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Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Review

This model is our first choice and offers just about the best clarity and brightness you can get from a binocular without a quadruple-digit price tag
vortex viper hd 8x42 binocular review
Credit: Vortex
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $639 List | $481.10 at Amazon
Pros:  Very clear and bright, easy to adjust, comfortable, high-quality construction
Cons:  A bit heavy for the backcountry
Manufacturer:   Vortex
By Max Mutter ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 11, 2022
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92
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 15
  • Clarity - 25% 9.0
  • Brightness - 20% 9.0
  • Ease of Adjustment - 15% 9.0
  • Construction Quality - 15% 10.0
  • Comfort - 10% 10.0
  • Close Focus Range - 7.5% 8.0
  • Field of View - 7.5% 9.0

Our Verdict

If you're looking for top-ranked binoculars for less than a grand, the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 should be at the top of your shortlist. These binoculars strike a great balance between price and performance. In fact, they aren't that big of a step down in quality from the multi-thousand dollar pairs we tested. With a supple focus knob and good in-hand comfort, these bins offer the kind of performance you need for all-day nature walks and birding festivals. If you're serious about birding or wildlife viewing, these binoculars are well worth the money.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on January 11, 2022 with more information on our testing and updated photos. It was previously updated in November 2021 with info on some minor cosmetic and design changes.

Compare to Similar Products

 
vortex viper hd 8x42 binocular review
Awards Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $639 List
$481.10 at Amazon
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Pros Very clear and bright, easy to adjust, comfortable, high-quality constructionHigh-quality construction, very comfortable to use, great clarityExcellent brightness, great clarity, comfortableInexpensive, good clarity and brightnessGood clarity, small and lightweight, relatively comfortable
Cons A bit heavy for the backcountryHeavy for backpacking or carrying long distancesSlightly heavy for backpackingAverage construction quality, mediocre low-light performancePoor low-light performance
Bottom Line This model is our first choice and offers just about the best clarity and brightness you can get from a binocular without a quadruple-digit price tagGood optical quality, but not the best in the price rangeAn excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightnessThe most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatchingAn inexpensive, small, and packable model that offers surprisingly good optics
Rating Categories Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Nikon Monarch 7 ATB... Vortex Diamondback... Celestron Nature DX... Vortex Diamondback...
Clarity (25%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Brightness (20%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Ease of Adjustment (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Construction Quality (15%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Comfort (10%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Close Focus Range (7.5%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Field of View (7.5%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
Specs Vortex Viper HD 8x42 Nikon Monarch 7 ATB... Vortex Diamondback... Celestron Nature DX... Vortex Diamondback...
Glass Type HD ED HD ED HD
Multi - Coating FMC FMC FMC FMC FMC
Magnification 8 10 8 8 8
Field of View (at 1000 yards) 409 ft 362 ft 393 ft 388 ft 332 ft
Close Focus 6.5 ft 8.2 ft 5.0 ft 6.5 ft 6.0 ft
Eye Relief 18 mm 16.5 mm 17 mm 17.5 mm 18 mm
Prism Roof Roof Roof Roof Roof
Waterproof/Fogproof? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Size (Length x Width) 5.8 x 5.3 in 5.6 x 5.1 in 5.7 x 5.1 in 5.3 x 4.9 in 4.6 x 4.5 in
Weight 24.2 oz 24 oz 21.8 oz 22.2 oz 14.0 oz

Our Analysis and Test Results

Product Update Note — November 2021
There have been some minor cosmetic changes to the outer of the Viper HDs, as well as updated optical systems. The eye relief has also shortened slightly, from 20mm to 18mm (though this should still be plenty of relief for those who wear glasses). Compare the versions below; the model we initially tested is shown on the left, followed by the updated model on the right.




Vortex says that with the Viper HD with (High Density) extra-low dispersion glass, one look is all you'll need to appreciate its quality and performance. Add XR fully multi-coated lenses and you have a bino that delivers bright, crisp details with impressive resolution and color fidelity. It's no mystery why the Viper HD is one of the best binoculars.

