Is ED Glass Worth The Extra Cost?

Is ED Glass Worth The Extra Cost?

Binoculars that offer Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass were previously only available at an expensive price point. The inclusion of this glass would help symbolise the prestige of the binoculars. This would guarantee the highest possible results and signify that they were 'superior' to standard binoculars. However, times are changing and binoculars that offer ED glass are becoming more accessible within the marketplace.

Binoculars that offer this ED glass provide crystal-clear images by eliminating any colour fringing within the lenses. This makes them the optimal choice for any activities such as bird watching. These binoculars remain more expensive in comparison to standard binoculars due to the increase in quality. However, the price difference is becoming significantly less and less. In fact, many binoculars at an mid-level range are starting to offer ED glass now.

It is clear to see that these binoculars are rising in popularity and are becoming increasingly more accessible. This opens up more opportunities for people to purchase these binoculars and utilise them. However, the main question still remains; is ED glass worth the extra cost?

Read More: Top 3 Best ED Binoculars for Birdwatching 

Understanding ED Glass

Before we begin, it is important to first establish the difference that ED glass provides. The use of ED glass greatly reduces a visual defect known as chromatic aberration. This is essentially the colour fringing that appears when looking through a pair of binoculars which can distort the true image. Binoculars which use ED glass are able to stop this from happening. This results in the image appearing much brighter and sharper in comparison to standard binoculars.

Furthermore, binoculars that offer ED glass will also offer true-to-life colours and increase the light transmission. The ability to increase the rate of light through the binoculars means that the images appear much brighter. Even in low-light conditions you can expect these binoculars to perform incredibly well. Therefore, if you want to maximise the image quality, then opting for ED binoculars is the best choice.


However, it is important to be aware that not all Extra-low Dispersion glass is the same. This can vary between each brand and there is no exact standard for how well this glass will perform. The manufacturing of the glass can be different which ultimately impacts how effective this can be. Despite this, you will always get better results when using ED glass in comparison to standard binoculars. Brands such as Viking are particularly good at delivering high-performance ED binoculars at a cost-effective price.

Comparison Between Binoculars

When determining if ED binoculars are the right option for you, there are a number of factors to consider. The difference in quality is clear but this does not necessarily make them the right choice for everyone. For example, colour fringing on standard binoculars may not be obvious for beginners and therefore perfectly fine to use. Binoculars that offer ED glass are typically the choice for intermediate users that want to take the next step.

As previously mentioned, the inclusion of ED glass is there to eliminate colour fringing within the binoculars. However, it is worth noting that colour fringing is quite minimal on a good pair of standard binoculars. This would typically appear around the side of the lenses and does not impact the overall view of the image. Colour fringing becomes a more noticeable problem with cheaper binoculars due to the drop-off in optical quality.

Factors such as colour fringing will be impacted by the inclusion of ED glass. However, there are other design features within the binoculars that impact this. Choosing to add ED glass on to binoculars without improving other features within the binoculars will not improve results drastically. This is why the difference in quality between ED binoculars exists. Many manufacturers produce higher quality ED binoculars in comparison to others.

Binoculars such as the Viking Peregrine ED are one of the highest performers that we currently offer. When comparing these to standard binoculars such as the Viking Badger then you will certainly notice a difference. However, this is because the Viking Peregrine ED also offers features such as BAK-4 prisms. This helps to further increase the light transmission within the binoculars which makes the images as bright as possible.


Viking Peregrine ED 8x42 Binoculars 

Comparing the Viking Peregrine ED to a mid-range option such as the Celestron TrailSeeker creates a slightly different outcome. Yes, the Viking Peregrine ED binoculars remain the best option in comparison. However, the overall difference in quality is less noticeable and colour fringing becomes harder to spot. This is due to the Celestron TrailSeeker also utilising BAK-4 prisms which helps create a bright image. In addition to this, design features such as phased-coated lenses will also contribute to the overall quality. These features are available on both ED binoculars and mid-range standard binoculars. This is where the difference in the quality really begins to vary between models.

As previously mentioned, the popularity of ED glass means that binoculars that offer this are becoming more affordable. The Viking Kestrel ED binoculars are a fantastic example of this. These are available at a lower price than many standard mid-range options. Therefore, if you can afford this, then it makes sense to opt for the ED option.

Final Verdict

Binoculars which offer ED glass provide a far higher standard of quality in comparison to non-ED binoculars. This is evident when directly comparing the two types of models. However, this does not necessarily mean that the ED binoculars are worth the additional money. The answer to this question will vary from person to person.

Purchasing ED binoculars guarantees the best possible results. Those who are actively participating in activities such as bird watching will certainly notice the difference. Achieving consistently bright and defined images makes a huge difference when during long-term use. In addition to this, the binoculars that contain ED glass typically offer better design features due to the higher price. These additional features contribute to the overall value that you can expect from ED binoculars.  For example, binoculars such as the Viking Kestrel ED offer anti-fogging features with nitrogen in the lenses. This ensures that the binoculars are suitable for use all year round. In comparison, many standard binoculars will not offer these features which ultimately makes them less versatile.

However, if you are a beginner or casual user, then you may not get the full benefit of ED binoculars. The colour fringing that is viewable through most mid-range binoculars is minimal. This slight fringing will not detract from the overall image during short-term use. Therefore, you may not experience full value for money if you were to upgrade to ED binoculars. Though it is worth noting that the Viking Kestrel ED are an attempt to bridge the price gap. This is a perfect example of high-performance ED binoculars being available at an affordable price. If your budget can stretch for this, then I highly recommend checking this option out.

Read More: Full List of Binoculars & Scopes Available

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