Introduction

In this article, I have made a comparison between Minox BL 10×44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10×42. BL’s configuration is slightly different since the objective lens diameter is 2 mm larger (10×44) but nevertheless belongs in the same category.
Minox is a German company that produces all kinds of optical devices, but the most outstanding is probably the production of spy cameras. Their BL-HD binoculars are light-weight, have an open bridge design and HD glass elements in lenses.
In 2007 Vortex Viper 10×42 won the award for the ” Best of the best “ binoculars by America’s leading outdoor magazine, Field & Stream. Later, Vortex designed an HD model that has the features of the old Viper even further enhanced. It has very positive user feedback and is generally considered that it offers the most for its price.

Minox BL 10x44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10x42

Minox BL 10×44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10×42

Size & Weight

 Minox BL 10x44 HDVortex Viper HD 10x42
Weight:740 g697 g
Width:133 mm135 mm
Length:150 mm147 mm
Max interpupillary distance:80 mm75 mm

As far as external looks and armoring are concerned, Minox has an extremely smooth and elegant appearance- a combination of black soft rubber and silver metallic details. It was designed by Volkswagen vehicle company designers. The open bridge is also a great advantage since the binoculars can be easily held in one hand, the weight is distributed more nicely, and the observation becomes more comfortable. Vortex Viper is almost identical in size, it only weighs a little less. Minox BL offers a wider interpupillary distance, 80mm, which is great for people who have eyes more apart and generally larger faces since most binoculars offer the same distance of up to 76 mm the most. Vortex Viper has the classic appearance of binoculars for hunting, a robust design suitable for all-terrain observations, extremely durable and resistant to all weather conditions. It is coated in dark, hunting green smooth rubber, which has different long bars on the entire surface around the bridge. The rubber around the bridge is matted. I also have to mention the elliptically shaped thumb rest on the bottom of the Viper binoculars, which Minox BL does not have. It does not have an open bridge but the latter is still short enough that the binoculars can easily be held in one hand. The grip is better on Viper because the binoculars are also more intended for extreme conditions.

Minox BL 10x44 HD

Minox BL 10×44 HD

Vortex Viper HD 10x42

Vortex Viper HD 10×42

Optical Properties

 Minox BL 10x44 HDVortex Viper HD 10x42
Prism type:Roof -Schmidt/PechanRoof -Schmidt/Pechan
Lens Diameter:44 mm42 mm
Magnification:10x10x
Variable Magnification:NoNo
Coatings:Fully multi-coatedFully multi-coated
Close focus:2.5 m 1.5 m
Field of View:114 m /1000 m106 m / 1000 m

10×42 (and in this case also 10×44) is a configuration, suitable for long-distance and detailed nature observations. It is a perfect choice for birdwatchers, hunters who hunt in the mountains and large open areas, travelers who intend to observe the details, etc.
Both binoculars have a Roof – Schmidt/Pechan prism type and are fully multi-coated.
Minox BL is made of the best materials and gives a good optical performance, thanks to ED extra-low dispersion glass and optomechanical elements. It has improved lens coatings for maximum light transmission and reduction of the chromatic aberration (true-to-life colors).
Viper is XR™ Fully Multi-Coated means the coating is anti-reflective and increases the light transmission. It also has an HD (High- Density) extra-low dispersion glass for a better resolution and color fidelity, dielectric coatings on the prisms, which are also phase-corrected. It has ArmorTek coated outer lenses that are resistant to water, dust, scratches and other unpredictable situations.
Viper’s close focusing distance is 1 m shorter than at Minox, making the binoculars more convenient for closer observations (for example animals, birds, insects, butterflies…). Considering a 2 mm larger diameter of the objective lenses, Minox offers marginally bigger exit pupil.

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 and Minox BL 10x44 HD

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 and Minox BL 10×44 HD

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 and Minox BL 10x44 HD

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 and Minox BL 10×44 HD

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 and Minox BL 10x44 HD

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 and Minox BL 10×44 HD

Focus Properties

 Minox BL 10x44 HDVortex Viper HD 10x42
Focusing System:CentralCentral
Central Wheel Grasp:8/108/10
Central Wheel Rotation:8/109/10
Diopter Setting:Right-eyeRight-eye
Central Wheel Diameter:31 mm30 mm
Central Wheel Length:26 mm21 mm
Total Revolution: 520°560°
Bridge Length (Without the Central Wheel Length)23-41-27 mm (open bridge)51 mm

Minox BL 10×44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10×42 both have a central focusing system with a right-eye diopter setting. Minox BL’s knob is made of silver plastic with black rubber bars on the surface for better grip. Viper’s knob is coated in grippy black rubber with small square studs all over the surface. The diopter setting ring has the same design and is therefore very easy and fine to rotate. Minox BL’s diopter ring is made of silver plastic with a jagged surface. The big disadvantage is that it has markings for the diopter setting hidden under the eyecups, so the adjustment of the diopter is a bit more demanding. I have evaluated the grasp of the wheel on both models with a good 8/10 and the same for the wheel rotation on the Minox BL. I do not like it so much that only the outer body of the knob rotates, and not the whole button, as on Viper. Also, the rotation is a bit too fast and not sturdy enough. The knob on the Viper is firmly made and rotates exactly as it should, that is why I have evaluated it with a really good 9/10.

