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Vortex Viper vs. Razor?

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Old Wednesday 21st May 2008, 13:29   #1
Banjovi
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Vortex Viper vs. Razor?

Viper vs. Razor? It sounds like a monster movie title...

Hi, gang. I found the birdforum.net searching out binocular info. And you birders sure know your binoculars...

I'm looking to upgrade my Celestron Outland LX 10x50 porros. I'm mostly an astronomy guy, but those astronomy nuts only like to think of binoculars as something you put on a _mount_. I wanted something easy to hand hold for astronomy, but I take my bins out daily as I walk the dog just to take a look a the birds. I also wanted something rugged, waterproof, and a decent field of view. Oh, and an upgrade in optics would be nice.

I've read a number of reviews, and like what I've heard of the Vortex line. I was pretty much convinced to try the 8x42 Vipers. I also liked what I saw about the 8x42 Razor (especially the 410ft field of view), but at 50% more, I just thought that I'd live with the Viper choice. But now I have a chance to hit the Razor for $625. It's $125 more than I wanted to spend, but...

So, can anyone tell me the optical difference between the Viper and the Razor? I've seen rave reviews of the Viper, good ones of the Razor, but NOTHING that compares the lines. And the nearest shop that sells Vortex bins is about 2 hours from here (Eagle Optics in Madison, WI).

I figured that if anyout out there would have tried them both, it would be someone here...

Thanks,

Chris

Last edited by Banjovi : Wednesday 21st May 2008 at 13:33. Reason: spelling error
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Old Wednesday 21st May 2008, 14:34   #2
Steve C
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I have the Vipers and I think they are very good binoculars. The biggest practical differences between the two that I see are first, the obvious difference in the ergonomics. Second is that the Razor has a much wider FOV. Which you will probably like as an astronomy guy. Another noticeable difference is size, the Razors are bigger, both in dimension and weight. This may well translate into greater ease in use for hand held astronomy. The Viper is a brighter glass than the Razor. Not much, but brighter. The Razor has somewhat better distance resolution than the Viper.

I bought the Viper because I'm and admitted cheapskate and liked the fact that they were both smaller and lighter than the Razor. However for what you list as your intended uses, the Razor seems a better fit for you. Vortex makes good stuff and they have a topnotch warranty, which they really do uphold, just the way they wrote it.

Since you are at least in the same state as Eagle Optics, which is in Madison, you might visit and try both. They also have a 30 day return for full refund policy. So you can have the opportunity to get both, use them side by side and send back the one you don't keep.
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Old Wednesday 21st May 2008, 14:49   #3
Jim M.
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Hi Chris,

I just wanted to add a few things to Steve's excellent summary. I have the vipers (have never tried the razors), but secondhand reports and reviews suggest the razors have a slower focus that might be a bit of a hindrance for birding. Also, there have been a few threads here where people have reported quality control issues with the razors in terms of eye cups and the like, but we do not know if those represent a trend or not.

I really like my vipers and would go for them even if the razors cost the same because of their lighter weight. I think vipers are especially good for people who wear glasses.

Best,
Jim
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Old Wednesday 21st May 2008, 16:11   #4
vkalia
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I have the Viper 8x42s and the Razor 10x42s.

IMO, both have very good glass. It is hard to compare the 2 directly, as the difference in magnification affects my perception of resolution, but when looking at birds with either binos, I dont think there are any details that I am unable to see. I've A/Bed the Razors with a pair of Zeiss Victory FLs and frankly, I think there may have been a problem with those Zeiss binos b/c I thought the view through the Razors was more contrasty.

And the design of the Razors makes it very easy to handhold them, despite their weight. But they are slower in focussing. I do a lot of birding in heavy forests where the birds are constantly on the move. That makes using the Razors a little harder. I would probably consider the Stokes DLS model instead of the Razors at this price point as I believe their focussing is faster.

If you are looking at shorebirds or anything except fleetingly flitting flutterers, then the Razors are definitely worth a look see. Otherwise, Vipers are very, very good optics for the price as well.

