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Pentax SP 20x60 WP Binoculars (Black)
|Water Resistance Level||Waterproof|
About this item
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- Large objective lens elements provide maximum light gathering capabilities and are perfect for use in low light conditions
- Premium multi layer coatings assure the maximum light transmission through the binocular; The result is bright, crisp, true to life images in the widest range of viewing conditions
- Specialized protective coating repels dust, water and grease to keep your optics clean and your image quality at its peak (SD Models Only)
- Rigid body construction makes these binoculars extremely rugged to maintain optical alignment; This ensures comfortable viewing throughout the life of the product
- Waterproof and nitrogen filled (JIS Class 6) to handle the most extreme weather conditions (submersible to 1m)
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Superior quality full sized binoculars that are ideal for the widest range of lighting and weather conditions. Exceptional quality meets high-end expectations. Large objective lenses incorporated in the design allow for contrast-rich, bright viewing under all light conditions.
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The Zeiss is made in Germany and has ultra-low ED glass, complete with Loutec proprietary coatings. The Pentax is made in China (stated clearly on box) and features fully-coated but not ED glass. The optics of both binoculars are exceptional. The Zeiss is brighter (as a 15x vs. 20x is expected to be), and has improved accuracy of color. It is with no significant loss of focus in the periphery, and the view quality is stunning and memorable. (Note: I also own top-of-the-line Zeiss Victory FL binoculars and, although the price is more than the Conquest HD, I see no visible improvement of quality between those two Zeiss models). The Pentax, on the other hand, has a touch of taint to the coloration; I would call it slightly bland in color representation that seems distinct from the dimmer view. Nothing is as vivid in the Pentax as in the Zeiss. The peripheral FOV of the Pentax has slight fuzziness, only because I'm looking for it. I do not see grotesque chromatic aberration, but I'm not using these for astronomy so likely wouldn't notice it when watching bikinis on the beach.
The optics, overall, are superb in both binoculars, with the Zeiss winning certainly and absolutely...but is it worth seven times the price of the Pentax? This is hard to quantify, so I will instead mention roles. If you are using the binoculars to view batters from the "cheap seats" in the outfield, if you are watching boats come in at the ocean shore on a bright afternoon, if you are doing surveillance of your fiancees house from your truck to be sure she is not cheating, then there is no way that the price difference is of value to you. On the other hand, if you are tracking the tail plumage of migratory waterfowl, if you are hunting elk across a canyon at twilight, if you are trying to show your birder friends that you have hit the lottery, then yes, the price difference is right and just for you.
Magnification: I debated the Pentax as I already owned the Zeiss. Would the magnification be different enough from 15x to 20x to be worth the purchase. The answer is astoundingly yes. It's likely a factor of FOV, but I can honestly say that the mag difference is more than one would expect between the two. And magnification is hard to beat with better optics otherwise. What do I mean? Better coloration, less fringing, less chromatic aberration, sure it's all good. But if I'm looking at a pitcher from the bleachers to see how he's palming his throw, does any of that matter? No. What matters is magnification, and the Pentax has it. Magnification trumps all the rest of the hokey-pokey when you are seriously trying to look at a focal point at a distance away. And this is how the Pentax will fit into my uses.
I should mention that the case of the Pentax is so-so; it's thin and provides not much padding if you re going to be bumping these optics around a boat or in the woods, so you might want to upgrade that. The individual objective covers fit nicely and stay in place, but are not attached by rubber hinges like modern "drop down" covers. Everyone mentions, and rightly so, that the eyepiece covers are loose. They sure are. They literally fall off. BUT, if you are planning to use these indoors to look at birds at your backyard feeder, for example, this is an advantage. Why? The binoculars are large enough to stand on their objective end down on a table without the objective lens caps in place (the table will keep the objectives dust free), and one can just place the eyepiece cover atop the eye lenses easily. Then, one quick swipe and the eyepiece cover is off (as opposed to struggling to get them off at each use, particularly with binocs that have individual eyepiece covers) and you lift the binocs to view in all of two seconds. Winner!
