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Meopta B1.1 8x32 vs Zeiss 8x32 FL vs Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD+ (1 Viewer)

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
A quick comparison between three pocket rockets, the Meopta B1.1 8x32, the long in service benchmark Zeiss 8x32 FL and the most recent Leica Ultravid HD+.

The Meopta has a newer version out, the B1 Plus with different armour and according to Meopta improved optical and mechanical tolerances.
Unfortunately I could not get my hands on one, for reasons mentioned elsewhere, lets not harp on it.

Three amigos:

Zeiss is the lightest, Meopta the heaviest and Leica reassuringly dense.



The focuser on the Zeiss is the best in the business on this sample. Perfect.
The Meopta focuser is very good and almost on par with the Zeiss, but slightly erratic at times...
Leica is solid in action with some inertia changin direction.

On Zeiss and Leica the dioptre adjustment rotates with the focuser. On the Meopta the dioptre adj is fixed and seems prone to pinching the focuser on this model - causing intermittent binding. In my eyes the Meopta design is flawed.
However I haven't found any issues with the larger Meopta binos in this regard.

Meopta is taller, slimmer than the Zeiss and about as slim as the shortest of the bunch, the Leica.
The eye cups on the Meopta are at the lowest setting but stick up two to two and half mm.



Ocular sizes:



I use glasses and Zeiss gives me ocular reflections. Lots of them in some instances and sometimes I need to shield both sides.
This is just about the only real negative for me with the Zeiss. I don't recall these problems with the 10x32FL I had though at the time I didn't use glasses all the time and when I did I had different glasses.

Bringing the Zeiss up to the eyes is easy, with/without glasses, and the eye cup extensions allow a good fit for most people. The view is great with glasses and the bino is light and stable in hand. The focuser on this sample is about as good as they get - light, fast and zero play.

Nailing focus is very easy and the Zeiss has a very calm image. Sweetspot is not as large as on the Leica but the field of view is very good. The Zeiss is the sharpest of the three at far distances - there is no question about it. Close focus is on par with the Meopta, with the Meopta having slightly less contrast but the Leica gives the best close range imaging. For digging out shadow detail nothing beats the Zeiss.

Leica too gives me ocular reflections. About the same as Zeiss but not as intrusive as on the Zeiss. For the most part it is out in the field stop and just creeping into the image. Eye cups on the Leica are atrocious in use. I am lucky I have glasses so that I don't have to pull them out, it is a bit of a chore.

Leica is almost excellent with glasses for me, slightly behind the Zeiss and Meopta but no troubles at all. The focuser is smooth but changing direction has a moment of inertia in one direction - some might find this annoying. Image pops with more contrast than the other two - which for the most part is very pleasing. Sweet spot is larger than on the Zeiss but the field of view is smaller and in back lit situations the Leica sometimes crunches the shadows due to the high contrast.

Meopta has the largest back oculars of the bunch - but the ocular reflections are absent. Very well done Meopta. All three were compared in the same harsh light with the sun high up at 11 and then panned side to side and up and down. Looking down the field against the sun gave none of the three any problems with glare from the front objective lenses. Ocular glare was present on both the Zeiss and Leica at times. The eye cups work great but I have them all the way down with glasses.

With glasses on the Meopta surprisingly edges out even the Zeiss FL for my eyes in terms of viewing comfort.

For medium distances all three are great. Can't complain about sharpness.

Leica has more contrast and it helps with some detail but for sheer resolution the Zeiss is on top. The Meopta is very good and I would say that the Zeiss gives the most neutral imaging with regards to contrast and color. Leica is a little warmer and has more contrast. The Meopta is also a little warmer but in a different way than the Leica.

Leica colors seem more saturated than the other two but looking through the other two there is nothing that stands out as bleak or boring, it is just that the Leica gives a little push to everything, especially in open shade.

Chromatic abberation is superbly controlled in the Zeiss FL. I think this also helps with the calmness of the image when looking at small details at far distances. Here the Zeiss is visibly sharper.

