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TMB Monocentrics?

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#1 agmoonsolns

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 09:17 PM

Are the TMB Monocentrics worth the high cost? What's it like observing with them and how do they compare with other high end planetary eyepieces like the Zeiss, Vixen HR, Pentax, etc.?



#2 Aleko

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 10:32 PM

I find them to be on par with the ZAO-IIs, and use them, with XOs, to fill in the gaps of my Zeiss set. High contrast, low scatter. Not the most comfortable eyepieces though. Like the Zeiss, I use them on the very best of nights when they will make a difference. Under just normal seeing conditions, the Pentax XWs are my planetary eyepiece choice.  (I find nothing special about the HR.)

 

My 2 cents of what will probably be many dollars worth of opinions!

 

Alex


Edited by Aleko, 06 December 2018 - 10:34 PM.

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#3 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 11:14 PM

Worth is always a personal thing ... 

 

I have never tried the famous Zeiss Abbe Orthos, but I will accept they judgement of the Planetary Experts they are #1. 

 

Of the ones I have tried, performance-wise TMB SMC's were the best performers. They edge out UO HD Orthos, Brandons, Astro-Physics SPL's, and the 5.1 Pentax XO. And out distanced my Delos and Pentax XW. And even the Leica too.

 

I owned sets of Brandons, SPL's, and TMB's concurrently so I did lots of comparisons. When I thought I saw something (such as a Jovian feature or faint double star buried in a diffraction ring), the TMB would be the eyepiece that could confirm it. I never recall that relationship working in reverse.

 

Out of fairness, one needs better than average seeing to really separate the pack. Pickering 5 or less will frustrate the effort.

 

SMC's have tight eye relief, but better than the aforementioned simple designs excepting the SPL's, which were actually pretty good for simple eyepieces (the SPL's were really a great optical/mechanical concept). And of course better than Plossls, which have about the worst eye relief but somehow always seem to get a pass on that.

 

Getting back to worth ... if I lived in the Florida Keys, I would buy SMC's again. Otherwise, for I will probably keep my Leica, or possibly re-buy the Brandons. When you buy the set, Brandons are reasonable on the cost/performance ratio. As singles, they are pricey.

 

One eyepiece I have not tried and very curious about - the Takahashi Orthos.


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#4 bobito

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 12:53 AM

I'll echo the posts above.  I prefer the SMC over the AP SPL, which is the only high end planetary EP on this level I have compared it to.  A big difference between the SMC and Ap SPL is that the SMC Barlow very well, the SPL gets soft on the edges when barlowed.  This helps with the cost as I can have 3 for the price of one when used with my 2x an 3x TV barlows.



#5 Starlease

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 04:18 AM

I have owned them all over the years and the TMB monos and super monos are among the best if you can put up with the 30 degree field of view. Brand new today and just as good are the Takahashi TOEs with 52 degree field with some eye relief unlike the monos with none. Forget the Abbe orthos they are a completely lower tier eyepiece range.

 

Still have some Claves which are great in f10 and longer scopes. 60 degree fields. Again zero eye relief.


Edited by Starlease, 07 December 2018 - 04:44 AM.


#6 Allan Wade

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 01:14 AM

I put together some TMB SMC's and evaluated them for almost 2 years. My plan was to build a complete set with pairs in the longer focal lengths. In my case, I was looking to build a minimum glass set for planetary viewing and threshold deep sky type observing. I really liked the eyepieces and saw for myself that they deserved their high performance reputation.

 

But, having spent a lot of time comparing them, I became familiar with some of their limitations. They specifically don't perform so well in fast telescopes, which I typically have. The correction at the edges is poor, which leads to the next issue. A 30 degree field of view is ok, but does become annoying eventually. So when perhaps only 70% of that field is usable, it results in a very tiny field to observe the object. Ok for planets, not for deep sky.

 

Another thing I observed over and over was that the SMC's did not perform as well as the ZAO's or Tak Abbes on revealing threshold deep sky objects. This is completely contra to what I was expecting given the SMC design, but I can only put it down to coatings.

 

I remember observing Deimos one night and seeing it clearly using the ZAO's and Tak Abbes. Switched to the Delos and it was invisible, even though I knew exactly where it was, the little moon couldn't punch through all the scatter. Then switched to the SMC and Deimos re-appeared but with less certainty than with the Abbe's. I switched back and forth through the eyepieces and the performance remained constant. After almost 2 years, I kind of lost any remaining love for my SMC's after that night and sold them off.

 

I have 17 ZAO II's and Tak Abbes now that make up my complete minimum glass collection with bino pairs. They work beautifully in every scope I have including the f/3.3.


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#7 agmoonsolns

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 01:29 AM

This is really terrific information, thank you everyone! How do the ZAOs, Takahashi Abbe orthos, and the Pentax compare? I am trying to put together a group of eyepieces for high power work and would like to choose right the first time.

