Pros: Excellent entry level ED binocular that ticks a lot of the right boxes for birders and wildlife enthusiasts. Lightweight, with reasonable field of view for a 10x binocular, the VEO ED delivers sharp high-contrast images. Great blend of high-end features at a very reasonable price point.
Cons: Focus is a little too aggressive for my taste, and meant I regularly overshot the point of focus and had to “dial back”. Despite ED glass, I could still detect a hint of chromatic aberration when viewing high-contrast subjects across the field of view, with the effect more pronounced towards the field edges.
Price: GB£199 (c. €220 at time of writing)
The VEO ED line of binoculars is essentially a reboot of the company’s excellent Spirit ED line which introduces a few new features, while retaining all those that made the former such a great entry-level ED binocular. The price point for what you get is very compelling.
All of which makes the VEO ED a great option if you’re looking to buy a pair of high-quality wildlife and birding binoculars on a tight budget.
Vanguard VEO ED 10×42 Full Review
Over the last decade or so Vanguard has been earning a reputation for delivering plenty of bang for the buck with its binocular line… the Endeavor ED, Endeavor EDII and Endeavor EDIV all punched well above their weight in terms of features and performance at their respective price points.
However, it’s been a while since Vanguard introduced a new binocular, so I was delighted to get my hands on a pair of VEO ED 10×42 for review.
A classic, rebooted?
When I took the VEO ED out of the box I couldn’t shake the feeling that something about this binocular seemed familiar. I rummaged through my collection of loan optics I have for guests to use on our wildlife experiences, and dug out a pair of Vanguard Spirit ED 10×42. Sure enough, apart from the colour of the rubber armour the two binoculars are physically identical.
At first I was a little disappointed that the VEO wasn’t exactly new. Then I remembered how good the Spirit ED had been for the price, and realised that the fact the VEO inherits a lot of its pedigree is perhaps no bad thing.
So what’s different? Well, the VEO ED’s internals benefit from newer glass and up-to-date coatings. They also sport a new Carbon Composite body, premium rubber armour made by Mitsubishi, no less, and replaceable metal eyecups (instead of fixed plastic ones) with slightly better eye-relief.
Balance, Handling and Build Quality
One of the headline features of the VEO ED is an apparently all-new carbon-fibre composite body that is very strong yet lightweight. Quite how different this is to the polycarbonate body material used in the original Spirit ED is unclear, although the VEO is a shade lighter at 622g against the Spirit ED’s 640g.
When you pick the binocular up if feels light for a full-size 10×42, without feeling in any way flimsy. It’s also fairly compact for a full size binocular, which makes it very handy to carry in the field for extended periods.
Like other Vanguard binoculars I’ve tried, the VEO ED is solidly built, with a finesse to the finish that lends it a much more premium feel than its price would suggest. The dark-green textured rubber armour is hard but yields a little to the touch, making it comfortable to hold and offering excellent grip. The armour feels substantial enough to provide plenty of protection from the occasional knock in the field.
In use, the binocular is well-balanced and comfortable to hold. The classic single-hinge design doesn’t break any new ground, but then it doesn’t need to: it just does its job and does it well. Ridges and indents on the underside of the barrels subtly guide your thumbs to the ideal position and when you hold the binocular your index finger rests naturally on the generous focus wheel, which is exactly what you want.
The central focusing wheel on the VEO ED is metal with a ridged rubber ring to offer grip. It turns smoothly, with a comfortable amount of resistance through just 2/3 of an anticlockwise turn between a specified close focus of 2.8m and infinity.
That’s a remarkably aggressive focus ratio (one I’ve only seen matched in the Spirit ED) and means you only have around 1/3 to 1/2 a turn to play with across the most frequently used focus range. For me this proved a little too much. I regularly overshot the point of focus and had to dial back, or worse, hunting back and forth, in order to get a sharp image.
The dioptre adjustment dial sits in its customary spot under the right eyepiece. There’s no locking mechanism (perhaps unsurprisingly at this price point), but that said there’s enough resistance to prevent accidental adjustment.
