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Meopta 7x42 MeoStar Review (1 Viewer)

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
This is an unusual review because the subject of the review has recently been discontinued so is no longer in production. It is unusual for me personally in that it is the first 7x model that I have reviewed and only the second 7x model that I have ever looked through, the first being a pristine Zeiss Dialyt 7x42 T* P* owned by Gary Hawkins and brought to the British Bird Fair a few years ago. Moreover the models with which it would be most obvious to compare the Meopta include Zeiss’s FL 7x42 (discontinued) and Nikon’s EDG 7x42 the future of which seems uncertain now that the whole EDG series has been taken off the Nikon’s USA and Australia websites, but remains on the UK and Netherlands sites. Swarovski only offers 7x in the Habicht porro series, which are the most handsome of binos and high performers, but are problematic for spectacle wearers, with only 15mm of eye relief, and a reduction in the field of view for spectacle wearers specifically mentioned on Swarovski’s website. There are many 7x porros available at varying price levels of course but this review will concentrate on roof prism binoculars. By the way although Meopta has stopped making the 7x42 MeoStar, it still (at the time of writing) offers the MeoStar 7x50 and of course Leica still offers the Ultravid HD Plus in 7x42.

The Meopta MeoStar B1 7x42 comes from a manufacturer that is not as well-known as many and, I would argue, is not as well-known as they deserve to be. Their first family of binoculars, the B1 range, is extensive, extending from 32mm objective sizes through 42, 50, up to an 8x56, and it is fair to say that achieving the lowest possible weight was not one of the main priorities. All of the models have a ‘chunky heft’ to them that speaks of a desire for durability, for example the 7x42mm model weighs around 900g / 31.6ozs which makes it 65g / 2ozs heavier than a Swarovski 8.5x42. They all have an optical tube shape reminiscent of a cross between a Leica BA/BN and a Zeiss FL, which is to say they have a curviness that is distinctive among so many models that have parallel-sided optical tubes today. The 7x42 follows the rest of the B1 family by being relatively compact, occupying the middle ground of about 150mm / 5.9in long in the company of Zeiss’s FL and Nikon’s EDG, half way between Swarovski’s EL 8.5x at 160mm / 6.3in and Leica’s Ultravid HD+ at about 140mm / 5.5in.

Binoculars with 7x magnification have held a favoured position in the estimation of a dedicated band of users for decades. Zeiss’s Dialyt 7x42, for some years considered the premier birding bino in Europe, was the inspiration behind the genesis of the original Swarovski EL. But in recent decades, sales of 7x binoculars have been in a steady decline, and when asked to comment on this, most brands say more or less the same thing: everybody loves them but nobody buys them
In view of the fact that the review model is no longer manufactured, I won’t spend any time on a critical examination of the accessories such as caps, rainguards, straps and cases. Let’s take a quick look at the specifications and then find out what they are like in the field.

Comparing fields of view, the MeoStar at 137m / 411ft is competitive with Leica’s Ultravid HD+ and Nikon’s EDG, both having 140m / 420ft, but all of them are left behind by Zeiss’s discontinued FL and it’s 150m / 450ft. The MeoStar’s close focus looks a little old-fashioned at 3m and is matched by Nikon’s EDG, with Leica bringing up the rear with 3.3m and Zeiss’s FL in the lead with 2.0 metres. Close focus isn’t a priority for everyone of course, but for observers interested in a broad range of nature subjects this is very useful attribute.

Bird Forum member Gijs van Ginkel tested the transmission of this model and the daylight transmission at 555nm came to 90.9%, a respectable figure, which bettered the figure he obtained from Leica’s Ultravid HD Plus 7x42 of 88.2% but was beaten by Zeiss’s FL 7x42 at 93.1%.

I took the MeoStar on a two week’s holiday to the south-east of England in the county of Suffolk, to what are known as the Suffolk Sandlings. These are large areas of sandy heaths, separated by lowland, coastal marshes, much of it designated as nature reserves, and are some of the best birding areas in the UK, with iconic species such as Dartford Warbler, Bearded Reedling, Nightjar, Bittern and Marsh Harrier, as well having celebrity species such as Starlet Sea Anemone in some coastal lagoons, Ant Lions at RSPB Minsmere and Norfolk Hawker dragonfly sites within easy reach.

