Meet Steiner Optics
Posted on August 13 2020
Redstart owner Wendy Clark discovered something interesting about Steiner Optics binoculars for bird watching during a recent encounter with a local business owner.
If you’ve been a bird watcher for more than a few decades, or if you have close ties to the military or hunting markets, you have probably heard the name Steiner Optics. Steiner Optics began in post-war Germany in the 1940s and has been going strong ever since. In the US, its primary market has been the US military, having created a binocular that was designed to withstand challenging combat and weather conditions. But what you may not know is that Steiner has recently created two new binocular models for birders and outdoor adventurers that are surprisingly adept and affordable. Redstart Birding is proud to announce that we are the first birding optics retailer offering the Steiner HX and the Steiner Peregrine to the US birding market! Rather than explaining in technical terms how the Steiner HX and Peregrine binoculars compare to other brands, I’d like to tell you a story.
A few weeks ago, fully armed with mask and hand sanitizer, I visited one of my favorite local Marietta businesses. This family-owned retail store sells beautiful custom leather products. It started in Marietta in the 1800s, and people travel hundreds of miles to experience the smell of new leather, to enjoy the original wood floors, vintage countertops, and brick interior walls in Marietta’s market district. Loyal customers have shopped here for more than 100 years for unique leather boots, belts, handbags, and boutique clothing with a western flair. As a local small business owner, I try to shop local as much as possible, especially during these challenging economic times.
The owner is a friend of mine and is quite familiar with Bird Watcher’s Digest. He is an avid hunter and uses only top-tier optics—all of the same brands we carry at Redstart Birding. We always seem to end up talking optics when I stop by. On this particular day, he asked me about purchasing a new binocular for his partner, who had an upcoming birthday. I offered to come by the store the following week and scheduled an appointment with Steve and Linda, promising to bring an array of binocular choices of various prices, brands, and sizes for her to try. (In-person binocular sales allows people to try before they buy—an option that’s a bit more difficult for both retailers and consumers in the era of COVID-19.)
Testing Optics for Bird Watching
I put together a rather eclectic set of birding optics for them to test. I was also looking at this as a blind-test opportunity. Linda had no prejudice regarding binoculars, although she had used her partner’s high-end binoculars frequently in the past. Although she knew how to operate a focus wheel and diopter, Linda had no preconceived notions about brands, sizes, or what she was looking for. As an optics retailer, this was a golden opportunity to learn what an unbiased, well-educated person wanted in a quality binocular.
I set 15 binoculars on a large table and arranged them according to size. I had brought the most popular sizes for her to try (8x32, 8.5x32, 8x42, 10x32, and 10x42) and had selected the top binocular models from our three top-tier birding brands along with four mid-tier brands, plus a few entry-level binoculars as well. Why not try a little of everything?
Linda and Steve tested each binocular, stepping outside to get a more realistic view. Steve did not give Linda any advice, nor did he share his personal opinion. He knew that I was letting her make her own decision while answering questions to help her narrow the field. They carefully began to eliminate the bins that were not optimal for Linda, and they had cut the playing field in half in about 30 minutes. With the field narrowed, the detailed comparisons began. Interestingly, these seven bins included all three top brands, three mid-priced binoculars, and one entry-level binocular. This diverse selection heightened my interest even more.
The binoculars that felt less agile, were less comfortable in her hands, and had a stiff focus wheel were cut from the contenders. The final group was reduced to three and included one top-tier, one mid-tier, and one entry-level. I was fascinated. Their top-tier choice was what I might have predicted, but the other two were completely surprising to me. Since price was not a consideration for them, I was thrilled that the final selection included a variety of brands and prices. Still, I didn’t say a word other than to answer questions and explain features. Linda tried these final three binoculars over and over again as she thoughtfully made her final decision.
Finding the Best Binocular for Birding
To my great surprise, Linda’s favorite binocular, and her final pick from Redstart’s top-selling brands in each price category, was the Steiner HX 8x42, which retails for $819.99.
I had added the Steiner HX to the demo-bino bag at the last minute because it was in my car. I had been using that binocular, along with the Steiner Peregrine, for more than a month as I prepared to write an article introducing Steiner Optics. In fact, I had spent 10 hours using them the previous weekend as I birded in Columbus, Ohio, in a variety of habitats and conditions. When I had initially tried them, I felt strongly that they would be competitive in performance and price, but I had wanted a chance to spend enough time with them to speak from a firsthand perspective before discussing it with the birding world. After a few weeks of use, I determined that I really liked using both the HX and Peregrine, although for different reasons. Linda’s reasons for choosing the Steiner HX fully supported my own conclusions.
Here is why Linda chose this binocular above all others: She liked the way it felt in her hands. It flowed comfortably as she adjusted her view from close to more distant targets. She loved the brightness, the sturdiness, and the rubber armoring. It felt substantive, which appealed to her because she didn’t want to have to treat these bins carefully. She planned to use them in her everyday life as well as during travel. She wanted a binocular that felt good and could withstand frequent, everyday use.
More Reasons to Choose Steiner Optics Binoculars
I could tell you about Steiner’s rich history as it has developed its products over the years, and why the military and hunting market chose Steiner long before they had a strong product for bird watchers. I could go on and on about the company’s excellent warranty, its US-based customer service and repair center, and its commitment to customer satisfaction. As a retailer, I could even tell you why Steiner has been a wonderful company to work with thus far, and why I think there are great things in store for Steiner Optics and for the birders who purchase its products.
But instead, I think Linda’s story speaks for itself.
If you’re looking for a mid-priced, high-quality, durable binocular, look no further. There’s a new kid in Birding Town, and in my opinion (and Linda’s), you really might want to give this new Steiner kid a try.
Do you have questions about Steiner Optics? Feel free to contact us at 833-262-1568 or email email@example.com. We'll be happy to help!