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Vortex Viper HD 8×42 Binoculars: Our Review

A very bright and sharp image with good low-light performance. The stiff focus wheel may take some getting used to. We rated these a Solid Choice.

At A Glance

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


  • Very bright image
  • Image stays sharp nearly to edge of view
  • Solid feel
  • Wide, comfortable neck strap
  • Good field of view and close focus


  • Stiff focus wheel
  • Near the top of the price range we tested


  • Price: $640 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: 6 feet (183 cm)
  • Field of view: 7.8° (410 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 26.7 oz (758 g)—that’s about 1 oz (29 g) lighter than the average for 8×42 binoculars in our review
  • Eye relief: 18 mm

Viewing Experience: The Vortex Vipers were among the most expensive binoculars in this round of testing, and they had the image quality to show for it. Some testers told us these were among the brightest, clearest images that they tested, particularly in low light. On a dim, cloudy day in early November, these binoculars were able to pick up the key spectacle-like facial markings of a Swainson’s Thrush as it skulked around in nearby bushes. Though the focus wheel was somewhat stiff, it was still easy to track the thrush as it moved through thick, twiggy brush at a range of 15–30 feet. Backlit canopy branches some 75 feet away were easy to see in detail, though there was a slight sense of red/green at the edges. While panning these binoculars were very smooth and crisp. Beveled eyecups made it comfortable to hold these bins to our eyes for extended periods.

Feel and Build: The Vipers have a solid and compact feel, giving them a sense of heft even though they are slightly lighter than an “average” 8×42 binocular. Faintly textured rubber with thumb indents makes for a comfortable grip. The eyecups had a loose feel, but held their place firmly in each of four stops. The focus wheel was smooth, but among the stiffest to move of any binoculars in our test. The stiffness affected how quickly we could focus on a target; this is the main drawback that kept them out of the Top Picks group in our full binocular review. The tethered objective lens covers seemed to hold their position well. The neck strap was wide and comfortable, and there’s also a harness provided in the box for folks who find those more comfortable than simple straps.

More on Binoculars

Comments From Testers: 

  • Bright clear image, solid and compact feel in hand
  • Felt comfortable in my hands
  • Bright and sharp image both far and close-up
  • Focus knob is very tight and makes it hard to use
  • Easy to zoom in on, and adjust focus for
  • Image quality was great, but I couldn’t get it to be *perfect*
  • Nice optics, but the action on the focus wheel was too stiff
  • Loose eyecups, stiff focus wheel

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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