Vandit

PS: I am selling my Razors, if you are interested.
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Old Wednesday 21st May 2008, 18:27   #5
Steve C
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Jim and Vandit make good valid points about the focus rate. I just forgot to mention it. Vortex, it seems to me, went for the birders market with the Stokes DLS glass. They seem to have gone more for the top end hunting market with the Razor. To my eyes, the Razor and the DLS are optically identical and both very good. Whether or not you are concerned with the much smaller difference in fov between the DLS (383' @[email protected]) of the Razor (411'@[email protected]) is something for you to decide. Personally I can't see a practical difference at that level. The Viper (347'@[email protected]) is easier to tell a difference, but the Viper fov is ok for me. Here, again, the difference is in ergonomics and weight. I think the DLS and the Viper compare about the same as the Viper and the Razor, except that both Viper and DLS are pretty much the same as far as ergonomics go. The DLS focuses through one turn of the focus wheel, while the Razor and Viper use 1.5 turns. Birders typically prefer a faster focus for use on fast moving subjects. Hunting places a greater usefulness on a slower focus rate for moving back and forth through various layers of foliage. However all three Vortex products have excellent depth of field, and I find I don't have to move the focus wheel very much.
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Old Wednesday 21st May 2008, 18:37   #6
Banjovi
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Thanks for the great opinions. As I said, the price point is a decider for me. At $750 I might have thought about the Razors, but I wouldn't have purchased them. The $500 price tag on the Vipers - as well as all the great reviews - fits my budget better. But the $625 price point for some "almost new" Razors has me thinking again.

I really appreciate your thoughts. I _knew_ you guy knew your binoculars.

Chris
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Old Friday 23rd May 2008, 20:12   #7
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Recently, I had chance to compare my father's Vortex Diamondback 10x42 to by Leica 10x42 BN. I have to say the Diamondback's performance for $200 is increadible so I think either of the high priced models must perform quite well indeed.

Brendan
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Old Wednesday 28th May 2008, 20:08   #8
Banjovi
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Thanks to everyone who shared bits of advice and opinions on the Vortex Razor vs. Viper thread.

I ended up getting a used set of 8x42 Razors. The price point was about 25% more than the Vipers, so I took a leap of faith…

I am by no means anything but a beginner when it comes to comparing binoculars. And I know that people say that you can’t compare different units with different magnifications and different objective sizes. But I’ll give the impressions that I can from what I saw on my first use yesterday evening.

To start with, all the things that you’ve heard about the Razor are true – and one of those things you heard isn’t.

The Razor is well made, solidly built, waterproof and fogproof, and performs up to the expectations set by the advertising. The image quality is easily better than my old Celestron Outland LX 10x50 porros. It provides sharper images across the field with better color and a significantly better depth of field. They are also easier to hand hold being about the same weight as the 10x50 but having less magnification.

I also have a Canon 12x36 IS. The Razor outperformed it optically in terms of brightness (not unexpected given the larger objective and smaller magnification), contrast, and depth of field and sharpness of image. However, image stabilization on the Canon is a thing of beauty. It is the _only_ thing about the Cannon that is superior.

Eye relief was plenty for me – and I wear glasses. In fact, I used the very nice feature of the Razor’s multiple level twist up click stops for the eye cups; extended them by 6 clicks and I can place them directly against my glasses for perfect eye relief. Cool.

The real test for me was under the night sky. Seeing was terrible – only very small sucker holes every once in a while so all I got to look at were a few of the brighter stars and some shots of Saturn.

The sky in the Razor wasn’t as black as either the Celestron or the Canon. Once again, this was expected because of the lower magnification. But the stars resolved to pin points across the entire field. I _think_ I saw some elongation in Saturn – a nice indicator of the resolution power of this unit. Saturn shows the same through the Canons when image stabilized, but I’d need some outside verification that this isn’t just wishful thinking on my part. Both of those units show it distinctly as a planet, though. The Celestron just shows Saturn as a very bright, non-twinkling star.

Image stabilization is still extremely helpful when looking at the sky and where the Canon shines the most. However the view through the Vipers was so nice that I was able to tolerate the shaking for those few moments when my body cooperated and things settled out.

Finally, the large angular field of view is a thing of beauty at 7.8 degrees. Getting a lot of the sky in the field of view at once is one of the major reasons I use binoculars for astronomy. Nothing else I’ve used comes close to that.

I didn’t get a chance to hunt for DSOs. That will have to wait for a clearer night. But the Razors are definitely a “keeper” and will be the glasses I take to the field.

