Gear Review: Pentax Papilio 8.5×21 Binoculars

A bargain binocular that doubles as a backcountry microscope.



The Pentax Papilio 8.5×21 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.;

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