 

Allan, just out of curiosity, what aperture and magnification were you using to see Deimos?



#8 Allan Wade

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 02:02 AM

The first time I saw Deimos was in my 12" dob at 280X. My bent is toward deep sky observing primarily with these min glass eyepieces, but also a fair bit of planetary in the binoviewer. I'm a huge fan of the Tak Abbes for the type of observing I do in my telescopes. On deep sky in particular I rate them alongside the ZAO's. All the threshold objects I go for in the 32" I use the Abbes to confirm them. In the big scope there's a significant gap in performance between the ZAO's and Tak Abbes and my Delos and Ethos.

 

Some random pics.

 

1.jpg

 

2.jpg

 

3.jpg

 

4.jpg


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#9 agmoonsolns

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 02:06 AM

Wow, what a breathtaking collection of eyepieces!



#10 Chris Lord

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 04:25 AM

I use a TEC140EDAPO F/7 and have a set of TMB Mono's in theTEC eyepiece turret. They're not quite parfocal. 

 

I rate them highly. I've ray-traced them and compared the apo-objective+Mono+eye system aberrations to Zeiss Abbé system aberrations. The net results are similar but the TMB Mono's have the edge.

 

It depends of course on what you're observing. I'm a hi-res observer, planets, double stars, especially very unequal doubles and tight doubles. I enjoy pushing whatever 'scope I'm using to the seeing limit so the narrow AFoV and short eye relief doesn't bother me. I find it an advantage because there are no other distracting objects in the FoV and the eyepiece is worn almost like a monocle so no oblique stray light can shine between your Cornea and the eyelens.

 

But imo they're unnecessarily expensive. The profit margin must be many times the production and retail cost. In other words they've been marketed as prestige goods. And in that respect the ideal acruitement to a Standard Questar .

 

Chris Lord


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#11 Astrojensen

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 05:48 AM

But imo they're unnecessarily expensive. The profit margin must be many times the production and retail cost. In other words they've been marketed as prestige goods. 

I'm not so sure about that. The production runs were extremely small, compared to so many other eyepieces. This will of course drive the prices up. 

 

I never found myself in a position where I could actually afford them, so I've never tried them myself. I've experimented with Dollonds instead and they seem to offer most of the same advantages, such as extremely minimal scatter, etc., but are of course far less expensive and with an even narrower field of view.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#12 Kent10

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 04:10 PM

I use a TEC140EDAPO F/7 and have a set of TMB Mono's in theTEC eyepiece turret. They're not quite parfocal. 

 

I rate them highly. I've ray-traced them and compared the apo-objective+Mono+eye system aberrations to Zeiss Abbé system aberrations. The net results are similar but the TMB Mono's have the edge.

 

It depends of course on what you're observing. I'm a hi-res observer, planets, double stars, especially very unequal doubles and tight doubles. I enjoy pushing whatever 'scope I'm using to the seeing limit so the narrow AFoV and short eye relief doesn't bother me. I find it an advantage because there are no other distracting objects in the FoV and the eyepiece is worn almost like a monocle so no oblique stray light can shine between your Cornea and the eyelens.

 

But imo they're unnecessarily expensive. The profit margin must be many times the production and retail cost. In other words they've been marketed as prestige goods. And in that respect the ideal acruitement to a Standard Questar .

 

Chris Lord

Chris, thanks for this.  Have you found anything equal or better than the TMB Mono's in your tests?



#13 payner

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 05:53 PM

While I have no bench/quantitative tests for the set of Super Monocentric eyepieces, my trials with similalr four lens eyepieces mentioned (but not tried the Takahashi Abbe Orthoscopic line), the Super Monocentric eyepieces are the best to my eyes for the.objects generally observed. My primary targets are planets, multiple stars, planetary nebulae and globular clusters. 

 

I appreciate the cool (cold) rendering, excellent (lack) scatter control, and the presentation of low contrast features. For a useful set of planetary eyepieces, the many focal lengths in 1-mm increments is most helpful when teasing the most details for any given seeing condition. I did have the ZAO II set, they are excellent, but far too few focal lengths, and did not want to add the use of the Barlow.

 

Randy



#14 Howard Gao

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 08:30 AM

I compared TMB supermonocentric eyepieces with ZAO, AP SPL, Nikon ortho, Pentax SMC ortho and XO eyepieces and eventually only keep ZAO and Nikon ortho as they provided the most clean view of planets with vey black background. I mainly use them on my Tak f8 refractors.

#15 Tank

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 11:51 AM

ZAO

TMB SMC

PENTAX SMC Orthos/XPs
AP SPL

 

cant go wrong with any of these

they handily beat the high end WF eyepieces IMHO

 


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#16 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 02:10 PM

ZAO

TMB SMC

PENTAX SMC Orthos/XPs
AP SPL

 

cant go wrong with any of these

they handily beat the high end WF eyepieces IMHO

 

Not a Dog in the bunch.