Leica has the most CA of the three, well the Meopta and the Leica are very similar in this regard but show the CA a bit differently. Though I really don't like CA - especially not in Alpha level binos I would say that CA is well controlled in both but you can get CA flashes in some instances. At the focal point in the center neither the Leica nor the Meopta display any disturbing CA and on natural objects it is not really noticeable.

Looking at birds in flight only the Zeiss will pass without flying colors though. ;)

The business end:


Objective lenses are recessed on all three so standing them down on a flat surface risks nothing but marring the rubber armor.

Handling is excellent on all three. Handholding with medium sized hands I like them all.
The Leica suffers a little from being the smallest and is also the least stable of the three in viewing.
Zeiss and Meopta has a calm image and the Leica is a little bit more jittery. Just a little bit.

For imaging the Leica comes out as the most impressive but when you have them a little longer you find that the Zeiss feels more correct in a way. The Meopta sits in between the two giving a very pleasing image but never besting either the Leica or the Zeiss. Still, for handling, eye relief and steadiness I prefer the Meopta even though it is a slight notch under the other two in terms of perceived sharpness and contrast.

For close to medium distance viewing, again, the Leica is most impressive only let down by occasional CA.

Nailing focus at very close range is a bit trickier with the Meopta but once focus is acquired the imaging is very good to excellent.

Build quality is excellent on all three and the Leica feels more premium and the Meopta feels like the most robust of the three. The Zeiss in this comparison is eleven years old and still looks the part - that says some about the quality of Zeiss.

I have not posted any specs, will see if I can do a little digging and post them.
Will reserve a posting to complete with some more thoughts later, off to work now!
 
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HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
I would say there is no clear winner here.
Though the Zeiss FL is a little dated it is still a stellar performer in the 8x32 segment, all things considered it is the best of the three and still among the best on the (now second hand) market. It has almost no weaknesses. For me, ocular glare is the deal killer for my personal use. Had it not been for that I would not have looked any further. It came at a steep price back in the days but that was the price you had to pay back then for "the best".

The Meopta is a bit long in the tooth as well but turns in a great performance in a very nice handling package at a price point significantly lower than the top three - and a few others. For this reason alone and with no real weaknesses it is a keeper for sure. I would keep it even if I went for any of the other two - provided I had the funds/needs for a second pair. As an only pair I can live with the Meopta 8x32 and enjoy it for sure!

The Leica is the latest HD+ and it shows what recent glass tech can do, still with some CA left but in use it is very seldom distracting.
Most people would probably find the Leica the most impressive and in a way it is. It is an optical pocket rocket. In Europe it is about twice the price as the Meopta and in Sweden even more so. Many would still pay up for the Leica and I can see why.

There are a few recent 8x32's, like the Swarovski NL Pure 8x32 and the Zeiss SF 8x32 that probably will best the Leica and the Zeiss FL optically. I find that the new breed is too large for a compact pair of binoculars and given the size of them I would wander into 8x42 territory instead of pursuing the best 8x32 there is. The current alpha 8x32's are not exactly pocket rockets anymore. More like chest harness rockets.

TBC/Work in progress...
 
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dries1

Member
HenRun

That was a nice read, and nice scenery in the pics. That Leica sure looks like a pocket rocket, but I agree the FL is one hell of a glass in a small package. I will try the Meopta again, however I found the eyecups a bit too narrow in diameter (However I did really like the view). I find the eyecups on all the other Meostar models are a perfect fit for my eye-sockets.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
NIce read.....I haven't tried nor seen the FL but I did compare the Leica Ultravid 8x32with the Meostar B1.1 plus AND just about all the other 8x32's on the market (last summer). I think of all that I tried, the Meostar and Leica were tops in my evaluation. Two things to remember about the B1.1, first, it is half the price of the Ultravid, so a huge difference in price. Second, the B1.1 is discontinued and the stocks are rapidly depleting. You can find them once in awhile but the replacement version of B1 Plus is heavier, bigger etc... Not the same bin in my thinking due to weight if nothing else. If you want a B1.1, look around for them. You might still find B1 versions which differ slightly in the diopter lock.

