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What Really Constitutes a Alpha Grade Pair Of Binoculars ? (1 Viewer)

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
So who exactly "recognizes" these brands as alphas or not? Who are these people?

Just like the meaning of any word, it is defined by prevailing practice of the community of users. The birding (or birding+optics) community is most relevant here. Swarovski and Zeiss get no argument as alphas. No one ever has to defend them, ergo they are alphas. Leica is very much a prestige brand in the world as a whole but may be slipping a bit within our community when it comes to products that impress; still, it's very much an alpha brand. Nikon is always the add-on, is frequently defended as an alpha, and therefore isn't.

--AP
 

jgraider

Well-known member
Just like the meaning of any word, it is defined by prevailing practice of the community of users. The birding (or birding+optics) community is most relevant here. Swarovski and Zeiss get no argument as alphas. No one ever has to defend them, ergo they are alphas. Leica is very much a prestige brand in the world as a whole but may be slipping a bit within our community when it comes to products that impress; still, it's very much an alpha brand. Nikon is always the add-on, is frequently defended as an alpha, and therefore isn't.

--AP


With all the brand biases out there today I was just curious. It's all subjective IMO, and still depends on your definition of alpha. I think Meopta deserves to be in the discussion, but brand biases by "the community" probably won't allow it.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Since being an alpha is about status, a prerequisite for being an alpha binocular is for it to be from an alpha brand. No matter how good a binocular is, if it doesn't have the brand status, it will never command alpha status. Non-alphas reveal themselves as such by (a) not being recognized as alphas, and consequently (b) their owners' constant need to claim that they are "as good as" the recognized alphas (Alphas rarely if ever denigrate themselves by wasting time and energy on such public comparisons). It's like an unpopular kid pointing out that they are just as attractive, smart, athletic, funny, rich, or whatever as the popular kids. Could be true, but popularity is a status that comes from social dynamics that do not flow directly from those variables.

I'm reporting what I think alpha means, not what constitutes a great binocular from a performance perspective.

--AP
I'm going to disagree with that.
It's entirely possible for a non-alpha brand to deliver an alpha product provided they tick ALL the boxes (I'm struggling to think of an example at the moment ! but it is possible :)

It's about the performance -
*The performance of the product in every aspect (not just optics, mechanics, quality, and parametrics, but ergonomics, material quality and tactile feel, durability, design sophistication, etc) and,
*The performance of the company support (product information, availability/demonstration, warranty, servicing and after sales support - the whole 'customer experience').

An 'Alpha' needs to tick all those boxes, maybe there will be half a pass granted on one of them, but 8/10 boxes ticked is not going to cut it (which I think is what Chuck said quite well by agreeing with me :-O ). Sometimes, a miss on one (or sometimes more) of those boxes won't matter to an individual - so it's an 'alpha to them' (such as the very weighty full size Kowa Prominar XD, or Canon 10x42L IS, etc), but really you only have the best of Swarovski and Zeiss as true Alpha binoculars at the moment.

The Leica UVHD+ and the NV, is an interesting case - they are starting to drift back coming down the final furlong - whereas once the Ultravid was right in there with the likes of the Swaro EL and Zeiss FL, now the NV (arguably leading in some areas) is starting to struggle to get all those boxes checked (weight and Fov) compared to where the bar has now been set.

Now I'm going to somewhat agree with you (a bit) ;)
A company's reputation, or brand credibility, is slowly built up over many years by the products, service, and competitiveness they deliver. This leads perhaps to the final almost intangible box to tick - security (peace of mind). Customers want to know that if they invest a stack of folding on an alpha from Company A, that Company's B and C aren't going to clearly outpace them with the performance of their products the next day.

There seems to be relatively less understanding about "price", and this was even a factor raised in the OP. Price is not a pre-requisite per se, but is a function of the business.

Certain business process resources (tecnology, infrastructure, human capital) are required (barriers to entry) and subject to financing costs, market availability, etc. Then there's a whole cavalcade of costs, constraints, and processes involved which I won't detail - but suffice to say you end up with an Alpha product and it has cost a certain amount to get there.

