Pros: Bright, high contrast views with natural looking colours and excellent fine detail even at lower light levels. Impressively lightweight, yet still feel extremely robust. Packed with high-end features at a price that represents exceptional value.
Cons: None worth noting.
Price: Listed in the Birdwatch Ireland Shop for €230, RRP on the Hawke UK website is GB£169.99 (c. €215). You may find them cheaper by shopping around online.
Rating: Highly Recommended
I was extremely impressed with the Hawke Endurance 8×42 when I reviewed it last Autumn. It really is a superb all-round binocular, but if anything I think I prefer its more diminutive sibling, the 8×32.
I love the compact, lightweight ergonomics, and despite its smaller size it handles beautifully. The view is every bit as good as its larger sibling, but it’s slightly cheaper, which adds up to a package that offers phenomenal value. I’d go as far as to say that this is the lowest priced binocular I’ve ever tested that I would happily consider using as my primary birding and wildlife observation optic.
View the Endurance ED 8×32 on the Hawke UK website.
Hawke Endurance ED 8×32 Full Review
I have to admit I tend to like more compact binoculars, but I’m always wary of the compromises in image quality and low-light performance when you shrink the objective lenses. Having reviewed the full-size 8×42 variant of the Endurance ED from Hawke last autumn, I was intrigued to see how it’s smaller mid-size sibling, the 8×32, would fare out in the field along the West Cork stretch of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Balance, handling and build quality
Like its larger sibling the 8×32 Endurance ED sports a single hinge design that I tend to prefer to the popular dual-hinge “open bridge” designs. While it is light for a high quality binocular (only 539g) it nonetheless feels extremely solid and well built thanks to its magnesium alloy chassis and high-quality hard rubber armouring.
The rubber armour (black in the sample reviewed here, also available in green) protects the binocular from knocks, bumps and scrapes, and makes it comfortable to hold onto for long periods out in the field. The rubber is textured along the outside of each barrel providing a very secure grip even in wet and slippery conditions (an important consideration here in Ireland).
Shorter barrels than the 8×42 mean the 8×32 Endurance ED is a more compact unit. That does mean there’s less barrel protruding below the hinge for a true “wrap around” grip, but in practice I found the binocular extremely comfortable to use. They’re light, “grippy”, and the unobtrusive but thoughtfully located thumb indents on the underside naturally guide your hands to the best position to hold the binocular. All in all the ergonomics and balance of the binocular are superb — so a job well done by Hawke on that front.
As with most binoculars you focus the instrument via the large central focusing wheel. The focus wheel on the Endurance 32 ED is a large rubber-coated affair with ridges to give you plenty of grip when focussing the binocular. It is easy to locate and use the focus wheel with your index finger without looking when you have the binoculars up to your eyes.
The focus mechanism on the Endurance 32 ED is smooth and fluid, but with perhaps a little more resistance than many high-end binoculars (but more on that below). It takes you from a specified close focus of 2m to infinity in about 1.2 anticlockwise turns. That’s a fairly aggressive focus ratio which is great for moving quickly from focussing on a distant bird to checking out a butterfly by your feet, but such a fast focus ratios can mean you overshoot the point of focus, and find yourself “hunting” back and forth for a crisp image. Hawke seems to have neatly sidestepped this problem with the Endurance ED by building just enough resistance into the mechanism to make hitting the perfect focus point quick and painless.
While we’re talking about focus, the specs state a minimum close focus distance of 2 metres, but in practice I could comfortably focus on my own feet with room to spare, and was able to focus on items from 1.5-1.6 metres away without difficulty.
A simple dial under the right hand eyepiece allows you to set the dioptre adjustment to your eyes. This dial doesn’t lock on the Endurance ED, as it does on some higher end binoculars, but in practice that didn’t turn out to be a problem. I never encountered a problem with the dioptre dial shifting unexpectedly during use.
While there is a – 0 + denotion on the barrel to denote the dioptre setting there are no graduated marks or numbers that allow you to remember your setting — something simple that makes sharing a pair of binoculars with others much easier.
Curiously my review sample required that I set the dioptre about half way clockwise (towards the – symbol) to get a perfect view. I say curiously because for my eyes I usually have the dioptre set dead centre. That said once set I didn’t need to mess with the dioptre again, and the image through the binoculars was excellent.
Eye Cups and Eye Relief
The Endurance ED features pretty standard twist-up eye-cups made of metal or very hard plastic. They are coated with a semi-hard rubber that helps cushion the eyes when you look through them. The eye-cups offer three click-stop positions (fully down, fully up and one intermediary stop) and provide a maximum quoted eye relief of 18mm, which means they should provide most glasses-wearers with a full field of view whilst wearing their glasses.
