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Meopta MeoStar 15x56 HD: Short Review

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#1 Pinac

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 10:21 AM

IMG_0781.JPG

MeoStar 15x56 HD

 

IMG_0782.JPG

MeoStar 15x56 HD

 

 

 

This is a brief review of the Meopta MeoStar 15x56 HD,  on the market in Europe and USA since 2015. I have compared it to my other similarly sized  binoculars – Docter Nobilem 15x60, Zeiss Conquest HD 15x56, Swarovski SLC 15x56, Nikon Monarch 5 16x56 -, which I had been using for several years before acquiring the new MeoStar.

IMG_0783.JPG

 

From left: Monarch 5, SLC, MeoStar, Conquest HD, Nobilem

 

Why 15x56 ?
Isn’t this size sort of „neither here nor there“, between the 12x50s  and the the „real“ astro binos of 15x70, 16x70 or 18x70 ? Maybe asking the question already gives the answer away: the 15x56 is perhaps a nice compromize in many ways, more powerful but not that much bigger than a 12x50, at the same time lighter and smaller but not that much less powerful than the 70mm models.. You travel relatively light with it, but still have a decent magnification at hand, and when thy sky is not very dark, you may sometimes even have an advantage with the 56mm objective against a 15x70 or so. I know people who use their 15x56 unmounted for brief periods of time, e.g. to follow a bird flying off.  But the 15x binos exhibit their full potential only when mounted, at least on a good monopod, ideally on a tripod.

The MeoStar 15x56 comes into a market in which you find many categories of binoculars in a wide price range; in the upper price segment, you find glasses like the Monarch 5 at the bottom of the segment, the Nobilem and Conquest HD in the middle to upper third and the Swarovski SLC at the top. Price-wise, the MeoStar comes in at the middle somewhere between Docter and Conquest HD.

 

General
The MeoStar appears very well finished and every bit an „upper class“ instrument. The new body armor has, compared to previous MeoStar Models, a slightly more „grained“ surface and provides excellent grip; in wet conditions, it’s grip is even better than that of the four competitors. It weighs just over 1'300 gr with strap and eyepiece covers, about the same as the SLC and the Monarch, a bit less than the Docter and the Conquest HD. As usual with Meopta, the ergonomics are good, although the 15x56 HD appears just slightly „front-loaded“.
Meopta supplies a dedicated tripod adapter, but any other "narrow" one, e.g. the one from the Nikon Monarch, work as well. For quick and easy sessions (more daytime use than astro), the MeoStar can also just be strapped on a Berlebach tripod mount.

 

Mechanics
The central hinge is quite stiff, which I like; people with a narrow IPD (below 61mm) will have to arrange the objective covers, in a way that allows the folding down of the hinge, there is very little space left between the barrels (I therefore fully removed the front covers, which I generally don’t like on binos). The retractable eyecups don’t have click-stops, but are sufficiently tight to maintain a chosen position during use. The focusing wheel works well, with no play; it’s gear ratio is faster than the (very slow) one of the SLC, but not as fast as the Conquest HD. The nearpoint is 5m (measured). The diopter adjustment mechanism sits, as usual with MeoStars, on the central focusing wheel and works smoothly and with click-stops; on the sample reviewed, the zero-position was slightly shifted (about -0.5 dpt).

 

Optics
The exit pupil, when looked at from an angle, exhibits very little vignetting. Both eyepieces show two small distinct false pupils on each side; they appear sufficiently remote form the exit pupil, however, that it is unlikely they will affect the view even in the dark, when eye pupils are dilated. Collimation and „ease of view“ („Einblickverhalten“) are excellent. The eye relief is 15.2 mm (factory spec); this is not huge, same as the Nobilem, slightly less than the SLC (16mm), and much less than the Conquest HD (18mm).
The field of view is with 4.2 degrees (73m / 1000m) just minimally above the Monarch and the Docter (both 4.1 degrees), but clearly less than the SLC (4.5 degrees) and the Conquest HD (4.6 degrees). In practice, the difference appeared smaller to me than expected, for whatever reason.
The MeoStar shows a bright, sharp image with nice contrast and almost zero CA. I would consider it quite color neutral; the SLC and the Conquest HD exhibit an even „whiter“ image than the MeoStar, which appears just a tiny bit „warmer“ in tone, not much. The image of the MeoStar is quite „homogenous“ over the entire FOV, so you can let your eyes wander comfortably across the image. I found on-axis and off-axis sharpness to be very good, comparable  to the SLC and Conquest HD. Whereas the Conquest HD exhibits significant amounts of CA when the eye is not fully aligned with the exit pupil, and whereas both the the Docter and Monarch show the same effect to a lesser extent (the SLC does it only minimally), the MeoStar is quite „tolerant“ in this respect . Even when your eyes are not well aligned behind the eyepieces, it is not easy to produce significant amounts of CA, the MeoStar in my experience wins this category quite clearly.
Distortion in the MeoStar is minimal, but nevertheless I found very little globe effect when panning the binoculars across various backgrounds.
When observing the moon, I found no ghost images, also with the moon just outside the field of view. Spikes are visible on bright light sources, but not dominant at all, and flares appeared minimal.
Stars are point-shaped across most of the field of view, getting just slightly blurred towards the very periphery of the image.
The SLC and in particular the Conquest HD produce an even brighter image than the MeoStar (again, tested e.g. on the moon). However, surface structures and textures appear in my eyes even more distinct and very contrasty in the MeoStar

