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Best planetary EPs being made today...

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#51 Richard Low

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 11:19 AM

Inevitably, some respected observers, will comment that all modern eyepieces are equal in on-axis performance.


That is absolutely not true, in my experience.


I wish that were true. We all have different eyes, so that probably the issue why some can and can't see any differences. FWIW the acuity of my eyes was 20/10 for most of my life, now down to 20/15. I keep waiting for my eyes to no longer see a difference between my ZAO/XO and Heavy Glass EPs on-axis so I can sell all those specialized planetaries and buy a new telescope!! :lol:


My eyes are not so good, though I'm still able to discern difference in performance between ZAO-IIs and Supermonos. How I wish too that I cant tell the difference...

Put aside the orthos and plossls, XWs and Brandons, one of the best planetary eyepiece still in production is the amazing Leica ASPH zoom....

#52 SkyRanger

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 12:47 PM

While I have not tried most of the minimilist EPs mentioned here, I have had some of my best planetary views through my old "smoothie" TV Plossls with a 2.5X Powermate. The 17 smoothie is one of my favorites.

Gordon

#53 cw00

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 01:49 PM

Second that, Richard.
I think the Leica zoom is as sharp as Pentax XO, XW, and Delos.
So when I travel, 31 Nagler, Leica Zoom, Baader VIP barlow will cover everything I need regardless of the target.

#54 RodgerHouTex

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 06:17 PM

Clearly the Zeiss Ortho IIs aren't that special. Every time someone has a favorite eyepiece it's as good as the ZAO IIs. :foreheadslap:

#55 nevy

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 07:48 PM

Yeh bin em.

#56 Sarkikos

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 08:00 PM

Clearly the Zeiss Ortho IIs aren't that special. Every time someone has a favorite eyepiece it's as good as the ZAO IIs. :foreheadslap:


Hmmm... I think you've got a point there. :thinking:

:grin:
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#57 Ebbisham

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:51 AM

Just to ad another option here, to my eyes, my Baader Maxbright bino with a pair of Tv plossl gives me significant better views than my Leica ASPH 17.8-8.9 zoom (which got good reviews here), so it is my choice for planetary views. My eyes seems to be that bad that i struggled to see the Casini division clearly last month in mono view at 100x. With the bino is was there nice and clear.

#58 Astrojensen

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:53 AM

Clearly the Zeiss Ortho IIs aren't that special. Every time someone has a favorite eyepiece it's as good as the ZAO IIs.



Good point. This could possibly say a lot about either:

a) the observer's eyesight

B) his telescope

c) his eyepiece

d) his seeing conditions

e) all four

f) none of the above, but something I've not thought of


Take your pick. Sometimes, it's just too hard to sort all the variables out and you just have to go with your gut feeling.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#59 BillP

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 07:12 AM

Clearly the Zeiss Ortho IIs aren't that special. Every time someone has a favorite eyepiece it's as good as the ZAO IIs. :foreheadslap:


I think it's easy enough to find the opposite as well. So you will find many who think otherwise. Regardless, whatever works best, or as good, for each individuals eyes and scope is what is best. For me though, ZAO does best on axis.

#60 RAKing

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 07:28 AM

Clearly the Zeiss Ortho IIs aren't that special. Every time someone has a favorite eyepiece it's as good as the ZAO IIs. :foreheadslap:


I think it's easy enough to find the opposite as well. So you will find many who think otherwise. Regardless, whatever works best, or as good, for each individuals eyes and scope is what is best. For me though, ZAO does best on axis.


Agreed -- and I think Rodger's post was somewhat 'tongue-in-cheek', too. :lol:

I'm sorry to say that nothing made today is better than my ZAO-II, CZJ, or A-P SPL collections. The BGO were very nice, but are no longer produced, either. The Pentax XW series and Leica ASPH zoom also come close. The biggest advantage I saw with the Leica was its ability to "fill in the gap" of magnifications.

YMMV, :cool:

Ron

#61 Sarkikos

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 09:40 AM

My eyes are not so good, though I'm still able to discern difference in performance between ZAO-IIs and Supermonos. How I wish too that I cant tell the difference...

Put aside the orthos and plossls, XWs and Brandons, one of the best planetary eyepiece still in production is the amazing Leica ASPH zoom....

--------------------
Richard Low



Second that, Richard.
I think the Leica zoom is as sharp as Pentax XO, XW, and Delos.
So when I travel, 31 Nagler, Leica Zoom, Baader VIP barlow will cover everything I need regardless of the target.


The idiom "put aside" is ambiguous in this context. I'm not sure if Richard is saying that he thinks the Leica ASPH is at, below or above the level of "the orthos and plossls, XWs and Brandons," or that he is suspending comparison with them. I wish he would restate this more plainly.

All that is clear to me is that Richard thinks "one of the best planetary eyepiece still in production is the amazing Leica ASPH zoom." Beyond that ...? :shrug:

However, Richard never mentioned the XO at all in his post. I have XO, XW and Delos. I rate the XO as obviously sharper, more "contrasty" and with less light scatter than the XW when viewing planets and unequal doubles through my 10" Dob during good seeing. I doubt if the Leica ASPH would equal the XO on that scope.

