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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/22/2017 at 23:21
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Review series: New Binocular Brands

About this series: Over the last year or so several new companies have begun selling new brand name binoculars and other sports optics. Circumstances have led me to the opportunity to review several of them. . The first full review of this new series is the German Precision Optics (GPO) Passion HD in 8x42.

I do these reviews because I enjoy doing them. I am not affiliated with any of the companies and have no expectations of either being paid for the review, or otherwise being given anything. The folks at GPO are reading the review for the first time, right here, just like everybody else. I’m going to post here in the new GPO section. Other reviews will be posted in the General section. When those are done, I will do a comparison based on side by side observations. It is my intent to compare based on strengths and weaknesses. I have no intention of a shoot-out scenario with a grand winner and a big loser. Each brand and model will get its own stand alone review. I got the GPO first, so it is up. So let’s dive in.

GPO Passion HD 8x42: I got this glass for review by following the simple expedient of calling Mike Jensen and asking for one. Troubadour posted about the formation of the GPO brand, and that got my interest. This is one of the very first few binoculars that GPO received for early examination purposes. While the binocular itself is unchanged from the first that will be sold, it came with some rather generic objective covers, and no box. Just a hard zip style clam shell case, with a strap for both the case and the binocular, and lens covers. I was going to do a bit of an unboxing section, but since everything that might be included with the delivered sales models weren’t here, I didn’t. There is a minimum of exterior markings on this unit. On the left barrel there is a metal strip bearing the inscription GPO German-Precision-Optics. The focus wheel has only Passion HD and 8x42. There is the raptor head and wing logo on the right side of the single high hinge, another small German-Precision-Optics and a serial number on the right hand ring, just above the armor.

Out of the box the first thing I noticed was that this has excellent fit and finish, frankly just what should be expected from an instrument costing nearly $1,000. They are a solid instrument with a nice substantial feel. The second thing is that the eye cup assemblies have received a lot of thought. They don’t unscrew, but from what I can tell they are not a generic off somebody’s shelf assembly. They simply have a unique sort of feel. There is three stops, all the way down, midway up, and fully extended. They move easily and smoothly and you can both hear and feel the detent as it thunks into place. They will stay where they are put. You will have to move the position, they show no tendency to move of their own accord.

The armor has two parts. The outer third, where you hands make contact while holding is a finely dimpled pebble grain finish that has a sandblasted feel to it. The rest is smooth, somewhat slick with a hard rubber feel. It seems a nice balance between grippy enough to hold and not so smooth as to feel too slippery.

Focus action: The focus action is an area that has received a lot of attention. This is as nice a focus mechanism as there is on any binocular, regardless of cost. The center focus wheel is pulled upward to expose the diopter adjustment grid. It is a standard right eye adjustment. Snap it down and you have a soft, smooth counter clockwise to infinity movement. Focus direction is a no win situation. Either direction is wrong for somebody. This unit has a 6 foot close focus.

At the close focus point it needs one full turn to go to 50 feet. From there there are just slight bumps needed to get further away, There is about one quarter turn from 50’ to infinity. There is one quarter turn travel past infinity. Total focus travel is one and a half turns. Focus at infinity gives a close focus of about 75’.

The focus tension is equal in either direction. There is no slack in the wheel movement. If you like the buttery smooth focus, then this will suit you in that regard. However the downside is that there will be some tendency for the focus position to move when going in and back out of the case. I prefer a bit less silky movement.

PERFORMANCE:

FOV: OK folks here we go. Here we go because everybody just knows more fov is better right? I admit that if I had my druthers, I’d like to see 420’. When I first looked at the view through the focused HD, I thought, “this has to be understated, no way is this only 375 feet”. Literally the first review parameter I checked was the fov. Well guess what that is what it is. I even double checked my measurements and repeated the measurement several times. Well, 375 it is. It still looks wider. I would nearly bet somebody the price of a new GPO HD (I said nearly OK) that the first thought will not be, “Ugh, this is too restrictive of a fov”. It simply is not. I seems wider in side by side comparison to a Promaster Infinity Elite ELX 8x42 I have which is both listed and measures as 7.5* or 393 feet. You can kneel to the spec sheet. That is fine. But it is your loss.

