the counterweights. For a 10 lb. 25×100 binocular, the total weight would be close to 30 lbs.
Kevin Busarow

Thanks Kevin. Good point. My camera tripod probably won’t be able to handle that kind of weight. Even with my current 10×50 I would need something sturdier.

My replies are after each question below-

I’ve been looking to replace my old Minolta 10×50 ultra wide (7.8 degree) binoculars. I’ve been looking for several weeks and have concluded there is no one pair that can do all that I want.
What I want is a “grab and go” to just sit out back and scan the heavens. I also want to view all the M objects with good detail. I have a Celestron 9.25 but it’s too much work. I currently have it for sale on Craig’s list. So this leaves me with two issues.
1) For the grab and go binocular, what would give me the best wide view, sharpest image, high contrast and wow factor? The 10×42 Sport ED, the 8×40 Mariner or the 10×50 Ultra? They all sound like great bino’s, but for pick up and view without a tripod, what would you suggest? I have no problem spending more if the view is going to be much better.

Forget the 8×40- wide FOV, but not enough light-gathering. Also consider the new 10×50 Deluxe– very close to the Ultra, but just $169- so a great value in my opinion. If wide FOV is important, also consider the 8×42 Sport ED– 8.1 degrees, and it’s apochromatic. Bonus- it’s also our finest bird-watching binocular.

2) For astronomy, is bigger really better? Are the 28×110 Ultra much better than the 15×70 Ultra? Or is field of view the only difference?

One comment- objective lens size has nothing to do with FOV. It’s simply about light-gathering, and generally speaking, more is better- but that greatly affects size, weight, and of course cost.

Is the cost of bigger bino’s worth it? Will they both work well in light polluted area’s. I’ve looked at all your mounted bino’s and it gets confusing. Because they all need to be mounted on a tripod, Which to you feel would work best in light polluted area and give me the best view, sharpest image, high contrast and wow factor?

Yes, the best are the BT Series (binocular telescopes). For 3 reasons these are always the top choice for astronomy- 45-degree viewing, interchangeable eyepieces, and highest optical quality.

I really like the BT-70-45. Will the view really be worth the significant difference in price? Or is it just convenience of the 45 degree angle?

I’m sold on Oberwerk and thanks again for any information you can provide for me to make a good decision.
Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks for all you help and for answering all my questions. At this time I’m looking at the 15×70 Ultra. A bit more than I wanted to spend, but the reviews and my needs make this binocular the best choice.
Another question. Is the Farpoint UBM mount far better than the 4000 or 5000 series? I don’t plan on sitting, so what would be a solid stand for the 15×70?
Thanks again for all your help.

Can’t go wrong with the 15×70 Ultra. Parallelogram mounts have advantages and disadvantages. The great thing about the parallelogram mount is the binocular is suspended in front of you and you can make the binocular move anywhere you can point your head, and the binocular will stay put when you let go. This works well while seated or standing. The other advantage is you can raise or lower the binocular about 2 feet without losing your target- so great for sharing the view. On the other hand, The parallelogram is bulky, heavy, and takes extra time to set up and tear down- not to mention expensive. A 4000 or 5000 tripod is more of a “grab and go” setup. Let me know if that answers the question- or not.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

I was recently asked “what’s different about your brand- what sets Oberwerk apart from the competition?” Well, there are a number of unique and important things that make us different- but just one that I want to talk about right now.
If you’re considering buying a binocular, ours or another brand, you probably have some questions- especially so if you’re looking at one of our Long-Range Observation binoculars or our Binocular Telescopes. The fact is I spend much of my day on the phone answering questions and answering questions by email. The first thing I do in the morning is respond to the email questions that came in the previous night. When I think a question/answer might be interesting or informative to others, I’ll post them on our Email Questions/Answers Archive. I wear a wireless headset so I can take customer calls while I’m checking/testing binoculars that are to be shipped that day, or building our TR3 hardwood tripods. I’ve heard countless times “you’re the only company I can contact and get thoughtful and knowledgeable answers to my questions.
So when I was recently asked “what makes us different”, it struck me that there really is no other binocular retailer I can think of that you can call and speak instantly with, or email and get a timely reply from, someone that is truly knowledgeable about their products, as well as the competition’s. Someone that’s lived and breathed binoculars for the last twenty years. Someone that’s not a salesperson or an order-taker. But your business is selling binoculars- right? True, but I don’t consider myself a “sales type” at all, I’ve never read a book on how to close a sale. But what I do pretty well is answer customer’s questions, explaining technical things in a way people can understand. I believe that our products are such a unique value, that as long as I can impart enough knowledge to a customer, they’ll come to that conclusion on their own- without any arm-twisting on my part. Sometimes our product isn’t the best solution, and I’ll be the first to say so. Sometimes I have to set realistic expectations- “no, you can’t read a license plate 3 miles away“, “yes, you can see the rings of Saturn, but it’s still a very small object in the field of view“, because 1) nobody likes dealing with returns and 2) we want everyone to be thrilled with their purchase. They’ll tell their friends and relatives, and they’ll want one too, and so on- until everyone on the planet has heard of Oberwerk.
Any questions? Feel free to call me at 937-640-1040 (9-5 EDT) or email to [email protected]

