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1'st look Leica 17.8-8.9mm ASPH Zoom

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#1 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 06:25 PM

I had an unexpected delivery today courtesy of the USPS, a Leica ASPH zoom that I ordered two weeks ago from Markus at APM that was shipped only last Thursday. Four days from Germany to W. Tennessee is almost as amazing as the eyepiece.

Before I placed the order with APM I inquired about a 2" T2 adapter sans the safety undercut. Markus replied that it was possible but may delay shipment for a week or two, so I initially decided against it. After I placed the order Markus advised that they were out of 2" T2 adapters and had just placed an order with their machinist. After an exchange of emails, Markus advised that a 2" T2 adapter without the safety undercut could be requested with the new batch and it would not delay shipment any further. I received an email from APM last Wednesday that the order would ship Thursday, and it arrived today only four days later.

Here in western TN the skies have been overcast all day with high winds, but when the mail truck arrived the sky was bright and sunny even though it was still windy. Amazingly, I had to sign for an insured delivery from Germany which was totally unexpected to say the least. I was not expecting delivery of the Leica until next week at the earliest, and I didn't even realize what the package was until I got back in the house and noticed the APM Telescopes tape on the box!

I quickly set up the 4" f/13 refractor with the Baader Herschel prism to view the sun and compare eyepieces. I compared the Leica vs. the Brandons, and along with other EP's listed below although those were compared mainly for granulation detail.

Throughput, contrast and eye relief were superb. It was really nice to have such a wide field view at higher power with such contrast. The Leica best all of my eyepieces for solar detail, both sunspot and granulation. Comparing the Leica vs the Brandon 8, 12 and 16mm proved to be no comparison. Sunspot group 1711 and 1718 were unbelievable, detail and contrast amazing. At 8.9 mm the Leica image was bright, contrasty with easy eye relief, while the 8mm Brandon was less so on all counts.

Hopefully the clouds stay away this evening so I can do so comparisons on other objects. So far, I am very impressed!

#2 payner

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:00 PM

Glad you received the Leica zoom safe and quickly! From your brief, but informative report and others, it seems this ocular is a gem and worth its price. I have a set of Brandon Anniversary oculars and enjoy them. It seems this zoom is worth considering.

Best,
Randy

#3 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:13 PM

The skies are still clear and the wind has died down, and I have sent the last half hour viewing Jupiter at twilight through the 4" f/13 achro and comparing the Leica vs 8-16mm Brandon. In all cases the Leica handily outperforms the Brandons with easily noticeable superior detail and contrast, with the bonus of a wider field of view to frame the view.

The only other zoom I have had experience with is the Baader Hyperion Mk. III, recently sold to help fund the Leica purchase. One stark difference between these two, besides the wider f.o.v. and without having the Baader to comare side by side, is that the Leica is parfocal for me throughout ifs focal range. The Baader took much tweaking when significantly changing the f/l.

#4 nevy

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:25 PM

What's the difference between the T2 thread & m48 thread?

#5 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:39 PM

The T2 thread will allow direct use of the Baader VIP barlow lens screwed inside the 2" adapter housing. With standard M48 threads, this would have required an additional M48 adapter.

#6 nevy

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 09:40 PM

Ok thanks, so for normal use ( if 2" UHC orO3 filters were used) would you need to get the M48 thread adaptor?

#7 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 10:05 PM

Yes. In my case, with the T2 threaded nosepiece I believe I would need a Baader T2-27 adapter to attach standard 2" filters to the barrel of the Leica.

andydj5xp and Tamiji Homma have very detailed information on Leica ASPH configurations here on the CN forums.

#8 andydj5xp

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 04:43 AM

The skies are still clear and the wind has died down, and I have sent the last half hour viewing Jupiter at twilight through the 4" f/13 achro and comparing the Leica vs 8-16mm Brandon. In all cases the Leica handily outperforms the Brandons with easily noticeable superior detail and contrast, with the bonus of a wider field of view to frame the view.



You are a brave soul: putting a multilens zoom above some of the most respected orthos. Did you forget that "less glass" ALWAYS is better. (just kidding :grin:).

