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Zoom eyepieces, top shelf vs entry... is there a middle?

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#26 Starman1

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Posted 27 August 2019 - 03:20 PM

Hey all,

 

I'm looking to add a zoom. They all seem to be around that 8~24 or 7~21 range. There's the Baader Mk IV top shelf option (sub $300) and there's the basic Celestron (and re-brand similars) 8~24 options ($70 or so). Doesn't seem to be anything in between. I'm not sure the Lunt 7~21 is any different than a Celestron 8~24 really in quality, other than "brand" up charging. Is there a middle ground? Something $150 that is between the Baader and the entry zoom?

 

Very best,

Pricewise, yes, but quality wise, no.  There are the low priced ones, the Baader range, and then the high priced ones.

 

The Baader, BTW, is a middle-priced option, being far less expensive than Leica, Zeiss, Nikon, Meopta, and others adapted to telescope use from spotting scopes.

$250-$300 is a mid-priced eyepiece for a zoom.  What's amazing is that the Baader is as good as it is yet is as inexpensive as it is.

There are other zooms equally as expensive that are nowhere near as good.

 

Some Zooms to ask about:

365 Astronomy Aspheric Zoom Zoom 8-24
Agena Zoom Zoom 7-21
Agena Zoom Zoom 8-24
Altair Astro (UK) Lightwave Zoom Premium Zoom 8-24
Astro Professional EF Flatfield Zoom 7.5-22.5
Astromania Zoom Zoom 7-21
Astromania Zoom Zoom 8-24
Baader Planetarium Mark IV Zoom w/click-stops Zoom 8-24
Celestron Zoom Zoom 8-24
Discovery Zoom Zoom 7-23
Discovery Zoom Zoom 8-24
Leica Aspherical Zoom Zoom 8.9-17.8
Lunt "Solar Eyepieces"   Zoom 7.2-21.5
Meade Series 4000 Zoom Zoom 8-24
Meopta Zoom Zoom 7.3-14.6
Olivon  Zoom Zoom 8-24
Olivon  Zoom Zoom 9.5-19
Omegon APO Zoom Zoom 8-24
Omegon Cronus Zoom Zoom 7.2-21.5
Omegon Flatfield Zoom Zoom 7.5-22.5
Omegon Zoom Zoom 7-21
Orion Lanthanum Zoom Zoom 8-24
Orion Zooom! Zoom 7.2-21.5
Pentax XF ZOOM Zoom 6.5-19.5
Pentax XL Zoom Zoom 8-24
Russell Optics Zoom Zoom 8-16
Sky Mentor (Khan Scope, Canada) Zoom Zoom 7-21
Sky Mentor (Khan Scope, Canada) Zoom Zoom 8-24
Skywatcher Hyperflex Zoom Zoom 9-27
Skywatcher Hyperflex Zoom Zoom 7.2-21.5
Skywatcher Zoom Zoom 7-21
Skywatcher Zoom Zoom 8-24
Telescope Service Planetary HR Zoom 7.2-21.5
Telescope Service Zoom Zoom 7-21
TeleVue Nagler Zoom 3-6
Vixen Zoom Zoom 8-24

 

The primary difference you'd find, if you somehow got to review all the above zooms, is that the least expensive ones ($150 and down) all have narrow fields of view in the longer focal lengths.

There are also differences in eye relief, mechanical construction, et.al.

The likelihood is high that if you do a search for just about any zoom, you'll find some posts here on CN about it, or a generic search on Google may bring up a review on another website.


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#27 cimar

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 12:01 AM

Hi,

the Lunt zoom works great for solar as well as for planetary observation. It barlows well with a 1.5x or 2x barlow lens. I find its apparent field of view acceptable in them 10..7.2mm zoom subrange. The same holds true for the Baader zoom which has a wider field of view in the 12..8mm subrange.

The TeleVue is also great for planetary work and allows to adjust the magnification to the actual scope and seeing.

Expensive modern spotting scope have high quality zoom eyepieces that work well for nature observation and also for deep sky with their spotting scopes. Usually I observe with them at maximum magnification and zoom temporarily out just for finding objects.



