REVIEW OF CRONUS 20-60X86 ED Spotting Scope by Jason Fink as posted on Optics Planet:
Summary for this review: If you can only spend $600 and want a nice wide FOV at 20X, then buy the Nikon Prostaff, If you have $800 and care more about the high end zoom performance (40X+) then buy the Athlon Ares. If you have $2700 then “maybe” you want the Nightforce TS-82 (I can’t be sure as I could not afford that and it’s not one of the scopes compared below), but if you have $1500 and want a really impressive scope then the Athlon Cronus is the scope for you.
Review: I did not compare the Cronus with the Vortex Razor because after seeing
online from independent sources that the Razor appears to have a cold temperature issue with its eyepiece and many people are selling open box returns of them online, I decided I had to limit the Razor out from the comparison (return shipping to multiple vendors for all these scopes gets expensive with insurance and signature, etc….)
To be fair, I have not cold temperature cycled the Cronus in providing this review. For me the Cronus was an expensive purchase, so I will baby my scope as much as possible, and am not going to stick it in the freezer just for you folks ;D. With that said, I purchased and returned several scopes from several different vendors/mfg’s before deciding to keep this scope. I compared it side by side with the Nikon Prostaff, Celestron Regal M2, Sightron, Meopro and others. Note, there is not another adjustable eye piece of higher quality available for the Regal M2 than the one that comes
with it- what a waste of a 100 mm ED objective IMO…. All of the other scopes had some feature I liked; I wish I could take the best feature from each and combine them into one scope (rubber on the Meopro, the protective cover on the Sightron), but as far as the optical performance was concerned, the Athlon Cronus beat them all and to a degree quickly discernible in looking through them. It’s the only scope that had a crisp and clear image edge to edge at both low and high magnification and also provided a wide field of view at 20X, but also the brightest and sharpest image at 60X. Yes, it does darken a bit at 60X, all scopes will, and you have to put your eye really close to the eyepiece, but its performance was noticeably better and you usually have to pay a lot more for even a modest improvement.
It’s a really nice scope. When I first looked through it at 20X at mts 3 miles away, I had to double check it wasn’t set at 60x even though there was a wide field of view, everything seemed closer than with the other scopes, and yet at 60x I could still make out individual weeds blowing in the wind on a mtn side over 4 miles away as the sun was setting. After the sun had set, I could still make out branches on a juniper on top of a mtn over 3 miles away. I also focused it on a cactus at about 300 yards at dusk just to make sure the close distance view was clear and I could almost see the needles after the sun had long set…
The fit and finish of the objective and eyepiece are smooth and tight, and the eye piece rotation is smooth and quiet and seems to turn with the perfect amount of resistance (very light), also the eyepiece is beefy and wide. It only takes between 1/2 and 1/8 turn (depending on distance to object) on the fine adjustment knob to go from focused at low power to focused at high power and you don’t sit there going back and forth forever trying to find the sweet spot like you do with lesser scopes; it’s clear when you can see lots of detail at distance so you don’t waste a bunch of time trying to fine tune for a focus point that doesn’t exist on the other scopes.
The rubber objective and eye piece caps fit nice and tight and the sunshade slides smooth and seems to have a good fit as well. All of the other scopes had some optical limitation compared with the Cronus, be it at the high end or low end of magnification, FOV, brightness, sharpness, etc. I would expect the TS-82 or some other $3K+ scope outperforms this scope, but you can only ask so much of a $1500 scope.
The only cons I guess would be that I wish it was rubber coated and came with a more functional protective cover that snugs the scope (as opposed to splitting like a banana peel) when you are using it, but these are minor and I’m willing to add velcro, sew up (or go to a tailor) for these items on my own. Also, it looks like they only make the angled eye piece and I know a friend who likes straight so he can swap out his scope for binos without adjusting his seat height, but I don’t mind dealing with this issue and would rather adjust my seat then not be able to get the full range of
performance this scope can give compared to others at it’s price point and below (and maybe above to some extent, depending on the mfg given what I have seen).
I hope this has been helpful and I’m pretty sure you’ll be happy with this scope.