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Vanguard Endeavour ED II 8x42 Report (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Those who read my BirdFair comments will know I was pretty excited by the new Vanguard Endeavour ED II 8x32 and 8x42 I tried. If the new Zeiss SF was the highlight of the morning then the Vanguard was the highlight of the afternoon. In between the two I think I visited fourteen optics stands and tried dozens of binoculars and looking at the specifications some are going to wonder why I would be so enthusiastic.

FOV: 126m@1000m (378ft/1000ysds)
Angle/Apparent field of view: 7.2˚/57.6˚
Eye Relief : 19.5mm
Close Focus: 2m
Weight: 770g/27.2oz
Length: 154mm

Obviously it's Chinese made, the FOV is rather average, the weight a bit on the high side, it has silver prism coatings, and, lets just say it might not have been the prettiest model on show that day. Of the binoculars I tried that day there would have been a number that were optically very good, delivering greater detail than my eye could see but it was still obvious that the Vanguard had a bit extra something most of the others were missing. There was a clarity and precision to the finest detail that's difficult to explain. I've been known to have a grumble about the vagueness of the sharpness comments on the forum but I can't help myself, these were just sharper. I was so taken aback that I actually missed another rather obvious feature that day which I'll come on to later.

At the time I think Ian, their UK manager, was rather taken aback at being asked directly for a pair to review by a regular punter on the stand. A few e-mails and a week later there was an Endeavour ED II 8x42 on my doorstep. A particular thanks to Christophe. I've posted a more general article in the Equipment Review section ( http://www.birdforum.net/reviews/showproduct.php/product/446/cat/9 ) but there are some technical aspects that might have some interest here. I'll leave others to categorise what I write. I just put down what interests me.

Firstly a bit of background. Vanguard is a relatively new name in binoculars but the company has been around for almost thirty years mostly making camera accessories. Going back a few years I have to say my first impression of Vanguard models wasn't particularly encouraging, particularly on the QC front, so I was a little intrigued when they started to get very positive comments on the forum. I don't know at what point they adopted their policy of manufacturing as much as possible in-house, including grinding their own lenses it seems, but twelve months ago I made a point of tracking them down at the UK BirdFair. I was certainly much more impressed than by their earlier offerings and thought the Spirit ED and Endeavour ED in particular were very good for the money. I've recommended them several times since on the forum. We've seen a number of promotions over here that have made their pricing particularly attractive for the UK.

The big news in the pre-publicity for the Endeavour ED II was they would be sourcing the glass from Hoya. They have not disclosed their reasons for this but there have been mixed reports on the level of CA control in the previous model and one wonders if glass quality has been an issue. Samples of the previous model I tried were pretty good as I mentioned but I was curious what difference simply changing glass supplier would make? It's clear they have done rather more than that, and the involvement of an American University in the new design was mentioned. To my eyes it's a big improvement.

Of course I'd already got excited by the binoculars at BirdFair but on opening the shipped package the rest of the contents of the box I found just OK, nothing special. Functional but rather ordinary by comparison. A simple zip-up pouch type case with thin padding. A rather odd arrangement where a single neck strap will either clip to the case or to the binocular. I'm not keen on plastic clips as I've had a couple fail on me and would replace the strap with something more conventional. The rain-guard is a bit awkward to fit at my IPD with the connector buckling. Again I would probably replace it. The tethered objective covers did work pretty well, a good fit, yet only requiring a quick brush with the hand to remove. There is the usual microfibre cleaning cloth and Limited Lifetime Warranty card. I did ask a couple of questions and it seems it's not transferable but I was told there was a certain amount of discretion involved as they 'always try to ensure customer satisfaction'. It's worth pointing out that I've been told the US gets a no-fault warranty whereas over here it does not cover accidental damage or misuse. The card only mentions the US service centre but for the UK there is now an appointed service company in Surrey.

