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Pentax SD WP 8×42 Binoculars: Our Review

Fairly good optics are hampered by one of the stiffest focus wheels we've encountered. We rated this model in the Middle Ground.

At A Glance

Gray/green binoculars with dark gray eyepieces and focus wheel.
Pentax SD WP 8×42 binoculars. Photo by Marc Devokaitis.


  • Bright, clear image
  • Lightweight


  • Incredibly stiff focus wheel
  • Stiff hinge makes adjusting for eyes difficult
  • Loose eyecups


  • Price: $249 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: Listed as 8.2 feet (250 cm). In tests, we could focus these binoculars to about 7.8 feet (239 cm)
  • Field of view: 7.5° (394 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 23.4 oz (663 g)—that’s about 2.3 oz (66 g) lighter than the average for 8×42 binoculars in our review
  • Eye relief: 21 mm

Viewing Experience: These lightweight binoculars provide a bright and sharp image, but the focus wheel is so stiff that they’re difficult to use for everyday birdwatching. Watching a group of Bohemian Waxwings in a crabapple tree under a dark and wintry sky, these binoculars brought out the rufous undertail nicely and had no trouble defining the white vent patch against the gray underbelly. In better light, they crisply rendered the pink-red of male House Finches and the streaking of females in a distant treetop. The field of view is quite good, allowing our reviewer to track flying birds—although the stiff focus wheel made it difficult to keep the birds in focus. At just over 8 feet, the close focus is fine for most types of birding.

Feel and Build: These binoculars have a light, balanced feel in the hand, but the focus wheel is difficult and uncomfortable to use. We found the wheel so stiff that it was nearly impossible to get focus on a bird that suddenly appeared or moved to a perch at a different distance. When trying to get the focus wheel moving, our fingers tended to either slip off the ridges on the focus wheel or dig in uncomfortably. Otherwise, these binoculars are dark green with a smooth finish and shallow thumb scallops for comfort. The hinge is as stiff as the focus wheel, requiring effort to adjust the binoculars for your eyes. The eyecups are loose so that it’s easy to skip past the stops or drift off them during use. There is a neat clicking diopter adjustment at the end of the focus wheel instead of the standard position under the right eyecup. The neck strap is basic, narrow webbing without padding.

This article is one in a series of mini-reviews. To see how these binoculars compare to others we’ve tested, see our full review of affordable 8×42 binoculars.  

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