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A Review of Meopta MeoStar B1.1 10x42 HD (1 Viewer)

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
It is almost exactly 3 years since I reviewed Meopta’s MeoStar B1 10x42 HD so when the opportunity came to borrow the new B1.1 10x42 HD I jumped at it. As reported elsewhere, there are no big changes between B1 and B1.1, the upgrades being a lockable dioptre adjuster and an extra eyecup position midway between fully up and fully down.

Lifting up a B1.1 there is the familiar heft to the 42mm versions and the 10x42 is no exception. The shape of the optical tubes remains unchanged and as comfortable as ever. The rubber armour has a classy feel to it, with just enough surface texture to provide a good, secure grip, and the eyecups move between positions with a feeling of precision. The extra position is a welcome if modest increase in adjustability.

What about the new lockable dioptre? Pull up the dioptre wheel and make your adjustment, push it in and it locks in position. After nearly 3 weeks of slipping and sliding over wet rocks and seaweed, of scrambling over and around lichen encrusted boulders and every other kind of Scottish west-coast obstacle, during which the MeoStars were occasionally jammed under my armpit or thrust inside my jacket, or laid on while ground-level photography was undertaken, I can guarantee you that the dioptre setting is reliable and an improvement on the B1’s arrangement. Note however that the dioptre wheel does not pull out very far, nor does it engage its new extended position with any kind of click. The same applies when pushing it back in. I would have preferred something that felt and sounded a bit more positive, but this is surely nit-picking taken to an extreme, given that the system works so effectively, and a red ring under the wheel is always visible when the wheel is pulled out, giving ample visible warning that you have not yet pushed the wheel back home. In the first photo below, the bino furthest away has the dioptre adjuster pulled out and the red ring is visible.

The ocular guard, or rain-guard, only attaches to the neck-strap at one side and regular visitors here will know that I feel that I prefer an attachment on both sides, which also allows those happy with single-side attachment to choose left-hand or right-hand side. I like to attach both sides because in the rain you only need to slide the guard down the straps to the eyecups and the guard is automatically adjusted to your IPD by the distance between the straps and the guard slips over the eyecups quickly and easily. Not only does this minimise the rain getting on the ocular and spoiling the view, it minimises the temptation to wipe the rain off and possibly scratch the oculars with whatever dust was on them.

The 10x42 is billed as HD, so the obvious question is does it manage chromatic aberration better than the 8x42 which does not even claim ED status? To answer this I tested both 8x42 and 10x42 side-by-side against a variety of high-contrast subjects, including dark ones against white cloud, and this soon demonstrated that the 10x42 HD would have its work cut out to better the 8x, which is outstandingly good at CA control. In fact I had to work hard to spot CA through the 8x42, only finding it easy to find when having my eyes off the optical axis when trying to examine the field edge. With eyes in the normal position I could only find a slight amount at the field edge. And, yes, this was reduced in the 10x42 to a level you almost had to imagine into existence to be able to see it at all. For all practical purposes you can forget CA with either of these binos, and although the 10x42 was the better performer, it wasn’t enough for me to wish that Meopta offered an 8x42 HD.

Optically, the view through the 10x42 is a sweet balance of clear detail, brightness and natural colour, and they delivered beautiful views of a range of subjects.

While searching an upper shore for signs of Otters, a Buzzard floated clumsily down towards dwarf trees occupying the side of a ravine cutting into a hill overlooking the sea. Its plumage was pale and loose, every shade of biscuit, and as it approached the trees it flapped its wings madly to slow down, and dropped its legs, which dangled randomly as it crash-landed onto a branch. The adult following it swept in cleanly with no fuss, and landed nearby with poise and grace. Clearly the youngster had a lot to learn about the random gusts of west Scotland coastal winds. On the following day, on the opposite side of the hill, what could have been the same juvenile Buzzard, was hanging on the updraft above a modest cliff and making a decent job of it until two Ravens glided alongside. Do birds have a sense of humour? Probably not, but if any do, these two Ravens had it. They too hung on the updraft but with wings and tail making the smallest of movements, while the Buzzard needed more sudden flirtings of its tail and wingtips. One Raven side-slipped closer, and the Buzzard did a half-roll and dropped its legs, opening its talons. The Raven side-slipped away a tiny bit and to my surprise, both Ravens then dropped their legs and dangled them, looking for all the world as if they were teasing or mocking the Buzzard. By the way neither of these two big black birds, set against a background of white clouds, had any chromatic aberration around them. At this point the Buzzard sheared off and, followed by one of the Ravens, it disappeared from sight. And what did the remaining Raven do? It did a half-roll onto its back and floated there, upside-down for maybe 2 seconds before effortlessly returning to the right-way up and glided away, calling raucously, and being answered by the other, out-of-sight Raven. We shouldn’t ascribe human motivations and emotions to birds and animals but this little encounter was very tempting in this respect. Throughout these incidents the MeoStars delivered an impeccable clean sharp view.

