Customer Reviews: Pentax PTX62216 8.5 X 21 mm Papilio Binoculars (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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on August 20, 2005
These binocs are perfect for anybody who is interested in all creatures, not just birds. We used them at the Everglades and were equally pleased with the views of birds, alligators, crabs, insects, etc. They have gotten me interested in butterflying, and for this purpose they are superb. I expect that in time, you will see rave reviews on butterfly websites. Being able to focus to 20 inches or so allows me to watch insects & spiders with as much detail as if my eye were just a couple inches from the object (if the naked eye could focus that close). The view is gorgeous. At close range, it is somewhat like looking through a dissecting microscope. Amazingly, the quality of the image is very good (for both near & far objects). I tried some truly bad binoculars ($100 cheapies, zoom binocs, etc.) while shopping around and the Papilio is definitely at a much higher level of quality. To me, the quality is not noticeably different from that of the $350 birding binoculars (8x32, etc.) that I have tried. Perhaps a trained eye could find a difference, but I don't notice any. A potential concern with close-focusing binocs might be eyestrain, but the Papilio is very easy on the eyes even at close range. I have been using these binocs intensively for three weeks, and I am still delighted with them. I was also concerned about the small (21 mm) objectives, but I have not found the image to be noticeably dark.

Basically, these binocs are a real treat to own and well worth the price. I hope that Pentax (and hopefully other companies) continue this line of product development. If an image-stabilized version of the 8.5x21 came out for $400, I think I would buy it and just keep the other pair around as a spare. Hand-shake is not especially an issue with these binocs (compared to any pair with 8-9 power), but with the gorgeous views you will want to really run your eyes over all the details in the image, so a stabilizer seems like the next step. Fortunately, there is a tripod hole. Actually, you could use these for doing fine crafts, but only if you are least 5'10" or so (i.e. with long enough arms), and even then it would be awkward for long periods. Hopefully they will come out with a model that focuses to a few inches; that would probably require a longer barrel so it would be less portable. It would also be nice to increase the field of view if possible; it is pretty hard to follow a flying insect with these. If you specialize in birding, you may object to the field of view and the smallish objectives.

