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Meade XWA (100*) 9mm--the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

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#1 Starman81

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 04:44 PM

The eyepiece review, which quite frankly, no one asked for! :lol:

Anyways, I got an opportunity to try this out in my 80mm f/6.25 refractor for only daytime and evening observing from indoors, unfortunately. So, no real night time viewing but I was still able to glean some very pertinent information (for me atleast) as to whether this eyepiece was going to work for me or not...

The Good
- Very comfortable/great ergonomics - Meade has succeeded in bringing slightly concave eyelens just about as flush as possible with eyelens housing, much more so than the ES100 9mm. Not only that, the exit pupil behaves very well--blackouts will not occur unless you get overly aggressive. I have used a few Ethoi, the ES 100 9 & 5.5 and this has to be at least tied for most comfortable.

- Robust build - With that large rubber grip around the eyepiece this eyepice is pretty much protected against a fall (on its side at least). Also the eyecup is is similar to the Ethos and ES eyecup but is made of thicker rubber than either.

- Overall very nice fit and finish. The barrel has shiny silver colored paint, giving it a different look.

The Bad
- Vignetted field of view - there is a dark orange ring around the field of view, in the last 2-3 degrees that vignettes the overall field. I have never seen anything like that before in an eyepiece. It is not vignetting in the traditional sense, where you have light dropff and black edges around the field of view, but instead a discernable ring around the entire FOV, that you can actually see through. The ring is WAY out there, so for night time viewing it would likely not be a big problem, but my question is: why??

- Filter threads will not accept my 2" accessories! I tried with filters, a barrel extender, barlow element--no luck with any! Frustrating.

- The size! This guy is overly large with a large diameter taking up more space than an ES100 9mm would. It's the huge rubber grip of course.

- DioptRx usage - This one was important to me, but I realize it wouldn't be important to most. I bought this to potentially use with DioptRx but even though it has great ergonomics and eye relief for use without eyeglasses, it is just too tight for comfortable DioptRx use. The only 100* eyepieces I have been able to use with satisfaction have been Ethoi.

The Ugly
Well, the vast majority of CN'er think that Meade really beat these eyepieces with an ugly stick and perhaps the fact that there isn't a single user report on any of the 3 focal lengths on CN is a testament to that. People must not be buying these! But the counterculture rebel in me was drawn to it, looking past the gaudy exterior and instead looking at it for its potential. So in my eyes, it ain't ugly!

The Verdict
I actually have the svelte 8 Ethos which does the job around the 8-9mm focal length, but I was really curious and drawn to the Meade for some reason. The fact that there were no user reports out there yet stoked my interest even more. For me, the main factor in judging this eyepiece is DioptRx usage. It fell short in that category for me, so I personally don't need to judge it on it's other negatives. For the majority of users that can don't wear eyeglasses/use DioptRx, this could be an option if they can get past the size, 'dark orange ring' issue and potential issue with the filter threads. I probably could have worn the threads in really good and got them to work, but I didn't want to ruin an eyepiece which is going to be returned or my own equipment either, unncessarily. One big positive is that it is a very comfortable, easy to use eyepiece. The non-recessed eyelens and decent eye relief make it very ergonomical to use. In the end, Meade has to address the 'dark orange ring' issue for anyone to really even give this one a chance, unfortunately.

Here are some pics... I put it next to an ES100 5.5mm for comparison's sake since I no longer have an ES100 9mm, but they are almost identical in their dimensions.

Posted Image

#2 Starman81

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 04:45 PM

Bottom:
Posted Image

Eyelens:
Posted Image

#3 Starman81

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 04:46 PM

Compared with ES100 5.5 size:
Posted Image

#4 Starman81

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 04:47 PM

Eyelenses compared:

Posted Image

Posted Image

#5 Tank

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 07:44 PM

Starman81
great info the look of these kept me away along with no reviews of them.
Dosn't sound to great of an EP
As for the ES 100 they are very nice i tried the 9,14,20
Have you been drawn to the WO WWA?
Would love to hear more info on them
I applaud you for trying this one out :bow:

#6 Starman1

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 12:23 AM

Syed,
The first Naglers had an issue with their exit pupils--the outer portion of the exit pupil required the eye to be positioned closer to the eyepiece than the center. What that meant is that when you got close enough the the eyepiece to see the outer portions of the field, you were a trace too close in the center. This resulted in blackouts only in the center 2/3 of the field, and because your eye inevitably wandered a bit, these "kidney-bean" shaped black-out areas tended to wander around the field (though not at the edge).

This got the name of "Spherical Aberration of the Exit Pupil", or SAEP.
Most other eyepieces don't have, and haven't had, this, but those that have have not received kind remarks in reviews.

Fortunately, the early Naglers were terrific in so many other regards, people tended to overlook this issue.

Now, the issue to which you refer (and it is in a lot of other ultrawide eyepieces) is not merely a chromatic aspect of SAEP, though it could be, but probably related to the nature of the anti-reflection lens coatings used on the lenses. Like any group of transparent coatings, the spectrum of transmission depends on the angles that light makes as it passes through the lens. The very outer edges of most eyepieces seem blue or green or yellow because of this factor. It's usually found only at the very edge, though, maybe the last 0.1-0.2 degrees of apparent field. When it's farther in it can mean the curves on the lenses are really severe. In a way, it's a form of lateral chromatic aberration, though it's very different than what is normally called that.

It doesn't show at night unless looking at the Moon or letting a planet pass into the very edge zone. But it does make the eyepiece less than ideal for daytime use.

#7 2244champ

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 02:27 PM

Thanks for the post Starman. I was curious about this Meade line.

