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Meopta 15x56 HD - Reviews and Information (1 Viewer)

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Earlier today I posted links to two of the more useful reviews about the Meopta 12x50 HD (see: https://www.birdforum.net/showpost.php?p=3890490&postcount=12 )

This prompted me to look through the list of Meopta threads, and I noticed that there’s no obvious starting point for solid information about the 15x56 HD


For those interested in the Meopta 15x56 HD:

- Pinac/ Canip has an excellent comparative review at: https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/549444-meopta-meostar-15x56-hd-short-review/ (photo 1)

- Piergiovanni from Binomania provides additional information at: https://www.binomania.it/binocolo-meopta-meostar-15x56-hd/

- Patriot222 specifically compares the optics of the Meopta HD to the Swarovski SLC HD (the best of all the 15x56’s) at: https://www.birdforum.net/showpost.php?p=3825500&postcount=27

- Matt Cashell shows the advantage of the Meopta’s HD glass, compared to the earlier Swarovski SLC neu (the best of the non-HD 15x56’s) at:
https://www.rokslide.com/review-meopta-meostar-15x56-hd-binocular/ (photos 2 & 3)


And as always, the most generally useful starting point for information about large binoculars - in this case the other 15x56 models - is Roger Vine of ScopeViews
see the list of Roger's reviews at: http://www.scopeviews.co.uk/BinoReviews.htm



John


In the last photo: the top images are from the centre of the field of view, the lower images from the edge
 

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HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
I have the latest version of the Meopta 15x56, the B1 Plus 15x56 HD.

Just got them a few weeks ago, very happy so far and I am liking them more the more I use them.

From the previous generation they have added a new coating (apparently the same as their rifle scope range) and the manufacturing tolerances have been improved including the optics. No change AFAIK on the optics configuration but from what I gathered the tolerances in manufacturing include the optics (assembly/grinding/polishing perhaps?). The provided pouch has a magnetic lock and the plastic latch which was prone to breaking off is gone. It is a no frills bag that looks alright and simply does the job with a mix of Cordura and felt on the outside.

Build quality, CA control and sharpness/resolution is Alpha class indeed. Size, weight and handling is good for the magnification but I am sure they made some compromises to arrive at this price point. The 15x56's are sturdy yet comfortable.

They are best suited for tripod/support use and the only minor gripes would be the eye relief, which is adequate but could be better. I have glasses and see the entire field of view fine, but the margin is not that great for eye placement. Field of View is not class leading for sure but for this type of binocular I am fine with it as the binos extract a whole lot of detail. Focusing is supersmooth and best I have had on a pair of binoculars so far. I have had a few Leica, Swarovski, Fuji and Zeiss binoculars over the years and sofar the Meoptas have been the best in this regard.

The CA correction in the sweet spot I would argue is class leading, better than the previous generation Swarovski 15x56 and though I have yet to look through a pair of SLC HD 15x56 I would imagine that the Meoptas would still be slightly better in terms of CA correction. It has in my opinion not been Swarovskis highest priority in their binoculars and for the 15x56 I think the Swaros have other merits but at this magnification I don't think they are on the same level of correction judging from looking through their recent range in lower magnifications. Having said that I have a particular dislike to pronounced CA. The Meopta 15x56 exhibit as low center/sweetspot CA as my Zeiss 10x32 FL which is very impressive given the extra magnification of the Meopta Meostars.

Field of View and Eye Relief is probably visibly better on the newer Swarovskis and perhaps the viewing as a whole will be more immersive with the Swaros. As for geometrical distortion I have no figures but the Meoptas have probably prioritized sharpness and CA control and made a terrific job at that but at the expense of some visible (but not annoying) distortion when you "look around" the field of view.

For what I guess they intended - central resolution and reasonably large sweet spot with virtually no CA - they accomplished their mission! I love the amount of detail they can pull out and for me this is the forte of the Meoptas.

As a comparison the Zeiss Conquest 15x56 HD's are way to CA ridden for my liking, which made me disregard them altogether after a brief five to ten minutes of looking through them outside of the shop.

I have a couple of Zeiss Victory binoculars and have had smaller Zeiss, Swaros and Leicas before and I usually prefer the Zeiss rendering over the other big names.

