Introduction

In this article I will compare Athlon Midas 8×42 and GPO Passion ED 8×42. 8×42 binoculars are great for observations, birding and hunting in woodlands. The 8x magnification provides a wide field of view, allowing us to easily observe objects at close range. Binoculars with 8x magnification are easy to use without support in bare hands. Athlon Midas and GPO Passion are in the same price range and they are both manufactured in China.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

Athlon is quite a new name on the market. The price for Athlon binoculars is lower than that offered by the competitors for similar binoculars. Company goal is to provide best possible value with their products. Athlon provides excellent warranty conditions and is already known for their beautiful design so there is no wonder its popularity is growing. The Midas series is very similar to the previous Ares series but is positioned at a lower price point. Midas binoculars have a traditional roof prism body shape, tough rubber armor, fully multi-coated lenses with ED glass and an ESP dielectric coating. Midas binoculars provide excellent price to performance ratio and are available in four different configurations: 8×42, 10×42, 10×50 and 12×50. Athlon is mostly produced for the US market.

German Precision Optics was founded by people with experience in optics. GPO has a unique corporate structure. Design, engineering and quality management is controlled in Germany, but the production takes place in different facilities around the world. GPO provides one of the best price to performance ratios for their products on the market of sport optics. They have very similar company philosopy as Athlon but unlike Athlon they produce mostly for the EU market. The quality of GPO binoculars is outstanding. Passion ED was designed for all those who need binoculars with great optical performance. They are somehow similar to Passion HD except for the price that is a little lower for the Passion ED series. Passion ED are available in four configurations: 8×32, 10X32, 8×42 and 10×42.

Both GPO and Athlon are still in the process of brand building. At the moment, both brands are still quite unknown in Europe, so it’s very important for both of them to make a positive impression.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

 

TL;DR
-both are great for observations, hunting, birdwatching
-Athlon – great warranty conditions, beautiful design, popular
-GPO – founded by people with experience in optics, great price to performance ratio, great quality
-both are quite new on the market and still in the process of brand building

Size & Weight

Athlon Midas 8×42

GPO Passion ED 8×42

Weight:

704 g

756 g

Width:

132 mm

130 mm

Length:

145 mm

145 mm

Max. interpupillary distance:

74 mm

75 mm

Athlon binoculars have a traditional single bridge design. Because of that design it is a bit difficult to handle them in one hand. They have a rubber armor and there are different patterns on both sides of the barrels for a better grip. The rubber is non-reflective which increases the grip of the binoculars. The rubber is very thick and of a gray-blue color. Although Athlon is beautifully designed, in comparison to GPO it somehow gives an impression that is made out of plastic. GPO binoculars are very elegant and slim with a high quality housing. They sport a single-hinged bridge made from magnesium. GPO binoculars are covered with extremely hard black rubber that at first glance looks to be metallic or plastic. Because of hard rubber, the binoculars seem to be slick and there is not enough grip. There is some texture that looks like leather on the sides of the barrels, but the grip is still not good enough. Because of a bad grip you could have trouble handling binoculars in heavy rain.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

Both binoculars are compact and almost the same in size but there is some difference in weight. GPO declaration claims it weighs 670 g but in reality, it weighs 756 g, which makes GPO almost 50 g heavier in comparison to Athlon.

Optical Properties

Athlon Midas 8×42

GPO Passion ED 8×42

Prism type:

Roof – Schmidt/Pechan

Roof – Schmidt/Pechan

Lens Diameter:

42 mm

42 mm

Magnification:

8x

8x

Variable Magnification:

No

No

Coatings:

Fully Multi-coated

Fully Multi-coated

Close focus:

2 m

2 m

Field of View:

144 m/1000 m

142 m/1000 m

Athlon and GPO have the same lens diameter and magnification; therefore, they are both suitable for all kinds of use. They are both a very good choice for hunters and birdwatchers. Both binoculars have Roof-Schmidt/Pechan prism type and are fully multi-coated. They both have ED glass (extra-low dispersion) which means that they are good at eliminating chromatic aberration – in other words, the lenses are capable to focus all colors to the same convergence point which delivers a sharper image high in contrast.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

Overall Athlon and GPO have very similar optical properties. Next to all the things listed above they both have phase correction coatings and dielectric coatings that boost light transmission and increase the overall optical performance. If you look at the upper table you will notice that field of view is bigger with Athlon, but if you look through both binoculars you will notice that this is not the case. The field of view seems to be somehow bigger at GPO although the specifications say otherwise.

Focus Properties

Athlon Midas 8×42

GPO Passion ED 8×42

Focusing System:

Central

Central

Central Wheel Grasp:

9/10

8/10

Central Wheel Rotation:

7/10

9/10

Diopter Setting:

Right-eye

Right-eye

Diopter Range:

Not listed

-3/+3 Dpt

Central Wheel Diameter:

29 mm

33 mm

Central Wheel Length:

25 mm

27 mm

Total Revolution:

540°

410°

Bridge Length (Without the Central Wheel Length)

52 mm

34 mm

The focusing system on both binoculars is central and the diopter setting is placed under the right eye cup. GPO has a diopter range of -3/+3 but there is no information of how much it is on Athlon. GPO has a little bigger central knob but the grip on the knob is very poor. It is made of rubber and it has three rows of small vertical bars. The bars are not big enough so the grip isn’t good, which can especially be a problem if you are wearing gloves. Athlon, on the other hand, has a much better grip. The knob is also made of rubber, but the vertical bars are much bigger so there is no problem even if you are wearing gloves.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

I think the rotation is also better on Athlon because it is slower and sturdier than on GPO. The rotation on GPO is very fast and smooth which may be good for birdwatchers but the slow rotation on Athlon is much better for hunters. For birdwatching it is good to have fast focusing mechanism because it can go from as closely focused as possible to infinity with approximately a full revolution of the focusing wheel. For hunters is better to have sturdier rotation as the focus settings change slowly.