There are a lot of factors that go into the ultimate user satisfaction with the image. Whatever was done with this binocular worked. There is certainly a perceived “wider than it is” fov going on here.

Worth noting is the appearance of the widening of the fov as the eye cups are retracted. Since I measured the fov at full extension, which is where I leave them, I checked the fov at the intermediate and down stops. Whatever the reason, there is no change. The same measurement at all stops. But it sure looks like the field goes wider.

Image performance: The image is crisp and clean. Sharpness is top notch. Whatever the resolution spec is, it is certainly as good as anything else and better than a lot of others. Not an issue here. Looking backward at a bright, white, lighted surface there seems to be a very slight yellowish tint. In usage the color presentation seems quite neutral. Contrast is excellent. Greens are green, reds red, blues blue, blacks are black and whites are white. Edges of color boundaries are very sharply defined. Textures of things like feather detail and bark patterns leave little to be desired. Overall we have a very relaxed image, easy on the eyes. Easy in the vein you forget there is a binocular involved in the view. A characteristic of any good binocular.

There is little to no distortion across the field. Horizontal borders of horizontal corral boards stay horizontal in the view, all the way across the field, not bending at all as they either enter or leave either the top or bottom of the field. While there is some edge distortion it does not bend vertical lines at the edge. A vertical mirror of the horizontal performance. While there is no particular attempt for a flat field, the more or less conventional edge is well done, certainly not distracting. There is a little curvature, as would be expected without field flatteners.

Eye cups and eye relief: The eye cups are pretty standard 41 mm across the uppermost portion. They are 12 mm high, There is 2 mm between the ocular lens surface and the fully retracted eye cup. There is 14 mm of distance between the fully extended upper eye cup and the ocular lens. Listed eye relief is 19.5 mm. I measured it at 17 mm. IPD is from 57-75 mm on this unit. While the extension of the eye cup matches the eye relief as I measured it, there is less extension than needed if the actual listed figure is correct. With either reading glasses or sunglasses I can get a full fov. But I am not an obligate eye glass wearer, so I can’t make a better recommendation.

Glare and CA Suppression: I have noted before that I am not particularly sensitive to CA. I can force it to appear, and I tend to judge its control levels on the basis on how hard it is to get it to appear. In this instance it is somewhat easier to get it to show up, but it always is at very low levels. I would suggest that it will not be an issue unless a particular viewer is really CA sensitive. I have as yet been unable to get it to show any sort of glare in the image, even with exaggerated eye placements. It has been a dreary wet, and dark gray few days, so I have yet to get a really bright day to look harder. However after I wrote the last sentence, the snow stopped falling and the clouds broke away. Even in the snow, looking under the bright sun, there was no glare. Some glare has been noted for the 10x42. So I suppose the difference may be related to the exit pupil diameter.

Warranty and Service: GPO has trademarked the name “Spectacular Lifetime Warranty”. In description it is very Vortex or Leupold in application. Everyone is entitled to their market speak, and I’m fine with that. The idea is that GPO is going to take care of its customers. The proof is how well it works.

GPO USA has a repair facility of their own in Virginia. Binoculars in need of service will be sent there. They will be repaired unless severe damage warrants replacement. These are a built to be a take apart and repair precision instrument. The throw away merchandise idea seems not to apply here.

Summary: What we have with this binocular is another very good example of what can now be done at the $1,000 price range. There is ample image quality, contrast, and sharpness to satisfy almost anyone. There is a solid build and rugged feel, while also presenting a pretty refined instrument.

I am not going to make the claim these are an Alpha Killer. They are not, nor I am sure does GPO intend them to be a competitor at the $2,000++ level. That market niche is likely less than ten percent and it is not big enough to go after and the $1,000-1,200 range is where this glass is intended to compete. And compete it will. It is also close enough the the top tier that there will be some level of perceived competition there, intended or otherwise.

