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Pentax DCF SP Binoculars?

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 03:57 AM

Howdy everyone... Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and that a few of you at least might have some new "additions" to the bino fleet :jump:

Anyway, to kick of the "in between Christmas and New Year lull", I have a query regarding the newer model Pentax DCF SP binos (specificaly the 8x43 and 10x43 models).

Has anyone had a look at these?

This range has full multicoating, phase coating, hydrophobic coating, waterproof, fogproof, aspherical lenses, rubber housing, and four stop helicoid eyecups, among other things!

The 8x43 has a 6.3 FOV (50 AFOV) and the 10x43 has a 6.0 FOV (60 AFOV) - more desirable view.

I think 8x would be more desirable for hand holdability (general sky viewing and orientation, locating constellations, etc for a compliment to an 8" scope), but the 10x model has a "wider" feel with a 60 degree AFOV (I can handhold 10x quit well, but wonder if 8x would be even better).

I am 90% sold on a pair of Swift Audubon 8.5x44's but have a few issues with no warranty in Australia and the fact that I can't "try before I buy" (have a few reservations about the twist up eyecups fitting my head, etc. As many would know, ergonomics can be a real killer regardless of the quality of the optics) :crazy:

Price wise, the Swift binos will come in around the $400 Aussie Dollars mark (with no local warranty), while I can source the Pentax DCF SP 10x43 binos locally for around $750 Aussie Dollars (nearly double the Swift price, but I can "try before I buy" with these and they have a full local warranty).

Any feedback on the possible optical differences between the Swift and the Pentax?

The biggest "issue" is the narrow FOV with the Pentax (6 degrees compared to 8.2 degrees with the Swift).

I am really attracted to the idea of a wide field of view and the wide 70 degree AFOV with the Swift, but am not sure what degree of distortion and loss of image quality comes with this toward the edges of the FOV as a result (I believe the central sharpness is fantastic, and have read feedback ranging from "great for scanning the sky" to "wouldn't recommend them for astronomy as they have very noticeable field curvature on the outer 20-30% of the FOV").

The Pentax by their design apparently have a VERY flat FOV (mainly due to the narrower 6 degree FOV and use of aspherical lenses in the eyepiece design).

In US terms I guess the question is "would you buy the Swift for around $250 USD (sight unseen) or would you buy the Pentax for around $450 USD on a try before you buy basis"?

I am at a point where I have exhausted all my local suppliers (albeit with limited range) and have not found any binoculars that I am happy with. The Swift binos are my "best bet" at this point, but without trying them, I am unsure about going ahead with the purchase (I could return them from Australia back to the USA, but at a double cost for shipping - nearly $150 USD in total including import duty etc - not something I want to do if I can avoid it!). The Pentax are a more expensive, but safer option, albeit with the narrower FOV as their major limitation!

I know they are quite different in design and specs (FOV as well as porro vs roof prism), but would appreciate any thoughts, feedback, pearls of wisdom, or random thoughts on the meaning of life anyway :waytogo:

Have a fantastic New Year :yay:

Frilby :winky:

#2 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 11:28 AM

Frilby,

Are these anything like the Pentax PCF WP's?
Ray a.

#3 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 07:47 PM

Ray,

Nope... They are a roof prism design (slimline). I'm not fussed too much about the design, just looking for the best I can get in my area with limited cash (a common theme among optics junkies)...

I have had a look at the PCF range and they have very good optics for their price (very narrow FOV however - 5 degree in the 10x50 with only a 50 degree AFOV - tunnel vision). I also had problems with the very large plastic pullup eyecups as they where too big to sit comfortably between the eyes (an example of "good optics - but unsuitable ergonomics").

I must say that aside from the bad ergonomic "fit" for me personally, and the narrow FOV, the Pentax PCF range is one of my favorite as far as build, look, feel, design, etc. It just doesn't "feel right" - something you can't really explain, but just makes it undesirable despite all it's good qualities.

Anyway, enough dribble for now...

Frilby :winky:

#4 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 10:51 AM

Frilby,

Thanks for the clarification! That's true, you can have a Mercedes but if it doesn't drive straight, it's not going to be an enjoyable ride. I did also pull up the Pentax website and Read about those. Do you think they are better than the PCF WP's? Not as much magnification though!

Ray A.

#5 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 08:52 PM

A pretty good analogy... Because I am in Australia, I cannot "try before I buy" the Swift binos (which are my preferred favorite at the moment). It's a bit like trying to mail order a pair of shoes. Despite a heap of people praising their comfort and durability, you never really know if they are going to fit your feet until you try them on... I'm just hoping that if I buy a $400 pair of shoes that they fit when they arrive in the mail. I don't have any doubts that they are the best shoe I can get for my money, but ultimately it comes down to "the complete package" not just specs and performance.

