Magazine Article


Seeing Through to the Sale
Digital Binoculars won't have clients seeing double


Like many of the new models out there, the large screen allows more than one person to view the subject at the same time and see the pictures taken. It's like a powerful telephoto lens. The 5-megapixel camera is multicompatible-with five different bayonet fittings available for high-quality scopes from Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski, and Kowa, as well as the Minox MD 62 series. When using the MD 62 spotting scope with a focal length of 440mm, the magnification is 40x. There's a remote control for zoom, shutter release, change between image and video, and video operation.

KEVIN WEBER, Canon's marketing specialist, says image stabilization (IS) is the prime focus of its binocular products, including the new L series (10x42 L). With a 4.2mm exit pupil, it delivers a bright image, edge-to-edge sharpness, and no chromatic aberration. With IS, "the higher you go up in magnification, the more binocular shake is evident. To counteract this, we have image-stabilizer technology that uses a varied angle prism to correct binocular shake." The sensors can detect the amount of shake and adjust the prism accordingly, directing the path of light to the user's eye.

At Swarovski Optik North America, employees are focusing on engineering precision and tight tolerances [for its binocular products]. "This," says spokesman ROB LANCELLOTTI, "ensures that the customer not only gets the ultimate in optical performance, but longevity for years of trouble-free, rugged use."

Although Swarovski-popularized by Hollywood divas who prefer its crystal-encrusted products-may not be the first name to come to mind when you think of binoculars, they are actually a top choice of many pros. And the most important feature for the pros is not the trademark multicolored crystals but function.

"The ergonomics of our optical products are second to none," says Lancellotti. "This is key because the heaviness was a major drawback for pros in years past. The way a binocular feels in your hand, when [it is] brought to the eyes, is very important. Whether a casual user or professional, extended periods of glassing will not cause fatigue, either."

An added extra: the company initiates and supports numerous biodiversity and nature protection projects worldwide. "This ingrained philosophy of love for nature also explains our close bond with our discerning customer base," notes Lancellotti, who adds that retailers must be able to justify the value of purchasing high-end optics and the accessories that help broaden their use. He's in good company, as manufacturers and retailers must be technically educated and in tune with what the client wants-whether for nature photography, hunting, bird-watching, etc.-to get the binoculars into the hand of customers.

Identify your customer, notes Olympus' Hluchyj: "If your retail location is in the mountains of Montana or Colorado, you may want to stock a good selection of wide-field binoculars that work well in both bright and low light for tracking wildlife, for sportsmen." Or if a retailer is near a waterway clogged with boaters, he suggests weatherproof binoculars. For city slickers and sports junkies: compact binoculars would do the trick.

Knowing who your clientele is-based on geography-isn't the full story. Leica's Moore elaborates: "When retailers are selling varied items, it can come down to [the store's] selection and product knowledge. [But don't make] decisions for your customers as to how much they might be willing to spend. Consumers who understand performance also understand that ‘the best' never comes cheap."

Educating the retailer is important, says Moncrief, who suggests taking advantage of training opportunities offered by many optics manufacturers. Still, binoculars are an item that a customer really needs to look through to evaluate-and here lies a specialty retailer's major leg up on big-box competition.

"Many retail settings are not designed with optics-viewing in mind, so it's helpful to take serious customers outside, preferably in low-light conditions, to let them look through and handle the binoculars," he says. "A retailer's ability and willingness to make this extra effort will often close a sale."