Want the quick version of the Vortex Diamondback 10X42 binocular vs the 10X50? For the time-challenged, it’s this: unless you’re going to spend much time in early morning, late evening and/or other low-light environments, the 10X42 is the better option.
There, I just saved you thirty bucks – and a lot of time slogging the slightly heavier 10X50 along your adventures.
Not that the 10X50 is an inferior binocular. It’s definitely not. Vortex Diamondback binoculars are renowned for their clarity, solid construction, excellent field of view and lifetime guarantee.
But the Vortex Diamondback 10X42 brings essentially everything the 10X50 does minus a slightly smaller objective lens size (hence the ’42’ and the ’50’) and a little weight – the latter of which you definitely won’t miss.
Heck, let’s put the two of them together and see how they fare.
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Vortex Diamondback 10X42 Vs 10X50: Tale of the Tape
The 10X42 and 10X50 are essentially the same binocular, other than the objective lens size, low-light performance and weight. Both bring exactly what you expect from Vortex Diamondback binoculars – excellent optics, solid construction, good ergonomics and good value.
From a technical standpoint, both the Vortex Diamondback 10X42 use dielectric lenses and prisms that are multi-coated. This helps transmit light and produce the clear images that Vortex binocular customers love and expect.
Also, the two binoculars are both water-resistant and fog-proof, the latter being done with air purged from the inside and injected with nitrogen, which has no moisture, so it won’t condense. This is especially useful when you go from a cold to warm environment.
Golly, I wish they made that for glasses. But I digress…
Vortex Diamondback 10X42: A Closer Look
Overview: At a claimed 21.4 ounces, the Vortex Diamondback 10X42 is slightly more compact than the 10X50. You don’t need a PhD in Quantum Physics to realize that’s lighter, which is something you will certainly appreciate when slogging it through the Great Outdoors. It’s housed in a solid and attractive casing. Color rendition is excellent, although as discussed, there may be some brightness loss at the field of view edges.
The manufacturer says the Vortex 10X42 is best for hikers and backpackers. Also, if you’re searching for desert clothing for your next stroll through the deserts of Utah, the 10X42 would be a good addition.
Good Color Rendition
Slightly Wider Field of View
Moderate Brightness Loss
Some Focus Loss at View Edges
Bottom Line: An excellent value binocular for under $300 that should suit the needs of most hikers, backpackers and outdoorsy folks.
Summary: While I am going to suggest the 10X42 is the better option for most customers, you’re not exactly slumming it with the Vortex Diamondback 10X50 either. It’s a sturdy, light-for-its-size binocular with excellent clarity and, we might as well say it, has less brightness loss than the Vortex 10X42.
That’s to be expected, given the larger objective lens. It’s water-resistant, fog-proof and like all Vortex binoculars, comes with that lifetime guarantee. There may be some slight blurring at the center, but other than that, the focus loss at the edges that might occur with the 10X42 are less of an issue with the 10X50.
Still, unless you’re especially detail-focussed, it’s a good bet you won’t notice this. And if does concern you, here’s a little reality check: you should be looking for binoculars in the $1,000USD range, like the Zeiss Conquest HD binocular.
Less Brightness Loss at Edges
Compact, Sturdy Design
Heavier Than 10X42
Smaller Field of View
Slight Blurring at Center
Bottom Line: The Vortex Diamondback 10X50 has less brightness loss than the 10X42, but it comes at a cost of more weight and smaller field of view. The lack of focus around the 10X50 edges is slightly better.
Vortex Diamondback 10X42 Vs 10X50: How They Match Up
With all that clarified, let’s look at how the Vortex 10X42 fares against its bigger and more expensive Diamondback binocular cousin for the criteria that matters to you – the person who wants clarity, value and a general sense that your binocular purchase was money well-spent.
