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Old Monday 4th April 2016, 15:33   #1
Troubador
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Review of Meopta B1 MeoStar 8x32

At the 2015 British Birdfair I spent some time trying out spotting scopes from some of the big names and along the way came across the S2 scope from Meopta, a company that has been swimming around the periphery of my perceptions for some years. I will be conducting a review of the S2 and will report on it in the scopes section later this year, so I will not say any more about it here, except to remark that I was impressed enough to file away the name ‘Meopta’ as a target for testing at some point in the future. An opportunity duly arose and I was offered the MeoStar B1 8x32 and the S2 to test: perfect.

Meopta is based in the Czech Republic, with a subsidiary company in the USA, and has been producing a wide range of optical products since 1933. For more information about the full range of products and technologies visit: http://www.meopta.com/en/ . They are strongly rumoured to produce high quality components and even full products for other brands and when you learn that they have a staggering 40+ vacuum chambers for coating lenses and prisms at their factory in Prerov, you can believe it. All of the MeoStar and Cabela’s Instinct Euro HD models are manufactured in the Czech Republic and this means all processes from design to optical and mechanical production to assembly, QA testing and finally packaging. The MeoPro HD range are all assembled in the USA as this is the biggest market for this model line.


Let’s take a look at the MeoStar. To be frank I am not a fan of the external appearance as shown on the photographs on the Meopta Sports Optics website, but in real life the instrument doesn’t look as ‘spotty’ and comes across as perfectly proportioned in the same way as Leica’s Ultravid 32. In fact the MeoStar treads a comfortable middle ground in relation to length and it weighs about the same as Swarovski’s EL.

Swarovski EL SV 138mm 595g
Zeiss Conquest HD 132mm 630g
Meopta MeoStar B1 123mm 598g
Zeiss FL 117mm 550g
Leica Ultravid HD+ 116mm 535g

I will get one moan over right now: the carrying case is poor being hardly more than a fabric bag with some stiffening material. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means and will not bother those who, in any event, either never use the supplied case or always buy something like a Pelikan. Actually the case is not dissimilar to the one that came with my wife’s Ultravid, so Meopta are not the only brand to take this route. By the way the case doesn’t come with a strap either. You use the binocular lanyard as a shoulder strap by either, unclipping it from the short straps tethered to the bins and clipping it to the case, or pushing the bins into the case leaving the lanyard outside the magnetically closing flap. This isn’t ideal because the strap length you need to go across your chest to carry a case is different from the length you need for binoculars around your neck.

Picking the binoculars up and screwing the eyecups up and down, you find 3 stops and a very agreeable action, certainly better in feel than some Zeiss models.
Eye relief is stated as 15.5mm which sounds a bit on the mean side but actually with the eyecups down and wearing my most recent (and sometimes troublesome) spectacles I found easy eye placement and the full field of view with no blackouts. These worked really well for Troubadoris too, who also wears spectacles. However this is not quite the case when not wearing spectacles. Pressing the eyecups into one’s eye sockets results in blackouts but you can avoid this by resting the eyecups somewhat on your brows. Troubadoris does this anyway and I found this easy enough in normal viewing circumstances but less so when a quick placement of the bins was required to get on to a rapidly moving bird. I think this would become more natural and speedy with practice, but for those who do not wear spectacles it is something to check.

The rain-guard is very effective and protects the eyepieces admirably. I habitually thread both straps through my ‘guards but this rain-guard grips the eyecups somewhat and with both straps utilised it made getting the ‘guard on and off a bit of a fiddle. Using one strap only solved this and from what I see many folks use this method anyway.

In the hand the MeoStars feel beautifully balanced and really nice to handle. I expected Troubadoris to demur from this, as she has rather particular tastes in this direction that are usually only satisfied by her Leicas, but to my surprise she took to these like a duck to water. One slight concern is that the hinge is a little less tight than I would prefer. The bins did not actually change IPD during normal and quite vigorous usage but on a couple of occasions when I pulled on the lanyard to untangle the rain-guard / strap I did move the IPD and I wouldn’t have expected to with the amount of force I used.

