Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars Review

Pentax 8.5 x 21 Papilio II Binoculars
Best Compact Binoculars 2022
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Price Range: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars       

Ideal Uses:

General Use Rating for General Use Binoculars
Birdwatching Rating as Birdwatching Binoculars
Outdoor Sports Rating asOutdoor Sports Binoculars
Safari & Travel Rating as Safari Binoculars
General Wildlife Rating as Wildlife Observation Binoculars
Opera/Theatre Rating as Opera Binoculars

Awards: Best Compact Binoculars 2022

Due to their versatility, excellent quality view (for a compact) and a number of other reasons, the original Pentax 8.5x21 Papillio that I tested many years ago, was back then and indeed continues to be one of my all-time favorite binoculars.

Thus even though the "new" Papillio II has been about for a while, because my original was so good, I just simply never got around to testing it.

However, as that review is somewhat out of date, Pentax told me of a number of improvements that they have made to the 2nd generation Papilio and that I really should take a look at the updated version.

So of course, I was not going to turn down an offer to get reacquainted with an "old friend" and thus a few weeks later the package arrived on my desk. At the time of writing this, I have now had over a month with the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 binoculars and below are my 100% genuine and honest thoughts on them:

Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars Review

The Pentax Papillio series consists of two models, offering a choice of either 6.5x or 8.5x magnifications, both are reverse porro prism compacts using the same body and 21mm objective lenses. The unique selling point of the Papillio, what makes them so special and indeed where their name comes from (Papillio is french for Butterfly) is their incredibly close minimum focusing distance of only 50cm (1.6ft), which is partly what makes them an ideal instrument for observing anything from very close range, including butterflies.

The reason they are so versatile is as a result of a number of things combining together which I will get to in this review, but largely boils down to them being small enough to carry about wherever you go, but also because as well as viewing objects at very close range, like a standard "normal" binocular they are also very good for viewing objects away off in the distance which opens them up to a whole range of other applications.

Specs & Features at a Glance:

  • Low-to-Mid Price Compacts: Approx: $129 / £119 / €129
  • Body
    • Reverse Porro Prism Design
    • Right Eye Diopter
    • Helicoidal Twist-Up Eyecups
    • Tripod Socket
    • Weight: 10.2oz (290g)
    • Dimensions: 11.6cm x 11cm x 5.5cm
  • Optics
    • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
    • BaK-4 Reverse Porro Prisms
    • Aspherical lens elements
  • Optical Stats
    • Field of View: 315ft @ 1,000 yards / 105m @ 1,000 meters
    • Ultra Close Minimum Focus: 0.5m /1.6ft
    • Eye Relief: 15mm
  • Conclusions & Ideal Uses

Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars


Holding the Compact Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsAs I mentioned in the introduction section of the review, apart from a few small details here and there, the overall body design and shape of the new Papilio II has not changed much from the original Papilio and thus unless you look closely, it can be hard to tell them apart.

This is generally a good thing as I find the Pentax Papilio binocular to be very comfortable to hold and easy to use and thus I assume Pentax's thinking here was there's no need to change of fix something that's not broke.

Also important to stress here is to the best of my knowledge and which I am pretty confident in saying, the 8.5x and the 6.5x Pentax Papilio II binoculars share exactly the same chassis and most, if not all the main body components and thus this section of the review will apply equally to either option you decide to go with:

Underside of the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsExterior Rubber Coating
Pentax Sport Optics has gone with a fairly thin, but relatively soft rubber exterior armor that has a smooth, almost velvet-like finish. This looks great and certainly adds to their modern and quite expensive appearance.

Whilst this finish does have a habit of attracting dust (making it a pain for me to photograph!), more importantly it also provides you with substantially more grip than many other instruments that use harder rubbers.

In terms of impact protection, the soft rubber definitely helps, but then as I say, it is also very thin and so does not provide as much cushioning as a thicker rubber would. However, this is a small, lightweight binocular and so I think what it has is adequate and besides it is my experience that thick, soft rubber armors do often perish a little more easily and can often slip about on top of the chassis, which is certainly not issue with the Papilio that I tested.

