The M17.5 & D17.3 are very similar in size, girth, & height, the D’s being slightly heavier. Double that for binoviewer applications, but it’s a minor difference. Both have immense eye-lenses; if you’re looking for a true picture-window on space, these will each do nicely! Both have loads of ER, each notably more than my eyeglass needs dictate- I’d estimate them at a Pentax XW level in this regard. And the short version is that, for my use in the BVer & in the Dob, these two EPs are FAR more similar than different optically, and I’m pretty sure most folks could be thrilled with either. There ARE some differences, but personally I’ve found such differences to typically be modest at most, and after decades of squinting thru Eps, I’m quite adaptable… perhaps to a fault?
And now having pairs of both, I AM thrilled with each! Actually just a wee bit conflicted, as I now have to decide which to let go of (I’ll keep a single of that pair, for my ‘cyclops’ use in another scope).
After two nights of extended A-B use of these two pairs, the first nite more on deepsky & the second divided between stars & a first quarter Moon, I’m quite confident that depth of magnitude reach is NOT one of their differences. In carefully searching nebulae & starfields, every time I’d spot an additional faint star, hiding on the fringes of averted vision, I’d say “Aha- the brand X has slightly better grasp than brand Y!”… until I’d swap EPs in the BVer and, lo & behold, there was that same faint star, and at about the same percentage of visibility. I suspect that variations in seeing above & user-focus below may’ve been responsible for most of these who-saw-it-first comparisons, and any actual differences in depth-of-grasp (transmission?) between the two EP designs may’ve fallen beneath my ability to determine them… if they even existed.
Likewise, for edge-of-field correction, I was NOT able to discern any meaningful differences between these two EPs. The Denk BVer utilizes their proprietary coma-corrective Newtonian nosepiece, and combined with the requisite focal extenders (to even reach focus in a fast Newtonian!), the steepest cone any EP will “see” in my rig would be ~F6.6 (F4.55 native x 1.46). As such, observing M42’s “Trapezium” drift across the field-stop & into view, both EPs show a very brief (~2%?) edge of chromatic & focus aberration (fairly normal for most any widefield EP), followed immediately by a sharp rendition the four primary stars, plus the ‘E’ star. There appears to be no outer “zone” of less-good image in either EP- both get down to biz very quickly, and maintain the same focus & image across ~95% of the field. (I find M42’s ‘F’ star is readily visible in cyclops mode, unless the seeing is mediocre or worse; part of the reason mono-viewing with Ethoi has bumped some of my BVing, but this is another story, for another day).
So instead of similarities, I’ll flip to the other end of the beast- and describe what I DID see as differences.
First, the two EPs can actually be used in the BVer to view, as a mismatch set. The Morpheus requires pulling out of the sleeve a bit in order to match focus; so if you have a D17.3, the M17.5 will require a bit of out-travel in your scope to reach focus… and vice-versa. If you find your scope requires a to-the-hilt focal position with the one, be careful if considering the investment involved in switching!
Both EPs have loads of ER, which is certainly a good thing. But here I noticed some rather odd behavior. The Delos’ solution to adjusting the eyeguard for the desired ER is truly beautiful! Mine are set at about 25% up from their bottom (flush) setting, and with a simple twist of the upper barrel there they stay. Period. And the cap fits nicely, no matter the eyeguard’s position. Nice! OTOH, the Morpheus is similar to Vixen’s LVWs- the eyecaps only fit with the eyeguard in one position (LVW it’s up, Morpheus requires it folded down), and as it turns out, like with my use of the LVWs, I have to manipulate the eyeguard to its opposite setting to best utilize the view. A saving grace here for the Morpheus is its eyeguard is notably easier to manipulate than the LVW’s.
But the eyeguard is where things got a bit odd with the Morpheus, optically; with the much-vaunted ER of the Morpheus, getting MORE than you need might present a problem with holding the view! If I leave the eyeguards down, I have to “float” my eyes above the EPs to view, and any slight miss-positioning- especially too close to the glass- and the exit-pupil suddenly goes bye-bye. Perhaps some folks can do the “float” maneuver while viewing, but as adaptable as I may be, this is not my idea of a comfortable arrangement! Even weirder, when I flip the eyeguards up (and they’re very short guards, very thin & flexy so this is actually easy), my eyeglasses come to rest gently against the upturned rubber, and the view position suddenly becomes perfect! Natural, easy, stable, relaxed! Maybe some of this comfort comes from years & years of my needing to “press-in” to the eyeguards to see the whole view-circle of minimal ER oculars? So I find this light touching to be natural- and in the Morpheus’ case, with MY eyes it’s a perfect match!
Now it’s worth mentioning the obvious- this is not an adjustable eyeguard; it’s either up, or it’s down. Even so, I’d estimate that my ER need is probably around 16-17mm, so the M17.5 should accommodate eyeglass ER down into the low/mid teens (pressing in a bit more than me), up to 20mm… perhaps a skosh more (guard folded down). Darn… didn’t think to try it bare-eyed.
