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Meopta Meostar S2 30-60W first impressions (1 Viewer)

Royfinn

Well-known member
I have been thinking long time of upgrading my Nikon ED50, because in migration watch and in some birdtowers it's undergunned. So I almost bought 80mm Swarovski from ebay auction, thought about buying Monarch scope and also thought biting the bullet and paying 3000€ for the Kowa 883 + tripod and head. Finally I saw Meopta for sale under 1700 in ebay, so I jumped for it and got the Slik Pro 700dx tripod and Manfrotto mvh500ah head that were recommended here in the birdforum under 300€, so the whole lot was under 2000€. Here is my first impressions compared to ED50 (I don't have much experience with top end scopes).

First I wanted to know, if the Meopta was clearly better at 30x than ED50 in 27x. And yes it was. Meopta has really spectacular wide view in 30x that I am propably gonna use 70-80 % of the time.

Here is some things that has been raising questions with Meopta:
- ROLLING BALL WHILE PANNING AT 30x. Yes, I can see it in faster panning, but I am not sure if it's gonna be a problem.
- STIFF FOCUS AND ZOOM. Focus is not stiff at all, zoom is stiffer, but not too much.
- STAY ON CASE DON'T WORK. It's ok. It touches the focus wheel, but I am not bothered. Front and end parts are easy to remove, so they don't flap in the wind.

What I am not very fond of is zooming. It's not propably fault of the scope, but everything just go downhill, pic gets darker and narrover, air disturbances are more annoying, DOF get shorter and every tremble is magnified. And eye positioning gets more tricky, as blackouts are lurking around. Now I kind of understad why 30x wide eye pieces are here in great value. :t:

SLIK TRIPOD: It's sturdy and cheap, but heavy as well. Not a travel tripod by any means.
MANFROTTO HEAD: It feels great after some cheaper stuff that I have used! :t:
 

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jring

Well-known member
Hi,

thanks for the impressions - Meopta is not too common, so they are really needed!

As for your impressions with zooming - most are expected, but you still should try to test your scope at maximum magnification - it should be possible to get a nice and sharp image at that in cool air. Or do a star test at maximum magnification.

Btw. while the true field of view (the area in the image plane you can see through the scope) naturally gets smaller with higher magnification, the apparent field of view (which part of your eyes field of view is actually showing an image in the eyepiece) tends to get larger with zoom eyepieces towards the high magnification end.

You might want to try the cable tie trick - this allows you to search stuff with bins and then just aim your scope at the bird and have it in the field of view at higher magnification - this would eliminate the shakes from zooming (and the comparison in brightness - as in broad daylight the brightness of the image at 60x in a full size scope should be just fine).

Your tripod is a bit on the stable and heavy side with 2.5kg weight... Slik doesn't give actual loads but recommends this for a pro full frame DSLR body and long tele, so probably north of 10kg... On the other hand the usual carbon fiber legs used for scopes are about 1.5kg, so about 1kg less...

But since the whole package with legs, head, scope, EP and SOC is about 5.5 kg, one kilogram less will make it still too heavy to carry in your hand for a long time. Therefore I would recommend to get a scopac or mulepak or any of the clones - that will let you carry the 5.5kg like a backpack and at least in my experience that is no problem at all even on long hikes.

Joachim
 

mskb

Well-known member
Thanks @Royfinn for the relevant thoughts on the Meopta S2 + WA EP. I have been wondering about this combination vs. {Razor, K883, ATS80} as well.

@Royfinn, any chance of getting some sample images (with a phone say) at max zoom? The Meopta has so far been attractive to me because of the relatively liberal eye relief. But you do mention tricky eye placements while zooming. If at all possible, could you also comment on how much you find the ER fluctuating as you zoom?

Thanks,
Kumar
 

Royfinn

Well-known member
Thanks for your comments jring and mskb :t:. Eye relief seems to good with Meopta, even with zoom. My problem with zoom was blackouts in the corners, if the eye placement was not perfect. But now I getting better with the zoom. Anyway, the zoom is quite fast at 60x, so it's not that easy to focus.

Zoom seems sharp to me, if air disturbance is minimal. I can try to take pics with my Nikon p900, as pics with my phone were not that good, because it was very difficult to get pics right withhout phone adapter.
 
