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Pentax PCF III 16x50



Background:

These are my first real astronomy equipment other than my eyes. I got them off my brother, who had purchased them some years ago, after seeing them lying in a box at his house. My first thought was, "oh yeah, a cheap nasty pair of overpowered binoculars.". As it turns out, they have proved to be a great bit of gear.

I have had an armchair interest in Astronomy for many years and have become interested in visual astronomy of late. I have a 6" Synta made achromat on order, but only have these binoculars to date. I am based in Canberra Australia.

Details:

I can't comment on the original packaging as all I got were the binoculars, with caps for the objectives and eyecups, thin neck strap, in a soft pouch. They have some nice features that seem to be common in good binoculars: rubber coated body, BaK-4 Porro-prism, internal baffling, rubber eyecups, focus lock, click stop diopter +/-4 on right eyepiece, tripod mounting socket. The 50mm objectives are tinted dark green and appear to have quality coatings. They weigh in at 980g (34.6 oz). Official data indicates a 54 metre field of view at 1000 metres and an exit pupil of 3.1 mm.

I had some trouble nailing down the exact model of these binoculars. The labelling simply says PCF 16x50. The US Pentax web site only show PCF V 16x60. I now know that the pair I have are Pentax PCF III 16x50, based on the Pentax web sites outside the USA. I'm am unaware of why they are not listed on the US Pentax web site.

Viewing:

These offer a sharp and bright 3.1 degree FOV with little discernable astigmatism. They have good eye relief at around 20mm. I personally find them awkward for hand holding as the image bounces around too much for my liking; I would never have made it as a surgeon! I put them on a Vanguard video camera tripod with a binocular adapter. I'm not all that impressed with this tripod as it is too stiff for fine movement, but it does allow me to have the binoculars at almost seven feet off the ground and being 6' 5" (195 cm) tall myself, I find this very useful!

I have looked at a bunch of DSOs and the moon and found the images very clear and pleasing to the eye. I managed to see LINEAR C/1999 S4 in these in light polluted skies. More detail on my viewing experiences with these binoculars can be found at www.enzerink.net/peter/astronomy/observations.html.

Bottom line:

I have used them for about six months now and have abandoned earlier thoughts of buying a better/bigger pair of binoculars. No, they aren't perfect. In an ideal world I would have preferred slightly bigger objectives to give me more FOV, but at ~$335 AUD I think they are a great buy in Australia. I have seen them advertised on the internet for around $170 USD.



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