- Bright, sharp image
- Very natural colour
- Stays sharp right to the edges
- Smooth, precise focusing
- Light and very comfortable to use
Meopta has carefully built a reputation as one of the leading binocular manufacturers outside the Big Four of Leica, Nikon, Swarovski and Zeiss.
Its Meopro range, however, comes into a rather lower price bracket than is usual for the company, with these 8x42s costing £370, compared to the £750 you’d pay for its Meostar B1 range. So, the price is very attractive, but do they maintain the company’s previous high standards?
Well, the image immediately struck me as bright, sharp and wide – a very good start! The colour is very natural, and there’s relatively little drop-off in sharpness towards the edge of the image. It all makes for an easy viewing experience.
Against really bright light, I did find a certain amount of chromatic aberration (or colour fringing), although no more than you might expect from non-ED binoculars. It’s not a great distraction, though, and I had to go looking for it.
I found the focusing system something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it sometimes took a little longer than I expected to find the exact focus I was looking for (suggesting perhaps quite a shallow depth of field). On the other hand, once I had found it, it was very impressively spot-on, giving the sort of ultra-sharp views you don’t find in too many binoculars at this price.
Part of the reason it took some getting used to, I suspect, was that the focus wheel travelled pretty lightly, although incredibly smoothly. But if that forced me to make the effort to be a little more patient and a little less cack-handed than usual, then maybe it’s not a bad thing.
The one-finger wide focus wheel takes one-and-a-half clockwise turns from close focus to infinity, and close focus easily matched the quoted figure of 1.5m, making them very impressive binoculars for bug-watching.
The dioptre adjustment is situated just behind the focus wheel, and resisted any accidental movements throughout the time I was testing the binoculars.
Most other aspects of the build quality (Meopta’s binoculars are assembled in the Czech Republic) were impressive too. There’s plenty of rubber armouring on the body, but it really felt very light, which combined with the excellent strap (of which more later) had me genuinely forgetting I had them round my neck on a couple of occasions.
The eyecups, which twist up and down to three positions, were good, too. In extended use, they were extremely comfortable, and there’s plenty of eye relief offered.
I did have one or two reservations. The position of the strap lugs meant that the binoculars never quite sat flat against my chest. It’s not a huge problem, but it might be something that could be addressed in later models.
The moulding also made the strap lugs slightly difficult to thread, but of course that’s not something you’re going to have to do very often, and the strap itself more than makes up for any inconvenience.
Padded with air cells and with lots of room for adjustment, it’s as good a strap as I’ve ever come across. OK, it’s never going to be a deal-breaker, but it did genuinely add to my viewing pleasure.
There are good tethered objective lens covers, and a rainguard that did seem a little too loose fitting, although in practice, once attached to the strap, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem. The carrying case was excellent, too – roomy and well-designed.
In conclusion, then, there’s an awful lot to like about these binoculars. Meopta maintain their usual excellent optical standards in a design that’s largely a pleasure to use.
The few gripes I did have might not feel like problems at all to another viewer, so if you’re in the market for a sub-£400 pair of bins, you’d be well advised to take a good look at, and through, these.
- Eye relief: 18.3mm
- Field of view: 112m@1,000m
- Close focus: 1.5m.
- Dimensions: 155mm x 125mm x 55mm
- Weight: 709g.
- Price: £369
- Contact: Marchwood, Unit 4.06 Cannock Chase, Enterprise Centre, Walkers Rise, Hednesford, Staffs WS12 0QU, tel: 01543 424 255.