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Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42 Binoculars: Our Review

These are light and comfortable binoculars with a great image but a stiff focus wheel. We ranked them a Solid Choice in our review.

At A Glance

Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42 binoculars
Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42 binoculars. Image by Hugh Powell.


  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Bright image, sharp nearly to the edges
  • Small size fits well in small hands
  • Good field of view and close focus


  • Stiff focus wheel can make it hard to quickly get a sharp image


  • Price: $290 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: Listed as 5.0 feet (152 cm)
  • Field of view: 7.5° (191 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 23.7 oz (671 g)—that’s about 2.0 oz (58 g) lighter than the average for 8×42 binoculars in our review
  • Eye relief: 17 mm

Viewing Experience: The Vortex Diamondbacks are petite, lightweight, and comfortable, and they provide a bright, colorful image even on dim days. On a grim fall day in New England, they provided detailed views of a couple of high-up Tennessee Warblers despite some challenging backlighting, nicely resolving the brown back and white undertail. As we watched a fall Bay-breasted Warbler, these bins helped out by revealing the faint reddish flanks and the black feet. The edges of the image are slightly less sharp than the center. The field of view is generous, making it easy to find and follow birds in flight or dodging behind leaves. Close focus is very close, making these a good choice for watching insects in addition to birds.

Feel and Build: These are light and comfortable binoculars, and their small size could make them especially attractive to people with small hands who nevertheless want to stick with 8x42s instead of 8x32s. The main drawback is the stiff focus wheel—so stiff that it almost felt like a chore to start spinning the wheel, especially when trying to lock focus on a fast-disappearing bird. We don’t know if the focus wheel would loosen up over time, or if Vortex might have any tips for making the wheel roll a bit more freely. The bins have a finely textured, grippy covering with pronounced indentations for your thumbs to rest in.  They come in a bulky beige carrying case that sports several mesh pockets in case you need a place to stash things.

More on Binoculars

Comments From Testers: 

  • Lightweight
  • Good for small hands  
  • Nice grip, compact in the hand, nice solid feel, but focus wheel very stiff
  • Comfortable to hold
  • Stiff focus wheel takes a long time to focus
  • Very sharp clarity

This article is one in a series of mini-reviews. To see how these binoculars compare to others we’ve tested, see our full review of affordable 8×42 binoculars.  

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