2020: A Zoom Odyssey

Discuss telescope eyepieces.
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Shorty Barlow
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2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#1

Post by Shorty Barlow »

After some thought and deliberation, and over a period of time, I finally acquired a collection of zoom eyepieces. These were the first zooms I had ever owned and I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I’d read good reviews about the Baader and the Celestron and although there are a few others on the market these two generally seemed to be among the most popular choices. I am pretty convinced that the Celestron is identical to the Meade 8-24mm zoom and both are probably produced by the same OEM. Both the Celestron and Baader zoom eyepieces ostensibly magnify in marked stages. On all of the zooms any magnification between the shortest and longest focal lengths can be achieved, but only the Baader has definite (but subtle) click-stops.

However, they are all significantly different in particular ways. Primarily in their respective retail prices. With the Hyperion basically being twice as expensive as the Celestron unit, which in turn was twice the retail price of the Sky-Watcher. The Baader is larger and heavier than both the Celestron and Sky-Watcher zooms. The BHZ is the only one that can utilise a 2” skirt even though it is technically only a 1.25” eyepiece. The Baader zoom apparent field of view varies between 50° and 68° while the Celestron varies between 60° and 40° (according to Baader and Celestron respectively). I have no data for the AFOV of the Sky-Watcher zoom. Apart from an undercut it appears to be almost identical to the now discontinued ‘Orion Explorer II 7-21mm Zoom’. Orion claim an apparent field of view of 30° at 21mm and 43° at 7mm. There is a TS Optics equivalent to the Sky-Watcher zoom. TS Optics claim 50° at 21mm and 40° at 7mm. There are alternative claims of a purported 54° (at 7mm) to 38° (at 21mm) for the same eyepiece.

Image

Baader Mk IV Hyperion Universal - Zoom

The first zoom I received was the Hyperion. Not uncommon with Baader products it comes supplied with various extras and I also purchased the 2.25x Hyperion Zoom Barlow at the same time. The first thing that I noticed was that the eye lens dust cap on the zoom eyepiece wasn’t easy to remove. This can be an important issue for me as I am physically disabled. This was later rectified when I had to return the zoom to the retailer when a huge piece of internal debris dropped into the field of view effectively rendering the eyepiece useless. The retailer rapidly replaced the faulty zoom, and the new one not only seemed to work perfectly, but had a much better fitting eye lens cap.

I got a chance to test the BHZ first during a rich field session with my modified ST102. I decided to take only two eyepieces out with me, the other being a 31mm Baader Hyperion Aspheric. This certainly simplified things for me as I could now easily get both eyepieces, the OTA, finder, and diagonal all in the same carrying bag. The zoom replaced the usual rich field kit of a 19mm TeleVue Panoptic, a 14mm Baader Morpheus aka ‘The Dalek’ and a 9mm Celestron X-Cel LX (or alternatively sometimes an 8mm TS Optics Planetary HR). Inevitably most of the session was with the BHZ ‘Super Dalek’. The transparency wasn’t too good although the overall seeing seemed like a decent Antoniadi ‘I’. The first thing I noticed was the smaller FOV compared to the 76° Morpheus, although I did actually expect to see a difference. I am not too sure of Baader’s claims of eye relief distance as I discovered that this varied with magnification. I seemed to be pushing my eye right into the eye lens quite often to see all of the FOV. The Pleiades and other open clusters looked very sharp even at higher magnifications. There was very little edge distortion and the overall image was very clear with a pleasing flat field. Zooming in on Caldwell 14 (Perseus Double Cluster) and double stars was great fun. Cor Caroli looked quite resplendent at 62.5x and was easily as good as with the 8mm Planetary HR. The BHZ has since become my most used zoom.

