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New Vortex Diamondback 15x56

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#26 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 01:33 AM

A few nights ago I compared the Vortex DB 15x56 with the Pentax 20x60, both mounted.  Tonight conditions were again really super: the moon had set, virtually no clouds, and I stepped out several hours after a short, intense downpour that cleared the air.  I spent about an hour on the back deck in a zero-g chair using my OB 15x70 Ultras and the 15x56s handheld.  The results were mostly what you would expect, but with a couple of significant observations on usage.

 

Ptolemy's Cluster (M7) was visible to the south, just above the treeline.  This object is like an old friend, appearing this time of year but so low in the sky the conditions have to be very good to see it well.  In the 15x70 M7 was absolutely sparkling; it was good in the 15x56 but not as pleasing.  M8 (Lagoon) and M20 (Trifid) were both pleasant in the 15x70, M8 was good in the 15x56 but M20 was a bit dim.  The Small Sagittarius Star Cloud was really spectacular in the 15x70, good in the 15x56.  M27 (Dumbbell) was easy to spot in the 15x70 but very faint in the 15x56.  In Cygnus, you could see individual stars in the Cooling Tower with the 15x70 using averted vision but all you could get in the 15x56 was a "perception" of individual stars.  Finally, panning through the star fields in Cygnus was very nice in the 15x70s; it was about the same in the 15x56s, just a little dimmer.

 

Both the 15x70 and 15x56 have similar fields of view, but there is more eye relief (18 mm) in the 15x70 porros and it makes for a more comfortable view.  The 15x56 roofs have a few mm less eye relief and it shows, both in a truncated TFOV and in slightly more fussiness about eye position (I wear fairly thick eyeglasses).  Then there's the difference in weight.  The 15x70s weigh 5.5 pounds, which makes them harder to hoist for long periods.  However, their weight also damps out a good portion of the shakes when using them handheld, especially when viewing at high elevation angles.  At just over 2 pounds, you can hold the 15x56s more easily for longer periods than the 15x70s but you'll get more shakes, noticeably from your heartbeat.

 

As I said earlier, these results are mostly what you'd expect, i.e., the 15x56s put out decent but dimmer images than the 15x70s.  I wouldn't want to give up the 15x70s, but the significantly lighter weight of the 15x56s means I'll likely reach for them more often for shorter, handheld sessions.


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#27 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 11:41 AM

Some additional observations while bird watching, insect watching and plane spotting.  Again, I apologize for the piecemeal format of this "review", but my work schedule is pressing and if I don't write things down quickly the details will fade.  These observations are using the DB 15x56s handheld.

 

A brown-headed cowbird, which has a bronze-colored head and a black body, shows a halo of CA center-field while it is perched on an electrical wire against a very light blue or hazy white sky.  The halo is just a slight bit more than a thin line hugging the bird's body.  A house finch, with a very red head and upper body and a white mottled lower body, shows no CA while perched atop arborvitae with local greenery as a backdrop.  Unaccustomed to this magnification for bird watching, I find the detail on the finch is startlingly good and the framing excellent at a distance of about 25 feet or so.  Similarly, watching bumblebees methodically work the blossoms on our pear trees at about the same distance is a real delight, showing fine details on the bee's body and the delicate ridges and folds of the yellow blossom petals and the fistulas in the center.

 

These are nice plane-spotting binoculars, not only with regard to magnification but because of their light weight and fast focusing.  A white Cessna 172 in the local airport's traffic pattern is easy to track and you can just make out the silhouette of the pilot's head through the side window (not sure of the actual downrange distance, less than a mile I would guess).  No CA on the plane against the whitish blue sky, probably not enough contrast to bring it out.  Spotting a high-flying twin-engine jet at the tip of a contrail against high, white clouds show a nice amount of detail, very pleasant to watch.  The jet's underbody is white, so no CA visible on the plane or its contrail.

 

To be continued...


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#28 Cestus

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 11:46 AM

I'm still waiting for mine. I've always wondered how the ultra OB's do compared to other binos. I don't expect the Vortex ones to perform at the same level.


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#29 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 03:07 PM

Bummer Cestus, if I could ask, who did you order your 15x56s from?

 

The Oberwerk Ultra 15x70s are definitely a good bino, and based on a number of CN threads they are a longer eye relief alternative to the similar Fujinon series.  They are heavy spuds though.  They do OK handheld, but are at their best on a tripod.  But in defense of the DB 15x56s, don't forget that the 15x70s provide more than 50% more area at the objectives so you'd expect them to show more.

 

I don't have another brand of 15x56 to compare the DBs to, that would be a great direct comparison.  But my collection is now on the borderline between hobby and obsession.  I likely won't be acquiring yet another pair of binoculars for a while.    ohmy.gif   Of course that's easy to say....


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#30 Cestus

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 03:44 PM

Bummer Cestus, if I could ask, who did you order your 15x56s from?

