Customer Review

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars GOOD OPTICALLY BUT NOT ROBUST, OR ELSE I'M UNLUCKY, 16 May 2013
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This review is from: Pentax 8.5x21 Close Focus Papilio Binoculars (Electronics)
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.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Jan 2014 22:03:17 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jan 2014 22:03:47 GMT
Edward Lynch says:
I can understand Pentax's repairer saying that the damage caused by dropping the second pair was not covered under the warranty, however it is not clear from your review why they said the issue wit the first pair wasn't covered under the warranty. Was it a time problem? Do these only have a 12 month warranty?

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2014 22:32:55 GMT
BUTTERFLY2 says:
They are supposed to have a lifetime guarantee, although I don't agree that this shouldn't also cover dropping binoculars - after all this is one of the most likel things to happen, and insurance of household objects would normally be expected to cover breakage, similarily with damage to cars. I remember the same happened with a comparatively cheap pair of Greenkat binoculars some years ago, which WERE repaired free of charge under a lifetime guarantee.

I should say that since my previous post, I bought a third pair of Pentax 8.5 x 21 binoculars, which also developed a looseness in the right eyepiece in a very few weeks, so that in July 2013, the fitting fell off - i did not notice this at the time so didn't have the fitting for it to be replaced, so this means that THREE models have gone wrong in 3 years. After complaining to Pentax UK, they did repair the newest one of them; I am hoping to get the original one bought in 2008 repaired.

Whether this happens or not, and even if Pentax had repaired or replaced them free of charge each time, I think it is wise for purchasers to be aware that, unless I have just been very unlucky, that these models do not seem to be very robust. Binoculars are meant to be used and not kept away in a drawer, although I haven't abused them. The ones which were dropped were only dropped 2 or 3 feet onto a wooden floor; nothing was actually broken but the lenses were misaligned as a result.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Feb 2014 15:06:18 GMT
The Prize says:
Of course a guarantee doesn't cover dropping them! A guarantee is against manufacturing defects, not abuse of a product (which dropping them is) - it's not insurance. The first and third pair are a different matter, but sorry, if you drop them, it's entirely your fault, and no true guarantee in the world would cover that.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Feb 2014 16:16:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Feb 2014 16:22:33 GMT
BUTTERFLY2 says:
I am sorry, but I have to take issue with your statement above. What is a lifetime guarantee supposed to cover?
This is rather a rhetorical question as in this case Pentax are the only ones that can answer this, but would be interested to know what others, as well as yourself, would consider reasonable.

As I indicated, a pair of Greenkat binoculars which suffered the same fate a good few years ago, was repaired free of charge without any quibble under a lifetime guarantee. I think if a pair of binoculars becomes misaligned after falling only a couple of feet on a wooden, not stone, floor, its construction cannot be all that robust. Also, abuse to me is deliberate or thoughtless damage; how many things have you dropped in your life, and if it was insured would you not claim for it?

If they had offered to repair the misaligned binoculars for a sum at least substantially less than the cost of a new pair, I would at least have taken them up on it; as indicated above, they did do this at first, after they had received them, I think quoting about 50 or 60 pounds for repair, but later said that they were beyond repair, which personally I found hard to accept.

However I accept that people may have different opinions on the matter of whether dropping should be covered by Insurance and we may just have to agree to disagree on this. In any case, 2 other examples of the Pentax Papilio binoculars, i.e. 2 out 3, have had the focusing ring come loose on the right eyepiece, in one case after just a few months of not particularly intensive use. This does not indicate robust construction. The pouch, which also lacks a strap, is a bit on the small side as even when folded up it is a bit hard to get the binoculars into it and close it up. There is also only one paper of plastic eyecups, to cover the objective and not the eyepiece lenses.

I have already indicated that the optics are fine, it is just that the construction leaves a lot to be desired; it seems to be a case of saving a pound or two on construction leading to the problems I have indicated above. I think people need to be aware of this when purchasing these. Unfortunately, there seem to be no other extra close-focusing binoculars available for anything like the price; given my unfortunate experience with the first two, I would certainly have paid 200 pounds for another make with similar specifications.