Anyway, for general nature study, the only real complaint I can make about the Papilio is that, because of the special mechanism that slides the objectives closer together for close-focus, there is a protective sheet of glass right near the end to keep grit out of the mechanism. I am concerned about getting fingerprints on it or hitting it on something. The glass doesn't look very thick so I assume it's more breakable than objective lenses would be. The case is OK, but it is too much trouble to keep pulling them out every time a bird or butterfly shows up. Anyway, at this price, I wouldn't feel too bad just buying a new pair every few years if I should break this pair. In fact, at only around $150, they're cheap enough that you might want to order one even if you haven't had a chance to try one out in a store. Since close-focusing is the special feature, I recommend the 8.5 x 21 to get the big views of insects that you want. I haven't tried the 6.5 x 21 but I imagine it has a bigger field of view and is better for hand-shake.
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on September 5, 2009
This binocular is a wonderful instrument! Its close-focusing ability is nothing short of astonishing.
Carrying one of these in the field is like having a long-distance dissecting microscope in your pocket.
I purchased mine prior to a hike to Paradise Park on Mt Hood in Oregon, and I could not be more pleased with its performance.
For example, an unusual-looking fly alit on a wildflower in the meadow, and I was able to observe both in great detail.
The anatomy of the fly was quite clear -- its palps, its eyes, the veins of its wings, even the hairs on its body -- all were crisply presented.
Similarly, every structure of the flower was revealed -- a better view, in fact, than I might obtain with a magnifying glass in close proximity.
It was also easy to get a good image of distant objects; for example, to observe features on the mountain, or to identify birds in the trees at a range of roughly 50 meters.
For distance viewing it is certainly no match for a full-sized binocular, in part because the small separation of the objectives cannot support the enhancement of depth that a large binocular offers.
On the subject of size, this instrument is surprisingly small. With the eyecups turned down and the eyepieces at maximum separation, it measures 4.25" wide by 4.5" deep by 2.25" thick.
With the eyecups fully extended and the eyepieces at minimum separation, these figures become 3.5" x 4.75" x 2.65" respectively.
The included eyepiece cover and case fit the binocular best with the eyepieces at full separation.
The eyecups are rigid (not roll-down) and rotate as they extend, with click-stops at zero-, half- and full-extension.
The instrument alone masses 296 grams (~10.5 oz); with the strap, eyepiece cover and case included, this increases to 371 grams (~13.1 oz).
I found the binocular to be very comfortable to carry "bandolier-style" under my right arm, all day long.
There is no cover for the objectives, which are in fact located behind a flat pane of optically coated glass.
The front of the housing sports a "rubber" hood that serves to shield (but not cover) this glass plate.
The eyepiece cover, strap and case are ordinary, but seem adequate and of good quality. Both the instrument and the case carry the now-ubiquitous "Made in China" label.
The eyepiece cover is of black plastic (PE 2) and resembles a pince-nez. In its "relaxed" state it fits the eyepieces at full separation, but its C-bridge is flexible so it can be used with the eyepieces in any position.
The strap is of black nylon webbing, 0.75" wide where it rests on one's neck, but unpadded.
The case is of black vinyl with a soft lining and a Velcro closure, but, like the strap, it is unpadded.
There is a belt loop (sadly, not a hook) permanently attached to the back of the case. This should fit a belt up to 2.25" wide.
I cannot detect any odor from the case, eyepiece cover or strap. I do note a faint, rubber-like odor from the hood on the front of the instrument itself.
There is a provision to mount the eyepiece cover on the strap, so I plan to leave the case behind next time I take to the field.
The mounting system for the strap is excellent -- secure, yet quickly and easily removed. The mounting points on the strap pivot freely in the mounts. The strap carries the instrument eyepieces-up.
The tripod hole in the bottom of the body is located near the objective end, on the center viewing axis.
The Owner's Manual recommends using the "optional Pentax Tripod Adapter", but I encountered no difficulty in mounting the binocular directly on an ordinary tripod.
The rubber-like "armor" provides a secure grip. The knurled central focusing wheel moves smoothly. Three turns of the wheel span its full range of focal adjustment. There are no marks on the focusing wheel.
The knurled diopter adjustment (on the right eyepiece) has 40 click-stops spanning its full mechanical range. I cannot report its optical range, which is not specified in the Owner's Manual.
Zero is marked on the diopter ring. I wear contact lenses, and the zero-correction setting works well for me.
At 8.5 power, the exit pupil is small (2.47 mm) but I had no difficulty getting a unified stereoscopic image.
The range of separation of the eyepieces accommodates an interpupillary distance of approximately 2.25" to 3".
Others have mentioned troublesome sun-flash under certain conditions -- while I didn't specifically test for this, I encountered no such fault on a sunny day at altitude.
I could do without the inset purple "Papilio 8.5x21" logo, but at least the even-less-welcome butterfly-hologram sticker was easily removed and left no mark.
Still, my overall impression of the instrument is one of high quality. I certainly feel that it offers excellent value for the money.
The Pentax warranty states, "... Pentax will repair or replace it to the original owner at our option (even if damaged by fault) for a charge of $19.95 ..." which sounds pretty good to me!
All things considered, I am very pleased with this little jewel -- especially considering the price. The near-field focusing ability of the Papilio line is, to the best of my limited knowledge, unique.
If you need a close-focusing, compact binocular, your only real choice is whether you prefer the Papilio in 8.5 power or in 6.5 power.
While my experience is solely with the 8.5 power model, surely the 6.5 power version is otherwise identical. I would not hesitate to recommend either.
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on September 6, 2007
I needed a light weight small size binocular for bird and concert viewing and these worked for me. I was also amazed to be able to see tiny insects on flowers that were not really visible without using the binoculars. I read many reviews on Amazon before purchasing these and am very happy with my purchase.
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on September 10, 2007
I'm almost 70 and like to be outdoors curious about nature, etc. Its not always easy (or wise) to bend down to shoe-top higth to examine an interesting bug, snake or plant. These binoculars can focus on your own toe! My wife and I love them.
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on January 6, 2008
My husband asked for a pair of binoculars to watch the birds in the yard with for Christmas. I had no clue as to what to buy. I checked out the reviews on this product. I'll admit, I was a little concerned that they could do what they said. (I know the pair we have now claimed to do so much, but they really don't). So I ordered them and then waited for Christmas morning to see what my husband thought. He absolutely Loves them!! Seeing the birds clearly close up, as well as the deer and turkey at a distance is absolutely no problem for them. They are worth every penny. I highly recommend this product, if it for a gift, you can't find better...if for yourself, what a treat!!!
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on January 9, 2007
This is one of the most useful devices I have purchased for aiding my close-up photography. I use it to scan a close up scene and pick out objects or features that I want to photograph. It works exactly as advertized. This means that it can be used to view objects from much closer than is possible with conventional binoculars. Of course, it also doubles as the latter, too. Strongly recommended.
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on November 27, 2007
I considered purchasing these binoculars for quite a while because of its ability for close focusing. I researched the market and couldn't find anything else to match the close focusing functionality. I was very pleased when I began using them. It's a perfect match for a photographer who likes to do close ups, butterflies, flowers, etc. However, it also works very well as regular binoculars. Finally, when you consider the price, it's a no-brainer.
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I have been a rather passionate birder and student of nature since I was a small child. In 1962 I took our life savings and purchased a wonderful set of binoculars, Bushnell, 10x50 at a local pawn shop for ten dollars. (After all these years, I still hear my wife mumble under her breath such words as "selfish, self-centered pig" and the like, and can only assume she is still annoyed over the buying of those glasses). The old Bushnells were pretty beat up at the time but my goodness you should see them now! Yes, I have been using those same binoculars ever since. They have been and are my primary pair. I have owned and used a lot of high end optics over the years, but to be quite frank, they did absolutely nothing to improve my birding. Most are lost, stolen, broken, loaned out and never returned, or sold...but I still have my Bushnell.

