Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope Review

Vanguard's new Endeavor HD Spotting ScopePros: Sleek, modern-looking scope that feels solid and well made. Quite compact for an 82mm scope. Very bright, sharp image at 20x magnification that is very good up to about 40x, showing plenty of detail with good colour and contrast. Wide central sweet spot with marginal softening out towards the edge. Dual focus controls make fine-focus easy.

Cons: Image degrades markedly as you move up beyond 40x magnification. Stay on case sometimes rides up beneath the fine focus adjustment and interferes with smooth operation (easy to fix though). Zoom eyepiece is a little stiff at first, but eases with use.

Price: GB£579 (c.€726) body + 20-60x zoom eyepiece kit

Accessories: Stay-on case

Value: Excellent

Rating: Recommended

Chinese company Vanguard state in their literature that the Endeavor HD is the finest piece of optical equipment they have ever produced. It’s hard to argue with that after spending some time using the angled 82mm version of the scope. The company’s Endeavor ED binoculars brought a suite of premium features to binoculars at a low mid-range price point. The Endeavor HD aims to do the same thing for spotting scopes.

The scope looks good, is very well made and the view through it is excellent at 20x, remains very good up to about 40x, but beyond that it deteriorates markedly. To some extent that comes with the territory when you’re dealing with mid-range bundled zoom eyepieces, so it’s not entirely unexpected. All in all this is a very capable all-round scope sporting high-end optics and premium construction materials at a price that’s hard to argue with.

If you’re in the market for a scope in this sort of price range the Vanguard certainly has a lot to offer.

View the Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A spotting scope on the Vanguard UK website.

You can buy the Vanguard Endeavor HD from Wex Photographic or from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com using one of the affiliate links below:

Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope: Full Review

I’ve known the name Vanguard for many a year — mainly as a manufacturer of camera accessories, bags and tripods. But it wasn’t until recently that I came across the Chinese company’s range of sports optics. When I first looked through a pair of their Endeavor ED binoculars I was blown away by the quality of the view and the high-end build quality for the price.

The Endeavor ED binocular deliver an outstanding price / performance ratio that’s matched by few other binoculars. They are great value bins offering what borders on high-end performance at a low mid-range price point. With the introduction of the Endeavor HD spotting scope last year Vanguard looked set to do the same thing for spotting scopes.

Did they succeed?

First Impressions

Vanguard Endeavor HD spotting scopeThe Vanguard HD 82A comes in a box that is surprisingly small — and when you unpack it the first thing you notice is that this is a fairly compact looking unit for a full size scope. The magnesium alloy body is quite heavy at 1810g, but not so heavy as to feel unwieldy and awkward. It is well balanced and feels very solid. Unlike most scopes today much of the black anodised metal body is exposed, with black rubber armour reserved only for the rear of the scope around the eyepiece.

The 20-60x (on the 82mm — 15-45 on the 65mm) eyepiece, like the scope, feels well made, looks good and gives the impression that it is built to last. It simply twists into the bayonet fitting on the scope body and locks into place with a satisfying “clunk” to form a waterproof seal.

At the front of the scope an integrated rubberised plastic sun-shade pulls in and out to protect the objective lens from unwanted glare in bright light. There’s also a stay on case included with the scope — which is a nice touch, as most manufacturers will make you pay extra for one.

Handling and balance

The scope attaches to any tripod via a mounting plate on a rotating metal collar that allows you to twist the scope body to any viewing angle — a handy feature for watching from a car window mount or a hide where space could be at a premium, or for sharing your view with others.

When attached to a tripod the scope is very well balanced, and the position of the mounting plate matches its centre of gravity perfectly, so it doesn’t show any tendency to tilt at an unwieldy angle if you’re not paying attention. As with any scope the handling experience is largely dependent on your choice of tripod and head. I was using the Vanguard with both a regular pan-tilt type head and a pistol-grip ball head and both worked very well.