Setting the dioptre is straightforward. The adjuster is in-line with the focus wheel but tapered away from it (see the pic) so that you don’t normally touch it as you focus, and isn’t one of those ‘pull out to engage’ adjusters. The adjuster moves in a series of fine clicks and these ‘click stops’ seem very good at preventing unwanted movement of the adjuster while still allowing a fine adjustment.

The focus wheel itself needs a bit of explanation. It is stiff but with a smooth feel to it and there is absolutely no free play / back-lash. It really feels like a precision laboratory instrument, and I thoroughly enjoyed this, but could not rotate it at high speed. I asked for an explanation of this and received a response from the factory via the UK agent. The bins were designed with hunters in mind, so the focus wheel can be set to a distance and will not be inadvertently moved and the factory also advised that it can’t be expected to ease with use either. If you were going out to chase fast-appearing and disappearing warblers (or dragonflies) this unit would not be your first choice, but correspondence with another reviewer has made it clear that there is some variation in focus stiffness from unit to unit, so it would be a good idea to audition more than one unit if this is of concern for you. For many other kinds of nature observation this would simply not be an issue, and if you are like me, you would be delighted with the feeling of precision.

I assessed the unit in a variety of locations but spent most time at the usual lake that I have visited for previous test-work. On arrival the first thing I did was to check for chromatic aberration. Twigs against the sky? Mute Swan swimming in front of dark water? Fine, just a tiny bit of CA if viewing off axis. In normal nature observation I just didn’t notice CA at all. Checking the specifications I can find no reference to extra-low dispersion glass let alone anything more exotic, but the control of CA is excellent.

Scanning around the lake and opposite shore the field of view was more than acceptable and a quick look at the specifications when I returned home showed that, as with size and weight, it is right up there with the alphas:

Field of View at 1,000m
Swarovski EL SV 141m
Zeiss Conquest HD 140m
Zeiss FL 140m
Meopta MeoStar B1 139m
Leica Ultravid HD+ 135m

Perceived sharpness was excellent with a sweet spot (to my eyes remember, you need to check with your own) about 85% of the FOV, which for me is just fine and dandy as I am one of those that centre on the subject and my gaze is not drawn to the edge of the FOV. Taking a close look at the many Tufted Ducks (very similar to Ring-necked Duck) and a fabulous male Goldeneye revealed a super contrast between the black and white, and the optics picked up the metallic sheen of the Tufteds’ head colour as they pirouetted on the water. Looking for contrast in less obvious places than black and white ducks, I later checked out some female Mallards and the instrument really brought their superficially dull plumage to life, full of subtle detail and shades of colour. If one was to be really exacting one would say that the view was just, barely, on the warm side, and very attractive it was too. I would call the view relaxing, well balanced and detailed.

The MeoStar comes with a 30 year transferrable warranty in Europe and a lifetime warranty in the USA, but the instrument must be registered within 30 days to qualify for this. Backing this up is an inspection regime at the factory that includes a weatherproofing and collimation test of every unit before it goes for packing.

Summing up, the little MeoStar was simply a delight to use, and it deserves to be on the short list of anyone contemplating spending in the region of £900 / $850.
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Old Monday 4th April 2016, 16:34   #2
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Thanks for the review Lee.

At Birdfair, the Meopta stand is quite close to the entrance and has usually been one of my first stop after picking up a coffee from the tent opposite. Yes, way before I visit the Zeiss stand Lee.

The MeoStar x32s have been a long time ergonomic favourite of mine. Their old distributor used to have them on their stand too which was sited opposite the Vortex stand and I was struck by the similarity in the Meostar's view characteristics to the Vortex Viper HD, though the latter cuts down the field of view to sharpen up the edges. The Viper HD has an ED element whereas the Meostar doesn't, but really I thought there was little to choose between them on CA. The only Meostar HD I've seen is the 10x42 and that really sharpened up the view to another level. It's a real pitty the HD hasn't been rolled out across the range, though I think a couple of the big beasts have it.

I don't usually mess around with the scopes but the S2 looked pretty good to me.

David

P.S. Is that £900 price tag the RRP? I can't find many that stock it but I'm sure it normally sells for a lot less than that.

