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Zeiss in Wal-Mart. Steiner in Sam's.

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 15:28   #1
bodromarsh
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Unhappy Zeiss in Wal-Mart. Steiner in Sam's.

I was at the Wal-Mart Super Center in Pleasanton Texas last week, and they had a pair of compact Zeiss for sale! It was a double hinged compact pair, but I don't know exactly which one. I have stated in a previous post that Zeiss had lost their way by trying to build a binocular for everyone. They are no longer in serious contention with Swarovski and Leica. Seeing that Zeiss in Wal-Mart made me lose a lot of respect for Zeiss.

A friend of mine told me he saw a pair of Steiner in Sam's.

It is such a shame when these fine companies go downmarket. It just destroys their mystique.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 15:42   #2
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Perhaps, bodromarsh. But it also makes higher-quality optics (slightly) more affordable. And that's not all bad.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 16:04   #3
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Zeiss in Wal-Mart? what's next, Leica and Swarovski in Target?

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 16:12   #4
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Seeing that Zeiss in Wal-Mart made me lose a lot of respect for Zeiss. It just destroys their mystique.
Spoken like a true bino snob. Is it not the instrument itself that matters? Or is it the status brand name that tells people you are rich and worthy, that you really care for?
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 16:35   #5
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I think that Zeiss design and construction speak for the company more than how broad a line they are selling.

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 16:46   #6
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I was intrigued so I called the Walmart in question to ask about it.

It seems that it was a special order that the sporting goods manager made for a customer who then decided not to buy the binocular. It subsequently was placed in the display case on a first-come-first-served basis but, it is not now nor is it going to be a regularly stocked item.

BTW the price was $396.

Actually, while I generally tend to agree that the typical product lines found at Walmart generally are of questionable quality, I actually think this shows a really high level of customer service for them to special order this for some guy (especially since he later decided not to buy it.)

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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 17:48   #7
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Let me explain my position more fully.

Seems I am catching a bit of flak on this topic, which is OK, and to be expected, so I thought I would express my thoughts a bit more fully.

I like Wal-Mart. I spend a lot of my money there. So this thread is not a knock on Wal-Mart.

What I don't like is a manufacturer losing their focus. There are many companies that start out as a family owned business and eventually become a public corporation, with shares of stock, a board of directers, etc. Often, the person who started the company sells the company, or is forcibly booted out if he/she is no longer majority shareholder. In effect, it is no longer their company.

The drive for corporate profits then leads the company to seek ways to generate ever greater profits. That is the nature of corporations and the Wall Street mentality. Often, products lose quality in ways they hope consumers do not notice. New products are introduced to reach new market segments. This activity takes away the focus on producing the best quality product possible, and turns into building a product to a price point.

Small companies not controlled by a stock price, but rather by people who love what they are doing always make the best products. For example, BMW is one of the most respected automakers in the world, and they are family owned.

I feel Zeiss is on the path of being corporate profit driven. One merely has to look at the first generation of Victory binoculars to see how they lost their way. The other new series are a degradation of their original products to compete with more market segments.

Some will state that having the lower end products helps a company stay in operation, and therefore continue to produce the top quality products. I believe that having lower end products distracts the company and clouds the mind of the consumer as to just what does this company stand for. The end result is a battered image, and a loss of what was succesful for the company to begin with.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 18:24   #8
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That's an interesting take on marketing strategy. I'm not sure I buy it (pun intended)

What this theory fails to account for are the many companies that successfully incorporate products of varying degrees of quality in their lines.

Bushnell has successfully had low, medium, and high quality optics available for decades. Until recently they just marketed their middle and top-end products (Discoverer and Elite respectively) under the B&L name. Now they all are badged with the name Bushnell.

Bushnell is not alone in this practice either. Leica has Minox, Leupold markets their WindRivers, and isn't Kahles a division of Swarovski? This is not a phenomenon that is unique to optics companies either. Toyota makes and markets Lexus, Ford Motor Co. has their Lincolns, and Nissan makes the Infinity line. Zeiss is just different in that they don't disguise their mid-range products with a different brand label. Sure they had a rough go with the original Victory line, but is this really proof of an overall loss of vision or is it just a misstep on the road to greater things?

Having a broader range of products which can appeal to a wider segment of the available market just makes good economic sense. To not do so is akin to giving away all that available money to one's competitors. It certainly hasn't kept Zeiss from coming out with their Victory FL series, which many people claim is the absolute ultimate in modern binocular technology.




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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 18:54   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bodromarsh
Seems I am catching a bit of flak on this topic, which is OK, and to be expected, so I thought I would express my thoughts a bit more fully.