Roaming the heaths, marshes and reed beds can mean long days, there is so much to see and the marshes can mean lengthy walks around the margins, to the extent that I wondered how the back of my neck would feel after a full day of carrying the 900g/32oz Meoptas but I needn’t have been concerned. I never gave their weight a thought while out walking and their relatively compact size (they are only about 10mm/0.4” longer than a Swaro EL 32mm) meant they handled well.

The view through them is bright, transparent and lively, as sharp from edge to edge as I would ever need, and when panning close to the sun, even in the late afternoon, there was no glare at all. Checking for chromatic aberration it was possible, with a big struggle, to find it right across the field of view but it was of such a miniscule, barely discernible degree, right up to the edges that it was totally forgettable. In fact I checked for CA very early in my first day of using them and when I started writing up my review, more than two weeks later, I had so totally enjoyed the view through them that I had to go outside and check for CA all over again as I began to mistrust my notes and wonder if my eye placement had generated the initial observation. I can’t emphasise too much how wrong it would be to dismiss these binos due to my observation of such a tiny amount of CA in the centre field, in fact it is more remarkable that this tight control was maintained all the way to the edge.

The proof of the pudding came a few days into our holiday when the MeoStar captured a ‘lifer’ for me deep in the heart of a wood-marsh of the kind that we call carr in the UK. It was at the head of a huge reed bed but inside the wetland wood that we heard an unfamiliar but very close bird call and there, only a few metres away was our first ever Firecrest. If you don’t know what these look like you really should Google them. It sported a bright golden crown with fiery red tinge, flanked by coal-black margins with a fabulous white eye stripe underneath. The Firecrest with its punk hairdo was so vivid through the Meoptas it was hard to believe that we ever thought it might be tricky to separate it from its Goldcrest cousin, which is a UK resident. In case you were wondering how a bino’s view can be said to be lively, the sparkling view I had of this bird is how. And the complex head pattern was rendered with precise sharpness, excellent colour and contrast.

Over the next few days the MeoStar gave great views over the vistas of huge heaths and vast reed beds with such a satisfyingly pleasant quality that I searched for an explanation. It is not field of view monster like Zeiss’s FL, although at 7.8deg it is no slouch, and in any case it wasn’t a question of quantity about the view so much as a quality. The only thing I can put it down to is the 7x magnification giving a greater depth of field than I am used to with my usual 8x, so at any distance, more of the view is in focus. Indeed the reduced need for focusing was far more noticeable than the loss of 1x magnification.

Several days after the Firecrest incident we spent two days roaming a heath where Dartford Warblers are resident. Day one was cold, wet and windy, but the next day was much more pleasant and we got our reward in the shape of a Dartford briefly glimpsed and, after a nail-biting wait, it perched on top of a small gorse bush in full view. And there it was through the MeoStars: slate grey head and plum-coloured breast. Although not as dramatically coloured as the Firecrest’s head, the Dartford was still a bird of magic and beauty and the MeoStar did it full justice.

The following day we hiked around another marsh and visited a corner of an adjacent wood where, 30 years ago we had seen large clumps of Mistletoe growing wild in the trees and to our delight it was still there albeit having moved to smaller neighbouring trees. It was during this interlude that there was a commotion in the trees and down to a lower level swept two Great Spotted Woodpeckers having a territorial dispute. They were far too concerned with bad-mouthing each other and striking intimidating poses to notice us so we were able to get pretty close. It was a really dull day with low cloud cover and under trees but the Meopta still gave a nice bright view. The red on the nape and under the lower belly stood out like 3D as did the checker-board black and white of their wings. We walked underneath them as we left the showdown and neither showed any sign of deferring to the other. Later that day the Meopta delivered other delights such as Marsh Tit, Siskins and Stonechats and even a southward-swimming shark and all with great panache. What terrific binos.