The new ED II is physically very similar to the old model. The most obvious difference is the hinges have changed from silver grey to black. Obviously a dual hinge design. Perhaps it's my IPD or something, but I struggle to find a 'natural' hand position. To get the best balance and most comfortable focus reach it just isn't obvious where to put each finger. The gap's a too tight to get them down the middle or even to get three fingers between the hinges. How's it supposed to work? Not really a problem as such, and certainly isn't particular to Vanguard or the Endeavour ED II. It's something I've mentioned before with regard to other models, but I just wish designers would give this aspect a bit more thought. A small point, but they got the strap lugs nicely position for me unlike many on the market. The dioptre adjustment is on the right eyepiece. A little unusual in that you need to slide the sleeve up a fraction to adjust and back down to lock. I like the arrangement, it worked very well. The eye relief is listed as 19.5mm and as best I can gauge it's all available. The eye-cups twist out 4, 8 and 12mm and the 4mm worked well with my glasses. The fully out position was a little short for my facial features but the usual bracing against the eye socked worked well.

I know some have grumbled about the focus speed on the old model and the ED II is still very fast. I made it 0.6 turns from 2m (anticlockwise) to infinity. I like a fast focus as long as the mechanical precision is there and it certainly is in the sample I have. A firm resistance, no backlash, and for me no fiddling about to get a fine focus. It just snaps neatly into focus and that's it, very quick. I don't expect it to suite everyone.

I’ve been using the binoculars for about 10 days now in all weather and light conditions from before dawn 'till after dark. There was a particularly enjoyable early morning trip to the local reserve where the light was particularly challenging and surprisingly rewarding. I'm really no good at waxing poetic but watching the sleeping swans drift in the swirling mist, the hunched Herons stalking in the shallow or the Canada Geese splash landing in the reflected glare from the rising sun was a bit special. My regular binoculars are pretty good, but view wise, I'd have to concede the ED II did things better, it really did add an extra sparkle to a beautiful morning. Most of the other testing and comparisons were around the lanes and field where I live and of course, a fair bit of back yard testing.

I got so excited by the 'sharpness' at the show I missed another very significant design change. I know many will regard the 126m/378ft view as rather average. It may not be wide but to my mind there is nothing average about the FOV! Their claim of “edge-to-edge clarity” rather understates that it has about the flattest “flat view” I've seen and, apart from a hint of astigmatism in the last 10% or so, it is really very sharp edge -to-edge. In fact the radial axis is still in the focal plane. The pincushion appears rather below average and together with the flat field it sounds like a recipe for the “rolling-ball” effect. Maybe it's the modest FOV, or perhaps the smoothness of the magnification transition but I can barely detect it and I've been totally untroubled by RB so far. I've previously said that I prefer some field curvature in lower powers and flat views for higher. I'm not sure if I'm a total convert for my birding patch but the 8x has really whetted my appetite. Uunfortunately I haven't tried the 10x yet.

The ED II has silver coated prisms, much like the Nikon HGL or Meopta Meopro. As best I can recall, it does have some of the rich colour presentation of the HGL. Some added warmth to the view, however the whites look good to me. I suspect there must be some light reduction in the blue but I couldn't see any significant bias when viewing white paper or other naturally white targets. I'd be happy with the colour balance, others may differ.

I'm still undecided about it's low light credentials. It's 'brightness' looks very good to me in normal light with better levels of contrast than my other pairs. I've been told that the 550nM transmission is 90-91% but figures for 500nM were not available. In very low light, well past birding levels I was expecting the 'twilight factor' to give it an advantage over my 7x36 for example but it wasn't particularly convincing. Obviously the colour temperature of the available light after sunset is quite variable and there were instances when the Vanguard had the advantage but couldn't quite pin down the circumstances but I have noted previously that models with a strong blue performance generally do a bit better in comparisons in very low light.

