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on September 15, 2012
After years of suffering with dark, weak, wobbly binoculars (thank you, Magnacraft), I found myself needing two types: the best quality I could find (1) at any weight but under $250 for use within a drive of home (home binocs), and (2) under 10 oz, easy to travel with in tour groups, simple for impatient family members, and ideal for night concerts and day baseball games (travel binocs).

After studying reviews and comments thoroughly, I concluded there are brilliant experts commenting regularly on Amazon - much more insightful than the professional reviewers who focus on expensive, heavy devices purchased by others of their ilk. From my fellow consumers' insights, I purchased 11 binoculars with at least 70% five-star ratings that fit my general specifications for home or travel.

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS. After exhaustive examination - reading a DVD box at 46 feet, finding individual cattle from a moving minivan, and watching stars and planets in my backyard - I concluded the essential attributes for binoculars across categories are:

(A) Plenty of Light brought to your eye. Light is determined by the diameter of the light-gathering lens divided by the magnification. In other words, an 8x42 pair has a ratio of 5.25 and produces LOTS of light, while a 10x21 pair has a ratio of 2.1 and always appear dark. Conclusion: About 3.0 is adequate and the best available for compact binoculars.

(B) Good Stability of View. View stability depends on (i) the degrees of field of vision (can you find what you are looking for), (ii) the depth of visibility (do you have to refocus for every few feet of depth), and (iii) wobble (which is itself determined by (i) and (ii)). Conclusion: field of vision is rarely as broad as advertised, depth of visibility depends on the lens quality and you just have to check it out, and any binoc with a magnification of 10 or higher proved to have poor stability of view without a tripod, at least for me. There is a big difference between 8x and 10x, particularly below a 42 lens diameter.

SPECIFIC CONCLUSIONS. (Home Binoculars) The best Home Binoc was the Nikon Monarch ATM 8x42, and it outperformed all other 10 by a wide margin. I could read a DVD box at 46 feet, keep a broad and stable view to find the cow with three white spots while bouncing in a minivan, and find and watch Mars. At 24 oz, it's too big for constant lugging, but oh what a treat. At $230, it was comparable in price to the Vixen 14502 Foresta 8x42 and the Bushnell Ultra HD 8x42, but it performed noticeably better, particularly on view stability. Several cheaper, heavy models under $100 had cloudy lens.

(Travel Binoculars) The Pentax 8x25 UCF XII and the Olympus 8x25 PCI were best in class, although the Pentax had less wobble, more clarity while the Olympus provided more light and more accurate color tones, but a smaller field of vision. (Forget finding the cow, but if you found it, you could count its ear hairs at dusk). Both were 10 oz, and about $65; the Pentax, which gets slightly better overall reviews, is larger but felt better in my hand. Small hands, viewing at dusk, standing still = Olympus. Larger hands, viewing in daylight, on a bus = Pentax. Lastly, the itty bitty Olympus 7x21 PC III at 7 oz in metallic blue is adorable and $24 (refurbished), with fantastic clarity and ease of use, but a very narrow field of vision, despite its 7.5% claim.

So what did we do? I decided to travel with the heavy Nikon Monarch, but kept the Pentax 8x25 in reserve. Different members of my family preferred the Pentax 8x25, the Olympus 8x25, and the Olympus 7x21, each predictably on the basis of the decision maker's age, size, and goals. None showed any interest in the other six binocs.

As a final note, Beware of imperfection and non-Amazon sellers. Two of the 11 binocs arrived with lens imperfections. The heavy Bushnell Falcon (7x36) at $30 had a cloudy lens, and Amazon accepted the return promptly. The lightweight but expensive Nikon Travelite 10x25, already with little light and a small field of vision, had a defective lens, making it darker. The vendor wanted me to pay shipping in both directions plus a restocking fee to return the defective item.

Good luck with your decision. I hope my odyssey was helpful to you.
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on May 22, 2010
Despite a mistake on my end, I'm very satisfied with these binoculars. I actually ordered the wrong item. I remember looking at both the 8x25 and the 10x25 of the Pentax UCF-X II binoculars, and for the reasons I need binoculars I knew that the 10x25 was going to be what I needed. I live on the top of a hill overlooking Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County, and on a clear day my visibility is 25 miles. I wanted a pair of compact / portable binoculars that could magnify both up close and very distant. I just purchased the wrong one and didn't carefully check my shopping cart. I was going to instantly return them, but I decided to try them out first. They do the job fine, and i'm not sure all the extra hassle of returning them would have been worth it, and i'm very satisfied with the performance of the 8x25.

Some other thoughts.

When they arrived I was shocked by how small and compact they were, and at first I was worried because, how was something so small going to produce a big image? But they have a great image quality, very sharp, easy to focus, and reactive. Most binoculars i've use cannot adjust quickly and it's hard to find your target, especially if it's moving. Great for bird watching, especially humming birds up close. I'll also add that I wear perscription glasses and was worried I wouldn't be able to see well without my glasses on. But I never use my glasses when using these, I can see a very sharp focused image without using my glasses.

I really trust Japanese products. The packaging is always superior and they make the extra effort to make good presentation. Everything came wrapped up in individiual plastic wrap, and even though there is a high quality case that comes with it, they still took the care to wrap the binoculars in a plastic bag. The feel of the rubber coating is high quality and grips well. Very solid construction and the work of a perfectionist. Same type of quality I've come to expect from Japanese electronics and automobiles.

