Athlon makes a fairly wide range of binoculars, and the Cronus is their flagship model. While certainly not cheap, the Cronus fits the midrange in price that puts it out of reach of many people, but not so incredibly high priced that you’d be nervous to carry it in the field. Made to exacting standards and promising high quality and clear images, I was definitely excited to test these guys out.
Like other Athlon products I’ve tested, the Cronus comes in fairly standard binocular packaging, wrapped in several layers of plastic and a cardboard box. It includes a soft carry case that fits it well, and closes with a buckle instead of the more common Velcro. The lens caps are the typical rubber caps that connect too the binocular itself and/or the neck strap. The strap itself appears to be the same as the one found in the much less expensive Talos from Athlon, but has good padding and will work for many uses. I usually recommend using a chest harness system purchased separately for extended carrying of binoculars anyway.
10×42 is the ideal size for most sporting optics uses, and especially for hunters. If you want a wider field of view (at the price of less zoom) an 8.5×42 model is also available. The Cronus glass is encased in a hard plastic material with textured grip areas. Binocular manufacturers have generally gone one of two ways, using either rubberized coatings (Bushnell, Upland Optics, etc) or hard plastic with textured grip. I personally am a fan of the rubberized coating, but I know plenty of people who like the alternative.
I field tested the Cronus while hiking in the Idaho mountains, and compared it to a few other sets of 10×42 binoculars I had on hand. They included 10×42 sets from Bushnell and Nikon that are in the $300 price range, as well as the 10×50 Talos from Athlon.
Finding deer was easy during the wintering season, and I was able to test them all side by side when looking at small herds of deer anywhere from 300 yards to several miles away. While all of the binoculars did the job, there were definitely some subtle differences that will be important to someone willing to spend more money to get better glass. While looking at deer that were relatively close up, I noticed that they seemed to “pop” more with the Cronus than they did with any other set I was using. The focus was a bit sharper and the glass appeared to let in just a little bit more light (light conditions were sub optimal due to an incoming storm).
When testing them at long range, the differences were more subtle but still present. It was just a bit easier to pick apart the hill side using the Cronus than the more affordable Bushnell and Nikon sets. As far as comparing it to Athlon’s far less expensive Talos model, there was no question that the Cronus is a far superior set of optics.
Personally, I feel like the Cronus would be excellent for bird watchers. They have an excellent close focusing distance of only 2 meters, which is perfect for birders. The differences I noticed when glassing deer at 300 yards would be exactly the type of differences that birders are willing to pay thousands of dollars to get in their optics, and the Cronus is much less expensive than the typical Swarovski and Zeiss models that birders flock to.
As far as downsides go, I did notice one thing I wasn’t impressed with. All binoculars will have some amount of shadows obscure your view as you move/adjust them during use. However, I noticed those shadows much more with the Cronus than I have with other pairs in the same price range. I will say that those effects are usually highly dependent on the user and their unique eyes, so I recommend testing them yourself to see if that is an issue for you.
Overall, I think the Cronus 10x42s are an excellent pair of binoculars. There are some things that I personally am not a fan of (like the above mentioned shadows and the hard plastic), but those are personal preferences that plenty of people will not have issues with. And the glass is definitely of very high quality, which is the most important thing for a pair of binoculars. In particular I’d recommend these binoculars to bird watchers, who I think could really use the excellent close focusing distance and solid glass to its full capabilities.