Vanguard Vesta 8x21 compact binoculars

Pocket friendly in terms of both size and price, do thess small binoculars offer a big performance for everyday observation?

Vanguard Vesta 8x21 binoculars
(Image: © Gavin Stoker)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Weighing just 195g and fitting in our palm, the Vanguard Vesta 8x21 is certainly an unobtrusively portable option for everyday observation. It’s an obvious choice too for anyone who wants to bring subjects closer to them from afar at outdoor concerts or sporting events, or is going travelling. At a pinch the small size also makes it an option for a night at the opera, even though a 3x or 4x binocular might be better if we’re already as close as the stalls. Still, its aluminium alloy build quality is better than most budget binoculars, performance veers between adequate and good depending on available light, and in broad terms it does feel like we’re getting decent value for money here.


  • +

    Compact, lightweight and inexpensive

  • +

    Central folding mechanism to adjust inter pupillary distance

  • +

    Good value for money overall and a good option for all the family


  • -

    A modest 21mm objective lens isn’t the best for viewing when light levels drop

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    Sharpness inevitably no match for higher priced, larger lens alternatives

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    Slip-on rubber caps easily mislaid

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Most of us have had an occasion when we’ve wished we had a pair of binoculars to hand. However the bulk and weight that often goes with such devices means that 99% of the time we don’t, as carrying them involves foresight and planning ahead. And, when it comes to holidays and travel when we might actively consider packing one, do we really want to be carrying a binocular around all day for sightseeing if we’re only occasionally going to use it?

Enter the Vanguard Vesta 8x21. This one could potentially tick the box for casual observers by virtue of being lightweight at just 195g and so compact that it will fit within the flat palm of our hand, or slip readily into a jacket pocket, handbag or man bag.


If it’s compactness we seek above all else, then there are further diminutive and inexpensive alternatives including the Carson Operaview OV-410 4x10 binocular, for which the width can likewise be adjusted to best suit our own eyes. The Christmas-cracker toy-like build isn’t a patch on the Vanguard Vesta 8x21, however, nor is the Carson’s very modest core 4x10 specification. 


Offering a lower 3x magnification still but a slightly bigger and theoretically brighter 25mm objective lens is the Japanese-designed Kenko Pliant 3x25 Slim. These are the most portable of all the options here in folding down into an almost flat, clamshell-like case, which will slip easily in our pocket. The 3x magnification, however, makes them more useful as opera glasses.


In terms of something a bit swankier, there’s the ultra-portable, German-made Eschenbach Glamour 3x25 binocular. This has a slightly bigger objective lens to let more light in during dim viewing conditions, such as in a theater, where you don’t particularly need a great deal more than the modest 3x magnification offered. Its design is rather old-fashioned, and the metal build model comes at a premium price.


Also, if you want a conventionally styled alternative, look at the Nikon Aculon T02 10x21, which is an all-around capable pair but does, unfortunately, come with a higher price tag.

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Gavin Stoker

Gavin has over 30 years’ experience of writing about photography and television. He is currently the editor of British Photographic Industry News, and previously served as editor of Which Digital Camera and deputy editor of Total Digital Photography

He has also written for a wide range of publications including T3, BBC Focus, Empire, NME, Radio Times, MacWorld, Computer Active, What Digital Camera and the Rough Guide books.

With his wealth of knowledge, Gavin is well placed to recognize great camera deals and recommend the best products in Digital Camera World’s buying guides. He also writes on a number of specialist subjects including binoculars and monoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, trail cameras, action cameras, body cameras, filters and cameras straps.