OK, Today SHOT Show kicked off and I started my day meeting with Vortex.
After seeing their list of new products:
Razor HD 12x50 Binocular ETA Spring 2013
Razor HD 10x50 Binocular ETA Spring 2013.
These binoculars are ultra sleek for a bino with a 50mm objective. They felt great in my hands with the comfortable thumb indents underneath. They are made in Japan.
Crossfire II 10x42 Binocular ETA early Spring 2013
Crossfire II 8x42 Binocular ETA early Spring 2013
Razor HD 16–48x65 Angled Spotting Scope ETA Spring 2013
Razor HD 16–48x65 Straight Spotting Scope ETA Spring 2013
Razor HD 11–33x50 Angled Spotting Scope ETA Spring 2013
Razor HD 11–33x50 Straight Spotting Scope ETA Spring 2013
Razor HD 18x/23x Long Eye Relief Eyepiece ETA Spring 2013
Diamondback 20–60x80 Straight Spotting Scope ETA Spring 2013
Diamondback 20–60x80 Angled Spotting Scope ETA Spring 2013
Diamondback 20–60x80 Angled Spotting Scope ETA Spring 2013
Diamondback 20–60x80 Straight Spotting Scope ETA Spring 2013
These spotters are on par with the old Vortex Skyline ED series at about 1/2 the price. If you are looking for a quality spotter at a great price this should be on your check list.
I figured let's get over there first, put in the first SHOT Show order so we can be first to get a shipment (one likes to delude oneselves that this actually is the way it works. It isn't reality unfortunately). I was excited about some of these products and wanted to see what the deal was. The Razor HD 11–33x50 was of particular interest as it would be a nice line up addition to the Nikon 13-30x50 ED, and the Minox MD50 16-30x50 in the stable of quality compact spotters. I was anxious to see if the new Razor would be something as good, if not better to offer. The first thing I asked and was disappointed to learn was that the eyepiece is not removable. OH well, no option to go with a fixed straight power eyepiece. That was the only down side to this very nice scope. I think it's quality will make it a winner (what one can tell in the basement of a convention center). Their current Razor scope is a great optic and as this is it's smaller version I see no reason why it would be less than.
Leica was next on my list. I arranged it this way as after everything I had heard about their new Rangefinder I had to be the one of the first kids on line to see it. I have already done a post specifically on the new Leica Geovid HD-B 8x42 - Yards Model, #40047 and Leica Geovid HD-B 10x42 - Yards Model, #40049 so please see it or my web site for the specs and info on it. I will say that they did do a great job on it. It feels great in my hands, is as good optically as any binocular I have ever looked thru and it is, as promised, the most state of the art rangefinding binocular on the market.
They also released the CRF-1000-R. This new and improved Rangemaster CRF 1000-R replaces the existing CRF-1000, which presented the opportunity to purchase hundreds of their remaining inventory of the CRF-1000's and be able to offer them for only $469.99 or $499.99 with a CRF Tripod Adapter
As usual we purchased Leica's booth at the show so a crazy amount of "Certified Pre-Owned" product will be arriving next week (NO there are none of the just released Geovid HD-B's in that shipment as they have none for sale yet).
Next on the agenda was Steiner who I was really looking forward to meeting with. They had a hierarchy change since last SHOT Show and I was curious to see if we could grow our offerings from them. They came to the table ready to really create some significant opportunities and I was more than pleased.
We are receiving a shipment of:
Steiner 10x42 Police Binocular, #645 which sells for $599.99 and we are now offering it for only $399.99
Their Steiner Safari Pro 8x22 Compact Binocular, #231 will be only $99.99
In demos we grabbed a bunch more of their Steiner 8x42 Predator Xtreme Binocular, #2481 @ $299.99 (reduced from $399.99), and their Steiner 10x42 Predator Xtreme Binocular, #2581 @ $349.99 (reduced from $499.99).
I had a limited meeting with Meopta that will be followed up with an extensive meeting in the next few weeks that I feel will be very productive.
I finally met Charles from Zen-Ray . He did not have a booth at the show, however, we arranged a meeting which was long overdue. He is a very nice guy who is interested in putting out a quality product at an affordable price. We chatted a while and are arranging a deal for the ZEN-RAY - ZEN ED2 - 20-60x82mm Angled Spotter
We discussed their binocular line and how their new PRIME HD binoculars, in both 8x42 and 10x42, were being received. According to Charles, these binoculars have a total of 20 pieces of optical lenses, including few field flattener lenses. This is what he attributes how bright and edge to edge clear this new unit is.