Performance Comparison


vortex viper hd 8x42 binocular review - the bright and clear vortex viper is one of our all-time favorite...
The bright and clear Vortex Viper is one of our all-time favorite binoculars.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Clarity


The Vortex Viper HD 8x42's high-definition glass really shines when it comes to clarity. This pair provides a great clear view. The Viper is almost as good as some of the multi-thousand dollar models we tested. On the ISO 12233 chart test, the 10 zone was seen clear throughout the center. The clarity fades around the edge a bit, but only a minor amount. The horizontal and vertical lines all looked crisp and clear.


Brightness


The Vortex Viper HD 8x42 has high-density glass, and the lenses are multi-coated with what Vortex calls their XR anti-reflective coating, which helps to reduce the scattering of light inside the binoculars. Combined, these features make for a bright view. Only the multi-thousand dollar models and those with huge objective lenses were able to gather more light.


Ease of Adjustment


The Vortex Viper HD 8x42 has one large central hinge to adjust the interpupillary distance. The hinge moves smoothly and easily like on other top-scoring binoculars.


The diopter on the Vortex Viper HD is located on the right lens and is operated by pulling up on the diopter to adjust it. While in the down position, the diopter is locked in place. The diopter was easy to adjust the first time with no stiffness.

vortex viper hd 8x42 binocular review - the viper's neck strap is quite comfortable.
The Viper's neck strap is quite comfortable.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Construction Quality


The Vortex Viper 8x42 feels solid in hand. All the hinges and joints move smoothly, so you can tell the tolerances are tight in the manufacturing process.


Everything just works smoothly and feels comfortable, and we've been impressed by Vortex's products as a whole.

vortex viper hd 8x42 binocular review - the viper tucked away in their included carrying case.
The Viper tucked away in their included carrying case.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Comfort


The neck strap has a soft, stretchy rubber section that goes around your neck and distributes the weight nicely. Indentations for your thumbs and a rubberized coating on the barrels make it easy to hold onto.

vortex viper hd 8x42 binocular review - the thumb indents and slightly rubberized barrels make for easy...
The thumb indents and slightly rubberized barrels make for easy gripping and comfortable holding.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

20mm of eye relief made the Viper comfortable to look through for long periods of time and made it easy for those with glasses.


Field of View and Close Focus Range


The field of view is 409 feet at 1000 yards for the Viper Vortex HD 8x42. This put it towards the top of the field of view chart for the 8x models we tested.


The close focus range is 6.5 feet, which is slightly on the better side of average. In day-to-day use, it's very unlikely you're going to want to focus on anything closer than 6.5 feet unless you're lucky enough to have a butterfly land on your shoe.


Should You Buy the Vortex Viper HD 8x42?


You can easily spend multiple paychecks on a premium pair of binoculars, and they'll likely look fantastic. The Vortex Viper HD 8x42 earned an Editors' Choice award for offering an experience similar to those loftily priced models at a fraction of the price. Yes, that fraction is still a relatively large number, but if you're looking for high-quality optics, we think these binoculars are both likely to please and offer one of the best values available.

vortex viper hd 8x42 binocular review - we appreciate the solid construction of this pair.
We appreciate the solid construction of this pair.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?


Though we love the Vortex Viper, we understand that it's still outside of some folks' budgets. For a less expensive but still impressive pair, check out the Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42, which uses Vortex's HD glass but costs less than half the price of the Viper. Another even more affordable pair is the Celestron Nature DX 8x42, which doesn't stand up to the quality of the top-tier products but is a great basic pair of binoculars that won't break the bank.

On the other hand, if money is no object and you want the best pair possible, we'd point you in the direction of the Swarovski EL 8.5x42. These surpass all other models in our review with their top-of-the-line performance and have family heirloom written all over them.

Max Mutter
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