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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Meopta Meostar B1 Plus 12x50HD (1 Viewer)

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
Meopta B1 Plus series continue to impress. I have found that despite having the option/funds for any brand available on the market - and trying most of them out - I have been circling back to Meopta for primarily; the performance, and secondary: superb value for money.

Despite having the 10X42HD and the 15x56HD I was curious to see what the 12x50HD is all about. In the German Catalogue it is separated from the other B1 Plus binoculars on a double page spread with the text: "2020 The best binocular from Meopta" in a circle badge above the image.

With the pending 8x32 returns I figured I might as well give it a test run since my fellow BinoManiac friend was very keen on either the 10x42HD or a 12X bino.

I would have loved to include the Meopta 8x32 in the image, unfortunately it was already boxed up and sent back:



The 10x42HD on the left, the 12x50HD in the middle and the 15x56HD on the right. The 10x42 is not that small, it is a hefty, dense package but it is not that tall for a 10x42.

Imaging in all three is superb. I have some intermittent problems with the 15x56 with glasses when I am panning down the hill we are located at but the ability to "focus through" branches and objects in the foreground is excellent with the higher magnification, something the 10X cannot do as well.

The 10x42 is easy to bring up to my eyes and hold steady despite/thanks to the weight and seeing the whole image with glasses is no problem.
If I could only have ONE binocular, I am pretty sure this one would be it.

The 12x50 sits inbetween the two in the magnification range while not giving anything away in the optical department.
It too gives me, easily, the full image with glasses. As far as resolution/sharpness/contrast the three are all up there with the best. Even against the sun and in harsh overcast light they perform great with no ocular reflections and they handle glare with excellence - it is very hard to provoke. None of them are plagued with CA, in fact it is a Meopta trait to have exemplary CA control in the HD range.

I expected I might like 12X but in a way I was thinking it would find a place with my friend since it sits inbetween the 10X and 15X.
However, I found that the 12X would easily replace the 15X for me. Despite all three having similar eye relief on paper the 10X and 12X are easier for me to work with my glasses. The 15x56 has very litte wiggle room - it gives me a great stationary viewing but any time I pan around I have to reconfigure my head placement. Without glasses it is much easier.
In terms of looking at details at far I find the 12X gives me pretty much the same ability to really spot small details as the 15X, though in some cases power always wins.

The 12X has almost the same ability to focus through foreground objects than the 15X and after watching a family of deer grazing at dusk and at dawn with both binoculars it was clear to me that the 12X is a keeper. It is probably the highest resolving of the three - but I can't see that with my eyes, I don't know if anyone can. The 15X is already fantastic with a CA free high resolution image in the center.

The 10X vs the 12X is easier to judge: the 10X is a better allrounder and handholding the 12X is more difficult. The 12X I find to be the best of the three following birds in flight as well as for short stints at medium distances looking at the birds in the birdfeeders. On a monopod or a tripod the 12X really is about the best I have seen so far, all things considered.

The price you pay is the field curvature, which is greater than on the 10X and looking down at the field the 12X drops off more towards the field stops and does it earlier than the 10X which does it more gracefully.

Is this a problem? If you would compare the Meopta 12x50HD with the Swarovski NL Pure 12x42 (which I have had at home, looking at the same field) I would say the Swarovski flat field and much wider imaging would impress most people more than the Meopta imaging would. It would, for me too. The Swarovski is stunning. I don't think the Swaro would give up that much in twilight viewing either. Is the Swaro sharper than the Meopta 12X? No, I don't think so.

I would say that I do think the Meopta is perhaps a little sharper in the center - judging by a coiled wire across the field where the coils are visible like "dots" on the Swarovski while the coils are more distinctly visible as lines in the Meopta 12X.

Edge performance on the Swaro is a slam dunk win though. But, given that the Swarovski costs a little more than twice as much as the Meopta I would rather have both the 10X and 12X Meoptas and some significant change in the pocket. So that was my decision, keep both. :)

Also, I did find that in light conditions that are common from my vantage point, the Swaro Pure NL does give me ocular reflections and it is more prone to glare than any of the Meopta HD offerings. Some will disagree with this but I can only tell it as I see it.

For viewing details I find the 12X close to perfect - it can squeeze out as much detail in the sweetspot as I can resolve with my eyes, probably more! The field curvature is not a problem either - looking at the farm houses across the fields they all stand out in a highly detailed, ca free, image. From 12X and up the limiting factor for is more due to the thermals in the air - but I rather look through some sharp thermals than some smeared ones. In the cool afternoons when the air is reasonably still the imaging of both the 15X and the 12X is a joy to see. I prefer juggling the 12X on the monopod over the 15X so it will be my field kit for excursions around the area.

