Pros: High quality optics that deliver premium features and a high-performance viewing experience at a reasonable price point. Sharp, contrasty image impresses in a range of challenging viewing conditions. Bright, vivid colours that make the image “pop”.
Cons: Twist up eyecups are plastic, rather than metal, Vanguard Warranty dropped from 25 years to only 10 since I reviewed their predecessor, eye-placement proved a little finicky for me (occasional blackout of areas at the periphery of the field), but likely to be a personal issue that may not affect you. Slight greenish/yellowish colour bias… although only noticeable when you compare alongside other premium binoculars.
Price: GBP£399.99 (c.€455.00) — at time of writing on sale for £299.99 (c. €345.00)
Vanguard is a Chinese brand that has quietly evolved to become a real contender in the congested mid-range optics market. I’ve been particularly impressed with their Endeavor range of binoculars in the past (I reviewed the ED, EDII and EDIV here and found all three to offer great performance and outstanding value for money). The VEO line appears to be a revamp of their older models, using the same (or very similar) optical systems paired with a new carbon composite body construction.
If you’re looking for a high quality binocular at a mid-range prices point, the Vanguard Veo HD2 is certainly worth a look.
Check out the Veo HD 2 8×42 on Vanguard’s website.
Buy the Vanguard Veo HD2 on Amazon:
Vanguard VEO HD2 8×42 Full Review
After being impressed by every incarnation of Vanguards Endeavor range of binoculars over the years, I was keen to see how their latest dual hinge premium offering, the VEO 2 HD stacked up. Let’s find out….
Much as the original Veo ED appeared to be a modern reboot of Vanguards Spirit ED binocular, so VEO HD 2 feels very much like a refreshed Endeavor EDII. Comparing the specs of the two binoculars, the optical systems and features, with the exception of the Endeavor EDII’s premium Magnesium Alloy housing, are pretty much identical (including the use of Vanguard’s much vaunted Hoya ED Glass). The VEO HD2 is a touch lighter, thanks presumably to that Carbon Composite construction Vanguard talks about. Call me old fashioned, but I’d take the additional 50g or so for a Magnesium Alloy body any day.
That said, the Veo HD2 is a smart, modern-looking binocular that feels solid, with a nice heft to it and a high-quality feel that suggests it will go the distance.
Balance, Handling and Build Quality
Vanguard’s dual hinged designs have always been very comfortable to hold and to use, and they look great. The VEO HD2 is no exception. It is well balanced, feels solid and well put together, and generally feels like a premium bit of kit.
The entire body is covered in a slightly textured hard green rubber armour from Mitsubishi (I’m not too sure why marketers felt it important to stress that fact) that is tactile, and looks and feels great. It provides a good grip, is comfortable to hold, and handy indents on the underside of the barrels help guide your hands to the ideal position for optimum balance and handling.
Vanguard pushes the all new Carbon Composite body construction as a benefit in its marketing — but essentially what it boils down to is that the binocular itself is constructed out of a carbon fibre reinforced plastic polymer, rather than the premium metal (Magnesium Alloy) used in previous models at this price point.
That’s a bit of a shame… but to be honest, if Carbon Composite wasn’t plastered all over the packaging and marketing material, I’d have no way of knowing. The binocular feels solid and every bit as robust and well made as its predecessors. Once you do know though, there’s no getting around the fact that it feels like a bit of a downgrade.
My personal preference has always been for single hinge binocular designs — specifically the more contemporary single-hinge design with a narrower hinge high on the body, allowing for a true, inimpeded wrap-around grip. I’ve always found the lower hinge gets in the way on dual hinge designs, and while you can get used to them, I’d rather not have to.
That said, there are benefits to dual hinge construction. They lend overall strength, and each individual hinge can be narrower, without compromising the overall strength and stability of the design. It can also help reduce the overall weight, and improve balance… although that can be subjective.
Despite my personal preference, Vanguards dual hinge binoculars remain some of the most comfortable and best handling binoculars I’ve ever used… and the VEO HD2 picks up where the Endeavor left off in that regard, with great balance and a comfortable all-around user experience.
Focus & Dioptre Adjustment
The metal focus wheel is ample, and the knurled rubber central ring affords plenty of grip. Focus action is as smooth and fluid as any binocular I’ve used, and the resistance level is well balanced. About 2 1/2 anti-clockwise turns take you from a quoted close-focus distance of c. 2m to infinity. While that is more focus travel than you’ll find in many binoculars, I never found focusing to be too slow on the VEO HD2, and the image snaps without having to hunt back and forth.
Dioptre adjustment is in the regular position beneath the right-hand eyepiece, and is lockable, which means there’s no danger of it slipping once you have it set up.
