What I have learnt from my time reviewing binoculars, is that there is an incredible scope of variation between products.
This has made finding the right pair for my needs much more difficult than I would like.
Where a multitude of products will fulfill the long range purpose of bringing far off subjects into focus, there are comparatively few products that handle the finer details of nature viewing, such as up close observation of plants and insects.
Well enter Pentax’s UCF 8 16×21 Zoom Binoculars.
Pentax Video Review – Watch Below
Designed with this exact purpose in mind, Pentax take a shot at the portable microscope niche with their variable zoom binoculars.
Lightweight and compact, with excellent optics, these binoculars have massive potential, but do they fulfill it or fall horribly short?
Pentax UCF Binoculars Specifications
|Pentax UCF R 8x21
|Pentax UCF X 8x25
|Pentax UCF Zoom 16x21
Field of View
|3.3 x 4.3 x 1.9
|5.6 x 5.2 x 3
|4.4 x 4.4 x 2.2
Main Usage For The Pentax UCF Binoculars
These binoculars look to become more of a portable microscope than a product designed for bringing far off subjects into focus.
Designed to bring you up close to local again life and the insect world, the 62217s do exactly that.
The amazing close focus distance of just three meters makes these your go to pair of binoculars for looking at butterflies in the garden or tracking frequent bird visitors.
Capable of focusing on something that’s landed on your leg, these binoculars achieve the portable microscope functionality.
Because of their designed purpose, these are definitely a niche pair of binoculars.
This means that if you want to use them for anything else, such as scenic viewing or sports viewing, you’re really going to struggle.
For anything other than their primary function, the narrow field of view becomes inhibiting, obscuring large parts of a wide image.
As a result of this, I would suggest that these binoculars are more of a secondary pair to your existing long range pair, rather than an all in one solution for your binocular needs.
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Pentax employ fully multi-coated inverted pro prisms to generate the image quality here.
These prisms eliminate harmful UV rays, while optimizing the light transmission process for high contrast images, with no glare or lens flare.
The inverted porro prism design is what helps achieve the compact lightweight design, as well as generating the high quality image.
Pentax attempt to increase the versatility of these binoculars by including a variable zoom scope.
Capable of magnifying an image anywhere between 8x and 16x, these binoculars have a lot of power to offer.
However, as they are magnifying over a 21mm objective lens, the field of view created is very narrow, meaning that it is unlikely these binoculars will be able to fulfill any purpose other than their primary duty of close up insect or bird watching
The glasses clad user has again been considered here, with Pentax securing 14mm of eye relief at 8x magnification, and 11mm at 16x magnification.
This should be ample space for you and your specs, but it does not offer as much as it’s competitors such as Nikon.
Therefore, it may be worth sampling a pair of these before making the plunge into your wallet.
On the whole, the 62217s produce one hell of a bang for their buck.
They feature Pentax’s revolutionary dual-axis single body housing with synchronized eye-piece adjustment to assure correct optical alignment for comfortable viewing, as well as the inverted porro prisms to ensure delivery of crisp, high contrast imagery.
With a close focus distance of just 3 meters, these deliver unparalleled quality for up close observations.
However, because of the focus on close range viewing rather than distance, the image quality convolutes and becomes blurred when trying to focus on far off objects.
The big advantage of these compact binoculars are their lightweight and compact build.
Weighing just 28g, you’ll hardly notice that you are using these binoculars. The fact that so much power is crammed into such a small enclosure is almost baffling.
The other major plus point is the short focus distance, of just 3m, means that these are the ideal binoculars for observing bugs and insects from close range.
Drawbacks, where not plentiful, do make an appearance here.
Firstly, the field of view from these binoculars is very narrow, due to the 21mm objective lens.
This means they can’t be used for things like hunting and watching sports, as too much of the image is missing.
Furthermore, they are not great at bring anything into focus that is really far away, they are definitely designed for the close range viewing of your targets.
Where they are excellent at what they do, with no collimation of imagery which is usually common in close range binoculars, they can only really perform the one function even with the variable zoom.
These are a fantastic pair of insect binoculars, but they don’t fulfill any other role.
At under $100, they are a cheap addition to your binocular family, but should not be considered as the founding member unless they meet your exact viewing criteria.