Vortex Diamondback HD 15x56 Binoculars
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- Last updated: 09/07/2023
Binoculars are an essential piece of equipment, and I would not be without them. Stalking is 90% observation, so a good set of binos are essential if you are to target the game you want to harvest. Most people go for the conventional 6x - 8x power binoculars, giving them a good blend of magnification and a wide field of view. However, there are times, especially if you stalk open hills when a little more mag helps locate and determine a deer’s position and quality of antlers.
The Vortex Diamondback HD 15x56mm binoculars caught my eye, especially for the price. Not only are they affordable, but the High Definition (HD) lenses and 15x magnification provide good optical performance. Plus, they are very well built, like all the Vortex products.
The Diamondback binocular range is comprehensive and includes models from 8x28 through to 10x28, 8x32, 10x32, 8x42, 10x42, 10x50, and 12x50. The final option is 15x56 (on test).
All Diamondback binoculars show a roof prism design with separate lens columns, plus a pivoting central bridge that also forms the focus mechanism. These optics are a good blend of performance and price, especially when you actually look through their HD lenses. Not only that but included in the price is a GlassPak binocular harness, which keeps your set of Diamondbacks instantly accessible. You also get the GlassPak binocular case, comfort neck strap, tethered objective lens covers, rain guard eyepiece cover, lens cloth, and a tripod adaptor. Not bad for £361.
The construction shows a magnesium chassis for reduced weight and increased strength. This is then clad in rubber armour for durable external protection and a secure, non-slip grip. Talking of which, the waterproof O-ring seals prevent moisture, dust, and debris penetration. Plus, each pair of binos is shockproof if dropped out in the field. An additional Argon purge fill also ensures that internal fogging over a wide range of temperatures will not occur either.
Dimensionally, these 15x56s are not that big or heavy. They stand 7.1” high by 5.8” wide, and weigh just 34.8oz. As a result, they feel nimble in the hands.
The eyecups are adjustable (3-positions) to accommodate those who wear glasses, and those who don’t. The right-hand eyepiece has the traditional secondary focus ring to adjust focus as required. There are twin thumb rests moulded into the rubber armour, and the focus ring is smooth to operate, plus it has a grooved rubber profile for good grip. You also get captive rubber front and rear lens covers that are tight but can be removed quickly for instant use.
Internally, the optics are where the Diamondbacks shine. They use an HD optical system that’s optimised with select glass elements that provide great resolution and eliminate chromatic aberration. You also get a good rendition of the image with edge-to-edge definition. Also, the big 56mm objective lenses mean that the light transmission is enhanced too.
All the lenses are fully multi-coated with anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces, and there is a dielectric coating (phase correction coating) on the prisms, which helps to provide sharp and bright images. In addition to all of this, you also get an ArmorTek ultra-hard and scratch-resistant coating on the exterior of the lenses. This protects against scratches, oil, and dirt.
For use during long viewing periods, a tripod adaptor provides a steady rest for a tripod or car window mount.
These are not Swarovski, then again, they are six times cheaper and as such offer very good performance for the price. Many people will say they are too big, with too much mag etc. Well, I like more mag, as I like to see what I am looking at sometimes! Yes, the field of view is reduced, with a linear FOV of 230ft @ 1000 yards, but you get a very close, 14ft minimum focus, which is good for nature lovers.
In use, they were light, very easy to handle, and not a burden at all. Sure, you have to hold them steady for a wobble-free image, but the detail you get down range more than makes up for it. I just rest them on my shooting sticks, so it’s no issue. After adjusting the dioptre on the right-hand eyepiece for my vision, I got a clear, flat image to view.
There is some edge-to-edge fringing, to be honest, but nothing major at all, and the rest of the image is clear and surprisingly bright, considering the specification only offers a 3.7mm exit pupil. I like the fast focus, which helps achieve a really clear, defined image quickly. Plus, the colour rendition is good too and really helps when trying to spot brown deer against green foliage.
I took these 15x56s out on some early morning roe stalking, and sure, at first light the light gathering was reduced due to the 15x magnification, but because the image was closer, you could still see deer. As the light came up, the Diamondbacks spotted an absolutely cracking roe buck at 300 yards, which was chasing a doe. I could clearly see he was good, so worth the stalk closer.
I had a superb medal-class roe buck thanks to the Vortex 15x56 Diamondbacks, and that’s proof enough that they work. At £361, they are great value for money and would make a good hill stalking set or a keep-in-the-truck set to spot deer from afar - your choice.