Additionally, I got a first look of their new 32mm ZRS HD binoculars. It does appear to be another winner from the Zen-Ray stable of optics. According to Charles, the 32mm ZRS HD will be available for sale in April for about $220. I think this model will do very well if its optics performs as good as its 42mm siblings.
Day 2 I continued on my never ending quest for information and deals. I stated the second morning at Zeiss.
This was an interesting meeting as they are introducing a new line of binoculars as well as a new line of riflescopes. These are kind of a new optics area for them as they are priced for mass marketing. Not that there is anything wrong with this, just a new direction for one of the Big Three Euro's known only for top end optics.
I checked out the two new Terra ED binoculars first. They seem to be made well and felt nice in my hands. Good eyecups, smooth focus. They seem to be a good quality optic that fits nicely into the sub $500.00 price range.
Terra ED 8x42 @ $349.99
Terra ED 10x42 @ $399.99
These binoculars give Zeiss a firm footing in this saturated price catagory with an optic that will do very well. Oddly (and I thought it was weird but later someone commented the same thing to me) they smelled funny. I realize this is not the an everyday thing to mention, but I noticed it so I am mentioning it.
We, as usual, expect a delivery of demo goods from Zeiss in the next week or so. As soon as it is in and received we will get it posted.
For my next meeting I walked a few rows over to meet with Swarovski . First off let me say that in the past few years I like what Swarovski has been doing. Not only with their products but just the way they have been doing business. They had some regime changes a couple of years back and I think these changes have turned out to be a good thing. They have made working together enjoyable as well smooth. When you work with folks and need their assistance in order to provide customer service it's nice to know they actually care. We got a new Sales Rep a short time ago and I could not have designed a better choice. He knows the products, does training with our staff, and sincerely asks if there is anything he can do for us & for our clients. We had a productive meeting in which we discussed a possible local optics event day where training and product testing would be available to our clients for digiscoping as well as general binocular and spotter use.
We discussed shortage of popular product and they do feel that the supply of their Swarovision 10x42 EL Range will improve this year as well as the supply of their Swarovision 12x50 EL ( which in that power optic is the one to get, IMO).
I did comment to them that their new line of ATX/STX Modular Spotting Scopes have been extremely well received, especially for photography applications. We can hardly get the 95mm Objective in quick enough. Good news on that system is that they are now beginning to receive the STX Straight Modular Eyepiece for it.
I then went to to meet with my friend and Rep Roger Bushnell. He's been our Rep going back longer than I can remember. A great guy. Even though we really not do all that much with Bushnell he is very attentive and manages to get us demos and refurbs. He'll be sending a list soon enough that we'll share with you.
I then went to a meeting with Leupold . This was a first for me as we have never handled their products. A month or so ago a Leupold Rep came in the store and met briefly with me. We had a discussion that went very well. He arranged for us to meet at SHOT to discuss Camera Land becoming an authorized dealer. We had about an hour long meeting with a great guy from Leupold, just discussing our business model and theirs and if we'd be a good fit. We have scheduled another meeting, and it looks like we should be moving forward. I think this will be a great addition to the optics lines we now offer.
We became a Kowa dealer a few years ago. They work with independant sales reps and the guy who called on me was a nice guy. The kind of rep you want to work with so we opened with Kowa. I have always known that their Spotting Scopes were awesome but was not very familiar with the rest of their line. We've been selling their spotters fairly consistantly but never really got into their binocular line. I think that 2013 may bring an expansion deeper into the Kowa line. Ray, our rep, is coming in soon to further this so stay tuned.
One more meeting on day 2 and I'd be done (to be honest I was already done. Dragging at this point, lots of coffee and water, no food and talking non-stop since 8:30 in the morning gets very exhausting). My last meeting of the day was with Vero Vellini. My Steiner rep also reps this line of hunting slings and straps and he wanted me to check out their product. It seemed like a fair enough request so I made an appointment to check out their offerings. Glad I did as their products seem to be top quality, priced well and something that is a nice fit for us.
From their web site:
"The Vero Vellini line includes a full range of rifle and shotgun slings and binocular straps and harnesses designed to meet any hunter's preference and taste. Every Vero Vellini sling features leather end panels for a classic look and non-slip rubber backing for a superior carry. From Wide-Top Rifle slings to Tactical and Shotgun slings, from binocular and camera straps to the Bino-Pal™ binocular harness, Vero Vellini takes European craftsmanship and combines it with modern materials to achieve the ultimate in balance, comfort, flexibility and dampening."
