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Link to a review of zooms

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#1 gnowellsct

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:10 PM


My telephone suggested this to me as something I might be interested in and I have to admit some what sheepishly that it was right.

I wonder what others think of the review. I've never heard of this website before.

https://telescopicwa...zoom-eyepieces/
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#2 eyespy

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 07:07 PM

Hi,

 

Interesting read. Thank you. Hopefully they will be adding the new Svbony 3-8mm to that list soon !! Mine arrives on Monday and I can’t wait to test it and compare it to my Baader Hyperion 8-24mm zoom along with the dedicated 2.25x Barlow that yields 3.56mm at the low end.

 

Doug…..


Edited by eyespy, 25 January 2023 - 08:24 PM.

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#3 Mike B

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 09:36 PM

Hi Greg-

 

Well, I breezed thru the linked write-up on zooms, but was left unimpressed. Maybe I’ve just read too much on the subject? But it seemed to me to be saying what was obvious & commonly reported… more a distillation of existing & commonly available info. It was also notably common in its coverage, hi-lighting the most common entrants in the field. I’ve done my own traveling on the zoom highway, had a good look at a few of the options, including some lesser-known variants, so found this write-up a little too much “Ford & Chevy & that’s-it-folks”. But then I s’pose some of my “lesser-known variants” aren’t exactly off-the-shelf available, either, so there’s that undecided.gif

 

So as a decent starting place… yeah, I guess. But I believe there’s much to be gained from digging deeper! waytogo.gif

 

Zoom-zoom,

flowerred.gif Mike B


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#4 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 09:47 PM

Written by a Cloudy nighter . . . 


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#5 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 10:05 PM

"Augustus" if I'm not mistaken . . . 


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#6 Mike B

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 10:25 PM

Just looking at the historical contenders, none of the new crop of zooms, it’s worth doing a simple CN articles search for “zoom eyepieces”

….and there was a more recent thread on the subject that I recall finding very fascinating, but can’t seem to find. If I do, illl post a follow-up lol.gif


Edited by Mike B, 25 January 2023 - 10:36 PM.

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#7 gnowellsct

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 10:31 PM

I hadn't heard that zoom eyepieces weren't that good with fast focal ratio telescopes. Is that true?

Edited by gnowellsct, 25 January 2023 - 11:23 PM.


#8 Mike B

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 10:51 PM

I hadn't heard that zoom my pieces weren't that good with fast focal ratio telescopes. Is that true?

I guess I wouldn’t know, as the fastest optic I ever fed to my zooms was an F4.55 Dob… a skosh slower when modified with a ParaCorr, which is hardly “fast” by current standards. Heck, even that ParaCorr was only designed to correct coma down to F4, and had been rendered insufficient by these new Uber-fast Dobs! So not being a good fit for an F3.5 Dob?… dood, take a ticket & stand in line!


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#9 Eddgie

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 11:04 PM

My telephone suggested this to me as something I might be interested in and I have to admit some what sheepishly that it was right.

I wonder what others think of the review. I've never heard of this website before.

https://telescopicwa...zoom-eyepieces/

Overgeneralized I think.

 

Easy argument first.  A cheap eyepiece is a cheap eyepiece. If you put a $70 wide field eyepiece up against a $300 wide field eyepiece, which would you expect to be better? Is it a fair to extrapolate out from this that zooms are bad or is it more reasonable to simply say that if you are on a budget, you are not going to get as much as if you are not on a budget.

 

Let's step off from the last point about economics. First, a good zoom will have multiple elements and some people will infer that this will somehow make it inferior. A Televue Nagler, one of the more expensive eyepieces you can buy, and anyone that has used one will tell you that the are excellent performers. If a zoom has seven elements that have excellent coatings, why would it be inferior to a Nagler that has seven elements just because some of those elements can move?  If the elements are well made and well coated, and the design is a good design, logic would dictate that it can be exactly as sharp as a fixed focal length eyepiece.

