Pentax PF 65 ED II Review

Pentax PF 65 ED II Review

Nothing compares to a beautiful view enhanced by a top-quality spotting scope. If you’re looking to improve, you have to keep reading to learn more about the Pentax PF-65ED II spotting scope.

I like to consider myself a bit of an outdoorsman. That’s not to say I’m a rugged Jeremiah Johnson type figure, fighting against the wilderness on my own. But I do love getting out into nature, soaking up the positive ions of the damp and shaded forest, hiking trails, and listening to the birds sing. Something about it just lifts the spirit and the soul, even in the darkest of times. Sometimes, though, it’s not enough to just passively take in the atmosphere. As a birder, I also want to see the details of my surroundings.

Spotting the beautiful flecks of yellow under a yellow belief warbler’s wing is not an easily achieved feat, especially without the aid of high-powered optics. That’s why I rely on my spotting scope to help find all the most attractive birds. But, before you even buy a spotting scope, you ought to do some research into what makes a quality spotting scope worth the investment. If you’re looking for a top of the line option that won’t cost as much as a Leupold or Swarovski, I’d recommend the Pentax PF-65ED II highlighted in my review.

Pentax PF-65ED II

Pentax PF-65ED II

The Pentax PF-65ED II is a wonderful spotting scope with quite a few high-end features that will get you seeing even the shiest of birds from a distance. In this article, I want to walk you through some of the things to look out for when buying a spotting scope, look into a few of the PF-65ED II’s features, and hopefully convince you too that this is the spotting scope you’ve been looking for. Shall we begin?

The Pentax Name

If you’ve not heard of Pentax before, I’d be somewhat surprised. Pentax is a well-known and well-establish brand hailing from Japan. They were founded all the back in 1917 as a manufacturer of lenses for glasses. Since then, they’ve advanced into cameras, camera lenses, binoculars, and even medical optics. These days, they are sold under the name Ricoh, but the same quality and tradition hold firm. Their products are well regarded and stay true to the image of high-quality Japanese craftsmanship. With the Pentax name, you can rest assured that you are buying a top of the line product.

The PF-65ED II is a prime example of this craftsmanship, and I cannot wait to introduce it to you. Without any further ado, let’s check out some of the details.

Prisms

A spotting scope is not much different than any other piece of optical equipment, be it a rifle scope, a monocular, or a set of binoculars. The quality of an optic comes down to the quality of its parts, particularly the prism system inside the tube. Quality prisms will increase the length of the path that light travels through the scope. Larger prisms mean that you’ll view a more magnified image without having to make the body of the tube larger.

The Pentax PF-65ED II uses a Perger-Porro system prism. This is a standard and traditional system which has been around for roughly two-hundred years. Though old, this system is tried and true. There is a reason it has lasted through to the twenty-first century. With this style of lens, the eyepiece is set slightly out of line with the objective lens. The prisms sit at an angle within the tube to bend the light toward the eyepiece, lengthening it in the process.

Pentax even went so far as to construct their Porro prisms of top-quality Barium Crown glass. This is the best material for making prisms thanks to its highly reflective properties and its ability to transmit light even when there isn’t much light to begin with. With this type of prism, less light will be lost to reflection within the scope.

This may all sound very technical, but don’t worry if you can’t wrap your head around it. The long and the short of it all is that Porro prisms are larger and easier to manufacture. They might make for a slightly larger spotting scope but, at the end of the day, you will achieve a higher-quality image at a lower price than with more complicated prism designs.

Objective Lens

Objective Lens

Lenses are usually discussed in terms of their size. The size of a lens will make a massive difference in the image you view through the spotting scope. This is true so much that when you look into buying other scopes, they are usually named by the size of their lens and magnification. A larger objective lens captures more light than a smaller objective lens. Having more light coming into your lens means that you will have a brighter, sharper, and high-contrast image.

It’s essentially like having bay-windows in your house. You open the windows to let in sunshine and a breeze. With so much extra light, you can see everything in your home without having to turn on awful overhead lights. The same goes for a large objective lens. Well, at least with the amount of light. If you have a breezy spotting scope, I recommend you get it serviced.

Objective lenses are measured across their diameters in millimeters. For instance, the PF-65ED II has a 65mm objective lens. But wait, could the “65” in PF-65ED II refer to the size of the objective lens? You bet it does! When it comes to optics, the letter scramble of a name almost always refers to their specs.

With a 65mm lens, you’ll be able to get beautifully clear images even in low light conditions. If you prefer to catch the birds early in the morning eating their breakfast, or perhaps you want to view the sunset from atop a hill, the PF-65ED II will serve you nicely.

Glass Construction

Going back to the letter scramble of a name, since we know that the 65 refers to the size of the lens, then what does ED mean? Well, I’ll tell you. ED is an abbreviation of extra-low dispersion glass. Or, more specifically, PF-65ED II means that this is the second version of a PF model spotting scope with a 65mm extra-low dispersion lens. The more you know, right?