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Royfinn

Well-known member
@Royfinn, any chance of getting some sample images (with a phone say) at max zoom?
I did some max zoom test in the parking lot. There is dumpster about 100 meters away with small print texts. The pics were taken with Nikon p900 camera (taking photoscoped pics with phone was too difficult), in the second pic there is 2000mm zoom, which is = 40X magnification. I could read all the text with Meopta 60X zoom. In the second pic there is arrow in the right corner pointing to phone number and under the phone number is www-adress, which is hardly visible in the camera pic. I could also barely read that address with Meopta in spite of air disturbance.

I also did Meopta max zoom 60x test in the beach with mallards near by. The max zoomed pic was sharp to the edge.

So the max zoom sharpess should be ok, but the focus speed is too fast in high magnifications.
 

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BoldenEagle

Well-known member
Finland
but the focus speed is too fast in high magnifications.

Hi,

I was considering to buy this Meopta scope earlier this year but one of the main factors why I didn't was this too fast helical focuser. Otherwise it wasn't stiff or anything else wrong with it but just too fast for my taste.

Well, also my current scope (Kowa883) has a bit of the same problem, allthough it has different focusing system...

Juhani
 

CMB

Well-known member
Canada
Thanks for the review of the scope and mount. Nice to see the photos too.

According to Slik’s specifications, the Slik Pro 700DX AMT tripod can support 8.9 kgs (19.8 lbs). Tripod weight (legs only) is 2.5 kgs (5.5 lbs).

It is a stout tripod, that is tall, at a very reasonable price.

A carbon fiber tripod capable of holding the same amount may weigh 1 kg (2 lbs) less, but can cost 4 or 5 times as much.

Slik does make lighter tripods (shorter too) for a reasonable price if one needs a lighter setup that is easier to carry. The trade off is less stability in windy conditions.

Chris
 
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mskb

Well-known member
Thanks @Royfinn for the update. And great to hear you have snagged a good copy!

I also came across this video that showed how the images behave witht he S2 + 20-70X EP and some sense of ER fluctuation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQivcElRROk . Thought to share here as someone might find it useful as well.

From the sample image, I thought the copy + EP in the above video was very good. @Joachim / @BoldenEagle, any thoughts?

Cheers,
Kumar
 

Royfinn

Well-known member
As for the focus drive the question is if it is really too coarse (and it seems to be a single speed drive) or whether you are experiencing the same "jerkiness" that Lee complained about in his review of the S2 (and which went away after some use).
The focus drive didn't feel jerky, but the stay on case has friction with the focus wheel, which is not helping with high zoom.

According to Slik’s specifications, the Slik Pro 700DX AMT tripod can support 8.9 kgs (19.8 lbs). Tripod weight (legs only) is 2.5 kgs (5.5 lbs).

It is a stout tripod, that is tall, at a very reasonable price.
I am going to keep it my car trunk, mostly to be used near the car. I have walked 500m with it and it's ok to carry for that kind of shorter walks. It's very tall tripod, actually too high for me if legs are out for the whole lenght. But the best way to use it reguires only the use of 3 flip locks, as I keep the lower legs slightly extented all the time. That way it fits the trunk and when in use, lowest position is suitable for GF. For my use only I lift the centre pole
a bit.

Thanks @Royfinn for the update. And great to hear you have snagged a good copy!
Well, it seems to be at least OK copy, but no tough tests or comparisons have not made with it. All I can say that it's clearly better than ED50, view at 30x is brilliant and max zoom is (more or less) sharp (in every max zoom attept to long distance there has been lot of air disturbance).

My main purpose for Meopta is flying migration birds, because ED50 is just underpowered when birds are kilometers away. And the new tripod + head combination should be more suitable for flying birds. Season is just starting so lets see, how it goes. :smoke:
 

BoldenEagle

Well-known member
Finland
From the sample image, I thought the copy + EP in the above video was very good. @Joachim / @BoldenEagle, any thoughts?


Well, I don't know how much can be told by this kind of video only but I don't think that sample is a lemon at least...Camera changes exposure so it's quite different than looking with naked eye when small exit pupil dims the image etc. Sharpness seems to be very good though...

I have just once looked through Meopta S2 +20-70x and that sample was no better than my former Leica Apo Televid82, which had clear undercorrection of SA and some quite obvious astigmatism. I'm sure there are way way better S2 samples around that I have seen.

