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Best Barlow for $200

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#1 JoshUrban

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 04:45 PM

Hey folks!

 

  Had a question for everyone:  what's your favorite barlow lens for $200 or under?  I've been observing for years, and have a great optical train that I'd like to add a barlow to.  I'm aiming at planetary/lunar work, so wide fields aren't a concern.  I'm looking for maximum detail.  I'm on the fence with getting a few extra eyepieces, or a barlow.  I'm looking for a high quality image, and initially, given my experience with cheap barlows, stayed away from them.  Lately I've been eyeing the TV series, as well as the Siebert ones.  Any thoughts?

 

My main scope is a 12.5" f/5 Mag 1 Portaball with a Zambuto mirror (the views are INCREDIBLE), and I also frequently use an Astrotech 102mm ED "semi apo" f/7 refractor, as well as a cool old Criterion 8" f/8 that's now a dob.  But, the Portaball is my main scope.  

 

  For current eyepieces in the mid/higher power range, I use a 12mm T2 Nagler, 9mm T1 Nagler, 9mm UO Ortho, 7mm XW Pentax, 5mm Vixen LV, and 4mm UO Ortho (THAT thing is hard to use!)  I also use a Televue binoviewer with 12.5mm UO Orthos for high power views.  

 

  The 5mm Vixen and 4mm UO Ortho really aren't cutting it with quality and ease of use, respectively.  Part of me thinks I should invest in a 3.5 XW, but then well, it would be nice to have the 5 AND the 3.5, but then what about minimal glass, and then the binoviewers, and then....I've sold my car to pay for this.  Lol!  

 

So, it seems a decent barlow would be a nice thing to have in the case.  Is the TV 2x barlow on par with the premium offerings from Siebert?  (I can get one of these used for less than half the price of the Siebert.)  

 

Thanks in advance for the thoughts!

 

 

 

 


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#2 Thomas_M44

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 05:27 PM

For 1.25" EP's, you might want to consider the 1.6X Nikon EiC-16 Barlow. It's around $220 USD.

 

With a 1" extension tube, the EiC-16 will also give you about 1.9X.

 

The consensus seems to be that the EiC-16 is decidedly superior to the TeleVue 2X.

 

If you could use a 3X magnification, then perhaps the TeleVue 3X which is rated quite highly.

 

If you need a Barlow for your 2" eyepieces, then the decision making process becomes more complicated, particularly with a $200 budget.


Edited by Thomas_M44, 03 August 2020 - 05:30 PM.

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#3 NC Startrekker

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 08:17 PM

I highly recommend the Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate. It's just slightly above your budget but well worth it over conventional Barlows IMO.   If the cost new is out of the question keep an eye on the classifieds; they come up pre-owned fairly frequently at well below $200. 


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#4 JoshUrban

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 08:45 PM

Thanks, Alan and Thomas!

 

  Alan, I'm working on getting a handle on the Powermate.  I'm seeing a significant advantage is it works better than a barlow for lower power EP's too, right?  Or, are they better all around?  I've read the description on the TV website, and have seen a few threads on here.  Something that I'm trying to avoid is extra glass, although that may be misguided.  



#5 Spikey131

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 08:58 PM

A 2x Barlow will give make your Naglers 6mm and 4.5 mm, and your Pentax a 3.5. And it will lengthen their eye relief, which will make them more comfortable. With this you will have 260x, 350x and 450x, all with quality EPs. Any quality Barlow will do this with no perceptible loss of performance.

I like the Tele Vue one I have.

#6 gnowellsct

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 09:04 PM

Hey folks!

 

  Had a question for everyone:  what's your favorite barlow lens for $200 or under?  I've been observing for years, and have a great optical train that I'd like to add a barlow to.  I'm aiming at planetary/lunar work, so wide fields aren't a concern.  I'm looking for maximum detail.  I'm on the fence with getting a few extra eyepieces, or a barlow.  I'm looking for a high quality image, and initially, given my experience with cheap barlows, stayed away from them.  Lately I've been eyeing the TV series, as well as the Siebert ones.  Any thoughts?

 

My main scope is a 12.5" f/5 Mag 1 Portaball with a Zambuto mirror (the views are INCREDIBLE), and I also frequently use an Astrotech 102mm ED "semi apo" f/7 refractor, as well as a cool old Criterion 8" f/8 that's now a dob.  But, the Portaball is my main scope.  

