Meopta Meostar B1 8x32

  • Bright, crisp view compares with the ‘Big 4’
  • Image stays sharp right to the edges
  • Very solidly built – these can take some punishment
  • Smooth, precise focusing action
  • Lighter than previous models, but heavyweight performance

In 2005, Meopta, a Czech company, introduced the Meostar B1 range. The 42mm Meostars have been highly praised for their optics, but, at pushing 900g, have been held back by their weight. This year saw an addition to the line, the 8x32, which, at under 600g, is a lightweight. But does it have the heavyweight optics of its chunkier siblings?

This is a small, lightweight binocular that felt very good in my hands. The aluminium alloy body is covered in green rubber armour, with some stippling to improve grip and with thumb indents underneath. For me, the thumb indents worked – they were well positioned and didn’t interfere with my natural use of the binocular. Build quality feels and looks impressive, and given Meopta’s history of manufacturing for the military, I suspect this binocular can take some abuse. It’s stuffed full of nitrogen, is waterproof and fogproof and will work from –45°C to +55°C - adequate for most bird watching(!). The moving bits are good too. Dioptre adjustment is via a click-stopped, uncalibrated wheel on the focusser. It offers three dioptres of adjustment in either direction, works well and couldn’t be moved inadvertently once set. The rubber-covered eyecups have a good, solid action, twisting up and down to any of three positions.

Focussing is smooth and precise, with moderate resistance. The 1.5 finger- wide ridged focussing wheel provides good grip, even with gloves on, though it sometimes stuck at closest focus. It takes about 1.5 clockwise turns from up close to infinity, but for most bird watching you won’t need to move it more than 60-70 degrees. Some people might prefer less focus travel, but that’s down to personal preference.

The package includes a strap like no other that I have encountered, and that’s not a criticism. It’s a wide, neoprene strap with lumps on the neck side. Someone has added those lumps to increase airflow and reduce the sweatiness of your neck! Strap attachment is simple, the lugs don’t get in the way and the binoculars hang well against the chest. However, it’s a reasonably hefty strap, and may be more than you really need for these binoculars.

So are the innards as good as the outers? Meopta use cold coating on their lenses, rather than vacuum coating, which means you can put more, thinner layers on. Silver is used for the mirrored prism surface – this isn’t ‘di-electric state of the art’, but judging by the view, does a very good job. The view is impressive and bears comparison with the acknowledged top names. It is wide, very sharp and bright, with just a hint of a yellow colour cast, but nothing to be concerned about. Contrast is good, and, hand held with a resolution chart, the Meoptas resolved similarly to an 8x32 from one of the ‘big four’. I tried hard to find some colour fringing, but found very little, certainly nothing that put me off, and I really don’t like colour fringing. I did find some edge softness, but don’t go looking for it – the normal way to use binoculars is to put the bird in the middle! They performed well in low light and have a very good close-focus – I could focus them down to just under 1.7m. Eye-relief is quoted as 15.4mm, which should be just enough for glasses wearers.

The accessories are well made, but didn’t perform as well as I would have liked. The rainguard locks on to the eyepieces and can be a real pain to get off – I’d change it. The case is too big, too, so I’d find an alternative. The tethered objective covers hang on by a thread, literally. It looks strange but is done that way so the covers don’t flap up over the lenses when you don’t want them to. It works, but they can be removed and that’s what I would do.

Overall, these are a very nicely put together binocular which delivers a very good view via some lovely ergonomics. Try them alongside the acknowledged ‘top-gun’ 8x32s. Then compare the prices. This Meostar could be a neo-star!

REVIEWED BY DAVID CHANDLER.


FACTFILE

  • Price: £559
  • Dimensions: (height x width x depth): 128x122x46mm approx
  • Weight: 598g
  • Close focus: 1.8m or less
  • Field of view: 7.9°. 138m at 1,000m
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Also supplied: rainguard; tethered objective covers; neoprene strap; nylon case
  • Distributed by: Marchwood, Unit 4.06, Cannock Chase, Enterprise Centre, Walkers Rise, Hednesford, Staffs, WS12 0QU. Tel: 01543 424255. Fax: 01543 422082
  • e-mail: sales@marchwood.co.uk
  • website: www.marchwooduk.co.uk