Seriously: that's why I sold the ZAOIIs. Not much use besides the Leica ASPH zoom.

Andreas

#9 nevy

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 07:01 AM

Yes. In my case, with the T2 threaded nosepiece I believe I would need a Baader T2-27 adapter to attach standard 2" filters to the barrel of the Leica.

andydj5xp and Tamiji Homma have very detailed information on Leica ASPH configurations here on the CN forums.

Thanks for that, I'm considering getting one but I think I might put it off for a while yet.

#10 leonard

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 10:25 AM


Interesting review , thank you .
:grin:

#11 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 11:15 AM

You are a brave soul: putting a multilens zoom above some of the most respected orthos. Did you forget that "less glass" ALWAYS is better. (just kidding :grin:).

Seriously: that's why I sold the ZAOIIs. Not much use besides the Leica ASPH zoom.


Hi Andreas. I admit being very sceptical until I actually got a chance to view through the Leica. I have no experience with the top tier Orthos such as Zao, etc but have owned a set of BGO, a few Meade Research Grade and now a set of Brandons. I was so pleased with the Brandon set, I sold the others. Now the Leica ASPH has plainly bettered the Brandons on all counts. Perhaps this is the poors man's way to get premium Zao-like quality at a more affordable price point, relatively speaking that is. Then you add in the bonus of generous field of view and eye relief.

Regarding the Brandons, while the Leica obviously bested them in my first views, I doubt I will end up selling them. They are a very nice light weight set and work very well in my vintage refractors, and make an excellent package combined with the Baader Q-Turret.

Although seeing and transparency were rather poor last night, the extent of visible nebulosity of M42 made for an excellent comparison. The Leica vs Brandon 8/12/16 mm comparsion, the Leica presented an estimated 20% more nebulosity. Also the contrast between the Trapezium and surrounding nebulosity was much more pronounced.

It appears that the quick 4 day shipping from Germany to Tennessee took the new equipment cloud curse gremlin by complete surprise yesterday. By this morning however, he had quickly recovered and sent clouds. I hope to try the Leica in the 8" SCT next observing session, and especially look forward to viewing their performance on the moon.

#12 andydj5xp

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:02 PM

Regarding the Brandons, while the Leica obviously bested them in my first views, I doubt I will end up selling them. They are a very nice light weight set and work very well in my vintage refractors, and make an excellent package combined with the Baader Q-Turret.



Brandon, you are right not selling the brandons too soon - may be not at all. Only after you've compared them more thoroughly and over extended periods of time against the Leica you will be able to decide. You are not in a hurry.

It took me 2.5 years to eventually decide selling the ZAOIIs.

Andreas

#13 t.r.

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:06 PM

Well, I've been comparing the Brandons to the older Leica 7-22zoom( superb as well) since 2010 and My Brandons aren't going anywhere. Nor is the two Leicas I use for binoviewing. Win Win.

#14 mgwhittle

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 04:38 PM

Congrats Brandon on a wonderful new addition. I'd like to hear your impressions of scatter on Jupiter compared to the Brandons if you get a chance.

#15 Schaden

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 06:49 PM

Well, I've been comparing the Brandons to the older Leica 7-22zoom( superb as well) since 2010 and My Brandons aren't going anywhere. Nor is the two Leicas I use for binoviewing. Win Win.



What's the reason for the huge price difference between the 7-22 Leica zoom and the 8.9-17.8 ASPH ? The apparent FOV ? I noticed it's about twice as expensive.

#16 t.r.

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 07:17 PM

Added FOV and even better contrast.

#17 andydj5xp

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 02:07 AM

What's the reason for the huge price difference between the 7-22 Leica zoom and the 8.9-17.8 ASPH ? The apparent FOV ? I noticed it's about twice as expensive



It's indeed mainly the generous AFOV never realized in a zoom before. AFIK, this has been accomplished through a huge aspheric lens which requires very laborious - hence: expensive - manufacturing processes. Other premium manufacturers apply this technology to camera lenses only.

OTOH, if one looks at the regular prices of Leica camera objectives which easily are 4000 Euros or more, the ASPH zoom is almost a bargain. :grin:

Andreas

#18 Sarkikos

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:11 AM

Congratulations on your acquistion of the Leica, Brandon!

