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VITE 2X Barlow Lens Review


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VITE 2X Barlow Lens Review

By Josh Frizzell

Introduction

This review describes the VITE 2x Barlow lens including my initial impressions of build and optical quality.  I observe from a suburb in the southeast U.S.  I have one telescope, an 8-inch Dobsonian, and have had it for approximately five years.  The photos included in this review represent my first crack at astro-imaging.  I wanted to try prime focus photography with my DSLR but my focuser does not have enough in-travel to do so.  I used the Barlow to achieve focus with my telescope/focuser/camera combination.

Selecting the VITE 2x Barlow

When searching for a Barlow I kept coming across an apparently identical (at least on the outside) model all over the internet branded with VITE, SVBony, and even Celestron and un-branded versions.  The Celestron-branded samples were selling for $30 to $35 with the other versions readily-available for less than $15 (note that I have not seen any other than the VITE in person and therefore can’t verify that the interals are the same across the board). I looked into the VITE variant and reviews seemed generally positive for the 2X but less positive for the 3X (which had an entirely different look to it).  One Amazon seller (not the seller I purchased from) described the VITE 2x Barlow as a 3-eIement APO design (more on that later, and I don’t believe that was true of my copy) and others simply described it as “color-corrected.”  I pulled the trigger on a VITE 2x from an Ebay seller for $13.95 with free shipping.

About VITE

Before I bought the VITE 2x Barlow lens I tried to do a little research into VITE as a company.  I was unable to locate a VITE website.  I came across some positive reviews on VITE eyepieces that sold for as little as nine dollars. As noted above, the VITE 2x Barlow seemed to be getting generally favorable reviews but the 3x version didn’t appear to be as well-received.  

When my VITE 2x Barlow arrived, the box was labeled with www.vite.club.  I checked out the website and it was mostly in Chinese so I can’t comment on the content for the most part.  They had, however, a products page in English which was mostly transistor and weather radios with no astronomy products shown.

VITE 2x Barlow – Build Quality

The Barlow is made with a metal barrel and metal threads.  The top has a built-in metal T-thread, which threaded easily and smoothly into a Zhumell-branded T-ring for Canon EOS and made a solid connection.  A notable negative is that there is no eyepiece compression ring, just a set screw, so marred eyepiece barrels could be a concern.  However, the Barlow’s optical element unthreads from the Barlow barrel so it could be threaded into the bottom of an eyepiece rather than inserting the eyepiece into the top of the Barlow and using the set screw.  The Barlow lens threaded smoothly onto the eyepieces that I have, but I’d prefer a compression ring rather than fumble with threads in the dark.  Plastic top and bottom caps were included.

The optical element is held in place inside the outer barrel by a threaded ring and is therefore relatively easy to remove and inspect.  The optical element(s) comes out as one piece.  It appeared that there may be one thick element fused to a much thinner element.  There didn’t seem to be three elements, however.  There appears to be green coating on the lens but it doesn’t show up well on my photo of the optic.

Performance

I gave the VITE 2x Barlow a test run with a lunar observing session.  When used visually the image was pleasingly sharp within the limits of my seeing conditions and to my eye there was no detectable false color even along the Moon’s limb.

Photographically, the Barlow worked well for its intended purpose, which was to allow me to achieve telescope focus with my DSLR.  I didn’t notice false color even in brightly-exposed images of the Moon’s limb that had hard contrast between light and dark parts of the photos.  I include some Moon images that I took using the Barlow, but the reader should keep the following conditions and limitations in mind:

·       Setup:  Zhumell Z8 8-inch Dobsonian telescope, VITE 2x Barlow, Zhumell T-ring for Canon EOS, Canon 7D camera (no lenses in the setup other than in the Barlow), shutter activated with a wireless remote trigger.

·       Optical tube was collimated and allowed to equilibrate with outdoor temperature all night before I began observing at approximately 5:30 AM.

·       Temperature approximately 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

·       Sky/seeing:  No clouds with a faint but visible halo around the Moon;  image in the camera’s live-view screen at 5X digital magnification revealed that detail on the moon noticeably waivered in and out of sharpness.

·       Images are single frame JPEG images and are un-processed right out of the camera.  An experienced astro-imager using stacking or post-processing could probably squeeze more sharpness out of the Barlow than what I present here.

·       ISO ranged from 100 to 320 and shutter speed ranged from 1/5 to 1/80 second.

