Most helpful positive review
106 of 108 people found the following review helpful
Worth a Good Look
on April 23, 2014
I have carefully compared these Vanguard Endeavor ED binoculars (one pair each of 8x42 and 10x42) to a pair of Bushnell Legend Ultra 10x42 binoculars, all of which I purchased from Amazon. Aside from the difference in magnification, the two Vanguards are identical in appearance and function. Subsequent references to "Vanguards" include both magnifications. The Bushnells are similar to the Vanguards in design and features. The differences noted below are slight.
In both brands, overall image sharpness, image-edge sharpness, and brightness are excellent. These are the most important features in any binoculars. I studied a frost-laced spider web at 100 feet, and the clarity was amazing in both binoculars. Advantage - Draw.
Mechanical operation (main focus, interpupillary distance) -- The interpupillary distance adjustment (width), and the main focus are somewhat stiffer in the Bushnells. The main focus in the Bushnells is also a bit awkward to adjust because it has some slack that must be taken up when changing the direction of rotation of the focus wheel. By contrast, the Vanguards have no slack in the focus wheel, with immediate reaction of the focus when the wheel is turned. One reviewer noticed a faint clicking in the Bushnells when operating the main focus wheel. This is not a mechanical flaw in the adjustment mechanism, but merely a "creaking" of the rubber covering of the wheel against the plastic substrate of the wheel. Advantage - Vanguard.
Diopter adjustment (right eye focus) -- The diopter ring on the Vanguards is much easier to operate than that on the Bushnells. The locking mechanism to prevent the diopter setting from being inadvertently changed is easily engaged or disengaged on the Vanguards, but difficult on the Bushnells. Due to some (very few) reviewers complaining of broken diopter rings on the Bushnells, I am very careful when adjusting the diopter. When focusing the Bushnell diopter I use thumb and forefinger; when locking or unlocking the ring, I use two fingers and a thumb. On the Vanguards I can easily do both tasks with thumb and forefinger. The Bushnell diopter ring is sufficiently stiff that once adjusted it is unlikely to be accidentally re-adjusted, so I simply don't lock the ring after setting the diopter. Update: Although the Bushnell diopter adjustment is becoming less stiff with use, it is still stiffer than the Vanguards. The problem with this stiffness, beyond the possibility of breaking the diopter ring, is that you are essentially holding the binoculars with one hand while your right hand is operating the diopter adjustment, and the significant torque required makes it difficult to hold the binoculars still enough to focus the right eye. Advantage - Vanguard.
The twist-up eyecups on the Vanguards adjust incrementally with detents, and rise higher than those on the Bushnells. Those on the Bushnells have a more limited range, no detents, and the right eyecup rose noticeably higher than the left, so attention has to be paid to their respective levels. Advantage - Vanguard.
Color accuracy -- Looking at a white snow bank in the flat light of a foggy day, the Vanguards had a slightly "warm" look, as compared to the stark white of the Bushnells. I stress that this difference was very slight, and noticeable at all only because I had both pairs of binoculars in hand at the same time. Advantage - Bushnell.
Chromatic Aberration (CA) -- the various colors of the visible light spectrum are transmitted differently through a medium such as glass, water or air. In binoculars this can lead to a fringe of color around the edges of an object silhouetted against the background, typically a dark foreground object against a light background. Both the Vanguards and the Bushnells use ED glass, which stands for Extra-low Dispersion. ED glass reduces or eliminates CA by more narrowly focusing the different wave lengths of light onto the same point so that no color fringes appear. Because a small number of Amazon reviewers said they experienced chromatic aberration with one or the other of these binoculars, I tried to force my Vanguards and Bushnells to display CA by viewing dark tree branches and dark standing rocks silhouetted against the blue sky, sunlit white clouds, or snow. I did this with the foregrounds back-lighted, and then front-lighted, and in no case could I get either pair of binoculars to show chromatic aberration. As a check, I got out some of my cheap binoculars, and had no difficulty forcing them to display CA, especially toward the edges of the image. Update: today (29 May 2014) I was able to notice chromatic aberration in both the Vanguards and the Bushnells. Viewing a distant green, grassy hilltop, obliquely backlit and silhouetted against the blue sky, I could see a narrow color fringe on the hilltop only at the extreme upper limb of the field of view. In the Vanguards the color was purple, in the Bushnells it was orange. This is no hindrance to viewing, as it is in a non-critical portion of the field of view, occurs only under rare circumstances, and is barely noticeable even if you look for it. Advantage - Draw.
