Posted 29 April 2012 - 01:32 AM
Earnest and Dave,
Regarding the TV Panoptics vs the Meade 5k SWA/ES N2 68*, I'd say they're very close, with the edge for on-axis performance going to the Pans, overall. I write this from my own experiences with the Pan 19 (as a former owner), the Pan 24 (as a current owner), Meade 5k 24mm SWA (former owner), Meade 5k 20mm SWA (current owner), and the Meade 5000 16mm SWA (former owner), and Meade 5k 28mm SWA (current owner). But here's my take on this.
First, there's the value aspect. Are the Pans worth the price at the eyepiece? Well, this is all REAL personal. My criteria may have nothing to do with yours. If all you care about is on-axis performance, I'd say the Pans are for you. Enough to justify the cost? Well, that's awfully hard to say. For me, the answer is sometimes, but the sometimes is weighing more than just on-axis performance.
The Meade 5ks, and to a somewhat lesser extent, the ES N2 68s, are at a general disadvantage to their corresponding Pan in terms of weight. If all you own are large, solid tube dobs or SCTs, you can ignore this, but if you like refractors and smaller reflectors, it can be important.
One thing to bear in mind is exit pupil size and performance. I'm of the Jim Barnett school, which basically says that, as one gets to a larger exit pupil (which happens in earnst with the SWA/Pans at >15mm), on axis performance tends to even out for eyepieces. Those that performed better at 7mm begin to even out as one gets to 15mm, and especially 20mm+.
I didn't compare the 19mm Pan directly to my Meade 20mm SWA (I'd sold it already), but I was mostly glad to be rid of the nausea producing thing. The TV Panoptics all were designed wih a lot of pincushion distortion. The Meade 5k SWAs/ES N2 68s have a lot less. This effect can cause a nauseated sensation in some people, but has been noted particularly by me and Bill Paolini to inflict the Pan 19. Significantly worse psychologically in the 19 than the other Pans.
As a result of this, I find I cant pan the skies with the Pan 19, something I need to be able to do with a 20mm-ish widefield. The Meade 5k 20 fixed all that. OTOH, the svelt 8.2 oz compared with the ridiculous Meade 5k 24mm's 14 oz had me sell the 5k and keep the Pan 24mm.
The 16mm is more problematic. I bought the 13mm T6 on sale last summer. Since its TFOV and that of the Meade 16m SWA are about equal, I sold the my Meade 16mm reluctantly. For the price, $90 is just hard to pass up for such a product. Many complain about it's eye relief, and it is tight-ish, but not bad for me -- and I abhor TV Plossl 11mm eye relief.
So I have a hodgepodge. The 13mm T6, then I jump to the Meade 5000 20mm SWA, then the Pan 24, and finally out to the Meade 28mm SWA
The view thru a friend's 27mm Pan made me feel it's superior to my Meade 5k 28mm SWA, but is it justified to swap it for one? For me the answer is 'no', but for you?
I think this ES sale is GREAT, but everyone should buy what works for his/her own vision and telescope balancing needs best.