Vortex Razor UHD
With the ever changing world of technology, it was no surprise to see that Vortex came out with the UHD line of binoculars. Ultra High Definition has to be better right? Or is it just marketing doing their job? This falls on the heels of their HD binoculars but what makes the UHD a better option? Is the Ultra High Definition binoculars worth swapping your High Definition binoculars? The armor surrounding the Razor UHD is nothing drastically different. And, Vortex is still using a magnesium alloy chassis under the rubber coating. The design and shape remain very similar with the top hinge design like before. They are still filled with the same Argon gas to keep them fog proof and are still waterproof. The UHD’s are a bit heavier, but the larger binos sport a better field of view and eye relief, so that might be enough for many to make the change. More info available here.
When I opened the box the first thing I noticed was the extra accessories that Vortex has begun to include with some of their optics. Many now come with a binocular harness and the UHD come with an added ammo pouch as well that you can strap to the front of the harness. Those that wear KUIU will really like it as the gray matched that of KUIU camouflage.
Being a Kryptek guy I wasn’t very fond of the color scheme but was more concerned about the harness and if it was worthy of toting that size of optic around. I knew the critters in which I pursue wouldn’t care either! The harness seems really nice and functional and looked like it should do a good job. The binoculars themselves are noticeably bigger but any 18×56 should feel bigger as they are not your run of the mill optic. I consider the 18×56 a specialty optic and I will tell you why soon.
Vortex Razor UHD 18×56 Field Testing
I immediately noticed the sharp image that is produced while looking through these. No distortion and sharp lines when remaining steady. Ease of adjustment remains with the UHD and comfort in the hand is all still there, just like the previous HD model. I do have a problem with binoculars that get large like this. I struggle with having eyes that are closer together than many others. My inter-pupillary distance measurement is right around 54 millimeters.
The 18×56 UHD has inter-pupillary distance adjustments ranging from 56-76mm. So without using a tripod, they are difficult for me to clear them up and to keep a clear, steady field of view. They do have a good exit pupil measurement of 3.1 mm which helps in low light conditions. Anything under 3 mm really robs you of light when you need it most. Also, when comparing it to the 15×56 Kaibab, you do lose some field of view but that is an easy tradeoff for the extra magnification that you get.
While using a tripod I am able to clear them up and my inter-pupillary measurement isn’t an issue any longer. Anybody with less than a 54mm inter-pupillary measurement should consider other options or stick with a spotting scope. The average person’s inter-pupillary distance is 63mm, so most will be OK with it. But don’t drop the money before trying them.
The inter-pupillary distance of the Kaibab ruled me out. This made it hard to make an accurate comparison. The Kaibab has a minimum inter-pupillary distance of 60mm so I couldn’t use them effectively. But according to my wife, she liked the Razor UHD over the Kaibab. The sharper image, better light transmission and resolution tipped the scale for her. The ergonomics of the UHD in her hand was also more comfortable over the Kaibab.
A binocular with a high power such as this requires stability to maximize performance. Having a solid tripod is a must to get the most out of these binoculars. They are not meant to be a freehand style optic but I gave it a shot anyway. As the pictures show, I’ve been able to get away with using them tripod-free when the situation called for it. I just steady them against my knees or other objects. Although I was able to successfully use them hand-held, when it came to seeing detail, I needed a tripod. For comparison, when I stepped down to the Vortex 12×50 UHD’s, I was able to use them easily without a tripod.
Spotter vs Razor UHD 18×56
The Razor UHD 18×56’s are for those that prefer to use a binocular over a spotting scope and have at least a 56mm inter-pupillary measurement. For me, I am a huge fan of using a large spotting scope when glassing for critters in distant areas. I have found that with a larger spotting scope, I can easily rule out bucks or bulls at extreme ranges. Yes, these 18X UHDs can and do work, but will not give you the detail needed for critters that require you to leave one mountain top and head for another. That is a lot of unneeded work if the animal doesn’t meet your goals. Consider though that a big spotter requires you to carry more weight to truly outperform these 18x.
One benefit of the binoculars over a spotting scope is improved field of view. But for me, this is not as big of an issue as I am using the spotting scope for detail and zoomed-in once I find my target. I will be sticking with carrying my spotting scope. But, the wife can carry the 18×56 UHD’s!
Included Bino Harness
The bino harness that comes with the UHD binos is a nice addition but with an 18×56 binocular they are a bit awkward in the bino harness when on your chest. The top cover doesn’t seem to want to stay over the eyecups at all times either. I removed the straps and strapped them to my pack rather than carry them around for long-distance hunts. This bino harness is an improvement over the harness that comes with the Fury HD.
For those looking for a high power binocular, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy these, especially if they fit your inter-pupillary measurement. They’ll save you weight over the big spotters, too. When comparing the Razor UHD 18X56’s at 41.6 oz to the Razor HD 22-48X65 spotter at 56.8 oz you’d save nearly a pound. You’d save 1.5 pounds if you carry the larger Razor HD 27-60×85 spotter which weighs 75.6 oz. That is enough to change many people’s minds. I am a bit stubborn and will likely stick with the large spotter for my love of attention to detail.
Is the UHD line worth switching from the HD line? In many ways, I would say yes as they are an improvement over what the HD line offered. But if you are running the HD in, say the 10×42 model, I cannot say that I would make the switch over to the UHD. That is unless I just had to have the latest and greatest from Vortex. Vortex continues to improve upon its quality and offerings year after year. You can trust that you are receiving great products each time you buy whatever your heart desires. As always they will also stand behind their warranty as well which many have come to know and love. Order yours here.
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