The carrying cases both have zippered closures. The Bushnell case is a very nice semi-rigid clamshell design. Velcro tabs are provided to prevent the clamshell from falling completely open when the binoculars are taken out. The Vanguard case is a padded soft case with ballistic nylon outer cover, and about half as bulky as the Bushnell case. Unless bulkiness is a problem, the Bushnell case is better. Advantage - Bushnell.
The Bushnells come with a binocular harness, which stores in the binocular case. Advantage - Bushnell.
Both brands have nicely padded carrying straps that can be easily switched between the carry case and the binoculars. Advantage - Draw.
Weight -- The Vanguards weigh 25.8 ounces, a little over 3 ounces more than the Bushnells. Advantage - Draw.
Handling comfort -- I find the Vanguards to be slightly more comfortable, due to the "open bridge" two-hinge design where my index fingers are on the upper hinge and focus wheel, the middle and ring fingers curve over the binoculars between the hinges, and the little fingers rest on the lower hinge. The Bushnells have a single larger hinge, and the fingers are on the hinge, except for the little fingers, which rest below the hinge. Another reason that the Vanguards are more comfortable to hold is that they feature slightly flattened areas on the backs of each of the cylinders that form the body of the binoculars, located precisely where your thumbs are positioned when holding the binoculars. Most of the weight of binoculars is borne by your thumbs, and to see what difference this feature makes, slide your hands down toward the objective end, and note the additional pressure caused by the relatively narrow cross-section of the cylinder as compared to the broad area of contact afforded by the flattened areas. As comfort is a highly subjective feature, I would call it a Draw, and suggest that each user would have to assess the binoculars for personal comfort.
The rubber covering on the Bushnells is ribbed for secure grip in wet conditions, or with gloves. It is thicker than that on the Vanguards, with slight "give" when pushed with a fingertip. The rubber covering on the Vanguards is pebbled grain, non-ribbed, and fits absolutely snugly. I find the Vanguard covering to be slightly more comfortable, but again this is subjective, and each user needs to evaluate it personally.
Lens covers -- The lens covers for the eyepiece lenses are virtually identical. Those for the objective lenses are different in that the Bushnells have a relatively loose retainer ring, while the Vanguards have a tight retainer ring. Several reviewers mentioned the looseness of the Bushnell objective lens covers (particularly when open, hanging from their retainer rings), and one went so far as to hot-glue the retainers in place. A much simpler and very effective solution is to slide the side of the retainer ring which is opposite the hinge of the lens cover upward on the binoculars. This tightens the ring, and gives a long distance that the ring must move before it could fall off. What I like best about the Bushnell objective lens covers is the tab that makes finding and opening the cover very easy, even with gloves on. Update: (15 December 2014) my new pair of Vanguard 10x42 binoculars has tabs on the objective lens covers, so presumably the 8x42 models will now also have tabs. Advantage - Draw.
As you can see from this listing of features, the Vanguard Endeavor ED, (both 8x42 and 10x42) and the Bushnell 10x42 Legend Ultra HD are close to equal. Each is available in both 10 and 8 power versions. I paid the same price for the two 10x42 models, and am pleased with both purchases. If the Vanguard Endeavor and the Bushnell Legend Ultra are on your list for consideration, I would recommend that you take the one that feels best in your hands, and/or that you can obtain at the most reasonable price.