Typically, an objective lens is not flat. If it were flat, light simply wouldn’t be able to focus through the lens. Unfortunately, though, the convex shape of a lens can often cause an effect called chromatic aberration. This is when the variously colored frequencies of light traveling through the lens become bent and separated. The colors then appear to the viewer as a funny reddish, greenish halo around the outer rim of the image.

This is rather annoying, especially as a birder looks for specific colors when identifying species of birds. Chromatic aberration can absolutely ruin the quality of an image, making it look blurry and discolored. However, any quality lens, such as the PF-65ED II, is built to avoid chromatic aberration. That’s where extra-low dispersion glass comes into it.

Extra low dispersion glass has the unique property of preventing light from spreading to the point of separating different frequencies of light. It helps to focus the light into a crystal-clear image that you as the viewer will surely appreciate. Of course, ED glass is a luxury that not all spotting scopes have, and, with it, the price is a bit higher than some other, lower quality scopes.

Coating

Coating

Another feature to look out for when buying a spotting scope is the level of coating on the optics. The Pentax PF-65ED II uses fully multi-coated optics, meaning that they have been entirely coated in an anti-reflective coating. Now wait, when I talked about prisms, wasn’t high reflectivity a good thing? Yes and no. When light has entered into the scope, you want it to reflective well so that it makes its way to your eye. However, we do not want light reflecting off the outside of the scope.

You have surely looked through a glass window or at the computer screen and seen your face reflected. Polished glass surfaces reflect light and a lens is no different. But, what would the point be of having a large 65mm lens, built to take in the maximum amount of light, if the light is just going to reflect off of it?

Fully multi-coated optics solve this problem. More light will enter into the scope to make a highly visible, bright, clear, and high-contrast image. This will guarantee that you spot anything, even in the shadiest sections of the forest.

Frame and Build

Those are just about all the important aspects to take into account with a good spotting scope. But that’s not the end of your considerations. It’s also important to look at the design and construction of a good spotting scope. The Pentax PF-65ED II is a sturdy option for birders who enjoy getting deep into the woods rather than casually viewing from the peripheries.

The exterior of this scope is covered with a thick rubberized housing to maximize your grip. You don’t have to worry about damaging your scope if you don’t drop it in the first place. But, if an accident does happen, and accidents do happen, after all, you can rest easy knowing that the rubberized exterior will help to absorb the shock of a fall.

The interior of the PF-65ED II is also well-protected thanks to O-ring sealings and dry nitrogen purging. This scope meets JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) class 6 waterproofing, meaning that it can withstand powerful blasts of water. I do not recommend taking your spotting scope to a waterpark but, should you wish to, it will likely stand up to any splashes. More realistically, though, this means that you can take the PF-65ED II out on a rainy day without any worries. Also, nitrogen purging protects the interior of the scope from dust or fogging with sudden temperature changes.

The Pentax PF-65ED II has a 1.25″ eyepiece attachment that will fit all Pentax eyepieces. The spotting scope does not come with its own eyepiece, so you will have to purchase your own. This may not seem like a plus, but it allows you to customize the lens’s magnification. When you wish to focus the lens, you can do so by easily adjusting a collet type knob at the front of the scope. Many other scopes require you to twist the entire body but, with this feature, you do not have to move the scope to focus. The aiming line of the PF-65ED II is also built into the hood of the scope, allowing for quick viewing.

Overview

Pentax PF-65ED II Specifications
 

Prisms

 

BAK-4 Porro prisms

 

Objective Lens

 

65mm

 

Glass

 

Extra-low dispersion glass

 

Coating

 

Fully multi-coated optics

 

Eyepiece

 

Attachment for any Pentax eyepiece

 

Construction

 

JIS Class 6 waterproofing

 

Sturdy rubber exterior

 

Focusing

 

Collet style, focus range of 16.4ft

As you see, the Pentax PF-65ED II is a wonderful little spotting scope, featuring all of the top specifications. You have prisms made of the best material, a large 65mm lens also made of the best materials, fully multi-coated lenses, waterproofing, and an easy-to-use focus knob. These features make this a premium scope at the surprisingly reasonable price of $448.64. With the PF-65ED II, you won’t miss a single detail of your natural surroundings.

PROS:
  • ED glass
  • Large 65mm objective lens
  • Top-quality BAK-4 Porro prisms
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • JIS Class 6 waterproofing
CONS:
  • No attached eyepiece
  • Heavier weight of 2.36lbs.

Conclusion

It’s time to improve your bird watching experience. No more sitting around with a dinky pair of beginner binoculars. Why not upgrade to the powerful abilities of a spotting scope. The Pentax PF-65ED II will bring you endless joys as you spot warblers, cardinals, and robins nesting, resting, and feasting on their evening supper. Of course, you will first want to acquaint yourself with any scope and read through the user manual before you set out into the woods. But, once familiar with your equipment, I promise that you will love the PF-65ED II just as much as I do.

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