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What is going on with Meade's eyepiece business?

eyepieces Meade
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#1 decep

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 04:07 PM

Meade's eyepieces seem to be very popular.  Their eyepieces always seem review fairly well, especially given the price point, even with the higher end models.  They seem to be mostly on par with Explore Scientific and compare favorably to Televue's offerings.

 

Recently, there was basically a fire sale on the 5.5 and 8.8 of the UWA 82 line.  There are only 4 models in the "new" UWA 82 lineup, where there used to be 7 or 8.  The MWA 100 only has 4 models.  The SWA 68 line is dead.  The HD60 range is the only one that seems to still have a complete range of eyepieces.  It feels like Meade is shifting their business away from visual to AP.

 

I know Meade was having some financial troubles in the late 2000s and reading about the possible buyouts, shifting manufacturers ,and divergence between the North America and European divisions of Meade read like an episode of Game of Thrones.

 

Compared to their competitors, Meade's eyepiece offerings seem to be very anemic.


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#2 MitchAlsup

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 04:21 PM

Explore Scientific is run by the ex-Meade vice-president of sales.

 

It could be that ES is providing competition in the EP market such that Meade cannot afford to fight a competitive fight.


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#3 Joe1950

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 04:50 PM

Notice that ES now has a 62 and 52 degree line at very affordable prices. With their reputation for a solid build and good performance I would think some buyers would go for them despite less field.  They still have longer ER which makes for comfortable viewing.

 

I’m not sure if their new lines have impacted Meade in particular, but they must be going after part of the EP market they felt they weren’t getting.


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#4 Redbetter

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 04:53 PM

I can't tell what is going on with them or the relationship with ES.  The various lines of scopes and eyepieces have shifted back and forth with ES and Meade carrying the same stuff.  My ES Firstlight Mak has what appears to be a Meade RDF, Meade OTA (with modified backplate...a good thing!), and Meade "super plossl" eyepiece without the Meade name on it.  That eyepiece is complete crap:  shiny internal surfaces, poor coatings based on the level of ghosting seen, etc.   I have far better entry level bundled eyepieces. 

 

The 25 HD60 I have is good, but looking at Meade's rock bottom prices and judging from that not so super "super plossl", I wonder if many of the Meade eyepiece line are anything like their former construction/reputation.  On the other hand the Meade Adventure Scope 80 is the former Orion ST-80, and this sample has better optics than my old ST80 OTA...but the Meade was bundled with a couple of Huygens eyepiece that I have never even put in the focuser.


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#5 PXR-5

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 09:32 PM

"....but the Meade was bundled with a couple of Huygens eyepiece that I have never even put in the focuser."

My cats enjoy playing with them ;)
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#6 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 08:29 AM

Meade's eyepieces seem to be very popular.  Their eyepieces always seem review fairly well, especially given the price point, even with the higher end models.  They seem to be mostly on par with Explore Scientific and compare favorably to Televue's offerings.

 

Optically their SWAs and UWAs are very similar if not identical to the ES eyepieces.  Ergonomically, particularly in the larger sizes, they suffer.  That big bulbous twist up eyecup gets in the way of proper eye placement, very often these eyepieces are "decloaked" to make them more usable.  The day I removed the goofy eye cups from my Meade 16mm and 24mm SWAs was the night I began using them on a regular basis.  On my long term list is to replace them with the ES versions, a rubber eye cup is preferred to the bare eyepiece. 

 

At one time, Explore Scientific eyepieces shared that big bulbous design but some years ago, the redesigned the eyepieces with a torpedo top similar to the TeleVue eyepieces.  In doing that, I think Explore Scientific and Scott Roberts really showed that they had experience in the field using eyepieces.. 

 

And look at the weights of the Meade eyepieces.  The 30mm UWA weighs 3.0 pounds, that is a few ounces lighter than the Paracorr 2 AND the 31mm Nagler.  

 

Jon


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#7 Jond105

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 08:35 AM

Is the departure from ES the reason their 100 degree eyepieces went way down in quality according to reviews? Before they were like a blue XWA I believe, lots of people seemed to enjoy those, but now they have green MWA, really affordable, but review very badly. Was wondering if any of you knew why that was?

