Binoculars review

Vortex Vulture HD 8x56

Vortex Vulture HD 8x56
3 October 2011
The Vulture series of the American company called Vortex, was launched several years ago as roof prism models with the following parameters: 8.5x50, 10x50 and 12x50. For a very long time they were just an announcement, then they hit the shelves for a relatively short period of time and then disappeared again. Instead of them a Vulture HD series was presented but no longer of 50 mm class – it consisted of two models: 8x56 and 10x56.

The producer boasts of using low dispersion HD glass, good quality XR antireflection coatings and phase correction coated Schmidt-Pechan prisms. The binoculars are waterproof and nitrogen-filled. Buyers get both caps, a strap and a case included in box. As all Vortex products also the Vulture HD model comes with lifetime guarantee.

  • Lornetka Vortex Vulture HD 8x56
  • Lornetka Vortex Vulture HD 8x56
  • Lornetka Vortex Vulture HD 8x56
  • Lornetka Vortex Vulture HD 8x56
Manufacturer data


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Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
8 56 110/1000(6.3o) BaK-4/roof 23 mm 1110 g 1451 PLN
Results of the review
Real front lens diameter Left:   55.1+/- 0.05 mm
Right:  55.1+/- 0.05 mm
3 / 8.0 pkt
Real magnification 8.63+/- 0.05x 2/3.0
Transmission 87.1+/- 1.5% 15/25.0
Chromatic aberration A bit higher than medium in the centre, near medium on the edge. 5.5/10.0
Astigmatism Difficult to get perfect, point-like stars’ images. You can clearly notice sideways rays of light. 4/10.0
Distortion The distance of the first curved line from the field centre compared to the field of view radius: 46% +\- 3% 5/10.0
Coma Appears quite near the centre (50-55%) and is high on the edge. 3.5/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV The blur occurs in the distance of 82% +\- 4% from the field of vision centre. 6/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Low. 4/5.0
Whiteness of the image Slanted transmission curve with loss of blue light. Fortunately there is no hollow for yellow-green light. Light yellowish hue. 4/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Vortex Vulture HD 8x56 - Internal reflections - Left Vortex Vulture HD 8x56 - Internal reflections - Right
A bit too light areas near exit pupils.
Housing Quite small for the 8x56 class. Comfortable to hold. Green rubber padding with not very pleasant smell. Rubber next to objectives sticks out a bit. Rubberized eyecups with three click-stops. 7/8.0
Focusing Huge and comfortable central wheel with full turn through 760 degrees. Individual focusing through a joystick on the central wheel so nothing moves outside. 5/5.0
Tripod There is moderately comfortable exit. 2.5/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 57.8 to 72.4mm 3/6.0
Closest focusing distance 3.0 m. 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 50.9 deg (according to simple formula) and 48.0 deg (according to tangent formula). 4/20.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 5.90 +\- 0.04 degrees and it was by as much as 0.40 of a degree narrower than that stated in the specifications. 2/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Inner tubes dark but moderately matt. Bottom dark but shiny in parts. Quite clean – only few small specks of dust. 4/5.0
Left: Right:
Vortex Vulture HD 8x56 - Vignetting - Left Vortex Vulture HD 8x56 - Vignetting - Right
OL: 3.3% OR: 3.8%. Truncated pupils.
Prisms quality Good quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Green-purple on eyepieces and objectives. Greenish on prisms. Medium intensity. 4.5/5.0
Warranty [years] lifetime 6/6.0
Final result
111.8 / 190 pkt
Econo result 0pkt.


  • quite solid construction,
  • good transmission,
  • good colour rendering,
  • sharp image in the most of field of vision,
  • good quality prisms and coatings,
  • liftetime warranty.

  • narrow field of view, even smaller than stated in the specifications,
  • objectives smaller than 56 mm,
  • truncated exit pupils,
  • maximum IPD is too narrow

Before I invite my dear Readers to read the test of the Vortex Vulture HD 8x56 I would encourage them to look at the Fomei Leader 8x56 DCF review. Especially the appearance and real parameters of that pair of binoculars (the size of objective lenses and the field of view), the gauge of its objectives and the area near exit pupils of both instruments, discussed here, are worth your attention.

It is not difficult to realize that we deal with twin devices, produced by the same factory. What’s interesting, the cheaper Fomei cheats less in the specifications, giving the value of the field of view far closer to the real one. What’s even more interesting, Fomei doesn’t boast of using any low-dispersion glass but still their binoculars correct chromatic aberration better.

It is another example that loud boasting of low-dispersion glass, or even putting it inside a set of binoculars, doesn’t guarantee anything. One LD, HD, ED or XD element, no matter how it is called, is just a beginning. The rest of the optics should cooperate with it on an appropriate level and only then we can count on successful correction of aberrations.

One glance at a transmission graph, published below, shows that Vortex ordered in China better coatings than Fomei. The transmission of their instrument is better and the colours – more natural.

The Vulture design is also a bit better so the joystick for dioptre correction doesn’t get blocked near the rubber of the inner tube. Another advantage is the warranty period which, in the case of the Vortex, is much longer. The standard accessory kit (a strap and a case) is also better. All of that makes the Vortex’s final score better than the Fomei’s. The problem is that the price of the Vortex is almost three times higher (!) than the price of the similar Czech company product. I suppose the question whether the Vortex is worth buying is not difficult to answer. In our opinion it isn’t.