Pentax Sport Optics Binocular Roundup

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Pentax recently released an exciting new lineup of sport optics, which includes 34 binoculars. Knowing how diverse the applications of binoculars are, the company created four different series to accommodate any niche. These new models range from full-sized pieces that are designed to take advantage of the faintest hints of ambient light, to small and lightweight go-anywhere models that would be perfectly at home in a shirt pocket. Magnification, objective lens diameter, size, weight, and intended use were all taken into account when creating these models that span the entire gamut of features.

As anyone who has spent any length of time glued to their binoculars can tell you, the ounces can add up quickly. This is why Pentax’s engineers chose a magnesium alloy when it was time to design the flagship binocular, the Z Series. Magnesium is an ideal choice for a binocular chassis because it provides the durability you need out in the field to absorb life’s bumps and bruises, as well as the light weight that permits you to spend all day viewing your favorite subjects. Anyone who is serious about birding or any wildlife viewing, for that matter, will tell you that animals tend to be most active during periods of low light, such as at dawn and dusk. Taking these needs into account, the designers used a series of optical elements designed to provide excellent performance during those crucial twilight hours.

Prisms form the heart of every binocular. For the top-of-the-line series, a phase-coated roof prism was chosen for its ability to transmit light and still provide a compact form factor that is both ergonomic and easy to handle. When it came time to design the lenses, Pentax used hybrid aspherical elements to ensure that subjects on the edge of your field of view are as sharp as the ones in the center. Almost as important to binoculars’ performance as the prisms and the grind applied to the lenses are the coatings that are utilized. To that end, multi-layer coatings were applied to the precision-ground glass. These coatings ensure the maximum amount of light transmission to provide clear images even in waning light conditions. Avid birders will appreciate the extra low-dispersion glass and quick handling characteristics of these three stand-out models in the Z-Series: 8x43, 10x43, and 10x50. Keeping with the real-world design features, a specialized protective coating was applied to help keep the lenses free of dust, water, and grease that can harm image quality. The binoculars are nitrogen filled, so they are water- and fog-proof, adding to their durability and usability.

Delivering full-size binocular performance at a more modest price point, the S-Series still provides a number of premium features. Large objective lenses permit optimal light transmission, which allows for great contrast in any number of lighting conditions. Unlike the Z Series, this line uses two different prism types. While they are both BAK4 prisms featuring the round exit pupil for which they are known, some models utilize a roof design and others feature a Porro configuration. Unlike roof prisms, Porro prisms do not permit a straight-through tube design, so binoculars utilizing them are typically larger. While this may be of no consequence to users with larger hands, it can be a consideration for some. 

These differences in prism types contribute to the diversity of this series. Some of these models feature a wide field of view that makes them ideal for keeping an eye on fast-moving targets, while others feature extremely high powers to showcase greater detail in your subjects. The 12x50 SP binocular features a 67-degree apparent angle of view, which is very wide, especially considering the high magnification. In the rest of the series, the magnifications range from an easily handheld 8x all the way up to 20x power. Whatever prism is used, all of the models in the S-Series feature a rigid body construction that holds the optics in precise alignment. Some models in this series are nitrogen-filled, which prevents them from fogging in extreme temperature changes, which also makes them waterproof—and particularly well suited to use around water or other humid environments. The SD models have a specialized protective coating that repels dust, water, and grease, so you can spend more time viewing and less time cleaning. Many users might find that the open bridge design of the 9x42 SD WP binocular provides them with a more solid grip. Additionally, the 9x power represents a good transition between eight and ten power and might not require a stabilizing device, such as a tripod or harness that 10x and greater models might require.

No matter how great the optical qualities of your binoculars are, they are no good to you if you leave them at home. This is the premise behind Pentax’s compact offerings: the A Series. The designers wanted to create a series that was small and lightweight enough that they always found their way into your pack, so you could partake of those once-in-a-lifetime sights that seem to pop up out of nowhere. While these binoculars are diminutive in size, they still provide good optical quality to make the most of your outdoor experience. The construction consists of fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate that is rigid enough to provide for proper optical alignment but still be consistent with the lightweight design ethic. One of the benefits of this material: it is not affected by changes in temperature, which means that it won’t expand and contract the way a metal housing might, and that over time may cause the optical components to move out of collimation, preventing the ability to achieve sharp focus. Again, these models feature both Porro and roof prisms to optimize light transmission, weight, and handling characteristics of each unit. There are both open- and closed-bridge designs so you can find a model that fits your hands well. The bodies are nitrogen-filled to be water- and fog proof, and the lenses are fully multi-coated so you get clear images in a wide range of viewing conditions. One of the most notable models in this line is the 8x36 AD WP binocular, which features closed-bridge construction and twist-up eye cups.

Pentax wanted its consumers to have an optic that would perform both indoors and out for concerts, sporting events, or other performances. This idea led to the creation of the U Series, a unique line of lightweight binoculars that features a fixed-center bridge. Because of the unified center, the eyepieces move in unison, so they remain symmetrical while adjusting the interpupillary distance. The design features Porro prisms to ensure good depth of field, even though the objective lenses are relatively small. These binoculars have objective lenses that range from 21 to 25mm, and fixed-power models have magnifications of 8x and 10x power. The 8-16x21 zoom models ensure you don’t miss any action, whether you are seated on the fifty-yard line or in the nosebleed section. Aspherical lens elements provide edge-to-edge sharpness and combine with multicoated lenses to give you the best possible viewing at your next event. Many may find the waterproof nature of the 8x25 UP WP compact binocular ideal because they can withstand the rain showers that sometimes accompany trips to the track or soccer field.

No matter what your intended use, Pentax has a binocular for you. From top-of-the-line models designed to give great low-light performance on your next safari, to units designed with your next trip to the concert hall in mind, you can find something for you in the Pentax product lineup. Pick up a pair soon so you don’t miss out on the great sights that are all around you—but not that near. 

2 Comments

I have ASAHI 10 x 50 5.0 Pntax binocular.  Coulld you tell me approx vslue.  Condition excellent.  Thank you   Alan Jefey  maral4444@aol.com

We are not able to evaluate used gear here to be able to give you a quote, but we do have a few simple options to get an estimate.  The first is to use our Used Product Calcualtor feature on our website (see the link below), or you may send an email directly to our Used Dept. Agents via email and they can give you a base estimate.  Simply provide as much detail as you can about the condition, any accessories and cases etc and original literature you may have in an email to usedphoto@bhphoto.com.  Below is the link to the online calculator for you to view:

http://bhpho.to/1KUi3QY

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