I must mention hand-holding these "big eye" binoculars. Everyone seems to emphasize the necessity of a tripod (in fact, the Zeiss model comes with a tripod adapter; the Pentax does not). I agree that for long duration viewing (watching a bird's nest, the SpaceX launch pad, a stationary window from your across street neighbors that never pull the bedroom blinds), sure, grab that tripod. But, both of these binoculars are perfectly useable by hand holding. I'm no maharishi that can hold my breath and lower my pulse to be able to use these binoculars without moving; conversely, I'm a constant talker, and often while chewing gum! I can see just fine for one or two minutes at a time with these binoculars. If I'm at a baseball game, rest one elbow on the chair arm or my knee, no problem. The bottom line is that in real world situations, there's almost always a support. Elbows on a picnic table, shoulder against a tree trunk, knees up when sitting with back against a boulder. All it takes is a touch of support, and these binoculars are plenty useable for many minutes of constant "glassing". In fact, a binocular harness, properly adjusted, can add stability from tension on the straps themselves. Of course, many times, one can simply place their backpack on a rock or stump and rest the binoculars atop it and not use any hands at all for a makeshift tripod. Bottom line is, I would have no compunctions about bringing this Pentax to a ballgame to watch from the cheap seats by hand-holding exclusively.
All in all, great binoculars. Worth more than the sales price as there are so few options in a portable 20x magnification binocular. The astronomical 20x80mm binoculars are simply too large to carry to the ballpark without a wheelbarrow, and the need for such large light-sucking objectives is limited to viewing dark things in dark night. For the rest of us, these 60mm objectives work well and travel well (three pounds as opposed to most 8x32 or 10x32 binoculars at 1.5 pounds, is it really that much difference; we're not through-hiking the Appalachian trail here, we are walking out to the cheap seats from the parking lot, is all). Super pleased with them, super happy that I bought them despite owning the Zeiss 15x56mm prior to this purchase. Particularly if you already own 8x and/or10x binoculars, these will be a totally different viewing experience and should be worth your time for alternative applications. Great gift idea for those who enjoy the outdoors, sports, concerts (can buy those cheaper grassy lawn seats at the amphitheater and still have a front row seat), etc. Highly recommended.
Short version: They are awesome. You can mount them on a tripod or monopod for extended stargazing sessions (I'm hunting Messier objects, which are very faint), but you can also hand-hold them briefly (say, 10 or 15 seconds at a time, and I don't like to hand hold any binocular stronger than 7x, in general.) The built quality is excellent and the optics are very good. Used them all weekend at a music festival, and they are as good for watching human stars as they are for celestial stars!
First Impression:The Pentax SP 20x60 WP binoculars arrived in a double box with no bubble wrap. The inner box was the same grey Pentax binocular box that they've used for at least twenty years (I own several Pentax binos and they all came in these grey/silver boxes.) I can only guess the lack of substantial padding means Pentax is not overly concerned about the prisms shaking loose and getting misaligned. And these were perfectly aligned out of the box. The binos don't look that big, compared to other astronomical binoculars (they are only 60 mm objectives compared to more conventional 70mm or 80mm.) I expected the high 20x magnifcation would make them very hard to hand-hold, but the lighter weight of the 60mm objective seems to balance it out, so you can actually hold them suprisingly well.
Size: I was surprised how not-big they are. They don't look like awkward "big binoculars" with extra-big objectives grafted onto a regular-size body. Instead, they just look kind of beefy. Comparing them to my Pentax 10x50, the 20x60 doesn't look big, but rather the 10x50 just looks kind of stubby. In additional to taking the 20x60s stargazing, I used them all weekend at a music festival, and no one seemed to notice them. My wife used them several times, and I don't think she even realized these weren't my old 10x50 binos (she was just really impressed at how well she could see Arlo Guthrie from 100 yards away.)
Appearance: The binos are black and covered with a rubber "armor" -- I can only guess it's same stuff covering all my other Pentax binos, which does not seem to distintegrate over time (at least not in twenty years or so.) The design is very aesthetic -- if Peter Jackson's elves made binoculars, their binoculars might look like these. I don't think there is a straight line on them anywhere.
Features: The eyecups twist up in click-stops. I found that at the first click-stop, they were in the perfect position to use with my glasses on. In fact, I don't remove my glasses to use these, which I usually have to do with other binos or telescopes.
