Athlon Binoculars; Are They The Titans Of The Optics World?

Athlon is one of the newest entrants to the sports optics industry. Based on the information I got from the Athlon website the company aims at providing quality at a reasonable price. The manufacturer’s products catalog range from rifle scopes to binoculars. Also, the company has a range of outdoor accessories that include tripods, binocular harnesses, and adapters.

Athlon is a sports optics manufacturer that markets itself as a producer of affordable premium optics. Indeed all binoculars under the Athlon brand name cost below $700. This is refreshing given most premium optics cost upwards of $1000.

However, the affordability of Athlon optics does raise one important question. Has the manufacturer compromised on quality in favor of affordability? Time to find out. Join me as I take a closer look at Athlon’s range of binoculars.

According to the manufacturer the secret to their competitive prices is in the strategic partnerships they have with manufacturing partners. This gives the company access to superior lens polishing, precision CNC machines and optical coating.

Proudly an American company, Athlon is so confident in its products that they offer a lifetime warranty on its optics.

Athlon Range Of Binoculars

While the manufacturer has a wide assortment of optics, today I want to focus on their range of binoculars. In total Athlon has six range of binoculars on the market. All of which are offered at different prices and sizes. But what is unique about the company is that none of its binocular model costs over $1000. Unfortunately till this date they don't have rangefinder binoculars combo and night vision binoculars on their arsenal. 

The most expensive of all Athlon binoculars are the Cronus line of binoculars, which cost between $500 and $99. As with many other manufacturers Athlon also has a decent selection of entry-level binos. The cheapest is the Neos that cost between $99 and $109 depending on the size and magnification.

The six different binocular models offered by Athlon are;

  • Athlon Cronus Binoculars
  • Athlon Ares Binoculars
  • Athlon Midas Binoculars
  • Athlon Argos Binoculars
  • Athlon Talos Binoculars
  • Athlon Neos Binoculars

The Athlon Cronus

Features

  • Magnesium chassis
  • E2ES Lens System
  • Phase corrected Bak-4 prisms
  • ED Glass- High definition glass
  • ESP Dielectric
  • Field flattener lenses
  • Argon Purged
  • Extra Protective Lens Coating

The Cronus line of binoculars is named after Cronus the mythical King of the mythological Greek titans. And just like Cronus, these binoculars are at the top of Athlon’s binocular collection. In other words, the Cronus is Athlon’s flagship binocular models.

Also, these are the most expensive binos in the company’s collection. The Cronus brand has two binocular models under its name, the Cronus 8.5X42 and the Cronus 10x42.

The Cronus 10x42 is the pricier of the two. However, both come with a plethora of features worthy of a flagship binocular. Also, both are crafted from Magnesium and have a hard plastic material encasing the magnesium chassis.

This makes them a little bit heavier than other binocular models whose chassis is encased in a rubberized material. All the same, the two feature field flattener lenses that correct field curvature. These lenses guarantee a sharp image quality from the center to the edges.

Also, the lenses are made from Extra-low Dispersion glass designed to reduce chromatic fringing or color aberrations. On top of that, the prisms feature a dielectric prism coating that improves light transmission.

chromatic-fringe

As with any other flagships, the glass surfaces on these binoculars are fully-multicoated and have an additional coating that protects against dirt scratches and oil. When it comes to weight, eye relief and eye focus both are evenly matched. However, due to a smaller 8.5X magnification, the 8.5x10 variant has a wider field of view of 399ft at 1000 yards.

These binoculars are marketed as being for serious glassing. So if you are in the market for a high-quality flagship but do not want to spend a lot of money I recommend the Cronus. These binoculars offer the quality of a flagship without the price tag of a flagship.


The Athlon Ares Binoculars

Features

  • Magnesium Alloy Chassis
  • E2ES Lens System
  • Phase corrected Bak-4 prisms
  • Extra-Protective lens coating
  • Argon purged
  • ED Glass- High definition glass
  • Long Eye Relief

Just under the Cronus series is the Ares line of binoculars named after the Greek god of war. There are four different binoculars under this series. The four are the Ares 10x42, 8x36, 8x42 and 10x36.

