Pentax PCF V 16x60mm
Well it is about that time again, time
for me to write a long overdue review.
Earlier this year I found out the hard way that not having
binoculars was going to drive me crazy.
It was even worse now that I have moved to an even more observer
unfriendly area of town and I have to deal with not only sky glow but
many, many big trees. So in the spirit of being a good amateur astronomer I decided
that it was time to go shopping.
When looking for my new binoculars I
knew immediately that I did not wand the same junk I have had in the past. The generic Chinese 10x50s that are so common for $50 were
just not going to cut it. I
also new that these were basically going to replace my telescope for the
time being as my primary instrument, and as such I knew that I had to go
large, but not too large – I set my limit in the 60mm range.
Lastly price was important, but not that important.
I decided to give myself a $250 limit.
Like usual, I got entirely too
involved in my search. I
began to spend hours doing research and price comparisons until I finally
narrowed the field. Generally I like to get the best price/performance contender,
or else I tend to regret the purchase after it is made. So after pricing and reading numerous reviews, I had three to
First on the list I had the Orion Mini
Giant 9x63s. I have always
had good luck with Orion products and I had also heard excellent things
about these binoculars. Second
I had the Oberwerks in mind. While
I had not decided on the size the price/performance offered by these
binoculars is very impressive. Lastly
there was the dark horse, the
Pentax PCF V 16x60s. While
there were just a few reviews for these binoculars they did fall into the
right price range and carried an impressive brand reputation with them.
After agonizing for what seemed weeks
I ended up ordering the Pentax models.
My primary reason for going with these was the reputable ultra
sharp optics and secondly the easy holdability for their large size and
high power. Plus the high powers would help increase contrast on faint
objects, and as we all know that is a necessity if you live in the city.
Even though I chose these, all of the binoculars mentioned were
very impressive and would probably have made me happy.
Unpacking and First
I went against common convention and
ordered these from a small camera shop in New York City for only $185. The store called me the next day to confirm and promptly
shipped them to me. After
waiting the standard five days for UPS the box arrived in pristine
condition. They were packed
very well and came with a large slightly padded case as well as caps and a
My initial inspection of the optics
left me absolutely impressed. The
coatings on the objective lenses were evenly applied and were of the
quality Chinese green variety. Don’t
get me wrong, the coatings actually looked good even though it was
obviously done in China. However,
the coatings on the eye lenses left me absolutely stunned.
They had a very nice high quality deep FMC look to them.
Anyways looking into either end of the binoculars revealed a very
dark interior and very few reflections, even in a fully lit room – it
was almost like peering into a deep well.
The mechanical construction felt very nice and extremely rigid.
They have a nice rubber coating, focus lock, hard eyecups (which
take a bit of getting used to), and an ingenious design.
They hold and feel much like roof prism binoculars, which makes
them a bit more comfortable during long sessions.
I believe that even though these are now built in China, it is in a
Pentax factory and the final products are hand selected in Japan before
actual shipping, so you do get better QC with these binoculars than you
would with an average Chinese models.
Now before you think I am nuts, yes
these 16x binoculars are easily hand holdable.
Sure it can be a bit tiring and a little shaky but you can get
amazing results nonetheless. While
they weigh in at 42oz their design helps to equally distribute the weight
into a very light feeling system. That
basically translates into the fact that they don’t feel much heavier
than my old 10x50s. With that being said I have spent quite long sessions with
these and have yet seriously begun looking for a tripod.
Well after the initial checkout I
decided to give them a quick go outside.
It was still daytime but I wanted to see what they could really do.
Well at first I was nearly blinded, as the sun was shining and snow
still covered the ground. It
was extremely bright, too bright as chromatic aberration was fairly
obvious. After thinking about
the situation I decided that it was probably nothing to worry about, and a
quick check with my other 6x30s proved that they were suffering the same
ailment. Damn bright snow. I did get a chance to check out a gray blob about 2 miles
away and confirmed that it was a large flock of birds off in the distance.
16x power is amazing for long distance viewing - the image went
from a blob with normal eyesight, to a mass of dots with the 6x30s, and
ending with about 10 individual Sparrows within the field of the Pentax
binoculars. Needless to say I
was impressed. It should also
be mentioned here that the field is as advertised, sharp from edge to edge
– there is absolutely no distortion whatsoever even within the last 5%.
I am curious as to how much sharper they could actually make the
20x models with a built in field flattener.
The Night Sky
It was actually a few weeks later when
I got my first real chance to use them for the first time under the stars.
I was up north and as usual expecting extremely dark skies and
spectacular views. However,
as dusk fell I first decided to focus on Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon.
While the moon was a about quarter
full it is amazing how bright it seems under very dark skies.
It is even much brighter when you are looking at it through 16x60
binoculars, it was almost blinding. But
as my eyes adjusted the sight was quite amazing, very similar in quality
to a good telescope view. The
moon appears large enough to pick out significant detail to make these
worthwhile for everyday lunar observations.
There was a bit of color but that was primarily only a problem when
eye placement was a bit off center. Overall
the views were very pleasing once I adjusted to the extreme brightness.
The planets similarly offered up some
very good views. Jupiter was
amazing as multiple faint bands were evident.
I always enjoy the moons also.
Once again color was there but not significant.
Saturn like usual presented itself as an oblong football with some
evidence of the rings themselves. While
not as impressive as Jupiter, due to its lack of color, it was still a
very good sight. I did
however get a chance to test the edge correction on Saturn.
I slowly moved the planet from the center to the outside of the
view and witnessed what other owners have raved about.
There is almost zero distortion at the edge of the field. I knew that this would be helpful in the next few hours as I
gazed deeper into space.
I spent the next few hours just
randomly looking through the sky. Honestly,
I couldn’t even tell you what I was looking at – I just got lost in
it. As I jumped from cluster
to cluster I grew more and more amazed with each one.
Stars were exact points to the edge, colors were bright and very
apparent, and focus stayed locked perfectly.
It was one of the most enjoyable nights I have spent under the
stars in quite a long time.
Submitted by Curt Irwin - firstname.lastname@example.org - Grand Rapids, MI