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#17 nicoledoula

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 03:28 PM

 "I bought one at a yard sale yesterday for .25 cents but when I couldn't find any tin foil, I used it to make a hat"  "Yes there was a whole set, and no, sorry,  I don't remember where the yard sale was" (eyepiece connoisseur's nightmare) 



#18 emilslomi

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 04:12 PM

Well, definitely not a ZAO or a TMB Monocentric, but the Burgess Mono is actually a nice eyepiece to get familiar with the design and its limitations for not that painful an amount of money. Even though it is very good in the center of the field and better there than anything else I have, it definitely cured me from my mono dreams ... at the pricepoint of the TMBs.

 

Cheers, Emil


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#19 SandyHouTex

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 07:38 PM

I'm not so sure about that. The production runs were extremely small, compared to so many other eyepieces. This will of course drive the prices up. 

 

I never found myself in a position where I could actually afford them, so I've never tried them myself. I've experimented with Dollonds instead and they seem to offer most of the same advantages, such as extremely minimal scatter, etc., but are of course far less expensive and with an even narrower field of view.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

Considering they are just “Hastings Triplets” and not true “Monocentrics”, Chris is probably right.  Hastings Triplets are used in high class loupes, which can be had for $40.



#20 Jaimo!

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 09:50 PM

Considering they are just “Hastings Triplets” and not true “Monocentrics”, Chris is probably right.  Hastings Triplets are used in high class loupes, which can be had for $40.

Yea, but try and find a quality Hastings Triplet in those planetary single digit focal lengths...  Most I have been able to locate are longer focal lengths.

 

Jaimo!



#21 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 11:12 PM

Considering they are just “Hastings Triplets” and not true “Monocentrics”, Chris is probably right.  Hastings Triplets are used in high class loupes, which can be had for $40.

 

There probably is a sizable segment of our little astronomy market that would be satisfied with that. I doubt the topic starter is one of them but hey, $40 is not much to risk is it?

 

But I suspect the level of polish for a jewelers loupe would be "just a bit" short of what is found in the TMB design (or for that matter, all but the most cut-rate astronomy eyepieces). The requirements for finding inclusions in gem stones is just not as severe as what astronomical eyepiece do.

 

When you start getting into what makes an eyepiece a planetary eyepiece ... the first criteria is polish.

 

More polish = less scatter.

 

More polish = more machine time.

 

More machine time = more money.

 

If one wants top performance, there is no free lunch. And sadly, probably not a $40 one either.


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#22 Deep13

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 02:12 AM

Yes.



#23 leonard

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 09:43 AM

There probably is a sizable segment of our little astronomy market that would be satisfied with that. I doubt the topic starter is one of them but hey, $40 is not much to risk is it?

 

But I suspect the level of polish for a jewelers loupe would be "just a bit" short of what is found in the TMB design (or for that matter, all but the most cut-rate astronomy eyepieces). The requirements for finding inclusions in gem stones is just not as severe as what astronomical eyepiece do.

 

When you start getting into what makes an eyepiece a planetary eyepiece ... the first criteria is polish.

 

More polish = less scatter.

 

More polish = more machine time.

 

More machine time = more money.

 

If one wants top performance, there is no free lunch. And sadly, probably not a $40 one either.

 

          BINGO !               



#24 SandyHouTex

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 11:02 AM

Yea, but try and find a quality Hastings Triplet in those planetary single digit focal lengths...  Most I have been able to locate are longer focal lengths.

 

Jaimo!

You can actually buy some from Edmund Optics.  A couple of years ago I was able to put together an 8mm coated Hastings Triplet, put into a c-mount, and then screwed to a c-mount to 1 1/4 inch adapter.  Total cost was $170, because I wanted to see what the hype was over eyepieces mistakenly called "monocentrics", which they're not.  It's a nice limited field eyepiece with tons of field curvature.  I suspect only the inner half of a 30 deg. field is in focus, but it seems very sharp and contrasty.



#25 SandyHouTex

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 11:05 AM

There probably is a sizable segment of our little astronomy market that would be satisfied with that. I doubt the topic starter is one of them but hey, $40 is not much to risk is it?

 

But I suspect the level of polish for a jewelers loupe would be "just a bit" short of what is found in the TMB design (or for that matter, all but the most cut-rate astronomy eyepieces). The requirements for finding inclusions in gem stones is just not as severe as what astronomical eyepiece do.

 

When you start getting into what makes an eyepiece a planetary eyepiece ... the first criteria is polish.

 

More polish = less scatter.

 

More polish = more machine time.

 

More machine time = more money.

 

If one wants top performance, there is no free lunch. And sadly, probably not a $40 one either.

Except that in post #6 above, Alan found them to be mediocre when compared to some other top of the line eyepieces.




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