 

  For current eyepieces in the mid/higher power range, I use a 12mm T2 Nagler, 9mm T1 Nagler, 9mm UO Ortho, 7mm XW Pentax, 5mm Vixen LV, and 4mm UO Ortho (THAT thing is hard to use!)  I also use a Televue binoviewer with 12.5mm UO Orthos for high power views.  

 

  The 5mm Vixen and 4mm UO Ortho really aren't cutting it with quality and ease of use, respectively.  Part of me thinks I should invest in a 3.5 XW, but then well, it would be nice to have the 5 AND the 3.5, but then what about minimal glass, and then the binoviewers, and then....I've sold my car to pay for this.  Lol!  

 

So, it seems a decent barlow would be a nice thing to have in the case.  Is the TV 2x barlow on par with the premium offerings from Siebert?  (I can get one of these used for less than half the price of the Siebert.)  

 

Thanks in advance for the thoughts!

If you can afford a Zambuto mirror and a bunch of Naglers and a Pentax you can afford a 2x Powermate.  I'm not a big booster of Televue but these power mates are I think the best "barlow" glass out there (technically it is a telecentric design) with the possible exception of astro-physics.  If you get one I don't think you'll be disappointed.  The power mates come in many different flavors, I've been using the 2x and 4x.  Don't go cheap on the barlow if you have premier glass on the primary and premier glass in the focus tube. Greg N


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#7 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 09:27 PM

If weight is a concern, I'd go for the Nikon 1.6 too.

 

My 12.5" Portaball doesn't have issues with the weight of 2" barlows, but the Nikon is very small, optically I can' see it being any different from the AP.

 

Of course, the 1.6 factor will need to fit in with what you have. And it may be that 2x fits better with your line up.

 

I once had 3.7 and 4.7 Ethos, but sold them and now barlow the 6 and 8 Ethos with the Nikon, which give 5 and 3.75. Comes in at similar weight, and I prefer 100 to 110 degrees.

 

IAlso, keep in mind that the A-P tends to come in under 2x. I find around 1.8x with most 1.25" format, and if you insert 2", perhaps closer to 1.5. It will obviously depend on the eyepiece.


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#8 Spikey131

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 09:13 AM

The Powermate will not increase eye relief.  

 

So if you are looking for increased ER, a barlow would be better.


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#9 russell23

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 09:36 AM

The 1.6x Nikon EIC is the best 1.25” barlow I have used.  It is really in a different class. It is equaled by the 2” Dakin barlow but that barlow must be placed in front of a star diagonal to reach focus.  There are no concerns about eye relief changes with the Nikon barlow.  There is very little focus adjustment with the barlow as well.  With a 1” extension tube it is ~1.9x depending upon the eyepiece. 
 

I’m not anti-powermate, but the 1.25” powermates are not as sharp as the Nikon barlow and I have found most telecentric barlows like the PM have more scatter and less contrast than a really excellent barlow like the Nikon.   So I am anti the notion that a PM is an automatic upgrade from a barlow.  The high quality barlows I’ve used are sharper and have better contrast than a PM ... and cost less as well.

 

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#10 csrlice12

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:15 AM

TV 3-6mm zoom.....just another option....light weight, decent eye relief, parfocal, no variance in afov (around 50*, think plossl like afov).   Only drawback is the price, but it's worth every cent.  Just not a Barlow fan, though everybody should have one.  

 

Just a thought.,you have a top tier portaball....consider high end collimation gear for it.


Edited by csrlice12, 04 August 2020 - 11:15 AM.

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#11 kklei940

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:43 AM

Well, I don't have a great deal of experience with barlows but I picked up a new (old stock) Powermate for well under $200 and had first light with it last night on Jupiter and Venus with my 6" f/5. I used it in conjunction with a 18.5 DeLite and a 32mm TV Plossl. The views to me were excellent! Again though, the only other barlow I've used is a shorty GSO so my experience is limited.