The Meopta surprises by going toe to toe with the Zeiss Victory 8x25 and 10x32 FL with the same lack of CA - at 15X magnification. Sharpness is equal to the Zeiss and this makes the Meopta Meostar B1 plus 15x56 HD resolve very small details. To the point that I can't imagine any other 15x56 out there being "sharper" though there are other traits that can be matched or surpassed. I would not trade my Meoptas for any of the other 15x56 options out there, regardless of cost.

At close range the Meoptas are fantastic in sharpness and contrast but it is hard to merge the image to a uniform circle/image and IPD is not right for me, I have literally a mm or two in lateral movement before the view goes from fantastic to slightly annoying. Probably to be expected for such long tubes and the parallax at close range. The Meoptas are not cheap by any means but to me they are very good value for the money.

I have some thoughts going in the direction of a 8X and 12X set up but what is holding me back is that the Meopta 12x50's seem to have even less eye relief than the 15x56's and the most intriguing option for me would be the Swaroski NL 12x42 which would give me roughly the same field of view with higher magnification as the Victory 10x32FL albeit in a larger package. The Victory FL 10x32 are great performers in a very small package and has very good eye relief with glasses on.

The cost for the Swarovski is on the very far end of the spectrum and my local dealer hasn't had them in stock the last couple of months and I don't shop expensive glass unseen. I will have a serious look at them if they get them back in stock. The Meoptas are the exception and were bought unseen as they were a special order item and can't be returned. I am very happy with the performance though - spectacular views of the moon and very nice tripod viewing.

I would also possibly replace the 8x25 (which are great, but my least used pair) with a 8x32 or 8x42, both of which there are plenty to choose from. I am not really wanting to part with the Victory 10x32 FL's but if the Swarovski 12x42 are as good as "they" say I don't feel the need for both 10 and 12x binoculars. I could even possibly part with the 15x56's but I would not part with them unless the Swarovskis would be spectacular.

I don't have a camera/phone adapter (as a former photographer and I always thought them to be sub par as imaging instruments but they serve a purpose I guess. Still, I managed to take some pictures through the Meoptas displaying their excellent ca control. If there is any interest I could upload them. I have seen Meopta reviews which are more on the technical side so there is probably no point in me going all the way with pictures etc.

I am generally a very harsh critic of optics/products but I do recognize a great product given all the factors and summing up the parts.
The Meopta Meostars B1 plus 15x56 HD are definitely a great pair of binoculars. For sheer resolution and minimal CA (virtually non existent at point of focus in the middle/sweet spot) they are very hard to beat. If you wear glasses I would suggest trying them out thoroughly as they have a little less "give" in eye placement with glasses and some other brands do that better. As a whole I did go through quite a few contenders to arrive at the Meopta Meostars and I am glad I did.

Meopta are working on the MeoAir range which is lighter and arguably not technically/optically better than the Meostars but will probably be a welcome addition for birders/hunters and they are also working on the B2 series which will hopefully address the minor gripes and shortcomings of the B1 Plus and predecessors - albeit at an added cost which will probably put them on par with Zeiss and Swarovskis top of the line binos.

It will be interesting to see the development, for sure.

EDIT: edited some grammar and sentences.
 
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tenex

reality-based
I have the latest version of the Meopta 15x56, the B1 Plus 15x56 HD...
Thanks for your impressions. I haven't tried this model but several people here really like it (and the 12x50). I have the SLC HD myself, which is a bit lighter with more FOV, and an equally smooth focuser. I have no trouble using it at closer range. It may have a bit of CA compared to the 10x version but I'm not supersensitive to that, so you'd have to judge for yourself. I will say that these two are simply the best binoculars I've ever owned, with a lovely bright and natural view, and if it weren't for the weight I'd never use another. And the NL makes them seem a bargain. (I'm not sure which "distortion" you're talking about in the B1+?)
 

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
Hey Tenex, thanks for chiming in.

I hold Swarovski in the highest regards and was drawn towards them when looking for a spotting scope, reviewing the usual suspects. I did end up with a Kowa as my bang-for-the-buck compromise for spotting scopes. However I did realize during that process that I am more of a binocular guy and in the end returned the Kowa and ordered the Meopta 15x56.

