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Diamondback HD 8x32 impressions (1 Viewer)

eitanaltman

Well-known member
Taking a trip next week (first time in a long time!) and so was looking to grab an inexpensive, compact pair of binoculars I could tote around with me when sight-seeing and casually walking around vs "hard core birding".

I wanted to try the Dback 8x32 HD since they are SO short and light, and when I saw a pair on Amazon Warehouse for $150 it was an easy decision to give them a shot.

I've had them for a few days, and I have to say I'm very impressed with the optics and overall quality for the price point.

They are pretty bright, tending to slightly "warm" so they have very nice, saturated color and strong contrast. And they are VERY sharp on axis for the price. Not quite as sharp as my much more expensive glass, but much sharper than most budget glass I've tried.

Handling and finish is quite nice for the price point, the focus knob is smooth in operation (if a little "goopy" from what feels like thick grease to dampen the rotation), the eyecups have sufficient friction to hold their position well (a problem with many cheap binoculars).

The latter point is especially important since they have pretty short eye relief, and the eyecups bizarrely have a raise rim around the edge. Although I don't wear glasses, it seems these would be virtually useless for those who do since the raised rim (and the fact that they don't seat fully flush with the ocular lens) robs several mm from what is already skimpy eye relief. And even for me, without glasses, I cannot see the full FOV with the eyecups fully extended.

If the eyecups didn't have the raised rim, and instead were a bit flatter with some more taper, it would probably be perfect at full extension. But thankfully they hold tightly at an intermediate position that works well for me.

The accessories are perfect for the price, a nice hard case, a standard neoprene strap, and nice soft rubber ocular covers and rainguard. Simple and effective.

They are also extremely light and compact -- I weighed them at ~444g naked, which is slightly less than the ~450g specification. They are also slightly shorter than my Ultravid 8x32 HD, which is a very compact 32mm binocular.

My only complaints are nitpicks that are not problematic given the $200 retail price point. The sweet spot is fairly small and edge performance mediocre, but I wouldn't expect that for the price and the FOV is very wide and immersive to counterbalance that. There is of course a decent amount of pincushion, and CA control is also just OK, nothing special. In direct comparison to more expensive binoculars, it's obvious they are behind in brightness / clarity and look a bit "dingy" in contrast.

All told, they are a very nice option at the $150-200 price point, with good resolution, a very wide FOV, above average, good color and contrast, and pretty solid build quality backed by that Vortex warranty. Definitely an easy recommendation if you want something cheap, featherlight and compact to tote around when you don't want to carry something larger (and, like me, absolutely hate 20-25mm compacts!).
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
A few photos showing the raised rim on the eyecups vs the much more efficient designs of the GPO and Leica; and a size comparison vs the Leica UV32 (just a few mm longer) and GPO 32 (a few mm longer than the Leica).

In terms of weight comparison the Vortex is 444g naked as noted above, the GPO is ~520g and the Leica ~530g.

Also forgot to note that the hinge tension is very tight, looks like that’s a typical situation for the Dback series though.
 

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chill6x6

Well-known member
150 bucks...you can't beat that!

I bought one several years ago and gave it to a friend...she really likes it! It should serve it's purpose for you well. I use my M7 8X30 for almost exactly the same usage.
 

PhilR.

Well-known member
I use my M7 8X30 for almost exactly the same usage.

I keep an M7 8x30 in my wife’s vehicle for the same useage. Nice to have when an unplanned viewing opportunity suddenly pops up when we are tooling around without the “good glass”.......

We tried the 8x32 DB HD, but I liked the Kowa SVII a bit more. I’m not a big fan of Vortex in general, but you can’t fault their level of performance for the money spent.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
150 bucks...you can't beat that!

Actually, I may have, because a couple of days after I bought the Dback HD there was a flash sale on the GPO Spectra 8x32 on Amazon for only $180.

So $30 more, but for a $400 binocular instead of a $200 binocular! The GPO feels like it's closer in optical quality to the Conquest HD rather than the Diamondback HD, so it's hard to justify not keeping it for that price.

I probably would have been just fine using the Vortex for this "backup / casual use" role, but the GPO is several notches up in optics and build quality, and it's still pretty tiny (as you can see in the photo above, just a bit longer than the Vortex).

I had the M7 8x30 previously and thought the optics were lovely for the price, but I never got along with them ergonomically (especially eye placement) and I found the glare too problematic. I didn't love them so wanted to try something new this time.

The Dback 8x32 HD is a clear notch down optically from the M7 for sure, but the tiny size, light weight, and wide FOV is right there with the Nikon, and it's not THAT far behind in terms of optical quality in the sweet spot on axis. I'm sure there's sample variation, but the pair I have is really impressively sharp! And when you consider typical pricing, the Vortex is 1/2 the price.

For someone who doesn't want to spend $350+ on a backup / casual bin, for under $200 the Dback 8x32 HD is a great value and does not embarrass itself in the field at all. I would happily even recommend it as a primary optic for someone who isn't a serious birder and wants something small and light without breaking the bank.
 

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