Like its predecessor, the ED II is an open bridge binocular, made with a lightweight magnesium alloy body. It weighs in at 770g. The binocular is covered in black rubber armouring which gives it a very slick and stylish look. As you would expect with a binocular in this price range, it is waterproof and fogproof. Eye Relief on the 8x42 is an excellent 19.5mm. I often struggle with eye relief as I wear glasses and like the binoculars to sit right on the glass. The Vanguard 8x42 provides a little too much eye relief for this, but I've found it is far more comfortable to have too much than too little.
These look like a stylish, high quality binocular, but how do they feel in the hand? Here's what I wrote back in November for the 10x42 model:
"The ergonomics on this model just didn't quite work for me. I found the space between the two barrels to be quite tight and the binocular just didn't feel quite right in my large hands. As a result, I found it quite difficult to hold the binocular steady."
The lower magnification of the 8x42 certainly helps and I had no problem whatsoever holding the binocular steady. I like to use two fingers to focus a binocular, but the positioning of the focus wheel on the Vanguard makes this impossible. Therefore, I felt I had to place my hands higher up than I would like, which in turn made them slightly front heavy. However, with prolonged use, I did find a comfortable hand position and, along with the lower magnification, made the experience much more enjoyable than that of the 10x42.
The focussing wheel travels incredibly smoothly and quickly. It focusses from right to left, from close focus to infinity in about three quarters of a turn. I like a quick focuser and although I found this to be a little too quick, in the 10x42, I really enjoyed being able to move from close focus to infinity quickly. Unlike the 10x42, I found it very easy to obtain a sharp image.
Close focus is listed as 2m, but in reality I found I could focus down to 1.5m. I do a lot of insect and butterfly watching and these binoculars are ideal for this.
So, they look good, they feel good but what's the view like? Quite simply, they are incredibly sharp. It has one of the flattest views on the market today. The image really is sharp right to the very edge. Chromatic aberration is very well controlled and is virtually eliminated by the high quality glass.
The colour rendition seemed quite warm to me and reds, oranges, browns and blacks really stand out. However, whites look a little creamy to my eyes. Brightness is very good in strong sunlight, but I was a little disappointed in gloomy conditions. It's low light credentials are a little disappointing too. Perhaps the inclusion of dielectric coatings on the prisms would rectify this.
The Vanguard Endeavour ED II retails for £399. Given the high quality glass, excellent sharpness right to the very edge, lack of chromatic aberration, excellent close focus and quality feel, this seems to be a very good price. However, dielectric coatings on the prisms are a glaring omission, with other brands producing cheaper binoculars with better coatings. Despite these minor shortcomings, the Endeavour ED II is a quality binocular that is a significant improvement from its predecessor.