Though Athlon describes them as having a unique design, their open bridge design, this design is quite common today. Nonetheless, the Ares line of binoculars still delivers exceptional quality at a reasonable price.

The Ares binoculars lack the field flattener lenses of their pricier siblings. They make up for this by having a significantly wider field of view. The Ares 8x42 has an impressive field of view of 426 ft at 1000 yards. It is closely followed by the 8x36 variant which has a field of view of 405 ft at 1000 yards. The 10x36 and 10x42 have a field of view of 351 and 341 ft respectively.

In addition to the wide field of view, the Ares binoculars maintain most of the features of their pricier sibling. This includes a magnesium chassis, fully multicoated optics, dielectric coated Bak-4 prisms, phase corrected coating, and XPL coating.

bak-4-prism

Unlike the Cronus, the Ares series offers a wider variety of binoculars to choose from. In a nutshell, the Ares binoculars offer the quality of a high-end product at a much more reduced price.

As a testament to the quality that the Ares series offers the 110x42 variant was awarded the 2018 Best mid-range binocular award.


The Athlon Midas Binoculars

Features

  • Magnesium chassis
  • Fully-multicoated optics
  • Phase corrected Bak-4 prisms
  • Extra-low Dispersion glass
  • Argon purged
  • ESP Dielectric

If the value for money is what you are looking for then the Midas line of binoculars from Athlon is what you should consider. While all other binocular series offer value for money, the Midas offers the best value for money. There are four models in this series the Midas 10x42, 10x50, 12x50 and 8x42.

The only difference between it and the Ares series is that it has a single bridge design. That being the case it has all the features you get from the Ares but at a lower price. Thus you can expect Bak-4 prisms with a dielectric coating and fully multicoated lenses.

The 10x50 version has the same field of view as the Ares 10x42 but its performance in low light is much better. The more powerful 12x50 is ideal for long-range glassing thanks to its high magnification and large objective lens.

If a wide field of view is important to you then the 8x42 and 10x42 are the best options. The 8x42 Midas matches the 426 ft field of view of the pricier Ares 8x42. With prices ranging under $400, the Midas series offers great value for money.

The best thing about the Midas line of binos is that it offers something for everyone. For long-range glassing, there is the 10x50 and 12x50. On the other hand for medium to long range glassing, there is the 10x42 and 8x42.


Athlon Argos Binoculars

Features

  • Polycarbonate chassis
  • Fully-multicoated optics
  • Phase corrected Bak-4 prisms
  • Extra-low Dispersion glass

The Argos line of binoculars has some of the lightest binos in Athlon’s catalog, with the smallest weighing 16.3 ounces. The largest weighs 29.5 ounces, which is still significantly lighter than the 33 ounces weight of the Cronus and Ares models. There are a total of six different models under the Argos series.

The six are the Argos 12x50, 10x50, 10x42, 8x42, 10x34 and 8x34. Unlike the other series of binoculars, the Argos series features a polycarbonate chassis. This is the reason why they are significantly lighter than their magnesium chassis counterparts.

However, in spite of this, the Argos still maintain some of the high-end features of their pricier counterparts. Towards this end, the mid-level Argos binocular come with fully multicoated optics and lenses made from Extra-low Dispersion glass.

Impressively, the Argos have the same phase corrected Bak-4 prism found in the Cronus and Ares models. Given that these binoculars are priced under $300 approx. the use of phase corrected Bak-4 prisms is quite impressive.

In the Argos series, you will find standard sized 42 mm, semi-compact 34mm and large 50 mm binos. Thus, you get a wider selection than in the other series. Thus the Argos series is not for one specific group of users as it has something for all.

The 12x50 is ideal for long distance glassing as well as offering brightness in low lighting. On the other hand, the compact 8x34 is an ideal lightweight binocular. Naturally, the 8x34 version has the widest field of view, which stands at 341 ft at 1000 yards.

Basically, the Argos are mid-range binos that cater to the needs of a wide clientele. And although they lack the magnesium chassis they are still very well built.


Athlon Talos Binoculars

Features

  • Polycarbonate chassis
  • ED glass lenses
  • Fully-multicoated optics
  • Tripod adaptable
  • Waterproof and fog proof

Another budget-friendly offering from Athlon, the Talos line of binoculars feature the same polycarbonate chassis as the Argos. Also, like the Argos, there are six models under the Talos name.