#28 pregulla

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 03:28 AM

This is a very good and affordable Zoom: 

 

https://www.ebay.com...k-/152606352301

 

I have the MK IV and the Olivon. In my opinion both are equally sharp and contrasty on axis for planetary. Got the Olivon for 135 Euros new. It´s a close relative to the Celestron Regal EP btw.

 

 

Btw: I also have the Seben branded HRZ and never use it, cause transmission and contrast seems to be inferior to the Baader and the Olivon and fixed ep´s also. This is at least the case for my sample of the HRZ.

I don't have experience with Olivon zooms, but wanted to note that they have 2 zooms. Deluxe zoom that I have seen mentioned few times as being close to baader in performance and the one you have linked that is usually mentioned as comparable to Celestron. 



#29 Starman1

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 08:31 AM

Yes, at least in my scopes, the 2 Olivon zooms were more the equivalent of the lower-priced zooms in performance (and definitely not very good at f/5), unlike the Baader Hyperion Zoom.

Yet, they are roughly the same price.  So, caveat emptor.  Performance may be sharply related to the f/ratio of the scope used.


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#30 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 09:17 AM

A while back I compared my Baader Mark 4 with a Celestron zoom and my old Vixen LV zoom. The scope used was my 10 inch F/5 Dob. I am quite sure I used a Paracorr, I always do, I want any aberrations visible to be the eyepiece and not the scope.

 

- The Vixen LV was disappointing in all respects, narrower field of view at all focal lengths, poorer contrast, not as sharp.  

 

- The Celestron zoom was quite impressive. I still remember the crisp views across the field viewing Jupiter at the shorter focal lengths. I thought to myself, "what is this eyepiece? Its amazing.". 

 

It's weakness was at the longer focal lengths,  the field of view was narrow and the off axis correction was not great. For that, I used Polaris, focus on axis, move it off axis and watch the companion. At F/5.75, it was a little messy.

 

I measured the AFoV using David Knisely's beam projection method:

 

24 mm 38.8 deg
18mm 46.5 deg
12mm 54.5 deg
8x mm 63.3 deg.

 

I also have a Celestron 80 mm Ultima spotter. It uses this same exact zoom, the only difference is the adapter.  

 

- The Baader Mark 4. 

 

As others have said, this is a mid range zoom. It does a good/very good job at all focal lengths in my faster scopes.  Off-axis it's not as sharp as eyepiece's like the Naglers and Ethos's but it's good enough that it is usable along side those eyepiece's.  The AFoV is about 5 degrees wider than the Celestron at every focal length.

 

24 mm 43.8 deg
20x mm 48.9deg
16 mm 54.0 deg
12 mm  59.4 deg
8 mm 68.4deg

 

I considered the Baader Barlow but as I have some good Barlows I decided against buying it. The Zoom works well with my 2x TV and 2x Celestron Ultima. I recently saw a post that said the Baader Barlow only had 13 mm of clear aperture. That would be a deal killer for me. It might work with the Baader zoom but there are certainly eyepieces it would not work with.

 

- My recommendation: Outreach with an 8 inch F/10. 

 

Buy the Celestron, I think it will do the job. If not, buy the Baader.

 

Jon


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#31 Sarkikos  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 09:32 AM

Before I bought Baader Zooms, I had a pair of Zhumell Zooms.  They were small and light.  I took one many times to my dark site with my 10" Dob.  I liked it.  It taught me the value of being able to immediately vary the image scale and exit pupil when viewing deep sky objects.  At home I used the pair of Zhumell Zooms when binoviewing bright planets and the Moon.  

 

Of course, the Baader Zooms have wider apparent fields of view, better correction and click stops.  But I miss the Zhumell's for binoviewing.  They didn't have click stops like the Baader Zooms, but they were much lighter and smaller.  

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 28 August 2019 - 09:33 AM.


#32 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 09:41 AM

Is the Leica Vario Zoom available from any US Sellers? Seems that APM is the only one who is selling it



#33 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 10:43 AM

Is the Leica Vario Zoom available from any US Sellers? Seems that APM is the only one who is selling it

Looks like Company 7 has them, but APM is less expensive.