One thing that I have learned with scopes is that you may think you have (and in essence you really may have...) very nice image quality at max. zoom but when you just happen to get another better sample and put it in careful direct comparison and you just say: "damn, that one is even better"...I think those "real lemons" are easy to detect even without star or resolution tests but the borders between "ok sample" and "excellent sample" may be thinner and not that obvious. I think it is allways good starting point to have some scope sample of known quality to compare the other.

These are just my thoughts and I'm not an expert on these things.

Regards,

Juhani
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

I agree that the optics of the example in the video seems pretty good - unlike the tripod and the digiscoping adapter ;-)

And yes, at 60 or 70x you will normally not be able to see a difference between an ok and an excellent example. That's what resolution charts with a doubler or a star test is for.

Joachim
 
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mskb

Well-known member
Thanks @Joachim and @BoldenEagle.

Although not all the variables are the same, perhaps @Royfinn too can find ways to use the video as another reference to compare his copy against, at 60X/70X.
 

jaymann

Well-known member
I have the same spotting scope and eye piece. I was between Meopro 80 and Swaro ATS. But with my 35% discount I went with meostar S2 as i could not justify going with Swaro for marginal if any improvement. One thing for sure no matter what you pay for meopta products, you are getting a very good value.

I looked at the resolution and colors and was impressed right away. If I was going to use my spotter a lot then i might have went with Swaro maybe. But i have never looked back ever since i bought Meostar S2.
 

tenex

reality-based
[*]ROLLING BALL WHILE PANNING AT 30x. Yes, I can see it in faster panning, but I am not sure if it's gonna be a problem.
[*]STIFF FOCUS AND ZOOM. Focus is not stiff at all, zoom is stiffer, but not too much.
Congratulations Royfinn, a great deal on a great scope. Our own S2 has just arrived, but first impressions will form slowly as it's bad timing, we have arctic cold here for the next few days. It's our first scope and I have scanty memory of others for comparison, curiously dominated by a few minutes spent with BTX 95 which is unfair. But the focusing seems lovely to me, smooth and firm with no play, single speed, a bit fast at high mag but not a real problem with that big ring. I don't expect RB in the 30-60 to bother me as it hasn't in bins I've tried, but don't actually have it yet (backordered at the shop where I found a nice price), so I'm trying the 20-70 in the meantime, actually fun to have the chance. This could be a surprisingly hard choice, because the 20-70 is really very good (zoom also a bit stiff), less tunnely than I imagined, so I suppose it comes down to whether you expect to need 20x for low light or bad seeing. (I'd rather use SLC 15x56 myself.) On the high end, I suppose 70x is also nice but 60 doesn't seem a huge difference. The S2 focuses counterclockwise to infinity, but when I grasp it from underneath which is more ergonomic, that doesn't confuse me, it's still moving to the right. (All Meoptas are CCW but I've never had one of their binos.)
What I am not very fond of is zooming. It's not propably fault of the scope, but everything just go downhill, pic gets darker and narrover, air disturbances are more annoying, DOF get shorter and every tremble is magnified. And eye positioning gets more tricky, as blackouts are lurking around. Now I kind of understad why 30x wide eye pieces are here in great value.
This must just be inherent in high magnification and shrinking exit pupil, and the zoom invites you to compare all the way down. The image is still usable, and I can imagine getting used to it. Sounds like you didn't have a zoom EP on your ED50? There's an interesting option for the S2, an adapter for standard astro eyepieces which could give somewhat wider field, higher magnification, and/or brighter view (having fewer elements) than either zoom. But the exit pupil is just physics...

By the way, has anyone met S2's new Goth sister? Are other such siblings to be found?
 

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Royfinn

Well-known member
Congratulations Royfinn, a great deal on a great scope. Our own S2 has just arrived, but first impressions will form slowly as it's bad timing, we have arctic cold here for the next few days. This could be a surprisingly hard choice, because the 20-70 is really very good (zoom also a bit stiff), less tunnely than I imagined, so I suppose it comes down to whether you expect to need 20x for low light or bad seeing. (I'd rather use SLC 15x56 myself.) On the high end, I suppose 70x is also nice but 60 doesn't seem a huge difference.