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Old Monday 4th April 2016, 16:35   #3
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Originally Posted by Troubador View Post


Let’s take a look at the MeoStar. To be frank I am not a fan of the external appearance as shown on the photographs on the Meopta Sports Optics website, but in real life the instrument doesn’t look as ‘spotty’ and comes across as perfectly proportioned in the same way as Leica’s Ultravid 32. In fact the MeoStar treads a comfortable middle ground in relation to length and it weighs about the same as Swarovski’s EL.


In the hand the MeoStars feel beautifully balanced and really nice to handle. I expected Troubadoris to demur from this, as she has rather particular tastes in this direction that are usually only satisfied by her Leicas, but to my surprise she took to these like a duck to water. One slight concern is that the hinge is a little less tight than I would prefer. The bins did not actually change IPD during normal and quite vigorous usage but on a couple of occasions when I pulled on the lanyard to untangle the rain-guard / strap I did move the IPD and I wouldn’t have expected to with the amount of force I used.
My experience with this model exists, but is kind of limited. However I agree with you from your above quoted segments. I does not look like much, but looks like a lot when you look through it. Personally I like longer barrels for a personal grip preference, but the Meopta is actually quite good ergonomically.

I am not too surprised Troubadoris likes it. I can see where it would be a nice fit for smaller hands.

Just one question. It may have been a particular quirk with one of those I've looked at, but the diopter knob could have been tighter on one of them. It could be moved fairly easily without intention to do so. Did you have any issues there? I'm guessing not or it would have been mentioned.

I thought it quite good optically and would have no qualms owning one myself.
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Old Monday 4th April 2016, 17:13   #4
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Thanks for the review Lee.

At Birdfair, the Meopta stand is quite close to the entrance and has usually been one of my first stop after picking up a coffee from the tent opposite. Yes, way before I visit the Zeiss stand Lee.

The MeoStar x32s have been a long time ergonomic favourite of mine. Their old distributor used to have them on their stand too which was sited opposite the Vortex stand and I was struck by the similarity in the Meostar's view characteristics to the Vortex Viper HD, though the latter cuts down the field of view to sharpen up the edges. The Viper HD has an ED element whereas the Meostar doesn't, but really I thought there was little to choose between them on CA. The only Meostar HD I've seen is the 10x42 and that really sharpened up the view to another level. It's a real pitty the HD hasn't been rolled out across the range, though I think a couple of the big beasts have it.

I don't usually mess around with the scopes but the S2 looked pretty good to me.

David

P.S. Is that £900 price tag the RRP? I can't find many that stock it but I'm sure it normally sells for a lot less than that.
Thanks David

I really enjoyed the MeoStar: it just felt so natural in the hand.

The £900 is the recommended price and I haven't searched around for lower prices.

On the scopes front, I have had 3 in the past but haven't used one for few years. The S2 is pretty good and I am hoping to have a try at digiscoping with it. If I can arrange it I will take it to Ardnamurchan at the end of May and try my luck at photo-ing seals and otters.

Lee
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Old Monday 4th April 2016, 17:16   #5
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My experience with this model exists, but is kind of limited. However I agree with you from your above quoted segments. I does not look like much, but looks like a lot when you look through it. Personally I like longer barrels for a personal grip preference, but the Meopta is actually quite good ergonomically.

I am not too surprised Troubadoris likes it. I can see where it would be a nice fit for smaller hands.

Just one question. It may have been a particular quirk with one of those I've looked at, but the diopter knob could have been tighter on one of them. It could be moved fairly easily without intention to do so. Did you have any issues there? I'm guessing not or it would have been mentioned.

I thought it quite good optically and would have no qualms owning one myself.
Hi Steve

The dioptre stayed resolutely in place and it felt just the right tension to be readily adjustable but not accidently moved.

It is a super instrument, with its own little quirks as with all bins, and I really enjoyed auditioning it.

