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Athlon Ares 8x36 mini review (1 Viewer)

has530

Well-known member
As promised in the "binocular bargains" thread, here is a mini-review of my new Athlon Ares 8x36.
Mechanics and ergonomics:
No major complaints. Hinge tightness is good, diopter works well although it is not locking, is pretty fast, and has no "center" marking. Armor is pretty slick but patterned in a way I am not worried about losing my grip. One slight disappointment was the size and weight. Although these have only 36mm objectives, they are nearly as big and as heavy (24.9 oz) as a full sized bin (see the attached photo of a size-by-side with my vanguard endeavor EDii 10x42). My focuser seemed perfectly fine and did not has excessive slop as another user reported in their sample. It is slightly stiff for my preferences (I like to be able to move quickly through the focus range with one finger) and not completely silent but seems mechanically solid. It takes about 450 degrees to focus from about 3 feet to infinity, and has another ~120 degrees past infinity. Included accessories are fine but I prefer a harness anyways so will not use the padded neck strap.

Optics:
I like these very much for their sub-$200 price. Chromatic aberration (which I am quite bothered by) was very low in the center (almost imperceptible) and low on the edge as well. Center sharpness was fine, not a "wow" factor by any means but I could make out fine feather detail from 10-15 feet. Seems to be some amount of astigmatism when looking at stars. Color balance seems neutral as far as I can tell and contrast is good (although it is overcast so nothing really pops in any of my bins today). Sweet spot is large and FOV seems correct at 7.7 degrees. These are not sharp to the edge and display both some field curvature and coma starting about 75% of the way out but even on the edge it is not horrible. This was expected for me as these are Athlon's second highest line and their selling point of their top of the line "Cronus" is their edge to edge sharpness. Overall I would wholeheartedly recommend these based on optical performance and their current price.

P.S. While testing these out in my yard I saw my first white throated sparrow!
 

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has530

Well-known member
After spending some more time with them in the field I have some updated thoughts:
  • Color fidelity - they seemed pretty good at first, but that may have been because I had mainly been using a single coated nikon e around the yard before these which desensitized me to yellow images. I can now note a slight yellow/green tinge to the image. Nothing bothersome but not "paper white".
  • Resolution - still fine, just seems very characteristic of Chinese glass. Twiddling of focus to find that snap that just isn't quite there.
  • Glare - not problematic but I can make it happen. I would rate it better than nikon monarch 7 but worse than my nikon E. Overall pleased as many sub-$500 bins struggle with this
  • I would say CA is slightly worse than the "almost imperceptible" that I first mentioned. I have been able to put these through some harsher conditions and it is definitely there but corrected very well nonetheless. Distinctly better than the vangaurd endeavor ed, but slightly worse than my bushnell legend m.
 

Yellow hammer

New member
Sweden
Nice review! Tanks. I have the same bino. Not a very common brand around here in Scandinavia. Mine example is very good in many aspects. Optics is sharp and bright in the sweet spot. I like the open bridge design alot. After three years of use the diopter/focuswheel is slacking a bit. Also one eyecup is spinning free, so I am going to use the warranty and send it in to Athlon for service. Does anyone have experience of Athlon warranty service?
 

Yellow hammer

New member
Sweden
Nice review! Tanks. I have the same bino. Not a very common brand around here in Scandinavia. Mine example is very good in many aspects. Optics is sharp and bright in the sweet spot. I like the open bridge design alot. After three years of use the diopter/focuswheel is slacking a bit. Also one eyecup is spinning free, so I am going to use the warranty and send it in to Athlon for service. Does anyone have experience of Athlon warranty service?
Here is two pictures of my nice Athlon Ares ED 8x36.
 

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