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Old Sunday 23rd October 2016, 11:28   #1
typo
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Meopta Meostar 12x50 HD review

Meopta is a name that may be well known on the forum, but seems to be relatively unknown in birding circles generally. That deserves to change in my opinion. I hope this review will illustrate why.

Once upon a time, the Meostar had a reputation for not having the best colour rendition on offer. Those days are long gone, and in my opinion the current range really does merit the attention of those looking for top quality birding optics in my opinion. I think this 12x50HD might just be my favourite so far, but do check out the other reviews in this section and elsewhere.

Although the Meostar B1 range has been around for many years it has not stood still. I’ve noticed year on year, a gradual evolution in colour balance and sharpness in particular. For me it was the introduction of the 10x42HD in Europe three years ago was the step that lifted it into the top league, as I’ve mentioned a number of times on the forum. For contractual reasons Meopta are unable to offer HD versions of several models in the Meostar range in Europe (though those in the US have a wider choice through Cabelas branding). The 12x50 HD and 15x56HD were added to the European lineup at the beginning of last year, but it wasn’t until BirdFair this year that I managed to give them a first try. I’m just too much of a wimp to handle to handle the 15x56 HD. However the 12x50 HD was a different matter. It immediately gave me that little buzz of excitement one always hopes for trying something new, but very rarely finds. I’m particularly grateful to Meopta for lending me this review sample, hot off the production line. I hope I can convey something of what that excitement was about.

http://www.meoptasportsoptics.com/sh...hp/ctgBus.html

Specification (metric)
Field of view at (ft/1000yds) 279 (93m@1000m)
Field of view (į) 5.32
Eye relief (mm) 15
Shortest Focusing Distance (ft) 11.2 (3.4m)
Interpupillary Distance (mm) 56 to 74
Dioptric Correction (D) -3, +3
Height (in) 6.81 (173mm)
Width (in) 5.5 (139mm)
Depth (in) 2.3 (59mm)
Weight - w/o caps & strap (oz) 37.4 (1060g)
Suggested retail price €1199.

(Note some of these values, particularly close focus, are slightly different to those found online. These are a revision provided by Meopta and tally with my own estimates.)

Physical Characteristics

The 12x50HD has the mid-green armour with the raised texture pattern near the eyepieces and the bullet-like shape that is common to all the BI range. I rather like its distinctive look. The thumb indents on the back are generous and well positioned for a conventional grip. The eyecups extend about 8mm and the the rim is a made from a fairly soft compound and seems very spectacle friendly. The external diameter is about 39mm and maybe a little narrower than I prefer for my facial features, but of course that’s a very individual thing. The dioptre adjustment is a tapered extension to the focus knob with click stop positioning. With this big model I didn’t find it easy to get my fingers in to adjust it, but not really an issue for the occasional use. The rain guard is a very nice snug fit, but the objective covers are a little on the tight side and slow to put on and take off. I like that the logos are rather discrete, but it meant I probably got more puzzled looks from those wondering what make it was. However, the logo is big and bold on the supplied neck strap for those who like to advertise. The strap is designed to either clip onto the binocular or the case. It works fine, but in general, plastic clips make me nervous. I’ve had a couple fail over the years. The supplied case is a good fit, and I think adequately padded. The more structured design to the lid is a little more space hungry than a conventional flap, but should offer better weather protection. There are straps to allow it to be attached to a belt or possibly a backpack, but with maximum dimensions of 220x180x90mm it is getting quite large and I’d be inclined to leave it in the car.

There is no disguising that this is a fairly big binocular, but no bigger, and even a shade lighter than the 10x56 and 12x50 I already own. I find these do need to be treated a little differently to their little brothers. They are OK to hang round the neck for a an hour or so, but more comfortable slung from a shoulder for longer periods. I’m sure some will prefer to use a harness, but I haven’t tried that. There is also a bit of a knack to holding a 12x steady. Supporting the binocular more on the palms of the hands with a slightly front and back arrangement worked best for me. I know some suggest the increased shake at high magnification neutralises any advantage. That just isn’t so for me at least. With a careful comparison using a line chart, tripod mounted compared to handheld, I could see the same percentage loss of detail as I did with my 8x, so I was still getting the full magnification benefit, at least for short periods of viewing. Obviously a 12x offers 50% more magnification than an 8x, but for some strange reason it feels much more than that. I’ll return to that later.

