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Eden binoculars tested by birdwatchers

Choosing the right pair of binoculars can be tricky with such a wide range of products to choose from. How do you find out which is the best? Reading experiences often helps, but then, of course, preferably those from people who know what they are talking about. With that idea in mind we asked three experienced Dutch bird watchers to take a good, critical look at our complete collection of Eden binoculars. And they did!

They even taught us new things. Biggest eye-opener: a truly useful pair of binoculars should always be stored in your pannier or underneath the front seat of your car, without a bag and without the lens caps. In other words, a pair of binoculars that cannot get dirty isn’t one you can do a whole lot with according to these experts. You need to be able to use it regardless of the weather and, if necessary, be able to roll around in the grass with it.

Our bird watchers, Hans, Ro and Bert have over 200 years of experience combined. You do the math. Ro and Hans are even professional bird ringers and are tested three times a year. The assessment of a pair of binoculars is what they call a precarious affair. Pupil distance, pupil diameter and the individual eye play a significant role. And the thing that is important to one, such as weight, could hardly be important to the other. A pair of binoculars is, above all, an emotional asset: if you have found the right one, you will never ask for another.

We literally gave these critical experts a box with the entire range of Eden binoculars and had an interesting day with lively discussions. The result? Genuine user information we would love to share. But before we do first a bit of theory on the matter. Because what’s the deal again with the field of view, the twilight factor and magnification? After all, these specs are, besides weight, important criteria to judge a pair of binoculars on.

Magnification, field of view, twilight factor and weight

Eden binoculars come in two magnifications: 8x and 10x. The preference for either one or the other is very personal. You will, of course, see more details with a larger magnification. However, hand movements are, for instance, also magnified. You simply have to try it out.

The field of view is expressed in the number of meters per 1000 meters and is determined by the internal optics of the pair of binoculars. The field of view gets smaller as the magnification factor increases. The more you magnify the smaller the overview will be.

The diameter of the front lens determines the amount of light that can be captured and, as such, also determines the twilight factor. The twilight factor can be calculated by multiplying the magnification of the objective lens diameter and then finding the square root of the results. For the twilight factor the following applies: the higher, the more details you will see. When a value drops below 15 a pair of binoculars is only great to be used during the day.

In addition, the weight of a pair of binoculars is key when it comes to comfort. A pair of binoculars with a bigger front lens is heavier, but the material of the pair mostly determines the weight.

The following chart has listed weight, field of view and the twilight factor of our Eden binoculars (sorted by twilight factor).

Type Weight (grams) Field of view (in meters) at 1000 meters Twilight factor
HD 8x25 295 119 14.1
HD 10x25 295 96 15.8
HD 8x32 480 131 16
XP 8x32 465 131 16
XP 8x42 660 129 18.3
HD 8x42 760 129 18.3
XP 10x42 650 114 20.5
HD 10x42 740 114 20.5
XP 10x56 1170 105 23.7

There is, however, more to pay attention to. The quality of the pair is key when it comes to the clarity of the image and there are also matters such as brightness, depth of field and exit pupil. We can’t discuss everything in this article but for anyone who is interested we recommend our binocular dictionary.

What do these numbers mean in daily life?

When you choose a pair of binoculars you often compromise between the previously mentioned factors. Our smallest pair with a 25 mm front lens is compact and very light. Of all the binoculars it has the smallest field of view and is therefore perfect when you are looking for objects in closed-off environments, such as birds on a feeding table or architecture in the city. Our bird watchers could easily handle the Eden HD 10x25 and even called it the perfect tool to ‘quickly take with you in your pocket’. This pair is great during the day because when the light is less intense you often need a lens with a large diameter because it will catch more light.

The Eden binoculars with a 32 mm lens have the biggest field of view of all our binoculars, which is great when you want to track an animal. Our bird watchers all felt the same about the XP 8x32: good pair with a bright and clear image, which, in terms of quality, should be preferred over all other binoculars. It was immediately their favourite. It surprised us because the binoculars with the 42 mm lenses are often more popular amongst bird watchers.

The diameter of the lens and the magnification determine the twilight factor. When there is enough light during the day, a small 25 mm lens will also capture enough light to give you a clear image. However, when night falls, in a dark forest or when the weather is bad, you will definitely notice the difference. The 25 mm and to some extent also the 32 mm are no match against the larger pairs. If you want an all-round pair of binoculars you definitely need to go with a 42 or 56 mm lens. After all, the large lenses will be great regardless of the weather and will give you an ideal and calm image.

The weight is, as said, something to definitely pay attention to. The 25 mm is incredibly light and wonderful to carry with you on a daily basis. The Eden XP 8x32 is relatively light (less than 500 grams!) and gives you a great, high-contrast, image. The hulk amongst the rest of the pairs, the  Eden XP 10x56 was considered to be technically sound; with an amazingly clear image, but too heavy to use for a long time. However, when you use a tripod you, of course, won’t be bothered by it. Surprising for us at Knivesandtools: even the 42mm binos were considered to be too heavy according to our bird watchers. They thought the benefits of a clearer image could not outweigh the disadvantage of the additional weight.

Our bird watchers preferred the Eden XP-series over the Eden HD-series. Higher contrast, sharper image – even at the edges –, better weight and, in general, with a better finish. You really notice the difference when you put them next to each other. The HD is good, the XP is better. The price of the XP is higher, but the quality is also better.

In terms of ergonomics all binoculars were considered to be fine. They feel great in hand, have excellent grip and weight proportions.  The centre focus wheel can easily be used but would have been easier to use when placed a little further to the back. In addition, if it had been a little broader it would enable you to clamp the binocular with your index finger and your pink, and rotate with your middle or ring finger. We are happy to work with this when we continue to develop our binoculars.

And should you choose the 8x or 10x magnification? That is a personal choice. It seems appealing to purchase a binocular with the highest possible magnification. This, however, isn’t. Generally speaking the shortest possible distance that still enables you to focus becomes longer when you own a binocular with a large magnification factor. In addition, the magnification factor influences the twilight factor and the relative brightness factor. And the stability, which is also something to take into account. But let’s put it like this: our respected bird watchers were all able to easily use the 10x.

Conclusion: which pair of binoculars should you purchase?

Conclusion? For a bird watcher in the field brightness and field of view are key. For that purpose you can’t really use a 25 mm pair. The 56 mm was considered too heavy to use for a long time, even though on a technical scale it was great. The unanimous winner is the Eden XP 8x32. High contrast, great image and, in terms of image, it is very similar to the 42 mm which is a lot heavier. And for any pair the following applies: the XP series is better, both in terms of the quality of the optics and the finish. But the best part of all Eden binoculars is that they are technically sound, and even reasonably priced. The experts fortunately agreed on that. You can, in good conscience, place these pairs of binoculars underneath the front seat of your car.


About the bird watchers

Ro, Hans and Bert are bird enthusiasts for as long as they can remember. They are friends ever since they met via their membership at the Wageningse Vogelwerkgroep when they were still in college. Hans and Ro spent many years in the tropics where Hans worked as a botanic expert. Today they are still active ringers. Because of his profession Bert has travelled all across the world and a great pair of binoculars was always a part of his equipment, to fill his spare time. He owns a bird guide of every continent, but prefers to peruse through his Peterson bird guide – the first, bound in snake leather – edition. Bert definitely prefers his Swift Kestrel 10x50, Hans his Leica, but like Ro, often find himself looking for simple porro-prism binoculars, or a digital camera with zoom lens. Take a picture, zoom in and determine at ease…. Yes that is also an option!