Here is a rather unusual review on a photography website, it’s the latest and greatest optics from Vanguard. No, not lenses but binoculars. If you haven’t used binoculars alongside camera gear you may firstly ask yourself what on earth would you need them for, especially if you are shooting landscapes.
Surely they will take up space, cause extra weight and finally you can’t fit a camera too them? Well, we do like to harp on about the enjoyment of being outdoors on forums. Having a set of binoculars to hand can make the experience even greater. If you choose the right ones they need not become a hindrance in the slightest.
- AFOV: wide angle - 55.3 Degrees
- BAK4 roof prisms for superior light transmission
- Extra low-dispersion ED glass lenses for enhanced clarity
- Physical characteristics: 5.1 x 6.3in / 130 x 159 mm, / 27.2 oz / 770 g
- Nitrogen filled and o-ring sealed for consistent all-weather reliability
- Anti-reflection lens coatings to ensure optimized viewing at all times
- Centre focus wheel and easy-to-adjust right-eye diopter for accurate focusing
- Extended eye relief and 3-stage eyecups to accommodate eye/sunglass wearers
- Ergonomically designed open bridge construction provides enhanced long-term viewing comfort
The first thing that I remember about binoculars is the size. I spent a lot of my younger days birdwatching on the Exe Estuary in Devon, scanning the skies and mudflats for passage migrants and seasonal visitors alike. The binoculars I had then were surely made of iron, huge bulky optics that never seemed quite in focus. I sat in hides for hours looking for rare terns, waders and occasional raptors and although I never got involved in twitching in the sense of the word, I thoroughly enjoyed my very localised experiences when a rarity turned up. If only I had these Vanguard optics then…
The model I have for review is the 10X45 Endeavour. It’s the flagship range which contains ED glass, an extremely high quality low dispersion optic that is worthy of the Canon L brand to say the least. The first thing that springs to mind when you take them out of the case is just how compact and rubbery they are. Gone is the bulky design of years past. The ED’s are very compact, but are they less powerful? How wrong again. The magnification is far from compromised by their size. There are extracting eyecups, which are great if you wear glasses in particular and as you hold them to your face you notice the thumb indents, which feel very natural.
It is very important to set up the optics properly or they just won’t seem accurate. Choose a subject and then focus the binoculars, now shut your right eye and focus your left eye with precision. Now to ensure your right eye is accurate, close your left eye, open your right and alter the fine adjuster to compensate for any differences in eye strength. You need to set up your binoculars properly to get the most out of them, so take the time to do this. Remember to actually focus the glasses at all time as the subjects change over distance as its easy to get eye strain.
These are powerful for the size. With a close focusing distance of around 8 feet, I feel like I need to lean on something to get the most out of them. They are lightweight too, feeling great in the hand and well balanced. All controls are smooth and instinctively positioned.
The big ‘wow’ is just how sharp these are. Here I am on a cloudy day retesting them for this review after last weeks moor land jaunt. The micro contrast that these binoculars can pull out of a today’s flat grey is exceptional. Definition is crisp, colours are neutral and the whole image looks fabulous, positively enhanced. One of the problems with lesser binoculars is edge definition. Although they centre seems sharp the fall off towards the edges becomes very significant. The Vanguards are exceptional for this, with a huge crisp centre that only marginally falls away, leaving you astounded as you look around the frame. Chromatic aberration is also none existent. The ED’s focus all colours beautifully, there is literally nothing to criticise and much to enjoy.
Scanning the landscape
I use binoculars quite a bit these days. I love using them on photography trips in particular as they can get you even more engaged with your surroundings. If the light is not so great, who cares, let’s sit down and just gaze at the hillside, do a spot of bird watching or better still, explore the land for details that I could visit later on with the camera. Until now I have been using the Vanguard 10x42 Spirit optics, but these a marked step up. They are virtually the same size and similar weight, but a significant leap forwards in image quality.
Let’s not forget exceptional low light performance too, a strength the Spirit was lacking. Other impeccable optics that spring to mind, Swarovski’s 10x42 in particular, certainly eclipse the ED’s, but consider what are you actually getting for that additional money. The Vanguards are only a third of the price. Read this user review below -
‘One of the assistants showed me a bunch of binos including a pair of Leica 10x42. I brought about 6 pairs outside and ended up purchasing the least expensive of the bunch. The performance of these binoculars is awesome. I have an appreciation for high end optics having owned numerous optical in the past. Bottom line, after doing the comparison, these performed just as well as the £800+ plus binoculars.’
Vanguard have done it once again. They have made another exceptional quality product that is affordable. They are not aimed at the occasional user, more like the serious birdwatcher, sports enthusiast. I walked around with these slung around my neck for a good few hours and after a while, I even forgot they were there. The 10x45 ED’s are powerful, compact and highly enjoyable to use. Another complete winner.
Price: £400 (yet to be released in the UK) Highly recommended.
|VALUE FOR MONEY
For more information visit Vanguard's website: Vanguard Endeavour ED 1045 Binocular