I've been thinking about this move for the last two years ... still thinking. :thinking:

:grin:
Mike

#19 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 06:28 PM

Come on Mike, just do it already! :poke: :lol:

FWIW, in a sudden fit of madness I recently listed mine for sale on Astromart. After an intervention call from a fellow observer, and a good night out, that ad was quickly withdrawn. I don't observe nearly as much as I used to, but when I do get out, I can't imagine not having the Leica ASPH.

#20 johnnyha

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 07:28 PM

Ha! I saw that ad. Good recovery Doug, I love that there had to be an intervention and I think it was called for. :grin: And Brandon, glad it was everything you hoped. I just can't get over how good this thing is. Must be the aspheric lens. It's so crazy sharp it almost cuts your eyeball.

BTW I have found that the use of a Paracorr gives sharp images across the entire field in my f4.65.

#21 mark8888

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 09:04 PM

Comparing the Leica vs the Brandon 8, 12 and 16mm proved to be no comparison. Sunspot group 1711 and 1718 were unbelievable, detail and contrast amazing. At 8.9 mm the Leica image was bright, contrasty with easy eye relief, while the 8mm Brandon was less so on all counts.


The Leica vs Brandon 8/12/16 mm comparsion, the Leica presented an estimated 20% more nebulosity.


Wow! Thats a lot more nebulosity. I know there are a lot of Brandon lovers out there... can anyone confirm these comparisons? Not that I dont believe them, I totally do, but I wonder if anyone has had a different perception while comparing? Because 20% is really a lot, and brighter, and more contrasty... one cannot help but get extremely interested when reading a review like that! Especially as the Brandons really have such a great rep. Head to head the Leicas are that much better?

#22 t.r.

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:34 AM

I believe the best way to describe it is that simply, the Leica has better transmission. How that translates to various objects, depends on the object being viewed. Personally, I wouldn't go as high as a 20% difference, but it is detectable and thus a difference. There is two things that the Brandon does differently however that I view as merits worth keeping them. The sky background is darker (for whatever reason, and it is debated to death here, but it works to add contrast) and the colors or stars, planets and moon seem better to my eye. The Leica view is "cooler" in comparison. For me, they compliment each other and both will remain in my arsenal for life! I couldnot give up one for the other. ;)

#23 mark8888

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:19 AM

I believe the best way to describe it is that simply, the Leica has better transmission. How that translates to various objects, depends on the object being viewed. Personally, I wouldn't go as high as a 20% difference, but it is detectable and thus a difference. There is two things that the Brandon does differently however that I view as merits worth keeping them. The sky background is darker (for whatever reason, and it is debated to death here, but it works to add contrast) and the colors or stars, planets and moon seem better to my eye. The Leica view is "cooler" in comparison. For me, they compliment each other and both will remain in my arsenal for life! I couldnot give up one for the other. ;)


Thanks, thats a great answer. It really explains why one would want to have and keep both eyepieces. As it happens, I picked up a pair of 16mm Brandon flat tops a couple of months ago (good timing perhaps?), but wont be able to try them out for another few weeks. So I'm glad to hear that theyre still very much worth having, even in comparison to such great eyepieces!

As for the Leicas, FWIW, they sound very tempting. It seems that virtually everyone who uses them really loves them. That reminds me of another "exotic" eyepiece I've read a thread or two about... I wonder if anyone reading this has used both the Leica ASPH Zooms and the 12.5 Docter UWAs and could kind of compare them? Theyre also large, obviously have great optics, and get completely over the top fantastic write ups. Actually I think they are also offered by APM? So that would be another similarity. I know its a little bit apples and oranges, but as far as clarity, transmission, contrast go, when the Leica is used at a similar focal length as the 12.5 UWA, I'm curious. Of course, unfortunately none of these eyepieces are cheap. :bawling: But at least fun to consider.

#24 t.r.

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:25 AM

Yep, a CN'er named Tamiji Homma has done that comparison. PM him...




#25 mark8888

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:49 AM

OO I havent seen that, thanks I will.






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