I like Wal-Mart. I spend a lot of my money there. So this thread is not a knock on Wal-Mart.

What I don't like is a manufacturer losing their focus. There are many companies that start out as a family owned business and eventually become a public corporation, with shares of stock, a board of directers, etc. Often, the person who started the company sells the company, or is forcibly booted out if he/she is no longer majority shareholder. In effect, it is no longer their company.

The drive for corporate profits then leads the company to seek ways to generate ever greater profits. That is the nature of corporations and the Wall Street mentality. Often, products lose quality in ways they hope consumers do not notice. New products are introduced to reach new market segments. This activity takes away the focus on producing the best quality product possible, and turns into building a product to a price point.

Small companies not controlled by a stock price, but rather by people who love what they are doing always make the best products. For example, BMW is one of the most respected automakers in the world, and they are family owned.

I feel Zeiss is on the path of being corporate profit driven. One merely has to look at the first generation of Victory binoculars to see how they lost their way. The other new series are a degradation of their original products to compete with more market segments.

Some will state that having the lower end products helps a company stay in operation, and therefore continue to produce the top quality products. I believe that having lower end products distracts the company and clouds the mind of the consumer as to just what does this company stand for. The end result is a battered image, and a loss of what was succesful for the company to begin with.
Ahh, i agree that at least some of the appeal of high-end bins is mystique. However, I feel compelled to point out that shopping at wal mart and the like makes it difficult for small companies, especially those focused on high quality products, to compete. I've seen the demise of makers of other outdoor products--two of the best backpack makers are either offshore or have been bought out by large multinationals, in part because they couldn't compete with other companies like north face that are distributed through high volume discount outlets such as wal mart. So, if you truly value high quality, buy as little as you need and attempt to do so from local merchants...of course, the brillance of wal mart is that its the only game in many towns, so this is becoming increasingly difficult.

respectfully,
chris c.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2006, 20:16   #10
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I have my gripes against walmart as well. They used to tout having American made products. Now its an outlet for Chinese manufacturers, more than less.

Also I agree somewhat with your explanation bordomarsh. I probably was a little harsh. I apologize.

Chris C---Yes one of the American backpack makers that is no longer producing in the US was Dana Design. I have an American made bag of theirs. The North Face used to be an American manufacturer as well. Now The North Face is generally produced in China or Bangladesh.

lucznik---I agree....add Swift and Nikon to your list as well regarding binoculars made for different price points. Hell, add most binocular brands.

Bordomarsh---An example to back your assertion, well at least broaden it.

Henckels used to be the market leader in wide distribution high quality kitchen knives in the US. Now Wusthof is. Henckels had to adapt to changing market competition and diversified its knife manufacturing outside of Germany. This provided good and bad outcomes. First off, its top of the line branded kitchen knives continued to be made in Germany, although it changed from one peice fully forged knives to welding 3 different steels together. They claim this is advantageous and brag about it as being better than the other famous german made knives which are still single peice forged. This is simply false, though it was a brilliant marketing ploy, and is cheaper to produce to boot. Secondly, to there credit they introduced a Henckels branded line of forged kitichen knives made in Spain....these knives are very high quality, though perhaps not quite the equal of the German made knives of others such as F.Dick and Wustof. The Spanish made knives are more affordable than the German made knives but much better quality than the Brazilian and Chinese made knives. A superior product in a unique niche. Kudos to Henckels. And thirdly, Henckels came out with Henckels branded knives made in China, these to date have only been stamped blades, not forged. Some of the other German knife makers have come out with stamped blade lines as well, but they are made in Germany. So while it is true that the Spanish made knives are excellent value, I can see where Henckels brand name has been tarnished and deminished, and perhaps a slippery slope of quality degredation has been entered upon by that company. Certainly anyone receiving a stamped blade, made in China, with Henckels printed on it will be less likely to associate Henckels with quality. Another strike against Henckels, they charge the same price for their Chinese stamped steel blades as for example Wusthof does for theirs. Cashing in on the brand name and perhaps deminishing it forever. PS---Sabatier is a whole different ballgame, but their name has been tarnished as well.

The Japanese have surpased the Germans in knife making quality. Though the Japanese still make trash to a price point as well. I think this is why the German/European companies are feeling the pressure to expand market lines, in both knives and optics. The Japanese are cleaning their clocks.

Peace!

