Barr & Stroud Savannah ED 8x42 Binoculars Review

Barr & Stroud 8 x 42 Savannah ED Binoculars
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Price Range: (3/6) Mid Price Binoculars       

Ideal Uses:

General Use Rating for General Use Binoculars
Birdwatching Rating as Birdwatching Binoculars
Outdoor Sports Rating asOutdoor Sports Binoculars
Safari & Travel Rating as Safari Binoculars
General Wildlife Rating as Wildlife Observation Binoculars
Hunting Rating as Hunting Binoculars
Marine Use Rating as Marine Binoculars
Astronomy Rating as Binoculars for Astronomy

The new 8x42 Savannah ED Binoculars are a step up from their "standard" 8x42 Savannah and in most ways, including the way they look both binoculars are identical apart from the superb Extra Low Dispersion Glass (ED) that is used in the lenses of this version.

ED Glass

So what is so special about ED glass? Well these high-quality, high-precision lenses have less air bubbles and glass deformities in them that are more likely to cause image distortion, compared to lower quality or even standard quality glass used in most binoculars. So basically what the extra low dispersion glass does is to prevent chromatic aberration because it concentrates and directs the wavelength of light more effectively onto your eyes. Apart from the badge on the focusing wheel that displays the fact that these are the ED version, you would not know the difference between this and the standard Savannah, that is until you hold them up to your eyes. Whilst the difference may not be immediately apparent as the standard Savannah still produces a very good image, if you check very carefully, you can notice the slight improvement of the image on the ED version.

So if ED lenses are so great, why don't they use them in all their optics? The answer comes down to price, ED glass is difficult and therefore expensive to produce and that is why you only really find it in higher spec binoculars.

Lens & Prism Coatings
As well as the ED glass lenses, Barr & Stroud use quality prisms and coatings on both the lenses and prisms to ensure that the image produced is of the highest quality and it shows. You cannot help but be impressed with the clarity, brightness and sharpness of the image that must surely be one of the best at their price range. In my review of the standard version, I was impressed with the view and these are even better.

Quality BaK-4 roof prisms are used in all Savannah's, meaning that they are made of superior optical glass that produces a sharp and high-contrast picture over the full field of view. Savannah binoculars also have a set of phase correction coatings on the prism glass that keeps light in correct color phase and are said by the manufacturers to increase prism reflectivity by 8%. The optics are also fully multi-coated, which means that all air to glass surfaces have received multiple layers of antireflection coatings meaning that more light gets to your eyes.


Apart from the excellent image produced, I thing the next best feature on these is their very wide field of view: The apparent field of view for the Barr & Stroud Savannah 8x42 ED is a very impressive 143m at 100m (430ft @ 1000 yards), which is beats many of the best birding binoculars like the Swarovski 8.5x42 EL's (133m at 1000m) and you have to remember that the Swarovski's are more than 10x the cost of these Savannah's! For more and to see just how well the Barr & Stroud Savannah 8x42 ED binoculars compare, take a look at my article on Wide Angle Binoculars.

Binoculars with an 8x magnification and 42mm objective lenses are often used for bird watching, as they strike a good compromise between magnification, field of view, light gathering ability and size and when you get a pair with a really wide field of view, like these then they are ideal.

8x42 binoculars have an Exit Pupil of 5.25 and a Twilight Factor of 18.3, both of which make them pretty good in most low light conditions like what you encounter early in the morning or late afternoon/evening when birding is usually at it's best. What is important to remember about these figures is that they do not take into account the quality of the prisms, lenses and their coatings, but they do make it possible to compare the performance of different configurations of binoculars in low light conditions.

The close focusing distance is also pretty impressive at 2 meters (6.6ft), which beats many far more expensive binoculars on the market. This can be useful if you also enjoy observing thinks like butterflies or a bee settling on a flower.

The Main Body

The dimensions of the Barr & Stroud 8x42 Savannah ED Binoculars are fairly standard for a full size roof prism binocular and weighing 819g (28.9oz) they are a little on the heavy side. But having said that they also happen to be the same weight as what many believe to be the best you can get, the Swarovski 8.5x42 EL's. Overall these Barr & Stroud Savannah's feel pretty well balanced and their solid feel and tough rubber armoring that covers the binocular re-enforce the feeling you get that you are holding something of substance and have a quality pair of binoculars in your hands.

Waterproof & Fogproof
The Savannah 8x42 ED is waterproof (Immersion tested at 1.5m for 3 minutes) and are filled with nitrogen gas which stops the optics suffering from internal fogging in adverse weather conditions.

The Eye Cups
I really like the twist-up eyecups on the Savannah, they have 3 click stops - flush against the eyepiece, half-way out or fully extended. So for non-eyeglass wearers, you just use the eyecups in the fully extended position. For people who wear glasses the great news is there is a full 18mm of eye relief, so more than enough. The twisting action is smooth and they work well.

Focusing using the central wheel is smooth and very accurate that takes about 2 full turns to go from infinity to it's closest focusing distance of 2 meters (6.6ft). I personally like to be able to go from far to near focus with fewer turns of the wheel, but this less aggressive gearing does make fine tuning your focus that much easier.

The diopter adjustment is located behind the focusing wheel in the center of the binocular, which is different to most binoculars. It allows you to adjust the lenses separately to allow for differences in each of your eyes and plays an important part in correctly focusing your binoculars. The ring is notched which makes it easy to change and keep at the correct position. Where it is located does make adjusting it simpler than if it were located on the barrel as with most binoculars, but I do feel that this could also mean that you accidentally move it more often, not that this happened during my full day of testing.

Also Included
The quality of the carry case is excellent, it has a semi solid construction that will properly protect your investment. I also like the quality and feel of the neck strap.

The Savannah lens caps also work well and should not accidentally fall off. I really like the fact that the objective lens caps are tethered to the barrels of the binocular (See video below). I am always misplacing my lens caps and this really helps. If you don't like them attached to your optics, they can also be removed, so everyone is a winner!


Overall I would say that these Barr and Stroud 8x42 Savannah ED binoculars far outperform their price tag and therefore make excellent value for money binoculars. The view through them is very good to excellent, a very wide field of view and they have a tough body construction. The main highlights include the excellent quality image produced with the aid of their ED glass and phase coated prisms. Their extremely wide field of view and their close focusing distance make them ideal bird watching binoculars and good for anyone wanting to observe things like butterflies at close range.
Barr & Stroud 8x42 Savannah Binoculars including carry case

Reviewed by Jason Whitehead for Best Binocular Reviews

Best Binocular Reviews Ratings:

Body Construction Quality: 7/10 78%
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Components Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Attention to Detail: 8/10

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Main Specifications & Features:

Barr & Stroud 8x42 Savannah ED Binoculars Video Review


More Information:

About Barr & Stroud | View all Barr & Stroud products I have written reviews on

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Full Size Binoculars | Roof Prism Binoculars | Birdwatching Binoculars | Wide Angle Binoculars | Mid Price Binoculars

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Barr & Stroud 8x42 Savannah

With an extremely wide field of view, these tough, waterproof Barr & Stroud binoculars make ideal bird watching binoculars

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General Price Range: (3/6) Mid Price Binoculars

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