I always do a review with one question foremost in mind. Is this good enough to either buy myself or to recommend to somebody else? The answer is yes it is.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/23/2017 at 08:44
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Outstanding Steve, as per your usual work.  With stellar products like the GPO, Maven, and Tract @ $1000 or less (Tract is significantly under that), these are the good times for high performing/value glass.  
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Nice review!

Thanks!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/23/2017 at 13:40
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the real question....that cant be answered, is will the company be around in 5....10...??....years to honor that warranty....these seem to want to compete for the same market at the conquest HD....good solid repairable with v-good optics....where Zeiss has the advantage is that they have been around forever and have always stood behind their products....it takes a long time to build that kind of reputation....what am I getting above and beyond what I get from Zeiss to make it worth my risk from any of these NEW importers????.....Besides that I like a company to actually manufacture at least some of their product.....not just be another rebrander....Wink
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Originally posted by gunut gunut wrote:

the real question....that cant be answered, is will the company be around in 5....10...??....years to honor that warranty....these seem to want to compete for the same market at the conquest HD....good solid repairable with v-good optics....where Zeiss has the advantage is that they have been around forever and have always stood behind their products....it takes a long time to build that kind of reputation....what am I getting above and beyond what I get from Zeiss to make it worth my risk from any of these NEW importers????.....Besides that I like a company to actually manufacture at least some of their product.....not just be another rebrander....Wink

Yeah, well Zeiss rebrands that Conquest HD, as it is made by Kamakura, Japan.  
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Since you are all hung up on Zeiss, let me clarify a few things.  GPO has its main headquarters in Germany.  It was founded by one Richard Schmidt, former President of Zeiss Sports Optics.  Aside from long experience with Zeiss he has an engineering background.  They have other people with engineering backgrounds, including one man who started out milling screws for Zeiss optics way back in the day.  GPO USA is in Virginia, that is owned by a man named Mike Jensen, former executive of both Swarovski and Zeiss.  There is a plethora of optical know how there.

Calling them simply rebranders is a pure insult.  For one thing if that was what they were up to does anybody really think I'd do a review on that and actually post it here?

This company has the knowledge to :
Know what they want in a good optic.
Know what needs to be in it to get what they need.
Know where to go to get the above.
Have the design and engineering experience to sit with a Kamakura type OEM and talk shop with their engineers to get to where they need to be.
Have the ability to evaluate prototypes to be sure they have the final product they want.
Have a business plan in place to get them where they want to be.

All of the above is a far, far cry from just going some place with a check book in some Chinese back alley and buying a bunch of junk and attempt ot become famous.  That surely happens.  Just look at the junk with names like BSA, Barska, Levenheuk and all of the $29.99 crap you can get on on line super sellers.  This is not the same deal. The above applies to all of the latest companies, GPO, Maven, Styrka, and Tract.  They are dealing with reputable OEM's probably Kamakura and the aim is a quality product.  One built to be repaired.

When you jump immediately into the arguments of they have no history because they are new or that they are just branders or rebranders or whatever pejorative stuff you wish to attach, it means you have lost the argument out of the gate.  No, not all will succeed to the same degree, but like it or not the Vortex style model is likely the way forward in optics.

You do not go to Kamakura (or somebody like them) if you need junk.  You can get quality inexpensive or expensive.  You go there to get what you want.  Whether you go with your own design or whether you need some degree of input from the company.  Go in blind with no experience and  a check book then you will fall flat.


Edited by Klamath - March/23/2017 at 22:18
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if they are still around in 10years Ill give them a look....
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/24/2017 at 10:26
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So grasshopper, by your own criteria how long will you have to last here  (or other forums) before you gain some credibility?  If you are still around after awhile, maybe I'll give you another look.  Here and other forums you seem to post flame.  Good luck with that.  OH yeah, not that you aren't entitled to an opinion.  You can use it to your detriment or to your benefit,  Later dude!

To everybody else, I hope it was clear enough I was reviewing the binocular based on what I thought of it.  Not because of whatever else.  Don't think I ever went there.  I figure everybody here can make up their own mind on whatever else goes into a binocular to make your own decisions.

