The Athlon Midas 8x42 offers good image quality in a fairly well-built package. If your binocular budget is around the $300 mark, we think you'll be more than pleased with these bins. However, we have some trepidation in recommending them outright, simply because the Celestron Nature DX are nearly as good, and are less than half the price. The Midas does have some advantages, like slightly better clarity and brightness, and a wider field of view. If you're willing to pay double the price for slight improvements in those areas, the Athlon Midas is a worthy purchase. If not, save some money and get the Celestron Nature DX.
Athlon Midas 8x42 Review
Cons: Finicky focus knob
Manufacturer: Athlon Optics
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Athlon Midas 8x42 generally please our testers and is a good option if you don't want to spend close to $500 on the Editors' Choice winning Vortex Viper HD. However, if you're looking to save some money the Celestron Nature DX 8x42 is even cheaper, and isn't far off from the quality of the Athlon Midas.
The Midas 8x42 did quite well in our clarity testing, earning an above average score of 8 out of 10. It was able to provide crispness across most of the image, though the very edges did show some blurring. This was better than the less expensive Celestron Nature DX, which had more edge blurring, and worse than the more expensive Vortex Viper HD, which maintained good clarity across the entire image. Overall, in most conditions we were able to get a clear enough look at small birds that we could make out the details of their plumage.
Here again the Midas 8x42 was above average, picking up an 8 out of 10. These binoculars let in enough light that daytime images look perfectly bright, and you can only tell any shortcomings in low-light situations. Once the clouds rolled in we could tell that the higher end Vortex Viper HD was able to produce a brighter image, but not to an overwhelming degree. We didn't find this slight lack of low-light performance limiting, but if you're mostly going to be using your bins in the very early morning or very late afternoon, it might be worth upgrading if your budget allows.
Ease of Adjustment
This is where we had our major complaint with the Midas, pushing its score down to a mediocre 6 out of 10. What we really didn't like was the focus knob, which was quite sticky and took a decent amount torque to move. This needed pressure also made fine tuned adjustments more difficult. In fact, when we put them in the hands of people that weren't used to using binoculars, many complained of not being able to get the focus just right. The knob did seem to loosen up as we used the bins throughout the day, but after relaxing overnight the knob would seem to tighten up again. Apart from the knob the eyecups and diopter are both easy to adjust. The eyecups have 3 settings. this is the same as the Celestron Nature DX and one less than the Vortex Viper HD.
The Midas is quite well constructed, with a nice rubber coating, a neoprene padded strap, and all around good mechanics. The hinge can be a little stiff when compared to higher end models, but that doesn't affect day-to-day use significantly. This the Midas a score of 7 out of 10.
The Midas offers an average level of comfort. The grippy rubber provides a solid grip, but the lack of any thumb groove and the closed hinged means those with large hands may feel like there's not enough space for their finger and thumbs. This is very similar to the comfort of the Celestron Nature DX. The Vortex Viper HD has some thumb grooves that make them noticeably comfier in hand.
Close Focus Range
With a 6.5 foot close focus range, the Midas lets you get a close up look at most of the insects you'll come across. There are some models with a closer focus range, but 6.5 feet feels plenty close for us.
Field of View
The Midas is the king of field of view with a range of 426 feet at 1000 yards. That extra range is nice for trying to get your bins on a restless bird in a close tree, but otherwise didn't really add much to our binocular using experience.
The Athlon Midas 8x42 lists for $350, but usually sells for around $290. this puts it in a slightly weird place value wise, simply because the Celestron Nature DX 8x42 is nearly as good and list for only $140 (usually selling for around $110). The Athlon Midas is a good binocular, but unless you're looking at the images of the Celestron Nature DX and wishing they were just a bit crisper, or you often bird in lowlight situations, we would suggest saving some money and going with the Celestron Nature DX instead.
The Athlon Midas 8x42 would serve birders, wildlife watchers, and sports spectators well. However, you can get nearly as much performance for much less in the Celestron Nature DX 8x42, so you'll have to decide whether the extra money is worth the small bump up in quality.
— Max Mutter