Earlier in the year we had been delighted to find that several pairs of Common Sandpipers (relatives of North America’s Spotted Sandpiper) had returned from migration and settled along the coast where we stay. On this visit, their breeding was over and only few individuals were left but the 10x42s captured their striking wing-bars as they flew a short distance away from us with their wings characteristically bowed downwards, and seeming to propel the birds by vibrating rather than flapping. The juveniles have quite complex mantle markings and the MeoStars did full justice to the details.

During these encounters we were subjected to variable and gusting coastal winds, good for keeping the biting midges at bay, but not always good for holding 10x binoculars steady, however I found their heft kept them steadier than I expected on the worst days.

The other regular wader on our coast, apart from the ever-present Oystercatchers, was a Redshank that visited the inlet outside our cottage, at the same state of tide, on most days. From our experience of them in south-east England, we know they can be very noisy, but up here they seem to defer to the sometimes-deafening Oystercatchers. Our regular visitor was quiet and went about its business on bright-orange legs and when it took to the air, revealed large white wing-patches and a vee of white up its back. The MeoStar made a fine job of its face pattern and mantle markings.

And then we had two startling sightings. The first was a warbler that out of nowhere fluttered down to land on a fence post near where we were enjoying a late-afternoon glass of wine (Chablis) in the sunshine. Large, for a warbler, unmarked at first glance, but through the MeoStars I quickly saw the large white throat-patch and brown patch on the wings with dark markings on the tertials: a juvenile Whitethroat. We saw adults nearby in the spring but we have never seen a Whitethroat on a fence before so raised our glasses to thank it. These kinds of birds are often called ‘little brown jobs’, which makes them sound dull, but through the MeoStars the subtlety of the plumage was beautiful.

However, the star of the show for us, beating the Sea Eagles into second-place simply because we often see them, was a duck in winter plumage. It was bouncing up and down on a choppy sea, disappearing behind wave-crests and only giving occasional glimpses of an unusual head pattern. Dark crown, white face with a large dark patch low on the ‘cheeks’ and somewhat towards the nape of the neck. It took a while for these details to become apparent through the MeoStars, due to the choppy sea and gusting wind, but eventually it became clear we had a female Long-tailed Duck. Not exactly a rarity but a rare sighting for us, and I thanked the 10x42s for snagging the identification for us.

As you have gathered I really enjoyed these MeoStars, but what are the down-sides? I have mentioned the ocular guard / rainguard, but I swapped that out for another brand more to my taste. These binos are on the heavy side but actually this was a benefit on some windy days as it reduced wind-provoked bino-shake, and actually, I never noticed their weight when walking with them, only when looking at the specifications on the Meopta website. This might be a good point to tell you that when I handed the binos to Troubadoris, the first thing she said was ‘these are heavy’, then ‘aren’t they really clear?’ and finally,’ they are heavy but they are really comfortable to hold despite the weight’. Troubadoris is not a bino-freak like me so this amounts to high praise. What about the dioptre adjuster that didn’t have a very positive feel either when pulled out or when pushed back down? All I can say is that I reset the dioptre umpteen times (umpteen is our local dialect for more than ‘several’, but less than ‘many’) and it never failed to work correctly and when set, it proved absolutely reliable. So, it does what it says on the tin, what more can you ask?

And their optical performance? Beautifully transparent and balanced, a pleasure to use.

Lee
 

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RobMorane

Well-known member
Amazing review Lee, as always. Thank you for doing such a long one.
I have to say I had to read it twice, because after reading it the first time, I was so caught up with your birds descriptions that they made me forget everything else.
 

dries1

Member
Lee,

Thanks for the review and your time regarding the Meopta, always a pleasure to read others accounts on their travels. Regarding the diopter, I have never had trouble with the one on the B1, or the older SLCs moving, but I guess Meopta thought (they have all the data) it was worth the change. This could be the best priced mid range ( a premium glass IMO) out there now, I am curious to look through one.

Andy W.


As a side question, Is that a new 8X32 next to the 10X42?
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Amazing review Lee, as always. Thank you for doing such a long one.
I have to say I had to read it twice, because after reading it the first time, I was so caught up with your birds descriptions that they made me forget everything else.

Thanks Rob. I get excited by binos but I get more excited by the world that they allow me to enter.

