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.