Spotting scopes are the kind of product that most shooters never think of until they’re actually at the range. Nothing builds the desire to own one faster than shooting long range groups at a public range, where calling a ceasefire to check your target every 10 minutes will get you thrown out. The problem with most spotting scopes is finding a place to put them while you shoot that is both easily accessible and doesn’t require getting out of your shooting position. Thankfully the Meopta MeoPro 80 HD has a simple, effective answer to this dilemma.
Who or what is a Meopta? They’re a European company out of the Czech Republic that makes civilian and military optics. While not as well known stateside as optics makers like Zeiss, Leupold and Nikon; Meopta makes quality, durable equipment with crystalclear glass. So when I saw one of their MeoPro 80 HD spotting scopes sporting an iPhone, I had to know more.
Meopta developed an attachment for their binoculars and spotting scopes that allows shooters to mount various popular smartphones and use them as a viewfinder. Anyone who has ever leaned over a hot rifle to get their face into position behind the eyepiece can appreciate viewing what the spotting scope sees without getting up. Interestingly enough, this isn’t what the product was designed for.
Dubbed the MeoPix iScoping Adapter, the strange phone case was developed to allow shooters to snap photos of wildlife and game using the spotting scope as a giant magnifier for their smartphone. While an ingenious idea, its functionality as such is fairly limited. Where I found the most utility with the MeoPix iScope was as an easy-to-use spotting scope eyepiece replacement that allows ultra-fast target ID and shot-group verification.
For the review, I took the Meopta 80 HD out to the backyard range and placed a paper target at 200 yards against a proper backstop. At this distance, even a trained eye has issues spotting tiny .30-caliber holes in a piece of paper with an optic. Utilizing both the 80 HD’s 60 times magnification and the digital zoom function of the phone, I was easily able to identify my shot placement in failing light.
Interestingly enough, the MeoPix attachment is compatible with nearly all binocular and spotting scopes currently made by Meopta; however, shooters will have to purchase separate adapters for different diameter eyepieces.
Conceptually, the MeoPix adapter is great, but the execution can be difficult to properly focus due to the nature of high-magnification optics and the autofocus function of smartphone cameras. Additionally, the eye relief of the spotting scope can conflict with the distance of the phone’s camera lens to the spotting scope’s eyepiece. The result is limited field of view and fisheye distortion not dissimilar to the phenomenon caused by spectacle-wearing users using a spotting scope.
Thankfully, these issues can be circumvented by using the phone’s digital zoom function, effectively cropping a particular region of the displayed image. In this case, it allows users to isolate the properly magnified image projected from the spotting scope onto the smartphone lens.
Although it’s capability to accept a smartphone as a viewfinder is important, shooters shouldn’t overlook the spotting scope itself. Constructed of a combination of highdensity magnesium alloy and aluminum, the 80 HD is built like a tank without all the weight. However, the most important part of any optic is the lens itself, and Meopta doesn’t skimp on theirs at all.
With its colossal 80mm objective lens coated with a proprietary ion-assisted MeoBright treatment boasting 99.8 percent light reception, the MeoPro 80 HD offers shooters superhuman vision both in terms of clarity and brightness. This is crucial for high-magnification spotting scopes like the 80 HD, which is adjustable from 20x to 60x.
The special lens treatment that makes the optic so bright is also defended by another proprietary coating called MeoShield. Developed to meet or exceed military requirements for lens abrasion and scratch-resistance, this new ion-assisted lens treatment is a must for anyone subjecting their equipment to hard use in the field.
Which is where the Meopta was clearly designed to be used. If the spotter’s 100-percent waterproof construction wasn’t a dead giveaway, the inclusion of an over-sized focal ring meant for gloved hands should be. Not to mention the optic is also fog-proof, features an integrated sunshade and has a lifetime transferable warranty; clearly this optic was designed for hard use.
Having owned several low-end spotting scopes in the past, I can safely say shooters get what they pay for with optics. The optical clarity of the Meopta 80 HD alone outclasses any budget-friendly optic on the market and fully warrants the optic’s cost. Coupled with a host of creature comforts and the ability to interface with smartphones, the MeoPro 80 HD is a no-brainer for shooters looking for a world-class spotting scope with all the bells and whistles.