 

The Oberwerk Ultra 15x70s are definitely a good bino, and based on a number of CN threads they are a longer eye relief alternative to the similar Fujinon series.  They are heavy spuds though.  They do OK handheld, but are at their best on a tripod.  But in defense of the DB 15x56s, don't forget that the 15x70s provide more than 50% more area at the objectives so you'd expect them to show more.

 

I don't have another brand of 15x56 to compare the DBs to, that would be a great direct comparison.  But my collection is now on the borderline between hobby and obsession.  I likely won't be acquiring yet another pair of binoculars for a while.    ohmy.gif   Of course that's easy to say....

I ordered them direct from Vortex at a good discount. I wanted something light, but a 15x. Someday I might supplement with an Ultra, but I already have a 20x80 Deluxe.


Edited by Cestus, 25 June 2020 - 03:44 PM.

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#31 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 06:07 PM

Finally carved out some time to take and upload photos.

 

First, here are some overall size comparisons.  L to R:  Nikon Monarch 5 8x56, Vortex Diamondback 15x56, and Vortex Diamondback 12x50. Approximate weights are 40 ounces, 34 ounces, and 29 ounces respectively.

 

IMG_1595.JPG

 

 

Size comparisons Left:  8x56 vs. 15x56.  Right: 15x56 vs. 12x50.

 

IMG_1596.JPG           IMG_1597.JPG


Edited by tmichaelbanks, 26 June 2020 - 06:42 PM.

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#32 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 06:12 PM

DB 15x56 vs. DB 12x50 comparisons.  L to R:  objectives, eyepieces.

 

IMG_1599.JPG           IMG_1598.JPG

 

DB 15x56s have four-position eye cups:  fully in, fully out, two intermediate.  Photo below shows eye cups in fully out and in positions.

 

IMG_1603.JPG


Edited by tmichaelbanks, 26 June 2020 - 06:43 PM.

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#33 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 06:20 PM

Comparison of barrel interiors.

 

Left:  DB 12x50 has unblackened lens edges, ridging behind objectives, but no ridging on focuser assembly barrel.

Center:  DB 15x56 has blackened lens edges, ridging behind objectives, and additional ridging on the focuser assembly barrel.

Right:  Nikon M5 8x56 for comparison.

 

In casual back yard comparisons, I have found that the sky glare in the 15x56s is substantially less than in the 12x50s, and the M5 8x56 has the least sky glare of the three.

 

IMG_1601.JPG           IMG_1602.JPG          IMG_1610.JPG

 


Edited by tmichaelbanks, 26 June 2020 - 06:40 PM.


#34 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 06:33 PM

Size and weight affects grip and comfort, but of course everyone's anatomy is different and YMMV.

 

Left to Right:  Approximate center of gravity positions for DB 12x50 and DB 15x56.  DB 12x50 is a bit objective-heavy with centered grip.  Centered balance point for 15x56 allows thumb and fingers grip with easy focuser access.

 

 

IMG_1605.JPG           IMG_1604.JPG

 

Nikon M5 8x56 is most comfortable with "full palm" grip.

 

IMG_1606.JPG


Edited by tmichaelbanks, 26 June 2020 - 06:48 PM.


#35 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 06:36 PM

DB 15x56 has conventional objective caps.  However, adjusted for my IPD the barrels are very close together and the caps need to be removed to slip in a tripod adapter.

 

 

IMG_1607.JPG           IMG_1609.JPG

 


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#36 djeber2

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 08:08 PM

thanks for posting all of these pictures 



#37 Cestus

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:08 AM

Mine just arrived. Of course the skies were overcast and will be for several days.



#38 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 05:43 PM

Daytime or nighttime use, let us know what you think of them Cestus!



#39 Cestus

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 10:39 AM

Gave them a brief trial. During the day the views were bright. The good viewing area was probably around 70% of the fov. I could see clearly a farm building that was well over a mile away. Last night I did get enough clearing to see the moon. Really nice bright views. The cratering was clearly seen. Much better then with my 12x. I have to mount them on my tripod since I can't hold these for long at all. Thus far very nice. I'm glad I got them. They fill in the space between my 12x and 20x. I did ask Vortex to loosen the adapter plug for the tripod and I use the Vortex tripod adapter. I look forward to a clear night and will post more detail when I can actually see something.



#40 Cestus

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 10:14 AM

Last night was clear, but almost full moon, some haze, and light pollution. Not the best, but I took them out for another spin. Jupiter resolved into a disk and I could see the Galilean moons clearly. Saturn was an elongated oval, about what I expected. The stars were sharp. There were occasional flares, but not too bad. The moon was again very nice, although the brightness kept me from seeing it more clearly. I don't have a filter. So far it has been a good solid instrument. I look forward to using it under dark skies to see what it will show me.



#41 pat in los angeles basin

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 12:00 PM

Cestus;

           How bout making some thin cardboard aperture mask to cut down the objective diameter while viewing the moon?

                                                                                                                                                   Regards, Pat



#42 Cestus

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 12:10 PM

Cestus;

           How bout making some thin cardboard aperture mask to cut down the objective diameter while viewing the moon?

