Monday, May 3, 2010

Vortex Diamondback 7x36

From Ron in Texas:

I purchased the Vortex Diamondback 7x36 binoculars to replace stolen car bins. These new bins will not be pampered, so durability ranks high. Already owning higher priced Vortex binoculars, I hoped for an equivalent sturdy construction and better than average optical quality.

My primary dissatisfaction with the 7x36 Diamondback concerns the field of view, which reveals less than the specified 418 feet. While most of the view remains sharp. the outer 5% or so degrades, provides a somewhat tunneled view. The usable FOV is still an acceptable 380 feet or so. With effort, some curvature of field can be noticed, but the effect is minimal and confined to the outer edge. Fortunately, the image stays sharp up to the last few degrees.

The focus from 5 feet to infinity takes 1 1/8 turns, with nearly ideal resistance. About half of this rotation focuses from 10 feet down to the minimum. Depth of field, as compared to several other bins, is above average for my eyes. This will, however, vary for individuals. The focusing mechanism coupled with the depth of field allow the user to easily follow a moving bird. The bins focus CCW from close to distant.

I could detect no chromatic aberrations or prismatic fringing under even extreme conditions, such as watching shore birds against extremely bright background light. Color fidelity is superb. For any binocular, much less one in this price range, possessing these characteristics is rare. These bins work wonderfully with eyeglasses and are solidly constructed too.

As for brightness, the Vortex 7x36 bins fell slightly below the top products (ELs and Victorys). The Diamondbacks did hold their own down to the last few minutes of dusk.

The light weight, medium size, along with a good tactile surface produce great handling. The non-locking diopter adjustment did not move from its setting, but can be turned without undue force. The IP distance adjusts from around 56mm to 74mm.

The 7x36 Vortex exhibits compromises, as would be expected in any low cost bin. However, where it counts, such as accurate color, sharp image and quickly focusing, this bin chalks up excellent marks. The Vortex 7x36 is a birding competent binocular that should endure hard use. Vortex includes an excellent warranty. Aside from birding, this binocular would serve extremely well for general use too.

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