With the ever increasing popularity of photography and blogging as part of most birders make-up the chance to add to the tool kit without breaking the bank has come in the form of a lightweight piece of moulded plastic - just in time for Christmas. As someone who already carries a DSLR camera and lens around but at times needs a bit more reach for that distant Wader on the foreshore or Grebe on a reservoir - this could well be the answer. There is many a time I can think of when I've tried to balance my iPhone on the end of the scopes eyepiece in hope of recording a photo of a bird - which ended in either a terrible photo or nothing at all because the bird had flown before I found that all important pin point alignment.
The MeoPix iScoping adapter from US company Meopta has been designed and created as the perfect tool for you to carry in conjunction with your Scope and Smart phone - I might add at this point the model I purchased is compatible with a Swarovski 25-50w eyepiece and a iPhone 4/4S.
I've been aware of Meopta's phone scoping capabilities in the US for about a year now but it was at this years Birdfair 2012 at Rutland when I first got the chance to have a look at the product in the hand and try out the tool in the field, with surprisingly good results. Since then (August) I've been waiting for this product to hit the shops in the UK. Then news reached me that the guys at CleySpy Norfolk had them in stock - a quick phone call later and £49 lighter in the pocket and the item was on its way to me in the post.
First impressions were very good, nicely packaged with quick and easy instructions to get you started straight away and because the adapter is made of plastic it's very light, making it easily portable in a jacket pocket without the worry of thinking about having to lug another piece of equipment around all day in the field, but on the flip side this may make the adapter more susceptible to breaking if used heavy handedly or even accidentally sat on - only time will tell.
The iPhone slides effortlessly into the holder, firmly holding the phone in position without the slightest chance of any movement, with easy access to all the icons on your screen, the camera and its settings. The adapters housing is then pressed snugly over your eyepiece, and as the surround of the eyepiece is rubber, the grip and position feel firm - I would happily carry it in this position out in the field safe in the knowledge it wouldn't detach - although taking a private phone call would be interesting! It's worth checking the circular attachment which connects to your scope is fully pressed into position, if not the images will show dark edges or vignetting - these can be cropped using the iPhones own software if necessary. Once in position you are ready to photograph or maybe video at your leisure, focusing on the iPhone is quick and finer adjustments are made to the focus of your subject on the scope itself as you would normally.
The quality of the images are never going to compete with any DSLR camera setup but at 8 megapixels and a magnification of up to x50 on my scope I was more than happy with the resulting images (read Part 2 of this review to see those). I basically now have a handy long lens at my disposal without the huge cost or the additional weight of a large telephoto prime lens.
To remove the adapter from the scope you simply pull it off, although I found a small half twist as I pulled the best way to do this quickly and without putting any additional pressure on the adapter - with more force this could possibly snap breaking the plastic housing.
Read part two of the review next week - The field test and discover how this product rated on 'The Cowboy Birders' Chili Rating.
Click here: Part Two of the review
Click here: Part Two of the review