Conclusion

The VITE 2x Barlow appears generally well-made and put forth a good performance.  The most notable downer is its lack of a compression ring to hold eyepieces in place.  However the built-in T thread made it ideal for my intended purpose and I got some images that I’m happy with for minimal time and money invested.  Although I don’t have another Barlow to compare this one to, this Barlow was of high enough quality that I had fun with it and I expect that I will use it regularly.  I conclude that it’s a good value for the money at least for the casual observer.


  • LarryAlvarez, h2ologg, Gene@CN and 4 others like this


20 Comments

Thank you for the review.

Thanks for the review. I bought one of these a while back and have a positive opinion but haven't really compared it to anything else. 

Interesting; I'm especially glad that you dismembered it so we can see what's inside! I needed a 1.1x Barlow (not available), so bought a bunch of used stock Barlows to examine. Most all are simple, cemented negative achromatic doublets. Yours is of that type. And, like yours, most have that screw-off lens cell. I then worked out the 1st order optical formulae (I'm a retired optics guy) to relate spacing to amplification. I was able to reconfigure a regular Barlow into a "shorty" tube to render it "weaker." But that still did not get me the extremely mild 1.1x that I needed. Finally found the glass I needed in an obscure "new old stock" optics house on the West Coast. An aerospace buddy tipped me off to that source. They even coated it for me!  And a friend down the road built the mount in his machine shop. I paid him with a batch of cookies that my wife made. Thanx for the nice article.  Tom Dey

    • Gene@CN, AndresEsteban, gfstallin and 3 others like this
Photo
Karl Fabian
Nov 17 2016 12:31 AM

I bought a Vite so called "5x Apo" barlow more out of curiosity and  took a chance due to the extremely low price of $15 shipped free direct from China. (Ebay purchase and lots of vendors selling this item on Amazon also at the time). Wasn't expecting much and sure enough my expectations were met and then some.  For one thing it is not 5x but 3x. Used with any eyepiece only the very center of the heavily vignetted field is sharp and becomes increasingly blurred and astigmatic away from the center in addition to severe lateral color. The unit is one solid HEAVY metal assembly and the lens assembly appears to be permanently mounted screwed or possibly pressed in to the bottom of the thick heavy barrel. The 15mm lens assembly WILL NOT unscrew even using channel lock pliers! This so called "5x apo barlow is more than likely not even a barlow but probably a re-purposed negative lens assembly meant for another application, and re-machined into a device that looks like a barlow lens with a sloppy fitting  barrel for your eyepiece. The glass looks good with a nice green apparently multicoated surface. The unit may have a qualty lens but whatever it is it is absolutely worthless as a barlow. The 2x looks to be OK  but stay away from the so called "3 element 5X apo" barlow. They are also selling it under other names. WORTHLESS JUNK      https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/B00NG61JIW

    • Augustus likes this

In many cases once a short barlow exceeds 2x, (3x to 5x) the optical path becomes exceedingly steep and thus distortion is the result.   For any barlow with a factor greater that 2x, I would recommend going with a longer configuration.   

    • Steve Cox likes this
Photo
CzechAstronomer
Dec 09 2016 12:15 PM

Interesting; I'm especially glad that you dismembered it so we can see what's inside! I needed a 1.1x Barlow (not available), so bought a bunch of used stock Barlows to examine. Most all are simple, cemented negative achromatic doublets. Yours is of that type. And, like yours, most have that screw-off lens cell. I then worked out the 1st order optical formulae (I'm a retired optics guy) to relate spacing to amplification. I was able to reconfigure a regular Barlow into a "shorty" tube to render it "weaker." But that still did not get me the extremely mild 1.1x that I needed. Finally found the glass I needed in an obscure "new old stock" optics house on the West Coast. An aerospace buddy tipped me off to that source. They even coated it for me!  And a friend down the road built the mount in his machine shop. I paid him with a batch of cookies that my wife made. Thanx for the nice article.  Tom Dey

you seem very experienced! 

 

For what purpose do you need exaclly 1.1x magnification? I cant tell the difference between 125x and 140x. :D well, i can, but it is really minor. 

    • Augustus likes this

 

Interesting; I'm especially glad that you dismembered it so we can see what's inside! I needed a 1.1x Barlow (not available), so bought a bunch of used stock Barlows to examine. Most all are simple, cemented negative achromatic doublets. Yours is of that type. And, like yours, most have that screw-off lens cell. I then worked out the 1st order optical formulae (I'm a retired optics guy) to relate spacing to amplification. I was able to reconfigure a regular Barlow into a "shorty" tube to render it "weaker." But that still did not get me the extremely mild 1.1x that I needed. Finally found the glass I needed in an obscure "new old stock" optics house on the West Coast. An aerospace buddy tipped me off to that source. They even coated it for me!  And a friend down the road built the mount in his machine shop. I paid him with a batch of cookies that my wife made. Thanx for the nice article.  Tom Dey

you seem very experienced! 