Optics for Birding has about the only major review on these binos that I could find:

http://www.optics4bi...ntax-dcf-sp.htm

They give them pretty great reviews.

I would say though that in comparison to the PCF WP range, they are significantly more expensive.

I would really only choose the DCF SP's over the PCF WP's if size, weight, and FOV where an issue.

The only reason I did not pick up a pair of the 10x50 PCF WP's is because the FOV was too narrow (5 degrees) and the pull up eyecups did not suit my face (I found them too wide to sit comfortably on my face).

Image quality between the two would most likely be similar (although possibly sharper to the edge in the DCF SP as it has aspherical lenses), but always at a price!

Frilby :winky:

#6 Charlie Fisher

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 12:01 AM

Frilby, you can analyze only so long. It seems that fit is very important to you (as it should be). Buy a pair that you have tried and liked, have satisfactory optical quality and be done with it, get on with observing! You will be glad.

Searching for optics is a means, not an end. The end is observing. Pick what you like and get it now that you have researched so hard. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. That last .5% of performance probably cannot equal the value of the extra time you lose observing.

Charlie, happy Swift 8.5X44ED user, who even though I might have done better I don't worry I just look for birds & open clusters...

#7 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 01:54 PM

Hi Frilby, I sure wish you would get a cheap pair of binoculars while you try to figure this out. Can you get some Bushnells or something for under $50-$75 in an 8x40 size? It pains me to see you struggle with this so much and at the same time not being able to explore the sky!

Hope you have a good New Year! Tom

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 01 January 2004 - 11:55 PM

Frilby: Did you look at Pentax PCF WP's in 8x40? They are less expensive and have a 6.3 FOV, same as the DCF model. True, they feel about as ergonomic as a block of wood.

The higher cost of Pentax DCF is due to the more difficult process of precisely aligning roof prisms. Lighter weight but some light lost to internal reflections.



#9 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 January 2004 - 12:42 AM

Howdy, Frilby.

I have both the DCF SP's (10x43), and the 8.5x44ED's (#804ED), the Swift's not being the current generation recently released (waterproof).

For me the first consideration is magnification. I use 10 power (10x50's) for handheld astro-observing exclusively as I find it offers the best contrast, FOV/penetration for any object I'm trying to locate, all other considerations being equal. Of course, they're seldom equal in a world with so many choices!

I use the ED's for daylight observing around the house, and the SP's ride in my truck for on-the-road glassing. I brought them out tonight to do a quick comparison for you, and believe me, I'm no expert.

When viewing the bright Moon, some limb color is seen with both (despite the Swift ED glass), with the ED's showing significantly greater internal reflections and ghosting. Also the eye-reflected moonlight bouncing off the eyelens was more easily seen with the ED's.

But, who wants to look at the Moon with a field glass, anyway? On to the (moonlit) starfields.

The ED's have a noticably wider AFOV than the SP's though I wouldn't know how to measure this. But, there is a problem. The center-field "sweet spot" in the ED's begins to degrade rapidly appoximately halfway out to the edge, effectively eliminating the apparent field advantage. In the SP's, the field curvature does not come into play until the 75-80% line is reached. With this outer area of progressively defocused light, what you have is a central view focused and contrasted, with a band of hazy light surrounding it. The band is larger and brighter in the ED's creating a less pleasing image (to me) than the SP's.

Light grasp (under tonight's sky, remember) was roughly the same as far as I could tell, which makes sense with their near-equal apertures. And, I noticed no differences in the ability of either pair to produce a sharp image, on-axis. The SP's will reach focus quicker the the ED's, hardly a concern for astronomers.

Ergonomically, the ED's are heavier and slightly larger than the SP's, though this difference is minor, and both are easy to hold. The SP's twist-up eyecups are a major improvment over the pull-up cups employed on the PCF's and DCF WP's (I have the 8x32). The ED's rubber cups are comfortable and do fold down.

So. Your decision now should be as clear as mud.

Good luck.

#10 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 January 2004 - 02:48 AM

Thanks for the feedback David...

It was great to get some feedback on both the Pentax and the Swift (from the same user)... and you are right - It's as clear as mud!

Your feedback was close to what I was expecting (wider view of Swift distorted more and was less "pleasing" than sharper Pentax).