Image


Sky-Watcher 7-21mm Zoom

The Sky-Watcher ‘baby’ zoom is probably the sort of eyepiece that those who generally denigrate zooms are referring to. It is a small, lightweight and compact unit roughly 8cm tall (not including eyeguard height). As a consequence the field of view is somewhat diminished compared to the other three. Mine actually has no brand name on it. The housing appears adequately constructed with a chromed brass drawtube that includes an undercut. In my experience the undercut was not problematical. The rubber eyeguard is similar to the one on the Celestron 8-24mm EP and can also be rolled down. At first in use I tended to prefer it in the rolled down position for the shorter focal lengths. If you’re not careful the eyeguard can suddenly pop up from that position and smack you in the eye! I find when observing at around 21mm to 15mm the eyeguard is better in the default rolled up position as the eye relief seems quite long.

First light was on a twilight setting Moon in a 90mm Orion Maksutov giving me between 59.5x and 178.5x. Due to the conditions the best magnifications I achieved were about 90x to around 130x. It directly compared well with 14mm and 20mm Bresser 60° ‘Plossls’, although the field of view of the zoom was smaller of course. Occasionally I could detect some false colour right at the edge of the field stop. I next got to use it with a Sky-Watcher 72ED Evostar DS-Pro. My original plan was to start with low power rich field observing and then use the zoom paired with a Barlow on the Moon when it had risen high enough. Due to the fact I’d miscalculated the low lunar altitude I ended up using the baby zoom on its own (sans Barlow) for some unintended deep sky observing. First target was the Perseus Double Cluster, followed by several of the open clusters in Cassiopeia. I then turned towards the Beehive Cluster and some double stars, including Cor Caroli. The baby zoom gave between 20x and 60x on the ED72. I directly compared the zoom set at approximately 12mm with a 12mm Celestron X-Cel LX on the Beehive, Double Cluster and Cor Caroli. The zoom surprisingly held up very well and only showed any astigmatism right at the edge of field. The zoom action is smooth and easy to operate. This is a nice little zoom, although personally I would prefer to use it for lunar and planetary observing. Its small FOV would generally tend to preclude it being used for open clusters even though it did cope quite adequately in the ED72. Overall the Sky-Watcher zoom is well worth what it cost.

Image

Celestron #93230 8-24mm and Meade 4000 Zooms

I didn’t originally purchase the Celestron to be used with a Barlow in the ST102. I had envisioned it as a back up or alternative to the Hyperion if the Baader zoom hadn’t worked out. However, it performed admirably paired with a 2.5x Celestron Luminos Barlow, giving convincingly wide and pleasant views of the Moon. The Celestron housing is about 10cm tall (eyeguard rolled down) and 4.5cm wide with a chromed brass drawtube with an undercut. I found that I tended to prefer the eyeguard in the default rolled up position at 24mm. There was also a slight amount of kidney beaning if the eye positioning wasn’t just right at the longest focal length. The ‘baby’ Sky-Watcher by comparison stands at 8cm (eyeguard rolled down) and is about 4cm wide. Furthermore, the Celestron zoom feels well made and substantial belying its reasonable price. At shorter focal lengths the FOV appears like a good 60° although the 40° is distinctly noticeable at 24mm. The Celestron #93230 is supplied with a nice and practical ‘vase’ shaped plastic container with a threaded screw-off lid. It also performed well in a 127mm Sky-Watcher Maksutov. The range was 62.5x to 187.5x although the most useful magnifications for lunar viewing were between around 125x to 187x (12mm ~ 8mm). It is now used regularly with my Maksutovs, and with my small refractors combined with a Barlow. The Meade 4000 is identical to the Celestron except for cosmetic differences. The drawtube barrel on the Meade is not chrome although it also features an undercut. The Celestron and Meade zooms have identical focal planes and could potentially be used side by side in a binoviewer. Interestingly the Meade has more sophisticated markings on its housing to denote focal length more accurately. Although this essentially seemed like a good idea I soon discovered that the markings aren’t particularly easy to make out in the dark.

Image

TeleVue 3-6mm Nagler Zoom

I realised that this zoom was perfect for my telescope focal lengths. It is beautifully made and the zoom mechanism works perfectly. There are definite click stops between the focal lengths although any length can effectively be selected between 6mm and 3mm. As you would expect this is a small 1.25” eyepiece and has a correspondingly close eye relief of about 10mm. The FOV on all focal lengths is a constant 50º. It’s not often that I’m totally astounded by an eyepiece, but I am by this. It is par-focal so zooming in for high planetary observing is nicely straightforward. I had a recent view of a twilight Jupiter with this zoom and my 102mm Altair Starwave. The clarity and sharpness were outstanding. Even at 238x it wasn’t a bad image, although that was definitely pushing it in the conditions. However, I just couldn’t resist it. The ability to start at 119x and gradually increase the magnification until I achieved a balance between magnification and clarity with it was most satisfying. Later I split double stars, including the Double Double.

