Binoculars review

Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36

Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36
12 September 2015
The Spirit ED series produced by Vanguard consists currently of four pair of binoculars with the following parameters: 8x36, 8x42, 10x42 and 10x50. All of them are rather small but very handy roof-prism devices featuring Schmidt-Pechan prisms. The producer doesn’t mention any special reflective coatings on the prisms so we think there are ordinary, aluminum coatings used. For a change all air-to-glass surfaces are supposed to be covered by multilayer antireflection coatings.

The binoculars are waterproof and nitrogen-filled. They come with lifetime warranty of the producer.

  • Lornetka Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36
  • Lornetka Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36
  • Lornetka Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36
  • Lornetka Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36
Manufacturer data


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Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
8 36 122/1000(7o) BaK-4/roof 17 mm 530 g 1099 PLN
Results of the review
Real front lens diameter Left:   36.2+/- 0.05 mm
Right:  36.2+/- 0.05 mm
8 / 8.0 pkt
Real magnification 7.94+/- 0.1x 3/3.0
Transmission 73.8+/- 1% 7/25.0
Chromatic aberration Medium in the center, a bit lower than medium on the edge. 5.1/10.0
Astigmatism Medium. 4.3/10.0
Distortion The distance between the first curved line and the field centre compared to the field of vision radius : 55% ± 3% 6/10.0
Coma Appears in a distance of 65% % of the field radius and on the very edge is really high. 4/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV The blur appears in a distance of 84% ± 3% from the field of vision centre. 6.5/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Slight. 4.1/5.0
Whiteness of the image Red wavelength transmission by 15% higher than the transmission level in the centre of the range. Noticeable loss of blue light so the images come with a reddish hue. 2.3/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36 - Internal reflections - Left Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36 - Internal reflections - Right
Housing Very small and shapely for 8x36 parameters, being in fact more similar to 8x32. Comfortable to hold and to look through. Rough rubber armour which is nice to use, sticking to the body very well. Ruberrized eyecups with smooth regulation. Produced in China. 8/8.0
Focusing Big, comfortable central wheel with ribs with the working range amounting to just 270 degrees. It moves smoothly but is well-damped. Individual focusing through a comfortable, ribbed ring covered with rubber armour on the right eyepiece. It moves the outer lens. 4.5/5.0
Tripod Comfortable access to the exit. 3/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 55.2 to 74.5mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 1.40 meter. 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 53.6 deg (according to simple formula) and 50.2 deg (according to tangent formula). 6/20.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 6.75 +\- 0.04 degrees and it was by 0.25 of a degree narrower than stated in the specifications. An average field for this class of equipment. 4/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Dark, matt tubes with fine ribbing. Dark bottom. Clean but the right prism seems to be slightly scratched. 4/5.0
Left: Right:
Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36 - Vignetting - Left Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36 - Vignetting - Right
OL: 0.62%, OR: 0.64%
Prisms quality Good quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Green-purple on objectives, green-pink on eyepieces, green-yellow on prisms. The intensity level a bit higher than medium. 4/5.0
Warranty [years] lifetime 6/6.0
Final result
120.7 / 190 pkt
Econo result 0pkt.


  • shapely, slight and very solid casing,
  • slight brightness loss on the edge of the field,
  • sensibly-looking area near the exit pupils,
  • properly darkened interior of the tubes,
  • good quality prisms made of BaK-4 glass,
  • sharp image already from a distance of 1.4 metres,
  • lifetime warranty.

  • weak transmission,
  • average colour rendering,
  • field of view narrower than in the specifications.

We got interested in the Vanguard Spirit ED series several years ago and then we managed to test a 10x42 model. To be completely honest we weren’t impressed by its results – after going through all our procedures it barely exceeded a level of 110 points.

The second approach to the Spirit ED took place during one of our festivals. It became obvious that out of the whole line-up I liked the 8x36 device the most. Not only it seemed the best when it came to the optics, it was also very small and shapely. Weighing only 530 grams it was definitely lighter and handier than many 8x32 sets of binoculars. I think the photo below shows it very well.

Kowa BD 8x32 XD Prominar, Zeiss Conquest HD 8x32 and Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36.

Those 4 mm of difference in the diameter of the objective lens might be not much but you have to remember that the 8x36 device is able to provide over 26% of light more than any 8x32 model.

The result of our test shows pretty clearly that, while you deal here with a better pair of binoculars than the 10x42, it is still hardly an ideal instrument. The correction of main optical aberration is average – you won’t go mad with rapture while seeing the results (perhaps apart from the brightness loss on the edge of the field which is really low) but you won’t encounter any serious slip-ups either.

I think the antireflection coatings used by Vanguard in this model should be criticized the harshest. It seems it is a weak spot of this producer; we weren’t impressed by them even while testing their top-of-the-range series so the Endeavor ED II. Here the coatings are even worse so the transmission in the centre of the visible spectrum reaches 74%. The fact that light it is actually 15% higher for the red is no consolation whatsoever because, as a result, this pair of binoculars renders colours rather poorly.

You also have to mention here rather unreliable specifications; the producer states that the field of view amounts to 7 degrees (and as such it would be still sensible for the 8x36 class) but in reality the field doesn’t exceed 6.8 degrees.

To sum up the Vanguard Spirit ED 8x36 is undoubtedly a good pair of binoculars but not something truly outstanding. I would be tempted to recommend it if only its price didn’t exceed around 200 Euro. With such an amount of money you can find easily better options, both in the 8x32 and in the 8x42 class.

Attention! In this test the transmission value has been measured only for two wavelengths: 532 nm (green) and 657 nm (red) with a margin of error never exceeding 1%. Four measurements have been taken for each optical path and the results have been averaged out.