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Review of Meopta B1 MeoStar 8x42 (1 Viewer)

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
How did this happen? The 8x42 format has been my favourite since 2004 and I first reviewed a MeoStar in September 2016, so why has it taken 30 months to get around to reviewing Meopta’s MeoStar version of my preferred format? I have no answer except to say that the universe works in mysterious ways.

So, at last, a borrowed MeoStar 8x42 arrived from Avisum who represent Meopta in the UK birding market and it got packed away and accompanied us to the Scottish island of Islay, where it was pressed into service almost every day and in all kinds of vile weather too. I had other binos with me but somehow the MeoStar wormed its way into my affections very quickly and apart from a few habitats where a 10x, it became my default choice almost every day. This is a good sign.

This model is present in a particularly lively part of the market being priced in the UK at around £830 which places it in direct conflict with Zeiss’s Conquest HD at £848, Leica’s Trinovid HD at £785, and Nikon’s Monarch HG at £829, all highly respected models. In the USA the equivalent prices are approximately $950 for the Meopta, $970 for the Zeiss, $950 for the Leica and $880 for the Nikon, while in the Euro Zone the prices look like this: €920 for the Meopta, €1,145 for the Zeiss and €930 for the Leica, and €840 for the Nikon although this price might have been a limited offer.

So, on price these are close competitors, but on specifications there a big differences. For field of view the Nikon leads with 145m/435ft, with the Meopta next in line at 137m/411ft, then the Zeiss with 128m/385ft, with the Leica bringing up the rear with 124m/372ft.

If we look at weight the Meopta is the chunkiest at 897g/31.6ozs, the Zeiss next at 795g/28ozs, then the Leica with 730g/26ozs and the flyweight Nikon with 666g.24ozs. Length-wise the Leica is the shortest as usual at 140mm with the Nikon fractionally longer at 145mm and the Zeiss and Meopta identical at 150mm.

Close focus distance is 3m for the Meopta, with both the Zeiss and the Nikon offering 2m and the Leica focusing closest of all with 1.8m.

Bear with me, here comes the final statistic: Eye Relief. The Zeiss offers the most at 18mm and the others are grouped closely together at 17.8 for the Nikon, 17.4 for the Meopta and 17mm for the Leica. However do bear in mind that eye relief is one thing but usable eye relief depends on the design of the eyecup. For sure eye relief gives a guide but it is not to be relied on as a guarantee, especially when spectacles are worn.

The review model therefore is on the heavy side, has a somewhat old-fashioned 3.0 metre close focus, but by comparison with Swarovski’s EL 42 it is relatively compact at 150mm compared with the Swaro’s 160mm and certainly when put alongside Zeiss’s SF at 173mm.

In the hand it felt compact and well-balanced and while heavier than I am used to, I had these around my neck for several hours on about 17 days and their weight was never a burden.

The first day I walked out with them a flock of about 30 Barnacle Geese flew overhead, calling, and the silhouetted geese provided a severe test for chromatic aberration against the bright white cloud and I struggled to see any at all, apart from a suggestion at the very edge of the field of view, which I later confirmed by looking at black rocks against a background of white sea foam.

As with its relatives, the out of production 7x42 the HD 10x42 and the compact 8x32, I immediately felt really at ease with the view through them. I struggle to find the words to adequately describe how comfortable, transparent, detailed and colour-faithful these binos are, but I will return to this with a quote from my wife, Troubadoris, later in this review.

Glancing out of our French windows early in our holiday there was a huge bird hanging low on the strong wind with wings outstretched and the tips of the primaries curved upwards like a Boeing Dreamliner. I grabbed the Meoptas and got it in focus (they focus at the same speed as a Zeiss HT/ Swaro EL, so a bit slower than an SF) but the bird was at the same height as us and we were looking more or less straight up its tail-end. Then it banked to the left and as it glided away I could see its huge yellow beak and darker yellow legs: White-tailed Sea Eagle! What a bird to ‘break-in’ a pair of binos!

Later the same day I was able to get decent views of a pair of Great Northern Divers in the bay, one with smudgy cheeks and one with cheeks as white as pure snow, both with hints of the wonderful checker-board patterns on their backs. The Meoptas gave me great views of Otters and Common Seals too. The latter were two seals loafing on rocks in what little sunlight made it through the clouds. One was a grey-brown colour but the other was almost a teddy-bear golden and the Meoptas sharply captured the fan of their whiskers as the sun briefly gleamed and caught them in a beam of weak light.

Colour reproduction is a strong point of the Meoptas as they captured faithfully the multitude of blues and greens in the sea, the browns, gingers and reds of the hillsides and the range of fading greens of the grasses. From a long distance I could easily make out the bright green grass of an Otter’s washing and drying site. They need to wash the salt from their fur to maintain its insulation properties and one of the substances that washes off and rubs off onto the grass next to their favourite freshwater pool is the tacky coating off the seaweed they hunt through and this acts as a fertiliser of the grass, where the Otter rubs itself dry. The Meoptas reproduced all of these shades of colours in a realistic way which I found delightful.

