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Vintage Gold-- The 8.8mm Meade 4000 UWA

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#1 BillP

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 01:33 PM

Having been greatly impressed with the performance of the classic 14mm Meade 4000 UWA, I had always wondered if the 8.8mm would provide a similarly superlative viewing experience. Thanks to the generosity of a fellow CN member, I have had one of these very fine eyepieces on loan for casual evaluation.

Overall, the eyepiece build is quite excellent, with beautiful fit and finish. Visually, the AFOV, when compared to other 82 degree eyepieces like the Meade 5000 Series UWAs, shows just very slightly larger. Exit pupil behavior in the field is also quite controlled with eye placement being very easy and little or no issues with kidney beans or blackouts.

Over the past few weeks I've observed a variety of objects, primarily using the Takahashi TSA-102 APO. After using this eyepiece for a number of weeks, one thing is for certain, it gives up little to nothing due to its age...and in fact does some things better. Like its 14mm sibling, the 8.8mm provides a highly engaging feel when viewing, more so than with other 82 degree eyepieces. Eye relief is not what I would call generous, but it is not tight either, and it is very easy to see the entire FOV. Another nice thing is that when moving your eye to observe near the field stop, the FOV stays completely visible with no partial blackouts. This makes the viewing experience all the more natural feeling.

As far as a list of objects observed, I did not catalog them all but a partial list includes: Perseus Double Cluster, Pleiades, Orion Nebula, Albiero, Rigel, M36, M37, M38, Jupiter, and others. The FOV of the 8.8mm was nicely uniform and dark, showing no lightening towards the field stop as some eyepieces show. In the TSA-102 the FOV was also sharp to the edge, except for the smallest amount of astigmatism right at the field stop. However, it took very purposeful examination to tease out the astigmatism there, so not something that was really evident. In testing for flare, none was evident when placing a very bright object just outside the field stop and letting it transition through the FOV. For very bright stars, like Rigel which is near magnitude 0, some very minor and ghostly eyeball glint would surface now and then, but again it was nothing overt or obvious and I would have never noticed it if not testing for this specifically. The newer Meade 5000 UWAs, with their more modern coatings, did not show this behavior. This did not show on any stars less bright than Rigel. Overall, this vintage 8.8mm did extremely well controlling unwanted light artifacts. Across all targets, color saturation was displayed very well with carbon stars appearing richly orange and red, faintest stars in the FOV were just as visible compared to the views with more modern eyepieces, and nebula appear bright and detailed, with the mottled structure of M42 being nicely portrayed. Finally, scatter seemed just a little more controlled in this older Series 4000 than what I was seeing in the newer Series 5000 eyepieces. Star points and focus snap similarly had a quality that appeared just a little more pleasing. In examining the diffraction patterns of stars I would say that that the diffraction rings appeared just slightly less bright in this Series 4000, which might be why star points seemed a little more pleasing.

From a practical standpoint, ignoring all the miniscule and picayune optical details that needed very critical observing to ferret out, this vintage eyepiece was simply a total joy to use. The engaging quality of its exit pupil ergonomics and the uniformly rich dark background of its FOV made this eyepiece as pleasing of an experience as could be expected and also made it a worthy companion to the superlative Takahashi telescope I was using it with. Overall, I was suitably impressed with this eyepiece, as I was with the 14mm UWA I had borrowed long ago to test. So much so in fact, that when a full set of the vintage Meade 4000 UWAs recently became available on the used market, I snatched them up to become the staple 82 degree-ers in my own eyepiece stall!

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#2 BillP

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 01:34 PM

And the view from down under...

