A while ago, I was looking at (and tweeted about) some dude’s travel gear list and noticed a nice pair of binoculars in the pack, a pair of Pentax Papilio 8.5×21 binoculars. I saved it to my Amazon Wish List and this year Heidi bought them for me for my birthday. We’ve taken them on a short hike near our house and I’ve been messing with them here and there. I want to point out a couple of nice things about the set that might make them useful for some of you.
The cool thing about these binoculars is that they can focus at things about 2 feet away. While this may seem sort of silly for the traditional use for binoculars, the cool thing is that you can actually focus on things like bugs, butterflies, and flowers. They almost work like a magnifying glass but from a distance. If, like me, you’re curious about the little critters but are mildly afraid of getting too close, this is a great thing. I suspect kids would have a great time with these out in the woods just looking at all the little things in the woods.
The Papilios are decent at range. They’re not particularly powerful. At 8.5x you’ll find some cameras with more powerful zoom. Binoculars are nice, though, because you can look at things with a larger field of view and in better viewing conditions than a little screen on the back of a camera. I could see using them for casual bird watching or checking out animals from a distance. We’re not serious birders, but our primary use will be on hikes and longer rides.
I was also pleased by how light they were. On our walk, I hardly noticed I was carrying them. If you want a pair of binoculars, this is a good pair to take a look at. I really like them so far.