 

You would need an adapter for it in order to use it in a telescope and, as far as I know, only APM and Starlight Instruments carries an adapter for the Leica. Again, APM is less expensive, but the Starlight Instruments is more versatile. Worth the price, IMO. 


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#34 eyepiecedropper

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 11:14 AM

on the subject:

 

 

https://www.cloudyni...9-olivon-zooms/



#35 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 11:38 AM

Is the Leica Vario Zoom available from any US Sellers? Seems that APM is the only one who is selling it

 

I bought mine on Amazon in 2013 because of the effortless return policy (just in case wink.gif ).

 

The actual fulfillment was Focus Camera. Checking Amazon this morning there are 8 resellers.


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#36 Starman1

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 11:53 AM

Current prices:

Olivon 9.5-19mm zoom  249.00

Olivon 8-24mm zoom  249.00

Baader Hyperion Zoom 289.99

Ed's comments (linked in post #34) might relate to his use in longer f/ratios.  Even then, he found the Baader Zoom better in field width and sharpness and convenience.

The eyepieces saw an even longer f/ratio light cone, given the OCA on the binoviewer.

Given how close the retail prices are...........

 

However, if one could find one used for a low price (say, under $100), then the competition is other low priced zooms.

Then the Olivons stack up quite well.



#37 jaraxx

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 01:23 PM

 

 

- My recommendation: Outreach with an 8 inch F/10. 

 

Buy the Celestron, I think it will do the job. If not, buy the Baader.

 

Jon

 

I think Jon's post is pretty much correct. The only thing is that you said you have a lot of scopes including some that are pretty fast. If I owned fast scopes I'd buy the Baader. (Actually I do have fast scopes and I did buy the Baader).


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#38 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 02:46 PM

Current prices:

Olivon 9.5-19mm zoom  249.00

Olivon 8-24mm zoom  249.00

Baader Hyperion Zoom 289.99

Ed's comments (linked in post #34) might relate to his use in longer f/ratios.  Even then, he found the Baader Zoom better in field width and sharpness and convenience.

The eyepieces saw an even longer f/ratio light cone, given the OCA on the binoviewer.

Given how close the retail prices are...........

 

However, if one could find one used for a low price (say, under $100), then the competition is other low priced zooms.

Then the Olivons stack up quite well.

Don,

When I tried the Baader Zoom recently it had too much of a coke bottle effect and what I keep hearing is all of them do other than the Leica

As you know i've been super impressed with the Olivon 70 22mm I bought from you (even though its miss labeled as a 1.25 lol.gif lol.gif and they still wont fix it). I think their quality is great

 

The Olivon 9.5-19mm seems like something interesting. Is there still quite a bit of coke bottle effect? I know nothing is as good as single focal length eyepieces although i've heard the Leica defies physics and lives up to single focal length more premium eyepieces especially as the focal length increases

 

Jon



#39 Starman1

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 03:16 PM

I think the two forms of distortion we notice have optical names: rectilinear distortion and angular magnification distortion.

Angular magnification distortion is often of a sign that gives the field the appearance of rolling over a ball or globe, hence the common name rolling ball distortion or globe distortion.

Rectilinear distortion, which is a radial distortion, is most often in the positive sign version, which we call pincushion distortion.  If it's significant, then we see the image appear

to cross the bottom of a bowl when we scan through the sky, but it can also be the opposite sign and gets the name "barrel distortion", where the image appears to be similar to the globe distortion

except it has the linear compression that occurs at the edge of a round glass bowl, hence the name "fishbowl distortion".

 

With rectilinear distortion, straight lines appear like ) | ( as they cross the field (pincushion) or ( | ) as they cross the field (barrel).

With angular magnification distortion, a small object would look like this as it crosses the field: a a a   or, if of the opposite sign, a a a

 

It is not possible to completely eliminate visible distortion in the field of any eyepiece that has an apparent field larger than about 40° because you can either reduce one while increasing the other, or vice versa.

