I have to admit that I’ve always had a bias against small binoculars. I’m a lifelong hawkwatcher, and in the past, everywhere I traveled, I always took full-sized binoculars—preferably 10x with at least 40mm or 42mm objective lenses to let in more light. And it didn’t matter to me how big and heavy and bulky they were. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the Meopta Meostar B1 32 Series 8x32 binoculars I tried out recently.
They couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I was just about to embark on a journey through the rugged Sierra Madre Occidental mountains of northwestern Mexico, and the amount of equipment I could bring along was very limited. I was already taking camping equipment, foulweather gear, a tripod, a camera with an assortment of lenses, and more. My backpack was literally bursting at the seams with equipment—I actually had to put in a couple of stitches where the threads were starting to pull out.
So when I held the Meopta 8x32 binoculars in one hand and my full-size 10x42s in the other, there was no contest in terms of size and weight. These binoculars are incredibly lightweight. Weighing in at just over 20 ounces (almost a pound less than my other bins), they are very compact— 4.9 inches by 4.4 inches by 1.3 inches. And yet they’re comfortable to hold and seem quite rugged.
Because I was saving so much space and weight in my luggage taking along these small binoculars, I figured it was worth sacrificing a little in optical quality and sharpness, but again I was wrong. They performed phenomenally well for me, providing a bright, sharp image in all but the dimmest lighting situations, and a surprisingly wide field of view (420 feet at 1,000 feet).
I had never heard of Meopta optics until just a few years ago, but the company has actually been around since the early 1930s and has a long history of producing binoculars, riflescopes, rangefinders, cinema projectors, photographic enlargers, and more in the Czech Republic. Now Meopta is out to conquer the birding market, offering well-made, precision optics at reasonable prices.
These binoculars seem quite well constructed and have all the features you would expect to find in high-quality, roofprism binoculars—sturdy, aluminum-alloy housing; nitrogen-purged barrels; waterresistant rubber coating; and a lifetime warranty.
My only complaints are minor and cosmetic. I don’t care for the little rubber caps the manufacturer supplied for the objective lenses; they are attached to the binos with a cord and dangle down annoyingly. I think I’d just cut them off. And the binocular case looks like it was made from drab army blanket material, but I don’t use cases anyway. Otherwise, these binoculars are very nice.