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Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions
7 July 2024
Arkadiusz Olech

1. Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

It's not a big secret that I've always liked Vortex Optics very much and for several reasons. First of all, their sport optics line-up is very rich; second, their products come with a wide range of prices. Third, at every price point you can find something interesting so, no matter whether your wallet is fat or thin, you are able to buy products with an excellent price/performance ratio. Fourth, Vortex offers you a lifetime VIP warranty that really works – in most of cases Vortex owners get a brand new piece of equipment instead of a damaged one. Fifth, Vortex is very lucky to be represented by a good Polish distributor, Kolba.pl from Czelad╝, that is able to compete on our market with very good prices.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

I remember being charmed by the Viper series of instruments, produced in Japan, that appeared near 2005 in Poland. It was the debut of Vortex on our market, the top-of-the-range line of binoculars of this producer at that time. In the following years they were superseded by even nicer and well-put-together Razor HD models, and in 2019 they had to move to the third place due to the launch of Razor UHD models.

Currently the Razor UHD series is the top-of-the-range Vortex line of Vortex. These instruments are supposed to compete successfully with the best products of other top brand names such as Leica, Nikon, Swarovski, or Zeiss. Our tests of 10x42 and 12x50 models confirmed that in this case you deal with optics of the highest quality.


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Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

In the middle of the June 2024 the 8x32 and 10x32 models appeared among the Razor UHD instruments. Their parameters show clearly that they are a very strong attack on the latest launches of Swarovski from the NL Pure series and Zeiss from the Victory SF series and they differ from the older and bigger Razor UHD models with Abbe-Koenig prisms; this time the producers decided to employ the Schmidt-Pechan system.

The field of view of the Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 amounts to as much as 9 deg, one of the biggest fields on the market. It's half of a degree more than in case of the Swarovski and 0.2 deg more than in case of the Zeiss. What's more, despite such a huge field, they managed to ensure a confortable eye relief distance, amounting of 19 mm. The Vortex also prevails when it comes to its minimum focusing distance that amounts to just 1.8 meters (and even a tad less in practice). Weights and physical dimensions of all the three binoculars models, mentioned above, are very similar as you can find out by consulting the following chart.

In the case of the Razor UHD 10x32 the field of view amounts to 7.4 deg, exactly the same like the field of the Zeiss Victory SF, a tad narrower than the field of the Swarovski NL Pure. The eye relief of the Razor is 17 mm, 1-2 mm less than in case of the rivals. Still, the new pair of binoculars provides a better minimum focusing distance. The following chart presents a comparison between all parmeters of these instruments.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

The optical system of the Vortex UHD series of binoculars includes elements made of ED glass and Schmidt-Pechan prisms phase-correction coated. All air-to-glass surfaces are covered by the highest quality antireflection XR Plus Lens Coatings. Outer surfaces of elements are additionally protected by ArmorTek hydrophobic coatings. All of this is closed in a waterproof, argon-purged casing made of magnesium composites. As it is a tradition of Vortex their products are sold with a rich accessory kit and a lifetime warranty period. The binoculars are produced in Japan.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

The suggested price of the 8x32 model on the American market is 2149.99 USD, and the 10x32 model is slightly more expensive, costing 2199.99 USD.

If officially everything looks so well, I could hardly wait for a bit of hands-on experience. Courtesy of the Kolba.pl both new binoculars were sent to my office really fast so I could compare them to the best models of Leica, Swarovski, and Zeiss and now, after several days of handling, I can share with you my first impressions.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

Of course it's a matter of taste, whether you like the design or not, but I have to admit that the ideas of Vortex binoculars constructors fit me like a glove. I do like the shape of the bodies, their colouring, and, overall, the whole project behind both of new models. Of course they aren't the smallest for the 32 mm class instruments but the whole design make them look very shapely and stylish.

When it comes to the quality you don't find any serious slip-ups. The casing of both pairs of binos is made of magnesium composites and it is padded by rubber armour of very good quality that sticks to your hands properly well. As a result the small Razor UHD is very comfortable to hold (and indentations for thumbs help here a lot) and to look through. The eyecups are rubberized, soft, adjustable with four possible detention stops. The objective lenses are hidden inside the casing about 1 cm deep.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

You get a singnificantly big, ribbed central wheel for focusing and I admit it is very comfortable to use. Unfortunately, its focus throw is abnormally big, amounting to an angle of 1170 deg – you really need to turn it a lot! Vortex not only copied the mistake of Swarovski but also made it more acute. After all angles of 400-500 deg are more than enough to set the focus, even if your focusing range is very wide.

For dioptre correction you get a comfortable, ribbed ring on the right eyepiece that can be shifted and moves the outer element. At this price point such operations should be limited to the interior of the construction, though - you cannot speak about high sealing.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

When it comes to the interior of the binoculars inner tubes are dark, matt, and ribbed right next to objective lenses. Unfortunately a long screw for shifting the focusing system remains visible only too well. Perhaps it is not very shiny but it could have been blackened better. When you look deeper blackening and matting is a bit inferior but there are no shiny elements either. We managed to notice some specks of dust on the prisms.

Lack of perfect blackening of the interior might adversely affect the performance against bright light and the appearance of exit pupils. At night new Razor UHD don't show any significant slip-ups – only momentarily, when there is a very bright lamppost nearby, you experience some slight contrast loss. However, the shape of exit pupils is far from perfect.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

On the other hand significant dimensions of binoculars and their proper optical construction mean they don't have any vignetting. As a result their exit pupils are round, without any truncating or changing of shape.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

During our tests of the Razor HD and the Razor UHD models we found out that Vortex knows how to produce good quality antireflection coatings. Here it seems as well that the coatings are of the finest quality and they cover all air-to-glass surfaces so images are bright, without any colouring. The final verdict of course has to wait untill our transmission tests.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

With such significant fields of view I didn't expect them to be corrected in a perfect way. On the other hand if the new Razors are supposed to compete with the best they should be devoid of too many compromises. Unfortunately for the Vortex, there are a lot of compromises here. First of all you can spot immediately the decrease of sharpness near the edge of the frame. In the 8x32 model it appears near 3/4 of the distance from the centre, while in the 10x32 model is visible even earlier. Distortion is even more noticeable closer to the center of the image. In both models there is a noticeable coma that appears around 70-75% of the field of view radius, and at the very edge it is on the borderline between medium and high levels.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

Astigmatism correction should be praised for a change. Both models perform in this area in a splendid way, offering you practically point-like images of stars. Chromatic aberration correction is not so good anymore because at this price point it should have been practically invisible in the very centre and in both Razors UHD you can notice it without any problem - itis not perhaps a high level but still. On the edges it remains near medium level and here new Razors seem to perform exactly as well as their more expensive rivals.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32

To sum up I don't doubt that the new Razors UHD won't be a serious threat for such instruments as the Swarovski NL Pure or the Zeiss Victory SF. I can even say more: I suppose they will have serious problems to compete even with lesser models of Swarovski and Zeiss from the CL Companion, SFL, or even Conquest HD line. Still, I also hope that our disappointment connected to the 32 mm Razor UHD instruments will be soon sweetened up by small and shapely Razor HD 8x30 and 10x30 devices, moderately priced on a level of below 1000 USD.

Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32 - first impressions - Vortex Razor UHD 8x32 and 10x32



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