The 'price' then charged to the consumer then depends on another whole host of factors - importantly, what will the market bear, what competitive pressures exist, financing and business returns required and desired in order to be a long term successful business. This is where price comes from - it's not as flexible or arbitrary as some might think, and it's definitely not the tail that wags the dog or can be used in isolation to qualify as an 'Alpha' bin.

With all the brand biases out there today I was just curious. It's all subjective IMO, and still depends on your definition of alpha. I think Meopta deserves to be in the discussion, but brand biases by "the community" probably won't allow it.
I think you can say that it might be subjective from the user/owner's point of view, but as I detailed above - it is performance based, and comes down to business. Within that, the good folk here at BF are just an enthusiastic subset of the broader market, and more importantly - the potential market.








Chosun :gh:
 

wdc

Well-known member
One thing to also consider, and I think its possible that the top tier brands caught on early enough, is that an aging population of loyal customers, will need more eye relief when they start wearing glasses with binoculars.

Of course, this may be at the expense of some non-eyeglass wearers, if the eyecups don't extend far enough.

My point is that, given the hefty price of the 2k plus binoculars that are available from the 'alpha' brands, how many young folks would bother to spend that kind of money, when you can get plenty of bang for your buck at a lower tier? But, take a look at the lineup of the most pricey binoculars... most of them are designed to accommodate eyeglass wearers, which I think is a nod to the demographic that can afford them, or is willing to pay for that. There's a long list of excellent binoculars that have poor eye relief, in fact, Leica still makes a few..

If one is unable to use a binocular because it physically doesn't accommodate the individual, it effectively has no value for them, regardless of how good it is optically.

-Bill
 
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Xlr8n

Well-known member
Meopta is very much a premium glass, just not at premium prices. They seem to march to their own drummer.

Andy W.

Agree. They are very much approaching alpha quality glass, definitely alpha quality build with alpha level warranty and service, but they really don't attempt to market themselves in that class. Binocular production is a very small percent of their overall portfolio. It will be interesting to see their B2 launch next year.
 

gcole

Well-known member
Agree. They are very much approaching alpha quality glass, definitely alpha quality build with alpha level warranty and service, but they really don't attempt to market themselves in that class. Binocular production is a very small percent of their overall portfolio. It will be interesting to see their B2 launch next year.

Do you own any of Meopta’s top tier offerings ? I do. The 8x32 B1.1 and in my opinion, from actual use they already have Alpha Glass and have achieved Alpha Quality in these four categories :

Build Construction, including its operating parts
It’s Optical Glass, providing a stellar view
Long Eye Relief ... fits my physical facial characteristics very nicely
A long term Alpha Warranty , that is transferable.

The fact that Meopta can sell their Top Tier Binoculars at a much lower price point than their competitors should not be held against them. Somehow they have found a way to sell very High End Binoculars at responsible prices and are not price gouging like I believe the top three are now doing to their customers. Paying $2,000 plus for a pair of binoculars is insane no matter if one can afford to or not. Now ... no disrespect to the fan club of the top three but reality will set in eventually with their competitors taking more and more of the market share hopefully forcing them to bring their prices down.
 
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A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Do you own any of Meopta’s top tier offerings ? I do. The 8x32 B1.1 and in my opinion, from actual use they already have Alpha Glass and have achieved Alpha Quality in these four categories :

Build Construction, including its operating parts
It’s Optical Glass, providing a stellar view
Long Eye Relief ... fits my physical facial characteristics very nicely
A long term Alpha Warranty , that is transferable.

The fact that Meopta can sell their Top Tier Binoculars at a much lower price point than their competitors should not be held against them. Somehow they have found a way to sell very High End Binoculars at responsible prices and are not price gouging like I believe the top three are now doing to their customers. Paying $2,000 plus for a pair of binoculars is insane no matter if one can afford to or not. Now ... no disrespect to the fan club of the top three but reality will set in eventually with their competitors taking more and more of the market share hopefully forcing them to bring their prices down.

IMHO I don't think you should care too much whether some folks won't include the Meostar in the elite "Alpha" club. It doesn't seem people can even agree what an "alpha" brand or binocular is. Some even suggest Leica should no longer be included. So there's seems no real universal meaning here.

You have a "high end" optic as you said and nobody could disagree with you there. Maybe throw out the alpha label and just enjoy your exquisite Meostar.
It has the respect of most folks here.

