For many people, binoculars appear as fairly simple devices that all look the same. No wonder that many potential buyers are quite surprised when they notice the enormous price range between budget models and premium ones. But why are binoculars so expensive. How come there can be a price difference of over 2000 dollars between cheap binoculars and the most expensive binoculars?
Cheap Binoculars vs Expensive, where is the Difference?
Not all binoculars are expensive, inexpensive models cost less than $ 100. In this article, we want to take a look at the Premium Range, where the most expensive binoculars can easily cost well over 2000 Dollars.
Premium-class binoculars in this price range are precision instruments that are the result of research and development, advanced manufacturing, the best craftsmanship, and the use of the best optical glass.
Why Are Some Binoculars So Expensive?
High-quality binoculars are expensive because they are optical precision instruments that require a complicated and time-consuming manufacturing process.
Good optical glass and meticulous workmanship are the main factors that determine the optical performance and thus the price of premium binoculars. Although there are many glass manufacturers in the world, only a handful have the expertise to make truly high-quality optical glass.
Making the best optical glass requires not only know-how but also sophisticated and expensive high technologies. The finest raw materials and components must be used. Complicated melting and mixing processes introduce exotic additives into the glass to manipulate the glass properties. The additives must be distributed homogeneously in the melt, the cooling must be slow and controlled. Only precise and time-consuming processing can produce the best optical glass with the desired properties.
Having the best glass is not enough, you also have to know its properties and how they are best used for optimal performance A lens is made by grinding and polishing a raw glass block to its desired shape. The mechanical processing generates heat (through friction), which can change the glass properties and affect the end result. After successfully shaping the lenses and prisms, it is necessary to apply several coatings to minimize reflection losses.
All these elaborately manufactured glass parts require high-quality and precisely manufactured housing so they all can function harmoniously together. Moving parts such as the focusing wheel and diopter adjustment must move smoothly, be it in tropical heat or at arctic temperatures, on top they need to be waterproof and airtight.
The robust and precise manufactured chassis are usually made of high-quality Makrolon plastics or magnesium alloys which need to be environmentally sealed to be waterproof and airtight.
Manufacturing and assembling binoculars require extreme care. Manufacturing tolerances must be minute to not spoil the performance of the finished binoculars. Therefore, strict and thorough quality control is required between each step.
Are Expensive Binoculars Worth It?
Now that we have discussed why some binoculars are so expensive, the question arises whether expensive binoculars are so much better that it justifies the high price. Before you invest so much money in an optical device, you should consider whether you really need the best. A lot also depends on how often, where, and for what purpose you need binoculars.
If you only use binoculars for occasional observation without being exposed to the elements, then cheap binoculars might be sufficient.
As a hobby bird watcher or hunter you will have higher demands on the binoculars in terms of color fidelity, light-gathering power, etc, and you probably already have an idea which are the most suitable models for you.
However, in situations where survival, search and rescue, maritime navigation, or it is crucial to spot dangers in time, then the best binoculars are a must.
What Are The Most Expensive Binoculars?
We only want to talk about the most expensive portable handheld binoculars. Large, fixed, custom-made binoculars such as those found on ships, viewing platforms, observatories, etc. can certainly cost more.
Among the handheld models, the most expensive binoculars are made by the three traditional brands that have contributed significantly to the development and improvement of optical instruments for well over 100 years. They may well be considered the makers of the best binoculars you can buy.
Carl Zeiss opened his workshop for precision mechanics and optics in Jena/Germany in 1846. Together with Ernst Abbe and later Otto Schott, they laid the foundation for one of the world’s largest optical instrument makers and special glass manufacturers (Schott AG). As a premium binoculars manufacturer, Zeiss instruments are valued by nature lovers all over the world.
Leica was founded by German Ernst Leitz in 1869. The company specializes in the production of cameras and binoculars. Leica has always been a pioneer in the field of optical technology, the company has a long tradition and is synonymous with high quality. Leica binoculars are some of the best available on the market.
Swarovski Optik was founded by Wilhelm Swarovski in 1949 in Wattens / Austria. Swarovski binoculars are highly valued by nature lovers for bird watching, astronomy, or hunting because of their unique quality. Lots of experience experimenting with dozens of glass types, technological know-how, extremely precise manufacturing, and strictest quality control enables Swarowski technicians to build top instruments, in which almost all negative effects such as light refraction, reflections, and dispersion are eliminated.
So do I really need high-end binoculars?
So why purchase premium binoculars? If you buy the most expensive binoculars from a well-known manufacturer, you can be sure that you will get a high-quality instrument that will serve you well for many years.
You don’t run the risk that an improvement can be expected any time soon that makes you wanna buy a newer model, as is the case with mobile phones, for example.
Premium binoculars are tough and durable and often have a lifelong guarantee. They also lose little value so you can sell them again for a good price, should you decide to do so.