The Vortex 6.5x32 Fury: A Mid-Priced Binocular To Love
While I strongly advocate teaching self-reliance by spending your kid’s tuition money on alpha class binoculars, I must admit that there are more and more astonishingly good binoculars at a fraction of the cost of their alpha-class cousins. I am pretty tough to please. I want a very bright image. A wide field of view. I want binoculars that are comfortable to use with eyeglasses. They have to be water-proof. They have to be pleasing to hold. Focusing has to be quick. I don’t want to miss birds because I can’t focus fast enough. My index finger has to find the focus wheel without searching for it. I am sensitive to chromatic aberration and can’t stand to see color-fringing in the middle of the field. I want colors to look the way they are supposed to look.
These requirements add up to a tall order for any binocular manufacturer. Even some very expensive glasses don’t get it all right. That the folks at Vortex can put this all together in a package that costs $300 is remarkable.
My first impression on opening the box was “OOOOOO. These feel really good.” After putting them through their paces with a test target and a full day of birding I am even more impressed.
Heft and Feel
The Vortex Fury is so comfortable in hand that they are really hard to put down. You instantly bond with them. The green rubber armor extends up over the strap lugs, which keeps the lugs from chafing your hands. I especially like this design in a mid-sized binocular because you just can’t avoid putting your hands over the lugs. I prefer the feel of the slight swelling of the armor over the lugs to the thumb rests on most binoculars. The outsized focus wheel rotates 1 ¼ turns, and falls very comfortably under my index finger. The eyecups are comfortable and screw in and out with one intermediate stop. I would like to see the designers add an additional stop closer to the fully retracted position to help eyeglass wearers deal with image blackout.
Weighing in at 22 ounces, they are light enough to wear around your neck all day.
This model has 16mm of eye relief which allowed me to see most of the field while wearing eyeglasses.
The diopter adjustment is located in the focus wheel – a design that is increasingly popular with more expensive binoculars.
These binoculars focus down to 4.9 feet, which makes them well suited for butterfly and dragonfly watching.
The first impression you get is that these bins are incredibly bright. Not quite up there with Zeiss and Leica, but they seem to me to be about as bright as the Swarovski ELs. With a panoramic (445 feet at 1,000 yards) field of view it is a snap to pick up fast moving birds in flight and to keep them in the binocular field.
The field is quite flat and natural looking. Parallel lines stay parallel throughout most of the field. There is some chromatic aberration toward the outer third of the field, but I was not able to detect any in the center. I have seen more chromatic aberration in glasses costing quite a bit more. Although there seems to be a slight bias toward the warm end of the spectrum, the color rendition is quite accurate and natural looking.
These bins, like other low magnification models, provide great depth of focus. This means that you have to make fewer focus adjustments to keep a moving bird sharply in focus.
I passed the Vortex 6.5x32 around among several birding friends during a day of birding without telling anyone the price. My testers had hands ranging from quite small to fairly large and all found these to be very comfortable to use. The reaction was uniformly enthusiastic. Nobody could believe that they were looking through a mid-sized binocular with only a 6.5x magnification. Perhaps the last word should go to my wife, Holly, who said (almost apologetically) that if she lost her Swarovskis, she might be quite content to spend her days birding with the Vortex 6.5x32. Indeed. You could happily spend $300 on these and blow the rest on a birding trip.
These bins are a best buy and should be at the top of the list for anyone looking for mid-priced binoculars. Vortex also makes a full-sized version of the Fury which I will review in a later posting.