The Pentax VD 4×20 WP binoculars were built with premium optics in a compact package. The three-in-one design allows you to use them in binocular, monocular, and spotting scope configurations.
The team at Ricoh Imaging USA sent us a pair of Pentax 4×20 VD 3-in-1 binoculars to review. We were not paid to endorse this product in any way, nor was Pentax given an opportunity to make suggestions to our content.
Being bird photographers first, and birders second, our expertise leans towards optics involving a camera attached at one end. However, we have spent many years hiking on birding adventures with binoculars to aid in our sightings.
In this article, we’ll explain what makes the Pentax VD 4×20 binoculars so special, and why we have found them to be a valuable asset in our personal bird watching excursions.
Pentax VD 4×20 WP Binoculars Review
We tested the Pentax VD 4×20 binoculars on several hikes through birding hotspots in our area. We also familiarized ourselves with the features and performance of the binoculars in our own backyard.
It is clear from the design of the Pentax V-series binoculars that they were intended for travel birding or other similar types of travel activities.
While they have the edge on portability, binoculars of this size sacrifice light-gathering power because of the limited aperture of the objective lenses.
Larger binoculars, such as the Pentax ZD 8×43 ED‘s we reviewed last year, allow more light to enter your eyes, and present a larger image with increased magnification.
While medium-to-large sized binoculars can provide better views, they are less portable and not always a convenient size in many situations. A trip where carrying-capacity is limited results in leaving the binoculars at home.
Compact binoculars such as the Pentax VD 4×20’s, on the other hand, are not much bigger than a men’s wallet, and fit easily into a coat pocket (your pants pocket is a bit of a stretch, literally).
The convenience of a compact size comes at the cost of light-gathering power, especially in low-light situations. In the past, binoculars of this size have led to underwhelming views at dusk or in the early morning hours.
However, we have found that the super reflective dielectric multi-layer coating on the Pentax 4×20’s does a great job of maximizing the light that enters the objectives. Our tests involved birding on overcast days in the fall, and our views were crisp and clear (even in shaded areas).
Helpful Resource: Understanding Optical Coatings
Design and Optics
The Pentax VD 4×20 binoculars are compact, lightweight, waterproof, and can be used in 3 variations. They feature a roof prism design with fully multi-coated optics.
Helpful Resource: Porro Prism vs. Roof Prism Design
They also boast phase-coating and dielectric coatings to improve light transmission and improve contrast. The body is rubber coated to aid in shock resistance, while also providing a reliable and comfortable grip and the long eye relief provides a comfortable viewing experience.
The versatile design uses a newly developed concept, to offer 4x binoculars, two 4x monoculars to share your experience, or 16x telescope combining both monoculars together.
They weigh less than 1-pound (0.75 lbs), and can easily fit in your coat pocket. Those looking for an ultra-compact pair of binoculars to bring along in situations where traveling light is essential will appreciate the small overall profile of the Pentax V-series binoculars.
Pentax lists these 4x zoom binoculars as being a perfect fit for theatre, travel, sports, and museums. We found them to be an excellent companion while walking our dog when we wanted to take a better look at an exciting bird species.
Pentax VD 4×20 WP Specs:
- Water Resistance: Waterproof (1M)
- Design: Roof Prism
- Optical Zoom: 4X
- Weight: 12.16 Ounces
- Coatings: Fully Multi-Coated
- Minimum Focus Distance: 50 cm (monocular mode)
- Eye Relief: 19 mm
- Body: Rubber Coated
The binoculars include a high-quality strap that separates to accommodate the monocular configuration with two hand straps, and a Pentax branded carry-case with a cute little pouch to house a few lens cleaning wipes.
The binoculars come equipped with a thread to attach to a tripod, using a separately sold tripod adapter.
The Pentax VD 4×20 WD Binoculars consistently delivered surprisingly impressive views. Whether it was spotting a White-throated sparrow through a densely wooded area, are scanning a wide area of the night sky and locating the Andromeda Galaxy, these little 4×20’s are a suitable primary optical instrument.
These binoculars deliver views you would not expect in such a small package. The low-light performance was more than adequate during our early morning walks through the forest. In many of these scenarios, we wouldn’t have normally brought a pair of binoculars at all.
The build materials are top-notch, from the robust center axis, the extended eye relief cups. The grip is comfortable and durable, even if they feel ridiculously small in your hands.
We did not spend very much time using this model in the monocular or telescope configurations, but it is certainly an attractive feature for anyone looking for an all-in-one type of product.
It’s clear that these binoculars were built to last, and that careful attention was given to each element of the design. Overall, we think the Pentax VD 4×20 WD binoculars are an incredible value.
Overall, you can experience the same quality you have come to expect with Pentax optics, with an increased level of convenience, portability, and versatility. These binoculars are a great option for less serious birders, maybe those who are interested in having something with them on a walk to hikes to ID birds but could also be used by marathon birders, due to their lightweight design.
Although the price is slightly higher than other binoculars of this size, the three in one design offer a variety of options, offering people who bird in pairs (who may share a pair of binoculars) to both enjoy the bird watching experience with the two monoculars.
You may be able to justify the price if you don’t mind using them in the monocular format with your partner, as you will only need one unit for the two of you! As the old saying goes, the best [binoculars] are the ones you use most. I think the Pentax VD 4×20 WD binoculars will quickly rise to the top of our list of “high-mileage” optical instruments.
The Bottom Line
The Pentax VD 4×20 WP 3-in-1 binoculars are incredibly portable and functional. Although the monocular and telescope configurations are versatile, we found that this product performed best in its traditional binocular optical format.
You will have a hard time finding a better pair of compact binoculars in this category. If you can handle the rather steep price tag of these tiny binoculars, you will enjoy the Pentax VD 4×20 WP’s for a lifetime, and find plenty of excuses to bring them along.