Just to add another comment to the close focus capability. That's the point. I bought these because I can look at insects and botanical specimens in my hand with binocular vision, something that can't be done with - perhaps - any other bins. I know lots of us use a bin flipped over as a magnifier, but that doesn't provide the 3-D vision capability that these can. The glass front pane is necessary to keep dust & grime from screwing up the parallax works, and I don't find it any more a chore to keep it clean than the object lenses on my other bins. And the price-point is superb.
I just got a pair of the 6.5 x 21 Papilio IIs. And I follow the trend that rates these 8 or 9 but they are binoculars you shouldnt pass by. They DO punch above their weight. 8 plus a bonus point.
The day after I got them I took advantage of early opening at the Omaha zoo. They have a butterfly and bug house which opens later in the morning, so I first visited the recessed butterfly garden that surrounds about 2/3 of the building. As I explored I kept saying wow under my breath.
Along a chest-high retaining wall I could stop and scan an area, moving the focus back and forth just like we do for birds. All kinds of critters, some pretty formidable looking, would appear. You could follow them as they went about their business over and around branches and big dirt clods encountering other critters along the way. And then Id lower the binoculars and see that the branches were little twigs and the big clods were little clods. At first moving from these little scenes back to the 1:1 world was a bit disorienting. These binoculars give you a very immersive experience (no need for 3D VR goggles).
I was working another stretch of that retaining wall and noticed a few very tiny little critters flying slowly between plants and landing on leaves. I saw one flying and raised my thumb into its flight path. It landed on the end of my left thumb. This turned out to be a yellow Grass Fly, only a few millimeters long. I extended my arm fully, and then focused on the fly. I observed it for quite a while as it explored back and forth on my thumb.
To get to the point -- I see comments by some here touting other (especially European) binoculars over the Papilios. But they consistently miss the most important feature CLOSE focus. So, BinoBoys, consider this: Tell me which binoculars you have that will allow you to observe something perched on the end of your thumb (with both lenses).
Later, in the butterfly enclosure, my activity was more like exploratory birding, but without calls to guide you -- scan and focus. The 6.5X has the advantage here, especially when scanning for insects. And moving in to maximum close focus of a butterfly at a feeder, for the first time in my life I could clearly see the full workings of the butterflys proboscis live. And a moth four feet away that fully filled the field of view.
There are several nice things about this family of binoculars that I have always liked:
* Ive found them easy and natural to hold.
* The tripod socket on the bottom of the Uni-Barrel is great (though it may require an extension for large tripod heads/plates).
* They make great guest binoculars. IP adjustment is not too tight. The models with the push button right eyepiece adjustment (press the center button on the focus wheel and the EP adjustment knob pops out once adjusted press it again to hide and disengage) are easy to explain and seem to make sense when you explain how it works.
Their distance viewing performance is good for the price point, but I can easily see the difference between the Papilio IIs and my Kowa BD 8x25s which are more than twice the price.
What would I change? If Ricoh charged another 25% percent or so for a waterproof version Id be there with my credit card. And I wouldnt mind slightly larger objective lenses and the push-button eyepiece adjustment but thats just dreaming.
But as others have (repeatedly) pointed out, there is little reason not to have a pair of these around especially if you already have binoculars in the $500+ range. The Papilios can do something that none of those can do.
I have the 6.5x version of the Papilio II (the newer, fully-multi-coated one).
As others have noted, the key point of these binoculars is their close-up viewing ability - at which they excel; providing bright, clear views with good contrast and well saturated colours, to a very close minimum focusing distance. They are obviously great for viewing insects (hence the name) and other "bugs", flowers and anything else close by which you might want to see magnified. The other side of this optimisation for close-up viewing seems to be an only-OK view at longer distances (say, 30M/100ft to infinity). Not bad, mind you, but just OK.
My Papilios provide a decently wide field of view, but certainly not expansive (I went with the 6.5x rather than the 8x as I suspected the FOV of the latter would be to restrictive for me). The "sweet spot" for focus seems quite wide as a proportion of FOV, with only gradual degradation towards the edges. Chromatic aberration is a different matter, being well controlled in the centre but becoming apparent fairly soon off-axis, though never becoming especially intrusive (but do note that I'm not particularly sensitive to CA).
Flare seems quite well controlled, including veiling flare. This is probably because the Papilios are constructed with deeply recessed objective lenses, with what seems to be a flat pane of coated glass near the front of the binocular to protect from dust etc. Note that this protective pane looks quite susceptible to scratches in the coatings or even the glass (mine arrived with a small coating scratch, albeit one that causes no apparent problems). Another obvious aspect of construction is its reverse-porro-prism design, which aids overlapping views at close focusing distances while potentially reducing the contribution of objective separation to "3D effect" (which I find quite decent, regardless, especially when close viewing). Overall, the Papilios seem fairly well constructed within the constraints of their light-weight, small-sized, plastic body and small optical elements. However, they don't seem as if they would stand up well to harsh use (unlike, say, my other small bins: Vortex Diamondback 8x28s, which seem very rugged).
The focus wheel on my Papilios seems precise, but requires little force to move and is easily nudged off-position. Focus is clockwise to infinity (I have no preference for or against clockwise or anti-clockwise focus.) The eyecups are small, with three positions (call them down, middle and up). I've found the eyecup setting, inter-pupiliary distance and diopter settings critical to getting a decent view through my Papilios, along with more care in eye position than I'm used to - perhaps because focusing up-close and personal is less forgiving. I've found I need to use the middle eyecup position with glasses, while having them fully up without. I also need to move IPD slightly when changing between with/without glasses use. I've also found that I need the diopter position wound somewhat in the "+" direction. [With most binoculars I use eyecups fully up and a neutral diopter setting both with and without glasses. Note that I am near-sighted; ie. I need glasses for distance vision rather than close-up.]
All told, I'm very happy with my Papilios. I think they give great performance for their price, allowing that they are more for specialised close-up use than for general usage.