This was a brand new sample, (built in the first week of September I believe), and the focus was sluggish to start with. Not exactly stiff, just very well damped and didn’t want to be hurried. It’s eased off a bit with a few weeks use. I actually found the close focus was 3.2m (10.5ft) which is marginally than Meopta’s value and usefully better than listed online. There is approximately a 280į turn from close focus to 10m and another 120įto infinity. That’s perhaps a little leisurely for my tastes, but I’ve found the damping somewhat assists fine focus and there is no hint of any backlash. The focus is clockwise from close to infinity. Those in northern climes will like to know that the focus and hinge were completely unaffected by a couple of hours in the freezer.

The eye relief is listed at 15mm. It’s perfectly fine for my glasses with a millimetre or so to spare. To me, it feels more comparable to some models listed at 16 or 17mm. Clearly it will still be insufficient for some spectacle wearers.

What it's like to use

Most of the major brands are represented at BirdFair, so there is a lot of high quality glass vying for attention. Some of it rather expensive. I’m always delighted when I find something that gives me a comparable view or even a little extra buzz, at half the price. The Meostar 10X42 HD has been a model I’ve particularly admired since it was launched, but the moment I tried the 12x50HD at BirdFair I liked it better still. The view from their marquee wasn't perhaps the most inspiring, but the finest threads of the reeds and grasses’ feathery seed heads or the spikey outlines of the hawthorns all seemed etched in higher definition than I was expecting. The view just just appeared a bit bigger and bolder, and interestingly, even the slightest movement of a lurking blue tit or a web spinning spider that I might normally have missed seemed to grab my attention. Definitely worthy of a closer look! Apologies for the level of enthusiasm in this report

I’ve had the binoculars on loan for a month now. They’ve been on several trips to the local reserves, toured the lanes and fields near where I live and have continued to delight. Initially I picked longer range spots where I thought the higher magnification was an advantage. Sure enough, it comfortably outgunned my usual 10x42. In pure detail I was getting exactly the 20% advantage you would expect, but in terms of how the birds looked, it felt like the magnification was much higher. Every detail just seems more prominent and readily distinguished. The subtleties of feather colour and texture appear highlighted. A lapwing’s back at 40 yards appeared quite smooth with my 10x42, but with the Meopta, each feather was an individual feature. A 12x50 is perhaps not the most obvious choice for chasing warblers round the thorn scrub and willow thickets, but it was surprisingly easy to spot them, and the extra umph! of 12x worth it for the reward once in view. It wasn’t just question of just checking the eye stripes etc. as I might be with my 7x. At twenty feet I can pick out each of the minute individual feathers in the supercillium, and in three dimensions of course! Something you obviously can’t get from a scope. It may not be necessary for an ID, but I still find it a joy to see.

Meopta were kind enough to send over their two piece, quick release, tripod bracket as well. There isn’t a lot of room between those 50mm barrels, and the slim design meant I could still get 63mm IPD. In fact I’ve left the top part in place through most of the evaluation period. I intended using it just for my back yard testing, as I wouldn’t normally think of using a tripod with binoculars in the field. However I decided I’d see how it compared with my 20x50 scope mounted down at the local reserve. It’s a good little scope and no 12x is going to beat it in terms of detail, but for locating and IDing birds, I decided I’d mostly choose the Meopta. The 20x generally only edged in front at surprisingly long range. Besides the brighter, wider view (and better colour and contrast) the 3D effect gave it an advantage at a surprising distance. Spotting the gadwall in the marginal vegetation at 30yds, or the individuals in a huddle of greylags at 300yds, the Meostar did it better. Of course there is a point where magnification wins out, but across the lakes in the Lee valley there were many instances where I thought it still had a practical advantage beyond 150 yards, but that does rather depend on the target of course.