Lee
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Old Monday 4th April 2016, 20:43   #6
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It is a super instrument, with its own little quirks as with all bins, and I really enjoyed auditioning it.
Excellent review, Troubador. The little Meostar is my current 8 x 32 FAV, with brilliant, tack sharp wide field fields and surprisingly good depth of field. It is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. My sole negative relates to the attached objective covers. Mine are permanently attached via what appears to be nylon fishing line, ergo, no way to remove other than by cutting the lines, and the covers are too loose to be of use. I will probably cut them off and use a set of Eagle Optics covers instead. My supplied case is green felt, smaller (obviously) but otherwise identical to the full size Meostars. Mine closes with a latch rather than a magnet, so I am less concerned about the lack of a separate external strap for the case. Still in all, this is a splendid instrument and a flat out bargain.

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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 02:15   #7
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Nice review LT. I always dismissed this bin since it looks weird and I always imagined
the handling would be a bit awkward, but maybe I would be proven wrong if I ever tried
it in person. Thanks for the detailed info on the mechanics and handling. Most other reviews I've read seem
to focus more on the excellent optics. But, the other stuff you touched on is just as important to me.
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 03:45   #8
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Summing up, the little MeoStar was simply a delight to use, and it deserves to be on the short list of anyone contemplating spending in the region of £900 / $850.
Hear, hear! I wholeheartedly agree.

Thank you Mr. Lee Z. Troubador for this fine report.
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 05:49   #9
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Troubador, thanks for the well-written review. The Meostar is certainly a lovely little package. Mechanically, I prefer it to the UVHD, although the latter is a little bit sharper.

chartwell99, if you unscrew the little plastic cap that covers the tripod mounting threads, you ought to be able to remove nylon tether for the objective caps. The nylon tether is attached to a black metal ring that is held in place by that plastic cap. The nylon tethered caps, as well as the green wool case, are part of an older accessory package for the Meostars. Nowadays, the 8x32 Meostar ships with individually tethered rubber objective caps and a black cordura case with a magnetic closure that is essentially the same included with the Meopro.
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 08:43   #10
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Thanks for the feedback!

Objective lens covers are a subject all on their own, forget bins and optics. Seriously, folks have very divergent views about what works best for themselves so its no wonder that at least half the bins-buying population never like the covers that come with the instrument.

Lee

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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 10:21   #11
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Lee,

Thanks for your report. I certainly did not think on the Meostar as much as I perhaps should have while spending way too much money on an 8x32 binocular. I think I would have made the same decision anyway, yet who knows? I think you've articulated why anyone thinking about decent optics and good handling, and can step up to this price-point, should take the Meostars under serious consideration.

...Mike
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 10:44   #12
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Lee,

Thanks for your report. I certainly did not think on the Meostar as much as I perhaps should have while spending way too much money on an 8x32 binocular. I think I would have made the same decision anyway, yet who knows? I think you've articulated why anyone thinking about decent optics and good handling, and can step up to this price-point, should take the Meostars under serious consideration.

...Mike
Thanks Mike.
Heres to the next time you spend way too much on binoculars! Cheers

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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 10:45   #13
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Hi Troubador,

Good review. I have this binocular since 2011, bought used but in pristine condition from Eurooptic. I paid 60% of the price of a new one. Perhaps my best bargain ever buying binoculars!!!
I use it as my everyday and travel binocular. The resolution is SUPERB. As is the CA control. Almost FL or HD quality. The view is slightly in the warm side, comparing it with the perfectly neutral view of the Zeiss HT or Swarovski Habicht (last ones), with them my three binoculars for all my needs. Mine came perfectly collimated and all functions working well. It has a slight slack in the focus weel going either side, but nothing to worry about. I can live with it. I make mine the observation about the objective lens covers. It is very difficult to them to stay put when in the outdoors. I think because the lenght of the protruding objective tubes, very short. The cord and little hook to attach the covers to the binocular body are clever solution to this situation.
Even at the price of a new one, the Meopta Meostar B1 8x32 is still a bargain!!!!

PHA
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 10:48   #14
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Nice review LT. I always dismissed this bin since it looks weird and I always imagined
the handling would be a bit awkward, but maybe I would be proven wrong if I ever tried
it in person. Thanks for the detailed info on the mechanics and handling. Most other reviews I've read seem
to focus more on the excellent optics. But, the other stuff you touched on is just as important to me.
Thanks GiGi

We mustn't let the bins makers think it is only about the optics.

