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Lumicon UHC or Orion Ultrablock?

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#1 Orion68

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 09:58 PM

I'm going to follow the advice received on CN and purchase a narrow band filter since this is the recommended filter for those who choose to have only one filter. Prices between the Lumicon UHC and Orion Ultrablock are substantially different, the Lumicon is more than twice as much as the Orion.

 

Am I comparing apples and oranges here, or is there another reason for the price difference?

 

 



#2 havasman

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 10:15 PM

The performance of the Lumicon will be less variable over a population of samples and probably be measurably higher in both average performance over that population and per any randomly chosen pair of samples.

 

But the Ultrablock is a legit filter, unlike several other less expensive offerings. So, as usual, it's just a matter of whether you choose to pay for that last 5% or so of performance.


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#3 Orion68

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 10:20 PM

Forgot to ask if there is any issue with mounting the filter in the diagonal rather than into the eyepiece? I would rather mount it into the diagonal so that I can make eyepiece changes without changing out the filter every time I switch eyepieces.



#4 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 10:34 PM

Another to consider is the Baader UHC-S:

http://alpineastro.c...filters.htm#UHC

About the same price as the Orion but arguably as high quality as the Lumicon.

 

Regarding mounting filters at the front of the diagonal, optical imperfections are more noticeable in that configuration.  I do know the Baader filter substrate is ground to high precision and the coatings are very uniform, specifically for this reason.

 

Best regards,

Mike


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#5 Orion68

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 10:45 PM

Thanks for the quick responses. Still need to decide between 1.25" and 2". I'm leaning toward the 2".



#6 pregulla

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 11:09 PM

Another to consider is the Baader UHC-S:

http://alpineastro.c...filters.htm#UHC

About the same price as the Orion but arguably as high quality as the Lumicon.

 

OP is looking for narrow band filter. Baader UHC-S is quite the opposite, it has very wide band pass.


Edited by pregulla, 18 July 2019 - 11:09 PM.

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#7 rkelley8493

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 11:25 PM

Forgot to ask if there is any issue with mounting the filter in the diagonal rather than into the eyepiece? I would rather mount it into the diagonal so that I can make eyepiece changes without changing out the filter every time I switch eyepieces.

Mounting the filter to the diagonal is just an easier way to use multiple eyepieces with the same filter and not have to unscrew and rescrew it to each eyepiece.

The Baader UHC-S filter is not a true UHC filter. It's more of a "Deep Sky & Light Pollution" filter. It works well on bright galaxies when the moon is out. 

Also, Celestron branded filters are the exact same as Baader. The only difference is the decals on the container and the rim of the filter. Even the container has "Baader Planetarium" engraved on the back. So basically it's like paying $50+ extra for a couple of stickers. 

 

Edit: I got ahead of myself and didn't read the last sentence of your post. Pardon the redundancy* 


Edited by rkelley8493, 18 July 2019 - 11:30 PM.

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#8 rkelley8493

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 11:28 PM

Thanks for the quick responses. Still need to decide between 1.25" and 2". I'm leaning toward the 2".

Go with the 2" and mount it to the diagonal to use your 1.25" eyepieces. You can always use 1.25" eyepieces with 2" accessories, but you can't the other way around.


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#9 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 12:04 AM

OP is looking for narrow band filter. Baader UHC-S is quite the opposite, it has very wide band pass.

True enough that it is a wider band but it also includes a second band at the H-alpha line so other class of emission nebulae (like M16 and North America nebs) are improved as well.  And of course it depends upon whether local light pollution is the reason one is investing in filters (narrower better) or enhancing views at a darker site (for visual narrower is not as critical).

 

Seems like astronomy is always about trade-offs...

 

Best regards,

Mike


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#10 havasman

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 02:38 AM

I tested the Celestron branded version of the Baader UHC-s filter alongside an Optolong UHC, Lumicon UHC, Starguy UHC, DGM NPB and Thousand Oaks LP-2 (UHC-type) several years ago with Dobs from 5 to 16" both here under the Dallas light dome in a white zone and from the club dark site in SE Oklahoma.