Testing for stray-light, I chose the „worst observation condition ever“: watching birds on the bank across a river, observing against a low (15 degrees) sun which produces lots of shiny reflections on the river surface (i.e. observing in between the sun and the shiny river surface). This produced lots of stray-light effects in the MeoStar, all sort of glares and reflections, but almost no „veiling glare“ (across the whole field of view). The other 15x56 binos exhibited more or less veiling glare - the Conquest HD the most  - and similar amounts of glares and reflections, even the SLC proved not „fail-safe“ in this respect. This was relatively disappointing, and as I was not sure I did something wrong in this test, I performed the same test with my trusted MeoStar 10x42 HD, which I know to be well shielded against stray-light, and the result of the 10x42 was clearly better than in any of the 15x/16x glasses.
I am aware that this stray-light performance is more relevant for birders under certain conditions, but less relevant for astro use.

 

Conclusion
I found the MeoStar to compete very well in the upper segment of the 15/16 x 56 market. Overall, there is little I dislike and very much a like about it. It is a very well made instrument that performs close to the top glasses such as SLC and Conquest HD, but at about half the price of the SLC. Sharp image, good contrast, overall good handling. And based on my experience with other MeoStar binos (I have 9 in total), I expect the 15x56 HD to continue performing well over many years of use. I think Meopta has done a very good job again.

 

Pinac


Edited by Pinac, 07 September 2016 - 11:45 AM.

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#2 Rich V.

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 10:57 AM

Excellent review, Pinac, it's great to read a comparison with other binos in the same size class.  These make a good a compromise as a "dual purpose" higher mag bino.  It's clear how much better one of these CF 15x binos would be for nature study compared to the bigger, heavier 70mm IF Porros that have gained acclaim as astronomy binoculars but leave a lot to be desired for daytime use.

 

I would assume that the control of CA in daytime use with the 15x56 is noticeably better than the Fuji 16x70 or Nikon 18x70 which can be quite "colorful" under certain conditions.

 

Thanks for posting,

 

Rich



#3 edwincjones

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 10:59 AM

Thanks for the review, I think Meopta is under rated.

 

I once had a  Meostar 10x42HD that I thought was the equal to my SW 8.5x42 (not SV),

for about 1/2 the price.

 

edj



#4 Mad Matt

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 11:23 AM

Excellent review Pinac, many thanks!



#5 Mark9473

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 12:10 PM

Excellent review and some very interesting comparisons. I enjoyed reading that.



#6 fjnlsa11

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 06:32 PM

Thanks for posting the in-depth review Pinac.    I tried these binoculars at the store and was equally impressed. However, it really is difficult to know how well they will perform under the stars when only getting to try them for a few minutes during the day.    Have you ever tried the Docter Optic 8x56 ED/OH binocular?  I also tried these briefly at the store and liked them as well. 



#7 Uwe Pilz

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 12:12 AM

Some years ago I bought a new 50 mm glas, because my trusty Zeiß Jena 10x50 got a yellowish view. I stand in front of a box full of binoculars: Leica, Zeiß, Swarowski and Meopta were in that box. I switched form glass to glass and ended eventually with a Swarowski 7x50.

 

During that test I found out that Meopta was very good indeed. I tried no 15x glasses, all were in the 7-10x range. What I second is that Meopta is underrated. Actually they produce at the same level as the big three.


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#8 Pinac

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 12:27 AM

......

.....

I would assume that the control of CA in daytime use with the 15x56 is noticeably better than the Fuji 16x70 or Nikon 18x70 which can be quite "colorful" under certain conditions.

Yes, I would agree with that, both the Fuji and the Nikon exhibit some CA at the periphery of the image, but also in the more central parts if your eyes are not well aligned with the exit pupil. It's not as bad, though, as with other binos, but the MeoStar in my view is even better, and more tolerant to eye displacement.


