Meopta Meostar 7×42 vs Minox BD 7×42 BR


Originally published in May of 2007


I’ve been looking for another primary binocular for a while.  For a long time I was primarily using an IOR 7×40 porro, which worked great, but I ended up giving it to a friend of mine for his birthday.  I then played with a bunch of other binoculars and more or less settled for a Fujinon FMTR-SX 8×30.  A quality 8×30 can fullfill most things I need in a binocular, but it is not exactly a low light number.  I spent some time playing with other magnifications and sizes, but in the end I decided to go back to a 7×40 or similar.  To me that is a great combination of low light performance and steady viewing.

It really came down to the wire with the two binoculars in question here:  Meopta Meostar 7×42 and Minox BD 7×42 BR.  This particular Minox line used to be the king of the heap before the new HG came about and optically these are very good.  Meopta Meostar glass quality has been getting good reviews for a while, and I do not think I need to make a marketing exercise here.  Both binoculars are of very good quality and anyone looking for a top notch glass and not wanting to fork over mucho dinero for Leica/Zeiss/Swaro should really take a look at these.

Looking at the retail prices, Meopta is a fair bit more expensive than the Minox, so the more budget conscious would probably gravitate that way.  I am going to end up staying with Meopta though, but I think the Minox at its current prices is a raging bargain.  Pricewise, this not an apples to apples comparison; however, there are not all that many 7×42 binoculars out there and these are what I have.

Meopta is heavier and a little thicker, so it feels better in my hands.  However, I suspect someone with shorter fingers would find the Minox more comfortable.

Both have pretty comfortable focus.  Focusing mechanism for the right eye is on the right barrel in the Minox and is part of the central knob on the Meopta.  I slightly prefer the Meopta’s arrangement, but that is strictly a personal preference.  Both have rather simple eyecups, that have stops in two positions: fully in and fully out.  I am a little spoiled by the eyecups of the Vortex Razor, so forgive me for not being too impressed here.

Now onto the glass.  I spent some time looking through both binoculars and started having some suspicions about a few of the tricks Minox designers have been playing on my eyes.  I asked a coworker of mine who knows a lot about images to look through both binoculars and give me his impressions.  He said something very interesting (and exactly what I suspected).  Meopta offered an easier view: you just bring them up to your eyes and you have an effortless view, but Minox seemed more contrasty to him.  Minox’s image is really “loud” for lack of a better word.  It jumps out at you.

Since it appeared that I was not entirely crazy and an unbiased observer saw the same thing that I saw, I decided to nvestigate this a little further.  I looked at some resolution charts and distant road signs and both binoculars have very good resolution with a slight edge going to Meopta.  The field of view on the Meopta is considerably wider, which, I think, contributes to the easy viewing qualities.

Having some color charts at my disposal at work, I spent a fair amount of time looking at the extended Macbeth chart with both binoculars.  To be absolutely sure, I would need to spend some time with these binoculars in front of a monochromator, but I think Minox designers played some tricks with the coatings (perhaps with the reflective coatings on the prisms?) to make some colors  that the eye is most sensitive to transmit more light, while sacrificing the ability to see some shades of colors.  With Meopta, I could see every shade of color equally well or at least ciilarly to how I see them with my naked eye.  With the Minox, certain shades were a lot more muted and biased toward an adjacent primary color, but primary colors were very strong which makes the apparent contrast much higher.  This also translated to low light viewing when the wavelength of light changes: here Meopta had a clear edge.  If I had to guess, I would say that Minox has cut a little into the visible spectrum on both short and low ends and used high quality, but somewhat less complex coatings to achieve this effect.

 Posted by at 11:12 pm