 

It was around this time of year as I remember having the summer Milky Way nebulae available for the tests. It took several months to get a good run at all of them from both sites in all the gear.

 

The BaaderUHC-S/Celestron UHC-LPR, Optolong and Starguy are wideband filters. The Lumicon and DGM are narrowband. The TO is a bit less narrow than those two but a narrowband.

 

The goal was to increase the apparent contrast of the available large emission nebulae when visually observed and the results were plain and easily described. The narrowband filters were effective from both locations in all 3 scopes at every exit pupil used. The wideband filters varied some little bit between sites and less between scopes and they were easily seen to be ineffective compared to the others.

 

So I gave the Optolong to a club member that was interested in it despite my analysis and tried to sell the Celestron/Baader and the Starguy. When they wouldn't bring $25 each, I put them in storage. As I recall I gave BillP the Starguy and threw the Celestron in the trash a few years later. The TO may still be in a drawer somewhere in the back bedroom/office. I carry the Lumicon and DGM in my case when I observe, using the Lumicon > 95% of the time. The DGM is quirky as it renders very red stars I find distracting but it is useful as it passes the H-Beta line at a higher rate. 

 

The H-Alpha line is not visible to the eye but is captured effectively by AP.

Reference:

"As for the "night" H-alpha filters, as mentioned before, they are primarily used for imaging. However, the

reason they are not suitable for visual use is mainly because the human eye has very low sensitivity to dim H-alpha light. These filters usually have transmission levels at H-alpha that can be quite high (often exceeding 90%), but the eye just can't respond well to dim nebular light at that deep red H-alpha wavelength. In very large apertures, one may use an H-alpha imaging filter to see red in some of the brighter emission nebulae like M42 or M8, but the overall view is generally notably inferior to that seen with the narrow-band and OIII line nebula filters. Clear skies to you."  - David Knisely 3/28/13; posted to forum string WHEN DO YOU USE AN H-ALPHA FILTER?

and

"Nothing is best viewed at h-alpha wavelengths. Our eyes are so insensitive to light at 686nm that we can barely see it."  - Don Pensack 7/27/13; posted to forum string H-ALPHA OBJECTS?

 

For my visual use wideband nebula filters have no value. Generally respected experienced observers point out some niche usefulness but I am very well served by my narrowband kit for all applications and much better served to my eye than by widebands according to my experience.

 

An observer inexperienced with nebular filters is poorly served IMO by a recommendation they use a wideband filter to try and increase the apparent contrast of nebular objects they may try to observe.


Edited by havasman, 19 July 2019 - 02:53 AM.

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#11 macdonjh

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 07:48 AM

Go with the 2" and mount it to the diagonal to use your 1.25" eyepieces. You can always use 1.25" eyepieces with 2" accessories, but you can't the other way around.

+1, unless, of course, your kit has only 1-1/4" eye pieces.

 

 

 

The BaaderUHC-S/Celestron UHC-LPR, Optolong and Starguy are wideband filters. The Lumicon and DGM are narrowband. The TO is a bit less narrow than those two but a narrowband.

 

I carry the Lumicon and DGM in my case when I observe, using the Lumicon > 95% of the time. The DGM is quirky as it renders very red stars I find distracting but it is useful as it passes the H-Beta line at a higher rate. 

 

For my visual use wideband nebula filters have no value. Generally respected experienced observers point out some niche usefulness but I am very well served by my narrowband kit for all applications and much better served to my eye than by widebands according to my experience.

 

Good list of various alternatives to Lumicon and Orion.  I can never remember DGM, but their filters get lots of good reports here.  Another alternative, though not a money saving one, is Tele Vue's Nebustar filter.

