Gear Review: Pentax Papilio 8.5x21 Binoculars

A bargain binocular that doubles as a backcountry microscope.

KILLER DEAL

Macro


The Pentax Papilio 8.5x21 is like a backcountry microscope: This binocular focuses at very close range (20 inches) to magnify details on butterflies, wildflowers, starfish, and insects. “It reveals a fascinating world thriving right at my feet,” says one tester, who used it to zoom in on a rattlesnake. But it sharpens details of distant objects, too–she also ID’d a magpie backlit with alpenglow at 75 feet. Even its low-light performance is better than most binocs in this price range, thanks to a BaK4 prism that, with a higher refraction index, allows more light transmission and keeps images from appearing dim. $149; 10 oz.; pentaximaging.com

See all "essential" reviews from the 2011 Gear

Guide