The Kowa Company has been around since 1894 and has in that time grown into becoming the 5th largest trading company in Japan. Now a multi-national company, Kowa have a presence in the world's three largest markets, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The Electronics and Optics division of Kowa began producing quality spotting scopes in 1952 where they were designed to be used in shooting events and were the official spotting scope used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
It was not long after this that they were discovered by bird watchers and became very popular throughout the world. With this success Kowa took much of this technology and applied it to other forms of optics including binoculars. Kowa binoculars are now some of the finest produced anywhere in the world.
As well as the Electronics & Optics Division Kowa have a Pharmaceutical Division, Textile Division and the Non-Textile (General Merchandise) Division.
Kowa established itself amongst birders and nature lovers with their excellent line of Kowa TSN spotting scopes which are very highly regarded, this then spurred them onto producing very high quality binoculars most of which are aimed at birders and nature viewers.
Kowa Prominar Binoculars
You will often see the Prominar brand name used with high end Kowa Binoculars and their spotting scopes, this is because on some models, including the Popular Genesis binoculars, Kowa use the very high spec XD Lenses from Prominar.
Due to copy write reasons the Kowa Genesis binoculars were called XD binoculars in Europe, this I think has now been sorted, but you will still often see it referred to the XD series in Europe.
Roof Prism Binoculars, designed to take on the high end of the market, competing with brands like Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski and Nikon the Genesis range of binoculars come in two different objective lens sizes, each with two different magnifications.
Kowa Genesis XD44 Binoculars
The specifications of the Prominar Genesis XD44 binoculars are impressive: Produced in Japan, the binoculars have an objective with 4 lens-elements (two of them made of Prominar XD lenses, made from extra low dispersion glass), a 5 lens-element ocular, and the Schmidt-Pechan prism system contains a dielectric reflective surface with C3 Coating and 99% reflectivity. A close focus of 1.7m is specified, and there exists a filter thread at the objective end which takes standard 46mm photo filters. The entire construction is embedded into a magnesium alloy frame, is fully water proof and nitrogen filled. If there has been one slight criticism, then it is the weight.
Kowa Genesis XD33 Binoculars
The newer Genesis XD33 Series was developed in a response to customer feedback where many felt that whilst the Genesis XD44 Binoculars were fantastic, they were too heavy for some people. These are far lighter than the XD44's, but maintain the quality Prominar XD lenses, Schmidt-Pechan prism system with Kowa's own C3 Coating, for a brighter sharper image. They have reduced the magnifications slightly to a more conventional 8x and 10x and thus have increased the fields of view, making them ideal birdwatching binoculars.
Download Kowa Genesis Catalogs:
These are the highest spec binoculars that compete with the very best at every level. But in terms of price not only do they compete but most often beat all other binoculars in their class, making them some of the best value for money top of the range binoculars on the market. Depending on the model, they range in price from about $1100 - $1500 / £900 - £1200
Even though the BD Series is Kowa's second string, placed just behind the Genesis models, it could easily make up the flagship series of many other optical brands. This is because unlike many other binocular manufacturers, Kowa don't make a huge selection in regards to quality and price, rather they have decided to stay true to their ideals by focusing at the top end of the market with only two main ranges, the Genesis and the BD series of binoculars.
The biggest differences between the Genesis and BD is in the styling, and the absence of Kowa's Prominar XD lenses that contain extra low dispersion glass in the BD series. The full size Genesis models also have larger 44m objective lenses compared to the more standard 42mm ones found on in the BD Series.
The BD42 Series binoculars from Kowa come in 8x or 10x magnifications which they describe as "an ideal companion for bird watching or any other outdoor activity that requires a bright image and a wide field of view."
Download Kowa BD Catalogs:
These are high quality optics at what I believe to be a price level that makes them very good value for money. Depending on the model, they range in price from about $500 - $600 / £500 - £560
Kowa packed important and desirable features that optics users demand into the SV binocular, yet kept the price affordable. Fully multi-coated lenses with highly reflective coatings on the phase corrected roof prisms provides you with bright views and enhanced resolution and color contrast. Twist-up eye cups, rubber armoring, waterproofing, and fogproofing make the Kowa SV a comfortable and reliable choice for lots of activities. Kowa provides a limited lifetime warranty for this binocular.
Kowa SV Promotional Video
One of the most popular ranges of Kowa Binoculars are their ultra compact BD 25 Binoculars that come in two configurations: 8x25 and 10x25
Becuse of their compact size, combined with quality optics, they are very versitile and can be used for numerous applications, including sporting events, hiking, traveling, and bird watching.. but also with a close focus of only 6 feet (1.8m) they are also ideal for close observation of things like plants and insects.
All lenses and prisms are within the binoculars are fully multicoated and the prism is phase-coated producing images that are sharp and have excellent contrast. Fully waterproof and filled with nitrogen gas, they also come with twist up eyecups that have good eye relief for comfortable viewing.
Download Kowa BD Catalogs:
Depending on the model, they range in price from about $250 - $280 / £260 - £300
The main feature of Kowa's value for money mid-sized porro-prism YF binoculars are that they come with a exceptionally wide field of view: The 6x30 model has a FOV of 420 feet at 1000 yards and the 8x30 model has a FOV of 393 feet at 1000 yards.
Both YF Series binoculars also come with fully multi-coated lenses enclosed in a lightweight (under 500g/17.6oz) and fairly compact waterproof and fogproof housing.
Below are a few featured Kowa Binoculars that I have reviewed: View >> All Kowa Binoculars reviewed
View >> All Kowa Binoculars reviewed on The Best Binoculars & Reviews website.
It is probably true to say that spotting Scopes are what put Kowa on the map in terms of world wide recognition. Kowa began producing quality spotting scopes in 1952 where they were designed to be used in shooting events and were the official spotting scope used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Soon after that they were discovered by bird watchers and became very popular. To this day Kowa produce some of the finest spotting scopes in the world.
The Kowa Spotting Scope Range:
Kowa produce many adapters that you can use to attach your camera to one of their scopes, but a new innovation is an adapter that enables you to quickly and easily attach your iPhone to the eye-piece on a pair of binoculars or spotting scope and take photos or video footage.
For more take a look at my guide to the Kowa iPhone 4 Digiscoping & Digibinning Bracket
Kowa's roof prism binoculars, that include the Genesis, High Lander and BD series of binoculars use the Schmidt-Pechan prism. One surface of the Pechan prism does not provide total reflection, so Kowa have applied a highly reflective multi-coating called C3 coating.
This lens coating allows for a higher reflectivity than with silver or optically enhanced aluminum, offering a reflectance of 99% or higher across the entire visible spectrum (400 to 700 nm). This gives bright and sharp images and also more accurate color reproduction.
On top of this the roof prism of the Schmidt prism is phase coated to prevent the loss of contrast and image resolution.
Electronics & Optics Division
4-14 Nihonbashi-honcho 3-chome,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8433, Japan
Kowa Optimed. Inc
20001 South Vermont Ave.
Torrance, CA 90502
Tel: 310-327-1913 / Fax: 310-327-4177
Kowa Europe GmbH
40210 Duesseldorf, F.R. Germany