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GOOD OPTICALLY BUT NOT ROBUST, OR ELSE I'M UNLUCKY
on 16 May 2013
Had I been writing this review a year and a half or so ago, after first purchasing the Pentax Papilio 8.5 x 21 model in spring 2008, I would have concurred with all the excellent reviews these binoculars have had. However the 1st pair developed a looseness in the central focusing so that one had to twist the eyepieces about to get the 2 lenses aligned properly - sometimes this was easy and at other times impossible. As I use close-focusing binoculars so much for the summer half of the year, and as it was an intermittent fault, I couldn't really do without them, until eventually they went altogether about a year ago - one of the plastic screw-in eyepieces also fell out and went missing as a result. Although I consider this either a design fault, or else I just was unlucky to get a bad model, the price quoted for repair was close to the cost of a new pair, and this was rather more than I had paid in 2008, the price then having gone up substantially, I decided to get a brand new one but get the old ones sent back as they could still be used - I gave them to a friend.
A few weeks ago I dropped the new ones on a wooden floor from about 2 or 3 feet and found that though each eyepiece could focus OK, they were misaligned. As they were supposedly still covered by the manufacturers guarantee, I presumed I could get them fixed for free except for the cost of postage. I sent them to JP Service Solutions in Newcastle under Lyme in Staffordshire who said that they were misaligned due to being dropped, which they said was not covered by the guarantee, and although they quoted a substantial price for repair - I think possibly 50 or 60 pounds, it seemed worthwhile to pay for this. I then got a letter today, 16.5.2013, saying that WE REGRET UPON FURTHER INSPECTION BINOCULARS ARE BEYOND REPAIR -- OFFER OF REPLACEMENT PAPILIO 8.5 X 21 BINCOCULARS.
The price they quoted was 107.40, although I think it is still possible to get it for under 100 from Amazon I think.
I am in a quandary as to what to do; due to personal circumstances I may not be able to get out and about much this summer anyway. At present I am inclined to ask for them back without repair - even in their present state they could be used as a close-focusing monocular.
I remember a comparatively cheap pair of binoculars with a life-time guarantee which I bought many years ago, which I was able to get repaired free of charge under the guarantee, this including an occasion when they suffered from a misalignment.
One wonders what in practice the Pentax guarantee does actually cover if it does not cover dropping or wear and tear through use, which was not prolonged in either case. Incidentally the Papilio 8.5 x 21 bought in 2008 was not dropped or damaged. I don't know if repair of binoculars, etc, could be included in more general insurance of house and contents - it might be worth while exploring this possibility.
I do agree on the optical quality of these being very good; however anyone considering buying these should consider very carefully whether they can afford to buy a new pair every few years, even if they are reasonably careful with them as I have been. Although there is a pair of joined lens caps for the objective lenses, there is nothing provided for the eyepiece. The pouch is also rather on the small side and it is a bit hard to get the binoculars to fit in with ease.
Although these were the first bits of Pentax equipment I had bought, previously through reading camera magazines, etc, I had had a high regard for their products. Now, unless I have been extremely unlucky, my opinion is somewhat reversed. I always think the test of a good company is how they react when things go wrong, as they have certainly done for me in this instance. I am considering writing to Pentax to express my dissatisfaction over this matter.
To sum up, CAVEAT EMPTOR - Let the Buyer Beware.