 

If you buy a good quality zoom, it can perform far better than the link above suggests. My experience has been that the difference between the view in a good zoom is not easy to see, and in fact, it can be quite subtle if it can be seen at all.

 

As for the speed at which they can work, once again, if you compare an inexpensive wide field eyepiece to an expensive eyepiece, you often find that the expensive eyepiece can be made to work at a faster focal ratio.  Why can't a good zoom be expected to have the same characteristic? My experience is that a good zoom can work as well at f/5 as man expensive wide field eyepieces, though the zoom can't show the same wide apparent field as a fixed focal length eyepiece.

.

The point is that if you buy a low cost eyepiece of any type, you usually wont get the same performance of a more expensive type unless the design is a simple design like a Plossl.  

 

My experience with a good zoom like a Baader Hyperion is that in terms of optical performance meaning the sharpness and the contrast of the eyepiece, and the way stars are kept sharp at the edge of the field, is not so different form many other more expensive eyepieces. The lateral color and edge sharpness of a $100 dollar zoom is not going to be as good as with a Baader zoom (or other high quality zoom)  in just the way that a $100 wide field is usually not as sharp as a $300 wide field when you look out there at the edge of the field.

 

The main limiting characteristic of a zoom is the apparent field and no zoom can match even inexpensive wide field eyepieces with respect to this. Even a $70 8mm wide field eyepiece can have a bigger true field as a Hyprion at 8mm, and almost no eyepiece other than another zoom will have a narrower field than a zoom at 24mm. and at  23mm, or 22mm, or 21mm, or 20mm, or 19mm, or 18mm, or 17mm, or 16mm, or 15mm, or 14mm, or 13mm, or 12mm, or 11mm, or 10mm, or 9mm, or 8mm, and every setting in between, you can easily find any number of eyepieces that have wider fields of view.  It should be obvious what I am doing here though, which is to say that when you have a zoom, you have an eyepiece in every one of these focal lengths and everything in between these focal lengths.

 

Everything in life is a compromise and the main compromize of a zoom is that you get an infinite number of focal lengths between 24mm and 8mm, but to allow that, and to benefit from that, you have to accept that the apparent field is narrower than it would be in any random selection of inexpensive wide field eyepieces in all of these focal lengths, which even if they cost $50 apiece, would still cost several times the cost of something like a Baader zoom if you duplicated every focal lenght I provided above.  Is that a good compromise, or a bad compromise?  I do almost all of my traditional observing with two pair of eyepieces.  I  use a pair of Baader zooms (I use binoviewers). I use my zooms for planets, lunar, and solar, both white light and Hydrogen Alpha. I have had some of my finest planetary observations using zooms. In my Lunt 80 solar telescope, the zooms show me more detail than any other eyepieces I have ever used because the daytime atmospheric disturbance can change from moment to moment and with the zooms, I can quickly increase magnification when there are steady moments in the atmosphere to see small, fine detail, and zoom back down when the disturbance muddies the view.

 

The other pair of eyepieces I use when I am using conventional eyepieces is a 25mm wide field. I use this when I need a wider power than the Hyperion can give. 

 

Because I use a binoviewer, if I need more power than I can get with the 8mm, I use a glass path corrector, which is a kind of barlow for bionviewers and dong that, I can get 390x out of that same pair of zooms in my C8. (not that I use that much, but the point is that I can just use a Barlow if I want shorter focal length).

 

One last virtue of the zoom is that it makes your observing sessions far more productive. Even with the narrow field of a zoom, most galaxies, planetary nebula, and globulars  will easily fit into the field at the 24mm setting in most typical size scopes and you can do a full session and with a single eyepiece, and since you are not interrupted to change eyepieces, you will see more in a session using a zoom than you will using a case of expensive wide fields because you won't contantly be changing eyepieces. I rarely use the 25mm wide fields in my C8 becuase I don't have to. There are thousands of subject that will fit into the field of my zoom in the C8. Every catalog double star, 99% of the galaxies, most of the Messier objects, and thousands of NGC clusters.  

