20X Binocs: Alternative to BigEyes?


Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2001
N. Dakota
Has anyone experience with the Pentax PCF 20x60 binocs? I am entertaining them as an alternative to a spotting scope.

I have my concerns to their optical quality as their price is very afforadable. I am/was saving to get a Leupold 12x40 S/Scope, but the concept of the bigeyes has me curious.

So I am just checking all the angles as I am a firm believer in quality optics, you get what you pay for. And considering the price of the Pentax binocs, well lets just say I don't want to throw away money that could be used towards a quality spotting scope.

Open to comments, suggestions and opinions..

Catshooter, Thanks, I'll take a look at the stieners.

Boyd, speaking from "my experience" using a single spacemaster spotting scope, my head still hurts, & the clarity was less than favorable. But I cannot judge them as a bigeye set up as I have never had the opportunity to look thru them.

I have a pair of top end B&L 7x binocs and love em. I researched and tried out all in that class, only took me 2 years to finally ascertain beyond doubt, the B&L's were for my eyes. Now in that two years I learned alot about optics. Thats what has me concerned about the Pentax as I looked through dang near every 7 & 8 x binocs made and did not find (IMO) a pair that was decent for my eyes under $400. Those Pentax 20x list on BearBasin for $229 so I am shy.

My confusion on the bigeyes, in part comes from my experience with a single spacemaster. I can see the eye strain going away using big eyes, but I'll still question the optical quality or lack thereof.

Until I get a chance to look through a set myself, I better shut-up commenting on something that is held in high regards that I have no experience using. I certainly hope that I have not offended anyone as my observations are my own and not intended to **** anyone off..
Guess I just gotta get my rear to one of the 1K matches and have a look see. As the biggest thing I learned about optics is to look through them under the conditions your to use them in, if you like them, thats all that matters....

Thank you all for your time...

Been thinking the same thing with the 16X60 set. From their brochure, they do use BaK4 lenses and they are supposed to be multicoated. That is good. Also the lenses are Aspherical which will help with edge distortion. Also good. They may not be waterproof, just water resistant.

My guess is that Porro Prism tech is a lot cheaper. Like you, I would love to hear from anyone who has used these glasses.

I used my 12 power Nikon bino's for a year and a half (excellent glasses) and realized they just weren't enough for the type of long range bench shooting that I was engaged in. I looked at most of the high power bino's and couldn't find any that met my needs. Finally, I bit the bullet and bought a set of Swift big eyes with 22 power wide angle lenses. By far the best investment I have made to date. They cost around $900 but well worth it to me.

"...do you have the Ralley's or the Senators???"

The Senators. If I needed anyhing better, I would go to a very big 80mm or 100mm ED glass spotter.

As to the optical quality of the Bushnell "Space masters".

Back in '90 or '91, they made a special run of "ED" glass 60mm Spacemasters that were fairly expensive. They only made them for about a year, cuz they didn't sell well... reason was that the Spacemaster eyepieces were (and still are) real garbage, so the best objectives on the scope was wasted by the poor eyepiece.

But I got one of these ED Spacemasters, and found that Kowa made a 50mm scope with screw on eyepieces that fit the Spacemasters, and their 11x33 (for the 50mm Kowa) was an EXCELLENT eyepiece for the ED Spacemaster, and because the SM had a 60mm obj, the real power was now 15x45...

Kowa may still have some of these eyepieces left, and they will do wonders to any SM scope.

Seem like a lot of spotting scopes have mickey-mouse eyepieces - makes you wonder why the manufactures would do that... Think it might be to save a buck and make lots of $ in corporate profit?

Have you seen the new Swarovsi HD spotting scope? Burns your eyeballs. Someone with more money than he knows what to do with should make a set of BigEyes out of two of those suckers.

Understand Nikon is working on a new bigger ED model, as in 85mm or so. That will be a good one - right now their 78ED blows away anything we have compared it to (and that is a lot of spotting scopes - had it at the Badlands three times and it was the king).