 

I have a Lumicon UHC (actually my second) and a Tele Vue Nebustar.  Similar to havasman's experience, I prefer the Lumicon's presentation and use it 99.9% of the time.  The Tele Vue filter turns stars very blue, which is distracting to me.  Not that the Lumicon leaves stars their natural color, it doesn't, I find it's color changing less distracting is all.

 

I also agree that "light pollution" and wide band filters are not useful.  I had an Orion Sky Glow filter years ago.  It turned stars very blue and didn't help very much in "bringing nebulae out" in my white zone back yard.  I think I still have in the case I keep eye pieces for my kids (who don't observe with me anymore), but I haven't touched in probably ten years (literally).

 

One other thing to consider: Cloudy Nights member Starman1 has done quantitative testing of lots of filters (as have TOMDEY and John Hayes, I believe).  Perhaps a PM to Starman1 would lead to links to threads where he's posted those results (he posted a lot of data in a thread in the last twelve months), or some personal recommendations based on your budget and needs.


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#12 Miranda2525

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 12:04 PM

True enough that it is a wider band but it also includes a second band at the H-alpha line so other class of emission nebulae (like M16 and North America nebs) are improved as well.  And of course it depends upon whether local light pollution is the reason one is investing in filters (narrower better) or enhancing views at a darker site (for visual narrower is not as critical).

 

Seems like astronomy is always about trade-offs...

 

Best regards,

Mike

That filter is like a broadband filter. Just like the Lumicon Deep Sky or Orion Skyglow. 

 

Visually, the results are only subtle compared to a true narrowband filter. 

 

Also, filters work even better where there is no light pollution. The fact that people only use these filters in light polluted areas is a myth.


Edited by Miranda2525, 19 July 2019 - 12:05 PM.

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#13 Starman1

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 01:04 PM

Another to consider is the Baader UHC-S:

http://alpineastro.c...filters.htm#UHC

About the same price as the Orion but arguably as high quality as the Lumicon.

 

Regarding mounting filters at the front of the diagonal, optical imperfections are more noticeable in that configuration.  I do know the Baader filter substrate is ground to high precision and the coatings are very uniform, specifically for this reason.

 

Best regards,

Mike

The Baader UHC-S is a broadband filter, though.  My sample had a 62nm bandwidth in the blue/green, compared to 24nm for a typical narrowband.

It's a very good broadband, but it isn't a true "UHC-type" narrowband.


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#14 Orion68

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 01:08 PM

Mounting the filter to the diagonal is just an easier way to use multiple eyepieces with the same filter and not have to unscrew and rescrew it to each eyepiece.

The Baader UHC-S filter is not a true UHC filter. It's more of a "Deep Sky & Light Pollution" filter. It works well on bright galaxies when the moon is out. 

Also, Celestron branded filters are the exact same as Baader. The only difference is the decals on the container and the rim of the filter. Even the container has "Baader Planetarium" engraved on the back. So basically it's like paying $50+ extra for a couple of stickers. 

 

Edit: I got ahead of myself and didn't read the last sentence of your post. Pardon the redundancy* 

No problem, thanks much for the feedback!


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#15 Starman1

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 01:12 PM

My Orion Ultrablock measured this:

Bandwidth  H-ß     O-III     O-III      H-α   Low  wavelength  High wavelength

26nm          85.9% 93.8% 82.8%   N/A    482nm                    508nm

Adequate, but dark.  Transmission was too low to reach "premium" status.

 

My Lumicon UHC, on the same test apparatus, same measurement parameters:

27nm    99.8%   99.5%   99.3%   N/A    480nm      507nm

About as close as it gets to perfect.  It could have been a trace narrower, but it's a pretty high bar to beat.


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#16 Orion68

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 01:30 PM

Sincere thanks to everyone who responded. 

 

This has been extremely helpful for me. My inclination is to start with a 1.25" narrow band filter since 99% of my viewing will be from my driveway in an area of moderate light pollution. For now this will be my only filter, if it works well for my viewing habits then I'll add a 2" narrow band filter and go from there.

