Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Vanguard Endeavour ED II 8x42 Binocular Review

Vanguard optics kindly donated 2 pairs of binoculars to NGB in return for 2 reviews. We decided that the best way to decide who gets one of the pair of Vanguard Endeavour ED II 8x42s is to ask our members to send in reasons why they were the best choice to be given the binoculars. The responses to the giveaway can be found here. NGB members voted for who they thought deserved them most and Jonathan Scragg was the overall winner. Here he reviews the Vanguard Endeavor ED II 8x42s.

Ever since my battered Nikon Sprint 10x21 binoculars finally gave up the ghost in 2012 I have been without a working pair of my own, much to the annoyance of my dad as I resorted to regularly stealing his. Therefore when I heard that Next Generation Birders were donating a pair to one of their members I jumped at the chance and thankfully was selected via a vote to receive a pair of binoculars from our new partner, Vanguard.

The arrival of the binoculars coincided with a trip to Portland Bird Observatory, allowing me to give them a proper field test on a range of species in a variety of conditions and habitats. This is my first binocular review so if it is a little ropey, don’t blame me!

The open-bridge configuration of the main chassis gives an ideal frame to grip onto to and thumb indents on the underside provide a quick point of reference to ensure the binoculars are correctly balanced and positioned. The surrounding rubber makes the overall setup more comfortable and is slightly bumpy to prevent them sliding around whilst in use; this layer also means that they are slightly more cushioned against impact damage should they be dropped.

The main chassis is made of a magnesium alloy and tips the scales at a perfectly reasonable 770g. By no means are these the lightest 8x42 binoculars on the market, however they are still a comfortable weight and there is no strain involved even after a full day in the field.

In 9 days on Portland we didn’t see single drop of rain so at present I am unable to report on the waterproofing, however since the body has been nitrogen purged and sealed the lenses should be completely water and condensation proof.

Eyepieces and Focus Wheel
The metal focus wheel on the Vanguards is covered with a grippy surface making adjusting the focus easy and precise, the smoothness by which the wheel turns adding to this. The full range of focusing is completed in less than a full turn of the wheel meaning finding the correct focus only takes a split second which could be vital when that scarce passerine pops up onto the bush in front of you. It is positioned just behind the eye cups so is within easy reach of your fingers whilst in use.

More metal parts can be found up at the front of the binoculars including the eyecups and their surrounds. This should help to reduce the likelihood of either loss or damage to this area. The eyecups extend c15mm outwards and unlike most other binoculars they have two intermediate resting points which means they can be adjusted for almost any person’s vision, and work perfectly well with glasses too.

A lock-able diopter ring is a very helpful feature on these binoculars as it means that once you have adjusted the right eye to match your vision, you can lock the ring in place to prevent any accidental movement. When unlocked the ring moves easily between the range of +4 to -4.

Showing thumb indent and diopter ring

I am not an expert on the production of lenses so this is just a brief overview. The Vanguard Endeavour ED’s use low dispersion glass in their lenses, which works with the other components to help reduce how far the light waves disperse, concentrating them more on the correct spot resulting in a higher quality image and colour.

Several people tried out the binoculars whilst I was testing them and all immediately stated just how bright the image is, the specialised lenses ensure that they retain a lot of their brightness and that they work well even in low light, I was able to watch a Short-eared Owl just before dusk without any real strain on my eyes. The field of view, whilst narrower than some high end set ups, is still a very reasonable 378 ft (at 1000 yards) so you feel in no way limited whilst out and about.

The colours through these binoculars are as sharp and natural as you would expect from a high-end spec like this. A sharp contrast between colours means that the image is crisp with little colour blending, especially around the edges of the field of view where you can often find colour fringing. Testing against other leading 8x42 optics at the bird obs I could see little to no difference in the overall quality of image compared to these Vanguards, they are certainly up there with the best.  

One optical aspect that particularly impressed me was the close focus. I measured the near focus distance at around 1.8 metres - slightly shorter than the published distance of 2 metres. This makes them ideal for looking at other wildlife, particularly butterflies and day-flying moths, as you can view them close up without having to get so close that you flush your target.

Other Features
A small Vanguard logo at the front of the bridge unscrews to reveal where a tripod-adapter can be fitted, meaning that these binoculars can be fitted to a tripod with relative ease. Although I personally wouldn’t use such a feature, it provides the option if others would find that useful.

The carry case in which the binoculars reside is relatively simple with no external pockets for storing other items; however it is very well padded so provides an extra barrier in case of impact or against the elements whilst out in the field. The neck strap has buckles that can be connected to either the binoculars or to the carry case, allowing a quick change between the two when you aren’t using them. The padded section of the strap is extremely comfortable and easily carries the weight of the bins, luckily it also feels very well made so is unlikely to fall apart in the near future.

The binoculars come with Vanguards Premium Lifetime Warranty so you have peace of mind that if something ever does go wrong then you won’t be out of pocket.

I have now been testing these Vanguards for three weeks and I am struggling to find any real flaws with them. The only minor negative I have found are that the eyecups can easily be knocked out of place during use, but if that is the only issue then these Vanguards really are very special. The lenses provide a clarity of image that rivals the very best and the little features such as the lockable diopter ring sets them apart from other models. The price of these binoculars varies depending where you look however the range of £320-£399 is a very competitive price and in my opinion makes these one of the best value model on the market. I am looking forward to using them for years to come.

Overall rating - 85%

-Jonathan Scragg
Jonathan is a 19 year-old ecology student at Lancaster University. Founder of NGB, obsessive patcher and when not birding is beginning to dabble into the murky world of moths. He dreams of moving to Portland where rarities live in every bush.

1 comment:

  1. I am planning to buy Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8x42 Binocular
    42 mm
    8 x
    780 g
    Width 125 mm
    Height 147 mm
    Depth 63 mm
    5.25 mm
    Field of View at 1000 m 125 m
    1.9 m
    -20°C to +80 °C
    twist-up eyecups
    Objective Cover Yes
    Rain Protection Cap Yes
    Bag Yes
    Warranty 10 years
    8X42 Binoculars.