A big claim for the ED II is the use of Hoya Vd>94 glass and Vanguard confirmed it is FDC 100 that's used. Some will have heard of the mineral Fluorite that's regarded as the reference standard for CA reduction,. Vd>94 means it's designed to have comparable dispersion and certainly should be a lot better than the grades of glass we believe are commonly used in binoculars. I've tried these in a broad range of light conditions. I still think the Kowa Genesis with it's two ED elements is my reference standard for CA control but this is pretty good. What little CA there is is mostly evident at close range and decreases with distance. In general use, even in the most challenging light conditions I've rarely seen anything more that very thin green fringing and generally repositioning the eye cancelled that out. I've not seen any with high flying birds yet. I did look for longitudinal CA and even in the boosted tests I couldn't find it. Perhaps I didn't look hard enough but I did wonder if this apparent absence contributed to the high contrast levels.

The ED II appears to handle stray light very well. The contrast is excellent as I mentioned but I could produce semi-circular hot-spots when getting dangerously close to the sun and there did seem to be one particular angle where there was a little low level diffuse glare but I struggled to reproduce it.

Those who read my forum posts will know I like sharp binoculars, and ideally, hope to discover them at a reasonable price. The Endeavour ED II 8x42 ticks both boxes. The samples I tried on the stand at BirdFair and the 8x42 Vanguard sent me I think are exceptional. The sharpness, micro contrast, apparent resolution, what ever you want to call it, is right up there with the premium brands and in my opinion, far and away the best I've seen in the price range. I've not been able to do a direct comparison but I'm convinced these are are sharper than many alphas I've tried. Of course the eye is not the most trustworthy measure of this stuff. For those who like the numbers I estimated the full aperture resolution at 3.8” and 20mm stopped down at 6.3”. This latter figure matches other binoculars I've reviewed and I now feel sure it is the effective resolution limit value for my home test method. This would make 3” the corresponding value for a 42mm objective. I also think the ED II has the best contrast close to the resolution limit I've seen. I think this may suggest the MTF curve would be pretty good.... if I had the kit to measure it. The ED II is priced at roughly half that of the next best I've measured and in my opinion should challenge even higher priced models. I sincerely hope all the other samples are this good.

I know I've stuck my neck out making very bold claims for this Vanguard. I can only base my judgement on the three I've tried and it's quite possible other eyes will see things differently. I expect others might have different priorities and consider lighter weight, wider views, slower focus, or other features more important. For what it's worth, I think the Endeavour ED II 8x42 is really very good.

The current pricing for the x42s is £399 and £329 for the 8x32, in the US it looks like they ate $500 and $400 respectively.



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Nice review David. I'll get my 8x32 report out within the next 24 hours. We had some good weather today so I was out finalizing its details.

Now go have a pint. B :)
Nice review David. I'll get my 8x32 report out within the next 24 hours. We had some good weather today so I was out finalizing its details.

Now go have a pint. B :)

Thanks, but it's 8:30 am here and I think beer for breakfast is bit much, even for me.

Looking forward to your reading your thoughts on the 8x32. I'm hoping admin will change the title. In my haste to get the report out I forgot the very important ED II bit.

Great review, wish more so called professional reviews were this informative.
These have been on my radar since I had a financial crisis and had to sell the Conquest HD's. Been using some HRWP's as a waterproof companion to my SE's since. Sounds like the Endevours might be the new budget sharpness champs to beat though. How do you think they compare to the Conquests?
Thanks for a nice review!
If you still have it, can you please do the overnight freezer test?
At least -18* centigrades is preferable :)

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Thank you for your review, David ; a good read, interesting and useful, and thanks for taking the time and trouble to keep us posted.

There’s a lot there that looks good from the simple objective covers that actually fit (it’s so easy and I am still amazed that Zeiss cannot manage it with any degree of proficiency) to the fast focus (just right for gloved hands in freezing weather, that’s a big plus from me), and the new all black hinges (another plus from me), to the various aspects of the view which I’m quite interested to see for myself.

