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To Leica or Not to Leica: That is the Question

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#1 Sarkikos

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:33 AM

One sticking point for me against buying the Leica ASPH Zoom is the adapter. I use a Baader Zoom now for much of my DSO observing and would like to do the same with a Leica ASPH. (I think I will keep to binoviewing for planets and the Moon.)

A decent Zoom is an excellent tool for varying magnification, perceived contrast and image scale for DSO, particularly galaxies. But I like having the flexibility of using my Baader Zoom in a Paracorr or in a 5-slot filter wheel. The Paracorr cleans up the coma and flattens the field. The filter wheel allows me to select different DSO filters on-the-fly. And having the capability of varying magnification, image scale, and both eyepiece contrast and filter contrast at will allows many different views of the same object while saving much valuable time at the dark site.

Now, when I use the Paracorr with my Baader Zoom, the Baader needs to be fitted with its 2" adapter ring so that it can be placed optimally in the Paracorr. But then, when I want to use the Baader in the filter wheel, I need to replace the 2" adapter ring with the 1.25" one.

The question is: If I buy the Leica ASPH Zoom, will I be able to use it optimally in both the Paracorr Type I and a filter wheel? The Zoom would need to be in a 1.25" format to fit in the filter wheel. But, AFAIK, the Leica Zoom has to be in 2" format to be set optimally in a Paracorr. Can I somehow set up the Leica Zoom to do both, and do them well? Will I need to have both the 1.25" and 2" special adapters for the Leica? Is it possible to switch the Leica Zoom between the two adapters? If so, how easy is it to make the switch?

For me, this is a crucial question and will determine whether or not I seriously consider buying a Leica ASPH Zoom. Otherwise, I'll continue to make do with a Baader Zoom and an array of XW's and other eyepieces.

Mike

#2 dyslexic nam

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:42 AM

Not sure about the adapter question, but if it turns out that the adapter can't be switched easilly, then you could always transition to 2" filters and a 4-slot 2" filter wheel (Orion's 2" FW can easily be used for visual observing using an inexpensive T2-2" adapter). I know this would add some cost to the overall process, but since you are contemplating the the purchase of a premium $800 eyepiece, I suspect that economy isn't the main motivation (plus you could recoup a lot of the transition cost by selling off the 1.25" gear). Aside from the added cost, you would really only be giving up one slot in your filter wheel - and as an added bonus your DSO-loaded FW would be compatible with any dedicated 2" ep's you have.

The 2" FW could continue to be used with your 1.25" ep's either by using the standard 2"-to-1.25" ep adapter inserted into the 2" ep holder, or by threading on a dedicated 1.25" ep-holder directly into the threads on the body of the FW. This would allow for easy, and mechanically sound use of either 2" or 1.25" ep's (or binoviewer) with minimal fiddling.

#3 Sarkikos

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:46 PM

Shaun,

I appreciate the thought, but that really is a hefty outlay of effort, expense and weight just to get one eyepiece to perform the way I want it to in my telescope.

I have a wide collection of 1.25" and 2" filters, so that is no problem. I already have two 1.25" filter wheels, one for deep sky, one for planet/lunar. But I would have to buy the 2" filter wheel.

I've avoided acquiring a 2" filter wheel since I always thought they did not make sense for Newts. 2" filters are made for 2" eyepieces, which are generally wide-field and low-power. In my Newts, I need to use a Barlow or OCA in order to come to focus with a filter wheel. That would increase the magnification, which really doesn't make sense when using wide-field low-power 2" eyepieces.

And the idea of inserting 1.25" eyepieces in a 2" filter wheel just seems to me to be a waste of money and an unnecessary increase in weight. I would still want to keep a 1.25" filter wheel combined with my binoviewer for planet / lunar. 2" filter wheel + binoviewer + eyepieces would be one hefty combination. :sumo:

Yes, this would be a solution for the Leica, but the solution might be worse than the problem. :thinking:

But it's a good thing to brainstorm and think through all these different possibilities. Thanks.