Oh, and the thing you’ve heard that _isn’t_ true… The central focus worked smoothly and easily. I can’t imagine anybody having a problem with it.

Thanks again for your advice and support,

Chris
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Old Wednesday 28th May 2008, 22:05   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banjovi View Post
Oh, and the thing you’ve heard that _isn’t_ true… The central focus worked smoothly and easily. I can’t imagine anybody having a problem with it.
That's ok. I'm sure all of the people whose Razors don't have a smooth focus think you're a liar, as well.
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Old Thursday 29th May 2008, 02:28   #10
Banjovi
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That's ok. I'm sure all of the people whose Razors don't have a smooth focus think you're a liar, as well.
I don't think that anyone was lying. Either Vortex has fixed a problem with the line (which is entirely possible), or my past experiences with my Celestron gave me focusing finger strength far beyond that of mortal men (which is possible, too). I never thought of my old binocs having a stiff focus wheel, but after trying out both the Vortex and the Canon, I can see that they go far beyond "stiff."

Thanks,

Chris
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Old Thursday 29th May 2008, 05:44   #11
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Just messing with you. I'm glad you got a good one. I really loved mine at first, but they had some problems(eyecups, diopter adj.), and so did their replacement, leaving me Razor-less. The second one made a little pop noise at one point in the focus knob's travel, but both of them were smooth.
I hope one day they get less hit and miss with their quality, and make a 32mm version, like Swarovski does with the EL-but one I can afford!
Bet that would sell better than the 50mm ones they make. I can dream, anyway.
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Old Friday 11th July 2008, 06:34   #12
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Originally Posted by Banjovi View Post
I don't think that anyone was lying. Either Vortex has fixed a problem with the line (which is entirely possible), or my past experiences with my Celestron gave me focusing finger strength far beyond that of mortal men (which is possible, too). I never thought of my old binocs having a stiff focus wheel, but after trying out both the Vortex and the Canon, I can see that they go far beyond "stiff."

Thanks,

Chris
Or (and most likely) there's a variation in the manufacture, quality and inspection process. I have just bought and returned the Fury's which had horrible grinding noise from the focussing wheel, whilst the demo model's was far less.
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Old Saturday 12th July 2008, 03:00   #13
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Vortex has good ideas, but poor quality control in some models.
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Old Saturday 12th July 2008, 19:38   #14
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I think that is a fair summary Tero. I am always fascinated by the amount of performance they are able to squeeze out of any given price point. These 8x42 Diamondbacks are a perfect example. For $140 I am in shock by their performance...optically and mechanically. I could easily see someone buying these and not regretting buying something more expensive.

On the other hand I have owned a few of their models that have required better quality control. On the plus side with that issue though is their warranty and customer service. Exceptional in that regard and easily on par with Swarovski!
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Old Wednesday 16th July 2008, 04:18   #15
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Take a look at the tool on www.optics4birders.com, which will enable you to evaluate these two options, as well as any others. I just ran it, and got higher grades for the Vipers, but it will depend on what how you weight the following factors:

eye relief
close focus
weight
field of view
weatherproofing
eye cups
lens coating
prism material

I just can't find a better combination of quality and value than the Viper.

Veagle
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Old Saturday 23rd August 2008, 23:41   #16
Nottsbirder
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Vortex Vipers

I believe that much of the problem with the British optics market and or the British birders perception of what is/are good bins is down to how much they cost. If they are cheap they must be inferior and how would one explain a pair of Vortex hanging around ones neck at the next twitch.
I have 2 good friends who own and love the Leica Trinovids. After testing the vortex vipers they both agreed they are in fact not as bright an image as the much cheaper Vortex Vipers from the USA (but made in Japan). The Vipers are as bright as my own Zeiss 7x42 dialyt T* Classics, just a little less sharp at the very edge of the field of vue..
They also give a full field of vue for specticle wearers and also out perform most if not all of the good mid price binoculars such as the Pentax DCF WP as noted in several reviews and independent tests.
When I have ask birders about Vortex they either have never heard of them, or believe that with a £250 price tag the Vipers can not possibly compare to either the Leica Trinovid or Zeiss Classics. How wrong they are.
(See http://www.birddigiscoping.com/2006/...ar-review.html )

Nottsbirder

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