To add a comment on another point, that review was not done with the hope or expectation I'd get anything from it.  I do this stuff because I enjoy it, well most of it anyway Smile.  New stuff interests me.  I think it likely interests a lot of people.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/24/2017 at 19:30
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not saying these newcomers are offering BAD bins....just that they are not offering anything unique....so why go with the unknown maker when companies that are well established are offering very comparable goods....the newcomers either have to offer something unique or comparable goods for a notably lower price.....all I'm saying is I don't see that....

I did see that with Cannon and the IS bins....they went from being a fringe also ran to being a real player in the bin market.....just don't see that from the latest new comers.....to me 600-1200 is my alpha...as I wont be investing in the top end market $2500......but I do like the stability and longevity of the big boys when it comes to backing a warranty promise...even on their less than alpha models....

so with the new guys I'm looking for unique or bargain....and I don't think voicing that opinion makes me a flamer....just an educated customer....Wink
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Until you actually look for yourself, and try to see if you have any ability to objectively analyze the optics before your eyes, to be able to judge them for what they are, and not criticize them for what they are not, not you won't know.  You need to figure it out that when you jump head first into the discussion with your two big guns (they are new and they are just importers) blazing, that is not rational discussion, no matter how it gets phrased.  You might call it being an educated consumer, I would not agree with you on that point. Smile

Those are the first two, and often the only two arguments trotted out by those who think like you seem to.  If shoot the messenger and burn the message are where you start, it simply means you have lost the argument first jump out of the gate.  Those are the two most redundant arguments on the internet. I think there is nothing educated about that.

I think everybody gets the idea that they are new.  That is why I used the term new guy.  There are some who seem to not be able to grasp the idea that there are in fact intelligent, educated, and innovative people who can get into this game without being just another importer.  Look to the online super sellers with the $29.99 crap for those.

Just because they are smart enough to avoid trying to capitalize a whole new glass to consumer facility and will use an established facility to work with to get what they want, does not make them just another importer.  Seems like there are plenty in the arena and separation is difficult to achieve.  Darwinian competition will sort it out.  Not all will fail.  It is correct to keep that in perspective, but look to see what they really have and what they are about first.  That is where the educated part comes in.


Edited by Klamath - March/24/2017 at 20:14
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Originally posted by gunut gunut wrote:

not saying these newcomers are offering BAD bins....just that they are not offering anything unique....so why go with the unknown maker when companies that are well established are offering very comparable goods....the newcomers either have to offer something unique or comparable goods for a notably lower price.....all I'm saying is I don't see that....

I did see that with Cannon and the IS bins....they went from being a fringe also ran to being a real player in the bin market.....just don't see that from the latest new comers.....to me 600-1200 is my alpha...as I wont be investing in the top end market $2500......but I do like the stability and longevity of the big boys when it comes to backing a warranty promise...even on their less than alpha models....

so with the new guys I'm looking for unique or bargain....and I don't think voicing that opinion makes me a flamer....just an educated customer....Wink


Your opinions, and guesses, are a piss poor substitute for actual experience, of which you have none.  
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Originally posted by Klamath Klamath wrote:

Until you actually look for yourself, and try to see if you have any ability to objectively analyze the optics before your eyes, to be able to judge them for what they are, and not criticize them for what they are not, not you won't know.  You need to figure it out that when you jump head first into the discussion with your two big guns (they are new and they are just importers) blazing, that is not rational discussion, no matter how it gets phrased.  You might call it being an educated consumer, I would not agree with you on that point. Smile

Those are the first two, and often the only two arguments trotted out by those who think like you seem to.  If shoot the messenger and burn the message are where you start, it simply means you have lost the argument first jump out of the gate.  Those are the two most redundant arguments on the internet. I think there is nothing educated about that.

I think everybody gets the idea that they are new.  That is why I used the term new guy.  There are some who seem to not be able to grasp the idea that there are in fact intelligent, educated, and innovative people who can get into this game without being just another importer.  Look to the online super sellers with the $29.99 crap for those.

