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Old Saturday 18th June 2016, 03:16   #1
sillyak
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Meostar 10x42mm HD full review

Although I wrote this review for the hunting forums I frequent, some on here may find it useful. It's my first comprehensive review of anything and I'm no professional. Let me know what you think.


Cabela’s Euro HD/Meopta Meostar 10x42mm HD Review

Branding and price class:

There seems to be a little bit of trepidation buying a big box store branded optic, or other hunting related item. Usually they are of Chinese manufacture, mediocre quality, and are heavily marketed by the big box store due to higher profit margins on store branded merchandise. The reality, in the binocular world, is that almost every low-mid priced binocular is made by a handful of Asian manufacturers and companies simply stick their name on the item. Often, some optically identical binoculars can be found under several brand names. Items like the Nikon Monarch, Zeiss Terra and Vortex Viper ect. are not made by Zeiss or Nikon themselves, but by a Chinese manufacturer to Zeiss/Vortex/Nikon’s spec and badged under their name. Cabela’s did the same sort of thing with their Euro HD line of optics, but instead of going to China, they went to Meopta in the Czech Republic. In the case of the Euro HD 10x42mm, it is completely identical to the Meostar 10x42mm HD, save for badging and slight armour differences. Meopta does not rebadge Chinese manufactured products; but, like Zeiss, Nikon and Leica’s higher end lines, and all Swarovskis, they are made in house. Since the two versions are identical, this review can be considered valid for either model. Although both models retail for $1199.99 USD, the Cabela’s model has the advantage of going on sale for $150-$250 fairly often. This price range puts them in competition with the Zeiss Conquest HD ($999 USD), Leica Trinovid HD ($999 USD), Vortex Razor HD ($1199.99 USD). This level is generally regarded as pretty darn close to top tier “alpha” glass, while being about half the cost.

The binocular, strap and case:

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y23...pseanxlwdn.jpg

A label on the box, Obviously a rebadged Meopta Meostar:

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y23...pssgza5vc3.jpg

Opening the box and first impressions:

I once read a review on the Zeiss SF that really complemented the design of the box the binocular came in. I for one don’t care too much about the box beyond its ability to safely deliver the optic to the customer. Inside were the usual documents, a quality Meopta branded cleaning cloth, a neck strap, case and the binoculars. The neck strap is a fat Neoprene strap with large air cells that provide a bunch of padding along with ventilation. It is long and adjustable enough to use the binos around your neck, or slung over your shoulder and across your chest. The air cells make the strap extremely comfy, in fact it is the best carrying strap I have ever seen come with binoculars, a camera or anything of that nature. This is probably of little use to most serious hunters as I’m sure most of you use a 3rd party bino harness. The case is vintage looking wool. I love the vintage look, but the wool attracts leaves and grass. I also don’t use the case for much more than storage, but it is very functional, stylish and has a silent fastener. The rain guard and objective covers are quality and stay on very well. They are very supple, which does make it possible to touch your objective while putting on the covers, so be careful!
The binoculars themselves feel quite heavy for their size, but you can immediately tell they are rugged and well made. Placing them to one’s eyes you instantly notice that bright, saturated and sharp view that you get when you look through alpha glass. Instantly you know that you are really going to have to work to pick apart optical flaws that separate this bino from the absolute best on the market.

Specs and ergonomics:

The specs for the Euro HD are quite comparable to the other binos in its price class. The FOV is 109.56m @ 1000m, which is competitive. The eye relief is 15mm, which is just long enough for me to get the full field of view with my glasses. If your glasses sit further away from your face than mine do, you may have to look at another model (The Conquest HD has longer ER). Of course if you don’t wear glasses this spec means nothing. The spec that should draw your attention is this binocular’s weight. Some sites list it as 27 oz, but this is wrong. It is 31 oz, or 33.7 oz with rain guard, obj covers and strap ends. This is quite heavy for a 10x42mm and is due to the aluminum chassis and thick armour. This may be a deal breaker for some. Most competitive binoculars in 10x42mm format weigh 25-28 oz, with some cheaper poly carbonate models weighing as little as 21 oz.
The binocular compensates for is portly scale reading by being a fair amount shorter than the competing models. The thick rubber armouring also makes it quite wide though. Holding the binoculars in your hand for long periods of time is easily done and I find them very comfortable binoculars to use. The weight steadies them, the large barrel gives my large hands a comfortable grip and they are very well balanced. There is a thumb cutout, in the armour, underneath the barrel. The focuser is superb for a hunting bino! It takes 1.75 turns end to end, has zero backlash and is slightly stiffer than most birding binos. I like this for hunting because your focus doesn’t change when you set the bino down to check your range, grab a snack ect. Which is nice when you are looking at one distance for a long period of time, like we do while hunting. The eyecups are well made and appropriately sized. They do not have any intermediate click stops from fully retracted to fully extended, but they have enough “sticktion” that they do not move when you place your eyes to them in an intermediate position. The eyecups screw off for easy cleaning in the same way that Swarovskis do. The diopter adjustment is a click stop wheel in front of the focus wheel. It is easier to adjust than a traditional version, but I feared it would adjust too easily by being handled and riding in a pack. Well it sat in the top of a pack for three days and 55 km of walking without moving so these fears were unfounded. For how often one adjusts a diopter (almost never) I don’t see much utility in the new position, but it doesn’t detract in any way either. In conclusion, the binoculars are heavy, but make up for it by being very ergonomic and extremely rugged feeling. If you threw every mass produced roof prism bino into a canyon I bet this one would take the least damage. As for damage, the binocular comes with a lifetime warranty through Cabela’s. Apparently they are easy to deal with, but the warranty card does say that you need to retain your receipt, which is kind of ridiculous for a product that should last decades. There is also the off chance that Cabela’s could go under. On the other hand, these would be serviceable by Meopta if Cabela’s can’t help you.

Optics:

A short summary on the optics would be: suberb! For those of you that have used Swarovski 10x42mm SLC HDs the view is almost identical. I’ll review the optical quality by looking at: Chromatic aberration, other aberrations, field curvature, distortion and colour saturation/fidelity.
Meopta did a good job picking a glass and working on the objective design as this binocular has essentially no noticeable chromatic aberration. I looked for it in a couple high contrast situations: a brightly lit snow patch on a dark mountain side, the moon in a dark sky and birds on branches backlit by a bright, overcast sky. In all cases I don’t think I could see any. Maybe a slight cast of purple on the moon. This is one area where good binoculars have really improved in the last 10 years. As for other the other aberrations (astigmatism, coma and spherical aberration) I am not good enough at testing optics to tell these three apart at 10 power, but the image is extremely sharp to the edge. A slight softening in the outer 20% of the FOV, not quite at Swarovski EL SV level, but I honestly believe they are on par with the SLC HDs in this department. The binoculars’ control over aberrations leads to superb resolution. Doing a test with a tripod in the store I could not tell a difference in resolution between the Euro HD and the Zeiss SF and Swarovski EL SV. Maybe with lots of time, and a magnifying optic, you could see more resolution in the top shelf offerings. As for field curvature, I have young eyes and as such can compensate naturally for a bit of field curvature. I notice none in this binocular. I have seen it speculated on other web forums that Meopta added a field flattening lens in the design, but it is not marketed. Regardless, it has a very flat field. Distortion may be where this binocular gets picked over for another one. As the reader most likely knows, distortion does not affect “sharpness” and most manufacturers add pincushion distortion to avoid the “rolling ball” effect while the user is panning the binocular. (rectilinear distortion v. angular magnification distortion) Some users are sensitive to the rolling ball effect and some users are sensitive to pincushion. The Euro HD has a rather high, in comparison to others in its price range, amount of pincushion distortion. I for one am not sensitive to pincushion so long as it is not excessive. Others may differ and if pincushion bothers you, you should definitely try this model before buying to see if you think it is too much. Colour rendition is slightly warm with the Meopta, this is fairly typical for most Meopta models from what I have read. I hope it is from the coatings boosting transmission in the longer end of the light spectrum, as this helps hunters at last light; but, that is conjecture as I have never seen a transmission graph for the HD version of this binocular. The colours appear very saturated and accurate, this is one reason for the “oh wow” one gets when looking through high end binoculars and you definitely see this effect with these. As I said at the start of this section, the view is very much like the Swarovski SLC HDs. One would really have to try and find a difference, aside from a bit more pincushion with the Euro HD. Glare control on the Euro HD is average for the price range. The inside is well blackened, but I think the objectives being a little bit more deeply set in the barrel would help it in this regard; of course that would also make the unit longer. It controls stray light better than cheaper models, but no better than any of its direct competition.