I think it is a classic case of Caveat Emptor, or Let the Buyer Beware.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jul 2014 01:09:00 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 14 Jul 2014 12:02:14 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jul 2014 12:04:38 BDT
Arkle says:
You seem confused about the difference between accidental damage insurance and a manufacturers guarantee. By your account if I crashed my car I should be able to claim on the manufacturer's guarantee to get it repaired. I don't think I would get very far with that claim!

I have been using a pair of these binoculars for the past three years without mishap - they are excellent and very good value. As you say, there is nothing similar available for anything like the price. The pouch, which fits well enough, does not have a strap because it does not need one - it is designed to allow the binocular strap to still be used when the pouch is in use. Your comment about eyecups is not correct - the plastic lens covers are for the eyepiece lenses, not the objective lenses - which are permanently covered by a transparent window.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jul 2014 20:46:33 BDT
BUTTERFLY2 says:
I did actually mean to say that the eyecup covered the eyepiece and not the objective lenses, but got this the wrong way round; however the point is that (in my opinion) eyecups should have been provided for BOTH eyepiece and objective (as has been the case with binoculars I have bought in the past prior to Pentax. The objective may be covered by a transparent window but moisture, dust, etc., can enter here, which could be easily prevented by a cheap bit of plastic similar to that covering the eyepiece; similarly, to add a strap to the pouch would have added very little to the cost of manufacture.

Clearly as stated previously, people have different opinions on whether the guarantee should cover the binoculars being dropped (although I take exception to describing this as "abuse", especially as it is one of the most likely things to happen for something which gets used a lot), although if a relatively cheap pair such as Greenkat can be covered by this, I don't see why Pentax can't do the same). I will re-iterate that with two out of the 3 pairs of Pentax binoculars, the looseness developed without them being dropped, in one case a very few months after purchase.

Nothing that has been said above has caused me to modify my opinion about the sub-standard build and design of the binoculars, lack of adequate after-sales service and misleading guarantees from a once fine company. In case anyone concludes that I have a personal animosity towards Pentax, I should say that I believe other companies standards have also declined (for example, most camcorders these days lack a built-in viewfinder, something which is virtually essential to anyone such as myself with a serious interest in wildlife.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Sep 2014 23:51:24 BDT
Over time I have bought three pairs of 6.5x21 Papilio binoculars. One pair (purchased in 2010) has developed a slight looseness in the mechanism somewhere which, although it doesn't seem to impact the optics directly, doesn't feel right, so I'll get looked at under warranty over winter. The binoculars get a *lot* of use and abuse - I'm very hard with binoculars - but they have survived well. I agree that an objective cover could be useful but doesn't appear to have been an issue with mine. For me, both a case strap and a binocular strap is overkill as I don't like both the case and the optics hanging around my neck at the same time.
I certainly don't agree that accidental damage is or should be automatically covered under the warranty. A manufacturer may *choose* to cover that sort of damage but are by no means compelled to do so under a 'free from manufacturer's defects' warranty. Your household contents accidental damage cover can cover optics (mine does) as long as accident damage away from the home is paid for.
In summary, I don't think the units are less robust than any other 'mid priced' units (in fact I've found Opticrons significantly worse).

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2014 12:10:27 BDT
BUTTERFLY2 says:
You (Andrew Gardiner) state that you have purchased 3 pairs of 6.5 x 21 Papilio binoculars - were these all in use by yourself?

Good luck with getting the "slight looseness" fixed under Warranty - I certainly didn't!

I keep coming back to the question "What exactly does the Warranty cover?" (if not accidental dropping or damage, or looseness developing in the mechanism leading to things dropping off?) and no-one seems to have suggested what they consider a reasonable warranty should cover against.

Clearly we can agree to disagree about whether covers for the objective lenses, straps, etc., should be provided (they would hardly add much to the cost) although in the past (for relatively much cheaper binoculars) these were generally considered standard. In only 1 out of the 3 cases where I have had problems with the Papilio was damage caused by dropping the binoculars - in the other two it was caused by looseness in the mechanisms, which I think after only a few years or less DOES indicate a less than robust construction. What particularly annoyed me was that although I would have been prepared to pay for repair, the price quoted was more than the cost of a new pair, although I suppose this is a common occurrence these days, not just with binoculars.

You mention Opticrons - are any of these close focusing? Even though you do state that you have found them significantly worse, if the Papilio which I currently have fails again, I might at least consider them (I might have more luck with these, or they may be cheaper or have a more effective warranty, etc).
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