Just because they are smart enough to avoid trying to capitalize a whole new glass to consumer facility and will use an established facility to work with to get what they want, does not make them just another importer.  Seems like there are plenty in the arena and separation is difficult to achieve.  Darwinian competition will sort it out.  Not all will fail.  It is correct to keep that in perspective, but look to see what they really have and what they are about first.  That is where the educated part comes in.

Well put.

In principle, the question "why buy Brand A vs Brand B?" is always a valid question.  How established the brand is figures in the answer and a new brand, like GPO, has to work a bit harder than an established brand to gain credibility.  

Discarding a brand simply because it is new is a perfectly viable strategy, but, in my opinion, not a very intelligent one.  I do see people do it a lot though, both here and on other forums.  Hunters, seem more prone to it than tactical/precision guys, but it is not uncommon with the latter either.  My best guess is that tactical people are a little more open minded on average simply because in competition the slightest edge can make a difference.  For hunters, all too often, I hear the sentiment along the lines: "it has worked for 30 years, and I see no reason to try anything else".  For those who do not hunt out of the truck (i.e. do not have the luxury of having backup gear at hand), there is some merit in that.

New brands pop-up all the time and often offer something that established brands do not.  Ultimately, that is a good thing, since large established brands, for obvious reasons, tend to play it safe, while newcomers need to push the envelope a bit to gain market share.

When people from established companies go off and start new ones, it is usually a good thing, since they typically have existing relationships with the OEMs and have a good grasp of the market.

In the riflescope world, look at how well Athlon has done in just a couple of years (former Bushnell people).  Tract (former Nikon people) is doing well, best I can tell.  There are other examples, as well.

Personally, I like new stuff, so I tend to look at it.  With GPO, in the ~$1k price range, they basically need to make a case that they are better than Meopta, which is sorta my reference standard in that price bracket.  I still need to look at Maven, so perhaps, I should round up Maven, GPO and Meopta and do a comparison.

ILya
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Originally posted by gunut gunut wrote:

not saying these newcomers are offering BAD bins....just that they are not offering anything unique....so why go with the unknown maker when companies that are well established are offering very comparable goods....the newcomers either have to offer something unique or comparable goods for a notably lower price.....all I'm saying is I don't see that....

so with the new guys I'm looking for unique or bargain....and I don't think voicing that opinion makes me a flamer....just an educated customer....Wink



HI Gunny

You ask a reasonable question but you sure zing it into the pot with an air of contempt for the new brand. We can walk down this road quite a ways. If we have Trinovids and Conquests why do we need Mavens, Kites and GPOs? If we have Nikon why do we need Vortex, indeed if we have Bushnell why do we need Nikon? And when we have all those, who needs Tract?

The answer is we now have more choice and we can all exercise that choice according to our own needs, preferences and prejudices. Take my own choice: for me Zeiss SF 8x wins over Swaro EL because its FOV and handling really suits my needs. To some people these are over-priced 'clones'. Good for me and good for them I say: its whatever floats your boat and with the arrival of GPO (and other mid-priced brands) we now have more choice of super-quality instruments than ever.

I have no idea whether GPO will be here in 10 years but I wouldn't bet money against it: Richard Schmidt and Mike Jensen are smart guys and they have hands-on, learnt from the nuts, bolts and lenses up-talent working with them. But speaking for myself, I never buy anything, whether it is bins or toasters based on the warranty or life-expectancy of the company. In my experience if something is bad you find out quickly enough to take it back to the store and say 'this was crap when you sold it and I want a replacement now please and I need to check it out to ensure it doesn't have the same fault. If 10 years down the line a pair of bins needs re-lubricating I am willing to pay for that, its fair wear and tear and I don't expect warranty to cover anything except faults of manufacture or materials and not the wear resulting from normal use.