This leaves the 15x56HD in Limbo so I put it on the market, at a fair price. Given that Meopta is virtually unknown over here I expected it to stay in the stable. It isn't easy to find a buyer which is a pity - since it is a great piece of glass! Lucky for me it did sell after a week and a half and the buyer will use it as a viewing bino out at a lake at their summer house. The buyer was not an optics expert but I hope with time he will realize what a bargain he made with that purchase.



Side with the 15x56 the 12x50 almost looks small!



At the moment the 12X is the only bino I have at home: the 10x42 is at my friends house and I also let him buy the Zeiss 8x32 FL from me.
House feels kind of empty! Hopefully the 8X quest is about to be resolved within a week, fingers crossed!

Ergonomics: I find the 10X42 superb for my hands. Comparing to a lot of other binoculars in the 10x42 range it would not have been my first choice going by ergonomics and first impressions - but after some use I find I don't even think about the ergonomics - which means I have no problems with it = perfect. I think I would probably choose the Meostar 10x42HD of the Zeiss SF 10x42 or Swarovski NL 10x42 - but that is primarily going on price/performance and factoring in having two other binos in the near magnification range. If prices were equal I don't know. I really don't.

The 12x50 is not as nice to handle as the Geko/GPO 12,5 bino, being fatter and heavier, but again, when actually using it, I have no complaints.
It isn't as nice in handling as the 10x42 but the ergonomics are very similar. It is very good for the class, but not great.

I don't think anyone with normal to medium or small sized hands would choose the Meopta over the Swarovski 12X or the GPO/Geko 12,5X based on ergonomics alone. For viewing I think most would choose the Swarovski or GeKo - the latter being fantastic with glasses. I found the CA in the GeKo too much for me so in the end it would be a no brainer for me: Meopta for under half the price of the Swaro with imaging "on par" with some trade off when it comes to the whole package.

On a monopod or tripod there is nothing to complain about with the Meopta. Everything is placed where it "should" be and works as intended.
 
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Yeti Man

Out there !
United States
I was REALLY hoping you would say the 15x56 is by far the pick of the litter as I recently bought (at a pretty good price) a Cabela's version of the 15x56 HD that was serviced by Meopta earlier this year.

I am really enjoying them.

I very much appreciate your impressions and opinions of the various binoculars you have used and reading about how you feel they compare.
-Charlie-
 

HenRun

Well-known member
Sweden
Hey Charlie, thanks for the feedback. I am glad you have enjoyed them. :)
I am not that technical in writing my impressions and I would say they are for the most part highly subjective. Some findings I think will hold true for many others too though.

I am not sure which one would be the pick of the litter.
The 15x56 B1 Plus is one of a few high magnification binoculars that outperforms many others with smaller magnification and has almost no peers. Considering the price point it is definitely a superb binocular. A little picky with eye placement for me in the long run - but for those who don't have that problem there is almost only the Swarovski 15x56 SLC HD that rivals it on the market for sheer performance.

Others report the 12x50 having too little effective eye relief - but it works for me. As with the 15x56 and with glasses there isn't much room to spare but it works for me. The 12x50 is perhaps the optically best of the lot but as with the 15x it is a struggle to handhold unsupported. If you enjoy the 15x56 on a tripod I would say that power is king and you have made the right choice. For me, I wish I had the 12x handling with the 15x magnification - and I guess some will find them equal.

After looking through Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss 12x45 Conquest, Geko/GPO and Vortex in the 12x range I would say that only the Swarovski NL 12x42 (and perhaps the EL12x50 which I haven't seen) would optically match the Meopta - at twice the price. Maybe the Vortex Razor UHD would be a dark horse in this segment too - I have yet to see through one - but it is about 50% more expensive too.

The 10x42HD I would say is perhaps the best buy in the line up. Except for weight it has no real weaknesses and matches the 12x and 15x for performance and is easier to hand hold.

In the 10x range there are so many other great binoculars out there, but for me the Meopta was a balance of optical performance as well as price.
I could have gone Swaro EL/NL or Zeiss SF but for the price difference I could get two Meoptas and the trade off in weight is a sacrifice I can do. Had the Meopta been significantly more expensive or the others way cheaper the decision would have been harder than comparing 15x and 12x binos.

The 8x Meopta Meostars don't have the HD moniker and start to show a little more CA and drops slightly in performance which is the opposite of many other brands, they are still great binoculars but the competition in the 8x magnification is fierce. I have too little experience with the Meostar 8x to give any valuable input. In the 8x32 range I find it difficult to find myself a keeper bino, mostly due to my glasses.

There will be, hopefully, yet one more Meopta review/assessment coming up shortly, it might be of interest - stay tuned!
One Meopta will be pitted against two well known and far more expensive competitors. :)

EDIT: shouldn't write before breakfast. Brain is not warm yet.
 
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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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