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In the last two or three years, the market has seen the advent of multiple new companies offering a very exclusive range of binoculars, spotting scopes and rangefinders. The Blaser binoculars introduced previously by the lesser known German Sport Optics group had a price tag which was comparable to some of the top class binocular sellers in the world such as Leica and Zeiss binoculars. Binoculars having a price of around 1000 dollars are being sold by companies like Maven Optics as well as Tract Optics. The interesting fact is that they have successfully managed to capture certain strategically important positions in the American market with the superiority of their products. The newest entry into this club is German Precision Optics with its launch of the Passion HD series of binoculars. Read on for the rest of our GPO Passion Binoculars Review.
The GPO ED series of binoculars has 4 models which are 8×32, 10×32, 8×42 and 10×42 variants. All the models in this range are outfitted with the top-of-the-line Schimdt-Pechan prism sets, which are characterized by their very broad fields of view and the very light, waterproof magnesium framework. The company says that the transmission of these binoculars goes up to as much as 90%. German Precision Optics is also planning to release an upgrade in subsequent years with transmissions of up to 92%. The cost of the Passion HD binoculars ranges between 980 dollars for the base model to the top model costing around 1300 dollars.
GPO Passion Binoculars Review: Design and Build Quality
Installed onto the magnesium frame of the binoculars is a black rubber armoring with a texture that changes as the user progresses around the body. It is little rough on the outer side to facilitate the user grip, with a smoother texture near the bridge and inside the facet of the lens tubes. The rubber sticks to the binoculars well and provides a significantly strong, stable grip for the user. The frame has been well protected with no uncovered patches on the framework of the binoculars. They have taken such care in the quality of the sturdy build that they did not leave a gap near the objective lenses either. They are very large when it comes to the 10×42 range of binoculars and maybe that is the reason why they rest so comfortably in the arms of users. And of course, thumb indentations obviously provided some help with the grip.
The wheel in the center, appreciably big as well as ribbed, works easily and is accessed easily as well. Going from the minimum focal distance all the way through to infinity requires a turn via an angle of approximately 540 degrees which means almost one and a half turns of the wheel. German Precision Optics does this very conveniently at a quite acceptable price. In the event of one extending the wheel farther from the lens barrel, we will find the locking diopter adjustment scale. This feature restricts the movement of all outer optical elements. This restriction of movement occurs inside the body of the binoculars so that the instrument stays completely insulated as well as totally weatherproof. Like most of the binoculars in this price range, the GPO Passion HD 10×42 has its interior filled with dry nitrogen gas to prevent water condensation from occurring inside the tubes.
Towards the opposite end of the bridge, opposite to the wheel used for focusing, there is a blind preventer installed which will obstruct the tripod thread. The positioning of this feature is very intelligent and offers easy access to users. This minimizes the number of problems most users face when they have to mount their binoculars on a tripod in extreme situations.
The binoculars have a really comfortable feel when someone needs to use them to watch an object. The binoculars have accurately profiled comfortable rubber eyecups which can be extended and retracted based on need. The mechanism is the same helical twist-up eyecups. The maximum interpupillary distance for the GPO Passion HD 10×42 goes up to 74.5mm which is quite suitable to fit the needs of users regardless of their face types or face sizes. The interpupillary distance is not so flexible in other pairs of binoculars.
The lenses are multicoated and accomplish the anti-reflecting aspects of the job very well. All the optical parts that come in contact with the air are multicoated as well. The objective lenses have reflections that are pink, bluish, orange and yellowish green in color. The reflections emanating from the installed prisms are pink in color and the ones from the eye lenses look like they are made out of various hues of colors. In case of the eyepieces, the hues that dominate are mostly green in color or pink. The optical lenses are not very heavily coated and hence they offer the most realistic image of the object on which they are focused. The images made by the optics installed in this binocular are highly colored neutral with a slight tinge of yellow-green which is negligible.
When we examined the lens tubes they were very well blackened out and the sides of the tubes were well matted with a significant number of baffles to reduce the amount of internal loss of light and to maximize the brightness of the image. The cleanliness of the lenses is beyond good. In fact, the care taken to keep the lenses and optical glasses clean is extremely exhaustive, to say the least. No dirt, dust or moisture can be seen on either the prisms or the primary lenses installed into the binoculars. The area surrounding the prism is the only bone of contention when it comes to the internal build of this optical instrument. The prisms have been attached to the roof of the binoculars with two screws. These screws have not been blackened properly and shine significantly, detracting from the quality of the image.
With respect to exit pupils, the binoculars appear generously built and feature a good field of view with only minor deviations from circular appearance and a comparatively darker area surrounding the exit pupil which improves the quality of the image being produced.