Conclusion:

This review is not meant to directly compare the Euro HD to any specific model. But if a quick comparison must be made to its direct competition (Conquest HD and Razor HD (I have not used the new Trinovid HD)). I believe the optics have a slight, but noticeable, edge over competing models unless you are sensitive to pincushion. The binocular does weigh more, but has very good ergonomics. As a whole the Euro HD/Meostar combines fantastic optical quality with a rugged design, making it a superb choice for a hunting binocular. Keep an eye out for these on sale at Cabela’s, or get the Meopta version if you are concerned about the Cabela’s warranty.
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Old Saturday 18th June 2016, 16:38   #2
jgraider
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Very nice. I think you nailed the SLC HD comparison. I couldn't tell them apart either, after hours on a tripod. Nice work!
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Old Saturday 18th June 2016, 16:55   #3
chartwell99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillyak View Post
As a whole the Euro HD/Meostar combines fantastic optical quality with a rugged design, making it a superb choice for a hunting binocular. Keep an eye out for these on sale at Cabela’s, or get the Meopta version if you are concerned about the Cabela’s warranty.
Excellent review - the non-HD version is optically very close and also a wonderful binocular. Same ergos but considerably less expensive.
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Old Saturday 18th June 2016, 22:29   #4
jremmons
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Great review! Yes, the SLC-HD is very similar. Great binoculars, overall. Have you compared them to the Vortex Razor? I compared side by side and optically couldn't decide which I preferred, so I went with the 8x42 Razor instead of the 8x32 Meostar due to more eye relief and better low light performance .

Last edited by jremmons : Sunday 19th June 2016 at 14:24.
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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 13:41   #5
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Excellent review of a model I plan to test this autumn.
Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lee
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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 14:26   #6
Ratal
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Stopped reading at "15mm eye relief."

Not going there, no matter how good the bin is. That's not a bin I'd take across stark bright snow or hot desert.
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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 14:48   #7
sillyak
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jremmons View Post
Great review! Yes, the SLC-HD is very similar. Great binoculars, overall. Have you compared them to the Vortex Razor? I compared side by side and optically couldn't decide which I preferred, so I went with the 8x42 Razor instead of the 8x32 Meostar due to more eye relief and better low light performance .
I compared the Meostar to a Conquest HD and Viper HD in the field for a full two days and compared side by side to a SLC HD in the field on a separate day. The Razor I was only able to compare side by side in the store as I don’t have any friends with one, and it's tough to make a generalization on quality based only on a in store evaluation. I took the Razor outside and felt that the Meostar had a little bit more pop to the colours, but again, this was just in one lighting condition and isnt really fair to judge the Razor in general. The Razor definitely has a very different feel ergonomically and that may be the deciding factor to many who are comparing the two.
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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 14:56   #8
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Nice write up.

Strange but I really don`t like the neck strap on my 8x32 B1, too little available strap below the quick release buckles for the rain guard for my liking.