I didn't go for the SLC HD as I wanted to see if I could find anything on par with it for a little less. With the Meopta I think I did, albeit with some trade offs. Part of me thinks that putting too much emphasis on lack of CA should not be the primary concern when choosing binoculars - it is better to look at the whole package. I have over the years considered Swarovski being slightly overrated but coming from a photography background I perhaps have had a different outlook. I still think at the Alpha level you should expect a very minimal CA and when I looked through the older and (deservedly) universally praised 15x56 Swaros I was slightly disappointed. But, I was comparing them with lesser magnification binoculars and singled out CA as the divider between a good and a great pair of binoculars, right up there with sharpness across the board, stray light handling and eye relief.

I will in the next days/week have another look at the SLC 15x56 (for fun) if they still have it in stock - though my primary interest is the Swarovski NL 12x. If nothing else, just to satisfy my curiosity. They don't have the 12x in stock at the moment (and recently sold the EL 12x50 they had in stock) so I am waiting for them to stock up. They do have the 10x NL in stock which might serve as an indicator on the 12x as I think Swarovski are pretty consistent across the board in their line ups.

I would be confident enough to order up a Meopta Meostar 12x50 HD on optical quality alone - but I have lingering doubts on the eye relief for my part. Eye relief has always impressed me with Swarovski - at least in the few models I have had and have been interested in.

As for the distortion in the Meoptas I mean the inherent geometric distortion of the design. I don't have a very good way of describing it. I don't know if Meopta designers have used field flatteners to a larger extent in the 15x56 and I think that when I am looking around the field of view and at a slight angle the image is a little bit "busy" outside of the sweet spot.

This is not much of a flaw since the image is excellent under normal viewing but I think that Swarovski might do it better with their "distortion curve" when it comes to the whole image. Some people seem not to like Swarovskis approach with field flattening. Personally I think it gives a relaxed image on most magnifications.

I don't feel much of the rolling ball effect in the Meopta 15x56 which does make me think they are using some sort of field flattening technique, though it seems quite mild. Panning on a tripod is not triggering a cascade vomit reflex - and hey, that's a start. :D

In photography we used to call it "bokeh" when it comes to out of focus rendering and it is for the most part a very subjective matter in the end.
I write "used to" since I am no longer a photographer and haven't been active in photography for a number of years. For photography I find that the sharpest and most contrasty high speed (low number f-stop) haven't always had the best bokeh.
 
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HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
Trying to attach reasonably large images of the beast, together with the "new" style Meopta bag. For comparison the petite Zeiss Victory 10x32FL and the Victory 8x25. Pardon the hasty Iphone images, one at portrait mode with some softening going on - I am off to work now and the cat shelf does introduce unwanted image artifacts... ...cough cough hair...
 

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HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
OK, slight update.
Wife notified me that a pair of moose were across the field, some 500 to 600m out (roughly 1500 to 1800ft) nibbling away in the treeline. I did not spot them with my eyes as they melted away into the brush with the same colorpalette (shades of brown/grey) but a pan with the Meoptas picked them out and I got me good fifteen minutes in the sub zero temperatures (around -7 Celsius) watching them. Meoptas did great - and the 15x came in to great effect.

I did nudge my glasses a little from time to time but apart from that great glassing opportunity and the Meoptas continue to impress though I have to say I would not mind a mm or two more eye relief. With the tripod set up at the correct height the viewing is great but even slightly off height the margin of viewing decreases. Not a major gripe but that's what wearing glasses bring to the table.
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Henrun:
You have a very nice review of the Meopta Meostar, and I am wondering if there any optical changes between the former 15x56 HD
and your newly restyled model.

I have previously said the armor change as "Klingon" looking referring to the Startrek movie series. Not pretty.

Jerry
 

tenex

reality-based
I think that when I am looking around the field of view and at a slight angle the image is a little bit "busy" outside of the sweet spot.
This makes me think of actual aberrations (astigmatism, coma) as in otherwise nice Zeiss models like FL... but perhaps you only mean "busy bokeh" in the way photographers talk about OOF areas? In any case I expect you'll prefer the SLC HD when you finally try it.
I am wondering if there any optical changes between the former 15x56 HD and your newly restyled model.
The recent Meopta interview here confirmed there is no optical difference. It's just the second cosmetic restyling in a row, right before introducing the B2... which does seem a bit odd.
 