Like most birders I suspect, I normally head home when the light begins to fade, but I was curious about it’s low light capabilities. The twilight factor of an 12x50 is 24.5 and suggests it should out perform my 10x56 with a TF of 23.7, but you would expect the latter’s 5.6mm exit pupil would trump the 4.17mm of the Meopta. Sure enough, at the last vestiges of daylight, and by moonlight the 10x56 appeared brighter, but the interesting point was, the Meopta had obviously the better contrast and I could make out detail two to three times smaller, even in the deeper shadows. How and why is a topic for another day.

Optical Characteristics

Firstly the headline. I think this Meopa is possibly the sharpest binocular I’ve ever used. Apologies to those of a more nervous disposition, the explanation of that statement is going to get pretty technical, but I’ll start with more straight forward stuff.

As you would expect from Meopta, this is a high resolution binocular, exceeding the ISO standard by a good margin and has an effective resolution that comfortable accommodates the needs of even those with the most perfect eyesight. There is a rather shallow field curvature, but unless you are an astronomer, it’s going to seem like a flat field with excellent definition right to the edge of the view. There is a bit more pincushion than you often see with a true flat field designs, so those who are susceptible to the rolling ball effect shouldn’t be concerned.

I’d been using the binocular for a couple of days when I realised I hadn’t noticed any CA, which was surprising given the light conditions. So I went looking for it. Yes it is there as very narrow fringing in the outer third of the view, but well within my own tolerance limits and it’s not troubled me once in the field.

I mentioned at the start that I’ve noted the Meostar’s colour rendition has improved over recent years and this sample appears to me to be quite the best I’ve seen so far. It’s very close to neutral while delivering both strong blue and red performance. The spectral plots I’ve been sent show the transmission is pretty much flat from from 500nm to 650nm at around the 90% mark and peaks a little higher. It’s still up at around 80% as low as 430nm and as high as 700nm which is quite impressive. I find this somewhat preferable to some prestige models with more pronounced colour biases.

I’ve been unable to spot any glare at all which is also pretty remarkable. There are a couple of false pupils around 3mm or so from the exit pupil but they haven’t troubled the view at all.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I get the impression that the magnification is higher than 12x. There is nothing wrong with the specification. It’s at least in part an optical illusion which I’ve seen before with higher powered, wide view, sharp edged binoculars in particular. It’s something that has been mentioned by others on the forum before. If I narrow the view by positioning my eyes further away than the eye relief distance the enhanced magnification effect vanishes. It’s a rather seductive illusion all the same, if it works for you.

Those who are familiar with my reports will know that I’m rather keen on models with a high effective resolution. This binocular makes me very happy in that regard, but that's not the only trick up it’s sleeve. For those who like the numbers, I estimated the full aperture resolution at an impressive 2.7 arcseconds, stopped down to 30mm and 20mm a remarkable, 4.0” and 5.8” respectively. A really exceptional set of results. I can’t help but wonder though if this is a typical sample?

I didn’t think to ask Meopta for their screw-in doubler. This binocular is quite good enough to be pushed to 24x and would still have a useful 2.1mm EP.

There is another aspect to sharpness that is rather more complicated to describe and goes some way to explaining why this Meostar might help us actually spot birds in the first place. I mentioned earlier that the Meopta appeared to show “higher definition” than I might have expected, but not necessarily improved detail, as that is limited by the eye. In the photographic world you would call this sharpness to distinguish it from resolution, but unfortunately the terms are often used interchangeably here. It means the contrast profile is more closely matched to the way the brain naturally filters and processes optical information. It’s long been exploited in camera lens design, but I’ve seen few convincing examples amongst binoculars. I asked Meopta about this and they sent me contrast data (MTF) for the most pertinent spatial frequency for the brain’s interpretation of the view. What was most striking was the uniformity of the results for the different wavelengths across the visual spectrum. I have no idea how the numbers compare to the competition, but the consequence appears to be a useful improvement in the ability to spot birds, and no doubt larger animals. It’s not the first time I’ve seen such an effect, but I’ve never been quite sure whether it’s the product of an accident of manufacture or intentional design as the effect has usually appeared specific to a target or light condition. It seems Meopta have paid particular attention to this “high definition” or sharpness effect, as the benefits appear to be rather more universal.