Anybody know if the eye cups unscrew on the Meopta as they do on this Cabelas ?, I`v twisted with a fair bit of pressure but backed off in case I broke them, they don`t feel as if they will twist off.
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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 15:07   #9
sillyak
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An email to Meopta might be in order. I just assumed they all did as mine does.

Ratal, I understand. 15mm will either work for you or it won't. I can easily see the field stop with my glasses, but some may not. I don't understand the snow and desert comment though.
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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 15:18   #10
jremmons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillyak View Post
I compared the Meostar to a Conquest HD and Viper HD in the field for a full two days and compared side by side to a SLC HD in the field on a separate day. The Razor I was only able to compare side by side in the store as I don’t have any friends with one, and it's tough to make a generalization on quality based only on a in store evaluation. I took the Razor outside and felt that the Meostar had a little bit more pop to the colours, but again, this was just in one lighting condition and isnt really fair to judge the Razor in general. The Razor definitely has a very different feel ergonomically and that may be the deciding factor to many who are comparing the two.
I'd ageee on ergonomics; the 10x42 Razor are lighter and have a larger FoV, but the Euro HD feel very nice in hand. I thought in my comparisons that the Razor were brighter, but the Euro had a higher level of color saturation; this reminded me of when I compared the VictoryT*FL to the Ultravid HD. Both very good but just different designs resulting in different optical performance.
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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 16:27   #11
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An email to Meopta might be in order. I just assumed they all did as mine does.

Ratal, I understand. 15mm will either work for you or it won't. I can easily see the field stop with my glasses, but some may not. I don't understand the snow and desert comment though.
I've spent time viewing over snow and desert sands. Eye protection is an absolute in these environments, so, 15mm of eye relief is a no go, no matter how amazing the view is. Would apply to long days over the ocean too.

First rule for me: Eye relief.

Second, the view.
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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 20:19   #12
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I've spent time viewing over snow and desert sands. Eye protection is an absolute in these environments, so, 15mm of eye relief is a no go, no matter how amazing the view is. Would apply to long days over the ocean too.

First rule for me: Eye relief.

Second, the view.
Hi Ratal

I'm a bit puzzled by your comment about eye relief indicating something about eye protection.

I would have thought the shape of the eyecup might have been important for eye protection and that you might favour winged cups to give you protection from side-light but I am struggling to understand what extra protection your eye gets from an eyecup at say 18mm as opposed to the same design of eyecup meeting your eye at 15mm.

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Old Sunday 19th June 2016, 22:17   #13
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I think he means you must wear eye wear in those environments. E.G. glacier glasses. My glacier glasses are just my polarized prescription sun glasses, and with my facial structure, I can still see the field stop easily with 15mm of eye relief.
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Old Monday 20th June 2016, 09:18   #14
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I think he means you must wear eye wear in those environments. E.G. glacier glasses. My glacier glasses are just my polarized prescription sun glasses, and with my facial structure, I can still see the field stop easily with 15mm of eye relief.
Thanks SYak

In general I think it is not wise to rely on the stated eye relief dimensions quoted by manufacturers as so much depends on your facial structure and any spectacles that you wear. I have found one or two 15mm to be absolutely fine (like you) and then one or two 16/18mm that were not. Its not just the optical ER dimension that matters but also the design of the eyecup and where that delivers your eye. As always its best to try before you buy.

Lee
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Old Monday 20th June 2016, 12:31   #15
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Ratal,

I agree with you that "First rule for me: Eye relief."

I wear highly corrected specs. Some eye relief bins are OK, others not. Sometimes 17mm works for me, sometimes not. With two alpha makers ruled out, and other upcomers too, it amounts to discrimination in my view.
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Old Wednesday 7th September 2016, 04:56   #16
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Great write up. I found similar results on the Meostars I owned. I just have never been crazy about the aesthetics.
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