 

So, I think the link you posted is somewhat generalized and fails to really recognize the full value of a good zoom.  If you are going to talk about if a zoom is worth it, talk about a more expensive zoom because a more expensive zoom can be a better value than a lot of cheap eyepieces.

 

I don't think the info in the link is bad, I just think it doesn't give a very complete picture and through omission, fails to convey the full range of benefit of zooms and makes them feel inferior optically, when that is only mostly true when you are talking about inexpensive zooms. 


Edited by Eddgie, 25 January 2023 - 11:05 PM.

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#10 Mike B

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 11:08 PM

Well stated, sir! waytogo.gif



#11 Highburymark

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 09:06 AM

I agree.
Old cliches about zooms (dimmer, less sharp etc) are out of date, just like the assumptions that ED refractors are prohibitively expensive, and more complex eyepiece designs can’t match orthoscopics. Fortunately, technology and the market move a lot faster than received wisdom.
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#12 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 09:28 AM

A cheap eyepiece is a cheap eyepiece.

 

waytogo.gif



#13 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 09:31 AM

I agree.
Old cliches about zooms (dimmer, less sharp etc) are out of date, just like the assumptions that ED refractors are prohibitively expensive, and more complex eyepiece designs can’t match orthoscopics. Fortunately, technology and the market move a lot faster than received wisdom.

 

Barlows used to have a poor reputation decades ago. Things do change.

 

Looking at the article, the author is certainly as experienced as any of us here. He was not trying to write a definitive guide, rather an intro to beginners I believe. 


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#14 Mike B

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 05:38 PM

Barlows used to have a poor reputation decades ago. Things do change.

 

Looking at the article, the author is certainly as experienced as any of us here. He was not trying to write a definitive guide, rather an intro to beginners I believe. 

I’d like to think that… but such an intro, IMHO has no biz listing the heaviest hitters at the top, nor relegating the std. foot soldier to last, nor labeling it as “cheap”! mad.gif Such “cheap” zooms see a lot of service with many folks, and as such are enjoyable performers not worthy of such derogatory labeling. “Beginners” are poorly served, if not outright misled, being pointed toward $200-$400 zooms as the “recommended” alternatives, far less so anything doubling that number! crazy.gif

 

Honestly, I’m left scratching my head as to the author’s purpose or intent in putting forth this piece confused1.gif ….. and do, indeed, wonder what his personal experience with zoom oculars might be. undecided.gif


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#15 rexowner

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 06:07 PM

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link of telescope rankings by price category

rated by their “team of experts” which was updated 4 or 5 days ago as I write this. 

 

Weirdly, although our sponsor is correctly listed as a good place to buy stuff, no

Astro-Tech scopes are included in the 185 scopes on the list. IME, the AT scopes 

include the best bang for the buck, so this omission is strange. Another dealer is listed 

as the “community favorite” and while my experience with that dealer has been just

fine, it makes me wonder who is paying for this. I wish someone had recommended 

Astro-Tech to me when I was starting out, and hadn’t found Cloudy Nights, and this

website wouldn’t have helped one bit.  



#16 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 27 January 2023 - 03:05 PM

I’d like to think that… but such an intro, IMHO has no biz listing the heaviest hitters at the top, nor relegating the std. foot soldier to last, nor labeling it as “cheap”! mad.gif Such “cheap” zooms see a lot of service with many folks, and as such are enjoyable performers not worthy of such derogatory labeling. “Beginners” are poorly served, if not outright misled, being pointed toward $200-$400 zooms as the “recommended” alternatives, far less so anything doubling that number! crazy.gif

 

Honestly, I’m left scratching my head as to the author’s purpose or intent in putting forth this piece confused1.gif ….. and do, indeed, wonder what his personal experience with zoom oculars might be. undecided.gif

 

I have not handled the Celestron zoom, so can not speak to its quality or performance.

 

Presumably, it is just "inexpensive" and not "cheap".

