Introduction

Prostaff 5 8x42 by Nikon and Diamondback 8x42 by Vortex

Prostaff 5 8×42 by Nikon and Diamondback 8×42 by Vortex

 

Nikon Prostaff 5 8×42 Vs. Vortex Diamondback 8×42 - Bird View

Nikon Prostaff 5 8×42 Vs. Vortex Diamondback 8×42 – Bird View

In this article, I will compare the Prostaff 5 8×42 by Nikon and Diamondback 8×42 by Vortex. These two models are both among better quality representatives in their price class and are both brand’s entry-level binoculars. Honestly speaking, they are both very well made. The price for these two models goes from less than 200 EUR for a Prostaff 5 and less than 250 EUR for a Diamondback. The price is quite acceptable, everything that is cheaper is already of questionable quality. Both models are highly suitable for a novice hunter or a birdwatcher. I will describe the technical and external properties and include the results of evaluating of the binoculars by 6 randomly selected people.

Nikon and Vortex are the biggest among the manufacturers of such binoculars on the European and American market. Nikon is known for its multi-year tradition of producing high-quality optical glass materials. On the contrary, Vortex imports most of the components overseas. I have made this comparison between their binoculars that are similar in specifications, usability and, last but not least, in price.

8×42 is the most common configuration among binoculars; there are several brands producing them. These binoculars are recommended for general use, so they are suitable for anything not too specific. However, they will do a great job for general use ( hunting, nature, surveillance, etc.). Binoculars are practical, not too heavy to carry and easy to use.

Size and weight

 Nikon Prostaff 5 8x42Vortex Diamondback 8x42
Weight:633 g641 g
Width:125 mm120 mm
Length:166 mm144 mm
Max. interpupillary distance:76 mm73 mm

The difference in appearance between these two models is obvious; Nikon Prostaff 5 is bigger with fewer details, Diamondback, on the other hand, weighs more, but the appearance is much more pleasing to the eye. Diamondback also offers more comfortable handling, since it is more ergonomically designed. It is especially useful for managing with one hand, which Nikon Prostaff is not. Both have a central bridge and central focusing. If we go back to describing the appearance, there is a huge difference in design; Prostaff 5 is coated in black rubber and all the details are made of plastic. The shape of it is simple and plain. The grip is not so bad since the rubber is not slippery, however, Diamondback’s build quality is incomparably better. The latter is smaller, more compact with several appealing details that are mostly made of metal. It is coated in hunting green rubber with thumb rest and a relief surface on both sides for a better grip. Prostaff 5 has none of these features.

 

Nikon Prostaff 5 is bigger with fewer details, Diamondback, despite being smaller, weighs more.

Nikon Prostaff 5 is bigger with fewer details, Diamondback, despite being smaller, weighs more.

 

Side view

Side view

 

Optical properties

 Nikon Prostaff 5 8×42 Vortex Diamondback 8×42
Prism type: Schmidt/Pechan Schmidt/Pechan
Lens Diameter: 42 mm42 mm
Magnification: 8x8x
Variable Magnification: NoNo
Coatings:Fully multi-coated Fully multi-coated
Close focus:5 m1.37 m
Field of view: 110 m /1000m119.8 m/1000 m

Binoculars 8×42 are the most popular among bird watchers and beginner hunters, because higher magnifications than 8x already mean smaller field of view, not so bright images, exaggerated shaking when held in hand and are much more problematic when focusing on close objects. 8×42 are handy and lightweight enough to carry around and, on the other hand, big enough to collect plenty of light. They also offer a close focus, larger exit pupil and a wide field of view when observing birds or other animals. 8×42 binoculars are also very suitable for safari expeditions, event observations and stalking wildlife while hunting.

Both models, Diamondback and Prostaff 5, have a fully multi-coated optical system for maximum light transmission, so they perform well in low light conditions. Diamondback with 1.37 m of close focus puts Prostaff 5 in the shade since the latter has the same focus of 5m! Also, Diamondback has a better and wider field of view, which helps following and focusing on fast moving objects. Both binoculars are convenient for the day-time and early morning/late evening use. As for travelers, I would recommend Diamondback more, since its design is much more ergonomically advanced and provides a better grip; also the light gathering ability is better, which gives a higher performance in low light situations.