 

For what purpose do you need exaclly 1.1x magnification? I cant tell the difference between 125x and 140x. :D well, i can, but it is really minor. 

 

I would think adding another piece of glass to get so little gain, only adds more problems, no ?

    • Augustus likes this

I bought this barlow, and I think it is way more sturdier than the Celestron Omni 2x barlow. It looks high quality, but it gives objects a red tint compared to the Omni. I don't know if it is the affect of adding APO coatings.

Photo
Karl Fabian
Jan 27 2017 12:17 PM

I bought a Vite so called "5x Apo" barlow more out of curiosity and  took a chance due to the extremely low price of $15 shipped free direct from China. (Ebay purchase and lots of vendors selling this item on Amazon also at the time). Wasn't expecting much and sure enough my expectations were met and then some.  For one thing it is not 5x but 3x. Used with any eyepiece only the very center of the heavily vignetted field is sharp and becomes increasingly blurred and astigmatic away from the center in addition to severe lateral color. The unit is one solid HEAVY metal assembly and the lens assembly appears to be permanently mounted screwed or possibly pressed in to the bottom of the thick heavy barrel. The 15mm lens assembly WILL NOT unscrew even using channel lock pliers! This so called "5x apo barlow is more than likely not even a barlow but probably a re-purposed negative lens assembly meant for another application, and re-machined into a device that looks like a barlow lens with a sloppy fitting  barrel for your eyepiece. The glass looks good with a nice green apparently multicoated surface. The unit may have a qualty lens but whatever it is it is absolutely worthless as a barlow. The 2x looks to be OK  but stay away from the so called "3 element 5X apo" barlow. They are also selling it under other names. WORTHLESS JUNK      https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/B00NG61JIW

Update: Got it apart and examined (Had to pry off pressed on end cap)..This barlow has been falsely advertized as "5X Apo". The Chinese translation of 5X Apo translates to common English as: "2 simple cheap single element negative lenses stacked and spaced to give 3X with severe aberration and color error ".  Beware of anything marketed as Vite is my word of caution. All they are is a marketing entity. 

    • Augustus likes this

Is there a  thread on this site  that discusses  Barlow vs Projection  for AP?  My experience  so far has favored the projection eyepieces, but I am interested  in hearing what other more experienced people have to say.

Is there a  thread on this site  that discusses  Barlow vs Projection  for AP?  My experience  so far has favored the projection eyepieces, but I am interested  in hearing what other more experienced people have to say.

 

First of all, this is not the thread to ask that question. It would be better for you to make a separate post in another place (Beginning and Intermediate AP forum) ; this place is only for discussion on the Vite 2x barlow lens.

 

There is no "Barlow vs Projection" stuff on AP. I think you mean prime focus vs afocal. Almost all serious APers like myself use prime focus astrophotography. Sometimes a 2x Barlow, focal reducer, or field flattener is needed. It all depends on your scope on whether you can reach focus with your camera or not, or has optical issues.

Photo
nicknacknock
Mar 06 2017 06:04 AM

Is there a  thread on this site  that discusses  Barlow vs Projection  for AP?  My experience  so far has favored the projection eyepieces, but I am interested  in hearing what other more experienced people have to say.

 

Hi Gipht,

 

The best way is to actually start a topic on this issue in Beginners Astrophotography. I am sure you'll get a ton of help and even more opinions there grin.gif

I got a a Vite 2x barlow today from AliExpress (the smaller version that screws on an eyepiece).

 

Tested it on the C90 during daylight and seem to work fine, 2x indeed.

 

Next good night I get I'm going to test it on a 450mmFL F4 newtonian to see how it performs.

Update: I tested the VITE 2x Barlow on a short, 114mm x 450mm F4 newtonian, at Jupiter with an 8-24mm zoom and a 10mm eyepiece, and tried to compare the view with the same eyepieces on the 1250mmFL C90 (non barlowed).

 

The barlow worked well, however, at the highest magnification there was a bit of chromatic aberration in the edges of Jupiter, maybe a mix of "too much glass" between the barlow and the zoom.

 

Overall I'm pleased with this little barlow for both kids scopes.

Its no longer on sale, only ones left are "SVBONY", which an earlier commenter noted is worthless junk. Stick with what you know is going to be good quality.