Tripod Advice

Can you recommend a mount (or, preferably, a head I can use on my current tripod) for stargazing through your 15×70 Ultra binoculars?
Longer version:
I recently bought a pair of your 15×70 Ultra binoculars to use for stargazing during travel, and I’m extremely happy with them. I carried them (with a Manfrotto 190CSPRO4 tripod and 128RC head) along on a recent flight to Borrego Springs, CA without trouble. Great views!
I do have one problem — it’s really hard to view objects near the zenith! Is this just a fact of life with binoculars, or are there mounting solutions I should consider. (Cost is a consideration. I just broke my budget buying a high-quality pair of binoculars. 😉

Unfortunately it is difficult to view near zenith using a straight-through-view binocular with a conventional tripod/video head. The biggest problem is the eyepieces are too close to the tripod to get your head under the binocular. The best way to solve that is with a parallelogram mount, such as the Farpoint UBM, which places the binocular away from the tripod (so you can get your head under it)- but they are bulky and expensive ($279). Another option is The Oberwerk 2000 monopod. It has a grip-action ball head that gets the binocular away from the monopod, plus you can tilt the monopod back enough to actually view to zenith. It’s quite affordable too at just $89.
Kevin Busarow

11×56 vs. 8×56 LW FOV

Your catalog lists the specifications for both these binos with the same (FOV of 6.0)
How is that possible? I own the 11×56 LW but was thinking I’d like a wider FOV.
What is the FOV on the 8×56 and 11×56? If you could convert that to feet of view also it would be helpful for me but it’s OK if not.

It’s actually true that both models have the same 6° FOV. The 11x model has a wide-angle eyepiece design, the 8x model does not. Similar to some other models such as the 9×60 and 12×60– the 12x actually has a wider FOV (5.7°) than the 9x (5.5°)! Our 11×70 is 4.5° and the 15×70 is just slightly less at 4.3°. In all these cases, wide-angle eyepieces are used on the higher magnification model. This also affects AFOV (apparent field of view), which is typically 50° on the lower magnification model and 65+° on the higher magnification model.
But back to the 8×56 (and 11×56)- the FOV is 105m at 1000m, or 105 yards (315 ft.) at 1000 yards. Your 11×56 is about as wide as it gets at this relatively-high magnification. But if you’re looking for something wider, take a look at our 8×42 Sport ED. It has a huge 8.1° FOV, is small and lightweight, and is also apochromatic due to the ED objectives. It’s actually our finest bird-watching binocular, but I really like it for astronomy as well. It would nicely complement, rather than replace, your 11×56.

Kevin Busarow

Oberwerk BT-100-45 Giveaway Contest – Winner!

Congratulations to Donna T. of New Jersey, winner of the Oberwerk BT-100-45 Giveaway Contest! Donna’s name was randomly drawn by our advertising agency from a list of contest entries collected from early December through Jan. 31st. Donna won a one-of-a-kind prototype “Big Eyes” Gray BT-100-45 binocular telescope and fork mount, as well as a one-of-a-kind Slate Gray Maple TR3 hardwood tripod. The production “Big Eyes” Gray is a shade lighter than the prototype, while Slate Gray finish is only available on the poplar tripod (not maple). We wish Donna and her husband Steve many enjoyable nights of stargazing with their great new astro-gear!