A few days later and in pouring rain we were startled by a gull sailing by without any black on the wing-tips. Through the Meoptas and the rain it appeared a ghostly uniform pale shade across the upper wings and mantle, with a compact head and smallish neat bill: Iceland Gull! We don’t see those every day of the week!

Most mornings and evenings the area around our cottage was visited by up to 3 Brown Hares. I should explain for American members that we call our small Lagomorphs Rabbits and our bigger ones (Brown and Mountain) Hares. These Hares would graze around the cottage and in the dim light through the Meoptas I could see that one of them had a small white patch on one shoulder. This allowed me to spot this individual on subsequent evenings. Talking of evenings, due to the time of year, we were often walking back to our cottage with a low and sinking sun in the sky and even looking close to it I never had any issues with glare/flare.

For perceived sharpness and for contrast I really can’t fault these binos and along with their ease of view and colour reproduction they were a pleasure to audition. How do they compare with Zeiss’s Conquest HD? Optically I would personally rank the Meopta a bit higher than the Zeiss in all respects, but this is as much a matter of taste as anything. On the other hand the Conquest is lighter and has a closer focus, while some Birdforum members say weight adds stability and durability and 3.0 metre close focus is fine for birding. Binos are a very personal choice.

Now, I promised you a quotation from Troubadoris and this is what she said and how it happened. The Meoptas were resting on a sofa near us late one afternoon when Troubadoris suddenly stood up, walked over to them and picked them up. This was startling as she normally take no interest in binos I have for review, being very satisfied with her Leicas. She took them over to the window and had a look around the bay and towards the hills to the west. Knowing that she converted entirely to 32mm models several years ago to save weight, I fully expected her first words to be ‘OMG these are heavy’ but instead she said ‘Aren’t these nice? They aren’t too big and they balance well and are just so nice to look through’. Can’t put it better myself so I will close here and just recommend that you take a look through them when you get the chance.


Lee
 

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Scridifer

Used Registrar
Supporter
Bulgaria
Another great review from Islay (and both reviews make for a pretty mouth-watering travelogue of the place!) many thanks Lee! The more I hear about Meopta the more tempted I am when it comes to the step up to alpha (or near alpha) class glass!

Chris
 

jremmons

Wildlife Biologist
Thanks, Lee. Do you know the serial number of the pair you inspected? I've read that later SNs have better color representation and maybe are brighter as well.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Another great review from Islay (and both reviews make for a pretty mouth-watering travelogue of the place!) many thanks Lee! The more I hear about Meopta the more tempted I am when it comes to the step up to alpha (or near alpha) class glass!

Chris

Thanks again Chris. Islay is one of our 4 favourite places ever.

Lee
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks, Lee. Do you know the serial number of the pair you inspected? I've read that later SNs have better color representation and maybe are brighter as well.

Justin

The serial number of the test unit is 153321. You could be right about better light transmission of more recent units as our own Gijs van Ginkel tested a MeoStar 8x32 in 2011 with 87.6% transmission and one in 2016 with 89.9%.

Cheers Lee
 

dries1

Member
Thanks Lee, I enjoyed your descriptive visions as much as the glass review. I have owned the Meopta 8X42 for over a year and they are a very good glass, though the Nikon HG is lighter and offers a wider FOV with closer focusing, I prefer the Meoptas more realistic view. Though heavier than the others mentioned, their dimensions are compact, a great grab and go 8X42.

Andy W.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks Lee, I enjoyed your descriptive visions as much as the glass review. I have owned the Meopta 8X42 for over a year and they are a very good glass, though the Nikon HG is lighter and offers a wider FOV with closer focusing, I prefer the Meoptas more realistic view. Though heavier than the others mentioned, their dimensions are compact, a great grab and go 8X42.

Andy W.

Andy
It took me 1,475 words to say what you just said in 65! Thanks for your kind words.

Lee
 

Sancho

Well-known member
Great review, Lee. Recently bought the Meostar 8x32 based on your assessment, which was spot on. Your descriptions of Islay are beautiful...Scottish Tourism should hire you. There's a great Islay natural history book in you if you find the time!
 

jremmons

Wildlife Biologist
Thanks Lee. I was looking at a pair of LNIB 8x42s, but they have a SN of 12xxxx, so I dunno' how they would compare to some of the newer SN models.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Great review, Lee. Recently bought the Meostar 8x32 based on your assessment, which was spot on. Your descriptions of Islay are beautiful...Scottish Tourism should hire you. There's a great Islay natural history book in you if you find the time!

Islay has given us some great experiences over the years since our first visit in 1982: a Peregrine munching a pigeon 20 feet away, a Golden Eagle only 40 feet above our heads, a mother Otter introducing its cub to the sea and seeing it two days later swimming like a pro, so many Geese in the sky and calling that you couldn't think because of the noise, two otter cubs asleep behind a rock that we didn't spot during a 2.5 hour watch until the rising sea washed them out..... I could go on.

Lee
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Thanks Lee. I was looking at a pair of LNIB 8x42s, but they have a SN of 12xxxx, so I dunno' how they would compare to some of the newer SN models.

