A Great Pocket Binocular: the Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28.

Excellent optical and mechanical quality in a compact size; the Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28. The instrument measures 117 x 115 x 44mm.

The compact binocular market presents a daunting challenge to the would-be buyer. There are just so many models to choose from. By compact, I mean a binocular that can fit in the palm of your hand and possess objective lenses less than 30mm in diameter. I purchased this instrument about eight months ago and have used it extensively on hill-walking trips and nature treks all around the beautiful, verdant landscape of rural and coastal Scotland. And they’ve even come in handy for watching sports events.

During the long and bright summer days, this pocket-sized binocular has excelled as a lightweight optical device to study the Creation at close range or from a distance. As any experienced binocular viewer will tell you, small aperture binoculars like these are all you need when light is abundant. That’s because the exit pupil of most folk’s eyes shrinks during daylight to 2 or 3mm and so using larger aperture instruments offer little in the way of advantage.

The Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28 offers very high-quality optics in a rugged field-friendly design. The objective; a triplet system arranged in two groups is fully multi-coated. The ocular lenses are a five element design(and fully multi-coated) and produce razor sharp images across the vast majority of the field.  The eyecups are of high-quality, rubber-over aluminium design that twist up, allowing the user to use them in any of four different configurations. The instrument sports very comfortable eye relief – 18mm – making them ideal for eye glass wearers.

The high quality twist-up eyecups are sturdy and offer excellent eye relief for all observers.

The eyecups hold their positions very well, even when unreasonable pressure is applied to them and only move when twisted.

The Pentax compact offers a true field of view of 5.6 degrees and a magnification of 9x. I’ve really come to appreciate this magnification, as it offers a real edge over 8x models, which bring finer details into sharp focus. 10x models start introducing too much shake which limits their use during extensive, hand-help outdoor applcations.

The ocular end of the Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28.

The unit is phase coated for bright, crisp imaging and is fully weather proof, being dry nitrogen filled to prevent internal fogging and corrosion. It is also water resistant, and tested at 1m depth for several minutes (JIS Class 6).

Glare and internal reflections are supressed to very satisfactory levels. One design feature to reduce flaring involves mounting the objectives a few millimetres (~5mm) in from the end of the objective barrels.

Recessed objective lenses are a clever way to reduce flaring during bright daylight viewing.

The superior optical design of the Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28 became more evident to me during poor lighting conditions, such as at dawn or dusk, or while viewing targets in a heavily forested location. Cheaper models, such as the Celestron Nature DX 8 x 25, quickly revealed its limitations during these demanding conditions, where the images became overly dim and harder to discern. No such problem with the Pentax unit, where its better coatings and supression of internal reflections made all the difference. And while larger binoculars in the 32 to 42mm aperture range are better for these low-light conditions, I’ve been quite impressed at just how well the Pentax stood up. The images are razor-sharp and colour free with a nice, neutral or ‘cool’ colour tone.

The dioptre setting( the texturised grey ring in the photos) on the Pentax is located immediately under the right-hand ocular lens and has proven to be very precise and largely immune to movement. Indeed, I have rarely felt the need to adjust it since the day the unit arrived here.

What I have especially come to appreciate about this model is the large focusing wheel, which offers very smooth and precise adjustments to focus. Many pocket binoculars have much smaller focusing wheels, making them that little bit more challenging to operate, especially when attempting to image targets moving from fairly close up to far away, or vice versa, like birds in flight, or while using gloves during cold weather conditions.

The large, smooth focusing wheel on the Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28.

Though not the lightest unit in its aperture class (365g), I have found them to be better suited than many lighter models, as the latter tend to be made more flimsily or are too small to fit securely in the hand during prolonged observations. You need a bit of inertia when using pocket binoculars at 9x, and for me, the Pentax provides the ‘Goldilocks’ size and weight to allow me to optimise my viewing experiences. The underside of the binocular has nice thumb indents for secure handling; a useful feature, in the hand.

Thumb indentations on the underside of the binocular make gripping the instrument that little bit easier.

While I  would never consider such a small binocular to be the ideal companion under the stars, I have enjoyed occasional quick looks of the celestial realm with this instrument. Gazing at the Moon is always a memorable experience, the main craters and mountain ranges being crisply defined and without the annoying internal reflections found in other models( the Nature DX was horrendous in this regard). Star fields are faithfully rendered, and provide pleasing images across its 5.6 degree angular field. Chromatic aberration is pretty much non existent as you’d expect from an instrument in this aperture class( indeed many of the so-called ultra premium models in this aperture class do not use ED glass).

The Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28 is fairly expensive, as pocket binoculars go (I actually bought mine in an ex-display sale with a one-year warranty), but I feel it was worth every penny. The peace of mind one gets when using a mechanically sound and optically excellent instrument such as this is definitely real and when one factors in the countless hours it has accompanied me on my long country walks, hikes, during vacations, and attending sports events(my boys are keen footballers, golfers and rugby players), it has already paid for itself many times over.

Since the introduction of the DCF LV range about a decade ago, Pentax has recently re-branded these models as the AD series (details here). I would heartily recommned this pocket binocular to anyone who is serious about making a life-time purchase. Its excellent optics and sturdy mechanical construction will give you years of hassle-free operation even in less than ideal observational conditions.


Dr. Neil English has recently re-kindled his interest in binoculars. His latest article, Paradigm Shifts(presenting the latest science against the existence of extraterrestrial life), will be published in Salvo Magazine Volume 50(Fall 2019).



De Fideli.

4 thoughts on “A Great Pocket Binocular: the Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28.

  1. Hello Neil,

    I appreciate that this question may not necessarily be answerable in a brief reply but:

    Further to reading some of your blog posts on using your Zeiss Terra 8×25 binoculars (I really enjoyed your ‘adventures’) and reading your words above on the Pentax what are your reflections on the above Pentax binoculars in comparison to the Zeiss?

    I’m only curious as I’m sure you have lots of insights to share on these small, fun ED v non-ED optics and I’d appreciate knowing a little more about both as I tempt myself with which small pair to own and use!

    I’m grateful for any time you can spare.

    In Christ,


  2. Dear James,

    Thanks for your message and question.

    Alas, the little Pentax in question is now long gone. I gave it away to a local family a good while back. If I kept all the instruments I review, I’d have no room in my house and my wife would have me divorced lol.

    The Pentax DCF LV 9 x 28 was a very enjoyable binocular with high optical quality but I never compared it with the Zeiss Terra 8 x 25. I am fond of Pentax as they seem to be creating very nice optical instruments like these at good retail prices.
    The Zeiss Terra 8 x 25 ED is a lovely instrument. I had less success with the 10 x 25 ED model though which I acquired for testing more recently. I don’t think it was as good as the 8x glass.

    The Leica Trinovid BCAs were that little bit better than the Terra 8x 25. Better made- elegant classical design features. My current Leica Ultravid 8x 20 BR is very special though – exceptional performance for such a small glass. A real jewel!

    But all these are considerably more expensive the Terras but don’t employ ED glass.

    I recently bought in a little Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 25 – a new model by this company and I was very impressed with it. Non ED but very solid optical performance and exceptional control of glare. It retails for less than half the price of the Terra EDs at £99.00.

    Other options I would consider if you can deal with a slightly bigger binocular are the Nikon Prostaff 7S 8 x 30, which retails for about £150. Really impressed with that; non-ED but very nice optics. Then there is the Nikon Monarch 7 8 x 30, which a lot of folk rave about; dielectric coatings and ED glass with a huge field of view( 8.2 degrees). Good value for less than £300.

    All in all, we live at a great time to explore God’s creation and good optical quality needn’t cost the earth!

    I hope that gives you some ideas.

    Blessings during these dark times,


  3. Many thanks indeed for your reply Neil – lots of food for thought, and I like how you make sure your binoculars go on to find good homes.

    Like you, my wife has too threatened divorce and/or pain if I acquire too many pairs of binoculars. One last, small, pair may be acceptable!

    The Papilio II 6.5×21 are being given serious consideration as their close focus is something they provide that all others don’t – if I keep ’em safe from inclement weather they might be ‘the ones’.

    Thanks again and blessings.

    Lux lucet in tenebris!


  4. Hello James,

    Ah yes, those Papilo IIs are the bizz. I always forget to mention them but yes indeed, they offer fabulous value for money; great optics, generous true field especially in the 6.5x model and nice ergonomic design. I just wish they were water proof but that would drive up the cost!
    Still, If you look after them they should be fine! I keep mine inside a container with silica gel and camphor lol. Nothing on God’s earth is gonna touch ’em

    With best wishes,


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