Eden Quality XP 8x42 binocular
It was during spring 2011 that I had my first encounter with Eden Quality binoculars. The web-based merchandise and optics e-tailer had launched a low-cost ED glass binocular that was clearly set to give many other brands a run for their money at the budget end of the optics market. The company has now launched a new ‘XP’ model with a price point to match that originally applied to the ED, the latter recently having undergone a reduction in cost.
So what does the XP have that the ED doesn’t? In design and build, it doesn’t have ED glass, it’s marginally larger but still quite compact and it weighs 20 g less as a result of the new carbon-fibre-reinforced body. The gas filling is the more conventional and widely used nitrogen instead of argon. Mechanically, the dioptre adjustment is built into the right ocular instead of being positioned centrally where, in the ED model, I had some concerns about its free movement and its potential to be accidentally displaced from its setting.
Differences in performance may be less easy to quantify beyond two fixed, measurable parameters, which are a narrower field of view of 129 m at 1,000 m, compared to 142 m in the ED model, and a shorter close-focus distance of 1.2 m, as opposed to 3.5 m in the ED. The field of view is still good as budget bins go, but I was not able to focus down to the figure quoted by the manufacturer, although the 1.3-1.4 m I achieved was not far off. Apart from that, the build quality and mechanics appear to be sound. The body armour comprises a relatively thin layer of rubber, as do the eyecups, which twist out and click-stop in four positions and are comfortable against the eye. The milled dioptre turns smoothly, as does the central focusing wheel, and despite its being very shallowly ribbed, it still provides a surface of adequate contact for operation while wearing gloves. The focusing mechanism is very fast, with just over one anti-clockwise turn covering close focus to infinity and taking only a quarter of a turn to focus between approximately 3 m and ‘long distance’; this is very useful when the need arises for rapidly switching from watching a nearby bird to identifying one in flight at long range.
I used the XP quite extensively in the field and, for the price, it delivers. The image is bright and sharp, albeit with some softening in the outer 10 per cent or so of the field, and the contrast and colours are good, solid and virtually natural, with the overall colour rendition being largely neutral. To my eyes there is an ‘average’ amount of chromatic aberration – certainly not enough to lose sleep over or to detract from the overall enjoyment of watching birds in the field.
On the accessories front the XP comes with a comfortable padded neck-strap – higher quality than that supplied with the ED – and a soft carry case as well as removable tethered objective lens covers. If you’re buying at the lower-priced end of the market, it’s certainly worthy of consideration, but it’s only available online. The XP boasts a 25-year warranty, which suggests this binocular will be both reliable and durable.