Lee
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Lee,

Thanks for the review and your time regarding the Meopta, always a pleasure to read others accounts on their travels. Regarding the diopter, I have never had trouble with the one on the B1, or the older SLCs moving, but I guess Meopta thought (they have all the data) it was worth the change. This could be the best priced mid range ( a premium glass IMO) out there now, I am curious to look through one.

Andy W.


As a side question, Is that a new 8X32 next to the 10X42?


Hi Andy
I noticed that on some expeditions I had no movement at all of the dioptre on B1s but on others it did occasionally move. In the end I tracked it down to me stuffing the bino either under my armpit or jacket to climb stuff or make my way across a stream or lie down to photo small flowers or fungi. I think sometimes during pulling the B1s back out from under my jacket that the dioptre knob got rubbed and shifted a little, usually just one increment. This was no big deal but the B1.1s have now got this covered.

And yes that is a B1.1 8x32.

Lee
 

Ries

Well-known member
Netherlands
Thanks for the review! I just got a b1 last week and don't see any problem with the diopter wheel. It's quite stiff, goes with clicks and when handling the bins right, when focusing I don't come anywhere near the diopter wheel with my fingers. So I guess it's mainly a feature tweak to get along in the market. Good for them, and good for people that maybe can pick up the B1 cheaply now; it's an awesome thing.
 

PHA

Well-known member
Hello Troubador,

Nice review!
I am a fan of the M.M., as I said a few times before.
My 8x32 is my do-everything binocular. I bought it used in 2012. Still working as the first day!
The optics, well, outstanding!

Best regards

PHA
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
Thanks for the review, Lee.
That sounds like two minor but sensible improvements. Now Swarovski already had belt and braces with the dioptre setting on the Swarovision ELs but had to add a second belt to the Field Pros with a lock that prevents pulling out the knob! Some "innovations" are superfluous and others like their strap attachments are backward steps.

I think the CA you observed was lateral CA, which stems from the eyepieces of almost all binoculars. I once had the opportunity of putting a 10x42 HD Meostar on a tripod and with a tripler behind it could detect no longitudinal CA. Astigmatism too was virtually absent but there was just a little field curvature (change of focus required at field edge). Pity that the eye relief is so marginal for glasses wearers.

Enjoyed your story of the clumsy young buzzard. It's under these windy conditions that birds show their real flying skills. One of my favourite birds (apart from the waders, of course ;)) is the Common Kestrel. In gusty winds or when Crows or Magpies attempt to steal their prey they really show their flying skills. It's then that the Kestrel makes these otherwise intelligent birds look rather stupid!

Regards,
John
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks for the review, Lee.
That sounds like two minor but sensible improvements. Now Swarovski already had belt and braces with the dioptre setting on the Swarovision ELs but had to add a second belt to the Field Pros with a lock that prevents pulling out the knob! Some "innovations" are superfluous and others like their strap attachments are backward steps.

I think the CA you observed was lateral CA, which stems from the eyepieces of almost all binoculars. I once had the opportunity of putting a 10x42 HD Meostar on a tripod and with a tripler behind it could detect no longitudinal CA. Astigmatism too was virtually absent but there was just a little field curvature (change of focus required at field edge). Pity that the eye relief is so marginal for glasses wearers.

Enjoyed your story of the clumsy young buzzard. It's under these windy conditions that birds show their real flying skills. One of my favourite birds (apart from the waders, of course ;)) is the Common Kestrel. In gusty winds or when Crows or Magpies attempt to steal their prey they really show their flying skills. It's then that the Kestrel makes these otherwise intelligent birds look rather stupid!

Regards,
John

Hi John

I couldn't agree more about the Common Kestrel. They are delightfully skillful in their flight and seem able to dance on winds that have other birds heading for cover or at least appearing clumsy by comparison. If Common Kestrels weren't common I reckon folks would travel far distances to see them and marvel at their flight.

Lee
 

Canip

Well-known member
Thank you, Lee, for your very nice, interesting and well written review!!
As to your findings, I could not agree more with everything you say.
Canip
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Lee:

You have a well done review, and I also agree that the Meopta models are very good.

Your description of your viewing is super, makes a person feel like they are also right there with you.

Jerry
 

Oblique

Member
Nice review. Thanks. I keep thinking I need to introduce some meopta into my optical world and not solely on the rely on the wonderful but expensive German / Austrian stuff. This review only helps to reinforce that view.