Having said the Meostar is sharper than my 10x42, when I’ve paused and studied the finest detail in the view, I could see the latter at times has actually just a little more contrast near the limit of my acuity. This sound like a contradiction until you realise analysing the finest detail takes time and concentration. Emphasising the contrast at only slightly coarser detail taps into the brain’s high speed processing pathways allowing you ‘read’ the view and spot movement with little more than a glance. It’s at work when we catch a ball, spot a familiar face in a crowd and certainly when we try to locate a bird or beast in the field. Unfortunately I don’t have access to MTF to compare the 10x42 to the Meostar but I found just studying the contrast gradient through the patterns of a line chart actually reveals a difference. Though fairly subtle, the 10x42 appears to have a discernable jump in contrast between 2.4 and 2.7 arcminutes (apparent) and the Meostar between 5.7 and 6.5 arcminutes. I suspect it’s no coincidence that Meopta sent me the MTF data at 6 arcminutes. This is within the spatial frequency range that is reported to be optimal for sharpness perception. This jump in contrast actually helps our brains rapidly interpret the view. Looks like rather clever stuff to me, and more importantly, it seems to work very well.

I hope I’ve gone some way towards explaining why the Meostar HD 12x50 gave me that little buzz of excitement when I tried it for the first time at BirdFair. It still gives me that little buzz each time I use it. It’s not a cheap binocular, but I think it can be fairly called a bargain. I’m going to miss it.

I was impressed with the sample I briefly tried at BirdFair, but obviously most of the comments in this report only apply to this review sample, and I don’t know how representative it is or current or past production.

I don’t imagine many birders would choose a 12x50 as their only binocular, but most regulars here own several. I have a variety of models that I think are best suited to different situations, but 7x and 10x are my most used. The 7x for the woods and hedgerows and the 10x for the open spaces. No question, this Meopta does a much better job in those open spaces. Would I choose it for an all day outing? With a suitable harness, definitely.

Obviously I've written this review from the birdwatching perspective but I'm confident that this binocular would have a particular appeal to other interest groups. This being a birding forum, I’ll leave it there.

David

Last edited by typo : Sunday 23rd October 2016 at 12:40.
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Old Sunday 23rd October 2016, 11:33   #2
typo
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A few photos.

David
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Old Sunday 23rd October 2016, 11:39   #3
typo
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A couple more.

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Old Sunday 23rd October 2016, 19:48   #4
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Excellent review, David!

At about 1\2 of the EL 12x50 SVs, these look to be a real bargain! Other than comparative specs, do you have any experience or comments how the big Meostar optically stacks up to the big Swaro?

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Old Sunday 23rd October 2016, 20:52   #5
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Thank you.

Unfortunately I've not managed to do a direct Swaro comparison. I have tried the EL SV 12x50 a couple of times. It is a bit lighter, but I recall having a bigger problem with shake. I'd say there is a colour difference, and I'd favour the Meopta, but I'm sure others might disagree. I've never seen a sign of this sharpness phenomenon with any ELSVs, but I should see if I can track down the 12X50 before the Meostar goes back to see if that has 'evolved' as well.

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Old Sunday 23rd October 2016, 23:33   #6
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David:

A very nice, well done review, you do seem impressed with the Meopta.

I have a question about resolution testing, as I would like to try it sometime.

What target do you use, at what distance and what kind of lighting do you advise ?

This one you tested may be a very good one, so don't be in a hurry to send it back,
it may look very nice on your shelf.

Jerry
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Old Monday 24th October 2016, 04:21   #7
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David .... Another excellent review. Thanks for taking the time to put all of that together. The next time I go to Cabela's, I will have to check out the Meopta.

I would be interested in what you find out comparing a Swaro 12X50 EL SV. Hopefully you can get your hands on one. A 12X does not have the greatest FOV in terms of actual distance, so the flat field of the SV is a nice feature. The 12X Swaro is also a little larger than many of the others at 300ft/100m.
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Old Monday 24th October 2016, 06:43   #8
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Originally Posted by NDhunter View Post
David:

A very nice, well done review, you do seem impressed with the Meopta.

I have a question about resolution testing, as I would like to try it sometime.

What target do you use, at what distance and what kind of lighting do you advise ?

