ATHLON 15x56mm Cronus Binocular
Doug over at Camera Land asked me to review these for him. I usually don’t do reviews on binoculars since it isn’t my forte. At the same time, I figured it would be interesting to see how these preform. I wish I had something like this when I hunted Antelope in Wyoming a few years back. Back then I didn’t even carry binoculars with me. I just used my rifle scope to spot game.
First thing that I was impressed with was the hard plastic case these come with. Binoculars like this will be taken on some harsh trips and having a well made protective case is important. It’s nice you don’t have to worry about purchasing one. They didn’t skimp and also included a soft case and a very comfortable neck strap to go along with them. Athlon makes and includes a tripod adapter. Nice touch as most companies make you buy this needed accessory separately. Long trip these 45 oz binoculars would tend get tiring to hold up for long periods of time. I have to say these are big boy binoculars. They are 2x the size compared to others I own. Then again none of them are 15x. They are comfortable to hold but I would like to see more grip with the rubber housing. Its smooth and firm so it doesn’t have that rubber feel like many do. It does have a dimpled area where you grasp them, which is nice. The unit was well balanced for its size. At the same time, you should never use binoculars without some sort of retention system. When I was in college, I took a photography class. The most important thing I got out of that class was always wrap the camera strap around your hand or put it over your neck to prevent from dropping them.
This unit sells for $699. From what I can see there is nothing even close to that price point in this power range. I wish I had another 15x to compare it too. At 1000 yards the FOV is 235 feet. They are made with ED glass, waterproof and have a magnesium chassis. Seems they have very similar specs as the competition but at a much cheaper price point. The eye cups and focus are very smooth. The diopter focus is smooth but firm as to not loose its setting. Just from my initial impression these seemed like a quality piece of gear. I honestly believed these would be impossible to hold steady but I was wrong.
This week I took them on a camping trip to upstate New York. My site overlooked the Gunks, an area I used to rock climb. There is an obervation tower at the peak which is 5.77 miles away. (Google Earth) I was amazed I could make out movement from the hikers by the tower. I tried it mounted to a tripod as well as handheld. These will work well on a long range stalk. I’d much rather carry these then a spotter and tripod if your trying to save weight. They certainly aren’t a replacement for a spotter but, a good alternative. The depth of field is very short compared to my 8x and 10x binoculars. I guess this is a result of the higher magnification. I thought the image was reasonably sharp and clear from edge to edge. I’m not going to say its on par with the high end units but for its price point its perfect for spotting game. It was clear enough to resolve license plates at 200 to 300 yard ranges. Not having another unit to compare to in low light as disappointing. At 15x they are pretty bright and close in low light to my 10x units. I was using these to keep an eye on my boys age 3 and 6 while they fished at a nearby pond as the sun went down. I tried taking pictures with my phone but without the correct setup its next to impossible.
Overall these are a solid unit. I’m amazed at the quality of optics that you can get these days at these prices. These units are made in China. I assumed it would have been Japan like the 1-6x and 4.5-29 Cronus riflescopes. Then again if they were the price would have reflected it. My guess is in a few years down the road Athlon could be the new Vortex as long as they listen to their customers and keep raising the bar. https://i.imgur.com/SI6LqvT.jpghttps://i.imgur.com/Rl1J7Mx.jpghttps://i.imgur.com/b8YNUj2.jpg