The focusing mechanism of the binoculars is a spot that has garnered a lot of attention. This pair of binoculars has by far the best focusing mechanism that can be found on any binoculars in this price range and also the best focusing mechanism when we take the cost into account. The center focusing wheel has to be moved up to reveal the locking stop diopter adjustment framework. It is a standard right ocular adjustment mechanism as is the case with most binoculars. Once you snap it back into place you will have a comfortable, efficient and relatively smooth counterclockwise movement of the focusing wheel. Focus direction is a minimally advantageous situation. This particular model of the German Precision Optics Passion has a 6-foot close focus.
For the close focus point, the focusing wheel needs a complete turn to reach up to 50 feet. From here onwards there are slight marks that will facilitate moving the focus further away. This binocular go from a meager 50 feet to infinity with a quarter of a turn. Another one-quarter turn takes the user past infinity. The total journey from a close focus distance to the last point of infinity is close to one and a quarter of turns. Focusing at infinity gives the users a close focus range of around 75 feet.
The focus tension is surprisingly similar in both the directions. There is absolutely no lag in the movement of the focusing wheel. This pair of binoculars is a favorite for people who love a no-fuss easy buttery smooth focusing mechanism. This particular piece of optical instrumentation delights people like this. However, the only disadvantage of this particular feature is that the focus position has a possibility of changing its position when the binoculars are brought in and out of the case. For this reason, most travelers and bird watchers prefer a slightly coarser focusing mechanism to control the outcome.
Field of View
This is claimed by the company to be 375 feet, which is relatively lower than most binoculars. However, the view does not feel controlled or restricted in any particular way. It has a very widely variated optical sweet spot. This binocular does not use any field flatteners, but the final authentic edge is well produced and there are minor levels of distracting distortion observed in the outer boundaries of the field of view.
The image is crystal clear and offers a very high clarity to the user. GPO has designed this instrument to keep its sharpness at all times during use. No matter what the resolution specs may say, these are very good in terms of the result. There is no issue with the clarity and sharpness of the images created. Upon focusing the binoculars onto a very luminescent source of white light, a yellowish tinge is formed in the resulting image. In general usage, the representation of colors of the images is relatively neutral. Contrast is a very high quality offering a clearly distinct set of colors for a wonderful image. The peripheral edges of different colors are very distinctly marked. Textures of a very detailed profile, leave little to the imagination with images showing clear-cut representations of even the fur of animals and the barks of trees which is actually very impressive. The overall experience of users is a very relaxed and comfortable one with no strain exerted on the eyes. The user experience of most experts shows that the image reproduction is so lifelike and smooth that many users forget that there is a pair of binoculars involved in the viewing process. This is undoubtedly a sign of an exceptionally good pair of binoculars.
There are almost negligible levels of distortion found around the edges of the image. These images stay surprisingly uniform and stable even with repeated movement of the binoculars with almost no bending of horizontal appearances. Edge distortions were noted in these binoculars however they were not significant enough to bend vertical lines as well. The distortions, a large part of which is minimal, does not contribute to any sort of distraction.
- Extremely sturdy build with generous amounts of rubber armoring provided.
- Best in class focusing mechanism.
- A multicoated lens which improves contrast and color neutrality.
- No eye strain experienced when using this instrument for long durations.
- A massive field of view of 375 feet.
- A very widely variated optical sweet spot which ensures the best reproduction of images across a wide variety of optical specifications.
- Minimal distortion for both horizontal and vertical images.
- A locking mechanism present which improves the stability of the binocular.
- A diopter adjustment scale is present to make corrections automatically.
- Some amounts of peripheral distortion noticed.
- When directed towards a bright white light source, the resulting image has a yellowish tinge.
- Significant amounts of chromatic aberration noticed.
- It is expensive as compared to similar binoculars.
- The astigmatism of GPO is quite limited as compared to other models.
- The field of view is narrower.
All the binoculars made by the GPO are covered by the trademarked “Spectacular Life Warranty” which works surprisingly well with the company covering any manufacturing defects discovered in the instrument. The Spectacular Life Warranty does not cover the damage caused to the product due to rough handling or the user dropping the product. Neither does the organization cover defects such as scratches on the lens due to improper cleaning methods, nor for the normal wear and tear the product undergoes over time with use.
What we have on our GPO Passion HD 10×42 is the best of what can be achieved in a 1000 dollar price range. It has ample levels of image clarity, sharpness, color neutrality and brightness to satisfy most adventure enthusiasts and wildlife observers. The binocular also has a solid build with ample amounts of rubber armoring on the magnesium frame and would be a traveler and adventurer’s favorite.