This one you tested may be a very good one, so don't be in a hurry to send it back,
it may look very nice on your shelf.

Jerry
Jerry,

Yes, very impressed. Those resolution values are remarkably good, but so it the sharpness. I'll be sorry to see it go.

I use a professional copy of the USAF 1951 chart outdoors. I randomise the distance, and measure the light levels to ensure consistent acuity. I usually use a 7x boost. I'll send a PM with the finer details rather than get too side tracked in this thread.

Cheers,

David
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Old Monday 24th October 2016, 07:00   #9
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David .... Another excellent review. Thanks for taking the time to put all of that together. The next time I go to Cabela's, I will have to check out the Meopta.

I would be interested in what you find out comparing a Swaro 12X50 EL SV. Hopefully you can get your hands on one. A 12X does not have the greatest FOV in terms of actual distance, so the flat field of the SV is a nice feature. The 12X Swaro is also a little larger than many of the others at 300ft/100m.
Bruce,

The Meopta still has a pretty good 63į AFOV, but a bit more certainly won't do any harm.

I think it was probably bad luck, but the colour on the last ELSV 12x50 I tried seemed very blue shifted, and I do recall spending a little time trying to figure out if it was a stray light problem. I'm sure that's not typical, so definitely worth another look. I just checked, unfortunately the closest shop to me doesn't carry the Swaro 12x50 and other options are rather distant.

David

Last edited by typo : Monday 24th October 2016 at 10:53. Reason: Update on Swaro 12x50 availability
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Old Tuesday 25th October 2016, 15:01   #10
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David, thank you for another excellent review, as expected from you.

Also I urge you, put down your explanations of binocular optics as a compilation, a sort of "Collected Works of Typo", for reference, somewhere on the internet!

From the number of responses in this thread so far I would guess that 12x50 is not a very popular specification!

Two queries please. Was this view handheld or tripod mounted?

"The view from their marquee...the finest threads of the reeds and grasses' feathery seed heads...all seemed etched in higher definition than I was expecting. The view just just appeared a bit bigger and bolder, and..."

Using the Meopta bracket as described below could one go down to 60mm? Thank you!

"Meopta...two piece, quick release, tripod bracket...There isn't a lot of room between those 50mm barrels, and the slim design meant I could still get 63mm IPD."
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Old Tuesday 25th October 2016, 21:44   #11
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Great and extensively comprehensive review David! Glad you got on well with the MeoStar B1 12x50 HD!
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Old Tuesday 25th October 2016, 23:32   #12
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Thumbs up

Very nice review David I always take notice when you say you've found a good one

From what you mentioned of the transmission curve though, that's a fair drop off in the blue, which must affect the colour bias (and by corollary, ultimate brightness). For what it's worth, in my experience, I have always thought the 12◊50 SV had the familiar SV family colour rendition - ie. quite well balanced, strong blues, greens, and reds, with no obvious cool or warm colour cast (but then I've got that weird David Bowie thing going on with my eyes :) . It gives the SV what I have termed the "crystalline" view - a form of "sparkle arkle" if you like !

How did the Meopta compare in general to your stock in trade 12x porro? Would you consider it a trade up/down, or sideways?


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Old Wednesday 26th October 2016, 05:41   #13
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David, thank you for another excellent review, as expected from you.

Also I urge you, put down your explanations of binocular optics as a compilation, a sort of "Collected Works of Typo", for reference, somewhere on the internet!

From the number of responses in this thread so far I would guess that 12x50 is not a very popular specification!

Two queries please. Was this view handheld or tripod mounted?

"The view from their marquee...the finest threads of the reeds and grasses' feathery seed heads...all seemed etched in higher definition than I was expecting. The view just just appeared a bit bigger and bolder, and..."

Using the Meopta bracket as described below could one go down to 60mm? Thank you!

"Meopta...two piece, quick release, tripod bracket...There isn't a lot of room between those 50mm barrels, and the slim design meant I could still get 63mm IPD."
Adhoc,

Hopefully, the English version of Holger's book will be along before too long and I'm sure he can illustrate this stuff more clearly than I can.

