Oberwerk Sport ED 8x42 vs Athlon Midas G2 8x42 for Astronomy, Birding & Wildlife

Alex, a new BBR Patreon supporter (thanks very much!), looking to get a binocular for some handheld astronomy as well as for backyard birding and wildlife observation on the trail:

Hi there, I’m having a hard time deciding between two binoculars that I’ve narrowed down to the Athlon Midas G2 8x42 and Oberwerk Sport ED 8x42.

I haven’t owned a pair of binoculars before, but have a strong desire to see the night sky better and birds/wildlife in my backyard and on trails. Astronomy use is slightly more important to me. I’ve seen reviews you’ve given on both Athlon Midas (might not have been the G2 model but is there a difference besides design?), and Oberwerk Sport ED 8x42.

Can you help me identify key differences between both products and which one you believe is a better value? I’ve seen the Oberwerk review on space.com highlighting that these are brighter than most 8x42’s which makes them more ideal for astronomy and had also seen some mentions of this in some user reviews but how is this possible when the objective lens diameter is the same?

In comparing reviews it sounds like the overall quality and longevity might be higher for the Oberwerk’s (very low-risk something is off), but the Athlon’s may have a better handheld design and uses Dielectric coating (how noticeable is it that Oberwerk’s don’t use this?)

Both are tied on FOV. That’s just based on what I can see but hoping you can notice some other differences that I can’t to help me decide.

Also completely open to any other suggestions you might have if you think there’s a better product for my use cases that’s between $250-$350. That $350 is a hard cap.

Follow-Up Information – I actually asked Oberwerk a couple of questions and here are their responses which I found helpful:

1. Prisms are dielectric and phase coated. Reflectivity should be no less than 99%.

2. I mentioned I’m considering the Athlon product and here was the response: I looked that one up, and spec-wise, it looks very similar and pretty good for the price. Our Sport ED’s have a red-anodized aluminum focuser and right diopter ring, most other binoculars in this price range are rubber over plastic (that appears to be the case with the Athlon).

I don’t see a mention of a case with the Athlon? We include a nice case and our heavy-duty black denim strap. We test each binocular, especially the alignment, and provide a hand-written checklist/warranty card.

Answer

Oberwerk Sport ED 8x42 Binoculars

Oberwerk Sport ED 8x42 Binoculars

Unfortunately, I have not used these binoculars, so I cannot comment from first-hand experience, but if we take a look at their main features and specifications we can compare them to some others that I have within their price range:

  • Price: $319 (approx.)
  • ED (extra-low dispersion glass) lens elements
  • Fully multi-coated – Good
  • Roof prisms are phase-corrected: Good
  • Magnesium-alloy Chassis – Excellent
  • Waterproof – Good
  • Aluminum diopter ring – Good
  • Field of view: 8.1° – Outstanding
  • Eye-Relief of 18mm is Excellent
  • Minimum Focus: 2m (6.6ft) is very good
  • Dimensions: L=5.5″, W=5″, H=2″
  • Weight: 1.48 lbs = 23.7oz

For the price, the Oberwerk Sport ED 8x42 Binoculars do look like an excellent buy, however as I have not actually tested it, I can’t comment on the image quality, but looking at the components, I would be surprised if it was not at least very good. 

Interestingly and as a side-note, I quite recently had another supporter ask me about this binocular and I feel is worth you taking a look at: Oberwerk Sport ED 8x42 vs 10x42 for Astronomy, Birding & Any Alternatives?

Although I must stress that when I answered that question, I assumed that because they did not highlight the fact, it meant that they did not contain dielectric mirror coatings on the prisms, So thanks for clearing that up for me as in my experience it often makes an observable difference in both image quality and brightness when compared to silver-coated binoculars.

Athlon Midas G2 8x42 Binoculars

Likewise, I think the Athlon Midas is certainly better than most at their price range and they have now updated this range since I last had a chance to look at them so lets take another look at their main specs and features:

Athlon Midas G2 8x42 Binoculars
  • Price: $280 (approx.)
  • ED (extra-low dispersion glass) lens elements
  • Fully multi-coated – Good
  • Roof prisms are phase-corrected: Good
  • Magnesium-alloy Chassis – Excellent
  • Waterproof & Fogproof (Argon Purged) – Good
  • Field of view: 426ft @ 1000 yards = 8.1° – Outstanding
  • Eye-Relief of 17.2 mm is Very Good
  • Minimum Focus: 2m (6.5ft) is very good
  • Weight: 23.3 oz

As you can see, in terms of their main features and specifications, they are extremely similar to the Oberwerk Sport ED.

The Oberwerk does have a little more eye-relief, which if you wear glasses may be something to keep in mind., but having said that, 17.2mm in my experience is usually more than adequate to ensure you can still view the full image whilst wearing glasses by twisting down the eyecups fully.

Oberwerk is correct in saying that the Focussing ring and diopter adjuster are plastic on the Athlon and so whilst this is by no means a deal-breaker, it does show a little higher level of quality on the  Sport ED. 

However, I am sure that they are not correct is in mentioning the case the Midas will come with a carry case, which I am sure will be of the same level as the older12x50 version that I tested:  Athlon Midas 12x50 Binoculars Review

So as to which to go for, I really do not feel either would be anything but a great option. You could save a little and go with the Athlon, or spend a little more and get the metal focus wheel and diopter ring. Here it is more a question of taste and which you prefer. Sure the metal parts are for me always a nice addition and certainly add to the feeling of quality.