Image

Pentax XL 8-24mm Zoom

I believe this was originally intended for a Pentax spotting scope. Which I find a bit weird as it weighs in at over half a kilo (550g). It is also 1.25” and ranges from 24mm to 8mm. Ostensibly it is very similar to the Baader, although it has a substantially heavier and stronger build, and is apparently waterproof. It has no 2” skirt option. The Pentax almost feels like you could drop kick it without causing it any damage (I didn’t try this). Unlike the Hyperion it doesn’t come with included extras although it is supplied with a large bolt case. It also features a twist-up eyeguard and the zoom mechanism works smoothly with no click-stops. The mechanism, which utilises a waterproof seal, feels a little stiff at first but improves with use. This is a fairly weighty eyepiece so I placed the drawtube barrel into a 1.25” (two screw) Baader adapter in a 2” diagonal. Most of my scopes and all of my refractors have aftermarket Baader adapters. In this way the twist mechanism wouldn’t work the eyepiece loose. Pentax claim that the FOV starts at 38° at the longest focal length then opens up to 60°, which seems about right. The optics (six elements in four groups) in this eyepiece are excellent and include lanthanum glass. The brightness, contrast and clarity are astounding for a zoom. I had the best image I’ve ever seen of the Ring Nebula with the XL. This zoom has a distinct edge on the Baader in many respects. I’m fairly convinced that this is the best zoom eyepiece of its class.

Pentax XF 6.5mm to 19.5mm Zoom

The smaller XF sibling has a 6.5mm to 19.5mm focal length and an AFOV of 60° (at 6.5mm) to 42° (at 19.5mm). The eye relief varies between 11mm to 15mm. Like the XL there are six multicoated lenses in four groups. It weighs in at 240g standing 90mm tall with a maximum diameter of 50mm. The XF is considered by many to be inferior to the XL. I’ve used it predominantly in my f/7.5, Sky-Watcher Evostar ED80. The main bones of contention with the XF seem to be with perceived lateral astigmatism and a lower light transmission. I have seen some small amount of edge distortion although on-axis it is excellent. The overall transmission may not be as high as the XL in comparison but the lanthanum glass imparts a wonderful tone and the colour separation is beautiful to behold. The main benefit for me with this little zoom was that it was lightweight, straightforward and effortless to manipulate. I’ll certainly be taking it out again.
TS Optics: 150mm, f/6 Newtonian (GSO SVD series). Altair: Starwave 102ED-R. Sky-Watcher: Explorer 130M, SkyMax 102mm, SkyMax 127mm, Evostar 72ED DS Pro, Evostar 80ED DS Pro, ST80 (TS Focuser), ST102 (SW Dual Speed Focuser), EQ5 Deluxe, AZ5 Deluxe. Vixen: Porta II/SXG Hal-130, Vixen Porta II/APP-TL130. Orion: 90mm StarMax , ST80 (TS Focuser). Celestron: NexStar Evolution 9.25". William Optics: E-BINO-P Binoviewer. A shed load of eyepieces including: Antares, Astro Essentials, Astro Hutech, Baader, Bresser, BST, Bushnell, Celestron, Explore Scientific, GSO, Kokusai, Meade, Orion, Pentax, Sky-Watcher, Solomark, SvBony, TeleVue, Vixen, William Optics & one or two I'm not sure of.
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Bigzmey
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#2

Post by Bigzmey »

Nice review SB. That's an impressive collection of zooms!

Opinions on zoom EPs seem to be as polarized as on barlows. People tend to forget that performance is always relative, and for each EP whether it is zoom or fixed length there will be better and worse.