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#3 planet earth

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 02:44 PM

I viewed Saturn in the 90's with a friends 12" Meade SCT LX200 using a new 8.8mm 4000 series. (X350)
It was a great night of seeing to say the least.
The eyepiece performed very well to my surprise.
Comfortable eye relief, with no blackouts and very good on axis. The SCT optics were another thing that surprised me, as I viewed through quite a few bad 8 f10 SCT's.
Sam

#4 russell23

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 04:22 PM

Very nice Bill! I really liked the 14mm Meade UWA smoothie I had, but the coatings were not as good as modern coatings. I wish these eyepieces would be brought back with modern coatings. I like them better than the 5000 series and ES82's.

Dave

#5 JustaBoy

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 04:23 PM

Bill, Dave, you guys are alright! :waytogo:

#6 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 04:29 PM

The 8.8mm and 14mm Meade 4000's are super sharp right out to the edges in a fast scope w/o a Paracorr !!!

I agree with what Dave said.

#7 BillP

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 05:32 PM

I wish these eyepieces would be brought back with modern coatings. I like them better than the 5000 series and ES82's.


I had the ES82s, the TV T6s, and the Meade 5000 UWAs, these IMO have a better level of gestalt than other 82s, the 14mm and 8.8 in particular. Viewing through the 6.7 and 4.7 similarly surprised me as I was expecting behavior like the old 7mm and 4.8mm T1s, but they were better! Eye relief feels better on the old UWAs vs old T1s. I had the 4.8 T1 when it was first released and just let go of it several years ago finally...ER was just too difficult. So was surprised that catching the entire AFOV in the 4.7 UWA was no where near as difficult. btw, although I have not measured yet, the AFOV of the 6.7mm and 4.7mm 4000 UWA is slightly smaller than it is on the 14mm and 8.8mm I have noticed.

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#8 esd726

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 06:29 PM

I really miss mine. I wish I never would've sold it. That is a very nice eyepiece.

#9 JimK

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 07:58 PM

And the view from down under...

This view shows the only disadvantage I've found with this eyepiece, for my needs -- there are NO filter threads on the 2-inch portion.

To make this eyepiece parfocal in my collection of eyepieces, I found I need to pull it out some, leaving little for the focuser to grab. The lack of threads means a 2-inch extension tube section cannot be easily added. So I ended up having a machinist fabricate a short 2-inch sleeve that slides onto the 1.25-inch portion and is fastened with 2 setscrews. This works really well for my purposes and I've seen a number of DSOs using this excellent eyepiece.

It's good to hear that others also like this eyepiece.

#10 jrbarnett

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:14 PM

I find that I reach for the 14mm Series 4000 UWA as often as the 13mm Ethos. I had a 13mm Type 6 too, and it is long gone. Nuf said.

Regards,

Jim

#11 BillP

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:36 PM

Yes, I never could warm up to the 13T6 either. Tried to for a long time but never succeeded. Like you I find the 13 Ethos quite engaging also, like the 14 UWA. Both great eyepieces...although both rather large :lol:

#12 Tank

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 07:14 AM

I thought the 14 UWA 4000 smoothie was a great EP better than the rubber EG version for a few reasons
- better transmission could be sample variation
- imerssive
- eye relief for glass

I compared 14 UWA Smoothie best sample i had to a 14 ES 100 and a 14 Delos
For transmission the Delos was above the 14 UWA and the 14 ES 100
but between the 14 UWA and the 14 ES virtually identical!
The edge correction of the 14 UWA smoothie i had was amazing perfect basically a F4.5

The one i miss most is the 6.7mm smoothie UWA 4000 wondeful EP just disappear while viewing thru it and its so easy to look thru but decided to keep the XW 7mm over it just better transmission

These 4000s Meade are wonderful EPs and continue to compete with the best WF EPs there are today!

#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 08:50 AM

I find that I reach for the 14mm Series 4000 UWA as often as the 13mm Ethos. I had a 13mm Type 6 too, and it is long gone. Nuf said.