                                                                                                                                                   Regards, Pat

I figured I could wait until it starts to wane. I really want to see how it works in the Sagittarius star field.



#43 Sterngucker

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 08:44 PM

Waiting with bated breath because I am very much on the fence about these.



#44 Cestus

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 11:21 AM

I viewed the comet with them and it was wonderful. Also I used them to search around for some Messier objects and found several I had been looking for. It is a solid binocular. Not as powerful as a 15x70, but it performs well. It is light, but I mount it on a tripod.



#45 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 12:16 PM

Really glad to hear that the DB 15x56s are working out for you Cestuswaytogo.gif

 

Last night I didn't have them for the comet (I used my 8x56 to pick it out of the deepening twilight), but I also took advantage of them to look south and east for a bunch of old friends.

 

I used them as spotters for my mounted 15x70s Obies, and they were very good for that.  The fields of view are very similar and I liked the freedom of using them handheld.  Interestingly, I could see more of the nebulae in the Lagoon, Trifid and SSSC using the 15x56s than in the 15x70s.  Maybe the smaller exit pupil provided better contrast?  These objects were low in the south, but when looking directly overhead the 15x70s went deeper for sure.

 

I've really come to appreciate the extra magnification in a handheld bino.  At the end of most observing sessions, I take out the 15x56s, stretch out in the zero-g chair, and just pan around until I can't stand the mosquitoes any more!   crazy.gif 



#46 tmichaelbanks

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 10:08 AM

This is likely my last entry on these binoculars for a while.  Now that I've had many opportunities to use them I wanted to provide a few follow-up comments.

 

Regarding the focuser being stiffer in the close focus range, and sticking a little when fully turned to the closest focus point, that problem has resolved itself with increased use.  The focuser is now smooth across the range and now no "rubber-banding" feel.

 

I've used these day and night primarily while stationary, but have occasionally taken them on extended walks.  At about 34 ounces they get heavy around the neck quickly when wearing light clothing but it's a lot more comfortable if, for example, you lay the neck strap across a folded sweatshirt hood. If you want to use these on extended hikes, the torso-mounted harness would likely be much more comfortable.  With the pandemic's restrictions, I haven't been to local parks with open expanses to view so I've had no need to use the harness, but hope to in the future.

 

I continue to be very satisfied with them optically and have spent a lot of time using them handheld in the zero-g chair.  The relatively light weight (for a 56mm bino) means I can hand-hold them for longer periods and the 3.7mm exit pupil probably contributes to perceived sharpness.  For daytime use, there is some CA on distant targets against bright backgrounds (e.g., high-flying hawks) but they are fine for landscape viewing, etc.  For astronomy, overall the 15x, 4.4 degree FOV, lighter weight and good balance has made them comfortable and enjoyable to use.  If you wanted to test-drive the 15x56 configuration on the cheap, I feel they are a good value.



#47 iseegeorgesstar

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 12:14 PM

A few nights ago I compared the Vortex DB 15x56 with the Pentax 20x60, both mounted. Tonight conditions were again really super: the moon had set, virtually no clouds, and I stepped out several hours after a short, intense downpour that cleared the air. I spent about an hour on the back deck in a zero-g chair using my OB 15x70 Ultras and the 15x56s handheld. The results were mostly what you would expect, but with a couple of significant observations on usage.

Ptolemy's Cluster (M7) was visible to the south, just above the treeline. This object is like an old friend, appearing this time of year but so low in the sky the conditions have to be very good to see it well. In the 15x70 M7 was absolutely sparkling; it was good in the 15x56 but not as pleasing. M8 (Lagoon) and M20 (Trifid) were both pleasant in the 15x70, M8 was good in the 15x56 but M20 was a bit dim. The Small Sagittarius Star Cloud was really spectacular in the 15x70, good in the 15x56. M27 (Dumbbell) was easy to spot in the 15x70 but very faint in the 15x56. In Cygnus, you could see individual stars in the Cooling Tower with the 15x70 using averted vision but all you could get in the 15x56 was a "perception" of individual stars. Finally, panning through the star fields in Cygnus was very nice in the 15x70s; it was about the same in the 15x56s, just a little dimmer.

Both the 15x70 and 15x56 have similar fields of view, but there is more eye relief (18 mm) in the 15x70 porros and it makes for a more comfortable view. The 15x56 roofs have a few mm less eye relief and it shows, both in a truncated TFOV and in slightly more fussiness about eye position (I wear fairly thick eyeglasses). Then there's the difference in weight. The 15x70s weigh 5.5 pounds, which makes them harder to hoist for long periods. However, their weight also damps out a good portion of the shakes when using them handheld, especially when viewing at high elevation angles. At just over 2 pounds, you can hold the 15x56s more easily for longer periods than the 15x70s but you'll get more shakes, noticeably from your heartbeat.

As I said earlier, these results are mostly what you'd expect, i.e., the 15x56s put out decent but dimmer images than the 15x70s. I wouldn't want to give up the 15x70s, but the significantly lighter weight of the 15x56s means I'll likely reach for them more often for shorter, handheld sessions.


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