For serious planet/lunar/doubles sessions during good seeing, I think I'll stick with my XO 5.1 and XO 2.8. If I ever acquire a Leica ASPH, I think I would use it mostly for moderate-to-high magnification deep sky (planetaries, small clusters and galaxies). A secondary use might be for grab-n-go planet/lunar when I don't want to binoview but want a range of magnifications rather than the fixed focal lengths of the XO's. For top-tier views, I'd still probably use the XO's.

Mike

#62 johnnyha

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 11:03 AM

Just a reminder based on some of the last comments y'all, the BGO class orthos are being produced again. I just received a brand new pair of 12mm UO HDs from University Optics yesterday and a month ago I got a pair of 18mm Astro Hutech HC 18mm Orthos - both appear to be the same beloved BGO/UO HD made previously.

#63 jrbarnett

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 11:43 AM

Best currently produced? Brandons, hands down. If you have a scope worthy of the task, and it's not faster than f/4.5, Brandons on axis are the best still being made.

However, with a more pedestrian telescope, your optics rather than the eyepiece will determine your planetary performance. In that case, you're better off picking what is more affordable or what offers other features you want like eye relief, field of view, etc.

Regards,

Jim

#64 bremms

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 12:32 PM

My TV smoothie Plossls are good a my Brandons on axis. Off axis..the TV plossls win hands down. Clave's are more like the Brandons.. Low scattering, superb on axis, mediocre off axis. Never done a head to head with my 7.4 TV Pl and my 8mm Brandon. My 8mm Brandon is on loan to a friend.

MY list:

ZAO II 6mm
Clave' 8mm
Brandon 8mm
7.4mm TV Pl
RGO 7mm, 10.5
Parks GS5 7.5mm
UO Abbe's

#65 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 12:46 PM

Clearly the Zeiss Ortho IIs aren't that special. Every time someone has a favorite eyepiece it's as good as the ZAO IIs. :foreheadslap:


And so many of us have a spare set of ZAO IIs laying around for comparison purposes. :lol:

#66 tomharri

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 01:07 PM

Had to sell a motorcyle to get a set of ZAOII's.
Wasn't riding it, but was telescoping alot.
And the Zeisses were so good-crisp-sharp-contrasty,
everything you could ever want in an eyepiece.

BUT, started finding others that were just as good, like TMB monos and supers, Pentax XW's, Univ. Optics flat top orthos.

So out went the ZAO's so I could buy another Ducati, but the Pentaxes have stayed, and now the Delos seem to be just as good.

If you want the best-get the above mentioned lenses,
If you want to follow the herd, get a Honda and some ortho/plossls around $100.

#67 RodgerHouTex

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 01:19 PM

I have to agree with Jim that my Brandon's are my favorite in slower scopes. For my fast scopes I switch to the BGOs. They are available again from Hutech's and University Optics.

#68 Sarkikos

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 01:22 PM

IME, the Brandons and BGO's are running a dead heat, where one may pull ahead by a nose depending on the object. Optimum performance toward on-axis is what I'm concerned with, not so much off-axis. This is in a 10" f/4.8 Dob which has shown me very fine surface detail for Jupiter, a good test for "planetary" EP's. I actually preferred the BGO's binoviewed for Jupiter. I like the Brandons better for Saturn and the Moon. I think the XW are equal to the Brandons and BGO's or are not very far behind. To my eyes, the XO's are obviously better than BGO's, Brandons or XW for planet/lunar.

So for "best planetary EP's being made today" I'd say Brandons, BGO's (whatever the currently produced versions are called) and XW's. I still need to see how my two new Delos compare to the Brandons, BGO's and XW's for planet observation. But if the XO's were still being made, I'd defintely choose the XO's as best planetary eyepiece.

Mike

#69 Richard Low

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:37 PM

Well... let me rephrase it:

Put aside the standard orthos and plossls, XWs and Brandons, as one of the best planetary eyepiece still in production is the amazing Leica ASPH zoom.... 

To my eye, the Leica ASPH zoom with Zeiss Abbe barlow (2x-2.7x) clearly beat my XWs 5mm, 3.5mm & Ethos 3.7mm in sharpness, contrast and lesser light scattering on planets. The varying focal length is a big advantage to suit seeing condition. This zoom plus barlow has less light throughput but this actually works out fine on planets using big scopes. The Leica with barlow is amazingly almost as good as the ZAO-IIs and XO 5, but more comfortable to use, as it has better eye-relief and bigger Afov. Over here, the local seeing is usually good, and we get sharp planetary images at 450-600x on my 15" f/4.5 dob with Zambuto primary, or my APM/Lzos 6" f/8 triplet apo.

#70 jpcannavo

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 07:38 AM

Well... let me rephrase it:

Put aside the standard orthos and plossls, XWs and Brandons, as one of the best planetary eyepiece still in production is the amazing Leica ASPH zoom.... 

