by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Meopta MeoPro HD 80
MeoPro 80 HD spotting scope from Meopta. Image provided by Meopta USA.

This report covers:

  • Bright and sharp
  • Not-so-smart phone
  • Real image
  • Second test at 200 yards
  • What’s next?
  • Photos through the scope

Today I will describe how the smart phone worked with the MeoPro 80 HD spotting scope. First I will report that the Permatex epoxy I used is holding fine. I took the spotting scope and smart phone adaptor to the range and it held the phone perfectly. So, that part works.

First I set up the scope on my Bogen medium-format camera tripod. It is rigid on that mount, which it has to be to see bullet holes in black bullseyes at 200 yards. And the Bogen tripod is as smooth as the scope, allowing perfect alignment with the target.

Meopta MeoPro HD 80 Scope on mount
My original spotting scope mount was too flexible for the heavy MeoPro.

Bright and sharp

I mentioned in the last report that the MeoPro 80 HD was able to see holes at 200 yards that a Redfield spotting scope with similar specifications (20-60X and 80mm objective lens) could not. That is due to the ion-assisted MeoBright lens coatings they put on with those $1.5 million machines. They eliminate glare and transmit 99.7 percent of the light that passes through each lens element. That gives you the TO2 (twilight optimized optics) that extends your viewing times at the critical beginning and end of the day.

Meopta MeoPro HD 80 Meopta plant
Meopta’s sporting line makes good use of all that expensive optical machinery they use for military and industrial applications. Image provided by Meopta USA.

The HD Fluoride objective lens element eliminated chromatic aberration that’s seen as color fringing, by bringing the light wavelengths into a single common focus along the optical axis. You get vivid resolution and color fidelity in challenging lighting situations. All of which is good for viewing, but not for smart phone use.

Meopta MeoPro HD 80 Lenses
Meopta lenses are ground from the finest glass, then coated with proprietary coatings to optimize light transmission and scratch resistance.

Not-so-smart phone

When the phone camera looks through the spotting scope it sees things fine, but then the automatic software controls kick in and try to adjust the image to look like something that falls within the parameters of their planned use. In other words, the software committee didn’t prepare for this application. Maybe there are ways to get around the automatic controls on my phone camera, but they involve more interaction with software I am not comfortable with. I will tell you what I plan to do about this at the end of this report.

I also had to shade the lens heavily to cut down on a bright flare of light. I could hear the phone adjusting the camera continuously to make sense of what it was seeing.

Meopta MeoPro HD 80 smart phone 100 yards
Looking through the spotting scope, the iPhone camera would not focus better than this. And I had to shade the objective lens heavily to eliminate image flare.

Real image

The target you see in the image above shows 5 shots at 100 yards from my AR-15. I cleaned the bore after more than 300 rounds were fired because my groups were starting to open up a little. That group shows the first and second shots landed apart from shots three through five.

Meopta MeoPro HD 80 target 100 yards
Here is the actual target seen in the image above. The last three bullets went into as group that measures 0.344-inches between centers at 100 yards. This nis the kind of accuracy my AR-15 gives when everything works right.

Second test at 200 yards

The real test on this day was at 200 yards. The last time I was at the range I had fired 4 rounds at a target at 200 yards. The group was hovering near the 1.5-inch size between centers. I saved the target and re-mounted it for a second test.

After I was sure the rifle was shooting its best, as evidenced by the three bullets in the small group at 100 yards, I fired a fifth shot at the 200-yard target. That’s right, the fifth shot waited two weeks after the first 4! And, to my utter satisfaction, it went to the center of the 4 shots, not opening the group by anything. Those 5 shots are in 1.643-inches between centers!

Meopta MeoPro HD 80 target 200 yards
The fifth shot at 200 yards from my AR-15 was fired 14 days after the first 4. It went to the center of the group (arrow).

What’s next?

This spotting scope is the finest telescope I have ever owned. After a half-century of putzing around with el-cheapo spotting scopes that had great specifications but didn’t deliver, and buying name-brand scopes that were sourced from China (sound familiar?) I finally bit the bullet and bought a spotting scope that really works. Yes, it was expensive, but you know what? It cost me a lot less than all the money I wasted on those other disappointments.

Photos through the scope

I intend taking pictures through this scope, but I will use a digital camera that I can control. There are many rigid camera mounts for this purpose, and when I select one I will run another report that will hopefully show you the image resolution I am seeing.