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The new Vortex Scope: Razor HD 27-60×85 in review

Over the last 3 years we have been intensively using the Vortex Razor HD field scopes in our Birding Tours in Spain, Morocco and beyond. On this post we reviewed our experience using the Razor HD 20-60×85 spotting scope. Last April, Vortex Optics kindly provided us with the New Vortex scope: the Razor HD 27-60×85 and here we give our first impressions.

New Design

New Vortex scope: the Razor HD 27-60 x 85 spotting scope
New Vortex scope: the Razor HD 27-60 x 85

At first glance, it becomes clear that this is a completely redesigned scope. While the external design of its predecesor was in line with the Kowa Prominar fieldscopes, the New Vortex shares common features with the benchmark Swarovsky ATS/X. The most eye-catching evolution is the single central focus dial. This leads to a cleaner design that takes up less space when carried within a backpack. As users, we found the transition from the previous double focus dial easy, and the new system efficient.

Rubber Armoured

Unlike its predecessor, the New Vortex is fully rubber-armoured. On our review to the previous model we pointed out that “the bare part of the body is rather prone to scratches”. We find, therefore, this new feature a clear hit.

Remarkably, the New Vortex includes a free view-through case made of neoprene. It provides an excellent protection to the body and lenses. This is a real highlight, since most brands offer carry cases as notably pricey not-included accessories.

New Eyepiece

The zoom eyepiece has a new design as well. Like other leading manufacturers, Vortex leaves behind the classic 20-60x standard. In turn, it offers a 27-60x magnification range. We believe this new concept leads to a better performance. Contrary to what it may seem, the new system provides a wider field of view (2.2-1.3 degrees according to the manufacturer). Indeed, this wide angle feature has been considered a strength on other tests.

The attachment of the eyepiece to the body is secured by a well-engineered lock ring.

Close Focus

Here comes a big surprise! As for the technical specifications, the minimun distance the New Vortex can focus to is 16.4 feet (5m). Measuring-tape in hand, we can affirm that subjects at 11.1 feet (3.4m) can be perfectly focused.

This remarkable feature opens a new world of possibilities to observe wildlife. This way, focusing the scope on a Dragonfly perched within 4 meters creates a macro effect that unveils otherwise not discernible details on the insect, for instance.

Optical Performance

We have tested the new Vortex scope while birding in varied environments and light conditions. Our first conclusion is that there are not perceptible chromatic aberrations. The scope creates a bright, sharp and vivid image that surpasses the standards set by the previous model.

Looking through this scope you inmediately get the very enjoyable feeling of “enhanced reality” that good optics provide.


Digiscoping brings out the strengths and weaknesses of the spotting scopes. Moreover, digiscoped images enable a more objective analisys on the optical performance of any given scope.

As shown by the following videos, the smartphone technology in combination with the New Vortex spotting scope (AKA phonescoping) produces highly satisfactory results. It is important to note that both videos were filmed handheld and with a rather poor 720HD. We are looking forward a deeper test of the phonescoping performance by means of 4K and using an specific adapter, stay tunned!

Male Red-backed Shrike with prey in Northern Spain, June 2018. Smartphone video camera in 720HD and Vortex Razor HD 27-60x 85 at 27x. The system provides excellent light transmition and colour fidelity. Note the nice subtle pinkish tinge on the breast of the bird. There is not any evident image distorsion or halo.

Adult and nestling Northern Bald Ibis on the nest, Strait of Gibraltar, April 2018. Filmed while causing no disturbance to the bird and fullfilling the Spanish Nature Conservation Laws. Smartphone video camera in 720HD and new Vortex scope Razor HD 27-60x 85 at 27x. Notice the quality on both blacks and whites. Fine details on the bird’s eyes and plumage are visible.

Vortex VIP Warranty

The unparalleled VIP Warranty that Vortex offers has been a key element on the rapid popularization of this American brand. It remains in force and may certainly tip the balance when comparing scopes of different brands.

The New Vortex Scope: Conclusions

The new Vortex scope has a great design and modern conception offering an excellent optical performance. With this evolution, the Vortex Razor HD fieldscope consolidates itself high within the overall top 10 fieldscopes for birders in the market, which includes scopes than broadly double its price. We consider that the increased price of the new model is encompassed by its improved features. Nevertheless, it remains in the middle price range. We believe that nowadays it is hard to find a better option within its price range.