 

To your point the word cheap is probably used too broadly. Sometimes, a product can be one and not the other. 

 

Edit - another note on that, the 7-21(ish) zoom units. There is at least one that is excellent, the Leica 7.3-22. Optically and mechanically, it is as good as the newer wide field Leica zoom. Very rare unfortunately.


Edited by Jeff Morgan, 27 January 2023 - 03:07 PM.


#17 Mike B

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Posted 27 January 2023 - 03:40 PM

Just going off the forum chatter I see more recently, the old Celestron zoom is a decently functional unit which many enjoy. I might not prefer it myself, as I’m afraid I’ve become a bit of a zoom snob lol.gif , yet this new crop of zooms coming over on boats appear to be the real deal! And between the trail-blazing crossovers from the spotting-scope realm, like Leica, Nikon, Swarovski, Zeiss, and others there would seem to be a plethora of excellent zoomer options for budgets of every level!

 

And any contemporary zoom write-up really should include more than even a brief mention of a zoom EP which seems to have taken the market by storm: APM’s new marvel!

 

Yes, quite a switch from two decades ago, where many “affordable” zooms were the root of the bad reputation this EP type still suffers from! Indeed, as Jeff has stated, “things do change”! cool.gifThank heavens for that!


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#18 Second Time Around

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Posted Yesterday, 11:01 AM

Let me start by saying that I find Telescopic Watch to be one of the best review sites of its kind.

 

Yes, this particular article does need updating.  I'd too like to see mention of the new APM Superzoom. 

 

And zooms polarise viewpoints - as even a cursory look at topics on Cloudy Nights will confirm!  Like Eddgie, I'm very firmly in the pro-zoom camp and agree with his comments.

 

As for links to HighPoint rather than Astronomics, Telescope Watch has no compulsion to recommend Astronomics just because it sponsers Cloudy Nights.  The same goes for Agena that I believe sponsers another forum.  I'd add that as a Brit I have no dog in this particular race.

 

Telescope Watch is an Amazon affiliate for which it receives commission.  However, it's the first site that I've seen (in any market) that actually states what the typical commision rate is.

 

It's possible that Telescope Watch uses this commission to actually test most if not all of the scopes it reviews.  I believe this is far from the norm on so many of the review sites you can find on search engines.  These purport to be experts on everything just because they're read some Amazon reviews!

 

As an example of this, I've learned a lot about the minor differences between various models of Dobs from Telescopic Watch, that they've clearly tested.  This is something I'd never have known without hands on experience involving time and expense.

 

I don't quite agree with the ratings, and in particular feel that Celestron's Starsense Explorer is well worth the extra money, especially for beginners.  However, this is personal opinion and others here will disagree.

 

There is of course a wealth of knowledge here on Cloudy Nights, and old hands won't find Telescopic Watch as useful as novices.  However, the benefit of Telescopic Watch is that the information is readily retrieved rather than searching through a multitude of threads. 

 

So I for one find Telescopic Watch very useful, as of course I do Cloudy Nights.



#19 Starman1

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Posted Yesterday, 11:30 AM

My telephone suggested this to me as something I might be interested in and I have to admit some what sheepishly that it was right.

I wonder what others think of the review. I've never heard of this website before.

https://telescopicwa...zoom-eyepieces/

Very selective, considering there are more than a hundred available now. 


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#20 vtornado

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Posted Yesterday, 12:21 PM

From the bottom feeders ...

 

The following observations are either with a f/6 dob or an f7.5 refractor,

mostly lunar and planets.

 

I have the svbony 7-21, from the 7-14 it offers more more eye relief ,the same or greater AFOV, and is sharper on edge than most plossls I have used.  It is a plossl "buster"

I recommend it to beginners, looking for some shorter focal length eyepieces.

 

I have the celestron 8-24 it doesn't get used too much, but it is OK as far as sharpness

goes.  One thing it does very well is the top threads can be used to attach a dslr directly

to the eyepiece for afocal photography.  During the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, it was

perfect in that I could exactly use the correct focal length to frame the pair.

