Here is my take on the Vortex Diamondback Binoculars. As mentioned in previous posts, I have long considered the Nikon Monarch’s to be the benchmark for quality low-mid priced binoculars.
I have bought many pairs of Monarchs for field techs to do wildlife surveys (read post on choosing field equipment ). Plus, my wife already had a pair. So I left home planning to buy a new pair of Monarchs for myself. While I was looking at the new Nikon Monarch ATB binoculars at the store, the salesperson suggested that I also look at the new Vortex binoculars.
Vortex Diamondback 10×42 vs 8×42 Binoculars
Inside the store, they have a chart (similar to an eye chart) with different sized horizontal and vertical bars mounted on the wall on the other side of the building. Looking through Nikon Monarchs and other mid priced binoculars at that wall chart, the clearest image for me was with the Vortex 8X Diamondbacks and they were about $70 cheaper than the Nikon Monarch ATB 8×42 Binoculars. I was impressed. I also wanted to check out the 10X version that the sales person said had just arrived on the truck, but they weren’t able to find them, so I left without buying a pair. Later that week, I ordered a pair of the Vortex Diamondbacks at Amazon because they had a competitive price and offered free shipping. At the time, I didn’t even know about the Vortex VIP warranty which I mention further down in this review.
My take on Vortex Diamondback Binoculars
After using the Vortex Diamondback 10×42 binoculars for preseason scouting and for both the mule deer and elk seasons, the binoculars have performed very well for me, including days when I got trapped in a thunderstorm and a day in the snow. I have been carrying them with a binocular harness, so the lightweight 24.4 ounces is hardly noticeable in the field and they are always easy to reach when needed. Yes, they come with a nice strap, but you can use the strap to carry something else, like your rangefinder. If you are serious about carrying binoculars in the field, especially for hunting, you need a binocular harness.
Rubber Armor Coating, Smooth Focus, Roof Prism Design
I also like the rubber armor coating, which gives the binoculars a quality feel, but also helps hold both the objective and ocular lens covers in place for protection, but quickly allows me to pop them off when needed. I also like the rubber armor because it helps to soften the sound when I am not careful enough and let the rangefinder bump into the binoculars.
I also like the fact that they focus quickly and smoothly and that right eye diopter adjustment stays where I put it, so I can customize them for my eyes. I use the binoculars with my glasses on when quickly looking at birds or wildlife, but also use them without my glasses when scanning the sky for raptors or scanning the opposite hillside for deer or elk and the Diamondbacks have precise adjustable multi-position eye cups and enough (16mm) eye relief to make that possible.
The Vortex Diamondbacks are a roof prism design that is lightweight and has a very sturdy feel to the focus wheel and to the hinge. For the price, the Diamonds backs provide good resolution in low light conditions, comparable to other binoculars that cost $70-100 more.
One complaint that is commonly expressed in binocular reviews is about chromatic aberrations or that the image is not in sharp focus along the outer edge of the field of view. I don’t notice any color distortions with the Diamondbacks and can only notice the unfocused edge if I concentrate on it. For most folks, the unclear edge only comes into play when using a tripod or window mount. If the target moves away from the center of view and the binoculars aren’t adjusted to follow, you will notice it. My advice is not to spend another $400 or $500 dollars to fix that problem… Just don’t look at the edges, there is plenty of area where the image is in sharp focus.
Tripod Adapter and Molded Hard Case
The Vortex Diamondbacks also has a tripod adapter, so they could be mounted on a tripod or a window mount, but I have not used that feature yet. That is what I use a spotting scopes for.
Another plus for the Vortex binoculars brand is the molded hard case that comes with the binoculars for protection when not in use. One of my worst habits is to throw the binoculars on the truck seat when I get back to civilization. So far the Diamondbacks have held up to this abuse, but I am trying to break this old habit and put them in the case that is provided.
Vortex VIP Warranty (Very Important Promise)
Vortex Optics will fix any problem with any of their binoculars, field scopes, rifle scopes and monoculars. No questions asked. There are no warranty cards to fill out and the warranty is automatically transferable if you sell or give the binoculars to someone else. The only stipulation is that they can not cover theft or loss. I bought mine without knowing about the VIP warranty. That’s a bonus.
I am just learning about the Vortex brand. It is still a family owned and operated business in the U.S. (Wisconsin) and they have been making optics since 1986, so they are a relatively new company. After I bought my Diamondbacks, I learned that they make 12 models of binoculars and also make spotting scopes and rifle scopes (six models each), as well as tripods, red-dot scopes and monoculars. Based on the quality of binoculars I was able to get for the price, you can bet I will be looking at other Vortex optics in the future and I suggest that you try Vortex binoculars before buying your next pair.