After using 8x42 Premier LXL for years the Zeiss SF was the first of the "big 3" binos I tried that matched the LXL focuser. They could be the same focuser, smoothness and resistance are the same. The new EDG are almost the same, the same smoothness but a wee bit more resistance than SF.
I briefly tried the NL Pure and the focuser seemed much improved over the EL's and SLC's, but I only tried it for about 30 seconds in the store. The SF and NL Pure are superb binoculars, no doubt. The EDG are a nice alternative for those who aren't necessarily seeking a wider-field bino. If you don't want wider field the EDG are at least as good as today's top-dollar models.
Sales figures are important, but certainly not directly proportional to quality. I remember when 90% of personal computer sales were MS-DOS when the Apple Mac operating system was vastly superior - late 80's-early 90s. In time, Microsoft basically copied what Apple was doing. I see a similar phenomenon with EDG. The NL Pure has the same basic EDG body design - single high bridge with the focuser knob in the right place. The flat-field optics and focuser quality of the LXL/HG and EDG is something the other "big 3" have all migrated to in recent years.
PS - also, I can't help but notice that NL Pure feature the smooth, narrow-waisted barrel of the NIkon HG/LXL, instead of thumb undercuts. Like great composers these guys are all borrowing from each others' innovation.
Speaking of borrowing, I think we saw this happen with Swarovski borrowing the low/no distortion of the Nikon 42 LXs for its Swarovski EL SV line (not that I think that was a good thing, but it did cause me to coin the term "rolling ball"). More recently we saw copycatting with the design of inverting the focuser from top to bottom of the bridge in the Zeiss SF and Swarovski NL Pure.
Being that Nikon is strapped due to the precipitous drop in DSLR sales, if they decide to offer another alpha model, it would be a low-cost redesign to take the EDG II and invert the focusers for an EDG III. I think this would help improve the EDG's ergonomics.
The high, oversized focuser and thick bridge on the 8x42 EDG forced me offset my hands such that one hand was positioned near the objectives to support the weight from underneath and the other was on top near the EPs so I could focus, so most of the weight was carried with one hand. Maybe if I had an Arnold Arm that would have worked. But my arms are like Popeye's before the spinach.
The offset grip made my already shaky hands shakier. I loved the image in the 8x42 EDG, it was bright and the images sparkled like no other bin I've owned, but those F-A-T, stubby barrels only allowed me to wrap fingers from one hand around them, which also made it hard to hold steady.
Unlike Tobias Meenie, who loved the 8x42 EDG's "ergonomy," I found it hard to hold steady. With the original EDG I's open bridge design, the 10x42 was easier to hold steady than the 8x42 EDG II. As someone said on these forums, you can't underestimate the importance of how a pair of binoculars fits your hands and face. The face fit was excellent. The large flat, rubber eyecups fit perfectly in between my brow and cheek. That's often an issue with other binoculars but not with the 8x42 EDG II.
After struggling with the shaking images for two years, I decided to sell the EDG since birdwatching with them was limited to being seated with my back supported on park benches or dragging along a chair. I saw a belted Kingfisher diving for fish in the stream at the park, and the ducks and geese that are year-round residents, and dozens of turkey vultures, which circle overhead like in an old western film. But due to the weight and the shaky images, I only took them with me on hikes twice even though they preformed well in the woods.
I almost had them sold to someone who was looking for a pair, but the deal fell through. I noticed that a Nikon 8x32 EDG I had seen a month earlier was still for sale, so I offered the seller a trade for my 8x42, and now I have the 8x32 EDG, which I am very pleased with.
The ergonomics are much more to my liking since I can wrap fingers from both hands around the slimmer barrels, and the lighter weight makes it easier to hold steady. The 8x32 also gives a noticeably better 3-D image than the 8x42. It's not as bright, of course, which I could use now during this dismal winter.
From using the 8x32s on the one sunny day we've had since I got them, the colors don't seem to have the same "sparkle" as the 8x42's. I also took my 8x32 SE to the park to watch the ducks and geese, and I thought the views were more like the SE than the 8x42 EDG. I'll do a more detailed evaluation at when it's brighter and warmer. But so far, so good!