Eye Cups and Eye Relief
Like most high quality roof-prism binoculars today, the VEO HD2 features twist-up eye-cups with four stops (fully down, two intermediate stops, and fully up). This should allow you to adjust the eyecups to afford you the full field of view, although for me, even with the eyecups fully extended, the eyepiece lenses were still a little too close for my eyes. It made positioning the binoculars correctly more challenging than it should be, and meant I’d occasionally get disconcerting peripheral blackouts at the edge of the field of view, forcing me to reposition the bins.
A quoted eye-relief of 19mm is excellent, and should mean most spectacle wearers will have no problem using these binoculars with their glasses on.
One other thing to note here — the eyecups appear to be plastic rather than metal, which means they could be more prone to damage and wear and tear. However, the good news is, if they are damaged they will unscrew, so Vanguard can just send out a replacement that you can replace yourself. Eyecups are the single most frequent point of failure on any binocular — and it’s very handy to be able to replace a damaged eyecup yourself, rather than sending the whole instrument back to the factory for repair.
Like all binoculars at this price point, the VEO HD2 is fully sealed and weatherproof, and purged with inert gas to prevent internal fogging and condensation. During testing the binocular suffered no ill-effects despite the worst an Irish late winter/early spring could throw at it.
Image Quality and Field of View
The view through the VEO HD2 is excellent: bright, sharp, contrasty and full of detail.
It is pin sharp from the centre, and remains good across most of the field, softening just a tad as you get out towards the very edge. The field of view is good, though not exceptional for an 8×42 at 7.1 degrees (124m/1000m).
On balance the view through the VEO HD2 is excellent, with very little to criticise for an instrument at this price point.
Colour Fidelity, Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
Broadly speaking the view through the VEO HD2 appears neutral, with no real perceptible colour bias to the naked eye. The image is punchy with good contrast, and colours appear natural and vibrant. If you use the VEO HD2 alongside other premium binoculars, there does appear to be an ever so slightly perceptible bias towards the green/yellow end of the spectrum, but this is never apparent if you’re using the instrument in isolation.
Chromatic aberration (colour fringing) is handled well, and I never noticed it when viewing high-contrast subjects under normal, and even quite extreme field conditions. As with almost any binocular, you could induce fringing by purposely viewing extreme contrast scenes at the very edge of the field of view… but that’s not how you’ll be using the binocular.
Low Light Performance and Coatings
All air to glass surfaces in the optical system of the VEO HD2 are fully-multi-coated with Vanguard’s proprietary suite of coatings designed to improve light transmission and reduce glare and stray light reflections. Coupled with high-quality Japanese ED glass and high-performance BAK4 Roof Prisms the image produced remains bright and clear even in challenging conditions, and while it unsurprisingly falls short of the best binoculars out there, the VEO HD2 can more than hold its own against competition in its own price band, and will continue deliver as the light fades.
The VEO HD2 also has a special protective armour/hydrophobic coating applied to the external lens surfaces. This not only protects the more fragile coatings beneath, but also means the surface gets less dirty, needs cleaning less often and, crucially, is much easier to clean when it does become necessary.
The VEO HD2 comes with the usual assortment of accessories you’d expect with a high quality optical instrument. There’s a new-design neoprene carry case, a comfortable neoprene neck-strap, an eyepiece rainguard you can tether to the strap, and removable tethered objective lens covers. You’ll also find a microfibre cleaning cloth in the box.
Vanguard offers a 2 year standard warranty and a 10 year extended warranty when you register your purchase of one of its VEO line of optics.
Full details of the warranty are available on the Vanguard UK website here.
The Vanguard VEO HD 2 is an interesting reboot of what was already a very capable binocular design in the Endeavor ED II (which is still listed on the Vanguard website for sale). While the switch from magnesium alloy to a polycarbonate (essentially a plastic polymer) body feels like a downgrade the optics, the focusing and everything else about the VEO HD2 is excellent.
When you weigh it all up, the Vanguard VEO HD2 offers a lot of binocular for the money. If you’re in the market for a high-performance mid-range birding and wildlife binocular, it’s certainly one I’d recommend adding to your shortlist.
Check out the Veo HD 2 8×42 on Vanguard’s website.
Buy the Vanguard Veo HD2 on Amazon:
Taken from the Vanguard UK website:
|Vanguard Veo HD2 8×42 Specs
|HOYA Extra Low Dispersion (ED) Glass
|Field of View
|Carbon Composite in premium Mitsubishi Rubber Armour
|152.5 x 127.5 x 54mm
|Yes IPX 7
|42.3mm (can use VEO PA-62 for digiscoping)
|Birdwatching, Nature & Outdoor
|Binocular carry case, neck strap, eyepiece lens covers, objective lens covers & lens cleaning cloth
|3 stops twist-out eyecups
I’d like to thank Vanguard UK for providing the VEO HD2 8×42 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.