Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vortex Razor 20-60x85 HD!

Vortex Razor 20-60x85 HD

I recently spent a few hours evaluating the Vortex Razor 20-60x85 HD spotting scope alongside some of its market rivals. Considering the comparatively friendly price of the Vortex Razor scope at $1,599.00, I was curious how it would stack up against my personal favorite high-end spotting scopes. Under overcast lighting, I compared it with a Swarovski 80 HD, Zeiss 85, Kowa 88 Prominar, and Leica 82 APO on a resolution chart placed at 100 yards.

To my critical eye, the Kowa Prominar and Swarovski HD offer marginally better detail at 60x, viewing a resolution chart at 100 yards. Compared to the other scopes, the Zeiss 85 exhibits a distracting warm colorcast, with whites tinged yellow. The Leica and the Kowa beat everything else in terms of brightness under low light. All but the Zeiss 85 has excellent edge-to-edge sharpness. These were the obvious differences in optical performance that most scope observers should be able to discern.

For an 85mm aperture scope, the Vortex Razor HD is very compact. At 65.7 ounces, it may feel a little heavy when holding it in your hands, but it's well-balanced when mounted on a tripod. The Leica APO 82 is the heaviest at 68.16 ounces. Like many other scopes on today's market, another ergonomic features is the dual coarse and fine focusing system.

Vortex Razor Digiscoping Adapter

Vortex Razor digiscoping setup

Of particular interest to me was the Razor's digiscoping adapter (sold separately). Like the extremely popular Digital Camera Adapters made by Swarovski and Kowa, the Razor DCA is thread-based and includes adapter rings in these sizes: 30mm, 37mm, 43mm, 52mm, 55mm, and 58mm. This adapter will support the best point-and-shoot digital cameras for digiscoping as well as a DSLR coupled to the spotting scope's eyepiece.

The top feather was digiscoped with a Swarovski 80 HD and the bottom through a Vortex Razor HD. I can tell the top image is a little sharper in some detail areas, but admit they're pretty close. Again, when considering the price difference by performance, the Vortex Razor HD is a very attractive option even for digiscoping. So, if you're in the market for a new spotting scope but want to keep the price tag under $2,000.00, there's nothing out there that'll beat the Razor HD in its price class. At the same time, you'll enjoy optical performance that's right up there with the top scopes!


  • Optical views comparable to rival high-end scopes at a fraction of the cost.

  • Vortex HD System: XR coatings, XD Objective lens elements, XT Optical Design.

  • Digiscoping Friendly!

  • Eyepiece included!

  • Waterproof & Fogproof (Argon gas purged).

  • Dual (fine and coarse) focusing system.

  • Unconditional Warranty.


  • A bit heavy at 65.7 ounces.

  • At present, only available in an angled body format.

Mike McDowell
Eagle Optics Staff


  1. I would love to see some more pictures taken through this vortex. Planning on getting into digiscoping but can't decide if kowa or swaro are worth the extra coin. Thanks for the great review

  2. So if I am reading this right, the Vortex Razor is a great scope but the Kowa 88 Prominar is better?

  3. Hi Mike,
    Yes, the Kowa 88 Prominar is a better scope, but that makes sense, knowing that the Kowa's retail price (with the zoom eyepiece) is almost twice the price of the Vortex Razor HD. For $1,599., there is no better value in a spotting scope than The Razor HD, in my opinion. ~Mike


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