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I guess not many will know of the Eden binocular brand. Indeed I knew nothing about it until Renze de Vries wrote a review of 8x42HD here in the reviews section and KorHaan reported on the 8x42 XP in the Binocular forum. I've been happy to point quite a number asking for binocular recommendations in the direction of such positive reviews. With the permission of the BirdForum administrators the company contacted me asking if I'd be prepared to look at another in their XP range. The 8x42 had already been reviewed and I suggested they send me their XP 10x42 and the 10x56 (which is the subject of another review).
The XP is one of three models offered which also include the entry level HD and the ED priced just below the XP. The XP range offers 8x and 10x42, and 8x and 10x56 which currently sell for 245 and 325 respectively (270 and 389).
At 140mm tall with tapered barrels the first thing that strikes you is it's compact size. At 650g it's pretty light too, and sits very nicely in the hand with a nicely grippy feel to the armour coating without feeling sticky. I guess the decorative patterning is a matter of taste that I'll leave others to judge. The rubber inserts on the focus wheel and dioptre adjuster provide a nice non-slip feel. The anticlockwise focus (close to distance) is fairly light and smooth, but from 5m to infinity is definitely on the fast side, which took a bit of getting used to. The close focus was 1.3m. The dioptre ring was fairly stiff and unlikely to be moved accidentally. It seemed to be perfect set on zero which I take a take as an indication of good QC. The firm rubber eyecups extend 10mm in three stages, and are nicely profiled and feel comfortable. The eye relief is listed as 18mm. In practice it's perfect with my close fitting glasses, but may be a problem for some users. The lens covers are a soft rubber and fit very well with the objective ones being tethered and easily slipped off. The strap and case are nothing special, but perfectly functional with modest padding.
And the view? Very nice.
The FOV is listed at 114m at 1000m or 6.5*, so fairly wide. The sweet spot is quite reasonable but decreases slightly with distance to about 60%. The remaining field is a fairly mild field curvature which focusses out to sharp edges. This is likely to be less evident with younger eyes which are likely to finder it flatter and quite satisfactory. I really like the level of contrast, much better than many I've seen at this price point. There appears to be good light transmission throughout the visible spectrum as you might expect with dielectric prism coatings. There seems to be a modest green bias to the overall view. The result is that colours are rich and vibrant. This is somewhat different from my other pairs and took a bit of getting used to but after a few days use I'm rather liking it. The CA or colour fringing is reasonably well controlled, but narrow coloured bands are visible in high contrast situation. It is important to centre the view properly to minimise it, and once done it's better controlled than many lower priced ED pairs I've tried. It could be a little better on stray light control, particularly with the sun in your face, but again I've seen much worse. Under test conditions, in poorer light, I can see that the sharpness is a little behind my best pairs, but in brighter conditions it sharpens up nicely and I think few could complain. Perhaps it won't challenge the alpha brands, but in my opinion definitely punches well above it's weight.
Down at the lake, it was a delight to use, whether picking out the warblers flitting through the reeds and willow saplings on the shore, the sandpipers amongst the ducks and geese on the gravel islands or the buzzard soaring a mile away. I really enjoyed them, but what do others think? I tried them out on a number of regulars down the reserve including several who currently use binoculars up to the XP's price point. Almost everyone agreed they were much better than their existing pairs though some understandably felt they would prefer the 8x. The one exception was one guy with monster hands who couldn't get on with the compact size. He was bowled over by the 10x56 though! A Swarovski user didn't think it quite matched his own pair, (understandably) but never the less thought it amazing what you could get for the money. Another with quite a pricey but ageing pair, realised it might be time for an update.
There is plenty of choice for roofs in the 200-300 range in the UK and I must have tried a good proportion of them. There are clearly a couple you could argue do one thing or another better than the Eden XP. Indeed I've got close to buying a Nikon Monarch and a Hawke Frontier ED in the past but ultimately didn't like them enough. I can honestly say that I've enjoyed using the Eden XP 10x42 rather more as an overall package.
I should confess that my hands are not really steady enough to get the best out of a light weight 10x and I normally use a lower power pair. However appealing a light weight pair might be I really need more weight to steady the view. Have a look at my review of the XP 10x56 for a comparison.
HorHaan review of the XP 8x42: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=209395
Renze de Vries' review of the HD 8x42: http://www.birdforum.net/reviews/showproduct.php/product/339/cat/9/limit/recent/date/1067107700
The Eden are only available online in Europe through the following websites.
http://www.edenwebshops.co.uk/en/ct/eden-quality-binoculars.htm For the UK and US.
http://www.knivesandtools.nl/nl/ct/eden-quality-verrekijkers.htm Most of Europe.
http://www.edenwebshops.de/de/ct/eden-quality-fernglaser.htm Most of Europe.
http://www.edenwebshops.fr/fr/ct/eden-quality-jumelles.htm Mostly France.