I am impressed with the Pentax SP 10x43 based on everything other than the narrower FOV (6 degrees vs the Swift's 8.2). That's a big difference!

How does the size of the "clear" view compare between both (i.e would you say the Swift has a wider usable view than the Pentax or visa versa)?

Overall I am attracted to the Swift based on the FOV - but only if that FOV is reasonably usable...

Every little bit of feedback helpds David... and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to compare both binos and send some feedback. It's Fantastic, and it all helps in making a final decision!

Hope you had a great New Year!

Frilby :winky:


#11 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 04 January 2004 - 04:06 AM

How does the size of the "clear" view compare between both (i.e would you say the Swift has a wider usable view than the Pentax or visa versa)?






Pentax the winner here, because the edge distortion is a much smaller percentage of the field.

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 12:49 PM

Frilby and David,

I told you Frilby that you cannot get a better view,contrast or resolution than in the Pentax.
Buy Them!!!!!!!!!!!
Ray A.

#13 KennyJ

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 01:41 PM

Even though I think I was the first person to suggest the DCF SP model to Frilby for serious consideration , I feel I must throw an element of doubt into this sudden outpouring from the Pentax Appreciation Society .

I have read of several people recently who have had to send Pentax models back to their suppliers, presumably as a result of inconsistent quality control.

Just a ( wicked ! ) thought .

Regards --Kenny.

#14 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 09:17 PM

There is always a "twist" :crazy:

I might even see if I can track down a pair of the Bushnell 8x42 H2O binos as a "quick and nasty pair"... Maybe!

Would you believe that they go for around $50 USD but sell for nearly $200 Aussie here! Going by the current currency rate, they should only be about $70...

To Pentax or not to Pentax...
To Swift or not to Swift...
To give up or not to give up... THAT is the question :confused:

I will continue on my path of dicsovery (it is still enjoyable) but will be making a decision soon as I will be travelling in March for a week where dark skies will abound and a scope cannot go, so binoculars will be a necessary item for this trip!

Don't give up on me yet guy's... :jump:

Frilby :winky:

#15 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 12:10 AM

I have read of several people recently who have had to send Pentax models back to their suppliers, presumably as a result of inconsistent quality control.


Regards --Kenny.


Notice how Kenny fails to mention WHICH model glasses had to go back? Not all Pentax binos are made and asssembled in Japan. For U.S. import, I believe only the SP's are 100% Japanese.

Now, having said that, do I also believe Pentax infallible, with nary a QC issue? Not on your life! (I've had the displeasure of having a $250 XP ep in hand with junk sandwiched INSIDE the cemented doublet!).

Hmmm...Frilby, have you considered Swarovski?

#16 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 12:41 AM

I have David, but the price is way over my budget (around $500ish USD Max - I originally started at around $150-200 so I'm not doing too bad so far!)...

The Nikon SE 10x42 is very attractive, but again in Australia these retail for around $1,300. I can import them cheaper but again suffer from the warranty issues, etc.

I am trying to max out at around $700 Aussie Dollars at the most if I can and as such I realise that compromise will most certainly be a necessary factor in the process...

But... I can dream :smirk:

Frilby :winky:

#17 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 01:04 AM

OK... How about this one Kenny!

I've had a look at the Canon 10x30 IS and they retail for just over $1k here :(

Given that these have been recommended by a couple of people, what is the real visual impact with this drop in aperture (from say 42mm down to 30mm)?

The reason I ask is because Pentax also do an 8x32 DCF SP which has a 7.5 degree FOV (60 degree AFOV) with all the SP features like aspherical lenses, four stop eyecups, waterproof, fogproof, rubber armoured, etc.

Given that the 8x43 and 10x43 binos are quite sharp to the edge, would it follow that the 8x32 should also be sharp?

Am I shooting myself in the foot by dropping so low in aperture?

I have a pair of Nikon 10x25 roofs at the moment and they a pretty great right across the 5 degree FOV, and in fact I use these more than the "loan" 10x50 binos (7 degree FOV) I got recently mainly because the Nikon is much sharper (while the 7 degree FOV of the 10x50's is fantastic!).

I'm happy to find a medium ground between sharpness and wide FOV, but herein lies the dilemma... Where do I draw the line? :shrug:

If I discount the Swift for now... that opens up a huge range of 8x40ish binos all under the $300 mark, all with 8.2 degree FOV, etc, but when the field becomes 10-15 binos all with similar specs how do you begin to narrow the field when you cannot try any locally without "ordering to keep" (no "order to try" retailers around here!)...

