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Roger Vines Meopta 12x50 HD Review

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Old Monday 10th February 2020, 19:18   #1
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Roger Vines Meopta 12x50 HD Review

Summary

Meopta’s Meostar 12x50 HDs are a binocular that rightfully belong in the Alpha class. They are European in fact and style and their quality, both optical and mechanical, is comparable to the top three. They give a little away to Swarovski’s ELs in most areas, but then so does everything else. Compared to Leica’s 50mm HD-plus models, only a slightly dimmer daytime view counts against the Meoptas, whilst even lower chromatic aberration swings it the other way.

That slight sense of being less sparkly bright than the best is the only thing that really counts against the Meostars during the day. Sharpness, resolution and rendition of colours seems up with the best.

At night, it’s the off-axis astigmatism that spoils the context a little with linear stars towards the field stop. Nonetheless, pin-point stars on-axis, excellent reach and resolution, good stray-light suppression and a pin-sharp high-res’ Moon make them an excellent choice for hand-held astronomy.

Overall, the 12x50 HDs make a worthy successor to Nikon’s defunct 12x50 SEs as a best-buy hand-held astronomy binocular;http://scopeviews.co.uk/Meopta12x50HD.htm
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Old Monday 10th February 2020, 19:54   #2
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The 15x56 is alpha class glass as well.
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Old Monday 10th February 2020, 22:52   #3
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Meopta is very much recognized in Europe and by that other popular sport here in the US with their scopes and binoculars. When it comes to the general public who enjoy nature viewing, it is not well known. Going forward I hope Meopta will enhance their marketing to other sectors outside of those aforementioned, so more potential users can get a chance to use and buy their glass.
I have a couple of the Meostars and feel they are more premium than mid level, just an opinion mind you. The 12X50 was my first choice for a 12X50, but the ER and eye-cup fit did not work out, great glass non the less.

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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 06:08   #4
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Meopta is very much recognized in Europe and by that other popular sport here in the US with their scopes and binoculars. When it comes to the general public who enjoy nature viewing, it is not well known. Going forward I hope Meopta will enhance their marketing to other sectors outside of those aforementioned, so more potential users can get a chance to use and buy their glass.
I have a couple of the Meostars and feel they are more premium than mid level, just an opinion mind you. The 12X50 was my first choice for a 12X50, but the ER and eye-cup fit did not work out, great glass non the less.

Andy W.
I absolutely agree Andy.

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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 23:34   #5
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I think Meopta made a mistake not using an AK prism in their 12x50 or 15x56 Meostar instead of the SP. When I have a big aperture I want to take advantage of it with the more efficient AK prism and it probably would have boosted transmission from a mediocre 89% to 92% or so and made a difference in brightness.
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 00:11   #6
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I think Meopta made a mistake not using an AK prism in their 12x50 or 15x56 Meostar instead of the SP. When I have a big aperture I want to take advantage of it with the more efficient AK prism and it probably would have boosted transmission from a mediocre 89% to 92% or so and made a difference in brightness.
Are you speaking from actual experience with the Meopta Meostar 12x50 HD?
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 02:57   #7
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Are you speaking from actual experience with the Meopta Meostar 12x50 HD?
No, I just noticed Roger Vine mentioned the fact that the Meopta 12x50 had mediocre transmission of 88% and that they used SP prisms instead of AK's. He said they were not a very bright binocular. AK's probably would have boosted the transmission at least 2-5%.

"Optics - Prisms

The prisms are conventional Schmidt-Pechan (a.k.a. Roof) prisms, not the Abbe-König prisms you get with the Vortex UHDs. That means these need mirror coatings and it seems that unlike most today they may be single-layer silver coatings rather than multi-layer dielectric. Meopta quote a daytime transmittance of 88%, which is pretty mediocre by modern standards (many recent roof manage another 4-5%, like adding an extra few mm of aperture)."

"In keeping with the daytime sense that these aren’t an especially bright binocular, the dusk view didn’t really impress. And in fact a 4mm exit pupil is less than the 5mm generally recommended for twilight. It wasn’t a bad effort and there was nothing nasty like sky flare, it just wasn’t as image-intensifying as some big-eye binoculars."

"Meopta quote a daytime transmittance of 88%, which is pretty mediocre by modern standards (many recent roof manage another 4-5%, like adding an extra few mm of aperture)."