This has been a lesson to me that has perhaps explained a little of why 7x binoculars have a devoted following and I hope that Meopta can find the courage to include another 7x42 at their premium level at some time in the future, despite the fact that when being asked about 7x binos most brands’ representatives have a facial expression that suggests these models are loss-makers.

In the UK the network of Meopta dealers serving the nature observation market is still under development so all those interested in locating a dealer should, in the first instance, contact Avisum | T: 01423 780649 | E: [email protected] | www.avisum.co.uk .
 

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dries1

Member
Thanks Lee for the review, they are great bins, the 8X42 has the same FOV as the 7X42 and is also a nice glass. I really enjoy the optics/ergonomics of the Meostar and find I am using them much these days.

Andy W.
 

peatmoss

Well-known member
Thanks for the excellent review, Lee. I've always appreciated the Meostar's deft balance and ergonomics.
 

bluespiderweb

Great Grey Looking Out
Yes Lee, very nice review, thank you! I liked how you told what you saw through them too, as it took us along there with you. That Firecrest is some wild looking bird, especially when the crest is up!

http://www.lazerhorse.org/2014/04/3...crest/smallest-bird-britain-firecrest-taiwan/ (click on picture to enlarge)

Thanks, never saw one before! I looked up the Dartford too-seems they also have a doo that stands up on some like this guy:

https://www.arkive.org/dartford-warbler/sylvia-undata/image-G39679.html

Guess I'll have to do a little more research now on your birds and our birds as well. Too many to see them all, but I'd like to see more just from reading others posts here recently. It sounds like you two had a blast on your vacation, I'm glad. That corn cob critter had me wondering!

You might have even done too well of a job on the review, Lee. It seems CameralandNY still had one in stock, what do you know, and now you know why they don't again! ; ) Guess I've gotta see for myself, since I really like my 10x32 B1 Cabelas Meopta. Thank you Lee.
 

chill6x6

Well-known member
Good morning Lee,

Nice report! That Meopta B.1 7X42 surely is a really nice binocular. It's a pity that model is no longer being made. For the life of me I don't understand why the 7X42 format isn't used more.

I checked out your firecrest. Nice! We have a golden-crowned kinglet that is somewhat similar though not quite as dynamic.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
You might have even done too well of a job on the review, Lee. It seems CameralandNY still had one in stock, what do you know, and now you know why they don't again! ; ) Guess I've gotta see for myself, since I really like my 10x32 B1 Cabelas Meopta. Thank you Lee.

Great decision Barry, its a fine bino

Lee
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Good morning Lee,

Nice report! That Meopta B.1 7X42 surely is a really nice binocular. It's a pity that model is no longer being made. For the life of me I don't understand why the 7X42 format isn't used more.

I checked out your firecrest. Nice! We have a golden-crowned kinglet that is somewhat similar though not quite as dynamic.

Thanks Chuck it was most enjoyable doing the tests out in the field, makeing notes and writing it up when we got back home.

Its pretty clear that 7x42s lose money and thats why the brands are mostly withdrawing from them, but keep an eye on the Opticron pages because they have one coming out around now.

Lee
 

PHA

Well-known member
Hola Trovador,

Good and useful review! Thank you! I also see Meopta Meostars as a rather under appreciated binoculars. I have since 2011, and use a lot, my 8x32 B1. I like it more every day.
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
Thanks for the intersting review Lee.
Hadn't realized that the Firecrest is so rare in the UK, but that applies to the Dartford Warbler here.

One aspect of the 7x42 Meostar you forgot to mention is the outstanding eye relief of around 22 mm. Some glasses-wearers might even have to puffer the eye cups with O-rings. Unfortunately Meopta appears to have scaled down the eyepieces for the higher powered versions (as has Swarovski with the 56 mm SLCs) with a consequent reduction in eye relief. A friend of mine bought the otherwise excellent Meostar 10x42 HD and had to sell it after discovering he needed glasses.

I have experience of three "generations" of 7x42 Meostars, having bought one of the early ones for my wife in 2005. Its rubber armouring split along one of the seams and it was replaced with a new one around 2008/2009. This later showed a loss of contrast in the right barrel, probably due to the ingress of moisture, and was in turn replaced with a new one in 2016.

