Binoculars review

Vortex Viper HD 10x42

Vortex Viper HD 10x42
25 November 2011
The Vortex Viper 10x42 was undoubtedly a hit of our big 10x42 binoculars test. A pair of binoculars costing less than 2,000 PLN was awarded so many points that it was able to compete with the products of the most renowned companies, which were 3-4 times more expensive. The fact that such a good test result was not just caused by random fluctuations seems to be confirmed by very positive opinions, concerning this pair of binoculars, presented in our database.

On the one hand you could say such instrument should be present on the market for a long time. On the other hand, though, the brutal market rivalry force the producer to flaunt low-dispersion glass and different symbols like ED, HD, FL or UD on the casings. Vortex chose that way too. The older Viper series was withdrawn from the market and its place took a new line called Viper HD. Currently it consists of six pairs of binoculars with the following parameters: 6x32, 8x32, 8x42, 10x42, 10x50 and 15x50. All of them are Schmidt-Pechan roof prisms constructions with phase correction coatings. As we’ve already mentioned there is low-dispersion HD glass in the objective lenses. It was also present in the older versions but then it was called XD and wasn’t featured in the name of the binoculars. The prisms are also made of BaK-4 glass and all air-to-glass surfaces are covered by XR multilayer coatings. The binoculars are waterproof and argon filled. The buyer gets objective caps, a joined rainguard, a strap and a case with another strap. The Viper HD series comes with lifetime guarantee

  • Lornetka Vortex Viper HD 10x42
  • Lornetka Vortex Viper HD 10x42
  • Lornetka Vortex Viper HD 10x42
  • Lornetka Vortex Viper HD 10x42
Manufacturer data


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Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
10 42 107/1000(6.1o) BaK-4/roof 16.5 mm 686 g 2331 PLN
Results of the review
Real front lens diameter Left:   42+/- 0.05 mm
Right:  42+/- 0.05 mm
8 / 8.0 pkt
Real magnification 9.89+/- 0.05x 3/3.0
Transmission 89.4+/- 1.5% 17/25.0
Chromatic aberration Low in the centre, near medium on the edge. An improvement compared to the version without HD. 7.3/10.0
Astigmatism Very low. 8/10.0
Distortion The distance of the first curved line from the field centre compared to the field of vision radius: 86% +\- 3% 10/10.0
Coma Occured in the distance of 70-75% from the field centre and is a bit higher than medium on the edge. 6.5/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV The blur occurs in the distance of 96.5% +\- 3% from the field of vision centre. 9.5/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Very low. 4.6/5.0
Whiteness of the image Very good. 4.3/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Vortex Viper HD 10x42 - Internal reflections - Left Vortex Viper HD 10x42 - Internal reflections - Right
Negligible. Quite dark.
Housing Handy, compact, stylish and very solid at the same time. Perfect to hold and to look through. Rubber near objectives sticks out noticeably. The binoculars was produced in Japan. 7.5/8.0
Focusing Very comfortable, ribbed and big central wheel with the turn through 580 degrees. Individual focusing on the right eyepiece equally comfortable with a blockade. It moves the lens in the right eyepiece. A bit squelches while working. 4.5/5.0
Tripod There is a comfortable exit. 3/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 58.4 to 74.9mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 1.6 m 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 59.1 deg (according to simple formula) and 54.6 deg (according to tangent formula). 10/20.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 5.98 +\- 0.04 degrees and it was slightly smaller than that stated in the specifications. 5/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Black and shiny. Grey bottom. Some specks of dust. 3.5/5.0
Left: Right:
Vortex Viper HD 10x42 - Vignetting - Left Vortex Viper HD 10x42 - Vignetting - Right
OL: 2.43%, OR: 8.45%
Prisms quality High quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Pink yellow on objectives. Greenish on prisms and eyepieces. Low intensity. 5/5.0
Warranty [years] lifetime 6/6.0
Final result
149.4 / 190 pkt
Econo result 0pkt.


  • well-build, handy and stylish casing,
  • good transmission,
  • sharp image in almost all field of view,
  • excellent distortion control,
  • very low astigmatism,
  • sensibly controlled coma,
  • good quality of prisms and coatings,
  • low brightness loss on the edge of the field,
  • very good whiteness rendering,
  • exit pupils on a dark background,
  • ifetime warranty.

  • egg-shaped exit pupils.

Let’s start by comparing the parameters of the new binoculars with those of their predecessor, with the help of the following chart. As you see the appearance of both instruments is very similar. In the new model we get the HD sign on the casing and, in fact, it is the only difference, clearly visible here. The new pair of binoculars is a bit heavier than the old one. Both feature the same field of view – 6.1 degrees in official specifications, a tad less in reality.

Looking at the results you can spot more differences, though. The field of view, although of the same size, in the HD version is definitely better corrected. Because of that the chromatic aberration on the edge is smaller and the image – sharp practically to the very edge. Such aberrations as the coma, astigmatism and distortion are also well-corrected. Also the transmission could be counted as an advantage here – it is perhaps not outstanding but certainly good. It exceeds the level of 90% at the maximum and its graph is quite flat in a wide range of the spectrum which in turn causes good colour rendering.

The only serious reservations you can have when it comes to the size of the prisms. It seems the constructors tried forcibly to make this set of binoculars physically light for its class and weigh less than 700 grams. They succeeded but only at the cost of the prisms. These are a bit too small and make the exit pupils noticeably egg-shaped - exactly like in the case of its predecessor.

The Vortex Viper 10x42 costs 700 USD. The price is not low but the tested binoculars are definitely worth such money. The device still remains cheaper than most of products of renowned manufactures and it is definitely not worse. The producer didn’t make one serious mistake here and offered a successor which is even better than its previous version, which was already well-done. It would be difficult not to recommend such a purchase.