The diopter adjustment on the right eyepiece also works in click stops, but it uses thes little levers on the side, rather than actually twisting the eyepiece itself. I thought it worked fine. I think this would be a useful feature, should you need to adjust the diopter while wearing gloves.
The center focus knob locks into place. I use this feature quite a bit on my 10x50s, and thought I would use it on these, but then I found myself using these for non-astronomical viewing as well, and so I'm not using the focus lock that much.
Optics: The field of view is narrow (2.2 degrees), which had me concerned before I got them. Once you look through them, this is not that important -- everything just looks very immersive. Where it matters is when you are finding something. It's like pointing a high-powered telescope -- can be a little tricky to know where exactly you are looking at first. For terrestrial viewing, it's not an issue, though you may need to fish around a bit more than normal to find your subject. For astronomy, I just had to be very careful about what I was aiming at, and then make use of my atlas to star-hop as I would with a telescope. Given all the great things about the binoculars, I'm not worried about the 2.2 degree field of view. It's the price you pay for handholding a 20x binocular.
The exit pupil is small - only 3mm. I sold a pair of smaller binos with this exit pupil size, because I found them hard to use, but in this case, the trade off is worth it. In the day time, when your own pupil is already contracted, it can be a little hard to line up the binoculars just right to see through them. You'll need to fiddle with the inter-ocular distance and maybe move your head around. I found that pulling the eyecups out to the first click forced me to line my eye up properly, and after a few tries I didn't notice it much anymore. The problem is lessened when you are stargazing, because your pupil dilated more, but you still need to hold your head just so. This may be a deal-breaker for some -- that's why got rid of some other binos I had with a 3 mm exit pupil. In this case, however, I think it's a good tradeoff for the portability and usability of this instrument.
The image is sharp across most of the field, with just a tiny bit of distortion around the very edges which was not distracting. There is some noticeable flare when viewing a very bright object (namely Jupiter) against a dark background. I can minimize it by adjusting my eye position, but it is there. On the other hand, I can see the rings of Saturn. It is very tiny, but you can tell what they are. That is amazingly cool to me. So I've given up on Jupiter cloud bands, but I got Saturn's rings.... Deep sky objects under a dark sky had good contrast. I found several Messier objects in Ophiucus, including a Mag 8 globular cluster I could never find before.... The Pleiades look fabulous. The Andromeda galaxy looks like a bright, large fuzzy blob (like it always does) but was easy to find while hand holding and just fishing around.
Accessories: The binocular comes with the standard narrow Pentax neckstrap.
It comes with a soft cover/bag/case. Much has been made of the lack of a hard case, but I think the soft case is fine (and economical) and you can buy a hard case of your choosing if you want one. The case is a codura/pleather outside with a thin padding and slick nylon interior and seems relatively sturdy. It will keep the binocular scratch- and dust-free -- the rest is up to you! I've always treated my binos and cameras with great care and have so far never needed anything more substantial. I don't think the bag is a liability -- I appreciate the moderate cost of the binocular enough to not want to pay extra for a hard case. The soft case is all-black with a pleather reinforced bottom and trim.
The lens caps for the objectives stay on very well. The binos have this ridge of rubber along the barrels (you can see it in the photos), so the outside of the barrel is not quite round. The round lens caps fit snugly because of this ridge. The eyepieces share a single large lens cap, which does not fit snuggly, but then it's also harder to lose because it is so big. But the eyecups protect the eyepieces pretty well, so the lens cap is mostly just to keep dirt out, anyway.
I use the Pentax "N" adapter to mount these on a monopod or tripod when needed. It works fine. The monopod is very nice for terrestrial use (such as at a concert) for extended viewing. I've also done this for many years with my 10x50 binos. For extended/serious stargazing, a tripod is essential, but for just looking around in the sky for a few minutes, I can hold these by hand.
Other Observations: I live in a downtown with massive light pollution and needed a high-power bino to punch through to as much sky as I could get. A larger objective would be good too, but at some point, you are just collecting more light pollution in your instrument. The 20x60 seems to do the trick. Under dark skies, it will show you plenty. If Iived near really dark skies and could use them exclusively for astronomy, I'm sure a 20x80 or 25x100 would be awesome, but here, I think those would be wasted. The 20x60 are, I think, a good choice for urban dwellers like me who sometimes can get out to a dark sky, want to see more from our homes, and can use the binos for daytime use as well.