Edited by Pinac, 08 September 2016 - 07:30 AM.


#9 Pinac

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 12:34 AM

.....

  Have you ever tried the Docter Optic 8x56 ED/OH binocular?  I also tried these briefly at the store and liked them as well. 

I have unfortunately never come across these (where I live, in Switzerland, Docter is virtually non-existent in the market, except for hunting optics, and I had to import the handful of Docter optics I own). I imagine the ED/OH to be quite good, guessing from the Nobilem series and the other ED glasses (some of which are unfortunately not on the market any more).

Pinac


Edited by Pinac, 08 September 2016 - 03:24 PM.


#10 Erik Bakker

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 06:27 AM

Pinac,

 

Thanks for your informative short review. Great to see that there is an affordable quality-alternative in the 15x56 class of binoculars  :waytogo:



#11 paulsky

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 01:47 PM

Hello
I know they're different power ... but you could compare Meopta 15x56, 10x56 with Zeiss for both day and for astro?
Thank you
Paaul



#12 Pinac

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 03:32 PM

I am not sure I fully grasp the question.

Did you mean a Zeiss 10x56 - FL or Conquest ?

As you say, this would be a bit of an odd comparison, given the very different sizes.

I don't have an FL 10x56, but do own the 8x56, and judging from that one (this is one of the very best glasses I have ever come across), I guess the Zeiss would come out on top.

The image of the Conquest 10x56 (non-HD!) on the other hand (I recently got one second-hand) appears rather dull, compared to the Meopta.

Or did I misunderstand your question ?



#13 Erik Bakker

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 03:56 PM

Pinac,

 

What makes the FL 8x56 one of the very best in your experience?



#14 paulsky

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 04:23 PM

Thank you Pinac for your information...

regards

Paul



#15 dave132mm

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 07:31 PM

GREAT REVIEW. i HAVE HAD THE 10X42 HD, and now have the 12x50 HD. I have looked through the 15x56 HD. The 12x50 HD is by a large margin,the best of their HD line.

 

 

   Dave :)


Edited by dave132mm, 08 September 2016 - 09:21 PM.


#16 denis0007dl

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 04:42 AM

attachicon.gifIMG_0781.JPG

MeoStar 15x56 HD

 

attachicon.gifIMG_0782.JPG

MeoStar 15x56 HD

 

 

 

This is a brief review of the Meopta MeoStar 15x56 HD,  on the market in Europe and USA since 2015. I have compared it to my other similarly sized  binoculars – Docter Nobilem 15x60, Zeiss Conquest HD 15x56, Swarovski SLC 15x56, Nikon Monarch 5 16x56 -, which I had been using for several years before acquiring the new MeoStar.

attachicon.gifIMG_0783.JPG

 

From left: Monarch 5, SLC, MeoStar, Conquest HD, Nobilem

 

Why 15x56 ?
Isn’t this size sort of „neither here nor there“, between the 12x50s  and the the „real“ astro binos of 15x70, 16x70 or 18x70 ? Maybe asking the question already gives the answer away: the 15x56 is perhaps a nice compromize in many ways, more powerful but not that much bigger than a 12x50, at the same time lighter and smaller but not that much less powerful than the 70mm models.. You travel relatively light with it, but still have a decent magnification at hand, and when thy sky is not very dark, you may sometimes even have an advantage with the 56mm objective against a 15x70 or so. I know people who use their 15x56 unmounted for brief periods of time, e.g. to follow a bird flying off.  But the 15x binos exhibit their full potential only when mounted, at least on a good monopod, ideally on a tripod.

The MeoStar 15x56 comes into a market in which you find many categories of binoculars in a wide price range; in the upper price segment, you find glasses like the Monarch 5 at the bottom of the segment, the Nobilem and Conquest HD in the middle to upper third and the Swarovski SLC at the top. Price-wise, the MeoStar comes in at the middle somewhere between Docter and Conquest HD.

 

General
The MeoStar appears very well finished and every bit an „upper class“ instrument. The new body armor has, compared to previous MeoStar Models, a slightly more „grained“ surface and provides excellent grip; in wet conditions, it’s grip is even better than that of the four competitors. It weighs just over 1'300 gr with strap and eyepiece covers, about the same as the SLC and the Monarch, a bit less than the Docter and the Conquest HD. As usual with Meopta, the ergonomics are good, although the 15x56 HD appears just slightly „front-loaded“.
Meopta supplies a dedicated tripod adapter, but any other "narrow" one, e.g. the one from the Nikon Monarch, work as well. For quick and easy sessions (more daytime use than astro), the MeoStar can also just be strapped on a Berlebach tripod mount.