If the price was right I wouldn't worry about a transmission difference of perhaps 1.5% or so.

Lee
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
Thanks for the lyrical review, Lee. No mention though of the mind-expanding local produce. I don't suppose that played a role? ;)

John
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
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Thanks for the lyrical review, Lee. No mention though of the mind-expanding local produce. I don't suppose that played a role? ;)

John

John

This was our 22nd visit to Islay since our first in 1981 and in all 37 years we have only visited a distillery once! Apart from our first visit when we were learning all about staying in cottages on Scottish islands, we don't go out for meals in the evening and so are never in a place to try a dram on the islands. Don't get me wrong though, when staying in hotels travelling to and from our holiday destinations and also on business I have sampled the occasional Islay malt.

I do prefer an Islay malt to a Speyside, the latter being smooth and noble but just not as interesting to my taste. My favourite is Bunnahabhain, which is improbably pronounced Bunner-harven, and which means 'mouth of the river', referring to the River Margadale which flows into the Sound of Islay at this point. However to answer your question directly, no, the amber nectar didn't play a role, but maybe I should try it out!

Lee
 

dries1

Member
Lee,

Are you taking photos for the Meopta Marketing Department, the pics of them are the best and could be used in a brochure.

Andy w.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Lee,

Are you taking photos for the Meopta Marketing Department, the pics of them are the best and could be used in a brochure.

Andy w.

No Andy I take the pics because I get fed up of some of the computer-generated pics you see on brands' web-sites and I also do it for fun. I send the brands a copy of my reviews (which includes the pics) out of politeness but I haven't seen my pics used anywhere. Probably not professional enough. A few of my nature pics have been used on a couple of sites though. These are some of the pics that you might have seen in my gallery on Birdforum though, not pics of binos.

Its fun trying to come up with different ideas for bino pics, but the guy with the most binos and the most pics of binos on Birdforum has to be Chuck.

Lee
 

bluespiderweb

Great Grey Looking Out
Keep them coming!

Lee, thank you for a lovely day away in your part of the world! Great review, and what would it be without all those words? Just more of the same, technical stuff we find too often in reviews, without the delightful travel and
commentary about the natural world as you find it, where you take us in every review. Even at home, you still give us a picture window to your world, and a welcome one at that.

My 7x42 Meopta Meostar is a delight to use (ser no 12xxx), as is my Cabela's 10x32 Euro HD, also a little older than new production, and they both provide an amazing view, even without the most recent coatings or transmission ratios. I even compared a more recent version of the 10x32 to the ones I decided to keep, and I could not find a reason to keep the newer version for any practical reasons of what I could see in visual acuity differences. So, JRemmons, as Lee has already suggested, if the used pair you were looking at were at a price that was favorable, then I would second the recommendation to buy earlier versions as well.

Again, thank you Lee for the apt 1745 word-infused description and free ride to Islay, and all the great views you've seen, even if it is from narrative, but expertly done in your very entertaining style. I also think your pictures are catalog-worthy too, as I have said before. I especially liked the textured seaview-blue background in that one, and even the lichen close-up too. I haven't been out much lately, other than a short woods walk finally the other day with my Sightron 8x32 BSII, but it has been too infrequent for my preference. In the meantime, your enviable nature trips are a very welcome read, and make me feel as if I've been along for the trip too. My sincerest thanks for your achievement in entertaining as well as informative reporting, Lee; thank you so much for how you do it all so well!
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Crikey Barry ( post 16) you've got me blushing now! Your kind words are much appreciated. I have some good places to test binos close to home but the wilds of the Scottish islands are more inspiring to me and hopefully that emerges in the text of the review.

Elmer (Post 17) no doubt Barry will reply but for myself I have yet to see a yellow hue through any MeoStar. During the testing of the 8x42 for example, depending on the amount and angle of sunlight, the sea could present an almost uncountable number of shades of green/blue over a bay with a sand sea-bed that we visited and where the sand ran up the shore it was a shimmering white. No trace of a yellow cast of any kind to my eyes. Similarly, the 'raised-beaches' covered in pale grey cobbles (medium-sized rounded stones) were reproduced faithfully by the binos, and pale lichens on larger boulders were also free of an added yellow hue.

Lee
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
What about the slightly yellow hue users often refer to?

I have just done a paper test (viewing a white sheet of paper through an objective) on my wife's 7x42 B1 (Ser. No. 16xxxx) and can detect no yellow cast.
This is her third example, the other two having been replaced under guarantee. The first one, bought in 2015 had a significant yellow cast and if I recall correctly the second one from around 2011 was noticeably better.

John
 
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Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
Tringa 45, post 19,
Yesterday a test report was posted on the WEB-site of House of Outdoor with regard to wide angle binoculars. Among them the Zeiss 7x45 Nighthunter and the 7x42 Meopta Meostar B1. The transmission spectra we measured for the 7x42 Meopta were fully in line with our visual observations: no yellow cast whatsoever and a very bright image quality.
Gijs van Ginkel
 
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