#8 Starman81

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 03:18 PM

Starman81
great info the look of these kept me away along with no reviews of them.
Dosn't sound to great of an EP
As for the ES 100 they are very nice i tried the 9,14,20
Have you been drawn to the WO WWA?
Would love to hear more info on them
I applaud you for trying this one out :bow:


Sure Tank, no problem. My 'stig is seen down to 1.5mm exit pupil and even further, though it gets negligible around 1.2mm :bawling:. So, the WO XWA is a non-starter for me due to the inability to use the DioptRx on it.

#9 mak17

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 03:27 PM

Looks like it wouldnt be so ugly with that rubber grip removed. Thanks for the review.

#10 Starman81

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 03:51 PM

Syed,
The first Naglers had an issue with their exit pupils--the outer portion of the exit pupil required the eye to be positioned closer to the eyepiece than the center. What that meant is that when you got close enough the the eyepiece to see the outer portions of the field, you were a trace too close in the center. This resulted in blackouts only in the center 2/3 of the field, and because your eye inevitably wandered a bit, these "kidney-bean" shaped black-out areas tended to wander around the field (though not at the edge).

This got the name of "Spherical Aberration of the Exit Pupil", or SAEP.
Most other eyepieces don't have, and haven't had, this, but those that have have not received kind remarks in reviews.

Fortunately, the early Naglers were terrific in so many other regards, people tended to overlook this issue.

Now, the issue to which you refer (and it is in a lot of other ultrawide eyepieces) is not merely a chromatic aspect of SAEP, though it could be, but probably related to the nature of the anti-reflection lens coatings used on the lenses. Like any group of transparent coatings, the spectrum of transmission depends on the angles that light makes as it passes through the lens. The very outer edges of most eyepieces seem blue or green or yellow because of this factor. It's usually found only at the very edge, though, maybe the last 0.1-0.2 degrees of apparent field. When it's farther in it can mean the curves on the lenses are really severe. In a way, it's a form of lateral chromatic aberration, though it's very different than what is normally called that.

It doesn't show at night unless looking at the Moon or letting a planet pass into the very edge zone. But it does make the eyepiece less than ideal for daytime use.


Don,
Point taken on accepting drawbacks in optical performance of EPs. To clarify a little, I did see the bright blue ring arouond the FOV that is common with 100* EPs but this dark orange ring was around that. I'm estimating that it was about ~2*, give or take. I did do some night time observing but of terrestial targets and only while moving bright lights it to the edge was it apparent. So for typical night time usage, it may not be a huge factor. However, if this was an exclusive design by Meade, I would think, 'ok, they designed this eyepiece from scratch and they allowed for this minor aberration'. But the thing is, this one comes from the same factory as the ES100, correct? The ES100 9mm did not exhibit this, so I feel like Meade kinda bungled up a good thing. All in all, this would be acceptable except to those who really strain for the extreme edge of a 100* EP, but when you have the ES100 at a similar price point, it makes it seem unnecessary to live with it.

#11 Starman1

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 06:19 PM

To my knowledge, the only thing identical between the JOC (ES) eyepiece and the Meade XWA is the focal length. I'm pretty sure they come from different factories. Meades new refractors came from Kunming United optical, and it's likely their eyepieces do too. Jing Hua (JOC) used to meake Meade eyepieces, but the relationship was severed in 2011.

#12 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 01:17 AM

Nice review Syed! Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Love the pics! Looks like Meade did well with the top eye lens being flush and not recessed, but failed in other departments.

I am trying to decide which eyepiece takes the award for being ugly, The 9mm Meade or the 17mm Ultima LX? The only really ugly thing on the Meade is that middle bulbous rubber part....Meade, what were you thinking? :lol:

Maye you can do what I did and rip off that ugly rubber grip !!! :thinking:

Cheers,

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#13 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 01:20 AM

Svelte!

Syed, you *know* you want to do it !!!! Remove the ugly rubber tire LOL! :smash: :smashpc: :thewave:

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#14 youngamateur42

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 05:51 AM

That 17mm came out so good Mark! Really nice looking :ubetcha:

#15 ibase

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 08:35 AM

Syed,

Nice review on the Meade "Pineapple" :) (and pics too), never thought I'd see one, thanks! :bow:

Mark: Good job on the C17. :bow:

Best,

#16 russell23

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 03:31 PM

At first when these Meade XWA came out I thought they were ugly, but after seeing enough photos I would say they are tolerable to look at.

Dave

#17 JustaBoy

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 04:17 PM

I'm really liking that post of the 17mm above next to the Ugly Meade - Never saw a pic of the stock 17mm Ultima LX that I could look at for more than 1 second. - But this one I like!

Mark - Ya know I love ya man, but I gotta say that at least in that pic, Stock is Hot! :o

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#18 Albie

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 07:52 PM

I like the stock photo better as well. :ubetcha:

#19 JustaBoy

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 08:06 PM

Yeah Albie, but Markus really did a fine job on his.

BUT....

Something about the stock photo above that makes me want one!

Hey! - I'm a Visual Astronomer, ya know:-)

#20 Starman81

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 10:00 PM


Maybe you can do what I did and rip off that ugly rubber grip !!! :thinking:

Cheers,


I would be tempted to modify it a bit if it wasn't headed back! Luckily the vendor has a pretty good holiday return policy (Optics Planet).

#21 Starman81

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 10:06 PM

Syed,

Nice review on the Meade "Pineapple" :) (and pics too), never thought I'd see one, thanks!


At this rate, you may never see one again ;). I kid, I kid! It is still a viable option with great ergonomics it's just that it is at the same price point as the ES100 9mm which is a proven performer and less of a risk for any potential buyer. I do hope that I actually get it out under the stars before I end up sending it back.






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