When observing with Diamondback the apparent and the real field of view are both much bigger and wider than with the Prostaff 5. A visible image is extra detailed and bright. However, it seems the central sharpness is slightly better on a Prostaff 5. Sharpness is the only feature that Nikon can actually compete in with Vortex. I must mention again that the difference is absolutely minimal if at all noticeable. Vortex Diamondback has a bit of a yellow tint to the image and Prostaff has a blue one. Both models provide rich colors and are close to providing true-to-life image.

Focus Properties

 Nikon Prostaff 5 8x42 Vortex Diamondback 8x42
Focusing System:CentralCentral
Central Wheel Grasp: 6/108/10
Central Wheel Rotation: 6/108/10
Diopter Setting:Right-eyeRight-eye
Central Wheel Diameter:30mm29 mm
Central Wheel Length:21mm 25 mm
Total Revolution: 540˙ 630˙
Bridge Length:48 mm 35 mm

Focusing system on both models is central and both have a right-eye diopter setting. The central wheel is, according to all estimates, better at Vortex. Its grip and rotation are finer since it is made out of quality rubber. Prostaff’s wheel is plastic and it somehow produces an unpleasant sound of trapped air when focusing. Also, rotation on a Diamondback is slightly harder, which is good for hunting, as the focus settings do not unintentionally change so easily by moving the binoculars. I have to mention bridges on both binoculars; Prostaff’s bridge is much longer than the Diamondback’s one, which makes the Diamondback much more comfortable to use while holding it with one hand. My evaluation of the wheel grasp would be 6/10 for a Prostaff and 8/10 for a Diamondback. 6/10 for Prostaff simply because of the cheap-looking plastic material and an unsteady feeling when rotating the wheel. Vortex Diamondback’s central wheel deserves a good 8/10 for the grasp and rotation since it is not loose and the material appears to be more durable and better for use.

 

Eyepiece properties

 Nikon Prostaff 5 8x42Vortex Diamondback 8x42
Eyepiece type:MultipositionedMultipositioned
Number of Click-stops:32
Eye relief:17.5 mm18 mm
Exit pupil:5.3 mm5.3 mm
Firmness:7/107/10
Quality:7/107/10
Suitable for Eye Glass Wearers: YesYes
External Diameter: 41 mm39 mm
Internal Diameter: 20 mm22 mm

Eyepieces for both models are multi-positioned. Also, they have a turn and slide mechanism. Prostaff 5 offers 3 click-stops and Diamondback 2. Both allow you to make a proper eye-relief modification for specific needs. Prostaff’s eyecups are made out of softer black rubber and are much thicker than the Diamondback’s. I could also say they are slightly more comfortable because of the softer material. Eyecup settings for both are quite firm and make no unusual moves while pressing them on the face. Diamondback’s external diameter of the eyepieces is narrower than the Prostaff’s, although the internal diameter is wider for 2 mm. I would evaluate both eyepieces well made, easy to use and also suitable for those who wear glasses. I rated both with a strong 7/10, because they could still have a longer eye relief for a better image and could make eyes more comfortable, too.

Both models have a right-eye diopter, which has a better grip and is much better for adjusting with a Diamondback.

 

Prostaff's Eyepiece

Prostaff’s Eyepiece

 

 

Diamondback's Eyepiece

Diamondback’s Eyepiece

 

General properties

 Nikon Prostaff 5 8x42Vortex Diamondback 8x42
Housing Material:Plastic/Rubber Plastic/Rubber/ Metal details
Armoring:Rubber Rubber
Quality of Armoring:6/108/10
Quality of Covers:5/10 8/10
Build in rangefinder:NoNo
Waterproof:YesYes
Submersible: YesYes
Filled With:NitrogenArgon
Number of Colors:11
Tripod Adaptable:No Yes
Made in:ChinaChina
Introduced in:20152016
Warranty period:2 years10 years
MRSP Price:190 EUR239 EUR