Not Fully Waterproof
Many compact binoculars, especially ones in this and the lower price categories are not fully waterproof and so, as with the first generation version it was not a huge surprise to me to discover that these are likewise, which I do feel is a slight shame.

Unless you intend on using them in extreme conditions, this for me is not a deal-breaker, but having said that, a fully sealed binocular will also prevent dust and other small particles from being able to get into the device and potentially spoiling the view. Although I must also add that, I have had no such issues with my old Papilio, although I do make sure to keep them stored in their case away from dust when not in use, which I am sure helps.

Focusing the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars


Convergent objective lenses on the the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsThe location and how you use the focus wheel is all pretty standard, but it is what happens inside the body as you turn it that is quite different from your average binocular and this is what makes the Pentax Papilio binoculars special and is why they are able to focus at such close distances:

The close focus distance on a typical binocular is in part restricted by the distance between the objective lenses. This is because at very close distances you get a misalignment of the left and right image fields because nearby objects have a larger parallax than more distant objects when observed from different positions, which in this case is the two objective lenses.

Convergent objective lenses on the the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsSo to overcome this and reduce the minium focus distance, Pentax uses an ingenious system that they call C.L.O.S.E. (Convergent Lens Optical System Engineering) where they place the objective lenses on tracks that are not parallel to each other.

So as you turn the wheel to focus on a nearby object the lenses move down the barrels, away from your eyes, but at the same time, they get closer to each other. Turning the wheel in the opposite direction to focus on a more distant object moves, the lenses back up the barrels and closer to your eyes, but further apart from each other.

By doing this, Pentax have created a binocular that not only allows you to view objects far off in the distance as you would normally, but it also enables you to obtain a sharp, clear image at just 50cm / 1.6ft away from you!

Focusing the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars

The wheel itself turns extremely smoothly and it takes a fraction over three full turns (1080° of rotation) to move the plane of focus from one extreme to the other. This gearing is far lower than what you find on most standard binoculars and thus takes a little longer than normal to make large focal adjustments. However on the positive side, this along with the extremely smooth mechanism makes fine tuning the focus to get the image 100% sharp a breeze and far easier to do than much more aggressive focusing mechanisms.

At only 17mm in diameter, the focus wheel itself is pretty small in comparison to a full sized bin, but is not that dissimilar to that found on many compact porro prism binoculars. So whilst it turns easily enough and is very easy to use with just one finger, its small size and the fact that it is nestled within a cavity in the body does make it a little more difficult to feel whilst wearing thick winter gloves for example.

IPD set to minimum on the the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsInter-Pupillary Distance (IPD) Adjustment
Unlike most porro prism compacts that incorporate a single central hinge, the Pentax Papilio has two hinges (one for each eyepiece). These have a mechanism hidden within the body that connects them together and thus if you adjust one, it also moves the other by the same amount and thus they essentially behave in a similar fashion to a single hinge.

I found this mechanism to be nice and smooth and they eyepieces open and close with just enough resistance to ensure they remain at your desired setting.

Speaking of which, you can adjust them so that the eyecups go from a minimum of distance of 5.6cm apart, right up to 7.4cm. This IPD (Inter-Pupillary Distance) range is very good and therefore should be able to accommodate a wider range of faces than many, including those with closer set eyes like children, which because of other aspects like their relatively low cost, small size and wide field of view makes them an excellent choice of binocular for kids.

Tripod mount on the underside of the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsTripod Adaptable
I am fairly certain that I am correct in stating that the majority of compacts and most certainly reverse porro prism compacts like these are not "tripod adaptable" meaning that they are not designed with being able to easily attach onto a tripod in mind, which I guess for most users will be of little consequence.

However, I can think of a few situations and users (like scenery artists on location, a scientist studying/sketching insects, taking photos through the binocular with your phone and an adapter), where being able to maintain a perfectly steady view or being able to train the binocular in a specific direction and have it remain there for hands free use would be of importance. Thus it is certainly a welcomed feature on these compact binoculars and one of the many instances of the great attention to small details that Pentax show with this instrument and once again certainly adds to their versatility and range of uses.

