For light, compact binoculars with extreme close focus, reviewers give top ranking to the Pentax Papilio. Though they can focus as close as 18 inches and can double as a field microscope, reviewers say the Pentax Papilio are also acceptable for birding and hunting, with a 393-foot field of view. Their 10.2-ounce weight and compact size (4.5 by 4.3 inches) make them ideal for sightseeing as well. They're considered excellent for their price, and carry a warranty that includes lifetime $20 repairs. However, the Pentax Papilio binoculars are not waterproof or fogproof, and don't gather enough light to make them comparable with better, bigger binoculars at dusk and dawn -- the best times to view birds and other wildlife -- for which reviewers recommend the more expensive Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 (Est. $250).
We found the best comparison review of the Pentax Papilio 6.5x21 at Outdoor Life, where field tests of 80 binoculars lead to an Editor's Choice award for the Papilio. Wayne Mones provides more detailed tests in his single-product review at BetterViewDesired.com. At Birdwatching.com, experienced binocular testers Michael and Diane Porter review the Papilio in two sizes. We also found useful comments from owners at Amazon.com and Excelsis.com, a site for amateur astronomers.
1. Outdoor Life
Based on field tests of about 80 binoculars, Outdoor Life magazine gives the Pentax Papilio 6.5x21 its Editor's Choice award, noting the Papilio provides a microscopic view of objects as close as 18 inches.
Review: Pentax Papilio 6.5x21, Editors of Outdoor Life, Summer 2005
Based on field tests, this detailed single-product review praises the Pentax Papilio 6.5x21, saying it "may be the coolest new optics to come along in a long time," with above-average color fringing and little edge distortion. Tests show the Papilio acceptable even for birding -- though the image isn't as detailed and bright as bigger binoculars could show.
Review: Butterfly Binoculars from Pentax, Wayne Mones, September 2005
This is a single-product review of the Papilio 6.5x21 binoculars, but it's written by two bird-watchers who have supervised comparison tests of many models. The review praises the compact Papilio 6.5x21 as binoculars "you'll always be glad to grab as you're going out the door," but recommends the more powerful Papilio 8.5x21 for birding.
Review: Pentax Papilio -- The Butterfly Binocular, Michael and Diane Porter
Though this is a website primarily for stargazers, a handful of owners review the Pentax Papilio here in great detail, recommending them for a variety of uses, from studying insects to watching sports.
Review: Pentax Papilio, Contributors to Excelsis.com
Only about a dozen owners review the Pentax Papilio 6.5x21 binocular here, but the comments are worth reading because they praise these binoculars as ideal for many situations and as well-suited for pros and novices alike.
Review: Pentax Papilio 6.5x21 Porro Prism Binocular Reviews, Contributors to Amazon.com