 

So when you say "coke bottle distortion" I presume you refer to viewing a field that looks a lot like looking at someone's eyes who is wearing "coke bottle glasses", in which the image in the center is significantly magnified compared to the edges which gives a distorted look through the lenses.  In which case, that is identical to positive angular magnification distortion in which the center of the field seems more magnified (aka "globe" distortion).

 

Eyepieces designed for daylight use often accept a fair amount of this form (globe, or AMD) of distortion to keep straight lines straight as they cross the field.  Zoom eyepieces, many/most of which come from daylight-use spotting scopes, are often like this.  In contrast, most astronomical-only eyepieces typically solve for that form of distortion to keep images the same size as they cross the field, but instead leave in a fair amount of rectilinear distortion, usually in pincushion form.

 

Distortion is distortion.  Neither form is desirable but unless you only want to use very narrow field eyepieces, you're going to accept quite a bit of it in the field.

Would you rather the star cluster stays the same size across the field or grow smaller as it nears the edge to keep the line between the stars the same?

Would you rather that straight line of stars stay straight as it exits the field or would you accept a bit of curvature in the line at the edge in order to keep the size the same?

 

It's a bad choice, but there is no 3rd alternative.  Still, which zooms have noticeable AMD and which have noticeable RD?  I can't say.  Most of my zoom experience except for Baader and Leica

was in the last century, and many zooms are new.  Here are a bunch of links that might help: https://www.google.c...=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8


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#40 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 03:29 PM

Looks like Company 7 has them, but APM is less expensive.

 

You would need an adapter for it in order to use it in a telescope and, as far as I know, only APM and Starlight Instruments carries an adapter for the Leica. Again, APM is less expensive, but the Starlight Instruments is more versatile. Worth the price, IMO. 

 

I do like the fact that the Starlight adapter does not use grub screws (like the APM does). A minor thing if you leave the adapter attached all the time. But since I also use the Leica 1.8x Extender, that's not practical.

 

Best yet, the Starlight adapter does not have the Undercut Defect laugh.gif Thank you Wayne!

 

If you do get the Starlight, also get the Baader T2/1.25" nosepiece, part #2458105


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#41 Sarkikos  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 04:46 PM

I keep the original 2"-1.25" dual adapter from APM on my Leica Zoom.  It works for me.

 

Mike



#42 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 08:00 PM

Wow that's complicated. I think I'll stick with my singular focal length eyepieces



#43 happycamperjohn

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 10:12 PM

Wow that's complicated. I think I'll stick with my singular focal length eyepieces

(If you're pertaining to setup of the Leica Zoom) not complicated really. I bought the Leica and the APM 1.25" adaptor in one transaction, spent 3 minutes screwing the adaptor on, and haven't thought about it again in about 5 years. I just treat it like any other 1.25" eyepiece. If I barlow it, I do it with my normal 1.25" barlows - just like with normal fixed length eyepieces. Easy Peasy.

 

(If about something else that's complicated.. move on...nothing to see here)  :-)

 

John


Edited by happycamperjohn, 28 August 2019 - 10:15 PM.

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#44 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 09:23 AM

(If you're pertaining to setup of the Leica Zoom) not complicated really. I bought the Leica and the APM 1.25" adaptor in one transaction, spent 3 minutes screwing the adaptor on, and haven't thought about it again in about 5 years. I just treat it like any other 1.25" eyepiece. If I barlow it, I do it with my normal 1.25" barlows - just like with normal fixed length eyepieces. Easy Peasy.

 

(If about something else that's complicated.. move on...nothing to see here)  :-)

 

John

No, mainly meant about the zooms not being corrected for night time use and m ore designed for daytime



#45 Sarkikos  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 10:03 AM

No, mainly meant about the zooms not being corrected for night time use and m ore designed for daytime

Personally, I don't notice RD or AMD.  Or whether RD is pincushion or barrel.  These distortion effects are not something I look for and are not something I really notice when I'm observing.  Of the eyepieces I own, I couldn't tell you off the top of my head which have pincushion RD, barrel RD or AMD.  

