Barr & Stroud Series 4 ED 8x42 Binoculars Review

Barr & Stroud 8 x 42 Series 4 ED Binoculars
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Price Range: (4/6) Mid-High Value 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
Hunting Rating as Hunting Binoculars
Marine Use Rating as Marine Binoculars

Described by the manufacturers as high-quality, high-precision binoculars for the serious observer, the Series 4 ED binoculars from Barr & Stroud are their newest line as well as their top of the range. For those of you who are new to the Barr and Stroud brand, the company has some real heritage as they started making optics for the Royal Navy over 100 years ago and since then they have played a leading role in the development of modern optics.

Barr & Stroud Series 4 ED Optics

The ED in their name gives a hint to the main selling point of these binoculars and refers the use of Extra Low Dispersion glass lenses. These high-quality, high-precision lenses have less air bubbles and glass deformities in them that are more likely to cause image distortion, that you find in lower quality glass. So basically the extra low dispersion glass prevents chromatic aberration because it concentrates and directs the wavelength of light more effectively onto your eyes.

Having only recently reviewed the excellent Vanguard 8.5x45 Endeavor ED Binoculars that also use ED glass my expectations for the Barr & Stroud 8x42 Series 4 ED's were high and I was not to be disappointed.

The view through them is excellent and are as bright as any 8x42 binocular in the same price range. Overall the image produced is really sharp and the colour of the image produced is also excellent. What is more is I could not see any colour fringing or softening of the image on the periphery of the view, which is probably partly down to the ED glass.

So apart from the ED glass, let's take a look at what else Barr & Stroud use on these binoculars to produce such a bright and good quality image:

Lens & Prism Coatings
The 8x42 Series 4 ED have excellent quality BaK-4 roof prisms meaning that they are made of superior optical glass that will help in ensuring you get a high-contrast and sharp picture over the full field of view. These binoculars also have a set of phase correction coatings on the prism glass that keeps light in correct color phases, yielding brighter images and higher edge-to-edge sharpness. According to the manufacturers this increases prism reflectivity by 8% and so will give you on average about an extra hour of visibility at dawn and dusk compared to standard binoculars - pretty impressive stuff.

The optics are also fully multi-coated, which means that all air to glass surfaces have received multiple layers of antireflection coatings which again will ensure that more light gets to your eyes by reducing the light loss and glare due to reflection for a brighter, higher-contrast image.

The Main Body

The dimensions of the Series 4 ED's are fairly standard for a full size roof prism binocular, but at 660g (23.3oz) they are one of the lightest full size binoculars I have reviewed. This is probably partly due to their open bridge design which I totally love as they just feel soo good in the hands. Also if like me, you often don't hang binoculars around your neck using the neck strap, this design just feels that much more secure when carrying them in one hand when not using them.

The rubber armor covering used on these and most other binoculars has multiple benefits. It helps protect the binocular from the bumps and scratches that come with day-to-day use, It provides a comfortable and more secure gripping surface, is easy to wipe clean and dampens down any noise from bumping it that could frighten away skittish birds and other wildlife.

Overall I felt that these 8x42 Barr & Stroud Series 4 binoculars are well balanced, were very comfortable to hold up to the face or when carrying about and even though they are light, they have a "quality" solid feel to them.

Waterproof & Fogproof
The Series 4 ED's are O-ring Sealed and therefore fully waterproof and can withstand complete immersion in water to a depth of 1.5 meters for three minutes and stay dry inside. They have also been "nitrogen purged", meaning that air inside the binocular has been replaced with nitrogen gas, this prevents the interior optical surfaces from fogging up due to rapid temperature changes or in areas that have high humidity.

The Eye Cups
I really like the twist-up eyecups on the Series 4 ED's, 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 18.8mm of eye relief, so more than enough distance to play with. The twisting action is smooth and they work well.

Focusing using the central wheel is smooth and very accurate and the diopter adjustment is located on the right barrel of the binocular. 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 on the binocular that I tested was tight enough so as not to be easily accidentally moved, but not so tight that makes it hard to adjust.


Binoculars with an 8x magnification and 42mm objective lenses make ideal bird watching binoculars, as they strike a good compromise between magnification, field of view, light gathering ability and size.

8x42 binoculars like these Barr & Stroud's 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. It is important to remember that whilst these figures do not take into account the quality of the prisms, lenses and their coatings, they do make it possible to compare the performance of binoculars in low light conditions. Add these "base" figures to the fact that these Series 4 ED's use quality optics that I have already mentioned above, then you have the makings of a binocular that works really well in low light conditions like what you will encounter early in the early morning or late afternoon/evening when birding is usually at it's best.

The apparent field of view for the Barr & Stroud 8x42 Series 4 ED is 114m at 1000m (341ft at 1000yds), which is not bad and beats many binoculars in their price range, but does fall short of the very best birding binoculars like the Swarovski 8.5x42 EL's (133m at 1000m) or Zeiss 8x42 Victory FL's (405ft at 1000 yards), but you have to remember that these will be more than 6x the cost of the Series 4's!

The close focusing distance is disappointing at 4.5 meters (14.8ft), which is not ideal if you enjoy observing thinks like butterflies or a bee settling on a flower at close range.


The view through the Barr and Stroud 8x42 Series 4 ED binoculars is very, very good as is the tough body construction. Highlights include their excellent open bridge design, lightweight body, quality optics and coatings that produce a really bright, clear and sharp image. Overall and to sum up I would say that they are excellent value for money and are ideal birding or general use binoculars.

Barr & Stroud 8x42 Series 4 ED Binoculars

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Main Specifications & Features:

  • Size: Full Size Binoculars
  • [explain prism types]Prism Type: Roof Prism Binoculars
  • Magnification: 8x
  • [explain objective lens]Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
  • [explain waterproofing]Waterproof: Yes

  • [explain exit pupil]Exit Pupil: 5.3
  • [explain twilight factor]Twilight Factor: 18.33
  • [explain eye relief]Eye Relief: 18.8mm
  • Close Focus Distance: 14.8ft

  • Weight: 23.3ozs (661g)
  • Length: 6.06in (15.4cm)
  • Height: 2.05in (5.2cm)
  • Width: 4.96in (12.6cm)

  • [explain field of view]Field of View: 341ft at 1,000 yards

  • Image Stabilization: No
  • [about ED Glass]Extra Low Dispersion Glass: Yes
  • Auto Focus: No

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 | General Use Binoculars | Birdwatching Binoculars | Mid-High Value Binoculars

Similar Binoculars:

Below are similar pairs of Binoculars that you may also want to have a look at:

Vanguard 8.5x45 Endeavor ED

Large 45mm objective lenses, extra-low dispersion (ED) glass and waterproof: Ideal Wildlife and Birding Binoculars.

Binocular Price Comparison
Where to buy the Barr & Stroud 8x42 Series 4 ED Binoculars

General Price Range: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars

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