As mentioned before, Diamondback’s build quality (evaluated with a 8/10) and design are more appealing and improved, comparing to Prostaff’s (evaluated with 6/10). The rubber on both is strong, thick and well-designed, but the Diamondback is offering so much more for almost the same price. Details on the latter fit each other perfectly and are made of solid plastic or metal. Prostaff’s materials are plain plastic and black rubber, which is nothing special and the whole appearance of the binoculars is simply boring and looking rather cheap. As for the color, Diamondback is available in hunting green, beautifully designed good quality rubber with nice inscriptions and a logo, which is also engraved in rubber covers. The whole presentation is much more suitable for observing in nature since the design is made to blend in. That is why I evaluated Diamondback’s covers with a good 8/10 and Prostaff’s with a 5/10 since they are thin, made of plastic and somehow seem easily breakable. Prostaff’s objective and eyepiece covers are both completely removable and each section has its own cover (4 pieces). On the other hand, Diamondback has a cover for eyepiece which is made out of one part of rubber and covers for the objective, which are attached on the end of the barrels with a thick rubber band. They can also be removed.

Both models are waterproof, submersible and perform well with fluctuations in temperature and in the rain. Also, both models promise to be fog proof, Prostaff with O-ring seals and Nitrogen gas and Diamondback filled with Argon gas.

Both are made in China. Diamondback is also tripod adaptable, which Prostaff is not. Vortex offers 10-year warranty and Nikon only 2.

 

Group test

How we made a test

We made a test with a group of 6 people with very diverse knowledge about sports optics. Some had previous experiences with binoculars and other almost none. We compared central and edge sharpness, glare, real FOV, eye-box and overall impression. Everyone in the test group tested binoculars individually without being influenced by other people. We also covered down any brand signs on binoculars, so no one was influenced by knowing which company manufactured which.

 Nikon Prostaff 5 8x42 Vortex Diamondback 8x42
Central sharpness:4/62/6
Edge sharpness:4/62/6
Glare:3/63/6
Real FOV:0/66/6
Eye-box1/65/6
Overall impression: 1/65/6

 

The results were quite surprising, given that more people chose Nikon for a better center and edge sharpness. It turned out that Nikon’s lenses are well made. Nevertheless, I need to mention, all members of the test had problems while deciding which one is better for its visual characteristics, so it was a weak win for Prostaff. Glare results ended in a tie. Diamondback was an absolute winner when evaluating the real FOV, with 6/6, because it was already obvious at first glance through it, how much larger and brighter the field of view is. Eyebox was much better rated at Vortex, although I would not say that there is such a big difference between them- I liked them both. Overall impression was greatly beneficial to the Vortex, 5 of 6 people decided, they would rather buy Diamondback than a Prostaff.

Conclusion

I somehow expected the results for a Diamondback would be better, comparing it to a Prostaff. The difference was already obvious when I have opened their packages; Prostaff comes in a soft black purse and Diamondback is packed in a sturdy, suitcase-like bag. Both have neckstraps included, Vortex also has one for the bag. Diamondback kit also contains a cleaning cloth. The whole appearance of the Vortex binoculars is much more “elegant” and slim, build materials are high-quality, compact and also seem to be more durable. All in all, I miss the sophistication and elegance of Nikon’s design; Prostaff 5 is in my opinion too bulky and “unattractive”.

Optical properties were impressive in both models, as mentioned before, Prostaff surprised us with its excellent sharpness and Diamondback dominated with its exceptional field of view and brightness.

 

Disclaimer

This test wasn’t financed and is unbiased. As a wildlife enthusiast interested in sports optics I made this tests because I would like to see how binoculars perform and if they meet the advertised expectations. With this test, I also hope that it will help people choose the right binoculars for their personal use. I am not in any way connected with the manufacturers of sports optics and I’m not personally in favor of particular brand.

In the end, I would like to thank Optics-trade.eu to lend me these binoculars for this test. I also thank them for letting me use their videos.

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Written by heuxbf

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