Just note that the way the Pentax Papilio II binoculars are designed to attach to your tripod is slightly different to most binoculars that I would describe as being "tripod adaptable". This is actually a good thing as the standard ¼-inch thread is located on the underside of the body (and not on the front hinge). This means it is not necessary to have to get a special tripod adapter, but you do need to be careful to have a tripod head or mounting plate that does not get in the way of the rest of the body.

Twist-Up Eyecups on Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsWhilst many compact binoculars will opt for the far simpler fold-down design of eye-cup (probably to save manufacturing costs), I can gladly report that like the older version, Pentax have gone with the Twist-Up eyecups design which if made well do offer a more precise way of adjusting the level of eye-relief to your specific requirements.

Once again, I can happily report that the eyecups on the Pentax Papilio II are indeed made well, in that the eyecups fit well onto the housing under them and so there is very little free play and they click nice and firmly into each of the three fixed click-stop positions (Maximum, minimum and one at half way).

This in combination with a fairly generous (for a compact) 15mm of eye-relief meant that I could use the binocular both with and without my eye-glasses on and be able to take in the full view without any dark rings forming on the edges.

Diopter Adjustment
Diopter on Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsAs with most binoculars, to adjust the diopter setting on the Pentax Papillio II 8.5x21 binoculars (and the 6.5x version), you simply turn the ring located on the on the right eyepiece housing.

Whilst I could not find and details, I assume this Gen II version has the same range of between +4 and -4 as the Gen 1 Papilio.

For those who don't know, the diopter enables you to make adjustments to this side separately of the other and thus compensate for any differences between the vision in your left and right eyes. You can take a look at this article on calibrating & focusing your binoculars for more information.

The diopter ring on the Papilio is not lockable, but it does have a series of fine, closely-spaced click-stops that does go some way in helping to prevent unwanted movement and is certainly better than the majority at this price level.

Body Quality Score: 7/10

Compact Binocular Size Comparison (Open): Kowa BD 8x25 vs  Steiner Wildlife 10x26 vs Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 vs Pentax VD 4x20 Binoculars

Compact Binocular Size Comparison (Folded): Kowa BD 8x25 vs  Steiner Wildlife 10x26 vs Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 vs Pentax VD 4x20 BinocularsSize
For binocular in this size category where the whole idea is that they should be as "compact" as possible, the dimensions are especially important as this is one of the main reasons for choosing a set over a larger sized instrument.

As you would expect, compared to your average "standard" sized binocular, the Papilio is indeed substantially smaller, but as you can see from the photos above and below, their relative size when compared to other binoculars in this compact size class depends on what "state" you have them in:

So what do I mean by this? Well, when you have the hinges opened, like when are using the binoculars (unless you have particularly close set eyes), the size of the Pentax Papilio II is fairly similar to most other compacts and they compare very well.

Compact Binocular Size Comparison (open): Steiner Wildlife 10x26 vs Vortex Vanquish 10x26 vs Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 vs Kowa BD 8x25 BinocularsHowever, the most compact, truly Pocket-Sized binoculars use roof prisms with a double hinge design. This enables them to fold up into a much smaller shape than the reverse porro prism design used by the Papilio and thus potentially makes them even more convenient to carry about when not in use.

Do keep in mind that whilst the double hinge roof prism compacts are undoubtedly smaller when folded, they do have their downsides and unless you are prepared to spend a more you will likely not achieve an image quality as good as you get with these porro prism compacts and others like them.

This largely down to the fact that roof prisms require a number of special coatings in order to achieve the same level of reflectivity as a porro prism and on top of this they suffer from something known as phase shift, which can be corrected, but once again requires special coatings which drives up the cost. Therefore if you want a high performance compact without having to spend a lot of money, reverse porro prisms like this are usually the best way to go.

In terms of weight, these are at the more lightweight end of the scale, even for a compact and thus they make a good option for anyone who specifically need to keep the weight down. So here I am thinking of activities like hiking and backpacking, but it would also be an advantage for users like children.

