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4.8 out of 5 stars69
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 7 December 2009
We've been waiting several months before submitting this review so we could give these Pentax 8.5x21 Close Focus Papilio Binoculars a good try out. And they are excellent. We've had several pairs of binoculars between us over the years, but these are outstanding - definitely the best. 8.5x suits us very well for general outdoor use, giving adequate power without the tremor effects that you can experience with the 10x or 12x types. Light .. powerful .. compact .. crystal clear images (as you would expect from Pentax optics) .. and an amazing focussing range - yes, you really can examine the grasshopper sitting on your shoes! and then see it clearly again fifteen feet away. The binoculars come with a snug detachable case, a neck strap; plus a double eyepiece soft plastic lens cover for protecting both eyepieces when not in use, it threads on the strap so doesn't get dropped. One eyepiece adjusts to accomodate differences in eyesight between your eyes. These are brilliant binoculars - we've stopped lugging our off-puttingly heavy and bulky old ones around with us now! Highly recommended.
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on 13 July 2011
I bought these binoculars to go on a wildlife watching holiday in the Catalan Pyrenees in Northern Spain, in addition to watching birds and butterflies we looked for wild flowers.I was thrilled to find that I could use the short focus binoculars to look in detail at the wild flowers.They acted as a magnifying lens, and I could stand and admire rather than lie down to get a closer look!
The binoculars are light and easy to focus, and the image is clear.
The only disadvantage is they are not ideal for bird watching, but I used other binoculars, they were purchased to look at butterflies,and for this they performed extremely well.
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on 26 January 2015
I am delighted with these close focusing binoculars. They really DO focus amazingly close, whilst being perfectly adequate for conventional use.
The focusing action itself is very smooth indeed, the best I have ever had in binoculars. This makes them a real pleasure to use.
They are also compact, going into the pocket of most walking type jackets. They have a built-in tripod socket, with a convenient push-button method for fastening and detaching the neck strap, if required. I find these binos work well on a monopod as well... (some walking poles are now threaded on top for monopod for use with cameras and binoculars.)

Image quality is good, in the opinion of this professional photographer. Sharpness, contrast and colour are excellent.

This is not to say more expensive glasses couldn't do some things better. For instance, 21mm objective lenses are rather small, so the exit pupil is small too. Normally this would mean image brightness at dusk or in dim light is lowered greatly, but I find these are NOT bad at all... quite usable in fact. This is a pleasant surprise. It is not what I was expecting, least of all with my old eyes... (68 years). I can only assume that the opticals have been well designed and properly multi-coated to produce fullest transmission of what light is available.

Furthermore, there are things that you can do to help in regard of those small exit pupils:-

1) Carefully hinging them by small degrees to get the inter-pupilary distance of the eyepieces EXACTLY right for the distance between YOUR eyes is well worth the effort. When you have got it right, the image is so much brighter. Again, for maximum brightness it helps not to forget to have the eyecups in the right position, too.... UP when viewing without spectacles, and DOWN when using 'em. Both these procedures make a big difference to the ease with which you can view. I wish to emphasise that.

2) Another point....When you have adjusted for a nice bright image to view, do not attempt to "scan" around within the visible field with your eyeballs. As soon as your eyes' pupil moves off-axis from the exit pupils of the eyepieces, disconcerting "black-out" occurs. Instead, move the binoculars bodily onto the part of the scene you wish to view and keep your eyeballs "ahead" as it were..

I am assuming this advice would work just as well with any binoculars having relatively small object lenses, as most compacts have.

In use I found the close focusing a real bonus...for butterflies, yes, and dragonflies etc. But because the dim light performance is so much better than expected, I am looking forward to using these binoculars indoors, in museums and in art galleries, that kind of thing. I suppose they wouldn't be out of place in the theatre, either [?]