:grin:
Mike

#4 Starman81

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:20 PM

But WHAT an eyepiece! (or so they say). Unless you are a TRUE minimalist like some CN'ers that have the Leica Zoom, you will end keeping the Zoom because it's that dang good and still keep most of your EPs. You have to have a certain constitution, a certain makeup to go 'minimalist'. Way too hard to do for most, especially after years of eyepiece hooliganism. No offense, Mike, but I don't think you could do it. Most could not, IMHO. I considered the one that recently hit AM, but imagine how much you would worry about that one eyepiece--which in my case is worth more than any of my scopes (pretty much, Nexstar 8SE replacement cost would be about equal).

#5 Sarkikos

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:39 PM

Well, I wouldn't necessarily have to go minimalist. I'd just need to sell enough eyepieces to cover the cost of the Leica. I'm already planning for that scenario. :grin:

I have certain swathes of eyepieces that I would not sell - at least not for the Leica. For instance, the Brandons, the Nag Zooms (maybe?), and the 100 degrees would stay.

Most likely the XW's, LVW 8 and Radians would be up for sale, as they are in the range dominated by the Leica, with/without a Barlow. And I feel they are the type of fixed focus eyepiece that I own which are most comparable to the Leica, in terms of AFOV and best use.

It would seem obvious that I would sell the Baader Zoom to help cover the cost of the Leica, but I'm not sure. The Leica is a mighty expensive eyepiece to take out for a quick grab-n-go here in the 'hood. The Baader is not so much of a monetary risk.

Also, the Baader Zoom can be easily switched back and forth between 1.25" and 2" mode. So whatever adapter I choose for the Leica, I could keep the Baader mostly in the other format. Maybe retain the Baader when I want to use a Zoom in my DSO filter wheel, and use the Leica in the Paracorr? I'm not sure. Not really an ideal solution.

Mike

#6 johnnyha

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 08:02 PM

FWIW, the Leica in 2" mode Paracorrs nicely in my f4.65 with a sharp flat field to the edge. That's another thing about this magical eyepiece, a sharp flat 80* field? I mean c'mon!

Hey and with the new 30* TMB Supermonos going for $568 is it really that outta line? ;)

PS sorry for the multiple posts I am on an airplane. :p

#7 nevy

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:09 PM

To Leica or Not to Leica: That is the Question,
The answer to that question is to Leica;-)

#8 StevenYood

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 03:28 AM

My solution to this dilemma was to buy the Leica. Recommendations by Bob S and Andreas seemed too compelling to ignore. I have never looked back. The Leica is so good that I quickly liquidated my Clave collection and my aging Naglers and have no regrets.

My solution to the filter issue was to get an Astrocrumb filter slide which I have come to dearly love.

As for the Paracorr ... I rarely use it with the Leica and have not missed it with my f4.3 18 inch Starmaster. The difference between the Leica alone and the Leica plus Paracorr was marginal, and I felt that the Paracorr introduced a hint of the Televue warmth to the color balance.

Happy deciding, Steve

#9 nevy

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:23 AM

If I was to get one ( I probly will ) I would keep it simple and not worry about this adaptor or that adaptor , I would get it in 2" format and either use as is or parracor it ( filters can be used either way , or if I wanted an 18mm to 4.5 mm ish zoom I would use it in a tv 2x powermate ( filters can still be used ) I don't use filters that often and when I do it only takes 20 second to screw them on.

#10 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:08 AM

Johnny,

FWIW, the Leica in 2" mode Paracorrs nicely in my f4.65 with a sharp flat field to the edge. That's another thing about this magical eyepiece, a sharp flat 80* field? I mean c'mon!


Yes, very true. But I really would like to be able to alternate between having the Leica in the Paracorr and using it in the 1.25" filter wheel.

It's a shame if I can't do both without having to load up 2" filters in a 2" wheel. That is one heavy cantilever. I'm mostly a Dob-user. We tend to not like a big long train of heavy gizmos hanging off the focuser. At least I don't.

Mike

#11 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:21 AM

Steve,

My solution to the filter issue was to get an Astrocrumb filter slide which I have come to dearly love.


I've thought about filter slides, but I like filter wheels much better for several reasons. It is very dewy here in Maryland, and especially so at my dark site. The filters in that slide would dew over big time real quick. I don't think a dew strip would be good enough for several pieces of naked glass facing the cold sky.

Also, the filters in a slide are exposed to possible scratches and scuffs. That's not going to happen with a filter wheel.

Again, since I would have to use a 2" special adapter for the Lecia so it would be optimized for a Paracorr, AFAIK I'd have to use a 2" filter slide. That would add much more weight and increase even more the first two problems.