Focusing is smooth and easy, and the dual-focus-wheel system, with a fine focus wheel positioned in front of the larger fast focus wheel, works very well, and is very smooth and precise. The eyepiece zoom ring is a little stiff at first, but it is smooth, and the stiffness eases with use.

Optical Performance

Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scope front viewThe most important thing about any spotting scope is how well it performs out in the field — and with its ED glass, phase corrected prisms and Vanguard’s suite of proprietary coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces the Vanguard certainly doesn’t disappoint at lower magnifications.

That large 82mm objective gathers plenty of light, and the high quality lenses, prisms and coatings deliver most of it to your eye — so at 20x the view is extremely bright and pin sharp, with excellent colour and contrast. The field of view at 20x is also good for a scope at this level (110m / 1,000 metres 2.1°).  There is an element of the “tunnel effect” you often get with zoom eyepieces at lower magnification here. Essentially the image appears as a circle at the end of a short dark tunnel. It’s not so bad here as to be intrusive, but it is noticeable.

As you zoom in the “tunnel” gets shorter and shorter until eventually, at full magnification, the image fills the view. The field of view is pretty good all the way through the zoom range — delivering 52m/1000m (1°) at 60x.

However, you probably won’t want to crank the zoom up that high very often, as when you go past about 40x the image quality really starts to suffer. I’d class the view through the Vanguard Endeavor HD as excellent at 20x, remaining excellent to very good up to about 40x (with perhaps a slight fall-off in sharpness and contrast). Beyond 40x the image deteriorates quickly, becoming quite a lot darker and losing definition to the point of being almost “fuzzy” at 60x in all but the most ideal of conditions.

I suspect this is down to the usual compromises of a zoom eyepiece, rather than the scope itself. In all but the very best high end wide-angle zoom eyepieces (which tend to cost as much as, or more than, the Vanguard package for just the eyepiece) there’s a trade off in image quality in exchange for the versatility of a zoom. It’s a shame Vanguard don’t make a fixed c. 30x wide angle eyepiece for this scope, as it would work extremely well, eliminating the tunnel effect at lower zoom levels and delivering the pristine performance that birders and wildlife enthusiasts demand.

If you stick to lower magnifications between 20x-40x — which is where most people use scopes most of the time — the Vanguard performs very well, delivering crisp, high contrast views consistently across a wide range of conditions. The ED glass works very well to control colour fringing (chromatic aberration) and I had trouble detecting any when actively looking for it, and didn’t notice it at all during normal use.

Performance in the field

The Vanguard Endeavor HD is, of course, fully waterproof and fogproof, and is very robust. It’s well able to deal with whatever conditions you encounter, and had no problem coping with the constantly changing conditions of an Irish spring. I have to say it was a pleasure to carry and use in the field — balance is good, and I didn’t find the weight of the 82mm an issue. Mounted on a sturdy tripod the scope was very steady and focus and zoom worked well. The sun-shade kept glare to a minimum in challenging conditions, and the coatings and high quality optics kept delivering great views across a wide range of conditions — as long as I stayed within the lower 2/3 of the zoom range.

Low light performance

As you might expect the large 82mm objective lens and high quality coatings, lenses and prisms used in the Endeavor HD really deliver dividends as the light fades. At lower magnifications images stay bright and sharp and the scope is usable well into twilight.

Vanguard Endeavor HD spotting scope with stay on caseAccessories

Eyepieces

The 20x-60 zoom (15-45 on the smaller 65mm scopes) that comes with the Endeavor HD is currently the only eyepiece Vanguard offers for the range. I’d like to see them expand their offering to include a 30x wide angle fixed magnification eyepiece — as I think that would be an ideal combination with this scope body.

The eyepiece itself works well enough, is well built and has a high-quality feel, but it does struggle to deliver at higher magnifications.