I found the focus adjustment to also be a bit finicky on the Ultravid which did bother me, especially for the price. The B1.1 also has similar issues, as you mentioned with the focus adjustment too. I had the opportunity to trade in my first B1.1 for another one and the focus works perfectly in my current model.

When all said and done, the Ultravid, Swaro CL, Conquest, Genesis, Maven, GPO, and Hawke, were all returned. I kept the Meostar B1.1. for the wife plus an Opticron Traveler 8x32.
 

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
Lmans66:
It is funny you should mention the list of 8x32's you waded through, it is very similar to mine.
I think we arrived at pretty much the same conclusion, and the same findings with the Leica and the Meopta.

Out of the reasonably priced binos the Opticron Traveler ED 8x32 was the nicest and easy to recommend. I would say the Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 is a pretty nice binocular too and over here about half the price of the Leica, while not giving the same rewarding image as the Leica it was very good with glasses and is one of the nicer ones in the "low premium range" 8x32's.

There is also the current crop at the top end of the 8x32 binoculars with Zeiss SF and Swarovski Pure NL 8x32 - but at twice the price of most of the competition and they are quite tall. Even if they aren't that heavy it kinds of defeats the purpose of a 8x32 for me.
They kind of blend into the 8x42 category and are definitely no longer compact, which is something I find a must in this category.
 

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
HenRun

That was a nice read, and nice scenery in the pics. That Leica sure looks like a pocket rocket, but I agree the FL is one hell of a glass in a small package. I will try the Meopta again, however I found the eyecups a bit too narrow in diameter (However I did really like the view). I find the eyecups on all the other Meostar models are a perfect fit for my eye-sockets.

It does not show too much of it but it is the view from my deck. There is plenty of stuff to look at all day and even more so a short stroll down the fields. This is what rekindled my interest in binos and which lead to the BinoFrenzy I went through the last couple of months.

It might seem like I have been shelling out left and right for bino's like I don't have a care but I have - literally - worked hard for them with some backbreaking manual labour. It has been rewarding, in the end, and I look forward to getting daily use out of the keepers. I honestly don't have it in me to go through this process again but I am not saying I won't add another pair further down the line.

Back when I was a photographer I could justify lenses I used that cost about twice as much as a top of the range Swarovski binocular. While that is a distant memory today - now I don't even have a camera outfit - I find that most great binoculars aren't "that expensive" and as long as I use the binoculars I don't mind having two or three that I rotate. If it turns out one doesn't get enough use I have no problem letting it go.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Lmans66:
It is funny you should mention the list of 8x32's you waded through, it is very similar to mine.
I think we arrived at pretty much the same conclusion, and the same findings with the Leica and the Meopta.

Out of the reasonably priced binos the Opticron Traveler ED 8x32 was the nicest and easy to recommend. I would say the Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 is a pretty nice binocular too and over here about half the price of the Leica, while not giving the same rewarding image as the Leica it was very good with glasses and is one of the nicer ones in the "low premium range" 8x32's.

There is also the current crop at the top end of the 8x32 binoculars with Zeiss SF and Swarovski Pure NL 8x32 - but at twice the price of most of the competition and they are quite tall. Even if they aren't that heavy it kinds of defeats the purpose of a 8x32 for me.
They kind of blend into the 8x42 category and are definitely no longer compact, which is something I find a must in this category.
Yes ....I forgot to mention the Nikon 8x30MHG in my list (not the Monarch plain version though). The MHG is a good bin. In fact I bought that too thinking it was a keeper but the focus wheel was too slow for my use. Great bin though with wide field of view and sharpness. It would have been right behind the Meostar and Leica.

So the Opticron brand has me curious. I enjoy the Traveler.....easy to use and good quality. I enjoy the Opticron service. I can see with the advent of the new Aurora that they are making inroads into being a solid competitor in the $1000 price point, or it appears as I haven't actually used or seen one. It will be interesting to see where they go with their product line.
 

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