Continuing with the TFB coverage of Meopta products. In my opinion, Meopta produces some of the finest spotting scopes on the market with a great price-to-performance ratio. The Meopta products are premium Euro optics without the usual German-Austrian sticker shock. With the recently released American-made Meopta MeoPro 80 HD spotting scope, what Meopta is offering is essentially the performance of a $3,000+ top-end full-size spotting scope for half the money.
Technically speaking, the new Meopta MeoPro 80 HD spotting scope is assembled and individually tested in Meopta Sport Optics’ USA manufacturing plant in Hauppauge, New York. All the components are made in Meopta’s Czech Republic facility. Like all Meopta optics, the MeoPro 80 HD’s lens are made from German SCHOTT optical glass. Not to be confused with shot-glass, which I like to use it with my tequila, SCHOTT is part of Zeiss and it produces the best (and the most expensive) optical glass blank in the world.
In comparison to Meopta’s Europe-made MeoStar S2 82 HD model, the US-build MeoPro 80 HD is streamlined a bit by using a smaller 80mm single-element objective instead of the 82mm dual-element objective. The MeoPro 80 HD also has a fixed angled eyepiece with a lower top magnification and lacks the MeoDrop hydrophobic lens coating. While the MeoPro 80 HD is shorter by almost an inch, but it’s heavier by few ounces. However, the good news is that the MeoPro 80 HD is $700 cheaper with hardly any difference in real-world optical performance in the tactical and hunting applications.
The most noticeable feature on the Meopta MeoPro 80 HD is its gorgeous large 80mm fluoride objective lens. There are rarely any spotting scopes under $2,000 that offers fluoride lens in such large size. The fluoride element has the special ability of eliminating chromatic aberration (CA) or color fringing. In fact I couldn’t find any CA with the Meopta in any light condition and zoom range. I had to tried very hard to find a hint of green color fringing on a building’s glass roof-top in a very sunny day. The optical lens in the Meopta MeoPro 80 HD are multi-coated and feature both HD and ED elements. All Meopta spotting scopes use the Schimdt-Pechan type roof prism system with fully phase-coated surfaces.
Here’s the illustration that shows how the fluoride lens works its magic when it comes to controlling the different color wavelengths of light transmission in an optic. The fluoride element is really a type of optical grade crystal instead of the common glass. The fluoride blank has to be artificially grow in a lab, a much slower and more costly manufacturing process comparing to how the glass is made. The HD term stands for high-definition, but is really for high-density, a special type of lens that offers superior light transmission.
Another premium feature of the the Meopta is its magnesium alloy construction with full body rubber armor. The surface of most of the rubber armor is molded with micro textures. The fixed eyepiece offers a 20x-60x zoom range with a +/- 3 dioptric adjustment. The spotting scope body is nicely rounded in a snag-free contour. I also appreciated its built-in pull-out lens hood and twist-up eyecup. Although, I would really prefer a way to tether both lens caps.
The built-in rotating collar allows the MeoPro 80 HD to be rotated to any angle. I have found by rotating it 90 degrees to the side is very handy for use in bench shooting. The large center-mounted focus ring is well dampened for both a fast and smooth focus. It also has large enough contact area that when wearing a thick glove wouldn’t be a problem operating it. The only downside of using a helical ring type focus system is that it will get very touchy on the higher end of the magnification.
The feature packed companion TP-1 tripod (MSRP: $299) is probably built for Meopta by Manfrotto, as it’s compatible with the Bogen/Manfrotto QD head plate mount. That’s a good thing as Manfrotto is the industry standard for photography and videography. The TP-1 features a smooth pan & tilt fluid head, 2x level bubbles and padded quick deploying anodized aluminum legs. Price wise, the TP-1 is inline with the high-end Manfrotto video tripods with fluid head.
Viewing through the Meopta MeoPro 80 HD spotting scope at 20x magnification. The Stratosphere tower and the Las Vegas Strip is 18 miles away. This was taken hand held since neither MeoPix smartphone adapters wouldn’t fit my contract-free Google Nexus 4. Although it’s a great phone running the trouble-free stock Android, the camera on the Nexus 4 is not among the best. I tried to used my Fuji X camera but due to the short spotting scope type eye relief, it can’t focus close enough on the ocular image. The camera image is for size reference only.
The time of the day is at dusk at 8:04 pm with the sun is setting behind the Charleston mountain . The rapidly fading atmospheric light has this yucky bluish-gray color to it. I was impressed by how much light the Meopta MeoPro 80 HD is gathering in such conditions. It’s twilight coating and HD glass really work.
At the 40x magnification, with my eye, I can see tourists riding the 1,000-feet high roller-coaster on top of the Stratosphere tower. The middle of the zoom range seems to be the sweet-spot for the Meopta MeoPro 80 HD. It provided great resolution and color rendition with a bit of trade-off in the contrast. The time was 8:10 pm and I saw more lights being turned on in the hotels and the Las Vegas Strip as the ambient light was getting dimmer. The camera image is for size reference only.
At 60x magnification, the eyebox becomes very tight and I was having hard time to lining up my Nexus 4’s camera hand-held to take an image. Viewing with my eye, I noticed a small amount of curvature was introduced at the extreme edges with a bit of light fall-off. Although the image resolution remains very high throughout. Again, the picture show above is for size reference only. The actual image with the Mk 1 eyeball is 10 times better.
The time was 8:21 pm and it was getting really dark out.
Meopta MeoPro 80 HD Specification:
Objective: 80mm HD fluoride crystal
Lens Coatings: Multi-coating (MeoBright), Twilight coating (TO2) and Hard coating (MeoShield)
Prism type: roof prism, Schimdt-Pechan system with full phase coat
Body type: Angled
Body Material: Magnesium alloy with full rubber armor
Body Sealing: Nitrogen Purged, shockproof and waterproof.
Eyepiece: Integrated 20x-60x, extendable eyecup
Length: 14.36 inch
Weight: 67.2 ounces
Focus Mechanism: Helical
Eye Relief: 18.5mm
Exit Pupil: 4.05mm at 20x, 1.4mm at 60x
Field of View: 63 ft to 105 ft at 1000 yards
Tripod Mount: integrated rotating Manfrotto style QD plate, 1/4-20 screw hole
MSRP: $1600, street price +/- $1500