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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 10:10   #8
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Well then, as someone who has owned the 12x50 HD, I cam away very impressed. I first owned the 12x50 Razor HD, my first quality binocular ever, however one thing I noticed was a lot, I mean a lot, of purple fringing and essentially had to return them. The folks at Eagle Optics were kind enough to exchange it for a Meostar 12x50 HD and I noticed the improvement immediately. Roger Vine's point about CA control should not be taken lightly, these are extremely impressive binoculars regarding CA control. I couldn't see any. Regarding the brightness, I felt they were plenty bright. I don't think I would be able to differentiate between 88% vs. 91%. In the end, this is all very subjective and folks who read this thread should still be encouraged to try them out instead of reading about someone's obsession with prisms in light of not even trying the brand.

I ended up selling the 12x50s because they were too powerful off the tripod. I now use predominantly 8x binoculars (The Habicht 10x40 being an exception).
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 12:18   #9
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Aside from the 7 and 8X42s I have, I still want to go back to that one, again...It really is a nice glass that HD 12X50.

Andy W.
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 14:04   #10
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No, I just noticed Roger Vine mentioned the fact that the Meopta 12x50 had mediocre transmission of 88% and that they used SP prisms instead of AK's. He said they were not a very bright binocular. AK's probably would have boosted the transmission at least 2-5%.
He also said the Meopta 12x50 uses silver mirror coatings. The closest thing to a true apples to apples transmission comparison between AK and SP was supplied to me by a Zeiss source when the 8x32 FL with SP prisms first appeared. Zeiss's measured transmission difference between it and the 8x42 FL with AK prisms was 1.4% at 550 nm. If we assign a 20-30mm shorter light path through glass to the 8x32 that would make the difference in the transmission through the prisms alone about 1.6-1.7%.
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 14:39   #11
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The closest thing to a true apples to apples transmission comparison between AK and SP was supplied to me by a Zeiss source when the 8x32 FL with SP prisms first appeared. Zeiss's measured transmission difference between it and the 8x42 FL with AK prisms was 1.4% at 550 nm. If we assign a 20-30mm shorter light path through glass to the 8x32 that would make the difference in the transmission through the prisms alone about 1.6-1.7%.

Thank you Henry for supplying some actual facts. So, in the case you mentioned, you would get roughly a 3% overall gain in light transmission? .... and 1.6% of that would be simply accomplished by the shorter light path of the smaller objective?

Would it be reasonable to assume then that a same size objective, having the 2 different prisms, but a similar length light path, would expect a gain of less than 2%?

Thanks.

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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 15:03   #12
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Here is the way I feel about higher magnification. I like 8x generally because I can hold it steady and it has good DOF and a big FOV. Anything above 8x starts shaking for me so if I am going to use higher magnification I want something that is REALLY high magnification and I can see a LOT of detail with. I know your going to be shaking but if brace yourself on something or sit down you can help steady the binocular. That is why I have the Razor UHD 18x56. I go from 8x to 18x. Nothing in between. No 10x, 12x or 15x( I do have a 10x40 Habicht). That is why I sold my 12x50 EL. In between the shakes I can still see a tremendous amount of detail with the 18x and I can spot wildlife like bear and wolves from much greater distances with the 18x than I could with lower magnifications even handheld. Then when I want to observe with the 18x56 for along time I use a tripod and scan. The 18x56 is fantastic on the night sky also. Best glass I have ever used. It is like a small apochromatic scope on the moon. It is like they say "Go big or go home".

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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 15:11   #13
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Well then, as someone who has owned the 12x50 HD, I cam away very impressed. I first owned the 12x50 Razor HD, my first quality binocular ever, however one thing I noticed was a lot, I mean a lot, of purple fringing and essentially had to return them. The folks at Eagle Optics were kind enough to exchange it for a Meostar 12x50 HD and I noticed the improvement immediately. Roger Vine's point about CA control should not be taken lightly, these are extremely impressive binoculars regarding CA control. I couldn't see any. Regarding the brightness, I felt they were plenty bright. I don't think I would be able to differentiate between 88% vs. 91%. In the end, this is all very subjective and folks who read this thread should still be encouraged to try them out instead of reading about someone's obsession with prisms in light of not even trying the brand.