These are the Talos 12x50, 10x 50, 10x42, 8x42, 8x32 and 10x32. Due to their housing material, they are considerably lighter than their Cronus and Ares counterparts. The lightest is the 8x32 version that weighs 19.3 ounces. The 12x50 version, which is the heaviest in this line, weighs 29.3 ounces.

These binoculars offer the same high-quality features as all other Athlon binoculars at a reduced price and weight. Thus, you can expect the same Bak-4 prism and fully multicoated optics. Nevertheless, to cut down on production cost Athlon removed some features.

For starters, the Talos lack the dielectric coating of their pricier counterparts as well as the Extra Protective layer. However, this is to be expected as they cost under $200 (apprx) . The Talos offers a diverse selection of binoculars.

All the models are pretty ordinary in terms of what they offer. However, their ordinary offering is not at all of low quality. The 8x32 model, for example, has the widest field of view of any binocular which stands at 427 ft at 1000 yards.

The 8x32 model is thus ideal for wildlife and bird watching. The 12x50 version, on the other hand, is suited to long-range viewing. Also due to its extra-large objective lens, it can perform well in low lighting.


Athlon Neos Binoculars

Features

  • Polycarbonate chassis
  • Roof and Porro prism versions
  • Multicoated roof prism and fully multi-coated Porro prism
  • Waterproof and fog proof

The cheapest of all the Athlon binoculars are the News. In this series, you get a mixture of Porro and roof prism binoculars of varying sizes. Because of their budget price tags, the Neos do not match the performance of their pricier counterparts.

Under the Neos name are six different binoculars. They are the Neos 12x50, 10x50, 10x42, 8x42, 8x32, 10x32. Both the 10x50 and 12x50 are Porro prism binoculars and are therefore significantly bulkier weighing 33.5 ounces.

The two Porro prism binoculars make up for their weight by offering better light transmission. The two Porro prism binos have fully multicoated optics. This combined with their design that does not require anti-reflection coating gives them more light transmission.

The roof prism Neos versions are multi-coating and have a silver coating instead of the more efficient dielectric coating. As with the other budget binoculars from Athlon, the Neos have a polycarbonate chassis.

Also, these binoculars are o-ringed and argon purged making them waterproof and fog proof. While the Porro prism versions are bulky their roof prism counterparts are light. The three roof prism versions weigh between 19.4 ounces and 24.8 ounces.

Though they are not as excellent as their pricier siblings the Neos are still good budget binos. Given their price tag you cannot expect any of the features found in pricier binoculars.


My Top Athlon Binocular Picks

Of the many binocular models on offer from Athlon, there are those that stand out. Having interacted and used quite a number of them here are my top picks. I have selected this based on their price to performance ratio.

The Cronus 8.5x42

Top on my list has to be the Cronus 8.5x42. While the 10x42 is the more expensive of the two, for me the 8.5x42 is the better one. For starters, this version has a wider field of view compared to its counterpart. At 399ft at 1000 yards, the field of view of this binocular is quite impressive.

Nevertheless, the most impressive feature of the 8.5x42 version is its magnification. As its name suggests it comes with an 8.5x magnification. This is slightly higher than the conventional 8x magnification. The addition .5x magnification produces a more detailed image than the traditional 8x magnification.

The unique magnification combined with the field flattener lenses produce sharp and clear images. This makes it an ideal binocular for birdwatching and for wildlife enthusiasts.

The only drawback I noticed with this binocular is its weight. Weighing 33.5 ounces it is considerably bulkier than other binoculars with the same features. However, its weight is to be expected given its construction.

Unlike other binocular models, the Cronus 8x42 and indeed the 10x42 are built from magnesium and not aluminum. Also, the two have a hard plastic armor instead of the more common rubberized armor. And this is the reason for their bulkiness.


The Ares 10x42

Next on my list is the binocular that was voted 2018 best mid-range binocular, the Ares 10x42. With a chassis made of magnesium, it exudes the same quality craftsmanship as its pricier Cronus sibling.