I may just stop using the term "alpha" myself. L, S and Z are "Iconic" and/or "Legendary" brands ... there, that's a little better and maybe slightly less obnoxious.
 

jgraider

Well-known member
Do you own any of Meopta’s top tier offerings ? I do. The 8x32 B1.1 and in my opinion, from actual use they already have Alpha Glass and have achieved Alpha Quality in these four categories :

Build Construction, including its operating parts
It’s Optical Glass, providing a stellar view
Long Eye Relief ... fits my physical facial characteristics very nicely
A long term Alpha Warranty , that is transferable.

The fact that Meopta can sell their Top Tier Binoculars at a much lower price point than their competitors should not be held against them. Somehow they have found a way to sell very High End Binoculars at responsible prices and are not price gouging like I believe the top three are now doing to their customers. Paying $2,000 plus for a pair of binoculars is insane no matter if one can afford to or not. Now ... no disrespect to the fan club of the top three but reality will set in eventually with their competitors taking more and more of the market share hopefully forcing them to bring their prices down.

Well said GCole. I couldn't agree more. The days of "having" to pay $2k for high class glass, high class build, and stellar warranty and customer service are over. Meopta is a real player.
 

gcole

Well-known member
IMHO I don't think you should care too much whether some folks won't include the Meostar in the elite "Alpha" club. It doesn't seem people can even agree what an "alpha" brand or binocular is. Some even suggest Leica should no longer be included. So there's seems no real universal meaning here.

You have a "high end" optic as you said and nobody could disagree with you there. Maybe throw out the alpha label and just enjoy your exquisite Meostar.
It has the respect of most folks here.

I may just stop using the term "alpha" myself. L, S and Z are "Iconic" and/or "Legendary" brands ... there, that's a little better and maybe slightly less obnoxious.

Maybe using the term Premium to define all upper tier binoculars, no matter what brand name ? I would say I am neutral when it comes to caring about what other people think is the better or best optic out there. The point I am trying to get across especially to the New/Newer members who are reading the opinions here from those of us who have the years of experience handling and using different tier level binoculars, is you do not have to spend the insane dollar amounts that are at the upper level of the top three. Meopta is just one brand example of spending a lot less, you could also throw the Mavens high end tier into this category just to mention a few. The phrase “you get what you pay for” when purchasing a pair of binoculars was very obvious back in the 70’s - 90’s. Today that same rule of thought is not always true. The cost in dollars percentage wise that is needed to acquire a real good pair of binoculars in relation to the most expensive has never been lower.
 

Xlr8n

Well-known member
Do you own any of Meopta’s top tier offerings ? I do. The 8x32 B1.1 and in my opinion, from actual use they already have Alpha Glass and have achieved Alpha Quality in these four categories :

Build Construction, including its operating parts
It’s Optical Glass, providing a stellar view
Long Eye Relief ... fits my physical facial characteristics very nicely
A long term Alpha Warranty , that is transferable.

The fact that Meopta can sell their Top Tier Binoculars at a much lower price point than their competitors should not be held against them. Somehow they have found a way to sell very High End Binoculars at responsible prices and are not price gouging like I believe the top three are now doing to their customers. Paying $2,000 plus for a pair of binoculars is insane no matter if one can afford to or not. Now ... no disrespect to the fan club of the top three but reality will set in eventually with their competitors taking more and more of the market share hopefully forcing them to bring their prices down.

Yes, I own the same 8x32 B1.1 but in the Cabela's Euro HD variety. And yes, I agree it meets Alpha qualifications, if I didn't make that clear in my earlier post. :t:

Agree with you on price. While R&D, engineering, glass grinding, and production are all expensive endeavors, $2000+ seems to be a bit excessive for what it is. Unfortunately that's the world we live in: supply and demand. The market is already flooded with tons of choices of under $1000 units yet folks still want "better."
 

A2GG

Beth
Supporter
United States
Maybe using the term Premium to define all upper tier binoculars, no matter what brand name ? I would say I am neutral when it comes to caring about what other people think is the better or best optic out there. The point I am trying to get across especially to the New/Newer members who are reading the opinions here from those of us who have the years of experience handling and using different tier level binoculars, is you do not have to spend the insane dollar amounts that are at the upper level of the top three. Meopta is just one brand example of spending a lot less, you could also throw the Mavens high end tier into this category just to mention a few. The phrase “you get what you pay for” when purchasing a pair of binoculars was very obvious back in the 70’s - 90’s. Today that same rule of thought is not always true. The cost in dollars percentage wise that is needed to acquire a real good pair of binoculars in relation to the most expensive has never been lower.