Regards,

Jim


At sometime or another, I have owned all the Meade series 4000 UWAs except the 8.8mm. I parted with the 4.7mm and the 6.7mm because I liked the Naglers in those focal lengths better and I had the poor sense to pass them on to collectors who were looking for pristine examples. :(

Last year a local was selling the 14mm on Astromart for $80 and I couldn't pass it up. The guy also had the 8.8mm but I missed that... The 14mm is pristine and it really is a wonderful eyepiece in a fast telescope, with the Paracorr is only shows very slight astigmatism, in the NP-101 is a wonderful eyepiece, I can only describe it as the "visual feel of the eyepiece" is preferable to the 16mm Type 2 Nagler and quite similar to the 12mm Type 2.

The real problem with my 14mm UWA is that it is pristine so I am reluctant to use it...

Jon

#14 Eddgie

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 09:26 AM

I have an 8.8.

I find it to be very sharp.

On the other hand, this is the one wide field eyepeice that I have ever owned that really does seem to me to have some transmission throughput issues.

I presonally find the small difference in transmission between most eyepeices to be pretty subtle, but when I am using this particular eyepeice, I can tell that it is not as bright as similar focal lenght wide fields or Plossls.

I keep it though because for wide field observing in the 6" APO, it does give a beautiful off axis performance.

But noticably dimmer than others in its class I think.

YMMV kind of thing I suppose.

Seems like this model was tested somewhere and transmission across the board was below 90%.

While I struggle to see the difference between an eyepeice with 97% and one with 93% transmission, here, even I could tell that the eyepeice was loosing some light.

If someone has seen this test report perhaps they can link it.

Dim though. Surprised you did not mention this.

#15 Eddgie

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 09:30 AM

Here is a link to a transmission report for another similar Meade eyepeice. It clearly shows that the Meade was at the bottom of the barrel as compared to all other wide field eyepieces tested beign well off the mark across the entire spectrum.

Again, I usually don't see differences of 3% or even 5% transmission, but I find it hard to miss in the Meade 8.8.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I still like the eyepeice for its comfort and immersion, but when people talk about light transmission differences between 4 element designs and wider field types, I personally don't normally see all that much to worry about.

Here though, even I can see the difference...

Meade UWA with poor transmission... 6.7mm I think...

#16 junomike

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 09:38 AM

I found the same thing as Eddgie! The Meade 14mm Smoothie was noticeably dimmer compared to modern day offerings in the same class. I found the ES 14mm 100° as well as the 28mm UWAN + 2X TeleXtender to be better for transmission over the Meade 14mm.

I also seen the same thing with the T1 Naglers.

Mike

#17 ibase

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 09:50 AM

Quite flabbergasted to read reports that THE Legend, Meade 14 UWA 4000 which I'd always planned on getting and missed some opportunities to snag one at the used mart, was being bested by the beast, the ES-14mm 100-deg. So, got the latter instead.

Posted Image
ES 14mm 100-deg. & soda can

Best,

#18 Star_Shooter

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 10:30 AM

8.8mm 4000 UWA is a wonderful eyepiece. Other than being heavier than T6, it matches or exceeds T6 in all other categories, especially in comfort level and edge sharpness. I know I would sell T6 before 8.8 4000 UWA for sure.

#19 eklf

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 10:35 AM

I have owned two versions of the 8.8 4k - smoothie and with rubber eyeguard, and I did find them very comfortable - except that the eyerelief was just a tad shorter than my comfort zone.

I have owned two examples of the 14 4k (no smoothie) and unfortunately BOTH displayed a very soft fieldstop (not exactly fuzzy, but distractingly soft). I have read reports that some also noticed this, but others have found it suitable sharp. I do not know if this correlates to smoothie vs rubber eyeguard versions. By contrast, the 8.8 field stop was very very sharp in both its incarnations.

#20 Star_Shooter

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 10:48 AM

My 14mm 4000 UWA has a sharp fieldstop. It is rubble cup version. Compare to 8.8mm, 14mm has a slightly smaller AFOV, if 8.8mm has 82 degree AFOV, I would say 14mm has 78-80 degree.