I ended up selling the 12x50s because they were too powerful off the tripod. I now use predominantly 8x binoculars (The Habicht 10x40 being an exception).
The new Vortex Razor UHD's have really improved upon the CA that were visible in the Razor HD's. My UHD 8x42's control CA better than my Zeiss 8x42 FL's which used to be my benchmark for CA control. My UHD 18x56's are very good for CA control also for an 18x binocular. I think the new Vortex Razor UHD 12x50's will be a little better binocular than the Meopta Meostar 12x50's. The UHD's have an AK prism for better transmission, a slightly larger FOV(10feet), they are 4oz. lighter and with the new glass and optics they should control CA as well but they are little more expensive.

https://vortexoptics.com/razor-uhd-12x50-binocular.html

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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 15:20   #14
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Thank you Henry for supplying some actual facts. So, in the case you mentioned, you would get roughly a 3% overall gain in light transmission? .... and 1.6% of that would be simply accomplished by the shorter light path of the smaller objective?

Would it be reasonable to assume then that a same size objective, having the 2 different prisms, but a similar length light path, would expect a gain of less than 2%?

Thanks.

-Bill
I should have been clearer. I was trying to split the hairs on the hairs.

The total transmission difference between the binoculars is 1.4% at 550 nm. 25mm of Schott N-BAK4 glass absorbs about 0.3% of the light at 550 nm, so I assigned the 8x32 a 0.2-0.3% offsetting advantage due to lower light absorption within glass, mainly from having smaller prisms. Take away that advantage and the total transmission difference between two FLs with the same size prisms, the same coatings and same number of glass to air surfaces, but one with an AK prism and the other with an SP prism, would be about 1.6-1.7%.

Henry

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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 15:55   #15
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I should have been clearer. I was trying to split the hairs on the hairs.

The total transmission difference between the binoculars is 1.4% at 550 nm. 25mm of Schott N-BAK4 glass absorbs about 0.3% of the light at 550 nm, so I assigned the 8x32 a 0.2-0.3% offsetting advantage due to lower light absorption within glass, mainly from having smaller prisms. Take away that advantage and the total transmission difference between two FLs with the same size prisms, the same coatings and same number of glass to air surfaces, but one with an AK prism and the other with an SP prism, would be about 1.6-1.7%.

Henry
Less than 2%. Thank you for a thoughtful and coherent response. Much appreciated!

-Bill
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 22:23   #16
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I think Meopta made a mistake not using an AK prism in their 12x50 or 15x56 Meostar instead of the SP.
I'm an AK fan myself these days, though available evidence suggests that's mostly an aesthetic preference, and it just seems boring to have only SPs everywhere. Now we have a few AKs from Kamakura, while even Zeiss seems to be giving up on them... oh well. In any case it's not only Meopta failing to use them. Actually I think Meopta's "mistake" is making 42s that weigh as much as 50s, 50s that weigh as much as 56s and so on. And 12x with the FOV of other 15x, etc. Nice build quality, but not so impressive specs. Corners have to be cut somewhere to meet that price point; Kamakura apparently does it the other way around.

Roger Vine: "The prisms are conventional Schmidt-Pechan (a.k.a. Roof) prisms, not the Abbe-König prisms you get with the Vortex UHDs. That means these need mirror coatings and it seems that unlike most today they may be single-layer silver coatings rather than multi-layer dielectric."

A previous thread [here] has concluded that Meopta uses a unique proprietary multi-layer silver/dielectric coating. (Of course we don't know exactly how its performance compares, but it's not some cheap shortcut. This might not be Roger's best-ever review.)