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#12 JimV

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 10:21 PM

I don't know my Barlow brands, but a long 2" Barlow with a field stop somewhere in the middle will have high contrast and sharp edges.  It will significantly sharpen up edges in low f/ratio scopes.  I don't think I would fool around with complex lenses such as Powermates.  Not needed.  2" Barlows will not vignette 1.25" Plossls as a 1.25" Barlow will.  I did the experiments.

I went vintage to get such a Barlow, and it's great.  I did not research current Barlows.


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#13 M44

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 10:56 PM

Get this and be done with it!

 

https://astromart.co...e-barlow-486007


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#14 GeneT

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:41 PM

I recommend a TeleVue Barlow or Powermate. I settled on a 2X Powermate and it is a great optic. 


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#15 JoshUrban

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 10:26 AM

Hey, thanks for the great input, everyone!!  Lots to sort through here, and I agree, want to make sure this isn't the weakest link in the chain.  (I'm into audio stuff, too, and don't want this to be the equivalent of a nasty old RCA cable here!)   



#16 JoshUrban

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 10:28 AM

TV 3-6mm zoom.....just another option....light weight, decent eye relief, parfocal, no variance in afov (around 50*, think plossl like afov).   Only drawback is the price, but it's worth every cent.  Just not a Barlow fan, though everybody should have one.  

 

Just a thought.,you have a top tier portaball....consider high end collimation gear for it.

This is an interesting point, and really why I haven't gotten a Barlow yet.  I'm thinking that eventually I'll have both in the case, but am curious to see what a nice barlow/powermate can do.  (Also, with the binoviewers, would like to be able to really crank those up.)  



#17 Thomas_M44

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 12:46 PM

I recommend a TeleVue Barlow or Powermate. I settled on a 2X Powermate and it is a great optic. 

 

This is actually a quite good suggestion.  The only major caveat is the size/weight of the unit.

 

The 2X Powermate would amplify essentially any eyepiece 1.25" or 2", even ultra-wide-field types, without vignetting, without focuser travel issues, or other such negative drama.

 

It could be argued that the extra pair of lenses in the Powermate as compared to an excellent conventional 2-lens Barlow might rob a miniscule amount of sharpness or contrast, but this is probably a trifling concern, particularly given the healthy apertures of your reflectors.

 

Do you really need or want the capability to amplify 2" eyepieces?  can you handle the length and weight of a 2" Powermate? If so, this would be a very versatile option.


Edited by Thomas_M44, 05 August 2020 - 12:48 PM.


#18 JoshUrban

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 08:53 PM

This is actually a quite good suggestion.  The only major caveat is the size/weight of the unit.

 

The 2X Powermate would amplify essentially any eyepiece 1.25" or 2", even ultra-wide-field types, without vignetting, without focuser travel issues, or other such negative drama.

 

It could be argued that the extra pair of lenses in the Powermate as compared to an excellent conventional 2-lens Barlow might rob a miniscule amount of sharpness or contrast, but this is probably a trifling concern, particularly given the healthy apertures of your reflectors.

 

Do you really need or want the capability to amplify 2" eyepieces?  can you handle the length and weight of a 2" Powermate? If so, this would be a very versatile option.

 

It's an interesting train of thought.  Man, I love eyepieces, and this might be a neat way to go for DSO stuff.  (I'm always thrilled to use my 20mm Nagler T5, and that would probably be nice barlowed.)  However, yeah, trying to get the most contrast for a high power planetary application here.  BUT - been enjoying higher power for DSO work (especially faint galaxies to tease them out of the background), so a 2" powermate, while perhaps not great with the weight factor of the Portaball balance this time around (plus binoviewers!), seems like a good thing to aim for with the next round of equipment shopping.  Appreciating the ideas and discussions, folks!  



#19 JoshUrban

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Posted 27 August 2020 - 05:27 PM

Update - ordered a Siebert Modular Barlow just the other day!  I actually ordered another model, and mentioned in the email that I'd like to use binoviewers with it.  Harry called me personally, spent a half hour on the phone to understand my application, explain some of the different configurations, etc, and has a modular barlow in the works for me.  Couldn't be more delighted!  And, how cool to patronize an American small business that obviously cares a great deal about quality.  That's worth it right there.  

 

  I'll post a report once it arrives and I get some starlight through it . Thanks everyone for the input!


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#20 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 28 August 2020 - 01:20 AM

The Tele Vue Powermates are excellent.


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