Some guys with unfeasibly expensive supercars will tell you its all about the engine, but they don't tell you they can't drive more than 50 miles because of back-pain caused by the foot pedals being off-set in relation to the seat, so they have to sit crooked.

Same with bins. We want excellent optics, yes, but we want great handling and accessories too. As they say: its about the total ownership experience.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 10:52   #15
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Hi Troubador,

Good review. I have this binocular since 2011, bought used but in pristine condition from Eurooptic. I paid 60% of the price of a new one. Perhaps my best bargain ever buying binoculars!!!
I use it as my everyday and travel binocular. The resolution is SUPERB. As is the CA control. Almost FL or HD quality. The view is slightly in the warm side, comparing it with the perfectly neutral view of the Zeiss HT or Swarovski Habicht (last ones), with them my three binoculars for all my needs. Mine came perfectly collimated and all functions working well. It has a slight slack in the focus weel going either side, but nothing to worry about. I can live with it. I make mine the observation about the objective lens covers. It is very difficult to them to stay put when in the outdoors. I think because the lenght of the protruding objective tubes, very short. The cord and little hook to attach the covers to the binocular body are clever solution to this situation.
Even at the price of a new one, the Meopta Meostar B1 8x32 is still a bargain!!!!

PHA
Hello PHA

Meopta would be disappointed to hear that your focuser has slack in it. I am sure if you contacted them they would want to put this right.

Otherwise I hope you continue to enjoy your MeoStar.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 12:22   #16
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Yes, may be. As I am going Europe (son and daughter there) this June, would be an opportunity to send the B1 to Meopta, Czech Republic, to fix it. Thanks!

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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 13:19   #17
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Yes, may be. As I am going Europe (son and daughter there) this June, would be an opportunity to send the B1 to Meopta, Czech Republic, to fix it. Thanks!

PHA
PHA
The feature of having no backlash is actually mentioned on the Meopta website:
"Central focus wheel smoothly operates on a finely tuned ratio allowing precise, accurate focus acquisition with no backlash".
Mention this to them and I am sure they will be keen to help you out.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 15:53   #18
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Thank you, T!! I am more inclined now to send mine to Meopta headquarters...!

May ask you about your S2 evaluation...? I bought then (2011) along with the B1 8x32, the Meopta Meostar S1 APO 75. With the 20-60 normal eyepiece, plus the outstanding 30x WW angle. Was new at a discount, also at Eurooptic. I am VERY pleased with it. I compared with some Nikon ED 82 (or 85 I am not sure) and couldn´t find any advantage in the Nikon. May be the opposite....
Since the appearance of the S2 I heard only good or excepcional things about it. I am tempted to make a change...

Thank you, again.

PHA
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 16:44   #19
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Thank you, T!! I am more inclined now to send mine to Meopta headquarters...!

May ask you about your S2 evaluation...? I bought then (2011) along with the B1 8x32, the Meopta Meostar S1 APO 75. With the 20-60 normal eyepiece, plus the outstanding 30x WW angle. Was new at a discount, also at Eurooptic. I am VERY pleased with it. I compared with some Nikon ED 82 (or 85 I am not sure) and couldn´t find any advantage in the Nikon. May be the opposite....
Since the appearance of the S2 I heard only good or excepcional things about it. I am tempted to make a change...

Thank you, again.

PHA
PHA

I have a long way to go with my evaluation of the S2 yet and don't expect to report until June. I have ambitions to take it to the West Coast of Scotland at the end of next month. But all indications so far are exactly as you have said. It is really great.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 17:16   #20
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PHA

I have a long way to go with my evaluation of the S2 yet and don't expect to report until June. I have ambitions to take it to the West Coast of Scotland at the end of next month. But all indications so far are exactly as you have said. It is really great.

Lee
Thanks for the B1 Meostar review, Lee. Nice work!

Over here, Cabela's sells the "Euro HD" version of the 8x32 which, I guess, has HD glass while the Meostar doesn't (yet). It would be interesting to know if there's really much difference. Meopta does distinguish between the Meostar and the Meostar HD version in other formats. Curious.