Eyecups and Eye Relief
It’s great to see removable metal eyecups make it to the Vanguard range (although on my review sample I could only remove the left-hand eyecup… the right-hand one, above the dioptre adjustment ring, wouldn’t budge). Eyecups are one of the most vulnerable and frequently damaged parts of a pair of binoculars, so having metal ones rather than plastic, with the ability to replace them yourself if you have a mishap, is a real boon.
The metal eyecups are covered with rubber padding and offer three positions: fully up, fully down and one intermediate stop. Quoted eye relief for is 18mm, which should be enough to offer a comfortable viewing for most glasses wearers.
As you’d expect from any half-decent binocular today, the VEO ED is sealed and purged with Nitrogen gas, making them fully waterproof and dust proof and preventing internal fogging within the optical system.
Optically I’ve always found Vanguard binoculars to be very good at their particular price point and the VEO ED continues and builds on its predecessor in that regard.
Image Quality and Field of View
The VEO ED delivers a bright clear image with lots of sharpness and detail in the centre of the field, and remaining sharp across most of the field of view, softening just a little towards the very edge. That field of view of 105m/1,000m (6°) is good, but not spectacular for a 10×42 binocular, although it is in line with competing binoculars at this price point.
Colour Fidelity, contrast and chromatic aberration
Colours are faithfully reproduced through the VEO ED, with perhaps a slight warm colour bias. That’s only really, detectable in direct side-by-side comparison with other binoculars, and delivers a pleasant punchy image. There’s plenty of contrast too, with no problem discerning subtle variations in the colour, tone and detail across a wide range of subjects.
Chromatic aberration (colour fringing) is well handled, by and large, as you’d expect from a binocular sporting ED glass. However, there were instances viewing high-contrast subjects when I could detect some trace of it even in the centre of the field, with the effect becoming more apparent out toward the field edges.
Overall, the image through the VEO ED appears very natural, making for a pleasant all-round viewing experience.
Low light performance and coatings
The VEO ED features a fully multi-coated optical system, meaning that all glass surfaces have been treated with special anti-reflective coatings to enhance light transmission through the optical system. They also feature phase correcting coatings on the BaK4 Prisms — a feature used in roof-prism binoculars to improve detail, colour and contrast in the resulting image.
All of which translates into a binocular that works well across many different lighting conditions, and delivers detailed, high-contrast images well into twilight.
The VEO ED is supplied with all the usual accessories you might expect, including a neoprene carrying case, a comfortable padded neoprene neck-strap (although this Vanguard strap doesn’t adjust short enough for my liking), eyepiece rainguard, tethered (but removable) objective lens covers, high-quality cleaning cloth, instruction manual and warranty card.
The Vangard VEO ED comes with a 10 year manufacturer warranty.
The Vanguard VEO ED 10×42 is an extremely capable all-around birding and wildlife observation binocular that offers a host of higher-end features and delivers mid-range performance at what amounts to an entry level price point for a quality binocular.
If you’re looking for a decent pair of binoculars on a tight budget, the Vanguard VEO ED 10×42 is a great one to add to your shortlist.
From the manufacturer’s website:
|Objective Lens||1.65 inches|
|Glass||Extra Low Dispersion (ED) Glass|
|Lens coating||Fully multi-coated|
|Field of View||314 feet/1000 Yards|
|Near Focus||9.2 feet|
|Body Material||Carbon Composite in premium Mitsubishi Rubber Armour|
|Dimensions||5 3/4 x 4 7/8 x 2 1/8 inches|
|Exit Pupil||0.17 inches|
|Eye Relief||0.63 inches|
|Extended Warranty||10 Years|
|Application||Birdwatching, Nature & Outdoor|
|Accessories||Binocular carry case, neck strap, eyepiece lens covers, objective lens covers & lens cleaning cloth|
|Other||2 stops twist-out eyecups|
I’d like to thank Vanguard for providing the VEO ED 10×42 for review on Ireland’s Wildlife.
NB. Ireland’s Wildlife has no specific affiliation to any optics or gear manufacturer and all reviews on the site are completely independent and objective. If you’re an optics or gear manufacturer and would like to submit your product for review on the site please drop us a line using the contact form and we can take things from there.