When I was discussing with some of my friends that I was going to be looking at several pairs of binoculars, and one pair turned out to be a Vortex brand, they were very interested in seeing and hearing how well the binoculars worked.  From what I have read, and heard about Vortex prior to examining this pair of binoculars, I was expecting a high value pair of binoculars-full featured, well-constructed, and reasonably priced.  This particular pair of binoculars seems to fit the mold of my expectations.

These, like many of the binoculars I am reviewing, are in the price bracket that I would consider entry level binoculars.  They are not cheap, whether or not you would consider them inexpensive is a matter of personal opinion.  But before I go through my impressions and field test results, let’s review what Vortex says about their own product.

  1. Comfort neck strap
  2. Rainguard
  3. Deluxe molded carry case
  4. Tethered lens covers
  5. Argon gas purged
  6. O-ring sealed
  7. Fully multicoated lenses
  8. Phase corrected
  9. Rugged diamond checkered rubber armor
  10. Waterproof/Fogproof
  11. VIP Warranty (Unlimited/Unconditional/Lifetime)
  12. Eye Relief:16mm
  13. Close Focus: 5 feet
  14. Field of view: 345 feet at 1000 yards; 6.6 degrees
  15. Interpupillary distance: 57-73mm
  16. Weight: 24.4 ounces

One of the more peculiar things that stands out upon initial inspection is the uncanny resemblance to another reviewed set of binoculars: the Hawke Sport Optics Endurance PC.  As I mentioned in that review, even though they bear a striking resemblance to each other, there are functional differences.  In a later review there will be more direct comparisons between all the reviewed binoculars.  In the meantime, this one will deal directly with the Vortex Diamondback and my impression of it. 

The semi-rigid case is nice.  However, the strap for the case is not padded.  So, while they do give you a nice padded strap for the binoculars themselves, the strap for the case would likely be irritating when in direct contact with skin, or over thinner layers of clothing.  I find that the binoculars balance nicely, and the case checkering is appropriately placed.  Additionally, they have a dioptic adjustment. 

To provide some perspective, the following notes were taken in the A.M. with slightly sub-freezing temps, clear skies and the sun to my front and right side.  At approximately 200 yards, the field of view covers half of the “2” on the right, over to the “0” on the right.  I actually found the focus to be somewhat finicky, and the image was somewhat darker than the other binoculars I was also testing.  The edges were also noticeably soft.  As I noticed in most of the binoculars tested under these conditions at this distance, there seemed to be some “Chromatic Aberration” that occurred.  There was a greenish tint on the white/black edge of the number “9”.  The tinting would go away as the number “9” was brought into center view.  This was not necessarily a problem and was not particularly an issue.  In the field, I doubt there would be many circumstances to even notice the issue. 

At roughly 600 yards, the field of view is from the “1” on the left to the “0” on the right.  The individual rings in the targets shown could be seen.  There were a few things that were noticeable.  First off, it seemed as if the outer edge of the lens was brighter than the middle.  In other words, the lens brightness was inconsistent.  The edges were also very soft.  For some reason, the dioptic adjustment needed adjusted, which seemed bizarre, as the dioptic adjustment only adjusts focus for one eye relative to the other.  Also, some of the “Chromatic Aberration” was still present.

At roughly 1000 yards the visible area would be approximately tree-line to tree-line.  The only noticeable deficiency at this distance is that the edges still seem somewhat soft.

On a different day in the early afternoon at roughly 70 degrees, with an extra set of eyes in my friend, and the sun to our backs, the performance of the binoculars seemed to improve dramatically.  Specifically, the softness of the edges that haunted them on my previous outing were virtually nonexistent.  In fact, my friend who was not present for the earlier tests, was very fond of this pair when compared to the others.

Like most of the binoculars tested in this price bracket, they come with a lifetime warranty.  Additionally they list it as a “Unlimited, Unconditional, Lifetime Warranty”.  I did not have the opportunity to test their customer service, but it would seem they are confident in their product.  The performance on the second day out was quite nice and I was very pleased in their performance.  I would be happy to have these as my personal pair of binoculars.

There were some negatives present in this pair of binoculars: the soft edges and brightness variation in the lens.  While these were frustrating in the field, it is important to note that most of the other binoculars had similar issues in varying degrees.  And, like most of the other pairs of binoculars on the second day of trials, they did not exhibit the same issues.  This pair, like most tested, were “Made in China”.

The Vortex binoculars were very usable.  If I had only tested them on the first day, I wouldn’t have been very keen on recommending them.  However, after the second test, and the tendency of most the binoculars tested to have issues on my first day out, I suspect the conditions were right to generally cause problems.  It would seem to me that with proper care and maintenance, this would be a very good pair of binoculars to give years of service.

This review written by Joel Zielke an independent product reviewer.