My S2 turns three next month and, wow, nothing but thumbs up from me.

Mark
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 22:15   #21
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Thanks for the review Lee
I have one since a couple of years, and I wrote a review too.
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=251175
While I own and have owned other high-end binoculars, the Meostar is the one I tend to bring most often. It is very sleek, which gives plenty room for my thumbs underneath. That is pretty much the opposite of the 10x32 FL I had, which is chubbier and more complex with regard to thumb placing. The Nikon HG 10x32 was also a bit awkward, and the Minox HG 8x33 was not as good as the Meostar. Despite my big hands and its small size, it fits perfectly.
The focus knob has loosened up with use and is considerably less tight than the EDG or the E II. It is still not my main choice for warblering, but it is more than OK.
The AFOV is very good, and with my spectacles it works exactly as you described. Without them it does not work very well, just like you described.

My only gripe with it is the colour rendition, and to some extent the CA. It is decidedly yellowish, and very similar to my old man's Zeiss Classic 10x40 albeit a wee bit brighter.
It is very obvious when looking at Blue Tits, whose blue caps look dull and greyish. That's when I miss the contrasty, punchy colours of the EDG and the EII. Frankly, the Vortex Fury is better, and so is the ZR 7x43.

Still, this is the binocular I'd buy again in a heartbeat. It is indispensible for me.

//L
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Old Tuesday 5th April 2016, 23:06   #22
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I've tried both the Meostar 8x32 and Euro HD 8x32. The HD version is a definite improvement for me, providing a neutral image with reduced CA; this isn't a slight to the standard B1 which is a very good binocular with good ergonomics and a sharp image. Surprisingly, I found the low eye-relief to work just fine with my glasses and provide minimal blackouts - something with which I often have issues.
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Old Wednesday 6th April 2016, 04:01   #23
Holger Merlitz
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Since many years I have been a fan of the Meostar. Not only the 8x32, but also the 8x42 and the 10x50 (which I currently use for astronomy). I particularly like the precise operation of the focus wheel - something rarely found in recent high end optics, and the excellent suppression of stray light. The yellowish tint of the image was quite notable in the early versions almost 10 years ago, and since then it seems to have gradually diminished. I guess these changes are due to improvements of the mirror layer on the Schmidt-Pechan prisms. Altogether a great binocular for its price (in Germany the 8x32 can be found new for less than 700 Euro).

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Old Wednesday 6th April 2016, 15:38   #24
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Originally Posted by looksharp65 View Post
Thanks for the review Lee
I have one since a couple of years, and I wrote a review too.
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=251175
While I own and have owned other high-end binoculars, the Meostar is the one I tend to bring most often. It is very sleek, which gives plenty room for my thumbs underneath. That is pretty much the opposite of the 10x32 FL I had, which is chubbier and more complex with regard to thumb placing. The Nikon HG 10x32 was also a bit awkward, and the Minox HG 8x33 was not as good as the Meostar. Despite my big hands and its small size, it fits perfectly.
The focus knob has loosened up with use and is considerably less tight than the EDG or the E II. It is still not my main choice for warblering, but it is more than OK.
The AFOV is very good, and with my spectacles it works exactly as you described. Without them it does not work very well, just like you described.

My only gripe with it is the colour rendition, and to some extent the CA. It is decidedly yellowish, and very similar to my old man's Zeiss Classic 10x40 albeit a wee bit brighter.
It is very obvious when looking at Blue Tits, whose blue caps look dull and greyish. That's when I miss the contrasty, punchy colours of the EDG and the EII. Frankly, the Vortex Fury is better, and so is the ZR 7x43.

Still, this is the binocular I'd buy again in a heartbeat. It is indispensible for me.

//L
I echo your findings. FL does feel chubby compared with the MeoStar which just feels so right in the hand.

Lee
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Old Wednesday 6th April 2016, 15:39   #25
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[quote=Holger Merlitz;3380946

I particularly like the precise operation of the focus wheel - something rarely found in recent high end optics

Holger[/QUOTE]

Couldn't agree more Holger, the focus wheel is a tactile delight to use.

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