Body Stats Score (for a compact binocular): 8/10


21mm objective lenses on the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars


As I have already discussed Pentax's convergent lens system that enables the very close minimum focussing distance in the focussing section above, I will not repeat that here, rather I will focus (excuse the pun) my attention on the many other interesting aspects of the optics on this device:

8.5x21mm Configuration

Combining 21mm objectives with an 8.5x magnification produces exit-pupils that are almost 2.5mm in diameter (21 ÷ 8.5 = 2.47mm). In good and even average light conditions, this is not a limiting factor as the pupils in your eyes will most likely be smaller or around the same same diameter as the exit pupils and thus would not really take in or need any more light for you to perceive a bright image even if it was on offer.

However, it is in poor light when the pupils in your eyes grow larger than the exit pupils of the binocular these and indeed all other similarly configured compacts will most likely not seem to produce as bright an image as that of binoculars with larger exit pupils. Thus if you specifically need a binocular to perform well in low light, you would ideally select an instrument with larger lenses and exit pupils.

2.47mm Exit Pupils on the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars

Remember that as well as the exit pupil size, we also need to consider the quality of the glass and coatings used on the lenses and the prisms as these are also very important as they can also make a noticeable difference to both the image brightness and quality:


As with the Gen 1 Papilio, the eye-piece lenses on my sample were 15mm in diameter. As you would expect, this is somewhat smaller than what you typically find on larger sized instruments, but is about the same as what I see being used on most other compacts that I have tested in this class.

Aspheric versus Spherical LensesAspherical Lenses
The Pentax Papillio II have "aspherical optical elements" within their lenses meaning that don't have a constant curvature are thus not are not perfectly spherical.

The potential advantage of this lens design over a more simple spherical lens is that if it is used correctly within the optical system, these different degrees of curvature can bend the light by different amounts and it enables them to focus on exactly the same point and so can completely get rid of, or at least reduce some aberrations, including spherical aberration.

Some more expensive binoculars will use more complex lenses using more lens elements, which are often also made from different glasses (like ED glass) and different shapes to help better direct the light. With an aspheric lens system, it is possible to achieve the same result at a lower cost and it also results in a lens system that more compact and lightweight, which in this size class is obviously an advantage.

Also important to point out here is that just by using "aspherical optical elements", it does not automatically result in an improved image: Aspheric lenses can be made by pouring the glass into a mould, which is obviously much simpler and cheaper to produce than the superior method of grinding them. Top grade ground aspherical lenses can produce incredible results, but are more complicated and difficult to make. As to which method Pentax uses, I am unsure, but as you can see in the Image Quality section below, I was very impressed with the result.

Optical Coatings

Lens CoatingsAnti-Reflection Coatings
By improving the level of light transmittance and reducing unwanted reflections that can cause negative effects like ghosting, the level of Anti-Reflection Lens Coatings is one of the most important things to look for when buying binoculars.

This is especially the case at the mid and lower price points and so here it is very important to note that this is another area where the Pentax Papillio II has improved on the older version as they now incorporate a Fully Multi-Coated optical system and not just a multi-coated system like the older Gen1 instruments:

This is excellent news and exactly what we want to see. Here the exact wording is important to take note of because instruments that are just Fully Coated or Multi-Coated, are not the same and the image they deliver will most likely be noticeably inferior to an equivalent size Fully Multi-Coated instrument like the Pentax Papillio II binoculars.

Prism Glass & Coatings
On a porro prisms binocular like these, this section tends to be pretty short as this design of prism means that they don't require a number of coatings need by roof prisms to achieve the same level of performance.

What I can add is that Pentax uses BaK4 glass with a high refractive index, which is once again what we want to see as there are many binoculars (especially compacts) at this price level which use BK7 glass that for use in binoculars is usually less desirable.

Optical Components Score: 7/10

Optical Stats

Field Of View (FOV)
With an angle of view of 6.0° the width of the view you see when looking through the 8.5x21 Pentax Papilio II is 105 meters wide at a distance of 1000m (315ft wide @ 1000 yards). This ranks them amongst the better "8x" compacts (in terms of FOV) and you also have to keep in mind that their magnification is actually slightly higher than this making them even more impressive.

However, do keep in mind that if having a really wide FOV is very important to you, like for example if you often view fast moving and difficult to follow objects at close range, then you may want to consider dropping the magnification in exchange for an even wider view. This is where the 6.5x21 Pentax Papilio II has an advantage over these.

