A review of the Vortex Diamondback HD 15x56 binoculars
Vortex’s newest member of their long-time entry level Diamondback 15x56 HD was recently released to the public. You can check out our announcement article here. This 15x rounds out their versatile line with a tripod-mounted option for the western hunter who needs a long-range optic. After hearing positive feedback from our very own Brady Miller on his bear hunt, I had to put them in the field and see for myself.
I rounded up my other Vortex big glass and put them side by side. I took the Vulture 15x56 HD (discontinued), Kaibab 18x56 HD and the Razor HD 18x56. I concentrated mostly on the comparison of the only other 15x present. All were tripod mounted with their convenient 1/4 to 20 threads and tested in the late evening until last light.
Let's get into the comparison
For a 15x, they have a distinctive high-quality look and feel about them, but in a slightly smaller package than other 15xs in the industry. They are half an inch shorter and less wide, which means they are ounces lighter than the Vulture and Kaibab models. The Diamondbacks were also almost 9 ounces lighter than the next closet 15 or 18x. So, for anyone wanting a 15x on a budget with a smaller footprint in your pack that’s also lighter weight, this is your choice.
I found the Diamondbacks non-locking diopter to be easy to set. The focus wheel was smooth and allowed for crisp focussing. I found the eyecups are adjustable for different eye reliefs, which worked perfectly for me because I prefer to glass with the eyecups in their lowest setting. This is normally used for those that wear eyeglasses, but, in my experience, this allows for better glassing because of a larger apparent field of view (FOV).
Field of View (FOV)
After getting the Diamondbacks mounted to a tripod and set for my eyes, I began to scan the nearby mountainside. I was pleasantly rewarded with an easy and comfortable look. I noticed that their center mass was crisp and allowed me to view the FOV effortlessly. Their FOV of 230’ was similar to other 15s in the industry. The Vultures were 4’ less at 226’. Even though the Vultures have less FOV, they were crisp farther to the edge than the Diamondbacks. This gave the Vultures the better, more usable FOV for better overall picture quality. However, it was not overwhelmingly better.
When darkness started to set in, the difference between the Diamondback and Vulture became slightly apparent. I expected more from the Vulture HD being one step up in price point; however, the Diamondbacks held their own right up to the last light. The Diamondbacks earned their spot at the table for sure. These 15x are going to make a lot of first time 15x buyers very happy!
I have always told my customers that they should do three things when considering optics to become more efficient at finding game: buy the best glass that you can, mount them on a tripod and be patient! The purpose of these Diamondbacks was to give both the experienced and the new hunter trying to conquer long distances when western hunting a better option for bigger glass. Doing all that in a smaller, lighter and value-packed way with a lifetime no fault warranty, well, I think Vortex nailed it!
More optics-related articles you might find interesting:
- 15x or 18x binoculars for hunting: what power is right for you?
- Why you need a pair of 12 power binoculars
- Why 8 power binoculars