As for the Paracorr ... I rarely use it with the Leica and have not missed it with my f4.3 18 inch Starmaster. The difference between the Leica alone and the Leica plus Paracorr was marginal, and I felt that the Paracorr introduced a hint of the Televue warmth to the color balance.


I've read reports that the Paracorr does clean up edge problems seen through the Leica and flattens the field. It also increases the magnification a little. I want all those factors in play. In fact, I'd rather just put the Leica in my Paracorr than deal with a Barlow, especially the high-end expensive Barlows that many observers buy for use with their Leica.

I hadn't thought about the warm tone that a TV Paracorr might add to the view. But I'd be using the Leica w/Paracorr mostly for deep sky, so personally I don't see that as a big problem. And for planet viewing, the warm tone often helps.

Mike

#12 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:29 AM

If I was to get one ( I probly will ) I would keep it simple and not worry about this adaptor or that adaptor , I would get it in 2" format and either use as is or parracor it ( filters can be used either way , or if I wanted an 18mm to 4.5 mm ish zoom I would use it in a tv 2x powermate ( filters can still be used ) I don't use filters that often and when I do it only takes 20 second to screw them on.


I don't want to give up the ability to switch quickly among different DSO filters when observing an object. It is really something special when viewing bright nebulae. I know other observers at my dark site think so, too. Many times they'll come over to look at M42 or another BN and take several minutes switching among the filters.

The filter wheel is also great for planetaries. I keep one slot open so I can flip between no filter and an OIII or UHC. This is the best way to make those smaller planetaries blink for you. I don't like holding a filter between my eye and the eyepiece. That never worked for me.

So if I can't alternate between a filter wheel and Paracorr when using the Leica Zoom, this really is a deal breaker for me. I can do both those things easily with my humble Baader Zoom. Of course, it doesn't have 80 degree AFOV at 8mm and the optics aren't top tier, though IME still very good. But the Baader serves me well both at dark site and at home, and is apparently more adaptable than the Leica.

Mike

#13 andydj5xp

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:31 AM

To Leica or Not to Leica: That is the Question,
The answer to that question is to Leica;-)


When in summer 2007 the first preliminary information appeared of a new Leica zoom with much larger AFOV as the 22-7.3mm I instantly knew: this would be the way to go. Having used the 22-7.3mm already since 2002 and having experienced the top performance together with ease of use only a zoom can deliver I was eagerly awaiting the eventual start of the production. One and a half years later (!) this happened and I was one of the - or may be even: THE - first user of the ASPH zoom for astronomy.

The rest of the story is known from many contributions on this forum.

Bottom line: I've back then taken the plunge in a jiffy and really never looked back. The Leica ASPH zoom was even able to successfully defend its exclusive position against the ZAOIIs. :jump:

@Sarkikos: And how about you, Mike? :question:

Andreas

#14 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:40 AM

I don't succumb easily to peer pressure. :grin:

I would probably not be using the Leica very often for planet/lunar, as I save my serious planet/lunar viewing for the binoviewer - with the exception of my monoviewed XO's - and I see no possiblity of my acquiring a pair of Leica ASPH Zooms. So comparisons of the Leica to ZAO-IIs are instructive but not a clincher for me.

I'd be using the Leica mostly for deep sky, the niche that my Baader Zoom holds now. And for deep sky, I really want to be able to switch between a filter wheel and a Paracorr. IME, those are probably the best tools for viewing DSO at a dark site, besides a Zoom, of course.

Mike

#15 t.r.

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:49 AM

Bottom line: I've back then taken the plunge in a jiffy and really never looked back. The Leica ASPH zoom was even able to successfully defend its exclusive position against the ZAOIIs.




Just remember...others HAVE found that the best of the best less-element eyepieces can surpass the Leica in absolute detail rendered. No disrespect, but not everyone agrees that this zoom can surpass the best (ZAO's) in the right seeing conditions. And for the record, I too am a supporter of this zoom! ;)

#16 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:57 AM

Observers have found that the ZAO-II's outperform the Leica ASPH? I have the XO's, which some reports say are at the level of the ZAO-II's. I wonder if anyone has compared the XO's with the Leica.