Close Focus Distance
At only 1.6 feet (0.5 m), the minimum close focus distance is where to my knowledge these Papilio II binoculars completely outperform any other binocular on the market and is what makes them unique and the ideal binocular for very close object observation.

The minimum focussing distance of any binocular is largely dependant on the physical position of the objective lenses in relation to each other. To improve on this limitation, Pentax have developed a system where as you turn the focusing wheel to bring the focus towards you, the objective lenses, which are on tracks, actually move closer together and this is how they are able to achieve a perfectly in focus image at such a short distance on a pair of binoculars. For a more complete explanation on this unique and somewhat ingenious solution look at the section above on focusing.

Whilst not excellent, the 15mm of eye-relief is reasonably long for a compact and whilst it may not match the very long eye-relief's on some full sized binoculars, for many users this should be just enough for use with glasses.

I did test this and for me and my shape of face and glasses, by fully twisting down the cups I was indeed able to take in the full image without any form of tunneling on the edges. However, do keep in mind that this will vary from person to person and how thick or how far your eyeglasses sit from your eyes.

Optical Stats Score for a compact binocular: 8/10

Ocular Lenses on the Pentax Papilio II Binoculars

Image Quality

As I don't have an exact match in terms of a benchmark 8.5x21mm binocular, for this review I compared the view through the Pentax Papilio II against a selection of other compacts that I currently have. This included two 10x26 compacts (roof and porro prism), a mid-to-high end roof prism 8x24 as well as a high-end 8x25mm roof prism compact. Also important to note that I conducted these comparisons in a variety of light conditions which included bright sunlight at around mid-day as well as in low to very low light conditions at sunset.

Colors & Contrast
The colors produced are vibrant, yet not so much so as to make the image look unnatural. Also important to note that the image doesn't get washed in very bright conditions.

I also thought the contrast was good and you are presented with a nice variance between the dark and bright areas in the view, which helps create a feeling of depth and helps objects to jump out at you.

Image Brightness & Low Light Performance
As expected, in good light, there was no real noticeable difference in image brightness between these and the others worth noting.

In low and then very light, the difference in brightness between some of my selection became a little more evident and to my eyes it looked like my high-end 8x25 had a slight edge over all the others. This is perfectly understandable as not only do they have slightly larger exit-pupils (3.1mm) than the others, but the pair I was using was of very high-quality and cost many times that of the others.

Then to me it looked as though the 8.5x21 Pentax Papilio, 8x24 Roof Prism and the 10x26 Porro Prism compacts were all pretty much on a par, with the 10x26 roof prism compact lagging just behind.

To me this is impressive as the 8x24 that I was using has very good quality optics, larger lenses and exit pupils that are quite a lot larger and so I would sum up the image brightness on the Papilio as good to very good, especially when compared to other compact binoculars in their price range.

Color Fringing
Color FringingA result of chromatic aberrations, color fringing is more obvious when you look along the edges of an object that has a high contrast against its background and thus my standard test is to look along a black telephone wire against a bright blue sky.

Here I thought that the Pentax Papilio binoculars performed extremely well and only showed a very thin greenish line of color fringing that was not only better than most of the compacts in my possession, but is just about as good as any high-end instrument.

Image Flatness, Distortions & Blurring
At no time did I ever become aware of or notice any other sort of image distortions or curvature, and once correctly focused the image I observed was sharp and in focus from the center of the view, right out to the edges with only an extremely minimal amount of softening right at the edge of the view which as with the minimal color fringing is really impressive, especially when you consider their relatively low price point.

Image Quality Rating (for a compact binocular): 8/10

Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars with neck strap, carry case and lens covers

Included Accessories:

My sample Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 binoculars were supplied with a cleaning cloth, protective carry case, ocular lens covers and a neck strap:

Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars Carry Case

Inside the Carry Case & Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsCarry Case
Whilst it is basically very simple, I really do like the the Pentax Papilio carry case that you can tell is specifically designed for these small, lightweight binoculars unlike the "millions" of generic ones I see used by many manufacturers, especially at this price level and below.

