You are looking at the great compact spotting scope from Vortex: the Diamondback 20-60×60. Vortex decided to show some love to Slovak and Czech outdoor enthusiasts and supplied me with this nice compact spotting scope with variable magnification.
I am always amazed by the quality of Vortex products and their value. This spotting scope is no different, however the price makes it affordable for everyone. The first thing I noticed after I opened a box was how small the scope itself is. Scopes with similar parameters tend to be large, heavy and bulky, but this is not the case of Diamondback. Its small, compact, yet robust body is excellent for backpacking or birding trips as well as for shooting range sessions.
Let me take a small step back and look at the cover this scope came with. No, this is not your cheap basic pouch that we see on low-end spotting scopes. It’s made out of sturdy nylon and is fully padded to provide excellent protection to the scope itself. Not that the scope itself isn’t rugged to begin with, but the story does not end there. Vortex put in serious effort to design this case so that it is very user friendly.
First of all, you don’t need to pull the scope out of the pouch to use it. There are two zippers on each business end so you can easily operate all the important features with the cover on. To make this more convenient, both flaps can be velcroed so they don’t get in the way or add extra surface area for the wind to shake the scope while it’s on the tripod. Speaking of tripod, there is a small zipper underneath the tripod mount, and you can easily use the tripod with the cover on. I once knocked down my tripod with a scope on it and trust me, an extra layer of protection is appreciated when this happens to your valuable gear.
To the scope itself. As I mentioned before, the body is really small and compact, but it is very rugged. You can literally see and feel the build quality and excellent craftsmanship. All of the edges are smooth and precise, everything is tight, and there is no wiggle, scroop or any other “cheap” signs. The body is covered by a layer of rubber-like plastic and incorporates rubber armor. The surface itself is non-slip and pleasant to touch.
Starting from the eyepiece, there is a dioptric correction adjustment that can be locked tightly, and it does not slack even when you accidentally push it a bit too hard while scoping. Underneath is the magnification adjustment knob which allows you to zoom from 20x to 60x power smoothly and effortlessly. This particular knob was a bit sturdy when the scope arrived, but after a few turns it really became smooth as butter. But you have to try the focusing knob to experience how smooth it really is. The knob is really big for such a compact scope, and it possesses deep grooves to help with grip even when it is operated with gloves or in wet conditions. Smooth operation is especially important when you don’t have a sturdy tripod. I have to mention that there are two eyepiece options with this model: straight and angled. As you can see, I chose angled model just because I believe it is more versatile for the majority of users.
In the center of the scope body there is a ring, I believe it is made out of aluminum, with an universal tripod mount. The cool feature here is the lock screw, which allows you to loosen the ring and tilt the mounted scope to whichever position you desire. With this feature, you can achieve a comfortable angle in every imaginable position. This was also one of the reasons I chose the angled version.
On the very end of the scope body towards the lens, there is a slide-out sunshade made of thick, sturdy plastic. Honestly, this is the first scope I have ever used where I don’t feel like the sunshade is going to fall off at any moment. Even in the middle position, the sunshade locks in place and does not close itself even when positioned in steep angles like stargazing. You will really appreciate the shade during those sunny days or in complicated optical environments like scoping from open space into timber, etc.
The scope is a completely sealed, waterproof, and fog-proof unit, so you don’t have to worry about these issues. The lenses are fully coated and the image is simply excellent. I really love the way that Vortex scopes maintain vibrant colors even in low light situations, and this scope really proves to me that Vortex knows what they are doing. Optical quality is maintained to the very edge of the image no matter if you are on 20x or 60x magnification.
The distortion is virtually zero, even on full zoom. Typically with most scopes you have to stay below full power to maintain an acceptable level of quality. This is not true with the Diamondback. I used it in really low light on full throttle with no issues at all. The short body transfers a nice amount of light, and you can observe in great detail colors in conditions where you would otherwise have to zoom back to maintain an usable image. I am commonly concerned about this in mid-range models, but this scope from Vortex can beat the flagships of many other manufacturers.
To test the Vortex, I took it out for a trip with my old Optus which has identical parameters, 20-60×60. Besides the fact that it is significantly bigger and yes, a LOT heavier, I simply could not stand the poor quality, even when I realized that it is for comparison only. The difference was huge and these two are really not comparable. Another big test for me is an indoor shooting range, so I took it to an old nuclear bunker deep underground. This bunker has really bad light so it requires a good scope to be able to see those small .22 holes in the black targets. But again, the Vortex was amazing. It displayed sharp images even at the longest distance, and it had a view broad enough to cover shooter’s needs even on 60x power. This included excellent brightness and detail even in the poorly lit bunker.
The only word that can express my experience with Vortex Diamondback 20-60×60 spotting scope is “amazing.” Vortex managed to pack big quality into a small package with an even smaller price tag. If you were looking for an affordable yet great performance optic, the Diamondback is it. I would really like to thank guys from Vortex and 1800Gear for the opportunity to test and use this product.