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. :-)
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on 19 September 2008
Physically these binoculars are quite small, about 13cms wide by 11cms front to back, but their performance is huge. They are excellent at distance and through the range to 0.5m where they are fantastic. Retaining the binocular effect through internal shifting of the optics for near objects one gets a true 3D effect. I was looking at a Minox close focusing monocular but these are so much better. All the focusing movements are internal and the build quality is superb, as you would expect from Pentax, and a 30year guarantee(!). Complete with lovely case and quick fit strap. If you buy one you will not be disappointed.
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on 22 June 2008
These are lightweight, compact and don't weigh me down on a long walk, so they are binoculars that actually get used. The image is bright and clear, with the close focus ability being far more useful than I expected, eg. perfect for that unusual butterfly that happens to land on the path in front of you. I think they're great.
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on 25 May 2009
Pentax 8.5x21 Close Focus Papilio Binoculars. Purchased these as lightweight, multi-purpose binoculars primarily to watch insects without disturbing them, look at small plants without forever bending down and also to look at birds etc when necessary. Although not the best for bird-watching, they are more than adequate but they are excellent for other purposes including butterflies and other small objects. Lightweight, easy to focus and excellent optical quality. I can stand up and get a great view of objects next to my feet or on a tree-trunk a few feet away[passers-by may think you are weird, but with a creaky back this is a fabulous feature]. A bit expensive but I have not regretted the purchase.
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on 30 August 2012
Theses are the best all rounders of our five binos and a Swarofski scope for long distance. Experience (and frustration) showed don't get zoom, it decreases field of view; go for a biggest objective that is not too heavy, and of course go for quality which is subjective and best judged by visiting a store (and subsequently buy from them - don't be mean use your local store or lose it!). I trusted a newspaper review to order these online unseen and am overwhelmed by the versatility, light weight, easy focus and high quality. The close up zoom never fails to get a "wow" from first time viewers. I now have an iterest in insects, didn't realise there were so many bees and false bees. See the hairs on the antennae of the buterflies, and of course see the club ends on butterflies and lack of on moths. See the water surface bend like a sheet of plastic under the pond skaters. Let the texture of rock and the subtle beauty of lichen and moss lead you to a world of aesthetic of the tiny. I wish I could photo the drop of rain that enclosed the tiny flower with the sunlight glinting off the sphere of water - I look forward to spells between showers just to see the art of nature in the minature. I know all flowers have similar reproductive parts, but we cannot them on small flowers - until these marvelous binos came along! I must stop gushing now, time to look at those birds on the feeder and see their tongue and tiny seeds getting chewed. The slight downside is the slightly less light gathering than my 8x42 Opticron or my 8x40 Helios but they weigh much more and are much more bulky so are often left behind, these are small enough to fit in a pocket and so get taken more often. Don't prevaricate, just get them! Delivery was on time good service.
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on 30 April 2012
For close-up work (ie less than about 25m), these binoculars are superb. They can be used to view plants and insects at your feet with remarkable clarity, and are great for a whole range of close-up viewing. They also have good image quality at medium to longer distances, but the field of view and clarity do not match up to those of high end binoculars at longer distances - probably due to a combination of the small lenses (21's are not going to let much light through after all!) and the magnification of x8.5. I find myself using a different pair for longer distance work, but for close-up viewing and as a general all round binocular, you will be very lucky to find better at the price.

Bear in mind what it says in the description of these binoculars:

"...specifically developed to satisfy user demands for close-range observation of butterflies and other insects"

They do the advertised job extremely well, and are superb up to about 25m, but if you are serious about detail at greater distances you will need a second pair to complement them.

A great buy - I'm really pleased with them.
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Looking more like the decapitated head of Disney's robotic WALL.E than the stereotypical image of binoculars that normally spring to mind, these small optical wonders have achieved something of a cult status amongst a growing band of ardent admirers who believe they might just have found macro perfection! Amazon's product page offers prospective buyers a broad selection of possible reasons for such excellent results, while unsatisfied Geeks can dig for further satisfaction in detailed specs available on other sites. Most of the technical mystery involving these jewels is hidden from view beneath the bonnet, however, and understanding it is above many of us in any case. We just go by results. And the results speak for themselves. The Papilio beats all competition by simply focusing closer to an object (0.5 of a metre, in fact - that's 18 inches in old money) then magnifying it 8.5 times to produce quality, edge to edge perfect high resolution, brilliantly coloured, clear images, even in poor light! If you want to spy on a spider spinning its web, or make a time and motion study of the work ethics of wood ants, for example, these are, quite definitely, the binoculars for you. While they excel at images close at hand, they produce similar quality images of objects further away. There are, however, some limits on their general use which might frustrate. Their field of vision at 1,000 metres is quite narrow at 315 metres. This factor might annoy the viewer trying to follow the flight of a bird, or a butterfly, for example. While this will prove unimportant to most, they do have a stablemate, the Papilio 6.5, which offers a larger field of vision, and may be preferred as a better all-rounder. Their downside is that their magnification is reduced by a couple of notches. Horses for courses! Other slight disadvantages with both models are that they are not waterproof and might, occasionally, mist up. So, if you decide to buy, you will have to stop throwing them into the river and not breath on the lenses before use! But, hey, Pentax, now a subsidiary of Hoya, the pro-lens people, have so much faith in the technical quality and longevity of the range that they offer a 30 year warranty!

The Papilio 8.5 x 21 both looks and feels good. It can sit comfortably in the palm of your hand and is very light, weighing in at a tad over 10 ounces. Certainly not too heavy even for children to use. The outer body is finished with a rubberised covering which should help cushion minor knocks and offers great grip. On the underside of the eyepieces are small indentations to take the thumbs to further improve grip and the eyepieces adjust individually to cater for differing eye widths. They can also be moved out, or retracted to allow for the use of spectacles. Set up is straightforward. The main focusing wheel is located just above the eyepieces. Look through the eyepiece and select an object. Shut the right eye and turn the main focusing wheel till the object is seen in sharp clarity. The right eyepiece has a diopter. Next, shut the left eye and turn the diopter either left or right till the same object is seen sharply with the right eye. Job done! From then on the main focusing wheel will make all the necessary focal adjustment for all ranges!

Soft plastic protective eyepiece covers are supplied and should be slotted to the neck strap so you don't lose them. The accompanying neck strap slots and locks neatly into place cutely for easy and secure fitting. If you need to remove the straps, you will need a matchstick, or similar, to hold down the spring lock to enable release.

My only disappointment is that I took so long to discover my awesome Papilio binoculars. I just adore them and think them great value for money. I you are considering buying, don't leave it too long as I gather they are getting harder to find.
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on 2 April 2010
I have used Pentax gear in the past and have never been disappointed. I found these to be no exception. The fact that they were recommended by a Wildlife Trust warden helped my purchase decision
They are light and very easy to use. The focus wheel is easy to use. Price is good value for money.
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