#8 Exnihilo

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 09:16 AM

I have the UWA 82 deg Meade 5.5, 8.8, and 14, and like them all; they are good quality and very cost effective. But some of the above criticisms seem correct, like the twist up eyecups. I typically don't use them, and I simply won't get anything from Meade bigger/heavier than the 14 (i.e. none of the 2" models).

Edited by Exnihilo, 17 December 2018 - 09:18 AM.

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#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 09:25 AM

Is the departure from ES the reason their 100 degree eyepieces went way down in quality according to reviews? Before they were like a blue XWA I believe, lots of people seemed to enjoy those, but now they have green MWA, really affordable, but review very badly. Was wondering if any of you knew why that was?

 

If my memory is correct, when Meade and ES parted ways, Meade did not have any 100 degree eyepieces. 

 

Jon


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#10 vdog

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 10:15 AM

I also have the Meade 5.5.  Great views, but the eyecup is all but unusable.  Won't stop me from picking up an 8.8 though if there's another "fire sale." 



#11 faackanders2

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 12:57 PM

If my memory is correct, when Meade and ES parted ways, Meade did not have any 100 degree eyepieces. 

 

Jon

Meade and ES are two different companies, they did not split.  Not many liked the grease of the Meades, and some removed the bulbous top especially for binoviewing. ES 100s were always superior to Meade 100s which had a less than appealing look.



#12 Astrojensen

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 01:47 PM

If my memory is correct, when Meade and ES parted ways, Meade did not have any 100 degree eyepieces. 

 

Jon

Scott Roberts started ES partly because Meade didn't want to pursue the 100° eyepiece market at the time and clone/copy the Ethos, which Scott saw as a major failure on Meade's part, so he left and started his own. Or so I've been told.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 02:01 PM

Meade and ES are two different companies, they did not split.  Not many liked the grease of the Meades, and some removed the bulbous top especially for binoviewing. ES 100s were always superior to Meade 100s which had a less than appealing look.

 

As I understand it, Meade had a manufacturing arrangement with Jingua Optical which is the parent company for Explore Scientific.  Jingua and Meade parted ways.  Scott Roberts had parted ways with Meade and "founded" Explore Scientific prior to Meade and Jingua parting ways.  

 

Note, I did not say they split, I said they "parted ways".  Two separate companies can part ways. 

 

Jon


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#14 Paul G

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 02:23 PM

WRT eyepieces Meade has always been a copy cat company. ES is a bigger, better copy cat and has taken over that niche of the market.


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#15 Astrojensen

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 02:30 PM

WRT eyepieces Meade has always been a copy cat company. ES is a bigger, better copy cat and has taken over that niche of the market.

Yup, and they've even started designing their own eyepieces now, quite extraordinary ones, even, something Meade never did. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#16 REC

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 02:59 PM

As I understand it, Meade had a manufacturing arrangement with Jingua Optical which is the parent company for Explore Scientific.  Jingua and Meade parted ways.  Scott Roberts had parted ways with Meade and "founded" Explore Scientific prior to Meade and Jingua parting ways.  

 

Note, I did not say they split, I said they "parted ways".  Two separate companies can part ways. 

 

Jon

Big change in management was one of the main reasons Scott left I believe? Anyway, doesn't matter now and Scott has done an excellent job at growing the ES brand and company! Not only the business, but his love of the hobby and spreading the word to the astro-community nation wide!



#17 Starman1

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 03:59 PM

I can't tell what is going on with them or the relationship with ES.  The various lines of scopes and eyepieces have shifted back and forth with ES and Meade carrying the same stuff.  My ES Firstlight Mak has what appears to be a Meade RDF, Meade OTA (with modified backplate...a good thing!), and Meade "super plossl" eyepiece without the Meade name on it.  That eyepiece is complete crap:  shiny internal surfaces, poor coatings based on the level of ghosting seen, etc.   I have far better entry level bundled eyepieces. 