Digiscoping adapters

Vanguard offers a PA202 digiscoping adapter (available separately) that allows you to attach a DSLR to the Endeavor HD range of scopes for digiscoping. The versatile Novagrade Universal Digiscoping Adapters for DSLR and Smartphones work very well with the Vanguard Endeavor HD.

Stay On Case

The Endeavor HD comes with an included stay on case that slips over the scope with openings on the objective and eyepiece ends to allow viewing without having to remove the case. The case is made of lightly padded black cordura-type material and fits snugly around the scope body. The tethered eyepiece cover slips over the eyepiece end and secures using a press-stud fastener — however the tethered objective cover simply slides on, with no fastener. While it’s a reasonable fit, it does sometimes slip off as you carry the scope around — potentially exposing the objective lens to damage. A simple press-stud fastener at this end as well would have avoided that problem.

A flap on top of the scope gives convenient access to the focus mechanism with the case attached with either hand.

All in all it’s a very functional, practical case, and it’s a big plus to have it included with the scope rather than having to pay extra for it.

Conclusions

The Vanguard Endeavor HD is a very capable mid-range scope that offers a premium grade feature set at a lower price point than many comparable scopes on the market. Vanguard has brought high build quality and premium optical components together in the Endeavor HD to create a package that is a very good all rounder at a very fair price.

Is it going to compete with top tier scopes? No… but then it was never meant to. What it does do is bring high quality optics and materials, superb build quality and excellent design to a scope that’s within reach for a much broader swathe of birders and wildlife enthusiasts. That has to be a positive thing.

The Vanguard Endeavor HD is not perfect. It’s always more difficult to pull off optical compromises with scopes than it is with binoculars. As you bump up the magnification everything is magnified… not just the view. Little imperfections, tiny nuances you might get away with in a binocular, suddenly become game-changers in a scope. Tolerances are much more critical, and getting things right means getting them absolutely spot on.

Set against that backdrop I think Vanguard have done a remarkable job of pulling it all together in a package that delivers on most levels. It’s only really let down at higher magnifications in the zoom range. I can’t help feeling this would be a much better scope with a 30x fixed magnification wide angle eyepiece. It feels a bit hamstrung by the inevitable compromises of a middle-of-the-road zoom.

Vanguard, if you’re reading this — please consider a 30x wide angle eyepiece for this scope — I’m convinced it would be a winning combination.

Buy the Vanguard Endeavor HD from Wex Photographic or from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com using one of the affiliate links below:

Vanguard Endeavor HD Vital Statistics

Taken from the Vanguard Website:

  • Power:20 ~ 60
  • Diameter of objectives:82
  • Prism Type:BaK4 prism
  • Waterproof:Yes
  • View Angle:2.1° ~ 1.0°
  • Field of Viewm@1000m:110 ~ 52
  • Eye Relief:19.0 ~ 20.0
  • Near focus(m):≦6.00 ~ 6.50
  • Focus System:Center focus
  • Lens coating:Fully multi coated
  • Phase coating:YES
  • Dimensions (L x W):380 x 180 mm
  • Weight (g):1,810

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank Vanguard Europe for submitting the Endeavor HD 82A 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 wildlife related product for review on the site please drop us a line using the contact form and we can take things from there.

About Calvin Jones

Calvin Jones is a freelance writer, author, birder and lifelong wildlife enthusiast. He is founder and managing editor of IrelandsWildlife.com. He is also the tour leader and wildlife guide on our West Cork based Discover Wildlife tours.
Calvin is also co-author of bestselling digital marketing titles and offers digital business consulting services and training through Digital Marketing Success

Comments

  1. Wonderful content. The idea made it easier for us good deal for you to widen our being familiar with for this discipline..
    Thank you

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  1. […] UPDATE: our Full Review of this spotting scope is now available here. […]

  2. […] with its 82mm sibling we reviewed here, this is a smart, modern-looking scope. Very solid and extremely compact. Image is very bright and […]

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