Now these Pentax Papilio are an absolute marvel. They have opened up a complete new world to me.

I do quite a lot of macro-photography, with special emphasis on the cedar glades found here in the Ozarks. This is a unique environment; one which if studied properly, needs specialized equipment. This little set of binoculars fills my every need. You can focus down from a distance of two feet out and the effect, as described by another reviewer, is like looking through a dissecting microscope...I know of no other way of putting it. Setting on a flat rock in the middle of a glade using these things to spot good shots has been a pure joy...I have been missing so very much. The various lenses I use on the camera of course can do this, but having a small pair of binoculars is oh so much handier.

Much of my birding of recent years has been in either extremely heavy brush or from of my back porch, yard or garden, which is in reality, is located in the middle of a large woodland area. Trees and brush grow up to portions of our house as close as two or three feet. (This cuts down on the wretched mowing tremendously). Many of the birds I see and attempt to identified are within a few feet distance; both from the house and when I am in the field. The large binoculars I normally use simply will not focus that close. These binoculars being reviewed here do. I now use this new instrument as both primary and secondary optics in my birding. They are wonderful

As you can focus down as close as about 20 inches, they open up a world you cannot see with the naked eye. In addition to my birding I am also very much into butterflies and dragon flies, having been photographing them for years. This little set of binoculars is ideal for that use. Also, I am big time into lizard watching...something I take a lot of guff and sarcastic remarks for. But hey, lizards and other small critters are just as interesting as birds, butterflies or buffalo, for that matter. This little set of binoculars is absolutely ideal for butterfly watching and any other small critter you care to examine up close and personal.

This Papilio is quite easy to focus. At first, before using them, I feared that the field of vision would be a problem. It has not been. I also had some concerns as to working in low lighting situations. Again, these concerns were erased the first evening I used them. They, the binoculars draw in and use a surprisingly large amount of light.

These binoculars are quite light but at the same time have a very serviceable heft to them. The rubber coating is easy to grip and the focusing is an absolute snap. Those that have little experience using binoculars of any sort will at first find it a bit of a problem finding the object they are searching for, but experienced users will find no such difficultly and even the beginner will quickly improve with use.

And the big thing I cannot believe is the cost! I have tried several similar models that range anywhere from $400.00 up and to be quite honest; they were at best only equal to this Papilio, and quite often inferior. At this point in my life I am not all that interested in sinking a fortune into high end optics and finding these filled that non-need perfectly.

These come with a leatherette case which is nothing to get excited about but it is adequate. The carrying strap is of thin but since the binoculars are so small and light, it too is adequate. It is recommended that if a tripod is use, you use their model, but I tried these things on four of the tripods I own, all different styles and brands, and it fit perfectly on each. This item does carry a lifetime warranty - you pay a small amount for shipping and handling and they take care of the rest. On the other hand, at the cost these are selling for, even if they fall apart after a couple of years; something that seems quite unlikely as they appear to be and feel quite well made, I will simply buy another pair.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
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on November 3, 2006
As a new butterfly enthusiast I needed a pair of close focusing binocular. The Pentax Papilio provided a light weight, easy to focus, and comfortable to carry binocular. Since I began using them my ability to see details was greatly enhanced.
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on December 14, 2008
I decided on these binoculars because of the rave reviews they received. And to be fair, they are very good for closeup viewing, as they do focus at about 1.5 feet! So, I was very satified with that. However, if you are looking for an all-purpose viewing binocular, I would not recommend them. At a viewing distant of say, 15-20 feet and beyond the viewing becomes blurry and distorted. Back on the plus side, they are lightweight, and easy to use. Bottom line: 5 star rating for close-up viewing and maybe a 3-star rating for distance.
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