 

I notice problems like outer field fuzziness caused by whatever - astigmatism, coma, field curvature, edge of field brightening.  FC is a real bugbear for me.  I can't stand it.  I just like the outer field to be sharp.  How the eyepiece is designed to do that is secondary to me.

 

I notice whether the field stop is sharp or not.  I also notice eyepiece tone, sharpness, perceived contrast, scatter. 

 

But distortion?  Not so much.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 29 August 2019 - 10:15 AM.

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#46 Starman1

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:00 AM

Mike,

 

I'm with you about distortion as long as the scope tracks.

If the scope does not track, though, barrel distortion or noticeable AMD are disqualifiers if they bother me, and that takes time to tell.

But, any astigmatism at all, EOFB, field curvature, lack of sharpness, are immediate disqualifiers.

 

I have one eyepiece that is nearly perfect in every way except it doesn't have the contrast of some other eyepieces in the same series.

Both a longer and shorter focal length in the same series have better contrast.

The difference is noticeable only immediately after changing eyepieces, and not after a few seconds.

 

What would you do?  Try another of the same model (presumption of surface polish roughness), or just not use the eyepiece?


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#47 Sarkikos  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 11:24 AM

I would try the eyepieces in other telescopes, or maybe try them in the same telescope but with a Barlow, to make sure the perceived lack in contrast for that one eyepiece wasn't just an effect of the exit pupil.  If the lack of contrast is still apparent, and you really want to fill that slot in the series, maybe you should try another one.

 

Mike



#48 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 12:41 PM

No, mainly meant about the zooms not being corrected for night time use and m ore designed for daytime

 

Firstly, as with all product categories beware "the cheap ones". 

 

Secondly, lumping all zooms together is as fallacious as lumping Chevrolets and BMW's together. With manufactured goods you generally get what you pay for.

 

"Spotting scope eyepiece" is being tossed around as pejorative term. And it may very well be justified for "the cheap ones".

 

I do not have hands-on experience with the mid-range Baader, so I will defer to those owners. But I do have extensive first-hand experience with the Leica ASPH. The first three months I owned it were spent doing daytime and nighttime comparisons of my fixed eyepieces (three Delos and one XW) to the Leica Zoom.

 

https://www.cloudyni...-the-newtonian/

 

There was there no issue with glaring AMD - it was hard to see at all. Aside from AFOV differences the views were virtually indistinguishable. (So much so three Delos and one XW got replaced.)

 

I'm not the only one who found no significant issues with a "spotting scope eyepiece" in an astronomical role:

 

https://www.cloudyni...tary-test-r2717

https://www.cloudyni...-178-89mm-r2317

https://www.cloudyni...eica-asph-zoom/

 

The Baader or Nagler Zooms would be good places to start to see if the Zoom concept is something that appeals to you. And that might be all you need. But if the concept really works for you, there is even more upside potential.


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#49 REC

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 02:29 PM

One really good use for a zoom ep, whichever one you get is this. When viewing planets, you can zoom in to see what the best focal length is for that nights seeing condition. With a 8-24mm I start around 12-14mm and see how crisp the view is like last night on Jupiter. Then I'll start to zoom in for a larger image, but not enough to loose detail. When I hit 8mm and it starts to get mushy, I'll back off to 10 or even 12mm to keep it sharp. I did that last night on Saturn to see Cassini division, 10mm was it. The other nice thing is on double stars. You start to raise the power on one until you can split it.....fun to see.

 

FYI.....last night I had my grab 'n go C102 f/9.8 to mainly get a peek on Jupiter and Saturn. I only had an hour, so just used my Baader Mark III for most of my observing. No tracking scope here. When I was at the 8-10mm range, I swapped out my very good ES 8.8mm 82* fov. The sharpness seemed to be the same, but with a 82* FOV I didn't have to nudge the scope as much. Bottom line, a zoom EP is a good tool to have in your tool box!


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#50 25585

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Posted 29 August 2019 - 02:51 PM

Maybe the ideal "zoom" is a turret. 


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