The reeds and grasses thing was referring to hand held use. We latterly got out the adaptor to have a look at the 15x56, but unfortunately we couldn't get close to my 63mm IPD with that. 63mm was the minimum for the 12x50. It's possible other makes of adaptor would do a little better, but I would of thought the cradle type was the safer bet.

David
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Old Wednesday 26th October 2016, 05:44   #14
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Great and extensively comprehensive review David! Glad you got on well with the MeoStar B1 12x50 HD!
Thanks, it's been a joy to play with. Good to see you back at Birdfair this year

David

Last edited by typo : Wednesday 26th October 2016 at 13:41.
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Old Wednesday 26th October 2016, 06:32   #15
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Very nice review David I always take notice when you say you've found a good one

From what you mentioned of the transmission curve though, that's a fair drop off in the blue, which must affect the colour bias (and by corollary, ultimate brightness). For what it's worth, in my experience, I have always thought the 12◊50 SV had the familiar SV family colour rendition - ie. quite well balanced, strong blues, greens, and reds, with no obvious cool or warm colour cast (but then I've got that weird David Bowie thing going on with my eyes :) . It gives the SV what I have termed the "crystalline" view - a form of "sparkle arkle" if you like !

How did the Meopta compare in general to your stock in trade 12x porro? Would you consider it a trade up/down, or sideways?


Chosun
CJ,

The two transmission plots I've been sent for the 12x50 are very different from that shown in the Allbinos recent review for example. I'd suppose was old stock. 80% transmission at 430nm seems pretty good to me.

If I have a look at a blue patch of sky with an HT ot SF for example it looks darker and dirtier. With this sample of the 12x50, I couldn't see a difference at all for the first couple of weeks I had it. Then we got a crystal clear day and looking straight up at the deepest blue area of the sky I could find I see just a slight colour shift.

Look at Allbinos recent SLC result for example. It might have just a fraction more blue than the Meopta plot I have, but it has a lot less red, so consequently will look blue shifted compared to this Meopta but also compared to neutral.

We have had enough discussions about colour bias on the forum to realise others will almost certainly see things quite differently. To me, the Meopta may not be perfect, but it is very good.

David

PS. My 12x50 IF porro has been my reference for resolution for several years. The Meopta trashed it! The porro's colour is pretty average, at best, and there is no hint of this sharpness enhancement. The porro did have a slight edge on long distance stereopsis acuity due to objective spacing of course.

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Old Wednesday 26th October 2016, 10:53   #16
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Hi David,

Great review, indeed!! It confirm, to me, the general quality and high standard of Meopta products.

Thank you!

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Old Thursday 27th October 2016, 22:58   #17
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Excellent review David!!
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Old Saturday 29th October 2016, 08:58   #18
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Sadly, I'll be packing up the Meostar for return today and really going to miss it. I think this 12x50HD was really a rather special binocular and I need to thank Meopta for their generosity in lending it to me.

A 12x may not be many birders first choice, but as a marker for the status of their technology it's been very impressive indeed, and bodes very well for the future.

David
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Old Monday 31st October 2016, 15:51   #19
Chosun Juan
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Thanks for the additional info David

I got the impression that you'd like to add this one to the stable .... it certainly reads like a cherry copy. Any compelling reasons not to keep it since it bests your reference?


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Old Monday 31st October 2016, 19:19   #20
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CJ,

Just the usual reason.... lack of funds.

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Old Thursday 3rd November 2016, 17:33   #21
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Very nice review David showing again that Meopta is one to watch in the future.

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Old Saturday 5th November 2016, 07:47   #22
typo
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Thanks Lee.

I thought the 12x50HD on the stand was good, but this review sample actually exceeded my expectations. I've double checked with Meopta that it wasn't a cherry picked 'special' of some sort, and they assured me it was just a random sample from the latest production run. The QC was rechecked prior to shipping but that was all.

I'd agree one to watch for the future.

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Old Sunday 6th November 2016, 13:45   #23
Chosun Juan
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Thumbs up

David, that sounds encouraging! if any old one of them are that good, then maybe there will be one on your shopping list someday soon perhaps manufacturers have finally woken up that exceeding the ISO standard offers tangible benefits ....