I'm pretty certain almost everyone here would agree with that.

Your original question pertaining to the criteria for what constitutes an alpha grade bino is not at all fully agreed upon. The criteria seems to differ from person to person.
 

gcole

Well-known member
I'm pretty certain almost everyone here would agree with that.

Your original question pertaining to the criteria for what constitutes an alpha grade bino is not at all fully agreed upon. The criteria seems to differ from person to person.

The Human Species ..... The fact that we all most likely will never agree totally on any one topic is what makes us all so unique, good or bad. One thing that I would like to think would happen if : Every adult Male and Female on this planet would just take the time to, if for only just 15 minutes take a pair of Binoculars to View and Appreciate all the Beautiful Life that surrounds all of us. Then maybe all the wars and injustices would come to an end.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
Based on my observations of the way the term has been used in the past, and based on the personalities of those most enamored with using it, I understand the "alpha" label to have the same meaning as it does in behavioral biology, sociology, and related fields, which is to say that it is about dominant (social) status. It has to do with prestige and social power (i.e. that is bestowed by the audience or community). Alpha brands and their products evoke admiration, respect, jealousy as immediate reactions to the label or their iconic/recognizable forms. In the longer term, they inspire imitation.

--AP
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
The Human Species ..... The fact that we all most likely will never agree totally on any one topic is what makes us all so unique, good or bad. One thing that I would like to think would happen if : Every adult Male and Female on this planet would just take the time to, if for only just 15 minutes take a pair of Binoculars to View and Appreciate all the Beautiful Life that surrounds all of us. Then maybe all the wars and injustices would come to an end.

:t::t::t:

Lee
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
...It's entirely possible for a non-alpha brand to deliver an alpha product provided they tick ALL the boxes (I'm struggling to think of an example at the moment ! but it is possible :)...

It's cute to add the smiley face to your claim, but I can't think of an example either, so I think you are wrong.

We're looking for a product that commands instant respect and recognition as dominant despite coming from an unrecognized brand or a brand that is recognized but lacking elite status.

--AP
 

mfunnell

Registered Confuser
In the world of watches, the alpha label is not applied, but if it were, Rolex would be a good example. Rolex has an abundance of prestige that is not explained by the quality of its products (which is excellent but certainly not top-end). Many luxury watch brands (i.e. producers of super expensive watches) are comparatively lacking in prestige, and many makers of watches do not have prestige and cannot their products at luxury prices despite high name recognition and high quality.

--AP
I know I'm late to this party 3:) (if that's what it is, here) but I'm going to have to somewhat disagree with (or at least apply a corrective to) the above. Just as in the binocular world where we have Swarovski, Zeiss and Leica as brands which produce unarguably "alpha" binoculars, in the watch world (wild and wacky and HUGELY more expensive than the binocular world) they have the "Holy Trinity": PP, AP, and VC (Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin). The fact that these brands are largely unfamiliar to the general public is neither here nor there and most likely part of their attraction.

Despite (or perhaps because!) of being the most-recognised "luxury brand" in the world, Rolex is pretty much looked down on in the watch-snob world as "mid-teir" (at best)! Let "them" think a Rolex is impressive - "we" know better!

And, sure, there are pretenders: from Japan you have Grand Seiko (or, even, Credor if you're working further up market), from Germany you have A. Lange & Söhne or even, back in Switzerland, you have Jager LeCoulture (who 'til recently actually made most of the movements in Holy Trinity watches)... Etcetera.

.. but .. well .. no matter the quality or even -- in the US$1,000,000+++ range -- no matter the price :eek!: it just doesn't matter - it's Holy Trinity or nuffin. As far as unassailable prestige goes, to a watch-snob: The end.

