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GPO Passion HD Binoculars


GPO Passion HD Binoculars

Review Highlights

  • Bright, sharp German optics
  • Close focus to 6.25 feet
  • Very smooth focusing
  • Excellent ergonomics

We have a new binocular to tell you about, and we’re kind of excited about it! Yes - new optics come out all the time. There are 25-30 major or well-known optics manufacturers, and they release new models and unique configurations of old models regularly. From that perspective, a new optic isn’t particularly exciting. So what makes this at all different? Well, for starters, this optic is coming out in a higher quality category than usual. The Passion HD isn’t some $300 entry-level product; it’s a $1000 binocular that comes with all the refinements that one expects at that price level. Moreover, it comes from a brand-new optics manufacturer. The company is called German Precision Optics (hereafter GPO) and its roots go back to one of the most respected optics European manufacturers. The founders of GPO left another renowned manufacturer to start their own company. Okay, so now we have a fairly high-end product from a brand-new company with roots in optics royalty. So that is different!

Before we get into the details, it’s worth noting that currently Optics4Birding offers two binocular models from GPO, and somewhat confusingly, both products are called Passion; it’s just that one is the Passion ED, and one is the Passion HD. This review concerns only the Passion HD binocular. Of those, there are 5 configurations available: 8x42, 10x42, 8.5x50, 10x50 and 12.5x50. All models are standard roof prism type designs. We received only the 10x42 model for review, so the numbers are only what we verified for that model.

Optical Properties

One of the joys of reviewing relatively high-end products like the GPO Passion HDs is that the quality of view is fantastic overall. The image is tack sharp and color neutral. Generally, the Passion HD binoculars were a joy to use and test. Passion HD 10x42 binoculars have a 336-foot field of view at 1000 yards, which is about average for a 10x binocular. We measured the close focus at 6.25 feet with only minimal collapse at the edges of the field; this is good performance for this trait. The focus knob is large with raised ridges on the rubber coating to improve the grip. We were impressed by how smoothly and easily this knob turned, even brand new out of the box. This was well done! Getting from close focus to infinity requires about 1.6 turns of the knob, which is a little slow, but not obnoxiously so. This property affects how fast you can react to something unexpectedly close or far relative to where you were set before, so it can have an impact. That being said, 1.6 turns is perfectly adequate under most field conditions. Depth of field is another of those properties that’s really hard to assess given that it varies with how far away the object being viewed actually is. In use, you really only notice extremes of this property: if it’s really deep, or really shallow. The 10x42 Passion HD binocular had an average one.


GPO Passion HD Binoculars Diopter Mouse over to see eyecup function

One thing that didn’t impress us as much about the Passion HD binocular was its field curvature. The view through the center of the field is great but the edges were a bit soft. This occurs when the edges of the field aren’t in the same focal plane as the center, and the net effect is a blur at the edge of the visual field when you are sharp in the middle. Again, this isn’t a drastic issue - people naturally tend to look through the center of an optic and usually disregard the edges anyway. But we’ve handled binoculars that are sharp right to the edge, and it is something we look at. If that’s a negative, it’s a fairly minor one. A not-so-minor characteristic is chromatic aberration, and this is one that the GPO Passions do really well. We noticed virtually no chromatic aberration even on brightly lit objects viewed at the field edge, where normally this aberration is the greatest. Again, it’s not that people tend to look at the edges. But in this case, it’s important. Chromatic aberration is insidious in that, while more readily detectable at the field edge, it impacts the entire view, resulting in a subtly blurred image. So this heavily impacts the overall view quality through the GPO Passion binoculars, and since, as noted, they do really well at minimizing chromatic aberration, this is a significant plus.

The diopter adjustment mechanism is concealed beneath the focus knob: you pull it out to reveal the mechanism, which is then twisted in either direction to adjust. This isn’t our favorite mechanism. The fact that you cannot focus while adjusting it makes adjusting the setting for unequal eyes is a trial-and-error prospect. Compensating for that though, GPO has put click stops or detents on the individual micro-position of the knob when adjusting the diopter, and they’ve provided a scale so you can tell exactly where you are. So that was very well done. Most people have “equal” eyes in terms of the diopter, so they just need only set it at the center point. But if you have unequal eyes, make the adjustment and note what that setting is, so that if you lose it somehow, you don’t have to go through the whole process to figure it out again de novo.

Physical Properties

GPO Passion HD Binoculars Eyecup Mouse over to see diopter function

In terms of the glass, the Passion HDs feature high density, good quality glass, with BaK-4 prisms. The lenses are fully multi-coated. The chassis is sealed, completely waterproof and nitrogen purged. When you pick the 10x42 Passion HDs up, they have a very solid feel that speaks of high build quality. The GPO Passion HD 10x42s are a bit over 6.5 inches long with the eyecups fully extended and 6 inches wide with the hinge completely open. They have an interpupilary distance range of 57-75 mm, which is broad enough to work with most people’s faces. They weigh 29.7 ounces and the rainguard, if used, adds another 0.9 ounces. These binoculars are coated in thick rubber armoring, which contributes to their weight, but protects them if someone knocks them over or drops them. The barrels are broad, and the armoring is pebbled on the outer sides for better grip. There are shallow divots in the armoring where the thumbs naturally fall, for just an extra bit of comfort. The eyecups extend with a helical twist mechanism, and there is one position between fully in or out. Each position is marked with a very stable detent; you won’t have a problem with the eyecups collapsing in the field. Generally, the ergonomics of these Passion HDs are quite good.

Peripherals

GPO Passion HD Binoculars Other minor features of the Passion HD 10x42s are in the lens caps and rainguard, the strap, and the case. The objective lens caps are soft rubber covers mounted on stretching rubber rings that fit into the barrel ends. The system works pretty well though it is often a bit of a challenge to get them fitted in properly. The objective lens caps seldom blow up to obscure the view, and being attached, are hard to lose. The rainguard is a pliable piece of rubber with cups that fit deeply over the eyecups. They stick firmly in place unless deliberately removed. The rainguard has two strap mounting brackets, one notched and one closed. This allows the user to detach the one side and fold it out of the way in the field. The strap is a cordura/neoprene hybrid that is really broad, which makes it quite comfortable to use. The waterproof case is a semi-rigid cordura pouch that zips shut with two zippers and has its own strap. One side is equipped with a net pouch for storing a binocular cloth, lens paper or other cleaning devices. It’s a nice little touch.

Conclusions

Overall, the German Precision Optics Passion HD 10x42 is an excellent binocular. The list price for this optic is $1,111.10, but they sell here at Optics4Birding for $999.99. This puts them right at a common price category, but the performance is a distinct cut above common. We very much enjoyed reviewing this binocular, and we hope that birders will take to them as much as we did.

Buy GPO Passion HD 10x42 Binoculars

Buy GPO Passion HD Binoculars

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