So… what about that 76° AFoV you may ask. Good question… this was a significant one for me. Can you actually “feel” the 4° difference in the view-circle between the Morpheus & the Delos? For me, my eyes, I’d have to answer with a resounding YES! In fact, the Morpheus with its long ER & 76° AFoV “feels” to my eyes very much like the Nagler T4 experience- which I liked! Whereas the Delos ‘feels” more Pentax XW-like. Viewing starfields I had to visually establish field references & mentally map out stars & patterns between swapping EP pairs to tell with certainty that the Morpheus was displaying more sky, and by roughly how much. I didn’t (at this point) drift-time, but my visual estimate is that the M17.5 was showing a ~5-6% larger swath of stars, more than its 1.2% longer FL would contribute toward. And as mentioned before, that additional field was quite tight for focus & entirely usable- no, definitely not filled with “planetary nebulae” as in poorer quality Eps in days of yore.
However, turning my gaze onto Luna, the AFoV difference between the two Eps really jumped out & hit me! Yes, i could visually map craters, as with starfield patterns- and this I did. But woah, it was also clearly obvious- the Moon just rose up to meet your gaze in the Morpheus! Whereas in the Delos the view of Luna was perceptibly less-wide, kinda like it was a bit farther beneath your window. The Morpheus was more like pressing your face into the glass of the picture window… and especially for Luna, the Morpheus really pulled off the ‘disappearing eyepiece’ affect quite well!
That stated, both EPs rendered Luna wonderfully & equally sharp, both what I’d call “neutral” of tone, both pointing up detail quite well. I enjoy surfing up/down the terminator, trying to get that first glimpse of a mountain peak first poking up into sunlight- and both EP designs rendered such pinpricks of light equally sharp. For features lying in subdued grey tones, illuminated only by scattered/reflected light from nearby sunlit terrain, both EPs depicted such in like manner- neither able to show any distinct advantage over the other. Even surfing the earthshine regions of Luna, and off into space beyond, both EPs displayed similar tones, similar control of glare & scatter… at least as far as my eyes & scope could discern. And this really a testament to Baader, as TeleVue is a known benchmark of high standard, and the Delos line is currently their top-drawer offering!
One more Lunar aspect worth mentioning: the weirdness with holding the exit-pupil in the Morpheus reversed when viewing Luna! There it was the Delos that did some weird eyeball things! Perhaps it was the added brightness playing havoc with my pupil dilation? I’ve since scooched the eyeguards up a bit higher, as it was a bean-out deal from nudging in too close to the field lens. But for whatever reasons, the Morpheus eyeguard in the “up” position just worked wonderfully for my eyes & glasses, and did so all nite, viewing anything & everything.
Possibly an addendum to this, with the Morpheus pair in the BVer viewing Luna I could back away from the EP & the view remained equally sharp & free of aberrations/oddities- just gradually truncating around the periphery as my eyes came farther off the exit pupil. However, with the Delos onboard the exit pupil exhibited weird & distracting effects while pulling away- image ghosts, floaters, & difficulty in holding the view. Some of that may be attributed to the eyeball-eyepiece combination? Oddly, tho, these seemed to all be entirely missing in the Morpheus, where the eye-placement issues seem to be limited to inside the exit-pupil. Even so, I only noticed this while viewing Luna, where the brightness & its effect on pupil dilation may be the culprit.
Also worthy of mention is this new Morpheus eyeguard. The M14 acquired a few months ago has the older (original) rubber eyeguard- a poor design as it easily becomes dislodged from the EP’s top during use- particularly while fiddling with removing the cap. Trying to fumble in the dark to re-install a thin rubber guard, with an EP that’s almost entirely glass at its top puts way too many fingers way too close for comfort to things fingers aren’t s’posed to come into contact with! But true to form, Baader has come out with a redesign on this eyeguard- new Morphei shipping to dealers, and included with ALL the 17.5’s, have this new eyeguard. It’s the same thin, flexy rubber as the previous, but now it’s attached to a thin metal ring which threads onto the EP’s top. A clean & elegant solution! Waytogo Baader! I’d hazard a guess to say that, in a few short years, all Eps worth a boo will come equipped with thread-on/off rubber eyeguards. It’s just too good of an idea, whose time has come.
Baader does indeed seem to have gotten it right with this FL of Morpheus! Home run, outta the park Baader! Definitely worth the wait! Perhaps it was all the design, redesign, & refining spent on the 17.5 that resulted in this? I couldn’t say, as I’ve only seen & used the 14mm of this series, and that only recently, and in limited mono-view use in a much smaller F12 scope where optics are far less taxing. But I’m personally sold on this 17.5mm Baader Morpheus eyepiece!
So I s’pose its only fitting that I eat my share of crow for having, once or twice, dropped the “vaporware” term out of frustration (and, well, experience) for waiting for so long, and thru several “false alarm” announcements. But I’m glad I waited! And thanks, Don P., for faithfully watching & managing that list. Your occasional notes to those of us waiting was likely part of what encouraged us to hang on thru Baader’s R&D/QC efforts.
Excellent review! Kudos to Baader for taking the time to get it right. At the sale price of $175, it sounds like a great bargain.