One big weakpoint in using spotting scopes is the wobbly, crappy little tripods that most companies flog - sure would like to find a really good small-sized tripod for prone use with an easy to use ballhead.
Just FYI,
I have a pair of pentax 20 x 50 pcf binoculars that I picked up 3 years ago for hunting west texas. I have had no problems with the quality of the binoculars. I have a tripod and also a monopod that I use with them for glassing. I like the binocular format for my style of hunting because I find them easy to set up and easy on my eyes. The price was easy to take to. I have had mine fog up due to my breath before but in texas that is usually not a problem. I typically use them to scout agricultural fields in the areas that I hunt. I can clearly see the far edge of most fields to assess game. I have found that they perform well for my purposes and would purchase them again.
I have been looking into making BIGEYES using some of the new costly European glass in 65 and 80 mm sizes. The problem is that because the eyepiece is fixed on the unit, making them work for more than one person is unlikely. Lot of money not to be able to share. There is a reason that Kowa, Spacemasters, and Swifts are used and it is not for their quality but because THEY WORK.

Kowa also made a 27x WA for 60mm objectives (22x @ 50mm) that fit the Spacemasters--we have a couple sets for our glasses (there are still some around) and they are great with the Spacemasters and Balscopes. But I never thought the Spacemaster eyepieces were junk, especially the 22x WA. I've used them for about 25 years now. A friend of mine has a set put together with the ED glass (Spacemaster) and they are really nice with the 22x WA or the 27x WA eyepieces. I used to have a pair of 24x by 120mm American Battleship binoculars and the Spacemasters I thought looked pretty good comparing them to these. I don't know who made the eyepieces for the Spacemaster but Kowa made a lot of eyepieces for the Balscopes. I've heard the 22x WA eyepieces for the Swift Panther are good. I know they fit the Spacemasters and Balscopes but don't really know how good they are. I have a pair of Swift 20x by 80mm Binoculars that aren't bad but definitely not in the long range hunting class like the Spacemasters and Kowas. Savorsky (don't know how to spell it) used to make a 23x by 70mm Binocular that was good, even had a roof on it to protect it from the rain. The Weaver Spotting Scopes from the 70's were made by Kowa. A friend of mine has a pair he made up with turrets and they are superb. I saw two NEW weavers together (20x by 50mm) last year and they didn't look bad plus they were smaller and compact for pack in.
Re: The Pentax PCF binos, they are discontinuing the non-waterproof version in favor of the PCF 'WP' (waterproof).

Right now, you can get the 16x60 PCF WP from BHphotovideo.com for about $162.00 shipped, and then you get a $25.00 rebate! The 20x version will cost about $40 more as I recall.

B&H Photo is an upstanding NY retailer (I know that might seem like an oxymoron, but it isn't in this case). They have a secure site, will confirm your purchase with a reply email, will send you a tracking number (via email), and everything (based on my experience) goes smoothly as you could want.

FYI, the PCF WP have twist up eyecups, not the crappy folding type, so they are better for adjusting eye relief for your bare eyes, w/shooting glasses, whatever.

They come with a case, lens strap, and detached objective and ocular lens covers. Seems like you'd want to cut a slot in the ocular lens cover to keep it on the strap (for rainguard, etc.) They *will* accept a tripod adapter, but they don't come with said adapter. The image quality is very good, the focus is a bit stiff, but that might loosen up, or at least is better than a focus that changes at the merest touch.

Porro prism binos are easier, i.e. less costly, to manufacture, so you will get more glass for your money vs. a comparable roof prism set.

I've used mine for glassing long range around my home town, and they are very comfortable and clear, but certainly won't reveal detail like a set of 30x Bigeyes. On the other hand, I'm a lot more likely to have these smaller glasses w/me, and the price was a bargain!!

(Weight is about 28 ounces)

That is all.
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