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#21 Starman1

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 10:52 AM

I thought the 14 UWA 4000 smoothie was a great EP better than the rubber EG version for a few reasons
- better transmission could be sample variation
- immerssive
- eye relief for glass

I compared 14 UWA Smoothie best sample i had to a 14 ES 100 and a 14 Delos
For transmission the Delos was above the 14 UWA and the 14 ES 100
but between the 14 UWA and the 14 ES virtually identical!
The edge correction of the 14 UWA smoothie i had was amazing perfect basically a F4.5

The one I miss most is the 6.7mm smoothie UWA 4000 wondeful EP just disappear while viewing thru it and its so easy to look thru but decided to keep the XW 7mm over it just better transmission

These 4000s Meade are wonderful EPs and continue to compete with the best WF EPs there are today!

Interesting. You might be the only other person who was more impressed with the smooth-side versions than the later ones with eyecups and rubber grippers. The smooth-side ones I had were easier to use and sharper (to my eyes) than the later rubber eyecup versions. Just like a fool, I sold both sets. But I should have kept the smooth-side ones.
Their one downside was light transmission. I took each apart to see how they were built and was shocked to see uncoated surfaces internally. They still performed quite nicely in the field, though.

#22 BillP

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 11:36 AM

Dim though. Surprised you did not mention this.


Both the 8.8mm and 14mm I have and the ones I tested were not obviously dim at all and kept pace nicely with others. Perhaps the one you had was dirty inside from dust accumulation? The current set I have are NIB...literally! They were still in their original sealed plastic bags in the boxes...never opened or used from when they were made, so their lenses were clean as a whistle :whistle:

I'll make a note to pit my 14 UWA against my 14 XW one day for a who-can-see-a-faintest-star/nebula-better test. :grin:

#23 amicus sidera

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 12:06 PM

Excellent thread and review, Bill!

I concur with Tony and Don in that the smoothside versions of these superb eyepieces were slightly better than later production with eye guards; not a great difference, but noticeable nonetheless, particularly in regard to edge definition and overall "feel". As for the issue of light throughput, none of the ones I own or have looked through seemed to have had any noticeable diminution in this regard, when compared to eyepieces of similar focal length used in the same telescope.

Along with the 6.7mm, I would place the 8.8mm as being among truly exceptional eyepieces, and rate it just above the acclaimed 14mm, due solely to the ever-so-slightly more critical eye placement that the latter seems to demand. I never completed my set of these oculars by including the 4.7mm, as being an eyeglass wearer I found it sorely lacking in eye relief.

#24 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 12:51 PM

I've owned around seven 14mm UWA's and around four 8.8 UWA's. I've owned the smoothie versions of both the 14mm and 8.8mm and the rubber eye-guard versions. I kept on going back to them because edge correction in a fast scope is excellent in these eyepieces....but that's where it all stops!

Transmission is definitely a factor here as I did look at NGC-6946 in Cepheus, which is quite the challenging face on galaxy back in around 2005 or so. Well, back in 2005, I was looking at NGC-6946 with a 12 inch telescope and a 14mm Meade 4000 UWA and it was barely detectable. The eyepiece was in mint condition...no flaws, etc. The scope had a really clean mirror, collimation was spot on etc etc....it had cooled for hours.

Jump ahead to 2012.....

I used my 10" scope which has blue haze all over the mirror, it hasn't been cleaned in 3 years, and I looked at NGC-6946 again in skies that were not as good as they were back in 2005 when I looked at NGC-6946. I first tried a 14mm ES 100 on it and it was noticeably brighter. I could use direct vision to see it as well. I then put in a 14mm TV Delos and it was even more brighter!

So, this shows that the brightness is noticeable.

#25 Eddgie

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 05:18 PM

Yes, that must be it. Something must be wrong with my sample.

Perhaps the one tested too.

Enjoy your 8.8. Sounds like another great acquisition.








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