Meopta is not yet a household name among American birders, but that might change with the introduction of the MeoStar S2 82 HD spotting scope and its novel companion, the MeoPix iScoping adapter for the iPhone 4 and 4S.
As an iPhone owner and avid digiscoper, I was eager to give it a try, but first I put the MeoStar S2 82 through my most challenging birding tests—a local lakeshore park, where gulls often roost on a jetty more than 100 yards offshore, backlit by the evening sun, and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, where you must scan at high power across heat-wave blurred mudflats to identify shorebirds.
Equipped with a 30-60x wide-angle eyepiece, the scope’s image was bright and sharp from edge to edge at all magnifications. I detected no color aberrations or fringing, and the depth of field was excellent. Scanning across the lake at 30x, I noticed the slightly distorted, “wavy” effect I’ve seen with other wide-angle scopes. But scanning at 40x and 50x (and 60x) was very comfortable.
After the sun went down, I worked the gulls on the distant jetty, still backlit and in shadow. I was very impressed with the scope’s ability to reveal sharp feather detail and bill shape on an immature Great Black-backed Gull at 60x.
Sorting among the distant sandpipers under Montezuma’s frustratingly difficult viewing conditions, it performed as well as any scope I’ve seen. At 60x, the image was crisp and the resolution of feather patterns through the haze was impressive, allowing me to pick out four rare Wilson’s Phalaropes a quarter of a mile away. With its superb fluoride optics, combined with features such as its nitrogen-filled magnesium alloy body, the MeoStar S2 82 is clearly in a league with other top-tier spotting scopes. The solid, one-piece “foot” fits snugly into a standard tripod without needing a mounting plate. My only complaint is that the large center focus wheel was stiff, but perhaps this was just a problem with the scope I was testing and could be adjusted.
A list price (with eyepiece included) of roughly $2,400 puts this scope in the high-end bracket, but given the $3,000 to $4,000 price tags of many top scopes, the Meopta Meostar S2 82 HD represents an exceptional value in its class.
I next turned my attention to the MeoPix iScoping adapter (which sells for $59.99). As soon as I figured out that I needed to twist the eyecup all the way out (and take my iPhone out of its case and external battery pack), I fit the iPhone 4S snugly into its adapter, placed the plastic cup over the eyepiece, and presto, the image visible though the scope appeared, bright and sharp, across the full screen of my iPhone. The hole in the adapter eyecup was perfectly centered on the camera lens, the lens precisely the correct distance from the scope’s eyepiece. There was no dark vignetting of the image, and no need to adjust the focus on the scope. It was as if the iPhone’s screen had become a small monitor for the scope image. I could even pan the scope, changing the image on the iPhone’s screen. I could flip the iPhone horizontal or vertical, touch the bird image on the screen for instant spot-metering and focus, use the two-finger zoom to crop the image on the screen, and finally capture the desired picture with a light touch to the camera icon on the screen. I even captured HD video by simply touching the video icon on my iPhone screen.
I predict “iScoping” will soon become the rage—a fantastic way to document bird sightings, providing instant images to share with friends or post to rare-bird alerts, Facebook, or Twitter. The MeoPix iScoping adapter is phenomenal, a gamechanger for birders who own iPhones.
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