 

Mechanics
The central hinge is quite stiff, which I like; people with a narrow IPD (below 61mm) will have to arrange the objective covers, in a way that allows the folding down of the hinge, there is very little space left between the barrels (I therefore fully removed the front covers, which I generally don’t like on binos). The retractable eyecups don’t have click-stops, but are sufficiently tight to maintain a chosen position during use. The focusing wheel works well, with no play; it’s gear ratio is faster than the (very slow) one of the SLC, but not as fast as the Conquest HD. The nearpoint is 5m (measured). The diopter adjustment mechanism sits, as usual with MeoStars, on the central focusing wheel and works smoothly and with click-stops; on the sample reviewed, the zero-position was slightly shifted (about -0.5 dpt).

 

Optics
The exit pupil, when looked at from an angle, exhibits very little vignetting. Both eyepieces show two small distinct false pupils on each side; they appear sufficiently remote form the exit pupil, however, that it is unlikely they will affect the view even in the dark, when eye pupils are dilated. Collimation and „ease of view“ („Einblickverhalten“) are excellent. The eye relief is 15.2 mm (factory spec); this is not huge, same as the Nobilem, slightly less than the SLC (16mm), and much less than the Conquest HD (18mm).
The field of view is with 4.2 degrees (73m / 1000m) just minimally above the Monarch and the Docter (both 4.1 degrees), but clearly less than the SLC (4.5 degrees) and the Conquest HD (4.6 degrees). In practice, the difference appeared smaller to me than expected, for whatever reason.
The MeoStar shows a bright, sharp image with nice contrast and almost zero CA. I would consider it quite color neutral; the SLC and the Conquest HD exhibit an even „whiter“ image than the MeoStar, which appears just a tiny bit „warmer“ in tone, not much. The image of the MeoStar is quite „homogenous“ over the entire FOV, so you can let your eyes wander comfortably across the image. I found on-axis and off-axis sharpness to be very good, comparable  to the SLC and Conquest HD. Whereas the Conquest HD exhibits significant amounts of CA when the eye is not fully aligned with the exit pupil, and whereas both the the Docter and Monarch show the same effect to a lesser extent (the SLC does it only minimally), the MeoStar is quite „tolerant“ in this respect . Even when your eyes are not well aligned behind the eyepieces, it is not easy to produce significant amounts of CA, the MeoStar in my experience wins this category quite clearly.
Distortion in the MeoStar is minimal, but nevertheless I found very little globe effect when panning the binoculars across various backgrounds.
When observing the moon, I found no ghost images, also with the moon just outside the field of view. Spikes are visible on bright light sources, but not dominant at all, and flares appeared minimal.
Stars are point-shaped across most of the field of view, getting just slightly blurred towards the very periphery of the image.
The SLC and in particular the Conquest HD produce an even brighter image than the MeoStar (again, tested e.g. on the moon). However, surface structures and textures appear in my eyes even more distinct and very contrasty in the MeoStar

Testing for stray-light, I chose the „worst observation condition ever“: watching birds on the bank across a river, observing against a low (15 degrees) sun which produces lots of shiny reflections on the river surface (i.e. observing in between the sun and the shiny river surface). This produced lots of stray-light effects in the MeoStar, all sort of glares and reflections, but almost no „veiling glare“ (across the whole field of view). The other 15x56 binos exhibited more or less veiling glare - the Conquest HD the most  - and similar amounts of glares and reflections, even the SLC proved not „fail-safe“ in this respect. This was relatively disappointing, and as I was not sure I did something wrong in this test, I performed the same test with my trusted MeoStar 10x42 HD, which I know to be well shielded against stray-light, and the result of the 10x42 was clearly better than in any of the 15x/16x glasses.
I am aware that this stray-light performance is more relevant for birders under certain conditions, but less relevant for astro use.

 

Conclusion
I found the MeoStar to compete very well in the upper segment of the 15/16 x 56 market. Overall, there is little I dislike and very much a like about it. It is a very well made instrument that performs close to the top glasses such as SLC and Conquest HD, but at about half the price of the SLC. Sharp image, good contrast, overall good handling. And based on my experience with other MeoStar binos (I have 9 in total), I expect the 15x56 HD to continue performing well over many years of use. I think Meopta has done a very good job again.

 

Pinac

Thanxs for this usefull infos Pinac!

Good job  :waytogo:



#17 Stellarfire

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 05:04 AM

Pinac, I enjoyed your short review. Thanks for sharing your experience! Seems the Meopta 15x56 HD is da bomb.

