Maven B1 10X42 Binoculars
by Matt Cashell
Backcountry hunters have never had it better in optics. The "Big Three" Euro companies are pushing the ragged edge of performance with their flagship lines (at flagship prices). Budget optics companies have upset the market with good to very-good performing optics at low prices and often backed up by great warranties. In the middle, we have the mid-priced options that crowd the top in performance, but at around half the price.
Maven Outdoor Equipment Company has emerged in this mid-priced class, and they are aiming for the top in performance, but with a new, custom, direct-to-consumer business model. The consumer decides what model binocular they want, and can customize everything from the color of the armor (solids and popular camoflauge patterns from Kings Camo, Kryptek, and Kuiu) to a personalized engraving on the eyepiece. The consumer uses an easy-to-follow construction app on the Maven website (www.mavenbuilt.com) where the buyer can choose any number of options for their binocular. Maven backs up their binoculars with an unconditional, lifetime, transferrable warranty.
I was fortunate to get a Maven B1 10X42 binocular to evaluate. The B1 is the standard full size model (Schmidt-Pechan roof prism). Maven also offers the B2 model that has a slightly larger objective size (45mm) and longer, brighter Abbe-Koenig prisms. The B1's key features were impressive:
1. A very wide field of view of 341 feet at 1000 yards.
2. High light transmission of 90.90%.
3. Objectives with ED glass.
4. Dielectric coatings on the prism reflective surfaces.
5. Hydrophobic lens coatings.
That is a nice list, and I couldn't wait to see how they performed. I evaluated the B1s in three areas: Construction, Optical Performance, and Aberration Correction.
The B1 is a sturdy, heavy binocular. Maven lists magnesium as the frame material, and occasionally rough magnesium castings are visible in the interior when observed through the objectives. The rubber armoring has a kind of soft, sticky texture. A nice touch is the similar armor on the 4 stop adjustable (and removable) eyecups. The objectives are deeply recessed and both barrels are threaded for 49mm accessories like filters. I love the idea of this feature, as a hunter could choose to thread on UV filters to have replaceable protection for the objective lenses in tough conditions, or the hunter could use polarizing filters for viewing in high glare situations.
The focus knob is knurled aluminum. The binocular required a little more pressure to turn clockwise than it did to turn counter-clockwise. The focus was smooth and damped, except near infinity where there was a small amount of play before the focusing gears engaged for small corrections. Hinge tension was firm, but smooth in adjustment. The binocular's single hinge has a threaded socket for standard tripod adapters. The B1 has very shallow channels formed in the underside of each barrel rather than the typically deeper thumb indentations. Overall, the Maven B1 felt steady and balanced in the hand.
The list weight for the 10X42 B1 is 29.8 ounces. I tested Maven's hydrophobic coatings by pouring water over the objectives in the sink, and water sheeted off nicely leaving the lenses completely free of droplets. I was impressed and can easily see the benefit both in the field during wet conditions and at home where the coatings make cleaning the lenses much easier.
Hunters should find the hydrophobic coatings on the Maven B1 beneficial in the field and during cleaning
Accessories sent with the Maven include a simple rubber rainguard, rubber objective covers, neck strap, soft case, and a set of 49mm protective filters for the objectives. The accessories were the normal imported sort, although the filters were a nice upgrade. (Filters are sold separately)
The wide field of view is immediately noticeable. Due to a lack of field curvature, the view remains sharp with only a small amount of falloff at the extreme edge. This is especially impressive given the wide field of view. The color fidelity in my sample was neutral. The Maven B1 showed minor pincushion distortion. This was easily noticeable by moving straight lines to the edge of the field, and observing them to appear to bend.
I tested sharpness at 25 yards with an Edmunds Optics resolution chart under afternoon sunny skies. These were informal comparisons with both binoculars tripod-mounted. I found the Maven B1 resolved the same element on the chart as the Meostar HD. However, the Meostar did so more cleanly due to superior Chromatic Aberration correction (more on that later).
Checking the resolution chart with the Maven B1.
The Maven B1 seems optimized for low light performance. When comparing images during the fading dusk, I noticed the Maven B1 kept up with the Meostar HD in fading light, and eventually surpassed it, giving a couple more minutes of useable light before darkness. This is definitely a strong point for the Maven B1.
All aberrations were well corrected in the Maven, except Chromatic Aberration. High contrast areas showed noticeable color fringing even at the center field with the effect gaining intensity towards the edge of the field. When comparing resolution next to the Meostar HD, the Maven B1 was able to resolve the same resolution elements in the test chart, but the fringing was clearly observable in the Maven B1, while the Meostar HD appeared CA-free through much of the view. While the Maven B1's CA control certainly wasn't poor, the overall optical design was not as well-corrected for this aberration as the Meopta Meostar HD.
The Author's reference standard Meopta Meostar HD (left) showed less Chromatic Aberration than the Maven B1 (right)
Maven has provided a quality optic choice at a competitive price point with their B1 roof prism binocular. The impressive low light performance, useful features like threaded barrels and hydrophobic coatings, and sturdy build are all high points for the binocular. The binocular has excellent optics and only trails some competitors in the area of CA control. Additionally, the backcountry hunter benefits from a wide variety of customization available through Maven's innovative, custom, direct-to-consumer sales.