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
Henrun:
You have a very nice review of the Meopta Meostar, and I am wondering if there any optical changes between the former 15x56 HD
and your newly restyled model.

I have previously said the armor change as "Klingon" looking referring to the Startrek movie series. Not pretty.

Jerry

Hi Jerry. Well, the Meopta isn't exactly a "looker" for those who seek a stylish pair of binoculars.
To be honest I think the Swarovskis aren't that great looking either, including the NL I have on order. I get the Klingon reference - the armor is beefy for sure and the organic style is perhaps not design award winning material. But the grip is great.

This makes me think of actual aberrations (astigmatism, coma) as in otherwise nice Zeiss models like FL... but perhaps you only mean "busy bokeh" in the way photographers talk about OOF areas? In any case I expect you'll prefer the SLC HD when you finally try it.

The recent Meopta interview here confirmed there is no optical difference. It's just the second cosmetic restyling in a row, right before introducing the B2... which does seem a bit odd.

As Tim mentioned there is no optical difference. However Meopta claims that they have improved manufacturing tolerances across the board in the new series and the final result might have positively affected optical quality - more consistent from pair to pair and on par with the design goal. More stringent tolerances in grinding/polishing and mounting will improve the optics as well. Not saying it is so, but that is my experience with photographic lenses over the years as well.

My guess is that this upgrade (which is said to be continued alongside the new B2 and MeoAir) has benefitted from a refresh in the factory line and tooling and that is probably something they are implementing for making the new B2 series as they seem to be serious about making an "Alpha statement" with the B2 series.

I am not sure the B1 plus is a mere "filler" but I think they are overreaching if they will run four parallel lines of binoculars, Meopro, MeoAir, B2 and B1 plus...

Yes, when I mean "busy" I am referring to a little busy bokeh but to be fair to Meopta that is introduced when I am looking at a slight angle/looking around the periphery outside of the sweet spot. This is not normal glassing behaviour. Just typical lens snobbery on my part, looking for flaws.
 

kestrel1

Well-known member
1613632477653.jpeg
Agree, Meostar HD is one of benchmarks for CA suppression. I have 12x50 HD+ which is great for raptors and waterfowl. Really enjoying detail picking on long distances. Enjoy!
 

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
Hi Kestrel, do you have glasses?
Do you hand hold the 12x50's? How are they balanced?

I am interested in hearing experiences with the 12x50HD and if possible, from eye glass wearers.
 

sillyak

Well-known member
Can anyone measure the close IPD distance on their 15x56mm?

Meopta says 56mm, but they say that on all the B1 models and I find it hard to believe they can get it down to a 56mm IPD when the objectives themselves are 56mm.

My 10x42 B1 HD goes down to about 55.8mm.

I have a narrow IPD of 58mm.
 
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HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
I can try to check it tomorrow morning. I have digital calipers and the 15x56 readily available.
 

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
Ok, quick check without the digital calipers gives 56mm on the 15x56HD B1 Plus when folded in.
That is the center to center distance of the optics themselves and also gauging the exit light cones with the left and right eyes respectively I arrive at 56mm on the mm scale.
 

sillyak

Well-known member
Thank you! I still don't understand how they go down to 56mm with a straight through prism design (S-P) and 56mm objectives. There has to be some space taken up by the lens cell, body and armour, no?
 

Canip

Well-known member
On mine, I mesasure
  • 56.5 mm with the objective caps removed (they get in the way when fully folding the hinge)
  • 58.5 mm with the objective caps mounted.
Canip
 

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
There is probably an optical offset that is compensated for in the prism design. I don't know how they achieve it.
 

tenex

reality-based
However Meopta claims that they have improved manufacturing tolerances across the board in the new series and the final result might have positively affected optical quality - more consistent from pair to pair and on par with the design goal.
What is your source for this? It's not the sort of thing a company tends to admit or discuss.

Edit: Thanks for catching this. I just found such a phrase on the Meopta website:
"the B1 Plus features enhanced optical tolerances to provide even sharper images and greater optical performance."
 
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