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Old Thursday 5th January 2017, 12:40   #24
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I'm curious if anyone has looked at this against the Leica Ultravid Hd 12x50. I'm interested in a 12x bino, and these two are among consideration. I have a 2015 model Trinovid 10x42 and used he Meostar 10x42 Hd. I enjoy both brands that I viewed.

One advantage I see to the Meostar is the threaded tripod adapter versus special adapters needed for Leica.

As I mentioned other places, I think Meopta would gain appeal if hey didn't have such a bland military appearance.
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Old Tuesday 31st January 2017, 15:02   #25
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My experience with the Meopta 12 x 50 HD (and other bins)

Thanks for your review, David. I've purchased the same binoculars 3 months ago, and I'd like to show my view, using citations from your text for my comments. (I just discovered your review some days ago, so my experiences are not influenced by it.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
Meopta is a name that may be well known on the forum, but seems to be relatively unknown in birding circles generally. That deserves to change in my opinion. I hope this review will illustrate why.
The binoculars I use nowadays are two Meostar B1 from Meopta: a 7 x 42 (purchased last spring) and a 12 x 50 HD, purchased last autumn. I've seen a lot of bins the last months, but for me the Meostars are the best from the sub-premium class: nearly the performance than the premium bins (and sometimes better!), but for 30 to 40 percent of the price of theme (at least in Switzerland). Unfortunately, there is no dealer to present them in a shop, there is only an online shop in Switzerland who orders them through the official representative. And that is the reason, only few persons know and appreciate the Meopta binoculars. They would be better known, if one could take them in the hands and test them with one own's eyes. (Regarding to me, I would not hesitate to order another Meostar online without having tested it before - but not a pair of Meo Pro HD binoculars, which Meopta does not produce itself, but buy at another factory - these are more conventional bins with some faults.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
Once upon a time, the Meostar had a reputation for not having the best colour rendition on offer. Those days are long gone, and in my opinion the current range really does merit the attention of those looking for top quality birding optics in my opinion.
The colour rendition of the 12 x 50 is a bit on the warm side, but less than that of the 7 x 42. But I like it more this way than that of my Zeiss Conquest HD 10 x 42, which are a bit cold. (Meopta's colour bias is similar to that of Leica binoculars.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
The 12x50HD has the mid-green armour with the raised texture pattern near the eyepieces and the bullet-like shape that is common to all the B1 range. I rather like its distinctive look. The thumb indents on the back are generous and well positioned for a conventional grip.
The grip: perfect for me. The look: I don't think of military green or hunting green, but of the good old green of the Swiss (and German and Austrian) Federal Railways 30 years ago... Advantage: green doesn't get heated by the sun so fast as black!

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
The Meostars B1 are bigger than other bins, but fit perfectly my hands.
They fit my hands as well. (The 7 x 42 are even better!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
The rain guard is a very nice snug fit ...
The rain guard for the eyepieces are very good. Its material does not bother me when it touches my hand. Most users will use them threaded only at the strap on the right side. The rain cover will not be damaged like that on my Zeiss Conquest HD which has a sharp strap and a soft rain guard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
There is no disguising that this is a fairly big binocular ...
Yes, but the alternatives are similar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
They are OK to hang round the neck for a an hour or so ...
Well, I carry them for several hours, often combined with my 7 x 42 Meostar, which weighs an additional 860 g.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
There is also a bit of a knack to holding a 12x steady. Supporting the binocular more on the palms of the hands with a slightly front and back arrangement worked best for me. I know some suggest the increased shake at high magnification neutralises any advantage. That just isnít so for me at least.
I agree, the plus in viewing details compensates for the shake - but not if you have just climbed a hill and are out of breath!

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
This was a brand new sample ... and the focus was sluggish to start with. Not exactly stiff, just very well damped and didnít want to be hurried. ... Iíve found the damping somewhat assists fine focus and there is no hint of any backlash.
The focusing unit is the best I've seen - much more better than the ones of the Swarovision EL, the Zeiss SF and the Zeiss Conquest HD. It is on a par with the one from the new Noctivid from Leica! Compared with that of the Meostar, the focuser of the 12 x 50 from Svaro EL is mediocre - I never could focus with one movement of my finger, there is a resistance that suddenly broke down and resulted in a defocused view. This effect is not big, but in consideration of the very limited depth of field of 12 x, it is annoying.