Also, just like the Cronus models, the Ares 10x42 is both waterproof and fog proof. But what makes it stand out is its ease of use. In between the two barrels is a large 35mm focus knob, which turns smoothly.

Being a mid-range binocular it boasts the same features as other more expensive binoculars. In this regard, it comes with fully multicoated optics and Bak-4 prisms. The prisms are phase-corrected to improve light transmission.

In essence, it offers all the features and performance of a flagship model are a reduced price. The only downside of this binocular is its 14.7 mm eye relief. Given that the Cronus model has an eye relief of 19.8 mm the Ares 10x42 eye relief is quite short.

Also weighing 29.8 ounces it is a bit bulkier than other models. All the same, its field of view of 341 ft at 1000 yards is quite decent.


The Midas 8x42

What makes the Midas 8x42 special is its performance is above average when compared to other similarly priced binoculars. For starters, it has a wide field of view of 426 ft at 1000 yards. This is considerably better than that of other binoculars in the same price tag.

Despite its low price tag, its eye relief is longer than that of the Ares 10x42. And thanks to its fully multi-coated optics its image clarity is beyond average. Images appear crisp and sharp across. However, you may notice some slight blurring on the edges.

Interestingly Athlon opted for a rubber coating for this one. Overall, it feels very well constructed and scores high in contrast and brightness. Not to mention the field of view, which is the widest of all the Midas binoculars.


The Argos 8x42

For the Argos series, it was difficult choosing between the 8x34 and 8x42 variants. Both offer a field of view of 341 ft and a minimum focus of 13 ft. In regards to eye relief, the 8x34 variant slightly edges out its counterpart with a 17.4 mm. However, given the 8x42 has a 17.3 mm eye relief the difference is barely noticeable.

The reason I picked the 8x42 is the bigger objective lens, which sucks in more light. Thus, it is brighter than the 8x34 variant. To balance things out the 8x34 is significantly lighter than the 8x42 model.

It features all the elements found in pricier binos. There are the dielectric coating and fully multi-coated optics. Also, Athlon uses Bak-4 prism on this model, giving it an edge over the competition. The lenses also have a protective exterior coating that protects against dirt, oil, and scratches.

In essence, the Argos 8x42 offer the performance of a high-end binocular at a reduced price tag. It is worth noting that in order to cut costs, Athlon opted for a polycarbonate chassis.


The Talos 10x50

The Talos 10x50 is a budget binocular that can be used for long-range viewing and in low lighting. Costing below $200 it performs better than most other binoculars in this price range. The huge 50mm objective lens sucks in light giving you a brighter and clear image.

Despite its price tag, it has Bak-4 phase corrected prisms and fully multicoated optics. This makes it a pocket-friendly option for low light glassing. Also, since it is made from a composite polycarbonate chassis it is relatively lightweight than it appears.

Weighing 29.8 ounces it is lighter than the more expensive Cronus models both of which have a 42 mm objective lens. The optical performance of this binocular cannot match that of the Cronus but it is better than that of other similarly priced binoculars.


The 10x50 Neos

Currently, there are only two Porro prism binoculars in Athlons collection and one of them is the 10x50 Neos. This slightly bulky binocular has fully multicoated optics and premium Bak-4 prisms.

It lacks the dielectric coating of its pricier siblings. However, given its Porro prism design, it really does not need anti-reflection coatings. It is for this reason that I have picked it instead of the other Neos versions most of which are roof prism binoculars.

When it comes to brightness it performs considerably better than its roof prism Neos siblings. A polycarbonate chassis houses its optical components. This chassis is reinforced with a rubberized armor that gives it grip and toughness.

Though it is not a lightweight binocular it performs better than its counterparts in the Neos series. It has a wider field of view than the 12x50 and offers more brightness than the other Neos variants.


Conclusion

Athlon might not be a big name brand such as Nikon or Bushnell yet, but they do offer some pretty impressive binoculars. The company is particularly known for offering value for money. When you consider some flagship models cost almost double the price of the Athlon Cronus, the value for money is evident. Also, the manufacturers do not compromise on quality in a bid to offer affordable products. This is a good thing as high-end features are more often than not associated with hefty price tags.

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