The rotation of diopter ring on GPO is very sturdy and slow, not allowing for an easy grip. Because of that it is quite hard to set the diopter ring. Athlon, on the other hand, has an excellent grip, the cursor is very precise, but the rotation is a bit fast. I would say that diopter ring is better on GPO because once the ring is set it is very hard to move it. On Athlon, it is easier to unintentionally change the diopter adjustment since the wheel moves too easily.

Eyepiece Properties

Athlon Midas 8×42

GPO Passion ED 8×42

Eyepiece type:

Multi positioned

Multi positioned

Number of Click-stops:

2

3

Eye relief:

17.2 mm

18 mm

Exit pupil:

5.25 mm

5.25 mm

Firmness:

8/10

7/10

Quality:

7/10

9/10

Suitable for Eye Glass Wearers:

Yes

Yes

External Diameter:

43 mm

42 mm

Internal Diameter:

2 mm

29 mm

Both Athlon and GPO have multi-position eyepieces with a turn and slide mechanism. Athlon has 2 and GPO has 3 click-stops. They both have enough eye relief.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

Both eye cups are made of hard rubber but the eye cups on Athlon are much bigger and wider. The twisting mechanism is a bit stiffer than on GPO. They feel robust and they rest securely into mid-point positions. GPO has a much faster but also louder rotation and the eyepieces don’t rest so securely. That is the reason why I evaluated firmness of Athlon a bit higher.

Eye cups on GPO are more elegant and they have smaller, rounder edges. Because of round edges, they feel very comfortable when they are pressed to the face. Their appearance and quality are much nicer so I evaluated their quality higher than Athlon’s.

General Properties

Athlon Midas 8×42

GPO Passion ED 8×42

Housing Material:

Magnesium

Magnesium

Armoring:

Rubber

Rubber

Quality of Armoring:

8/10

9/10

Built-in Rangefinder:

No

No

Waterproof:

Yes

Yes

Submersible:

Not listed

Not listed

Filled With:

Argon

Nitrogen

Number of Colors:

1

1

Tripod Adaptable:

Yes

Yes

Made in:

China

China

Introduced in:

2017

Not listed

Warranty period:

Unlimited

Unlimited

MRSP Price

419,00 €

429,99 €

Both binoculars have a magnesium alloy frame and are covered in strong rubber. Athlon’s armoring is much more robust, has a better grip and the rubber is not so hard. GPO is more elegant, the rubber is harder and slicker, there is no grip except for some rough material that resembles leather on the side of the barrel. Overall, the GPO has a nicer armor, but Athlon’s is more practical to use on the field.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

They have a different gas filling. GPO has nitrogen filling which prevents the internal glass surfaces from fogging up. Athlon is filled with the argon gas which is a more expensive fog proofing method. Argon molecules are larger than nitrogen’s, which means that they are less likely to escape over time.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

Like I mentioned in the beginning, both binoculars are made in China. Athlon provides lifetime warranty and so does GPO for the US market but there is no information about EU market. Athlon comes in a soft carry case, with tethered lens covers, a rain guard for the ocular lenses and a neck strap. GPO, on the other hand, is wrapped in a nice hard box. The included accessories are of a very high standard. Along with the GPO binoculars you will also get a hard carry case, a neoprene neck strap, objective lens covers and ocular covers. The carry case and neck strap are especially better than Athlon’s. In both cases binoculars can be attached to a tripod. There is no significant difference in price, both are listed around 420 €.

ATHLON MIDAS 8x42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8x42

ATHLON MIDAS 8×42 VS GPO PASSION ED 8×42

Group Test

How we made the test

We made the test with a group of 6 people with very diverse knowledge about sports optics. Some had experience with binoculars from before and other almost none. We compared central and edge sharpness, glare, real FOV, eye-box and overall impression. Everyone in the test group tested binoculars individually without being influenced by other people. We also covered down any brand signs on binoculars, so no one was influenced by knowing which company manufactured which.

GPO Passion ED 8×42

Athlon Midas 8×42

Central sharpness:

2/6

4/6

Edge sharpness:

1/6

5/6

Glare:

5/6

1/6

Real FOV:

6/6

0/6

Eye-box:

2/6

4/6

Overall impression:

5/6

1/6

Almost everyone in the test group agreed that Athlon Midas has better central and edge sharpness while GPO produces less glare and has a bigger real FOV. Athlon Midas also wins in the eye-box category but in the end almost everyone in the group would rather buy GPO. GPO’s exceptional field of view and beautiful design were the main reasons why GPO is a winner in this test. After the test everyone agreed that both binoculars are very similar in almost all categories and that it was hard to choose a winner. In the end, elegance was the main reason why they chose GPO instead of Athlon.

Conclusion

In the end we can conclude that both binoculars are quite similar in their optical performance, but their design is very different. It’s hard to decide which one is better since there are small differences in their optical performance. Both are in the same price range; both are great for everyday activities and they are both made in China. If the physical appearance is important to you and if you like elegant and smooth designs, then GPO is the right choice for you. If you prefer binoculars that are more robust and have a better grip, then you should probably go for Athlon binoculars.

Disclaimer

This review wasn’t sponsored and is unbiased however the article features affilliated links to Optics-trade. As a wildlife enthusiast interested in sports optics, I made this test because I would like to see how binoculars perform and if they meet the advertised expectations. With this test I hope to help people choose the right binoculars for their personal use. I am not in any way connected with the manufacturers of sports optics and I’m not personally in favor of a specific brand.

In the end, I would like to thank Optics-trade.eu who lent me these binoculars for the test. I also thank them for letting me use their videos.

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