On the other hand, I don't see me binoviewing pairs of ZAO-II's, XO's or Leica ASPH's, so the point is somewhat moot, at least for planet/lunar for me.

:grin:
Mike

#17 andydj5xp

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:11 AM

Bottom line: I've back then taken the plunge in a jiffy and really never looked back. The Leica ASPH zoom was even able to successfully defend its exclusive position against the ZAOIIs.



Just remember...others HAVE found that the best of the best less-element eyepieces can surpass the Leica in absolute detail rendered. No disrespect, but not everyone agrees that this zoom can surpass the best (ZAO's) in the right seeing conditions. And for the record, I too am a supporter of this zoom! ;)


You are right. For this very reason I've deliberately used the word "defend against" and NOT "surpass" or "best" the ZAOIIs.

For me the unsurpassed combination of optical quality and viewing comfort makes the Leica ASPH my eyepiece of choice. The absolute pinnacle of optical excellence may indeed be the ZAOII.

Andreas

#18 t.r.

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:14 AM

BillP's thorough review of the ASPH against ZAO's, XO's and Brandons...

http://www.cloudynig...hp?item_id=2795

And for me, the "jury is still out" on whether the older Leica 7-22 can best my Brandons on planetary...more experimenting to follow this summer. Of course, this may be an apples to oranges comparison, as the new APSH is reportedly better than the older. ;)

#19 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:50 AM

So, does anyone know if the Leica ASPH Zoom can be used alternately in 2" and 1.25" format, and how easily this can be done? Basically, I would need to switch between the two adapters that APM provides. As I said, if I can't do this - or something similar which allows me to use a Paracorr or 1.25" filter wheel alternatively - I doubt very much if I'm getting a Leica ASPH Zoom.

I feel that strongly about it. No talk about how good the Leica is will change my mind, if it's not good enough to do what I want it to do.

Mike

#20 RodgerHouTex

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 10:32 AM

I too am seriously considering buying the Leica and would like to know if you get the Leica with the 1 1/4 inch adapter does it vignette? Most of my hardware is geared towards 1 1/4 inch. Plus when I use a 2 inch diagonal with my EON 120 the Zeiss Diascope eyepiece I have (which is another spotting scope eyepiece with an adapter) won't come to focus. Not enough "in" travel.

#21 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 10:44 AM

IMO, the adapters are definitely the bottlenecks for the Leica ASPH Zoom - figuratively and perhaps literally, too.

Mike

#22 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 10:56 AM

I think I've read every thread on CN about the Leica ASPH several times each. What turns me off more than anything when considering the Leica, is the interminable discussions about adapters, extensions, rings, etc. that are apparently necessary to get the things to work optimally in various telescopes. At $800 - or is it $950 now? - I'd hope that the Leica would work well enough right out of the box. I guess not ... at least not for what I want to do with it.

Mike

#23 dyslexic nam

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 11:05 AM

This may be suggesting the obvious, but have you emailed Markus to inquire about the ease of switching adapters? I would think he could clarify pretty quickly.

I am curious about this too since it would also allow those who may want/have the zoom for use in a spotting scope to 'double-dip' and use it for astronomy.

#24 RodgerHouTex

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 11:08 AM

One other thing I was wondering about is there is a discussion in the Vendors section about the adapters damaging the zoom mechanism because of the set screws being tightened too much. For my Zeiss made adapter for the Ziess Diascope eyepiece I have, the eyepiece has a bayonet adapter that you just twist to lock the eyepiece in the adapter. Is that how the Leica adapter works or is the eyepiece only held in by a set screw or screws?

#25 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 11:17 AM

This may be suggesting the obvious, but have you emailed Markus to inquire about the ease of switching adapters? I would think he could clarify pretty quickly.

I am curious about this too since it would also allow those who may want/have the zoom for use in a spotting scope to 'double-dip' and use it for astronomy.


No, I haven't yet. Of course I'd thought of that. But first I'd rather see what ideas and experience is out there from observers who have used the Leica's in different scopes and hopefully worked out these problems. The manufacturers and vendors don't always know what can be done or not done with their products.

Apparently some things are better done with a Leica with a 2" adapter, other things with a 1.25" adapter. I am really surprised that this hasn't come up as a big sticking-point for the Leica's. It would be nice to have a choice that doesn't commit oneself to either one path or another, but instead allow both.

Mike






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