 

Interesting; I'm especially glad that you dismembered it so we can see what's inside! I needed a 1.1x Barlow (not available), so bought a bunch of used stock Barlows to examine. Most all are simple, cemented negative achromatic doublets. Yours is of that type. And, like yours, most have that screw-off lens cell. I then worked out the 1st order optical formulae (I'm a retired optics guy) to relate spacing to amplification. I was able to reconfigure a regular Barlow into a "shorty" tube to render it "weaker." But that still did not get me the extremely mild 1.1x that I needed. Finally found the glass I needed in an obscure "new old stock" optics house on the West Coast. An aerospace buddy tipped me off to that source. They even coated it for me!  And a friend down the road built the mount in his machine shop. I paid him with a batch of cookies that my wife made. Thanx for the nice article.  Tom Dey

you seem very experienced! 

 

For what purpose do you need exaclly 1.1x magnification? I cant tell the difference between 125x and 140x. laugh.gif well, i can, but it is really mino

Sorry for the delay: A barlow does two, potentially-useful 1st-order things: 1) increases magnification, 2) displace the image back away from where it is... generally considered to be a bad thing. In my case, my nice Night Vision Eyepieces couldn't reach focus... too far out. So, I could either modify the mechanicals to move the eyepiece in and/or focus out ~or~ modify the optics to move the image out. I chose the 2nd option, and it worked MAGNIFICENTLY! The instrument is my JMI 16-inch binoculars. The mild barlows pop in and out Very Easily, from inside the OTAs, between the folding flats. This renders my Night Vision parfocal with the 24mm Panoptics and close to the same mag = "magnificent." Regarding the other question about higher-order effects on imagery: At a mild 1.1x, and pretty far from the image, the rays aren't "bent" much at all. So (believe it or not!), a simple, bent singlet performs just fine. It is a bent, thin meniscus... so the two surfaces share the ray-bending, which minimizes the spherical aberration and chromatic contributions. All I can say is - the performance is great!  Tom Dey

    • Gene@CN and CzechAstronomer like this

I just entered a comment regarding Very Mild Barlow and why this could be useful. That prompts a general comment regarding the mystique of barlows, in general. We, almost always, use barlows to boost magnification. Most comprise cemented achromatic doublets; some get fancier than that. "Shorty" barlows bend the rays more, so tend to degrade the image more. Barlow amplification depends on the spacing to the eyepiece field stop... closer is less, farther is more. THIS is why e.g. a "2X" barlow is rarely exactly 2X... it depends on which eyepiece you are using it with. Regular barlows also push the exit pupil back, away from the eyepiece. This can be bad, especially with Wide Field eyepieces, can vignette the field. But THAT effect is often mollified/mitigated, because the increased F# stresses the eyepiece less! The TeleVue PowerMate addresses/corrects this effect. The best barlows are designed for one eyepiece only. Nagler eyepieces can be thought of in that sense. The negative group at the bottom may be thought of as a custom barlow that is optimized as a dedicated part of the entire eyepiece. The One Remaining unknown, out of control of the designer... is What Telescope will this barlow, eyepiece be used with? And THAT is why Eyepiece Reviews often (and correctly) report differently. e.g. A Big, fast DOB will love/need Naglers; a good SCT will work with most any eyepiece, but loves the long Panoptics. The very best design/build are where all the optics are optimized and dedicated together. That's why I like the Zeiss binoculars. ~end bloviation~  Tom Dey

    • Gene@CN likes this

I probably should chime in here about the Vite/Svbony barlow, even though I started another thread on a similar subject.

The barlow has much improved the views through my inexpensive eyepieces, and I have found that a cheap 25mm plossl and the cheap Vite barlow gives a better image than my cheap GSO 12mm eyepiece on the planets.

 

I can endorse this barlow for those of us on a budget even though I don't have a better one to compare it with. It certainly will work for some of us until we can upgrade.

Can you use a barlow lens on a Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope?

Can you use a barlow lens on a Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope?

 

Yes, but not with every eyepiece / target.

 

In my C90 (1250mm FL) I have barlowed a 10mm eyepiece to get 250x on the moon. Works fine and eye relief is good.  It's too much magnification for Saturn, however, but a 20mm would barlow fine with Saturn on the C90.

 

Doubling the focal length of a Maksutov could take magnification beyond the usable limit of the scope's aperture, so you can't Barlow the very smallest eyepieces on a Mak.

 

You can also get a little color aberration from the Barlow, to which one is not used to, on a Mak.

 

Some eyepieces that work well on a Mak (like the Orion Expanse 9mm/6mm) have an internal Barlow.



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