Having not seen them in the flesh the only thing that would put me off is their aesthetics. They're not the prettiest bins in the world.... IMHO. I know that shouldn't come into it really but I do enjoy the kit more if it's nice to behold.
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
I enjoyed that review Lee! Quite honestly that 42mm B1/B1.1 is all the binocular one is likely to ever need. So I have a question for you. Maybe you said it and I missed it. How's the ER with the 10X42HD B1.1?
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
I enjoyed that review Lee! Quite honestly that 42mm B1/B1.1 is all the binocular one is likely to ever need. So I have a question for you. Maybe you said it and I missed it. How's the ER with the 10X42HD B1.1?

Chuck,

It's a rather miserable 15 mm. The 8x42 has 17,4 mm and the 7x42 a whopping 21,8 mm. I think Meopta scaled the eyepiece design for the three models going from short focal length on the 10x to long focal length on the 7x. This is quite apparent from the differing eye lens diameters on the three models.

John
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I enjoyed that review Lee! Quite honestly that 42mm B1/B1.1 is all the binocular one is likely to ever need. So I have a question for you. Maybe you said it and I missed it. How's the ER with the 10X42HD B1.1?

Chuck,

It's a rather miserable 15 mm. The 8x42 has 17,4 mm and the 7x42 a whopping 21,8 mm. I think Meopta scaled the eyepiece design for the three models going from short focal length on the 10x to long focal length on the 7x. This is quite apparent from the differing eye lens diameters on the three models.

John


Chuck
You are so right. While a Zeiss SF beats it in several ways such as field of view, weight and handling, the quality of the MeoStar image is just superb.

John is absolutely right about the diameter of the ocular lenses decreasing from 7x to 10x with a predictable effect on ER. You and I know all about the super generous ER of the 7x as we have both had to overcome this by adjusting the eyecups. However the 10x was no problem for me whatsoever although it should be pointed out that the frameless and thin-lensed spectacles that exagerated my minor problem with the 7x perhaps help me out a bit with the 10x's nominal 15mm ER. But given the number of times I had to get the binos up to my eyes while in contorted positions, such as peering around and over rocks, or twisting around while sitting down etc I would have thought that if the ER was marginal at all for me I would have encountered problems occasionally but I never did.

Lee
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Nice review. Thanks. I keep thinking I need to introduce some meopta into my optical world and not solely on the rely on the wonderful but expensive German / Austrian stuff. This review only helps to reinforce that view.

Having not seen them in the flesh the only thing that would put me off is their aesthetics. They're not the prettiest bins in the world.... IMHO. I know that shouldn't come into it really but I do enjoy the kit more if it's nice to behold.

You know what? 3-4 years ago I said exactly the same thing to a Birdforum member when she asked me to look at them. What I found when I actually saw them in the flesh rather than in photos on the internet, was that the don't at all look 'spotty' or strange. In fact their are aspects of their shape that I find quite alluring. For example the texture of the armour is attractive and practical IMHO and I love the curve of the armour where it meets the hinge area. In real life I find these are really attractive instruments.

Below is a photo I used for my review of the B1 8x32.

Lee
 

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Patudo

Well-known member
I'm really impressed by the Meostar range. The ones I tried at Birdfair did a lot of things really well, build quality and image quality being particular standouts. The 10x42 HD is a great compact package and I can see why it is (according to the staff at the Meopta stand) the best seller in the range. Optically I thought it was excellent, very bright, with the most alpha-like colour rendition and cleanness of anything that isn't an alpha (somewhat clumsily put I know) and the design works very well ergonomically for me. The 15mm eye relief is the same as the 10x40B Dialyt which is one of my regulars, and I had no trouble with it at all. The only niggle with the 10x42 HD I found while trying it was that it seeemed to require fairly careful eye placement in a somewhat similar way to the Zeiss 8x32 FL - although this would no doubt get easier with familiarity, as was my experience with the FL. I think, if I were ever given the choice between the two, I'd prefer the Meostar 10x50 which felt steadier (I'm not sure I was actually able to hold it more steadily, but the larger exit pupil made eye placement easier), has the same field of view, and is, again, a compact package for an 10x50.

This range seems to me to be very close to Swarovski's SLCs - the latter are a little ahead optically and somewhat more refined in little details such as eyecup adjustment (as should be expected on both counts, given their relative difference in price), but the Meostars are impressively well made and extremely well packaged, albeit that packaging would seem to be at the cost of some field of view. The optics enthusiast in me would love to see what this company could do if they put their mind to making an "A1" model - but with the alpha market already being pretty crowded, it's probably a more intelligent decision to compete in the ranges that more folks are actually going to buy. If one was in the market for say a Conquest 10x42 HD one would be very well advised to have a very serious comparitive look at the 10x42 HD Meostar.
 

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