Cheers Lee
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Originally posted by Troubador Troubador wrote:

Originally posted by gunut gunut wrote:

not saying these newcomers are offering BAD bins....just that they are not offering anything unique....so why go with the unknown maker when companies that are well established are offering very comparable goods....the newcomers either have to offer something unique or comparable goods for a notably lower price.....all I'm saying is I don't see that....

so with the new guys I'm looking for unique or bargain....and I don't think voicing that opinion makes me a flamer....just an educated customer....Wink



HI Gunny

You ask a reasonable question but you sure zing it into the pot with an air of contempt for the new brand. We can walk down this road quite a ways. If we have Trinovids and Conquests why do we need Mavens, Kites and GPOs? If we have Nikon why do we need Vortex, indeed if we have Bushnell why do we need Nikon? And when we have all those, who needs Tract?

The answer is we now have more choice and we can all exercise that choice according to our own needs, preferences and prejudices. Take my own choice: for me Zeiss SF 8x wins over Swaro EL because its FOV and handling really suits my needs. To some people these are over-priced 'clones'. Good for me and good for them I say: its whatever floats your boat and with the arrival of GPO (and other mid-priced brands) we now have more choice of super-quality instruments than ever.

I have no idea whether GPO will be here in 10 years but I wouldn't bet money against it: Richard Schmidt and Mike Jensen are smart guys and they have hands-on, learnt from the nuts, bolts and lenses up-talent working with them. But speaking for myself, I never buy anything, whether it is bins or toasters based on the warranty or life-expectancy of the company. In my experience if something is bad you find out quickly enough to take it back to the store and say 'this was crap when you sold it and I want a replacement now please and I need to check it out to ensure it doesn't have the same fault. If 10 years down the line a pair of bins needs re-lubricating I am willing to pay for that, its fair wear and tear and I don't expect warranty to cover anything except faults of manufacture or materials and not the wear resulting from normal use.

Cheers Lee

I agree to a point...but when investing say 800-1000 in a new bin you have to consider the maker, quality of item and warranty....I like a lot of the newer bins....really.   ....I even own a Vanguard.....10.5 X 45....decent bins....but for well less than comparable big brand bins [bargain]....made it worth the risk....

 lot of potential bin purchasers come to bin forums to research B4 a purchase....some have no idea what to purchase....I think they should hear both sides of whatever bins they are interested in....B4 they buy a pair of shrink wrapped bins for Walmart...

and perhaps someone could answer how GPO got their own discussion area on the 'BIRD' forum B4 they were even being sold.....most of the upstarts have to prove themselves for a while B4 that happens?????...if even then...who is pulling strings for them and why....???..Wink
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I agree to a point...but when investing say 800-1000 in a new bin you have to consider the maker, quality of item and warranty....I like a lot of the newer bins....really.   ....I even own a Vanguard.....10.5 X 45....decent bins....but for well less than comparable big brand bins [bargain]....made it worth the risk....

 lot of potential bin purchasers come to bin forums to research B4 a purchase....some have no idea what to purchase....I think they should hear both sides of whatever bins they are interested in....B4 they buy a pair of shrink wrapped bins for Walmart...

and perhaps someone could answer how GPO got their own discussion area on the 'BIRD' forum B4 they were even being sold.....most of the upstarts have to prove themselves for a while B4 that happens?????...if even then...who is pulling strings for them and why....???..Wink
[/QUOTE]

Can't say I disagree with much of that Gunny although I am not sure how shrink-wrapped bins from Walmart came into it. That describes neither Vanguards (nice BTW) or GPO.  I have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to GPO getting a spot on Bird Forum as I have no idea how brands get a spot on there.

Blue Steve runs Bird Forum and as far as I can tell he runs a tight ship and although I don't know the guy personally, what little I do know doesn't suggest he has strings attached that you can pull and get away with it.

Lee
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I shan't comment on the prospective longevity of any entry into the seemingly crowded field of optics, I shall only register my admiration for their gumption for climbing in a very competitive field. A calculated risk is an adventure, I wish them well.

And Steve, I thank you for your time in reviewing and sharing your findings. Excellent and compelling report.
Wf

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Thanks, and I agree with your gumption admiration comment too Big Smile.
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Thanks for posting another very good bino review, Steve!

These look compelling for sure!
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Certainly a great review Steve
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