I think that we can take for granted that these will operate in freezing conditions. Vanguard did a thorough cold weather test for a range of their products, including optics, in Rimi Island in Jilin Province, north China. Average temperatures at night -30 to -20°C (-22 to -4°F), average day -10°C to -5°C (14 to 23°).

Here’s a link to their report : http://www.vanguardworld.co.uk/index.php/pv/products/keep-challenging-our-products.html

The results for the optics, including the Vanguard Endeavor ED binoculars, were summarized as follows after 24 hours outdoors in freezing conditions :

“Binoculars barrel size and focus wheel fluidity were also checked at extreme temperatures, binocular barrels contracted less than < (0.1%) at -20°C (-4°F), focus wheels remained smooth, binoculars barrels remain in alignment, event at extreme temperatures, fog proof test at -20°C (-4°F): no fog discovered on any binoculars or the Endeavor spotting scope”.

Vanguard must have sold hundreds of these new ED IIs in the States and I would encourage the many readers of this thread who may own one to post a few comments.

Thanks again, David. :t:
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Great review David...thanks for all the hard work on this one and
also for the Vanguard company background info.
Thanks for the kind words all.


I can't compete with Samadag's link but I did give them an hour at -20*. The hinge and the focus were just a bit stiffer but still very usable.


I obviously haven't had a chance to do a side-by-side with the Conquest HD, but I can say with some confidence the Conquest HD isn't going to be sharper, in fact a Terra beat the last one I checked. I suspect on ergonomics and aesthetics the Zeiss might get more votes.

David, Samandag,
It seems like it will manage sub zero temperatures, but it would be nice with a test done by an independant part. If there are hundreds sold i hope someone could put it in a freezer overnight so we can get a second opinion.

I looked at vanguards homepage concerning a 8x42 ED binocular but there was no specification of storage & operational temperatures, i am not surprised.....
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Anders, I have owned a Vanguard Spirit ED and it operated just fine for hours at a time at -10 Centrigrade, however our average daytime winter temperatures in my locality don't go much lower than that and do not approach the lows that you experience. Personally, I be confident in buying one but your outlook may differ.

Looking at the specs I'm sure that's something the company can correct fairly quickly on their webpage, and here's asking ... Afterall the evolution to black hinges on the EDII came about because customers asked for it.

If Vanguard would be willing to send a sample Endeavor ED II 8x32 for review I'll stick it in the freezer for a day or so and post the photos, thanks.
As always, very nice write-up, David. When I contacted you for your opinion on the Kowas I now own, I would 100% agree with your comments on their sharpness and control of CA, and I have a feeling I'd agree again here. These look to be a good competitor in the sub-$500 market.

David, Samandag,
It seems like it will manage sub zero temperatures, but it would be nice with a test done by an independant part. If there are hundreds sold i hope someone could put it in a freezer overnight so we can get a second opinion.

I looked at vanguards homepage concerning a 8x42 ED binocular but there was no specification of storage & operational temperatures, i am not surprised.....


They got 11 hours in the freezer. Perhaps a fraction stiffer again than with the 1 hour test but still very usable in my opinion.


Thanks for your test, that is a good result, could you please describe the focusing feeling like in some of the alternatives mentioned in my thread:
Home > Forums > Photography, Digiscoping, Art & Equipment > Binoculars > Winter nightmares....


Thanks for your test, that is a good result, could you please describe the focusing feeling like in some of the alternatives mentioned in my thread:
Home > Forums > Photography, Digiscoping, Art & Equipment > Binoculars > Winter nightmares....


That took a bit of tracking down. Do you mean these categories?

I think "Good sub zero focuser performance, but first after some initial turning of the focuser" is a bit closer than " Acceptable sub zero focuser performance".

That answer is what i was looking for, thanks.....so maybe the 8x32 is next to test ;-)

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