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I go from 8x to 18x. Nothing in between. No 10x, 12x or 15x( I do have a 10x40 Habicht). That is why I sold my 12x50 EL. In between the shakes I can still see a tremendous amount of detail with the 18x and I can spot wildlife like bear and wolves from much greater distances with the 18x than I could with lower magnifications even handheld. Then when I want to observe with the 18x56 for along time I use a tripod and scan. The 18x56 is fantastic on the night sky also. Best glass I have ever used. It is like a small apochromatic scope on the moon. It is like they say "Go big or go home".
Again we both seem to prefer specialization to compromise, though for me it's only 10 (x32) to 15 (x56). But it takes some care to handhold 15x, and I wouldn't want to try 18. Have you really found more with the 18x, handheld? And the UHD is hardly an "apochromatic scope". Roger notes a high level of CA despite its vaunted double-ED glass. Have you tried the big glass from Kowa, Docter, APM etc for a comparison?
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 00:37   #17
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I don't know about AK's just being an aesthetic preference according to the available evidence. To my eyes I notice a discernible difference between my AK binoculars and my SP binoculars of the same aperture and quality and I still see AK's having a 2 to 5% advantage in transmission over SP's in most specifications with Zeiss claiming 95% for their AK prism HT line. So it is not just a marketing ploy to use them. AK's definitely increase light transmission in my experience with my binoculars. I start shaking above 8x so I figure if I am going to be shaking anyway I want a magnification high enough to give me a BIG advantage in seeing detail. Why use 10x when you don't see that much more detail than 8x? With 18x even handheld I can see detail and spot wildlife that is invisible at 10x and of course on a tripod the 18x leaves even a 15x in the dust. There is a BIG jump in magnification from 15x to 18x and how much detail you can see. Roger Vine called the UHD a small apochromatic scope and being an amateur astronomer that is exactly what 18x starts feeling like especially on the night sky and celestial objects. The view of the moon approaches what a small high quality telescope would give you at a lower power. The UHD 18x56 does have CA on the edge but that is because it is 18x. My UHD 8x42 has the best CA control I have seen even better than my Zeiss 8x42 FL which was my previous benchmark for CA. Roger Vine is comparing the CA in the UHD 18x56 to the SLC 15x56. That is a big difference in magnification and CA increases with magnification especially in a short focal length instrument like a binocular. The on-axis sharpness of the UHD 18x56 is really incredible for such a high magnification binocular and the edge CA is not really bothersome.

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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 02:16   #18
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Silver Coating on Schmidt-Pechan Prisms of B1 Binoculars?

In August 2018, Lee/ Troubador posted an interview with Meopta’s Product Manager, Miloš Slaný
The following directly addresses the issue:

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. . .
MeoStar prism coating

T: There has been some confusion on Birdforum about the kind of coating that is applied to the surface of the prism that needs a reflective coating because the prism at this point cannot achieve full internal reflection.
M: The coating is silver and it has a dielectric coating for protection, and with this protection, the sealed body, and inert gas filling, the silver coating will not deteriorate.
. . .

There is of course a whole lot more in the interview - including the point that an optical product represents a series of compromises
- which makes a set of structured comparative reviews, such as those by Roger, most useful

And for those interested, there is also a more recent interview with Miloš at: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=381628


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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 07:05   #19
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I think Meopta made a mistake not using an AK prism in their 12x50 or 15x56 Meostar instead of the SP.
MeoStar 56mm binos use AK prisms.

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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 07:12   #20
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Zeiss claiming 95% for their AK prism HT line. So it is not just a marketing ploy to use them.
But Dennis, the HTs use High Transmission glass so it isn't all due to AK prisms.

Zeiss's FL 8x42 with AKs but without HT-glass was tested by Gijs at 92%.


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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 09:04   #21
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But Dennis, the HTs use High Transmission glass so it isn't all due to AK prisms.

Zeiss's FL 8x42 with AKs but without HT-glass was tested by Gijs at 92%.


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And Zeiss Conquest (pre-HD) 8x40, with AK prisms, were tested at 85%.
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 09:30   #22
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And Zeiss Conquest (pre-HD) 8x40, with AK prisms, were tested at 85%.
Probably these were not given up-to-date T* coatings so they didn't compete with Victory models, and this would have contributed to lower transmission.

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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 15:14   #23
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I bought a Meopta Meostar 8x42. I want to try one again. If Lee likes them they must be good! I will comment on them here.
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 15:35   #24
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Have Dennis and Rico ever been seen in the same place at the same time?

It seems this thread was initially about the Meopta 12x50 binocular, which some people on the thread own, and think well of, until Dennis hijacked it with his misguided assumptions about AK prisms, which he is currently fixated on.

Dennis does not own a Meopta 12 x 50. He does not even own a 12x binocular. Then he launches into a rant about AK prisms, a critique of 12x as a useful magnification, rolls out his new concept of 8x or 18x, wrapping it up with an insightful analysis of CA, and rather unsurprisingly concludes that his current binocular is the daddy of them all. Perhaps he's fired all his bullets at this point, and it is safe to come out.

I appreciate that some of you more sane individuals are gently trying to reason with him by feeding him warm spoonfuls of simple facts and truths. Maybe it will help... maybe not!

-Bill

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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 15:44   #25
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I bought a Meopta Meostar 8x42. I want to try one again. If Lee likes them they must be good! I will comment on them here.
Hi Dennis

I look forward to your observations but please start a new thread for them. And don't forget to tell us whether they are B1 MeoStars or B1.1.

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