There has been a progressive improvement in the coatings (3 to 5 to 7 layer?) and the newest one has a more neutral colour balance. The eye cups of the first version were wobbly but now function precisely, though still without click stops. There have also been changes in the accessories with each generation but these are still suboptimal. My wife's B1 now wears an Op-Tech strap, an old-style Zeiss oval rainguard and is carried in a Crumpler bag.

There has often been speculation about Meopta's continued use of a slver reflective coating on the semi-pentaprism, and some recent tests have led me to suspect that they might be doing something even more radical. That, however, should be the subject of a separate thread.

John
 

wdc

Well-known member
Thanks for the inspiring review Lee. I appreciate the wonderful descriptions of your experiences with the binoculars. Always a pleasure to read your reports.

Cheers,

Bill
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks for the intersting review Lee.
Hadn't realized that the Firecrest is so rare in the UK, but that applies to the Dartford Warbler here.

One aspect of the 7x42 Meostar you forgot to mention is the outstanding eye relief of around 22 mm. Some glasses-wearers might even have to puffer the eye cups with O-rings. Unfortunately Meopta appears to have scaled down the eyepieces for the higher powered versions (as has Swarovski with the 56 mm SLCs) with a consequent reduction in eye relief. A friend of mine bought the otherwise excellent Meostar 10x42 HD and had to sell it after discovering he needed glasses.

I have experience of three "generations" of 7x42 Meostars, having bought one of the early ones for my wife in 2005. Its rubber armouring split along one of the seams and it was replaced with a new one around 2008/2009. This later showed a loss of contrast in the right barrel, probably due to the ingress of moisture, and was in turn replaced with a new one in 2016.

There has been a progressive improvement in the coatings (3 to 5 to 7 layer?) and the newest one has a more neutral colour balance. The eye cups of the first version were wobbly but now function precisely, though still without click stops. There have also been changes in the accessories with each generation but these are still suboptimal. My wife's B1 now wears an Op-Tech strap, an old-style Zeiss oval rainguard and is carried in a Crumpler bag.

There has often been speculation about Meopta's continued use of a slver reflective coating on the semi-pentaprism, and some recent tests have led me to suspect that they might be doing something even more radical. That, however, should be the subject of a separate thread.

John

Thanks for the interesting background on these binos John.

Firecrests turn up in the UK every year so aren't a mega-rarity but they are still a species that some folks will travel many km to see and Dartford Warblers have extended their breeding range in the UK but it is still very limited and very local. We knew about the Dartford Warbler site already but the Firecrest was unexpected and a complete surprise and was all the more delightful as a result.

Lee
 
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Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks for the inspiring review Lee. I appreciate the wonderful descriptions of your experiences with the binoculars. Always a pleasure to read your reports.

Cheers,

Bill

Thanks for your kind words Bill, much appreciated.

Lee
 

jremmons

Wildlife Biologist
I have always wanted to buy this binocular for myself (a bit extravagant for work purposes) but have been in dire financial straits as of late and unfortunately was not able to take advantage of Cameraland's sale. Thanks for your review, Lee, very well written and detailed.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I have always wanted to buy this binocular for myself (a bit extravagant for work purposes) but have been in dire financial straits as of late and unfortunately was not able to take advantage of Cameraland's sale. Thanks for your review, Lee, very well written and detailed.

You're welcome Justin. Hope the finances take a turn for the better soon.

Lee
 

Swarovski Man

Well-known member
Hi Lee.

First of all, I just want to say that your approach to the review made it a very interesting - I have wanted to see a Dartford Warbler ever since I first saw a photo of one in the AA Book of the Countryside back in the 70s ( perhaps one day ).I bought a pair of Meostar 7x50s two years ago and enjoyed using them, however, I sold them because of the yellow cast. I then had the 8x32s, which appeared 'cleaner' but were too short on eye relief, so they also went. I am now considering a pair of 8x42s, but am concerned that these too will have a cast. Have you noticed any kind of cast with these recent Meostars and have you compared them directly with anything else ?

Thanks.
 

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