Alternatives

A few other binoculars that came to mind that I thought I would throw into the mix for you:

Bresser Pirsch ED 8x42 Binoculars

You could save some money and get the Bresser Pirsch ED 8x42, which for my money is an excellent pair of binoculars for the price (Approx $200 / £150 / €160)

Like the others, above, it has ED Glass, Dielectric & Phase Corrected Prisms, is fully multi-coated, and comes with a Metal Focus Wheel & Eyepieces.

However whilst its FOV of 375ft at 1,000 yards is excellent, it does not match the Oberwerk or Athlon above and can be quite difficult to locate in North America – I assume that is where you are from? 

Hawke Frontier 8x42 ED X Binoculars

Then there is the also excellent Hawke Frontier 8x42 ED X:

Once again, these have very similar optics and a wide FOV (426ft at 1000 yards) – So are also well worth considering and I would rate them as one of the best I have used at this price.

However, with these it just depends if you can find them on a deal as to if you can get them at $350 or under – I have seen them listed at $349, but they are often listed above this – so just depends. Take a look and see, you may get lucky

On the positive side, even if you can’t find them at $350 or under, it does highlight to me how much good value the other two instruments on your shortlist are. 

Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 Binoculars

As with the previous question about these Oberwerk binoculars, I feel that the CelestronTrailSeeker ED 8x42 binoculars could be an interesting alternative for you to consider and indeed once again are very similar to the others:

  • Current Price: Approx $290 / £285 / €300
  • Magnesium Chassis & Bridge
  • FOV: 426ft @ 1000 yards (142 @ 1000m)
  • ED Glass Lens Elements
  • Phase Corrected
  • Dielectric Coatings
  • 17.2mm of Eye Relief
  • Close Focal Distance: 2m (6.5ft)
  • Water & Fogproof (Nitrogen Filled)

They have a very high level of optics like the others on this page and include a magnesium chassis, just like the others and they do have a metal focus wheel, although the diopter ring is plastic!


Then just lastly:
You mention that your main interest is astronomy, and I assume that as you also want to use your binoculars for backyard birding/wildlife as well as on trails, you want an instrument that is hand-holdable and easy to carry about and so I do feel the 8x42 configuration you have chosen is a good option:

A 42mm binocular offers a good compromise between size and weight and light gathering ability and rather than being tempted by a 10x42, I am glad to see that you have kept the magnification down to 8x – both for image stability and to maintain a wide field of view and large exit pupil, which is important in low light. 

There may be an argument here that you could get something like a 10x50, which would still maintain a relatively large exit pupil, but you would sacrifice a little in terms of size and weight, image stability, and the field of view. In return, you would get a little more image detail, but the difference between 8x and 10x for astronomy is not much and thus, personally, I would perhaps stay with the 8x and just enjoy wider views of the night sky. 

If you really do get into astronomy and stargazing – then at a later date you could go for a much larger, more powerful astronomy-specific binocular, which would have to be mounted onto a tripod and thus becomes far less useful in other areas, but I do think as you are just starting out, you are making the right choice here. In my opinion, Everyone should have a good 8x42 in their collection and no matter which you go for – I am sure you will not be disappointed. 

Anyway, these are just a few of my thoughts, but you have a healthy budget and are looking at some good quality instruments, so there is no real wrong choice. 

Let me know if you have any further questions and I will try and get back to you before Sunday also please do let me know which option you go for. 

Kind regards,
Jason

Response

Thanks Jason, really appreciate the detailed advice.  

I think the price on the Athlon’s does seem comparable for the small differences in quality so I agree that there isn’t a wrong choice.

I did see the Hawke Frontier 8x42 ED X, but as you mentioned the price is quite a bit higher.  If it was under $350 I would have leaned more towards those.  Too bad I missed out on whatever discount there was previously.  Seems like discounts on binoculars, in general, are hard to come by.

I was already leaning towards the Oberwerk’s after the response from the manufacturer and wanted to make sure you didn’t spot any key differences that would suggest a different product would be a better option.

I get the impression that the Oberwerk’s are this somewhat hidden quality gem (similar to the Bresser Pirsch which I couldn’t find in the US) that will last me a long time with plenty of use.

8x42 Configuration
I focused on 8x42’s given your advice and others that any higher magnification would be difficult to hold still enough (especially for astronomy).  

Depending on how much I enjoy looking at the night sky versus birding and light pollution (Bortle 5) I’ll likely get somewhere between an 8-12in Dobsobian that my Oberwerk binoculars will supplement well.

Thanks again, Alex

Reply

Hi Alex,
Yes for the price, the Oberwerk’s do look to me to be a very good buy at the moment and really tough, if not impossible to beat based on their listed specifications and features. 

If you do go for them, please do come back with your thoughts on them as it would be really interesting to me to get some feedback on their actual performance and add it to this post on the site for anyone else who is interested.

Note to self: I must see if I can’t get hold of a pair from Oberwerk to test and review!

And yes, an 8x42 or another popular option a 7x50 binocular makes an excellent companion to a telescope for astronomy as they both do different things and complement each other well. 

Kind regards,
Jason

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