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Old Thursday 2nd February 2006, 00:06   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orbitaljump
I have my gripes against walmart as well. They used to tout having American made products. Now its an outlet for Chinese manufacturers, more than less.
I just can't bring myself to shop at Wal-Mart, even though there's a store within easy driving (almost walking) distance from me. There isn't anything I've heard in news stories (which are mostly negative) or in their own advertising (about what a fabulous employer they are) that would make me want to set foot in one. I'm not going to lecture other people to stay away. If you like it, fine. But -- for me -- I find the products and services I want elsewhere, and at prices that are satisfactory to me, and my conscience is clear. Absolute, rock-bottom, lowest possible price is rarely the most important factor in my buying decisions.

Back to binoculars: Fry's Electronics in San Marcos, CA, had one of the Zeiss Conquest bins on display, and I was pleasantly surprised by the sharp view. I think it was a 10x30 model. It was almost the best bin there, keeping in mind that most of the others were sub-$200 types. But they also had a Canon with image-stabilization, and it was much sharper simply for cancelling my own shaking. Maybe the Canon's lenses are not as sharp in a resolution test with the bin clamped to a rigid mount, but I was impressed that IS worked very well.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2006, 14:28   #12
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I bought a pair of Bushnells, 16x, from Wal Mart a few years back. I wanted to avoid getting a scope then. I should have known, Bushnell can't make a useable 16x, though I think Nikon and a few others can. At least 12x to 15x.'

It is the only pair I sold, at a garage sale. It was good for a few things, big things far away. Not birds. Recalling what they had, only the 7x Bushnells and 8x25 Nikon roof prisms are useable for birding, of the typical Wal Mart collection.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2006, 15:43   #13
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Don't waste time...get out into the field!!

I have been sitting here reading everyone's posts and had a good chuckle about what 'we' find interesting and worthy of comment on this website.

Then horror set in...all this time infront of the PC when we should all be outside watching birds...!

Let it go, move on, grab your bins (who cares where they were bought) get out and enjoy watching the birds

Just being a smart ass...sorry

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Old Thursday 2nd February 2006, 17:03   #14
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Seems to me we must be mindful of the fact that many birders want good optical quality but don't have the cash to afford the prestige optics usually recommended - Swarovski, Zeiss & Leica. If any of these companies decide to outdo the offerings of "lesser" companies by producing slightly better optics at a competitive mid-range price point, to me that's commendable.
The more fierce the competition in the bargain and middle price ranges, the better the viewing experiences for the greatest number of birders. There will always be ultra-premium optics for those who desire them and can afford them.

A astronomer friend of mine once told me, "The best optics are the ones you have with you." In other words, the ones that you feel comfortable with, are functional and meet your quality requirements.
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Old Thursday 2nd February 2006, 22:34   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucznik
What this theory fails to account for are the many companies that successfully incorporate products of varying degrees of quality in their lines.

Bushnell has successfully had low, medium, and high quality optics available for decades. Until recently they just marketed their middle and top-end products (Discoverer and Elite respectively) under the B&L name. Now they all are badged with the name Bushnell.

Bushnell is not alone in this practice either. Leica has Minox, Leupold markets their WindRivers, and isn't Kahles a division of Swarovski? ...
Two comments on this:
1: Minox, apparently, is no longer associated with Leica, and it was never just a cheaper line. They had always been separate entities. I assume, but don't know, the same to be true for Kahles and Swarovski?

2: I wish Bushnell had kept the B&L name for their top product lines. In THAT case, at least, I connect all Bushnell products as being relatively low quality.
So, from my reaction here, I can see that Zeiss is in a danger zone about its name. But they are consistent in having the FL added to all the top products. Just like Nikon does with the Fieldscope name among their scopes.

But there is really a certain danger as I can also see in SLR cameras and in particular the lenses for them. Canon and Nikon have the full gamut from cheapo to classy. And how do you know. The only indication is the price, and that is precisely what should not be the only criterion. In contrast, if you buy a Leica you know it is in the top range. Of course, the price is as well. But then, Leica SLR cameras are likely to disappear; whereas a cheaper - but compatible - line might have added more potential later buyers for the expensive parts. A case in point: I have a Pentax SLR camera system that I like. But for some reason, Pentax' system seems not to be suited for lenses with internal stabilization (an answer I got from Sigma). I am now considering to get such a lens (not necessarily from Sigma), but that means I also need a camera body. For starters, I can live with a relatively simple camera. But in the longer run, it is clear that I will most likely end up with a top end model of that particular brand as well.
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Old Friday 3rd February 2006, 15:50   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swissboy
Two comments on this:
1: Minox, apparently... was never just a cheaper line. They had always been separate entities. I assume, but don't know, the same to be true for Kahles and Swarovski?
This will come down to a matter of semantics (sp?) that we could argue about forever. They may have been technically and officially run as seperate businesses, but I'm not sure that's enough for me to consider them as completely seperate entities. The clinic I run is technically a seperate business from the hospital with which we are associated but, noone would really ever think of us as two seperate entities.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Swissboy
2: I wish Bushnell had kept the B&L name for their top product lines. In THAT case, at least, I connect all Bushnell products as being relatively low quality.
It's not the badge that makes the quality. If switching badges from B&L to Bushnell makes you associate their product with low quality where before it didn't, then you have been (and possibly are still) a victim of advertising hype trumping fact.
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Old Friday 3rd February 2006, 21:59   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucznik
This will come down to a matter of semantics (sp?) that we could argue about forever. They may have been technically and officially run as seperate businesses, but I'm not sure that's enough for me to consider them as completely seperate entities. The clinic I run is technically a seperate business from the hospital with which we are associated but, noone would really ever think of us as two seperate entities.
From what I was told, they are both seperate companies owned by seperate families... have their own labs, manufacturing facilities and product lines, etc...