We opened up with them and as soon as our web builder can get the info on our site we'll be in business. Very exciting product, IMO.
Day 3 arrived to a huge breakfast and only 3 appointments. Today would be a fine, low pressure day. I had already seen most of what I had come to SHOT to see and left 3 appointments for my last day, Brunton, Nikon & Pentax
My first appointment was with Brunton who, quite honestly, I knew next to nothing about. As you may or may not know last year I opened an OffShore Tackle Shop, Pelagic Outfitters, with my buddy Chris. Our Daiwa Rep Eric is now with Brunton and requested that I come and check out their optics. He's a good guy so if he honestly thought it was worthwhile what could I lose other than an hour of my life I could never get back.
Having not really known anything about their products I asked around. Basically I was informed that they made a better than good optic but had little if any presence on the optics end of the business due to poor marketing, however, they are a huge player in Outdoor Gear, Solar Portable Power Mats, etc.
With little expectation I went to their booth (small in the back of the lower level) and asked for the VP of sales as Eric was not at the show. I was introducted to Joel, a very personable guy who is VERY excited about his product line. We chatted about Brunton and about Camera Land. While chatting he showed me some different binoculars, which, IMO were superior to what I had expected (how do they have such great glass and nobody knows about it?) and then we discussed pricing. I thought for a relatively unknown their prices were a bit high. Not that the optics were not worth what they were priced for and then some, as they were. Just that everything is perception and how do you get a guy to spend $500. - $2300 for a name they do not know. Having metioned this I again saw how VERY enthusiastic Joel is about the product and the company.
He explained that they have, as other companies these days do, a no fault warranty, however, theirs was put into place out of need to be able to use your optics as you desire rather than as a marketing tool. He explained that he wants the Brunton user to use their optics in the field without concern that they may be damaged. I was now a bit more interested as he was showing that they may actually care about the end user rather than corporate headquarters.
He then started going over the line with me and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. Not your average optics, in the standard sizes and all optically superior to what I was expection.
8x45, 11x45, 15x51, 10.5x43, 8.5x43, 8x44 & 11x44....Interesting. Also shows these are not the generic binoculars that, without mentioning names, can possibly be all coming down the same assembly line with different mfg packaging while all being the same. Their binoculars are priced from $99 - $2299 which is bold, however, in a plain brown wrapper test I can see many people picking out these optics vs similar priced options.
We then went over their Spotters ($149 - $4395) which were as impressive.
My next appointment was a total comfort zone appointment, Nikon . Camera Land has been an authorized Nikon dealer since 1957 and everyone there is like family. It's like going to a meeting with your buddies. Short of them having this meeting in one of our back yards during a BBQ I could not feel more relaxed.
I was shown their new Aculon A211 Binocular Line which seems a nice and refreshing addition for them. They have phased out the Action line, while keeping the Action Extreme's. I was impressed with the new Aculon A211 10x42 which @ $99.95 should be a best selling unit for anyone. In a Porro Prism binocular this, for sure, is a grand slam.
We discussed the constant shortage of their ED 50 13-30x50 Spotting Scope and I was happily informed that they are on top of it and that should not really be an issue this year.
Overall Nikon's line is a strong, dependable line for us. The Monarch 3's and 5's that were released last year have been great sellers and they say that the backorder problem on their Monarch 7's should ease somewhat this year.
It was a nice relaxing meeting with friends. A nice change from the hectic atmosphere in some of the other booths.
Last, but not least, was Pentax . This meeting is something I look forward to as well as dread. I look forward to it as two people at Pentax, Pat and Allen are two of the greatest folks in the industry and we have worked together for more than 25 years. Finishing the show (I had to be back in Camera Land so this was it for me) with them was a great plan. Day 3 was a wind down day and what better way to do it than with them. I dread going to the Pentax booth because as a general rule their line is stale. Corporate Pentax has treated their Sports Optics division as a step child for so long I think they forgot that it exists. I did order 20x60 PCF WP II's and in spotters their PF80-ED's & PF65-ED II's as these three items are great quality and consistant sellers.
I was informed that 2013 would be an exciting year at Pentax as they have new people at the top who plan to totally revamp the line and add life to it. Can't wait for SHOT 2014.
This wraps up my report. I am back in the store so please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Yes, we picked up loads of demos and deals and those goods should arrive and be checked in by the end of the month I would think.
Thanks for taking the time to read this I hope it was informative.