The Minoltas look good on paper, 8.2 FOV, weather resistant, fogproof (although I am not sure how you get fogproof withour being waterproof), and stepped eyecups, etc... But how do they compare with the Swift for example when it comes to edge of field distortion, size of sharp/useable FOV, etc...

:tonofbricks:Ahhh... that feels better getting that off my chest!

Anyway... I will get there! If nothing else I have reached a point where I know what I don't want, its just working out what binos do or don't have these features/faults...

The online journey continues...

Frilby :winky:

#18 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 01:26 AM

Am I shooting myself in the foot by dropping so low in aperture?
Frilby :winky:


I had my aforementioned 8x32 DCF WP's out with the other two glasses Saturday night, mainly to reafirm my feelings (which coincide with yours) on the pull-up eyecup feature, and although they were sharp-sharp-sharp, stars that were obvious in the 43/44's were wobbling on the edge of detectability at 32.

These wobblers were in the mag 7.5 range from my moderately light-polluted back yard.

#19 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 01:43 AM

Thanks David... I suspected that this may be the case...

I am really tempted with the Pentax SP 10x43 binos with the only exception being the 6 degree FOV :crazy: (and the fact that Kenny and a few others have swayed me towards 8x rather than 10x for better hand holdability).

The Pentax 8x43 SP's are still tempting in this regard but they only have a 50 degree AFOV (tunnel vision) and this is the very thing I was trying to avoid and the reason why the Swift 8.5x44 was so attractive - Those wide "wow" views of the night sky!

I will continue to ponder...

Frilby :winky:

#20 geoffrey

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 04:57 AM

Hello Frilby
For what it's worth I much prefer looking through my new Opticron 10x50 FOV 5.3 than my old Swift 8x40 Belmont extra wide FOV 472ft at 1000 yrds. You see more and the stars are brighter.

For my part I tend not to bother about the FOV, as I use the Binos to see objects and providing I can get all the Pleiades in view, who cares what else you can see.

If we want FOV,we can use our naked eyes. Do we really want to see the Pleiades when looking Orions belt??????

Geoffrey



#21 geoffrey

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 07:19 AM

After writing the above, and seeing that the weather was bright, blue sky and cloud, I got both pairs of Binos. jumped in the car and drove to the top of the local hill. (O the joys of being retired!)

I have a panoramic view of towns on one side and the hills on the other.
I have to say the different fields of view did not bother me at all, even when panning through 360 degrees, as you still tend to focus on one thing as I said above.

What was most noticeable was the light gathering power of the 10x50's so it was "no contest"

I can hand hold both pairs in the daylight, but prefer a tripod for stars on the 10x50.

Both are great Binos, but I cannot really see me using the 8x40 much from now on. I bought the 10x50 for Astronomy, and eventually might buy some 20x60 or 20x80. I just intend to learn and enjoy the sky ( should we ever get another clear night!!)

If I was younger 9x63 might be the best, as they would be easier to hand hold
Light gathering power and eye relief seems to be the answer at my age for stargazing

Thats my lot for what it's worth.

Geoffrey




#22 KennyJ

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 02:42 PM

David,

Please understand that I probably spend at least 20 hours per week ( sometimes 40 ) reading reviews , reports and numerous forums specifically related to binoculars.

I do try to keep as much information to hand as I can , often by printing out from my PC , but this is only a casual hobby of mine that I squeeze in between my regular 45 hour per week job and being a husband ,father of five and grandfather !

I cannot possibly recall every single detail of everything I read , and in the case of Pentax binoculars , so many PCFs DCFs SPs WPs and all else does little to assist mental retainment.

What I DO understand however is that the complaints in the cases to which I was referring related to at least two highly rated spotting scopes ( I temporarily forget the P reference for these ), 10 x 50 Porros ( and not the cheaper XCFs -- which I have also heard varying reports about) and 8 x 42 and 10 x 42 Roofs , both of which are generally very highly rated, and probably for very good reasons.

I appreciate that ANY manufacturer is capable of producing a "lemon" and repeat that I have no reason to dissuade anyone from purchasing any Pentax product( indeed only weeks ago I actually recommended a Pentax 10 x 50 to a member of this very forum --and he is one delighted owner now ) apart from my repeated warnings of the fact that narrow fields of view are not everyone's cup of tea , even if they do invariably equate to flatter fields more preferable for astronomy than the wider field models that I happen to prefer for "all round use" myself.

That said it does seem to me that when Pentax DO try to produce a binocular with an "average" TFOV ( e.g the XCFs )
then the qualities so admired by many satisfied owners of their more expensive models are lost.