 

The 25 HD60 I have is good, but looking at Meade's rock bottom prices and judging from that not so super "super plossl", I wonder if many of the Meade eyepiece line are anything like their former construction/reputation.  On the other hand the Meade Adventure Scope 80 is the former Orion ST-80, and this sample has better optics than my old ST80 OTA...but the Meade was bundled with a couple of Huygens eyepiece that I have never even put in the focuser.

Jing Hua Optical (JOC) is the owner and maker of Explore Scientific.

They made Meade Series 5000 eyepieces from the '90s up to 2011, when Meade dropped JOC as a supplier.

I beliece it was because JOC, under the ES name, was competing with Meade.

 

JOC also made the LXD75 mounts and the ETX scopes.

 

Meade re-sourced the ETX scopes from another maker, and moved to a different maker for mounts.

Some of Meade's products now come from KUO (Kun Ming United Optics) and others.

Meade's new owner, Sunny Optical Technology (Group) Company Ltd.is primarily a supplier for department store telescopes at Christmas time.

 

The Meade RDF to which you refer was first on William Optics scopes in the '90s and has been used on the GSO-made LightBridge Dobs.

It's actually sold under many labels and found on many scopes.

Like many Chinese companies, Sunny sources from many makers.

 

Since JOC made the ETXs, they have experience making Maksutovs.


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#18 Starman1

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 04:31 PM

Yup, and they've even started designing their own eyepieces now, quite extraordinary ones, even, something Meade never did. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

Meade never made eyepieces.  Their eyepieces came from Japan up to about 1994, then Taiwan, then China.

The Series 4000 were made by Kowa in Japan, then other sources when they switched countries.

The Series 5000 was originally from JOC in China, but switched companies in 2011.

It's unclear, but it looks like JOC first copied the Japanese S4000 eyepieces for the S5000 series and added additional focal lengths over time.

So JOC, primarily a maker of cell phone glass, was involved in design from very early.

I don't think anyone from Meade was actually involved in design.


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#19 Procyon

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 04:53 PM

The Meade XWA 100's are nearly identical to ES 100's. Meade decided to discontinue them and offer us the Meade MWA's which have an AFOV of 80-90° but labeled 100° because no one is intelligent enough to figure out they aren't 100°.
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#20 havasman

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 07:31 PM

A possible answer to the original Q is that, apart from the 5.5mm and the Series 4000's in the used market, not much.



#21 25585

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 10:53 AM

Yup, and they've even started designing their own eyepieces now, quite extraordinary ones, even, something Meade never did. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

The 92s, though just 2 currently, are excellent. Backbone of my 2 inchers. 

 

Back to Meade. I sold a 40mm smoothie 4000 Super Plossl last month. The SWA 5000/ES MaxViews are popular among pre-owned buyers. I have a "full rubber jacket" 34 & 40. No fear of scratching my glasses lenses. May try a 28. These are great bargains as the only difference between them and ES 68s is form factor, not optics, worth chasing down. And 3 for the price of some TV Panoptics is bargain territory.

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#22 CeleNoptic

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 09:26 PM


the only difference between them and ES 68s is form factor, not optics, worth chasing down.

 

That seems not true. Ernest has found that the 28mm Meade 5000 SWA/MaxVision unlike the 28mm ES68 is better corrected off-axis because it has different optical design similar to 1.25" 82*AFOV eyepieces (7 elements in 4 groups)..


Edited by CeleNoptic, 21 December 2018 - 03:45 AM.


#23 25585

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 03:08 AM

That seems not true. Ernest has found that the 28mm Meade 5000 UWA/MaxVision unlike the 28mm ES68 is better corrected off-axis because it has different optical design similar to 1.25" 82*AFOV eyepieces (7 elements in 4 groups)..

Presume you mean SWA. 

 

I have just bought a 28mm MaxVision, £70, bargain. Will try it out on delivery.  


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#24 CeleNoptic

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 03:44 AM

Presume you mean SWA.

Yes, SWA, thanks for the correction. I've changed my previous post.


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