You won’t be surprised to learn that, like most roof prism binoculars on the market today, the Hawke Endurance 32 ED is nitrogen filled, making it waterproof, dust-proof and impervious to internal fogging.
In a word the view through the Endurance 8×32 ED binoculars is superb. I almost had to pinch myself to remember that this is a pair of binoculars that retails at just a shade over €200. It delivers an image as good as or better than many optics costing more than double that.
Image sharpness and field of view
The view through the Endurance 8×32 ED is bright, sharp and clear. I was particularly impressed with fine detail resolution and depth of field in a binocular at this price point. It makes for a very satisfying viewing experience and delivers razor sharp images without the need to constantly tweak the focus wheel.
When it comes to the field of view, while not class-leading, the Endurance 8×32 ED delivers a pleasingly wide 129m / 1,000m. That’s augmented by the fact that the image remains surprisingly sharp across pretty much all of it, with only very slight softening detectable out towards the periphery of the view.
I don’t have the 8×42 to hand for a direct comparison, unfortunately, but from memory I think the 8×32 outperforms its larger sibling in this regard. Edge sharpness on both binoculars is particularly impressive at this price point.
Colour fidelity, contrast and chromatic aberration
The colours through the Endurance ED look natural and are vibrant without being over-saturated. Contrast is also good — not so much as to make the image look “false”, but enough to make it “pop”. Distinguishing subtle shades and colour graduation presented no problems at all.
The ED lenses do a superb job of controlling chromatic aberration, with no colour fringing visible during use in normal field conditions. As with all binoculars (even the very best premium brands) you can induce it if you try hard enough, but it certainly isn’t a concern.
Low light performance and coatings
I was very impressed with the way the Endurance ED 8×32 performed as the light began to fade, revealing lots of detail in dark shadows well into twilight and remaining usable until almost dark. The smaller 32mm objective lenses do mean that it’s not quite as capable in this department as its 42mm sibling, but its not far behind, and performs very well indeed.
Hawke use silver mirror coatings on the high quality BAK4 prisms in these binoculars. While not quite as good as the very best dielectric coatings you see used in high-end premium binoculars, silver coated prisms are the next best option and provide very high levels of light transmission, delivering bright, crisp images and improved low-light performance.
The prisms on the Endurance ED range also feature phase corrected (PC) coatings, which corrects a distortion you get in all roof prism binoculars when split light is recombined within the optical system before it reaches your eyes. Phase corrected prisms deliver a sharper, cleaner image.
All air-to-glass surfaces on the Endurance ED 8×32 are fully multi-coated with Hawkes proprietary coatings that reduce glare and improve light transmission.
In the field these coatings work extremely well. As well as excellent low-light performance the Hawke Edurance ED handles difficult directional lighting and glare as well as any binocular I’ve used — which is impressive for the price you’re paying.
Once they’re out of the box my binoculars never see the inside of a case again — but as cases go the semi-rigid offering Hawke provides with the Endurance ED is one of the best I’ve seen. Twin zippers give easy access to the binoculars, and the semi-rigid shell affords more protection than most soft cases would (not that such a robust binocular really needs any additional protection).
Aside from the case you get a very functional eyepiece rainguard (an essential piece of kit in Ireland), tethered objective lens covers that slot into the rubber armour, a high quality lens cleaning cloth and a padded neoprene neck strap. The padding on the strap isn’t quite as thick as some, but in practice it’s very comfortable and functional, and the quality overall is good.
Hawke Optics offers a limited lifetime warranty on all its optics (legally limited to 10 years within Europe). You’ll find full warranty details on the Hawke website here.
You’ll have gathered by now that I like this little binocular… a lot. It delivers a view that is several grades above its price point, and rivals binoculars I’ve used costing three or even four times as much.
But more than that, it’s the whole package that impresses: an exceptional view; comfortable ergonomics; a thoughtful,lightweight design that feels effortless in use. Every now and then you pick up a pair of binoculars and everything just “gels”. It’s a kind of optical synergy where the experience of using an instrument delivers far more than you ever expected.
On paper these binoculars should be almost identical to their 8×42 siblings. In practice however I much preferred using the 8×32 Endurance ED — for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. I’d go as far as to say that it is perhaps one of my favourite binoculars I’ve ever reviewed on the site. That’s quite a claim, especially when you consider the price tag — but one I think the 8×32 Endurance ED lives up to.
Hats off to Hawke for bringing this level of quality to the optics market at a price most birders and wildlife enthusiasts can probably afford. I’d have absolutely no hesitation recommending the Edurance 8×32 ED to anyone as a primary birding and wildlife observation binocular. It’s a super bit of kit!
I’d like to thank Hawke Optics for providing the Endurance ED 8×32 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.