I like how portable they are. I can take them anywhere. I go to about 10 baseball games a year, and they are excellent for baseball games. Totally changed the way I enjoy a game. For that reason alone, I recommend these for any sports fan. I was able to find Rhianna in the stands at a Dodgers game (she's dating Matt Kemp - center fielder). These would also be good for hunting, especially at dawn or dusk. They work very well in low light.

Another big reason I use them is for viewing the panoramic landscape from my hilltop home. I have a 180 degree view where I can overlook Disney World in Orange County (12 miles) and see the fireworks display every night. I can look at Long Beach Airport and watch planes (at a range of 1-3 miles), I can see the Hollywood sign (about 17 miles), I can see the buildings in downtown Los Angeles (14 miles).

The only issue i've had with them is I notice the light being refracted when it is sunny, and it changes the color and brightness of the image every few seconds. I'm not sure if this is because of the way the prisms work. I read that some prisms have different coatings for light to automatically compensate for the varied degrees of brightness. But adjusting the focus slightly takes care of the issue. Not a deal breaker, just a slight observation.

buy em.
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VINE VOICEon October 15, 2010
Very nice compact binoculars. They are very lightweight and relatively small. The image is very sharp. I compared them against a number of other binoculars and these are probably the best among those with street price of less than two hundred. They are in the same class as the Nikon Travelite series, but the Pentax warranty is better, and arguably these binoculars are optically a bit better. These binoculars are ideal for tourism, travel, watching wildlife or air shows.

This model also comes in an identically looking WP (waterproof) version which is slightly more expensive. In my own comparison, and others' opinions, this version is optically a tiny bit sharper than the WP version. It was a hard decision to give up waterproofing, but I decided to go with better image quality. The difference was not major, so you may want to buy the WP model instead, especially if you are going to be on boats or in humid climates.

Pentax also makes similar models with higher magnification, 10x25 or even higher. They have a narrower field of view and are harder to hold steady (especially since they are so light), so you are probably better off staying with 8x25 on this one. 8x25 makes it easier to scan the landscape and find what you are looking for during the day.

Could these binoculars be better? Sure, they could have even sharper optics (you normally pay hundreds more to get to the next level), be smaller (these won't fit my shirt pocket), waterproof, and have a wider neck strap. However, for the price these are amazing, and definitely head-and-shoulders above the cheap no-name binoculars you find at discount stores and most sports stores. In other words, if you need a good pair, this model is a great place to start - anything less would be a visible compromise :)

Highly recommended.
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on July 7, 2011
This is a little jewel. I am sure you can get slightly better quality if you pay exorbitant amounts of money, but in its price range, I don't see how you can beat it. The optics are excellent and the mechanical feel of it is superb also. If you pay ten to forty times as much, you might get better quality under certain circumstances (darker settings, wet weather, etc...) but that would be a waste of money as far as I am concerned. Did you know you could focus as close as about six feet away?
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on May 19, 2008
These are perfectly adequate for sporting and theater type events. Very lightweight, which makes it easy to wear them around the neck for lengthy periods. I lost an eyepiece the second day I used them and Pentax was kind enough to send me a free replacement.
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on July 15, 2006
Was very pleased with the cost and quality of the Pentax UCF-X II 8x25 binoculars. They are compact, light weight, easy to operate and give a good image. Good to use at concerts and on trips where weight and size are important. Good value for the money.
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on January 9, 2015
These binoculars are great! They are lightweight, the image is bright, sharp and contrasty. I've compared them to some older Bushnell 10x50 binoculars and the image was much more pleasant with Pentax 62211. The image with the Pentax was much clearer and they were a lot easier to focus.

They are very easy to use. Focus is fast and accurate. The lens width is easy to adjust. I've used them with and without glasses with no issues or adjustments. The image is very stable.

I've used these for birding but they would be great for theater and sporting events also.

No complaints about these binoculars!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 20, 2014
These are excellent binoculars. My wife wanted a set of binoculars for when we went on walks with the dog. We often see birds and wildlife and really wanted a closer view to appreciate nature up close. We didnt want something too bulky, and wow these were alot smaller than I expected. When I saw how small these were my first thought was these must be terrible. I was immediately proved wrong. The binoculars are easy to steady, have a clear picture and do reasonable well in poor light conditions and overcast days. The picture is phenomenal and it is exactly what we were looking for. You can use the included strap to hang around your neck or you can loop onto your belt to keep the binoculars on your hip.
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on October 20, 2014
As a new bird watcher, I found these binoculars to work very well but have no experience to draw upon to truly critique them. It's great to see birds close up and I enjoyed discovering new birds that I haven't seen before.
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on July 12, 2013
I bought this pair of binocs for a trip to South Africa--I had no idea how often I would use them and they were well worth the purchase! I really researched for a good pair that would be easy to focus, take up minimal room in my bag, and work well in all conditions. I really went back and forth between these and the Nikon Travelites.
The thing I liked best about them was that they focused very well and I was able to use them even in low-light. My mother-in-law had a pair of Bushnells that were comparable in price, but were not even half as good as these! I really liked that they were compact enough to fit in my backpack and durable enough that I didn't worry about them breaking. They came with a neck strap and small leather pouch for storage, which was a bonus.
The only thing I didn't like was that they did fog up a bit in the cold early mornings. I thought that this was the case with most binoculars and lenses, but my husband had a cheaper pair that he picked up at a sports store, and his did not fog up. Not a deal-breaker, but something to consider.
Overall, I highly recommend these!
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