Plus: Excellent optics and build quality
Minus: Eyecups don’t extend as far as they should
Summary: Athlon Optics offers superb 10×50 binoculars, with all the best features for astronomy and at a mid-range price.
Who Is It For? Avid observers wanting premium binoculars at a price below the premium class.
Athlon Optics, founded in 2014 and based in Kansas, sells primarily to the lucrative hunting and military markets. I tested their new 10×50 Midas G2 (for Generation 2) UHD binoculars and found they are superb for stargazing.
The Midas Touch
Available starting in July 2020, Athlon’s 10×50 Midas G2 binoculars are made in China and tick all the boxes for features:
- Fully multi-coated lenses plus high-reflectivity dielectric coatings on the Schmidt-Pechan roof prisms for maximum light transmission;
- Phase-corrected coatings on the prisms for good contrast;
- Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass in the objectives for minimal false color (Athlon’s lower cost Argos G2 has a polymer construction and lacks ED glass.)
- Magnesium alloy chassis for strength, yet lightweight
- Argon-purged waterproof construction. While the MSRP is $490, the actual retail price at most U.S. dealers is about $100 less, placing the Midas G2 in the lower end of the mid-range price category. Even so, these are binoculars for someone willing to pay for great performance.
One of the specs I value is the apparent field of view. In the Midas, it is 65 degrees, about as wide as you’ll find in all but the most costly binoculars. With its 10x power, that yields a generous 6.5-degree actual field of view. Even better, the Midas G2 presents star images sharply across 80 percent ofits wide field. Stars are still quite tight at the edge, with a low level of coma and astigmatism and no edge vignetting.
Stars on-axis are pinpoint sharp, with little astigmatism and false color. The field was flat, with no obvious barrel or pincushion distortion when panning across star fields.
This is impressive optical performance in mid-priced binoculars, and beats other 10x50s I’ve tested in a similar price league.
Eye relief is a comfortable 17 mm, with eyecups that twist up with three click-stop positions. My only complaint is that they don’t twist up quite far enough to aid in proper eye placement when not using eyeglasses.
The ribbed focusing mechanism is smooth but firm, and easy to turn even with gloves on. Sub-freezing temperatures did stiffen the focuser, but not badly. I would have preferred a click-stop, or better yet, a locking mechanism on the right-eye diopter adjustment. But it did stay firmly in place once set.
The Midas G2 weighs 30.6 ounces (868 grams), similar to other 10×50 roof prism binoculars. The textured surface makes them easy to grip, and I like the flared design and finish. Athlon’s lifetime warranty requires no receipt or registration to replace or repair damaged binoculars.
I’ve tested a number of 10×50 binoculars under $500 in recent months, all fine models. But Athlon’s new Midas G2 stands out as having the best optics, with features you might need to spend $700 or more to get in other brands, making it an excellent value for mid-priced binoculars.