 

I just purchased the svbony 8-24 zoom.   It appears to be on par with the celestron.

Zooming is harder due to the small zoom ring.  I have not owned it long enough

to judge its optical performance.

 

Baader MK II.  Is better in everyway to the above zooms as far as sharpness and

field of view through its entire range.  Mark IV is 5x the price of the svbony.

At this price it is possible to buy 4 paradigm EDs that cover its focal lengths.

So unless you need the infinitie variability or like the idea of one eyepiece.

The Mark IV is not a cheaper option, than 4 low cost reasonable eyepieces.


Edited by vtornado, Yesterday, 12:24 PM.


#21 JamesDuffey

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Posted Yesterday, 01:33 PM

¨During lockdown, I like many others got back into astronomy and bought a small used SCT. It came with a 24mm MA. Affordable reasonable quality eyepieces at other focal lengths were out of stock everywhere. I eventually ordered an Orion-E 7mm to 21mm zoom, similar except of the labeling to the Svbony 7-21mm zoom and a 32mm Plössl. I was pleasantly surprised at the views the zoom  produced for the cost, except that at the 21mm end it was not much, if any better than the 24mm eyepiece, or for that matter the 32mm Plössl. When the supply chain loosened up, I ordered and received a 15mm Paradigm ED. The Paradigm at 15mm was much superior to the zoom at 15mm, even to untrained observers. So to me the improved TFOV and slightly brighter and higher contrast image trump the convenience of all those focal lengths in a single eyepiece. 

For most people, I suspect that fixed focal length eyepieces that follow Don's 3:2:1 recommendations would provide a better viewing experience than a zoom, albeit at a slightly higher cost. 



#22 Mike B

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Posted Yesterday, 03:14 PM

¨During lockdown, I like many others got back into astronomy and bought a small used SCT. It came with a 24mm MA. Affordable reasonable quality eyepieces at other focal lengths were out of stock everywhere. I eventually ordered an Orion-E 7mm to 21mm zoom, similar except of the labeling to the Svbony 7-21mm zoom and a 32mm Plössl. I was pleasantly surprised at the views the zoom  produced for the cost, except that at the 21mm end it was not much, if any better than the 24mm eyepiece, or for that matter the 32mm Plössl. When the supply chain loosened up, I ordered and received a 15mm Paradigm ED. The Paradigm at 15mm was much superior to the zoom at 15mm, even to untrained observers. So to me the improved TFOV and slightly brighter and higher contrast image trump the convenience of all those focal lengths in a single eyepiece. 

For most people, I suspect that fixed focal length eyepieces that follow Don's 3:2:1 recommendations would provide a better viewing experience than a zoom, albeit at a slightly higher cost. 

Last nite I jumped on the opportunity to get out in the cold & first-lite a new-2-me Orion Eon 80mm F6.25 APO, itself a fairly old scope. Had it slung on a dead-stick DSV-1, a basic but rock-solid Alt-Az mount. Collecting dust instead of photons were a bevy of EPs awaiting their own first-lighting; a 16mm UO volcano-top Konig:; a 20mm Starbase Kellner; a Meade 140 Barlow. Plus a handful of old faves; a 13mm Ethos; a 4.8mm APM XWA; and one of the best zooms you could ever hope to find! A Nikon 7-21 MCII.

