Vortex is known for making some of the best binoculars around. Two of their most popular binoculars, he Crossfire and Diamondback, look very similar, though they stand at different price points. Is the Diamondback worth the extra price, or could you be just as satisfied saving your money on the Crossfire?
For the purpose of this review, we chose to contrast the 8×42 model of each type. After diving into these two great sets of binoculars, we’ve been able to discern the subtle differences between them. You’ll have to decide for yourself which set suits you best, but we’re here to help by breaking down the differences in spec and performance.
Overall, the more expensive Diamondbacks are a higher quality set. They’ve got some features that make them more rugged and durable, so they’ll hold up better in extreme conditions. Moreover, they’ve got the larger field of view, they’re smaller, and lighter as well.
But that doesn’t mean that you should discount the Crossfire. Though the Diamondbacks have slightly better specs, the differences aren’t staggering by any means. But the price difference is. For most enthusiasts, the specs and performance provided by the Crossfire are more than adequate, with a cost savings that make them a very appealing option.
At first glance, you might not pick out any differences between these two binoculars. They look very similar, and even on the spec sheet, they’re not too far apart. But there are differences between them, and some of those differences might make one more preferable to you than the other.
At the end of the day, performance is the most important aspect of any pair of binoculars. Regardless of how light, durable, or attractive they are, if they don’t allow you to clearly see distant subjects, then they’re not much good.
Both of these binoculars are solid performers, but the Diamondback has a leg up on the Crossfire. Let’s start with the close focus distance.
The Diamondback binoculars have a close focus of five feet, while the Crossfire has a slightly longer close focus of six feet. A few years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find binoculars that could focus within ten feet, so both of these models are doing good. Still, if you need to focus on something close by, such as a butterfly, the Diamondback wins.
The field of view measures how wide of an area you can view at a certain distance, usually measured to 1,000 yards. In this case, the Diamondback has a 330-foot field of view, while the Crossfire has a field of view that spans 325 feet. This isn’t a major difference by any means, but the Diamondback still takes the win, albeit, slightly.
Which binoculars will hold up better? Both are built tough enough to withstand impacts and recoil, so it’s a hard call. In the end, the Diamondback will win due to the Argon purging. But, what is Argon purging?
Argon purging is much more expensive, hence, the higher price on the Diamondback binoculars. But it’s also more resilient because argon molecules are larger than nitrogen molecules. This makes it easier for nitrogen molecules to leak out after an impact, thereby reducing the level of weather-resistance provided by the purging.
Slight Edge: Diamondback
Though both of these binoculars look very similar, there are some design differences to account for. For instance, both are covered in a rugged rubber armor that protects against drops and impacts. But the Diamondback has more grip to help prevent a spill in the first place.
The Diamondback model is also a bit smaller and lighter than the Crossfire, making it easier to carry and store. But the difference is minimal. The Diamondback is 1.7 ounces lighter than the Crossfire, which might not even be enough to notice. But it’s also just a hair smaller each way, making it the more compact option overall.
The Diamondback offers more lens strength varieties than does the Crossfire, but in comparing them to their equivalent varieties, the Diamondback is more expensive across the board. Expect to pay roughly $50 to $100 more for a Diamondback over an equivalent Crossfire. Because the Diamondback has more varieties, though, you’ve got more of a price spread, with the 8×28 model being least expensive.
Now you’ve heard our opinions on these two binoculars, but we’re not the only ones who have put them to the test. To ensure you get a more well-rounded view of these products, we scoured the internet, searching through reviews, forums, and more to get the opinions of other people who have been using these binoculars out in the field.
Most users seemed impressed with the overall build quality of both pairs. Many reported dropping their binoculars with little consequence. We don’t recommend testing it out, but they’ve been shown to withstand drops from varying heights.
When it comes to the overall viewing experience, many users reported no difference between the models. But this is likely due to their untrained eyes. Some of the most experienced users were able to pick out the difference visually. These users noticed slightly clearer images with less chromatic aberration from the Diamondback.
One trait that was mentioned several times regarded low-light performance. Many users were impressed with the Diamondback’s ability to magnify any light source, no matter how minimal, making it possible to see in very low-light conditions. The Crossfire still offered respectable low-light performance, but couldn’t match the Diamondback.
Size and Portability
Many users seemed to prefer the more compact size of the Diamondback, particularly if they’re using the binoculars in remote locations that require wearing them around the neck for long periods. The extra size and weight of the Crossfire start to add up after many miles. Wisely, Vortex has a branded shoulder harness designed to accommodate its binoculars.
The number one thing reported by users of both binoculars was that the price difference didn’t equal out to the difference in performance. These users seemed to think that the Crossfire offers better bang for your buck, even if the Diamondback provides sightly better performance.
In the end, you really can’t go wrong with either of these binoculars. They’re both high-quality sets of moderately-priced binos that will provide you with many years of great performance. Still, you have to choose one, so let’s break it down.
The Crossfire is the better choice for most enthusiasts. The lower price is more comfortable for most wallets, especially when you consider the minimal performance gains on the higher-priced Diamondback. With the Crossfire, you’ll get rugged armor and protection, adequate weatherproofing, and very solid optics.
But there’s no doubt that if performance is more important than price to you, you’ll want the Diamondback. This pair is smaller, lighter, and has a slightly better viewing experience. It’ll provide better low-light performance and superior weather-resistance thanks to the argon purging. If you count on your binos daily, then the Diamondback is worth the higher price.
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Header image credit: CC0 Public Domain, Pxhere
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