Minox BL 10x44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Focusing system

Minox BL 10×44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10×42 Focusing system

Eyepiece Properties

 Minox BL 10x44 HDVortex Viper HD 10x42
Eyepiece type:MultipositionedMultipositioned
Number of Click-stops:33
Eye relief:17 mm16.5 mm
Exit pupil:4.4 mm4.2 mm
Firmness:7/106/10
Quality:7/107/10
Suitable for Eye Glass Wearers:YesYes
External Diameter:43 mm40 mm
Internal Diameter:22 mm22 mm

The proportions in this category are more or less the same on both binoculars; both models have a multi-positioned eyepiece, offering 3 click-stops for a proper eye relief adjustment. Minox BL’s eyecups are thicker, wider and made of harder, plastic-looking rubber. On the edges, there are shorter notches that provide a better grip.
Viper’s eyepiece rubber is softer, thinner and therefore more comfortable when pressed to the face. Eyecups did not seem to be reliable and stable enough on any of the binoculars and that is why I have evaluated their quality only with a 7/10. The firmness and overall impression of the Viper’s eyepiece were even worse, so I have evaluated it with a bad 6/10. They are simply too loose, unstable and too oily- the oil is literally dripping from them.

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 and Minox BL 10x44 HD Eyepieces

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 and Minox BL 10×44 HD Eyepieces

Minox BL 10x44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Eyecups

Minox BL 10×44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10×42 Eyecups

General Properties

 Minox BL 10x44 HDVortex Viper HD 10x42
Housing Material:Plastic/ RubberPlastic/ Rubber
Armoring:RubberRubber
Quality of Armoring:9/108/10
Quality of Covers:9/108/10
Build in Rangefinder:NoNo
Waterproof:YesYes
Submersible:Yes Yes
Filled With:NitrogenArgon
Number of Colors:11
Tripod Adaptable:YesYes
Made in:GermanyJapan
Introduced in:20132011
Warranty period: 2 years10 years
MRSP Price:649.00 EUR709.00 EUR

Both binoculars have a frame made of polycarbonate, which makes them light-weight, yet strong and tough. The armoring of the Minox BL is stylish and minimalistic- reduced to its necessary elements. On the other hand, Viper binoculars are ready for use in all situations, since they are extremely robust and rough. I like Minox BL’s armoring more for its elegant and unique appearance, also the rubber seems to be stronger and made to last and that is why I have rated its quality with a 9/10. Vortex Viper is also very well-built, armoring is providing a non-slip grip and ultimate protection. I have rated its quality with an 8/10. The latter is filled with Argon gas and Minox BL with Nitrogen. Both are O-ring sealed for maximum water and fog resistance and give a good performance in all territories and weather conditions. Minox BL is told to be hand-made in Germany and Vortex Viper in Japan. The price for Vortex Viper is approximately 50 euros higher but offers longer warranty period, which in this case is 10 years and only 2 years for the Minox BL. Due to the larger magnification (10x), and the shaking effect, it is sometimes better to mount the device on a tripod, so both of them have this option too.
As for covers, I prefer the ones on Minox, as they are thinner, more precise and they are closing the barrels more nicely. The same as armoring, I have evaluated the quality of covers with a 9/10 on Minox BL and with an 8/10 on Viper. Both models have them on a thick rubber band, attached to the edges of the barrels and both have their logos imprinted on them.

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 and Minox BL 10x44 HD Covers

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 and Minox BL 10×44 HD Covers

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 and Minox BL 10x44 HD Covers

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 and Minox BL 10×44 HD Covers

Minox BL 10x44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Covers

Minox BL 10×44 HD and Vortex Viper HD 10×42 Covers

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.

 Minox BL 10x44 HDVortex Viper HD 10x42
Central sharpness:4/62/6
Edge sharpness:5/61/6
Glare:4/62/6
Real FOV:3/63/6
Eye-box:4/62/6
Overall impression:4/62/6

The results were pretty tight, however, Minox BL proved to be better for its optical performance. It won in all categories, except for the real FOV; which is quite surprising. Results for the real FOV ended in a tie. 4 of 6 people would rather buy Minox BL, which still does not mean that they are the absolute winner in this comparison.

Conclusion

In this comparison I do not have a favorite representative; because Minox is much more elegant and seems to be less suitable for on-field observations and hunting. If I was looking for durable and in all situations useful binoculars, I would go for Vortex Viper. Searching for the binoculars for everyday use and with a more pleasant appearance, I would choose Minox BL.
Both binoculars come in an almost identical looking black carrying pouch, made of nylon. A strap for the case, neck strap for the binoculars and a cleaning cloth are included in both packages.

Minox BL 10x44 HD Kit

Minox BL 10×44 HD Kit

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Kit

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 Kit

Vortex Viper HD 10x42 and Minox BL 10x44 HD Boxes

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 and Minox BL 10×44 HD Boxes

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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