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Pentax PCF V 20x60mm

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Date: 12-2-2001
Price: approx. $200.00
Design: 60mm objective lenses with Bak-4 prisms and Super Multi Coatings, optical system also has a field flattener
Description: Large astronomical binoculars with rubber armor and super multi-coated optics.  Also features 21mm eye relief.

Review

With two years of experience in astronomy, I am a newcomer to the field. During that time I have had several scopes as well as good quality binoculars. In this article, I will compare the Pentax 20x60 PCF WP binoculars with the Pro Optics 20x80s and the Oberwerk 20x80s.

Four month ago, I bought the Pentax 20x60 PCF WP from a well-known company. From the reviews in S&T magazine and online sites, I had the impression that the Pentax 20x60s outperformed more expensive brands of the same aperture. So I decided to buy them. They came packed in a soft case, which was put into a cardboard box, with a thin, slightly bigger box as a cover. Frankly, I was expecting better protection.

These are very nice binoculars, with superb mechanical construction and smooth adjustments for both the focuser and the right diopter. They have a locking system, but the focuser is smooth and shows no backlash, so I do not use it at all. The neck strap is decent. The objective caps were solid and fit tightly. Overall the build quality really impressed me.

Specifications

  • 20X magnification with 60mm objective lenses
  • Pentax SMC (super multi coated) optics with BAK-4 prisms
  • Field flattener lenses
  • Apparent FOV - 44
  • Real FOV - 2.2
  • Exit pupil - 3 mm
  • Eye relief - 21 mm (long)
  • Rubber armored metal body construction.
  • Weight - 44 oz.

First Observation

Mount - Using 20x binoculars without a tripod is very difficult, so I mounted them on the same Slik 300DX tripod I have been using with the Pro Optics. The tripod can hold 8 lbs, so holding the 43 oz. Pentax's was not a problem.

On the first night, I took my Pro Optics and Oberwerk's along for a comparison. I have been using the other binoculars for a long time and am really impressed with their performance. The image in Pentax was flat (due to built-in the flattener), sharp, and bright over 90% of the field of view, whereas the Pro Optics and Oberwerk's showed as well only over 65% to 70%. All had superb resolution, with the Oberwerk's offering the best combination of price and performance.

Chromatic Aberration - I chose Jupiter for this test. I was not very impressed, since the Pentax showed the same amount of color as the Oberwerk's, while the Pro Optics were slightly better. So on a bright object, the Pentax was not really impressive. However, I did not see flares when looking at 2nd mag. or higher stars as I always experienced when using the Oberwerk's.

The seeing conditions were not good, though the sky was fairly dark. I shifted to Saturn, which was 45 above the horizon I started observing with the Pentax's. With 20x magnification and only 60mm of objective, I wasn't expecting to make out the rings, but to my surprise I could clearly see the entire ring. Normally that is really hard to see in the Oberwerk's and Pro Optics, so it was a pleasant surprise. In fact, I was stunned by the resolution. Then I went to Jupiter. I saw four moons as points, along with two bands, but as I mentioned above I could see some color. After half an hour of observing I decided to compare stars, but the seeing worsened, so I put that off until another night.

Second Night

The night was calm, clear, and good for a star test. Stars of mag 2 or brighter were little disks with some false color, but those of 3rd magnitude or more were pinpoints. Vega, high in the sky, showed more false color . I went for M57, wondering if I could find it. The nebula showed bright and clear at the first glance. M13 was like a cotton ball; M92 was smaller but just as bright; M81 and M82 beautifully shared the same field of view, with M82 having its distinct mottled appearance, both of them being unbelievable bright and easy; M51 had a very clearly defined bipolar shape with a hint of the bright cores. Incredible! M31, M32 and M110 were easy, with M31 occupying more then half of the field of view when using averted vision, as did M33.

Conclusion

In my personal experience, these are worth every penny. I highly recommended them to anyone interested in binocular astronomy. Although the aperture is only 60mm, the Pentax's certainly outperformed the others. For example, they are much lighter then Oberwerk 20x80s, which weigh almost 8 pounds. If the Pentax's were 80mm with 45 eyepieces, then they would be killer binoculars. Everyone else would be second. I give them a 9 out of 10 and will be happy to keep them. My only negatives are too much eye relief (which actually blacks out your vision) and the loose-fitting eyepiece covers. The FOV is too small which is really a big flaw. Also, they should include a tripod adaptor, which would make observing much smoother, day or night. Overall this binocular is not only good for star gazing but can be used in day time or for bird watching. Honestly, I will keep this one as my quick lookup for star gazing.

Submitted by Jawaid Iqbal Abbasi - USA - (jawaid_iqbal_abbasi@yahoo.com)

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