 

Stellarfire



#18 paulsky

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 05:11 AM

The Meopta here is double price that Monarch 16X or 20X model..



#19 Pinac

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 07:29 AM

In Europe, prices of the Monarchs are roughly between 650 and 850, depending on shop and country, the Meopta are between about 1125 and 1'300.

The Meopta is clearly a class above the Monarchs in optical quality.

Pinac


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#20 Pinac

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 03:49 PM

Pinac,

 

What makes the FL 8x56 one of the very best in your experience?

 

I think it's less individual characteristics that I could point out where the FL outperforms other good binoculars, but more a personal perception that it excels in the sum of its qualities. I find the image exceptionally good - not only sharp and with good contrast, but displaying an unusal "consistency" when panning, not like the SF in which I have the feeling that between the area of excellent central sharpness and the periphery with also good sharpness, there are areas which appear to be somewhat "differently sharp" (can have to do with the - in my view - relatively strong globe effect) so that the entire image appear not as "calm" as in the FL (is it half-way understandable what I am saying here  :undecided: ??)

Moreover, everything mechanical is just perfect in the FL, not so in the SF (I got my first one exchanged because of focusing problems, it's better now but still not as good as the FL; my HTs are in this respect closer to the FL than the FS). It feels right in my hands, it's big but not too heavy, I like the armor, the finish, everything.

I also find the 7x42 FL an exceptionally good 7x42 glass, superior to the EDG and the Ultravid HD Plus of the same size. In a way, the FL series represents for me "Zeiss at its best", if you know what I mean. But maybe I am just old-fashioned  :D


Edited by Pinac, 10 September 2016 - 06:09 AM.

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#21 Mark9473

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 04:23 PM

Can't be too old-fashioned if you like binoculars with a plastic housing, I think.



#22 Erik Bakker

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 04:34 PM

 

Pinac,

 

What makes the FL 8x56 one of the very best in your experience?

 

I think it's less individual characteristics that I could point out where the FL outperforms other good binoculars, but more a personal perception that it excels in the sum of its qualities. I find the image exceptionally good - not only sharp and with good contrast, but displaying an unusal "consistency" when panning

[.....]

In a way, the FL series represents for me "Zeiss at its best", if you know what I mean. But maybe I am just old-fashioned  :D

 

 

That's how I feel too  :like:



#23 edwincjones

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 07:00 AM

 

 

Pinac,

 

What makes the FL 8x56 one of the very best in your experience?

 

I think it's less individual characteristics that I could point out where the FL outperforms other good binoculars, but more a personal perception that it excels in the sum of its qualities. I find the image exceptionally good - not only sharp and with good contrast, but displaying an unusal "consistency" when panning

[.....]

In a way, the FL series represents for me "Zeiss at its best", if you know what I mean. But maybe I am just old-fashioned  :D

 

 

That's how I feel too  :like:

 

 

 

I have a recently made, old design, alpha - in its day,

zeiss dialyt 8x56 that is my favorite handheld binocular

for the night sky

-sharp

-comfortable

-as Pinac says "a personal perception that excels the sum of it qualities"

 

edj


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#24 Pinac

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 09:03 AM

image.jpeg

 

 

I have a recently made, old design, alpha - in its day,

zeiss dialyt 8x56 that is my favorite handheld binocular

for the night sky

-sharp

-comfortable

-as Pinac says "a personal perception that excels the sum of it qualities"

 

edj

 

You are absolutely right - the Dialyt was certainly an alpha in its day.

Zeiss made them until a few months ago, but then stopped production, and now there is only a special edition available, which comes in a nice wooden case and costs 2'500 Euros (!)

I think the design of the Dialyt goes back to Hensoldt, which produced a - non-armored - Hensoldt Dialyt 8x56 until 1967 (Hensoldt got acquired by Zeiss in 1928, but continued to make their Dialyt unteil the late sixties, and then from 1968 there was only the Zeiss Dialyt on the market).

In the picture are the Hensoldt (left) and the Zeiss (right), side by side. The Hensoldt is from 1955, the  Zeiss from 2014.

In Germany, if you carry a Dialyt, everybody will assume you are a hunter, it used to be THE hunting glass for generations.

The only little disadvantage of the Dialyt: a relatively narrow FOV (110m), compared e.g. to the same size FL (130m). But like you, I am still impressed with this classic glass with its excellent optics and distinguished design.

Pinac

 

 


Edited by Pinac, 10 September 2016 - 10:49 AM.

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#25 Mark9473

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Posted 10 September 2016 - 05:24 PM

Hensoldt apparently made a rubber-armored version too; here's one I came across earlier today:

http://www.ebay.de/i...i0AAOSwvzRXzEO8




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