And you have to live with your stuff, so I appreciate the multi-purpose utility of these binos. I expected them to be more or less dedicated only to astronomy, but they've turned out to be very useful for all kinds of things. When I travel, I know these will find a place in my luggage, because they are not monsters and they can be used for many different things. I get the distinct impression from the cordura case, waterproofing, and overall sturdiness of the instrument that it was designed to be out in the world, not in a padded case on a shelf. Hope I get to use them a lot more in many more places!
I was initially skeptical about them, but my doubts were eliminated after using them. Sure there are higher quality binocs available, but they were really expensive for what I understood to be a marginal difference that most beginners may not even notice.
I do not like the carrying case as it seems fairly cheap in material quality, but it does the job. The lenses have covers for both sides, but I wish the exit side had covers that attached permanently with rubber cords. Not a big deal.
Top reviews from other countries
Nun aber zu den Vorteilen:
- sehr fein einstellbarer und schwer verstellbarer Dioptrien Ausgleich (das Einstellrad rastet in kleinen Schritten ein)
- Augenmuscheln lassen sich in drei Stufen fix einstellen, was gegenüber den umklappbaren Gummi-Lösungen einfacher und solider, sowie besser zu bedienen ist
- Scharfeinstellung ist schwergängig, was ein ständiges nachjustieren nahezu unnötig macht (bei anderen Ferngläsern verstellt sich die Schärfe oft binnen Sekunden) - das Fernglas verfügt über eine Fixierung der Schärfeeinstellung, die ist aber auf Grund der vorab beschriebenen Eigenschaften unnötig
- sehr klares und scharfes Bild auch bei Dunkelheit (es ist aber natürlich kein Nachtsichtgerät)
- Einstellung des Augenabstands ebenfalls sehr schwerfällig, was wiederum zu nur seltenen Nachjustierungen führt
- sehr robust
Das einzige was negativ auffällt ist, das die versprochene Antibeschlagwirkung nicht funktioniert, das gilt aber auch nur, wenn das Fernglas extrem kalt ist und in tropischen Temperaturen mit hoher Luftfeuchtigkeit genutzt wird.
Anmerkung: Man muss sich zunächst an dieses Fernglas gewöhnen, aber nach kurzer Zeit lernt man die Vorteile, besonders bei häufigen Gebrauch auch mit beweglichen Objekten, zu schätzen.
They are sturdy and well made and not that heavy. The only shortcoming is the case that came with them.
I was looking for a binoculars with superior image and build quality at a price range that will not punch holes in my pocket. My target was to own a pair that i can take with me while travelling without lugging heavy equipment around airports/ inside aircraft and works both as terrestrial and astronomy. After much research and reviewing different brands i selected to go with Pentax 20x60. I already own another Pentax binoculars and had first hand idea of build and optics quality offered by Pentax so ultimately decided to buy this model. I have used Nikon, Olympus and Celestron binoculars in past and can clearly see a major difference in image quality. The image is really sharp and clear and CA is at bare minimum without any hint of false colors. You might read elsewhere about narrow fov of this particular binoculars and i was concerned about this as well while purchasing but after using it in real time I realise that this is of no concern as the complete fov is sharp edge to edge thus making it far better than so many other binoculars that can only produce a usable image only in center of the objective. Also the fov is not that narrow to cause any serious issues while using this binocular and is good to offer very pleasing sharp image. I think this binocular if not better but for sure is on par with other expensive usd1000 offering in market and works in multiple environments like for general terrestrial use and astronomy. Now I really dont see a need to spend 5times more to own an expensive pair of binoculars. While testing i scanned a building approx 3.5km away and could see very clear sharp features, had a quick look at Saturn/Jupiter and was able to make out rings of saturn and Jupiter was visible along with 4 moons as pin points along with much larger view of planet itself, its really surprising to see this much detail on a binocular of this size. You can use this handheld for sometime but tripod is recommended for a steady clear shakefree view and to take most out of this excellent piece of precision equipment.