I may be wrong -- it certainly won't be the first time !
but then again - I might be right : -)

Frilb -- I will say here and now that I have personally only ever tried the Canon 10 x 30 IS binos in daylight , several times -- and have been QUITE , although not OVERLY impressed by them - but I am comparing them with my Zeiss ,Swarovski and Swift Audubons. Make no mistake --if someone offered me a pair for £100 UK -- I would bite their hands off !

So many people who would appear to be far more interested in binocular astronomy than I am seem to share a VERY high opinion of the 10 x 30 IS specifically for that use --so I am presuming that they can't ALL be wrong ?

The only time I've ever really spent a LOT of time stargazing is when I've been on holidays to Mediterranean or Canary Islands -- where , completely unlike my home location of Lancashire , England , it has been SO warm and with incredibly clear skies that I could have quite happily laid there ALL night taking in the thousands of stars ,even without binoculars.

When there are SO many stars (and I know from personal visits to Australia , Fiji and New Zealand just how many can be visible from over in your neck of the woods Frilb)then I simply cannot understand how even 30mm binoculars can fail to satisfy.

Apart from apparantly having edge performance rated as THE VERY BEST that Todd Gross and other renouned "experts" have ever seen in ANY binocular , even at 10x , Image Stabilisation of SOME sort is all but essential for me personally -- and I dare say for many more people than either care to admit or actually realise , or both .

Finally , ALL I am trying to do is HELP -- nothing more -nothing less !

Regards --Kenny.






#23 brocknroller

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 06:17 PM

Kenny,

Twenty hours a week reading bin reviews?! And you're still married? Does your wife have an equally tolerant sister who is willing to immigrate to the US? If so, please send me her phone # in a private email. :smirk:

Ah, Pentax. Somewhere along the line (PCF III?), they decided to introduce field flattner lenses into their PCF porros and trade off FOV for edge sharpness. The earlier PCFs (II?) had wider FOV but fuzzier edges.

For many amateur astronomers, it was a fair trade off. It was for me before increasingly cloudy weather drove me to using my optics for birding and nature study. Hey, binoculars work during the day, who would have thunk it!

My 20X60 Pentax with only 2.2* FOV was not suitable for birding, by the time I found a bird in a bush, it took off, and it was impossible to follow it in flight. The PCF Vs also exhibited an objectionable amount of false color, though not as bad as the 1999 version of the Obie 15X70, which had the worse color correction I've seen in a bin. Except for bright stars, the Obie wasn't too bad on the night sky, but for terrestrial use, forgetaboutit -- birds looked like they were painted with smeared water colors.

So when I started applying bins, and particular my Pentax PCF V, to terrestrial use, two shortcomings, from a birder's perspective, came to light: narrov FOV and false color.

The other problem, which you mentioned, was the spotty quality control, and that was my experience with Pentax. The 20X60 that I ended up with, and later sold, was the THIRD one I purchased. On the first, the right eyecup wouldn't stay fully extended, and the second was miscollimated. I also had a fourth, the WP version, which didn't seem as sharp as the PCF V, and it felt significantly heavier. And those oversized hard plastic eyecups aren't everyone's cup o' tea. BUT, for the price, the optics are very sharp, and if you have enough patience to look for DSOs (or can rig up a laser pointer or finder on a "C" adapter), the 16X60 and 20X60 Pentax PCF V bins represent two of the best buys in astro bins.

Then Pentax set out to conquer the birding market by introducing the first, or one of the first, mid-priced roof prism bins with phase coating (prior an exclusive feature of premium roof bins) with their DCF WP series. Soon similar P-coated roofs were popping up everywhere -- Orion Savannah, Leupold WindRIver Olympics, Eagle Optics Rangers, and others. Okay, now I'm a birder so I naturally wanted one... until I looked through a friend's and found the same two "problems" -- narrow FOV (relatively speaking) and false color. I then picked up another friend's 8X32 Superior E. The FOV was wider than an 8X Pentax (7.5* TFOV, 60* AFOV), and I was amazed at the sharpness (better than the Pentax), and I could go from a bird 10 ft. away to Saturn with just a few turns of the focuser. That day my brief but passionate love affair with Pentax was over (we'll always have the Double Cluster), and my love affair with Nikon began. But the Superior E was no cheap date, and it would be quite a while before I could afford to woo her into my collection. :cool:

Whether or not Pentax has improved its quality control with its PCF WP series, I don't know. But there was a time, when ordering a PCF V was hit or miss affair, but the hits were very exciting indeed, as long as you pointed it UP.

Brock




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