Nikon EDG 8x42 DCF

  • Well-balanced, and feel great in the hand
  • Very good in low light – ED glass pays dividends
  • Very sharp and very bright
  • Beautifully smooth focussing – I like it!
  • Hard to fault for a top-end binocular

They’ve been a long time coming, but Nikon’s EDG binoculars, complete with eco-glass optics, have finally arrived. These are top end Nikons with top end prices that compete with the best that Zeiss, Leica and Swarovski can offer. There are five models in the EDG range, an 8x32 and 10x32, and a 7x42, 8x42 and 10x 42. I tested the 8x42. At almost £1600 these binoculars need to be very good. They are.

If you are familiar with Nikon’s HGLs, you may know that their shape was not to everyone’s taste. The EDG is different – its shape is closer to a classic roof-prism binocular, with unobtrusive thumb areas underneath. It felt very nice in the hand and I really liked the grippy feel of the rubber armouring. It is easy to hold ‘conventionally’ and while Nikon haven’t gone for an open-bridge design, the short bridge leaves plenty of lens barrel exposed at the front end so a similar effect is achieved. Magnesium alloy lens barrels help to keep the weight down – at 785g their weight is reasonable and they didn’t feel heavy when I was birding. They are a well-balanced binocular, and as you would expect, they are waterproof and nitrogen-filled. Build quality seemed very good.

Inside that lovely body there are some state of the art optics, with ED glass, dielectric prism coatings and field flattener lenses. The view was great, easy on the eye, sharp and bright. Low light performance was very good, though they failed to conjure up a Nightjar for me at first! All was not lost though and four days later I had one of my best Nightjar encounters ever, complete with close fly-bys. The brightness of these binoculars is hard to fault, as is their sharpness. There is a bit of edge softness if you start looking for it, but in normal use the view appears edge to edge sharp. There may have been just a tad of chromatic aberration, but I didn’t notice any of any consequence. I also detected a slight yellow colour cast – this is just an observation, definitely not a criticism.


FACTFILE

  • Price: £1599.99
  • Dimensions: (lengthxwidth) 148x141mm
  • Weight: 785g
  • Field of view: 7.7 degrees. 135m@1000m
  • Close focus: 3m
  • Warranty: 10 years.
  • Contact: Nikon UK Limited, 380 Richmond Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT2 5PR, Tel: 0208 541 4440. Brochure line: 0800 230220.
  • website: www.nikon.co.uk

Focusing action and precision is very good. More movement is possible than on my old HGs – the EDGs move moderately stiffly a bit over one turn (clockwise towards infinity). Focussing is beautifully smooth, and fast. If you have never experienced top end Nikon focussing, try it! Close-focus is quoted as three metres. I could focus down to around 2.5 metres, which is more respectable but not as good as what some of the competition offer. It is reasonably close though, so I don’t think this is a deal breaker.

To adjust the dioptre, pull up the focussing wheel, turn it, and push it down again to lock it. I found that both the dioptre scale and the focuser moved when setting the dioptre – this was a bit disconcerting, but didn’t cause any problems. The eyecups are rubber-covered and comfortable against the face, twisting up and down to one of four positions. I discovered a ‘pseudo-fifth’ position, with there being a little more movement beyond the outermost setting. The package also includes a case, tethered objective covers and a rainguard that worked well. The branded neoprene strap has quick-release length adjusters. This sounds a good idea, but I don’t think I would use it often. And whereas my HGs used to hang at a funny angle – with the eyecups sticking out a little – these hang just fine!

I enjoyed using these binoculars. In terms of optical performance and ergonomics the EDG 8x42 is hard to fault, providing a gorgeous view and very nice handling. They are expensive. But they are not the only binoculars at this kind of price. You’ll have to decide.

REVIEWED BY DAVID CHANDLER.