Vortex Diamondback HD Binoculars
New Product Review
Diamondback now with HD glass
For years, Diamondback binoculars from Vortex Optics have been the best buy in relatively inexpensive binoculars. We've been reviewing binoculars for Bird Watcher's Digest for over 20 years, comparing binoculars from many manufacturers and at all price points. And in review after review, the Diamondback has consistently won top place in its price category.
In 2019, Vortex announced a new, updated Diamondback. This one has HD in the name, to indicate that a better quality of optical glass is used in the lenses. Of course, we wanted to take a look and compare the new HD version to the Diamondback we have known and loved.
We won't leave you in suspense about the result...
Yes, the new HD is better.
We took a classic 8x42 Diamondback and a new 8x42 HD Diamondback and compared their optical quality, testing the two binoculars by seeing how much detail we could distinguish through each one on a resolution chart. We also checked up on the specifications of each binocular, to see if anything had changed there.
We also compared the ergnonomic qualities of the focus knob, center hinges, eyecups, and diopter adjustment mechanism.
We looked at the accessories — case and design for carrying each binocular — especially noting the new GlassPak harness-case, which is included in the new HD Diamondback.
Here's what we found
The most important aspect of a binocular is how well it lets you see, right? So we tested that. With a standard optical resolution chart as the target, we placed an 8x42 Diamondback and a new 8x42 HD Diamondback side by side on a heavy-duty tripod, supported by a stone floor. Then we compared how much detail we could see with each binocular.
The result was not ambiguous, and it was not close. The new HD showed a significantly sharper image, with better brightness, contrast, and resolution. We saw more and better with the new version.
The field of view is unchanged from the earlier version, 393 feet at 1000 yards. The close focus is still 7 feet. In short, the new HD Diamondback is the same binocular, except better.
The old Diamondback and the new Diamondback HD are the same size, shape, and weight. They have the same, hand-friendly armoring.
There are subtle differences, however.
The focus knob is improved on the new HD version. As in the original Diamondback, there is no backslap or slack in turning the knob. However, the new one turns with slightly less effort, and the amount of resistence is more consistent as you roll the knob. We like that.
Also the central hinge has been improved. It was OK before, but perhaps just a bit harder than we like to move the barrels closer together and farther apart. The new HD version has what we regard as the perfect degree of resistence, for easy, comfortable adjusting. The diopter setting and way the eyecups operate seem to be unchanged in the new version. They were good before, and they're good now.
The old Diamondback and the new Diamondback HD are the same size, shape, and weight. They have the same hand-friendly armoring.
The only ways you can tell them apart by looking at them are that the new HD version has the letters HD on the end of the center hinge, and that while the old version says DIAMONDBACK on one barrel, the new HD version says VORTEX.
To our pleasant surprise, the price has not gone up for the new HD Diamondback. It's exactly what it was before. Pretty amazing, considering that it includes higher quality, costlier glass.
And then there's the new GlassPak harness case, which you carry on your chest, suspended by a harness so there's no weight on your neck. This is a great innovation.
The 42 mm and 50 mm versions of the new HD Diamondback include the GlassPak harness case for free.
The GlassPak case deserves its own chapter. See Michael's review of the GlassPak harness case.
Pricing on Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42
Details on all the Diamondback HD binoculars