By the way, has anyone met S2's new Goth sister? Are other such siblings to be found?
I haven't used scope for a while, as it's has been like -10C every day. I think that Nightforce and Cabelas are only siblings with S2. When I made the decision of 30-60 EP, I read through every discussion of 30-60 vs. 20-70. The choise is close, but majority of people in different forums seemed to prefer 30-60, althought some big authorities seemed to prefer 20-70 to get more max magnification. Big part of my birding is migration watch, so I thought it would be easier to find the birds with bigger FOV. More mag. would be useful in looking waders etc. far away, but that kind of opportunities are rare here.
 

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
When I made the decision of 30-60 EP, I read through every discussion of 30-60 vs. 20-70. The choise is close, but majority of people in different forums seemed to prefer 30-60, althought some big authorities seemed to prefer 20-70 to get more max magnification. Big part of my birding is migration watch, so I thought it would be easier to find the birds with bigger FOV. More mag. would be useful in looking waders etc. far away, but that kind of opportunities are rare here.
Owned the Meopta S2 with the 20-70x eyepiece for about 2 years now and have thoroughly enjoyed it - great scope in so many ways. Use it mostly for coastal and big-water areas for some longer distance birding and limited digiscoping.

After reading a number of threads both here and other well-known sites that “the majority” of folks preferred the 30-60x WA eyepiece, I decided to try one out and see if I was missing something. A few observations comparing both eyepieces:
  • WA has a larger exit pupil
  • WA FOV angle stays constant throughout magnification range
  • the WA view at 60x was crisp and probably the best / least-distorted view from this eyepiece
  • the 60x view was near equal quality from both eyepieces with maybe a slight edge going to the WA for FOV and maybe a smidge in perceived brightness
  • found having 70x magnification very useful in real-world situtations with waders and small shore birds
  • the view at 30x on the WA had pronounced edge distortion and “rolling ball effect” when panning (to the point where it made me uncomfortable to use for extended periods). The FOV at 30x (where I would most often use it for panning) doesn’t directly translate from the spec sheet as not all of it is useful due to edge distortion. In contrast the 20x view on the 20-70 is bright, crisp, wide and very comfortable for panning. I also concluded I prefer having the full range of 20-70x zoom to compensate for various lighting and real field conditions.

After spending some time under varying light conditions with both eyepieces concluded my preference was the 20-70x. I just found its overall range and quality of view throughout that range a real advantage. Know that reading the FOV off a spec sheet (and reviews that focus on specs) would cause many folks to intutitively conclude all things being equal, a wide-angle lens with a bigger exit pupil would generate a superior viewing experience. However, in my direct comparison other qualitative factors (not on the spec sheet) emerged that swayed my preference to the 20-70x.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I have reviewed S2 with both of these eyepieces and they are both very fine indeed and it is a very personal decision to choose between them. My preference ended up being the 20-70 due to the heat shimmer I often encounter over the sea and coasts in the west of Scotland. The 20x is more useful when this occurs and of course the extra reach of 70x is useful from time to time.

Lee
 

tenex

reality-based
  • WA has a larger exit pupil
Are you sure that's what you meant to say? Exit pupil = aperture / magnification, so over the range in common it's identical... and it's the 20-70 that can achieve a larger EP at 20x.

  • the view at 30x on the WA had pronounced edge distortion and “rolling ball effect” when panning (to the point where it made me uncomfortable to use for extended periods).
Can you elaborate on that "uncomfortable distortion" in use? Other comments (including Lee's review) haven't mentioned it, only panning effects which are unlikely to bother me, while visibly distorted edges would. We ordered our S2 with 30-60 in January but never saw the WA, receiving a 20-70 instead as a loaner, which we're still using due to ongoing shortages (apparently Meopta can't get some materials). It is very good, though I wish I could see and compare the WA before thinking of canceling it.
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
Can you elaborate on that "uncomfortable distortion" in use? Other comments (including Lee's review) haven't mentioned it, only panning effects which are unlikely to bother me, while visibly distorted edges would. We ordered our S2 with 30-60 in January but never saw the WA, receiving a 20-70 instead as a loaner, which we're still using due to ongoing shortages (apparently Meopta can't get some materials). It is very good, though I wish I could see and compare the WA before thinking of canceling it.
There have been some reports of barrel distortion in the 30-60x WA eyepiece, something that is very rare in binoculars. Even close to zero rectilinear distortion (Swarovski EL, NL) is troublesome to some. I recently looked through a friend's 8x42 NL and a distant parked car at the field edge assumed the proportions of a double-decker bus :(.

John
 

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