 

All had a shot at strutting their stuff around Orion, where the 13E was stunning for how wide & sharp it presented. Beautiful! Conversely, the APM dug waaay down deep & stunned with how beautifully it could peel apart tight stellar groupings & display them in an amazing 110* context! Both of these were carry-overs from my daze of Dobbing, and I was thrilled at how delightfully they made themselves at home in the li’l APO - - was like they’d been crafted for just such a purpose. Heh. grin.gif

 

Big surprises were ahead…. The old-skool Konig surprised for how beautifully it presented- bright, sharp, easily showing the Trapezium-4 at only 31x, and even the outfield was not as bad a mess as I’d feared, astig barely beginning at about the 75% point & gradually worsening toward the edges, but not to any level I found distracting, as I was so enamored of that central 75% of the view! I s’pose this would very much be a YMMV kinda thing. And the 20mm Kellner- wow, I rather enjoyed this one!  Very sharp, bright, & transparent, and oddly less astigmatic than the Konig. This surprised me a bit, for an optic having only 3-elements. Predictably, both these older designs cleaned up beautifully in the 2x Barlow. But the star of this show was the Nikon zoom! At 21mm it was Kellner-narrow, yes, but no less sharp & bright…. Yet twisting the upper ring to bring it down the FL range also widened the AFoV out to be more Plossl-like, while also enabling this mighty mite to dig out the fainter stars visible in the modern hyperwides. And to very fine points indeed, did it point them! The full field at ALL FLs was nicely focused, and from about 12mm on down the sky background was noticeably darkened to where all these pointy stellar points were displayed on an inky-black backdrop. waytogo.gif Since I seem to dig Konigs & Kellners for what they can do, this zoom is the cat’s pajamas! It acts like an Erfle on steroids lol.gif

 

So next I flipped to viewing north, hoping to get my first peek at this new comet “Zit”, hoping by now it’d rotated up out of my backyard tree. smirk.gif But unlike my milky skies to the south, my northerly skies are quite dark! So I started semi-systematically sweeping around with the 13E (38x, 2.6*TFoV). Finding zip, instead of Zit, I looked again at my charts, and decided I needed to sweep a good bit lower on the sky… but in this posture the Ebomb just stuck up too high to get my seated eyeball into the view- so I swapped in the old Konig (31x, 2.1* TFoV). Almost immediately the comit slid into view, a fairly obvious, hazy greenish dandelion characteristically strung-up amidst a line of stars. While the Konig was doing yeoman’s work displaying this splendrous sight, I quickly grew eager to see more. So I swapped in the Nikon zoom; once focused on nearby stars I began dialing up the power, til somewhere in the mid-teens I could see the sky background begin to magically darken. It seemed to reach an apex of dark around ~12mm, where I tightened up focus… and there it was- a larger circular coma… and smack in the middle a tiny, focused point of light- the nucleus! I could discern no off-centeredness of this core, which might’ve suggested a direction-of-tail. But I was happy just to see it! In my mind, this completed the cometary picture. And were it not for a good zoom to bring to the task, like a sharpened surgeon’s scalpel, I might not’ve been graced with such a view, aside from a maddening hunt-and-peck swapping of shorter FL eyepieces, hoping to land the perfect view. confused1.gif

 

This, to me, is the utility of a good zoom EP! flowerred.gif


Edited by Mike B, Yesterday, 03:29 PM.


#23 Starman1

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Posted Yesterday, 03:50 PM

Have you see this pic of the comet as it crossed the Earth's orbital plane?

https://apod.nasa.go..._DEBartlett.jpg


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#24 Mike B

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Posted Yesterday, 06:06 PM

No- that’s a fantastic shot. The ones I’ve seen were maybe earlier, where the APers were struggling on how to encompass both comet & tail in their shot. That gets it… or better *them*! bow.gif



#25 Anony

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Posted Yesterday, 11:36 PM

Problem with that zoom article is it's kind of vague with the 7-21 and 8-24 'cheap' zooms to avoid.

 

I own the 7-21 svbony and I find it better than plossls (at the higher mags anyway). I don't see any issues as mentioned, nor a 'drinking straw' view. I expect he was talking about even lower quality 7-21s, but by not saying such, he may scare away beginners from an affordable and still decent option.

Same with the 8-24 write-up ... 8-24 svbony has been reported to be decent. But again, would newcomers reading that article know what brand he's talking about exactly? I don't even know what brands he means -- usually 'goldlines' are equated with svbony, yet they aren't extremely narrow and probably not much different than the celestron.




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