TopTenREVIEWS - Gold Award - Awarded for excellence in design, usability and feature set

The DCF series is one of the latest series from PENTAX and it gives us a nice lineup of well-designed binoculars. One of their best full size pairs is the PENTAX DCF CS 8x42. This is the most balanced pair that we have researched, earning our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award. They don't have any "wow that’s unique" features, but this set doesn't really lack anything obvious either. Comparing one 8x42 set of binoculars and another can be difficult but this balance of specs and features proved to match up well against other similar binoculars. A lot of times the "wow features” are what make the difference but that was not the case here. If these aren't quite what you're looking for then check the other binoculars that we reviewed.

Optics/Viewing
Compare
7.9/10
PENTAX DCF CS 8x42
Leupold Northfork 8.5x45mm
Bushnell Elite 8x42
Bushnell Excursion EX 8x42
Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42
Leupold Acadia 8x42
Steiner 8x42 Merlin
Nikon Trailblazer ATB 8x42
7.9
7.3
7.3
6.9
6.5
6.4
6.4
4.8

Obviously, the optics aspect is by far the most important part of binoculars since they are an optical enhancer. Those that excelled in this area ranked towards the top. There are other important things, but when it comes down to it, the view is what we want to dazzle us.

The main competition of the DCF CS's are the Ranger SRT's from Eagle Optics. It was a close race for these two and there is a lot of give and take. Because of that, opinions may favor one over the other, but for us, the overall win went to PENTAX.

The biggest win was the large field of view the Pentax has. At a thousand meters, the linear field of view is 131 meters. The Ranger SRT only has a 110-meter field of view. 21 meters more at that distance may not seem like much but the more the better when it comes to what you can and can't see. That extra space could be compared to watching a widescreen movie and a standard size one that has chopped the sides off to fill the older non-widescreen 4:3 aspect TVs.

The one win that the PENTAX DCF CS 8x42 binoculars had over all the rest we looked at was the lengthier eye relief. You can be 21 millimeters away from the eyepieces and still get the full field of view. Next in line is the Nikon Monarch ATB that has 19.6 millimeters. A few millimeters really only matters to people that wear eyeglasses but it's still notable in these very close comparisons.

Both the DCF CS and Eagle Optics' Ranger SRT have anti-reflective coatings on the lenses. Eagle Optics went with aluminum coating and PENTAX went with the even better silver coating. What they are both supposed to do is improve the efficiency of the system and prevent extra loss of light. This isn't new technology but surprisingly, it isn't found on all binoculars. This attribute is a nice addition and really should become the standard.

Features
Compare
9/10
PENTAX DCF CS 8x42
Leupold Northfork 8.5x45mm
Bushnell Elite 8x42
Bushnell Excursion EX 8x42
Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42
Leupold Acadia 8x42
Steiner 8x42 Merlin
Nikon Trailblazer ATB 8x42
9
9.5
9.5
9
9
9
9.4
8.8

The housing of the DCF CS binoculars are made with fiber reinforced polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic commonly used for binoculars because it's lightweight but strong and has extra resistance to temperature changes. Even though it is more resistant to temperature fluctuation than regular plastic, it still expands and contracts more than aluminum and magnesium, which are the other main materials used for binoculars. The fiber reinforcement adds not only strength but rigidity, important in keeping everything inside where it needs to stay. If the lenses or prisms move, it could potentially throw the picture out of focus. No one wants to look through blurry binoculars.

Portability
Compare
8.4/10
PENTAX DCF CS 8x42
Leupold Northfork 8.5x45mm
Bushnell Elite 8x42
Bushnell Excursion EX 8x42
Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42
Leupold Acadia 8x42
Steiner 8x42 Merlin
Nikon Trailblazer ATB 8x42
8.4
6.5
7.3
7.8
8.8
8.3
7.3
8.1

Like most binoculars, this PENTAX set comes with a carrying strap so you don't have to carry it in hand. Carrying them by hand would be quite tiring, no matter how light they are. Even with that though, being lightweight is still important. A few pounds hanging from your neck won't go unnoticed after a few hours of hiking. Thankfully, the PENTAX DCF CS 8x42 binoculars aren't too heavy. They weren't the lightest but they did come in at about 640 grams or 22.6 ounces. The lightest pair was the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42, which were one ounce lighter. One ounce may make a difference to some, but the gap wasn't enough for the DCF CS to get a much lower score.

Help/Support
Compare
7.8/10
PENTAX DCF CS 8x42
Leupold Northfork 8.5x45mm
Bushnell Elite 8x42
Bushnell Excursion EX 8x42
Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42
Leupold Acadia 8x42
Steiner 8x42 Merlin
Nikon Trailblazer ATB 8x42
7.8
8.5
6
6
7
8.5
7.3
7

This was the weakest area for PENTAX. They provide plenty of online information, even more than most. They have both email and phone support. The email support team got back with us the next business day and had all the answers to questions we had asked - so far so good. The trip-up is the warranty. If it's truly a superior product and lasts for a lifetime then a warranty isn't really needed. If that's the case though, why not give it a lifetime warranty to make us all feel reassured? All the other binoculars that we researched have at least a 10-year warranty except this one, which has a disappointing 1 year warranty. A lifetime warranty would have been the cherry on top for this PENTAX pair of binoculars. Perhaps that'll change in the future.

PENTAX DCF CS 8x42 Summary:
8.2/10

The PENTAX DCF CS 8x42 binoculars are great for almost any activity. It has many high-end features such as fully multi-coated lenses and BAK-4 prisms. It comes with the essentials like a case and covers for the eyepieces and objective lenses. Last but not least, although price wasn't a determining factor, this pair isn't too expensive. All binoculars in this review site can be found for fewer than 500 dollars, which we wanted to maintain due to the newer and much more pricy HD binoculars, but these sit well below that mark. Put all of that together and you get a great product that shouldn't disappoint.

 
 
 

PENTAX DCF CS 8x42

Pros
They are very well balanced in optical features.

Cons
The warranty should be longer, just in case.

The Verdict
: 8.2/10

It's a great all-around set of binoculars that will deliver a nice visual experience.