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.