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Pentax SZ ED 10x50

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Old Friday 22nd December 2017, 18:54   #1
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Pentax SZ ED 10x50

In the forums, neither ZD ED nor DCF ED versions have received much attention, except to note that the 8x43 has only '6.3 degrees FOV', against the 8x32's '7.5' (only available as DCF ED), and '5.0' for the 10x43 and 10x50. On the Ricoh website, reference to 'Dielectric' prisms is prominent in the current advertising for ZD ED. (I had not noticed that this is the same for DCF ED).

Well Pentax ZD 10x50 ED has just arrived from an Amazon seller in Germany at 810.
Had first chosen DCF ED at 630 direct from Amazon but then saw that Albinos had tested the 8x43 'DCF ED' and 'ZD ED' versions and found the newer coatings to have improved the colour transmission graph at the blue end, so thought it might be best to go for the ZD model.

(The format for the following observations has roughly followed that used by chris charen for his comments in ).

From illustrations the ZD ED binoculars appear the same as DCF ED except labelled in silver instead of gold, and underneath 'Made by Hoya' along with 'made in Japan'. The lens caps are the same, the objective caps just fitting inside the lip of the armour, which seems thinner than on my 8x32, and not stuck down everywhere.

Pentax ZD 10x50 ED
At the stratospheric end I take it that part of the deal is ease of use, including decent field of view and eye relief. However the ZD ED 10x50 has a relatively narrow fov '5.0' but ER is '22mm' so no problems were expected for wearing glasses, and they weigh '855gms'. I tried them out against my best other pair, Pentax DCF ED 8x32

In use
With glasses 8x32 ('17mm ER') needs the eyecups wound fully down, but 10x50 works best for me at the first stop down from fully extended.
I expected that the decent 5.0mm exit pupil would be helpful but the angle of the barrels for IPD needed careful adjustment while, as expected, they were significantly brighter than 8x32.
The focussing wheel acts very smoothly and lightly, quite high geared but not excessively, with no free play and locking dioptre adjustment.
They snap into focus but not quite as readily as 8x32 yet, maybe need to get used to them.
Colour fringing can be provoked when positioning the target at top and bottom, more than with 8x32 which shows virtually none, or if they are not quite in line - not as good as expected.
Any curvature of the field of view is very minor so that panning does not bring out the minimal level of blur right at the edges, which 8x32 does. A very nice improvement over all my other binoculars.
There is a bit more pincushion effect than with 8x32 but otherwise all of the FOV is clear and natural, so the 5 degrees did not seem at all restrictive.

Only 5 degrees?
I worried a bit about this question and had been keen to assess it, but all that was very soon forgotten while looking at the individual birds. There was no trouble picking them up at a distance, just kept an eye on them, put the binoculars in the way, and there they were.
(I have put some seasonal pictures below, modified to illustrate what the effect might be, and taking the size of the image into account, but in practice the birds just looked more significantly bigger).

The rest of the field was irrelevant and it was obvious that 10x magnification improved the view vs. 8x. At first I forgot to check how shaky things were but when I did they seemed just as steady as 8x32, balanced, and really not feeling much heavier.
The image is bright and rewarding. Colours might have seemed little less 'cream' than 8x32 which could have been complicated by those not being as bright. The 8x32s are pretty good anyway, so it was hard to be sure.
Close focus was about 8ft.
Didn't "see any Unicorns" but definitely got a better view of siskins with 10x50!

Not inexpensive but to me the optics provided what I was looking for, and the limited FOV did not prove to be a pain after all. I simply recognised Pentax's 'attractive, super-solid, well designed, and utterly reliable' effects. With a 30 years guarantee they might even be considered good value. I got them partly out of curiosity but will be keeping them.
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Last edited by chris6 : Saturday 23rd December 2017 at 09:48. Reason: revised image chart
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Old Saturday 23rd December 2017, 20:38   #2
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Thank you for this nice review, Chris, much appreciated !

I do know the DCF ED series (I own an 8x43 and an 8x32) and like them, but have not had a chance to look through any bino of the ZD series yet.
Hope you enjoy lots of good observations with your new Pentax.

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Old Sunday 6th May 2018, 17:56   #3
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Thanks for the excellent review of the Pentax DCF ED 10x50 and 8x32. And a big thank you for the FOV comparison image chart.

I own the older Pentax DCF ED 10x50 (non ZD) and these are quite versatile and produce excellent views. I purchased mine when the DCF ED 10x50 first came out.

At that time I also ordered the smaller Pentax DCF ED 8x32, which I returned after two weeks in the field. The views were also excellent, however, the permanent strap mounts on the barrels kept getting in the way of the bones in my hands. Just rubbed me the wrong way--I guess.

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Old Friday 11th May 2018, 13:43   #4
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I found I particularly liked the colours and contrast of Pentax DCF EDs and eventually replaced them with famous Sightron SIIBL Blue Sky 8x32 clones: Kenko Ultraview OP DH II 8x32 and Fujifilm KF 8x32, as well as a Sightron SIIBL 10x32 which were all only 500gms, as easy as Pentax, and appreciably sharper, with very much the same strong colour and contrast. Reckon that the extra sharpness is such that even in the far distance the details can be seen as well with 8x as with 10x, and it's just as enjoyable at close range.

For your purposes, the strap mounts on their barrels happen to be positioned more to the back than with Pentax DCF ED, where they are right on the sides. Also the mounting rings on KF are buried, those on SII are well shrouded, and to a lesser extent on the slimmer-feeling Kenko. Above and below, towards the strap mounts, the armour is built up into ramps which can just be seen on these images.

The rainguards are just the same loose fitting inverted buckets as those on Pentax but a strip of Foam Tape 20mm x 3mm, inside the front half and trimmed to fit the edge, makes them fit perfectly.
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