Vortex Diamondback Binoculars in general have excellent clarity for binos in the $300 range. Both the 10X42 and 10X50 have dielectric lenses and prisms that allow for good light and color transmission. The 10X50 has bigger objective lenses, and does a little better for brightness and focus around the edges. The 10X42 may have better focus at the center,
Advantage: 10X50 – albeit you’ll only see that advantage in low light conditions, like early morning or early evening.
Field of View
The 10X42 has a 330 foot linear at a 6.3° angle. With the 10X50, it’s 315 feet at 6°. The 10X50 has less brightness loss at the edges, but that’s negligible if you’re in a normal light environment.
Exit Pupil/Eye Relief
Vortex 10X42 Diamondbacks have a 4.2mm Exit Pupil and 15mm Eye Relief. For the 10X50, it’s 4.2mm and 17mm respectively. Because you want the 10X50 primarily for better brightness, that Eye Pupil should really be at least 5mm, although its Eye Relief is a little better
Minimum Focus is the shortest distance from which binoculars can focus on an object in detail. The lower the distance, the better the Minimum Focus – and overall quality of the optic performance in general. Good binoculars have a Minimum Focus of 6 feet or less.
According to Vortex, the 10X42’s Minimum Focus is 5 feet. For the 10X50, it’s seven. Ouch.
Both the 10X42 and 10X50 are roof prism (meaning the objective lenses and eye pieces are aligned, unlike older binoculars). They’re solid, with rubber housing that makes them quite durable. They’re both water-resistant, with gas-purged lenses to make them fog-proof.
They both have a convenient and easy-to-use center control wheel.
In short, they can both handle pretty much what you throw at them – although not literally. But why the heck would you throw something at a binocular anyway? We’ll let that one go…
This one is obvious. The 10X50 weighs more than the Vortex Diamondback 10X42 because of its housing and bigger lens. Granted, it’s still light-ish for a full-size binocular, but you’ll definitely notice this when you traipse around and hoist close to two pounds every time something binocular-worthy catches your eye. As a hiker, lighter is better.
At $279.95USD, the Vortex 10X42 is thirty bucks less than the 10X50. Keep in mind that price and value are two different things, and both the 10X42 and 10X50 bring more than enough value to the table, especially when you consider the clarity and optic performance in both models.
But if we’re going on price alone, we know where this is going.
Now, when we tally the scores up, it’s 4 points for the 10X42, and 1 for the 10X50.
Buy The Vortex 10X42 If…
You want binoculars for regular viewing, whether that’s hiking, backpacking, birdwatching or other outdoor activities, during the day and/or in normal light. The Vortex Diamondback 10X42 has superior field of view, minimum focus distance, weight and pricing than the 10X50. Its optical performance is virtually on par with the 10X50 other than brightness and a little blurring around the edges.
If you’re new to binoculars or just want a good set of binos for under $300, you’re probably less likely to even spot this. The fact that it’s lighter than the 10X50 doesn’t hurt either.
Buy The Vortex 10X50 If…
Brightness matters to you more than the average viewer. That means you’re probably better off with the Vortex 10X50 if you do a lot/most of your binocular viewing in early morning, around dusk or on overcast days. You’ll pay a little more for an admittedly very good binocular, with the trade off being more weight to carry.
You might also want the Vortex Diamondback 10X50 over the 10X42 for stargazing – and you will likely need to buy a tripod and tripod adapter for that.
Verdict: The Vortex Diamondback 10X42 Is the Better General Binocular
Folks, we have a winner. It’s the Vortex Diamondback 10X42, which wins for price, value and convenience that suits the general viewer over customers with low-light viewing needs.
Again, don’t take this as bad showing for the 10X50. It’s an excellent binocular, with very good value – and it clearly wins the brightness category.
So why is the 10X42 better? Because brightness is just one of many factors that matter to the average person looking for binoculars. Color matters too, along with clarity, field of view, minimum focus distance, construction, weight, comfort and ease of use, all of which make or break your binocular viewing experience.
For low light, go with the 10X50. Otherwise, in a side-by-side comparison, the Vortex Diamondback 10X42 brings more for less, which you’ll definitely appreciate in the field and your pocketbook.