 

Orion has a sale right now for the 2" Ultrablock filter at $89. Not sure I want to go this route as Lumicon and others seem to be more highly regarded and the data provided by Don and others clearly shows the transmission properties of the Orion are not as high as other filters. But, $89 is tempting compared to $150-$200 for Lumicon and others. Will have to ponder that a little.

Strangely, the Lumicon 1.25" is not much more than the Orion 1.25" while there is a huge difference between the 2" version.

 

Really looking forward to improving my views with this filter. Clear skies everyone.

Best, Tim


Edited by Orion68, 19 July 2019 - 01:42 PM.

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#17 Starman1

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 03:31 PM

A 2" filter has 2.9x as much area as a 1.25", so it should cost at least 2x as much--probably more.

If you see <a 2:1 ratio, chances are likely the bigger one is on sale.

 

Tim,

Remember that a narrowband filter is ONLY for the following DSOs:

--large HII gas clouds (M42, M8, M20, M17, M16, etc)

--planetary nebulae (M27, M97, M57, etc.)

--supernova remnants (Veil nebula, M1, etc.)

--Wolf-Rayet excitation nebulae (Crescent nebula, Thor's helmet, etc.)

 

It pretty much isn't going to help on:

--star clusters, either globular or galactic open clusters)

--galaxies

--reflection nebulae (M78, Pleiades)

--dark nebulae

--quasars

--comets

--double stars

For those objects, darker skies help, but filters don't.


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#18 Orion68

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 03:34 PM

A 2" filter has 2.9x as much area as a 1.25", so it should cost at least 2x as much--probably more.

If you see <a 2:1 ratio, chances are likely the bigger one is on sale.

 

Tim,

Remember that a narrowband filter is ONLY for the following DSOs:

--large HII gas clouds (M42, M8, M20, M17, M16, etc)

--planetary nebulae (M27, M97, M57, etc.)

--supernova remnants (Veil nebula, M1, etc.)

--Wolf-Rayet excitation nebulae (Crescent nebula, Thor's helmet, etc.)

 

It pretty much isn't going to help on:

--star clusters, either globular or galactic open clusters)

--galaxies

--reflection nebulae (M78, Pleiades)

--dark nebulae

--quasars

--comets

--double stars

For those objects, darker skies help, but filters don't.

Thanks so much, I'll include your comments in my observing notebook for future reference. Tim



#19 desertlens

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 05:01 PM

I've had some issues with thread compatibility and Orion 2" filters, not the case with the Lumicons. It seems like a thread pitch difference. They will often start and hold but never seat completely.


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#20 Orion68

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 10:49 PM

I've had some issues with thread compatibility and Orion 2" filters, not the case with the Lumicons. It seems like a thread pitch difference. They will often start and hold but never seat completely.

Good to know, thanks.



#21 bmurphy495

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 08:00 AM

I have a whole pile of filters and we often do filter shootouts at the clubs observing site in our 16" newt., here is what we have learned. 

 

Lumicon UHC is the most used and pleasing to most everyone's eye on the targets we looked at. We have used the Orion H-Beta on the horsehead a couple of times (only seen it twice though). The newest generation of the Lumicon UHC is getting great reviews here on the forum.  

 

I had an Orion Ultrablock and sent it back because of the threads. I think it can be a good filter, just pick up an empty 2" cell from ScopeStuff to put it in. As a side note, my Orion H-Beta (from Korea) also has crappy threads and plastic retainers. I'm inclined to avoid Orion filters as I think the cells are substandard. 

 

B


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#22 macdonjh

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 09:21 AM

I've had some issues with thread compatibility and Orion 2" filters, not the case with the Lumicons. It seems like a thread pitch difference. They will often start and hold but never seat completely.

