At first glance when you look at these Hawke Frontier binoculars, the ED-X and HD-X 8×42 look pretty much identical. Both have the same case, straps, lens caps etc. The body is exactly the same , other than the badge and minor cosmetic changes . They both have the same field of view , eye relief, and prisms etc.
But the major change you can not see unless looking through them is that the ED X has the all important ED glass.
So first lets look at the levels of Chromatic aberration , or colour fringing. Testing on a very challenging target with dark tree branches against a bright back lit background, the HD X 8×42 showed a very small of CA in the centre. But unless you have a keen eye , from years of reviewing binoculars like myself, this is hardly noticeable , and in lower contrast situations is pretty much zero. Going off centre there is a little red CA on the right side of high contrast objects, but again very low levels. Turning to the ED X 8×42 on the same field of view, the colour fringing in the centre was completely gone. Looking away from centre , a little CA appeared, but vastly less than the Frontier HD X.
Secondly I looked at low light performance, by picking some a heavily darkened lower tree trunk a very shaded area. To the point where any detail was invisible to the unaided eyes. With the Frontier HD X 8×42 I was able to pick out lots of detail on the bark. Very impressive. But when I put the ED X 8×42 to my eyes, the difference was instantly clear to see. The level of contrast and brightness was vastly improved with the ED glass. Checked this several times, switching from one set to the other, with the difference in brightness obvious with every viewing.
So summing up, is it worth paying £100 extra for the ED glass offered by the Hawke Frontier ED X 8×42 compared to the non ED glass HD X ?. If you are very critical about reduced chromatic aberration and wish to observe in dark situations such as dusk and dawn, then the extra outlay is £100 well spent. But on the other hand the Hawke Frontier HD X is a very capable performer for the price, and will be money well spend if your budget is sub £300 (price as of 2019)
Available to purchase from Northern Optics