Optics Review: OL Ranks the Best New Full-Size Binoculars for 2012

Meopta Meostar B1 10x42 HD If status and brand are important to you, then plunk down $2,000 for a high-end European binocular. But if you want performance and durability on par with the best Austrian optics, then spend half that amount for this Czech powerhouse. The Meopta is that good. The 10x42 we tested was runner-up on both our low-light and resolution tests, thanks to its first-rate low-dispersion glass. But the best measure of a hunting optic is how much time you're willing to spend behind it, and team members praised the Meopta's bright and crisp image, and how the generous eyebox caused no fatigue or squinting. At nearly 2 pounds, the Meopta is heavy, but it's solid, and the eyecups and center-knob focus and diopter controls turn with precision and authority. This is the same binocular that Cabela's bills as its Euro HD. No matter the name, it's a world-class optic at a price that might tempt you to buy two. See the video for the Meopta Meostar B1 10x42 HD. Test Results
Score: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: $1,000
Optics: A+
Perceived Image: A
Design: A
Price/Value: A-
Contact: meoptasportsoptics.com
Swarovski El Range 8x42 There's nothing new about integrating a laser rangefinder into a binocular, but no one has done it nearly as competently or as elegantly as Swarovski. The EL's rangefinder includes an angle-compensating feature, making it ideal for mountain hunters and archers. Our 8x42 model acquired targets as distant as 2,000 yards. Optically bright and crisp, and ergonomically balanced, the EL is a joy to use. It's expensive, but its performance justifies the price. See video for the Swarovski El Range 8x42. Test Results
Score: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: $2,770
Optics: A
Perceived Image: A
Design: A
Price/Value: B
Contact: swarovskioptik.us
Leica Trinovid 10x42 From a purely optical perspective, the 10x42 Trinovid we tested was nearly flawless. It turned in the second-best low-light score in the category, and its resolution was near the top of its class. Panelists praised the rich blacks in its image, nearly effortless viewing thanks to its big, bright exit pupil, and smart center-wheel diopter. On the downside, testers noted some yellow color fringing and complained that the focus control was spongy. Test Results
Score: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: $1,500
Optics: A
Perceived Image: A
Design: A
Design: A
Price/Value: B+
Website: En.leica-camera.com
Carson 3D 10x42 Want proof of the Alpen's generic heritage? Look no further than the 10x42 Carson. Inside its textured, piano-hinged housing is the very same glass and lens arrangement as the Alpen's, made in the same Chinese factory. That doesn't detract from the Carson's assets: excellent edge-to-edge clarity, good contrast, grippy armor, a precise focus, and ergonomic thumb detents in a package that's both affordable and durable. Test Results
Score: ★ ★ ★ ½
Price: $310
Optics: B
Perceived Image: B
Design: B
Price/Value: B
Website: carsonoptical.com
Oculus 7.0 Series 10x42 At first glance, this 10x42 is better suited to a sports stadium than a treestand. The finish is slippery, the innovative metallic half-open hinge is game-spooking shiny, and the focus control on our sample was mushy. But this submission from Oculus, a new brand in the category, features better-than-average glass and hand-filling balance. It turned in adequate low-light and resolution scores, and earned high marks for its value pricing. Test Results
Score: ★ ★ ★
Price: $350
Optics: B
Perceived Image: B
Design: B-
Price/Value: B
Website: Oculusoptics.com