Swarovski is in Absam, and Kahles is in Vienna... and maybe the possibility that they're both from Austria has people confused?

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Old Friday 3rd February 2006, 23:49   #18
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From what I was told, they are both seperate companies owned by seperate families... have their own labs, manufacturing facilities and product lines, etc...

Swarovski is in Absam, and Kahles is in Vienna... and maybe the possibility that they're both from Austria has people confused?
Cabellas Meopta & euro binoculars look awfully much like swarovskis to me .
Are they a way for Swarovski to market a less expensive range of binos?
Brian.
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Old Saturday 4th February 2006, 10:54   #19
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Cabellas Meopta & euro binoculars look awfully much like swarovskis to me .
Are they a way for Swarovski to market a less expensive range of binos?
Brian.
Looks can be very deceiving. To my eyes, the first two are NOT the same as a Swarovski.
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Old Saturday 4th February 2006, 21:59   #20
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Looks can be very deceiving. To my eyes, the first two are NOT the same as a Swarovski.
Eagle Optics catalog says that Meopta Binoculars feature "phase corrected half pentagonal and Schmidt design roof prisms." They are heavy (about 30 Oz.) and the 8 x 42 has an unusually wide FOV of 411 feet. Are there any other Binoculars out there with these attributes? It also states that they are from Eastern Europe.

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Old Sunday 5th February 2006, 00:02   #21
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"half pentagonal and Schmidt design roof prism" sounds like it might be something special, but it's just an odd way of describing a Schmidt-Pechan roof prism, the most commonly used type in roof prism binoculars. Meopta products are made in the Czech Republic.
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Old Sunday 5th February 2006, 15:51   #22
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Apparently Cabela's new top of the line roof prisms are made by Meopta. 10 x 42, 30.5 oz., FOV 330.' $799.95. Prisms are described exactly as above but no mention of "phase coating." New master catalog says they are made by one of Europes largest optics companies. No other sizes are listed with these new bins. They have a soft green rubber coating over aluminum alloy and superficially resemble Swarovski's.

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Old Sunday 5th February 2006, 18:05   #23
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Meopta, which has to be at least fifty years old, make their Meostar binoculars with phase coating, according to their web site:
http://www.meopta.cz/index.php?id=155&lang=en
Their optics for photographic enlargers were first rate, but I have no experience of their binoculars.

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Old Sunday 5th February 2006, 23:43   #24
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Quote:
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Meopta, which has to be at least fifty years old, make their Meostar binoculars with phase coating, according to their web site:
http://www.meopta.cz/index.php?id=155&lang=en
Their optics for photographic enlargers were first rate, but I have no experience of their binoculars.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood
Arthur,

I used a Meopta 35mm and 2.25x2.25 enlarger for years, and later took the head off and turned it into a great copy stand. Their optics were quite good, almost the equal of Schneider. I'd be quite interested to hear about their current binoculars and scopes. I'm not sure they market much in the US.

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Ed
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Old Monday 6th February 2006, 02:56   #25
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Quote:
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Meopta, which has to be at least fifty years old, make their Meostar binoculars with phase coating, according to their web site:
http://www.meopta.cz/index.php?id=155&lang=en
Their optics for photographic enlargers were first rate, but I have no experience of their binoculars.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood
I checked the website and looked at the 6 bins listed. Most of them have rather wide FOV's and all have long eye relief. Even the 10x's, both 42 and 50, have 330' FOV. The 7 x 42 and 8 x 42 each have 411.' The 7 x 50 is 375' and the 8 x 56 is 333.' Close focus is 10' on most of them, 15' on the 8 x 56. Something to keep in mind.

Bob

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