The advantage of this is that not only does it look better and more a part of the unit as a whole, but the binoculars fit very well into them, meaning that it is tight enough so that they don't flop about, but at the same time, there is enough room to make putting them in or taking them out simple to do.

Also something to mention here is that you can close the flip-over lid and keep it fastened without having to twist-in the eye-cups (although the fit is tight). Now I know that this is a very minor point, but if you are using your binoculars often and like most users have the eye-cups fully extended when you do, it can become a bit of a pain having to twist them in and out every time you take-out and then replace the binocular into the bag.

Inside the Carry Case & Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsSpeaking of which, the flip-over lid is held closed by a strip of Velcro, which works well enough, but you do need to be careful when opening so as to not make too much noise if you happen to be sneaking up to timid birds or other wildlife.

Made from a faux leather type of material with a felt like interior liner, the stitching and general quality of the Pentax branded case is also very good and whilst it is only very lightly padded, I feel the amount is sufficient for a small, lightweight instrument like the Papilio and any more would only add unnecessary weight and volume that you would then have to carry about.

The case does not come with any separate pockets, which is a slight shame as they can be useful for storing things like a cleaning cloth for use out in the field.

On the rear of the bag is a belt loop. This in combination with the size and shape of the bag and binoculars makes it very comfortable to wear on the hip and I find to be an excellent way in which to carry about these binoculars.

Neck Strap
As with the vast majority of compacts, the Pentax branded neckstrap included with the Papilio is quite thin (2cm) and unpadded. For a larger, heavier binocular this would be unacceptable, but for the Papilio I feel it is perfectly fine. In fact a larger, padded neck strap would only create unnecessary bulk for you to have to carry about.

One point to mention and a real highlight is the excellent attachment system that Pentax uses to fix the strap to the Papilio:

Not only is it very easy to click-in and out should you want to remove the strap, but once locked in, it is held very firmly in place and won't come away by accident, but at the same time it also allows the strap to move very freely and independently of the binocular which makes it fall into a natural position when bringing the binocular up to your eyes for added comfort. Once again, this is another example of the very good attention to detail shown by Pentax.

Neck Strap for the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars

Rain-guard the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 BinocularsDesigned to protect the eyecups and the exterior lenses on the eyepieces, the Pentax Papilio II binoculars come with a typical designed rain-guard.

Made from a soft plastic and branded with the Pentax logo, like the other accessories it is obviously not generic and performs the intended job well enough.

By this, I mean that the cups fit perfectly over the eyecups and so are just tight enough so that they don't come away too easily by accident, but not too tight that it makes taking them off or replacing them in anyway difficult.

I like it that the cups are connected into a single unit (for less pieces to misplace)and that they have flexible bridge between the cups which means that they can be returned onto the instruments eyecups without having to open up the hinge on the binocular.

This once again seems like a small thing I know, but I can assure you that it does get annoying to have to open and close your bins every single time you want to use them whilst on a walk.

The lens cover also has an eyelet on the side of the left cup that is designed for you to thread the neck strap through them, should you wish.

Cleaning Cloth
Pentax Papillio binoculars also come with a microfiber cleaning cloth that is as good as you would expect to find at this level and thus perfectly adequate for cleaning the body and in a pinch, fine for very light use on the lenses when out in the field. However, I would still recommend that you consider purchasing an inexpensive lens cleaning kit for thoroughly cleaning the lenses without the risk of damaging the lenses and their coatings.

Interestingly no instructions came with the instrument which is a little surprising. However, as this is a sample, this may have just been left out previously or by mistake, I am not sure. I will see if I can find out, but in the mean time if anyone has recently bought a pair and knows for certain, please drop me a line to let me know.

Accessories Score (for a Compact Binocular): 7/10

Review Conclusions:

So whilst the second generation Papilio is not radically different from the older version, I do feel Pentax have been smart in that they have kept everything that was great about the original and then made small but important improvements without increasing the overall cost and putting it into a different price category which I think is important and makes them even better value for money than before.

For me the standout upgrade is that the Papilio has gone from a simple multi-coated to a fully-multi coated optical system which results in an observable improvement to both the image quality and brightness and they now compare very well in both these areas to compact binoculars costing many times more than these do.