If you have a watch from one (or more!) of the Holy Trinity, your position is pretty much unarguable, leading me to agree with you in this sense:
Based on my observations of the way the term has been used in the past, and based on the personalities of those most enamored with using it, I understand the "alpha" label to have the same meaning as it does in behavioral biology, sociology, and related fields, which is to say that it is about dominant (social) status. It has to do with prestige and social power (i.e. that is bestowed by the audience or community). Alpha brands and their products evoke admiration, respect, jealousy as immediate reactions to the label or their iconic/recognizable forms. In the longer term, they inspire imitation.

--AP

...Mike

[P.S. I've only looked from the outer edges of the "watch world". I own only three watches even vaguely considered "luxury": a JLC (long story), an Omega, and a Tudor .. in descending order of prestige (and I mostly wear the Tudor, 'cause it's the most useful of those watches). Hell, even my JLC is at their lowest end and has a movement which is mostly machine-produced (the horror!) Yet all would be more expensive, new, than an "alpha" bin. None are in the Holy Trinity - which I don't aspire to at all - I find the "watch world" often unappealing, and not just financially.]
 
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Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I know I'm late to this party 3:) (if that's what it is, here) but I'm going to have to somewhat disagree with (or at least apply a corrective to) the above. Just as in the binocular world where we have Swarovski, Zeiss and Leica as brands which produce unarguably "alpha" binoculars, in the watch world (wild and wacky and HUGELY more expensive than the binocular world) they have the "Holy Trinity": PP, AP, and VC (Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin). The fact that these brands are largely unfamiliar to the general public is neither here nor there and most likely part of their attraction.

Despite (or perhaps because!) of being the most-recognised "luxury brand" in the world, Rolex is pretty much looked down on in the watch-snob world as "mid-teir" (at best)! Let "them" think a Rolex is impressive - "we" know better!

And, sure, there are pretenders: from Japan you have Grand Seiko (or, even, Credor if you're working further up market), from Germany you have A. Lange & Söhne or even, back in Switzerland, you have Jager LeCoulture (who 'til recently actually made most of the movements in Holy Trinity watches)... Etcetera.

.. but .. well .. no matter the quality or even -- in the US$1,000,000+++ range -- no matter the price :eek!: it just doesn't matter - it's Holy Trinity or nuffin. As far as unassailable prestige goes, to a watch-snob: The end.

If you have a watch from one (or more!) of the Holy Trinity, your position is pretty much unarguable, leading me to agree with you in this sense:


...Mike

[P.S. I've only looked from the outer edges of the "watch world". I own only three watches even vaguely considered "luxury": a JLC (long story), an Omega, and a Tudor .. in descending order of prestige (and I mostly wear the Tudor, 'cause it's the most useful of those watches). Hell, even my JLC is at their lowest end and has a movement which is mostly machine-produced (the horror!) Yet all would be more expensive, new, than an "alpha" bin. None are in the Holy Trinity - which I don't aspire to at all - I find the "watch world" often unappealing, and not just financially.]

I'm very familiar with all you describe, and I'd say that our perspectives are not probably very different, so let me try to explain a bit more. I didn't reference PP, AP, and VC for my example because although they are the "Holy Trinity" to us watch enthusiasts, and although they are quite expensive, and although they are generally far more beautiful and luxurious than Rolex, they will not be as well known to BirdForum readers and (for the same reason--their exclusivity which leads to their obscurity outside of high society and horological circles) because I don't think they illustrate the power of the "alpha" in the way that Rolex does. Rolex is known to many people and commands instant "respect" as an impressive watch [side note: I am not a Rolex fan, for the most part]. Many business people buy Rolex watches primarily in order to impress others. In fact, many such buyers of Rolex choose Rolex over other luxury brands (even PP, AP, and VC) because they know that a Rolex watch will do a better job of impressing their business associates than will the others. Rolex envy fuels a major industry making fake and homage watches to an extent unmatched by any other brand. Used Rolex watches often command ridiculous prices well above their original or authorized dealer price. Sure, there are examples of PP models (Nautilus) and some from the others that have appreciated in value or that are in such short supply that they immediately sell on the used market way above their list price, but for the most part, watches from those and other luxury brands lose value after the initial sale (i.e. are available used for less than new, esp. after correcting listed prices for inflation). As I said before, Rolex doesn't make the best watches, but product-for-price, I believe it is unmatched for brand status.

--AP
 

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