Quote:
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The eye relief is listed at 15 mm. Itís perfectly fine for my glasses with a millimetre or so to spare. To me, it feels more comparable to some models listed at 16 or 17mm. Clearly it will still be insufficient for some spectacle wearers.
That is the one and only drawback of these binoculars for me: being far-sighted, my glasses need an eye relief of at least 16 mm. But I can live with this incovenience, because I use 12 x 50 binoculars only to identify details, for overviewing a flock of birds I use my 7 x42.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
Apologies for the level of enthusiasm in this report.
No problem, I share your enthusiasm...

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
Sure enough, it comfortably outgunned my usual 10x42. In pure detail I was getting exactly the 20% advantage you would expect, but in terms of how the birds looked, it felt like the magnification was much higher.
Compared with binoculars that magnify 7 or 8 times, a pair with a magnifying factor of 12 outperforms clearly a 10 x 42. In my experience, a combination 7 or 8 + 10 times does not make any sense, but a combination 7 or 8 + 12 does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
Firstly the headline. I think this Meopta is possibly the sharpest binocular Iíve ever used.
I agree, but I would say that this is not only an effect of sharpness, but also of brillance and the nearly complete absence of chromatic aberration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
There is a rather shallow field curvature, but unless you are an astronomer, itís going to seem like a flat field with excellent definition right to the edge of the view.
I wouldn't say that they are flat field (as far as I know, there is no lens at this purpose), but the borders aren't really bad. Again, I use the 12x50 mostly for details in the center of the image.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
There is a bit more pincushion ..., so those who are susceptible to the rolling ball effect shouldnít be concerned.
That's is very important for me: I get uneasy when there is a remarkable rolling ball effect (as in the 8x42 SF from Zeiss).

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
Iíd been using the binocular for a couple of days when I realised I hadnít noticed any CA ... So I went looking for it. Yes it is there as very narrow fringing in the outer third of the view, but well within my own tolerance limits and itís not troubled me once in the field.
As I said before, the chromatic aberration is very well corrected - true HD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
Iíve been unable to spot any glare at all which is also pretty remarkable. There are a couple of false pupils around 3mm or so from the exit pupil but they havenít troubled the view at all.
Glare and false pupils are indeed no problem, in contrast to my Zeiss Conquest HD 10 x 42 which break down when I am viewing against the light (for example reflections of the sun in a pond). (The 7 x 42 are even better - nearly perfect in this regard!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
Iíve mentioned a couple of times that I get the impression that the magnification is higher than 12x.
I could compare my binoculars with the 12 x 50 Swarovision EL from Swarovski, and I had also the impression that the Meostar magnify more than those pair. By the way: The image quality of the Meostar was at least as good as that of the Swarovision (which cost at least double the price of the Meopta). The eye relief of the Swaro is better (about 18 mm), but the focussing unit is worse, and that is a major disadvantage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
I hope Iíve gone some way towards explaining why the Meostar HD 12x50 gave me that little buzz of excitement when I tried it for the first time at BirdFair. It still gives me that little buzz each time I use it. Itís not a cheap binocular, but I think it can be fairly called a bargain. Iím going to miss it.
All the Meostars B1 of Meopta are bargains - in my opinion. I think they are a much better choice than the Zeiss Conquest HD, for example. They resemble the Swarovision SLC, which are very good, but also not flat-field - but these cost more than the Meostars and there are not all models available (especially no 12 times magnifying bin).

Quote:
Originally Posted by typo View Post
I donít imagine many birders would choose a 12x50 as their only binocular, but most regulars here own several. I have a variety of models that I think are best suited to different situations, but 7x and 10x are my most used. The 7x for the woods and hedgerows and the 10x for the open spaces. No question, this Meopta does a much better job in those open spaces. Would I choose it for an all day outing? With a suitable harness, definitely.
As I said before, I often use a combination 7 x 42 and 12 x 50 - that's heavy, but I have only a tiny Lumix super-zoom digicam with me and thankfully a healthy neck!

Best regards,
Mark
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