The general build-quality is excellent, which is especially impressive when you consider their relatively low price point which I have found to be a common theme on all the Pentax Optics that I have used, tested and reviewed in the past. I like the feel of the binocular in the hands and whilst the low-geared focus mechanism is not great for making rapid adjustments from near to far, it makes it very easy to fine tune the focus and achieve a perfectly sharp image.

The quality of the view is likewise very good, especially in relation to other compact instruments in their price range where I think you will certainly struggle to find anything better.

Included accessories are simple, but effective and I especially like the way that the neck strap attaches to the body making it very quick and easy to add or remove depending on your needs.

Room for Improvement
I guess you could argue that the lack of an objective lens cover is an oversight, but to be fair to Pentax, very few compact binoculars come with these included and the way that the lightweight carry case has been designed to hang from your belt, I think the idea is that you would use that instead as the way of protecting not only the lenses but the rest of the instrument well.

Even though I think they are "water resistant", one area where I think Pentax could improve the Papilio would be to add a fully sealed chassis and then fill it with a dry gas like nitrogen to make it fully water proof and protect the internal optics from fogging. Although having said that, being careful, I have never had an issue with them, but I am careful and would not consider taking them on a activity (like canoeing) where the chance of them getting very wet is high. So if they were fully waterproof, this would open them up to even more potential uses, making them even more versatile.

Ideal Uses & Users

Small, lightweight, with a very good quality, bright view (for a compact), an extremely close minimum focus distance and a reasonably wide field of view. The new Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 binoculars are as versatile as ever and thus make a good general use, all-round instrument which will excel in the following areas:

Not Ideal For

  • Very Low Light Conditions - true for most compacts with small lenses and exit pupils
  • Canoeing / Kayaking or anywhere where they are likely to get very wet / submerged in water - note that light spray or rain should not be an issue.

Carry Case, Neck Strap, Cleaning Cloth, Lens Covers & the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars

Reviewed by Jason Whitehead for Best Binocular Reviews

Best Binocular Reviews Ratings:

Body Construction Quality: 7/10 75%
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Components Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Attention to Detail: 7/10

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Best Compact Binoculars 2022Awards:

Best Compact Binoculars 2022

Main Specifications & Features:

  • Size: Compact Binoculars
  • [explain prism types]Prism Type: Reverse Porro Prism Binoculars
  • Magnification: 8.5x
  • [explain objective lens]Objective Lens Diameter: 21mm
  • [explain waterproofing]Waterproof: No
  • [about fogproofing]Fogproof: No

  • [explain exit pupil]Exit Pupil: 2.5
  • [explain twilight factor]Twilight Factor: 13.36
  • [explain eye relief]Eye Relief: 15mm
  • [explain IPD]IPD Max: 7.4cm
  • IPD Min: 5.6cm
  • Close Focus Distance: 1.6ft

  • Weight: 10.2ozs (289g)
  • Length: 4.6in (11.7cm)
  • Height: 2.2in (5.6cm)
  • Width: 4.3in (10.9cm)
  • Eyecup Diameter: 33mm
  • Ocular Lens Diameter: 15mm
  • Focus Wheel Diameter: 17mm
  • Focus from Near to Far, focus wheel rotates: 1080°

  • [explain real field of view]Real field of view: 6.0°
  • [explain apparent field of view]Apparent field of view: 51.0°
  • [explain field of view]Field of View: 105m at 1,000 meters
  • [explain field of view]Field of View: 315ft at 1,000 yards

  • Image Stabilization: No
  • [about Lens Coatings]Lens Coatings: Fully Multi-Coated
  • [about ED Glass]Extra Low Dispersion Glass: No
  • Locking Diopter: No
  • [about tripod adapters]Tripod Adaptable: Yes
  • Auto Focus: No

Pentax 8.5x21 Papilio II Binoculars Video Review


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Compact Binoculars | Reverse Porro Prism Binoculars | General Use Binoculars | Outdoor Sports Binoculars | Close-Focus Binoculars | Low Cost Binoculars

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Where to buy the Pentax Papilio II 8.5x21 Binoculars

General Price Range: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars

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