You beat me to it, desertlens.  Last night I remembered an Orion variable polarizing filter I had that wouldn't fit in anything I owned: diagonal or eye piece.  I waited too long to return it to Orion and had to sell it used.  When I called Orion tech support for some help I was told there is no standard for threading filter housings.  That may be true, but Orion is the only filter I've had trouble with, so there is at least a common practice that everyone else follows.


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#23 Simon B

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 12:47 AM

I think you've made the right choice by narrowing it down to the Lumicon UHC and the Orion Ultrablock

 

Here is an extensive database of tested filters, I find it a very useful resource:

 

https://searchlight....9d-153d7e7c0eb8

 

 

Lumicon UHCs are typically slightly narrower, and pass the desired wavelengths at a slightly higher percentage than the Ultrablocks. The Lumicons are also more consistent. The Ultrablock is a very good filter, even at regular price. The sale price just sweetens the deal even more

 

The only issue with the Ultrablock is that you may receive a relatively rare 'dud', i.e. cuts off one of the desired wavelengths at say ~75%. But most Ultrablocks transmit above 85%, with a FWHM of 25-29. Lumicons fare slightly better, with a FWHM of 21-25 I believe, and transmit 90+%, with virtually no worry of a dud.

 

If you wanna be sure, I'd suggest getting the Ultrablock tested as soon as you buy it, by the guy who compiled the above data, Oggie aka 'Lunarfox' - he'll test the filter for you, for free, and add it to his database. If it's a dud (unlikely), send it back for a refund. If it's good, then you got an excellent narrowband for $89.

 

That's what I did - I have a very good Ultrablock that transmits 93-98%, FWHM 28.4nm

 

 

 

 

The performance of the Lumicon will be less variable over a population of samples and probably be measurably higher in both average performance over that population and per any randomly chosen pair of samples.

 

But the Ultrablock is a legit filter, unlike several other less expensive offerings. So, as usual, it's just a matter of whether you choose to pay for that last 5% or so of performance.

 

Couldn't have put it better myself : )


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#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 01:15 AM

This has been extremely helpful for me. My inclination is to start with a 1.25" narrow band filter since 99% of my viewing will be from my driveway in an area of moderate light pollution. For now this will be my only filter, if it works well for my viewing habits then I'll add a 2" narrow band filter and go from there.

 

 

If your scope has a 2 inch focuser, buy a 2 inch filter.  You can use a 2 inch filter with 1.25 inch eyepieces but not vice versa.  That means, if you buy a 2 inch later, you basically wasted the money on the 1.25 inch.. I learned this one the hard way.

 

But more importantly, narrowband filters are most effective at low powers which means you want to be able to use them with any 2 inch eyepieces you might have.  

 

For what it's worth, I have an Orion Ultrablock.  It seems to do the job nicely.  It maybe down on transmission, I don't know but 10% is only about 0.1 magnitude...  

 

Jon


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#25 rkelley8493

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Posted 23 July 2019 - 10:56 AM

I had a religious experience the other night with my Astronomik UHC filter. It was the first night I really got to use it to its full capability. The skies were so clear and dark that I could easily see the Milky Way stretching from the Southwest all the way across the sky to the Northeast, a rare occurrence from my light polluted town. I pulled out my 31T5 Nagler & Astronomik UHC, pointed the scope toward this bright patch to the right of Saturn, and I was blown away by what I saw drool.gif . Apparently that bright patch was the Sagittarius Star Cloud. There were stars and gas/dust everywhere Eyecrazy.gif.  The nebulae in that area were spectacular as well. I had never seen such detail in the Lagoon, Trifid, Swan, and Eagle. It blew away the Baader UHC by a long shot.

Another key thing I liked about it was that the stars all came to points. The Baader UHC would have green stars with purple halos, like there were some reflections being caused. The Astronomik did change the stars' colors, but it was easy to overlook. It's almost like shining a black [UV] light on the nebulae, it made them glow against the sky background.


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