To my eye, the Leica ASPH zoom with Zeiss Abbe barlow (2x-2.7x) clearly beat my XWs 5mm, 3.5mm & Ethos 3.7mm in sharpness, contrast and lesser light scattering on planets. The varying focal length is a big advantage to suit seeing condition. This zoom plus barlow has less light throughput but this actually works out fine on planets using big scopes. The Leica with barlow is amazingly almost as good as the ZAO-IIs and XO 5, but more comfortable to use, as it has better eye-relief and bigger Afov. Over here, the local seeing is usually good, and we get sharp planetary images at 450-600x on my 15" f/4.5 dob with Zambuto primary, or my APM/Lzos 6" f/8 triplet apo.


Richard
Did not do strict head to head testing, but Frank Nadell and I made a lot of use of the Leica zoom at the RMSS - its one heck of an EP. I do look forward to more critical comparisons.

As for the pentax XO, I have the 2.5mm. It is decidely better than my 3mm radian, Nagler 2-4 zoom and Burgess Planetary 2.5mm with a 4" F9 orion ED. Never went head to head with the 16" ZOC, as east coast seeing has not allowed. Now out west, hoping for some better nights!

By the way - to all who are posting - this is proving to be a most enjoyable thread! My goal in starting it was to guide some of my future purchases for high powere planetary viewing as well as for threshold deep sky feature detection, as the latter often deals with related optical parameters: contrast, scatter, throuput etc.
Joe

#71 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 01:36 PM

I have to agree with Jim that my Brandon's are my favorite in slower scopes. For my fast scopes I switch to the BGOs. They are available again from Hutech's and University Optics.


I compared the 12.5 UO Ortho to my 12 Brandon in a f/6 Newtonian and f/8.5 refractor over the course of about 9 months. If the seeing was average or worse, I could not tell much of a difference. When the seeing was above average, the Brandon was better in both scopes.

But the UO was still pretty good, especially for the money.

Kept the Brandon and went to a longer (f/7) Newtonian.

#72 george golitzin

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 01:44 PM

..
By the way - to all who are posting - this is proving to be a most enjoyable thread! My goal in starting it was to guide some of my future purchases for high powere planetary viewing as well as for threshold deep sky feature detection...


Actually, I find these conversations a bit frustrating, because most of the contributors say little or nothing about the scopes, conditions, and especially barlows that they must be using. How can you compare a brandon to an XO? Answer: you can't, because the brandons stop at 8mm. So either the comparison is meaningless or there's an undisclosed barlow in the picture, in which case the comparison is again meaningless. I don't even understand Brandons as a planetary eyepiece set, unless people have f/16 scopes or are using barlows: in my experience, most critical planetary viewing is done at exit pupils between 0.5 and 1 mm. (And larger pupils are used in big aperture scopes, but the Brandon crowd, as far as I can tell, aren't using such scopes with their Brandons...) And that means focal lengths somewhere between 3mm and 7 or 8 mm, depending on the focal ratio of the scope used--perhaps longer for very slow scopes. I realize it complicates a post to include "extraneous" information such as scope and barlow used, but I think it would be helpful if more contributors to this sort of thread did just that. So 'fess up, Brandon lovers, what barlow are you using? And if you're not using one, I have no interest in your opinion, because chances are you're not using high enough powers to make a critical distinction between eyepieces. And thank you to the Leica users who have been forthright about which barlows they're using, and on what scopes.

For what it's worth, I found the 7mm BGO to be on par with the 7.5 Tak LE for scatter and sharpness on Saturn, whether in my 8-inch f/6 Zambuto dob with a TV 2x barlow, or straight up in my old 16-in f/5 swayze. I liked the 8mm TV plossl better. The BGO put up a large but faint glare field around the planet, with a sky background possibly grayer even than the Tak, and noticeably less dark than a 7T6 Nagler. I found the 7XW to be far superior to the Tak LE for scatter control, and at least as sharp in the same scopes, with a much darker sky background around the planet. I did not do a head-to-head between the BGO and XW.

I am able to imagine, with some difficulty, eyepieces with better planetary performance than the XWs, but I'm not willing to go the sub-50-degree field, zero eye relief approach of the XOs (whose only usable focal length for me would be the 5mm anyway) and short focal-length orthos. Hence my interest in reports that the Leica ASPH bests the XWs, when combined with a quality barlow.

#73 johnnyha

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 01:53 PM

The Brandon Anniversary set includes a 6mm as well as 8,12,16,24 and 32mm.

#74 csrlice12

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 01:55 PM

Brandon's----Drink!!!!

It's time to play.......THE BRANDON DRINKING GAME!!

Is your liver ready?????

#75 Sarkikos

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:14 PM

Actually, I find these conversations a bit frustrating, because most of the contributors say little or nothing about the scopes, conditions, and especially barlows that they must be using.


Well, I do try to mention at least the telescope - type and f number - I'm using the eyepieces in. I wish more folks would do that. Telescope and f number provide a good foundation for the comparisons. But it's more difficult to recall the exact setup and conditions for every instance in which eyepieces were compared. Usually I make these comparisons in the field for my own education and to make my own decisions about which eyepieces to keep or sell, not in order to produce a formal report for others. I'm sure that's how most observers go about it also.

Unless the observer does go into detail in these comparisons, they should be taken as points of departure for one's own investigations, but never as the final word.

Mike






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