I had the most experience with Baader Mark IV and I would recommend it over some of the popular fixed FL EP sets like Celestron X-Cel LX or Paradigm/Dual ED.
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & XFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68s; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: BCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV; Russell Optics: SuperPlossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2005 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1565, S110: 77). Doubles: 1382, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 88
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#3

Post by Shorty Barlow »

Bigzmey wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 9:40 pm
Nice review SB. That's an impressive collection of zooms!

Opinions on zoom EPs seem to be as polarized as on barlows. People tend to forget that performance is always relative, and for each EP whether it is zoom or fixed length there will be better and worse.

I had the most experience with Baader Mark IV and I would recommend it over some of the popular fixed FL EP sets like Celestron X-Cel LX or Paradigm/Dual ED.


Thanks Bigz. Zooms vary of course, and they'll always be somewhat of a compromise. I agree about the BHZ and EP's like the StarGuiders (hideously overrated IMO) and the X-Cels. I'd rather have the BHZ than a set of those. De gustibus non est disputandum as they say somewhere.
TS Optics: 150mm, f/6 Newtonian (GSO SVD series). Altair: Starwave 102ED-R. Sky-Watcher: Explorer 130M, SkyMax 102mm, SkyMax 127mm, Evostar 72ED DS Pro, Evostar 80ED DS Pro, ST80 (TS Focuser), ST102 (SW Dual Speed Focuser), EQ5 Deluxe, AZ5 Deluxe. Vixen: Porta II/SXG Hal-130, Vixen Porta II/APP-TL130. Orion: 90mm StarMax , ST80 (TS Focuser). Celestron: NexStar Evolution 9.25". William Optics: E-BINO-P Binoviewer. A shed load of eyepieces including: Antares, Astro Essentials, Astro Hutech, Baader, Bresser, BST, Bushnell, Celestron, Explore Scientific, GSO, Kokusai, Meade, Orion, Pentax, Sky-Watcher, Solomark, SvBony, TeleVue, Vixen, William Optics & one or two I'm not sure of.
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#4

Post by Shorty Barlow »

Zooms that just didn't cut the mustard:

Image

I had three Vixen LV zooms in a row that had to be returned for visible debris in the FOV. I don't own an LV now. These much vaunted Japanese made zooms are probably the inspiration behind the Chinese 'Meadetron' clones. In my experience they were no better than the Celestron and Meade 4000 zooms. In fact, they had a noticeably smaller FOV and their zoom mechanisms physically felt odd to turn as if there was something not quite right with them. I couldn't see any improvement over the 'Meadetrons' when viewing with them either.

Image

The Lunt and HyperFlex both got returned as well because of visible debris. These were quite good in use, with sharp, bright, well contrasted images, although I used them in combination with a Barlow for lunar observing. I couldn't tell any difference between the Lunt and the HyperFlex although the Lunt was much more expensive. I'm assuming the extra cost of the Lunt was because it can be used for solar observing and is built predominantly out of kryptonite.
TS Optics: 150mm, f/6 Newtonian (GSO SVD series). Altair: Starwave 102ED-R. Sky-Watcher: Explorer 130M, SkyMax 102mm, SkyMax 127mm, Evostar 72ED DS Pro, Evostar 80ED DS Pro, ST80 (TS Focuser), ST102 (SW Dual Speed Focuser), EQ5 Deluxe, AZ5 Deluxe. Vixen: Porta II/SXG Hal-130, Vixen Porta II/APP-TL130. Orion: 90mm StarMax , ST80 (TS Focuser). Celestron: NexStar Evolution 9.25". William Optics: E-BINO-P Binoviewer. A shed load of eyepieces including: Antares, Astro Essentials, Astro Hutech, Baader, Bresser, BST, Bushnell, Celestron, Explore Scientific, GSO, Kokusai, Meade, Orion, Pentax, Sky-Watcher, Solomark, SvBony, TeleVue, Vixen, William Optics & one or two I'm not sure of.
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

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Post by Bigzmey »

Vixen LV zoom was also a disappointment for me. Performance of that one was clearly below Cel X-Cel LX.
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & XFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68s; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: BCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV; Russell Optics: SuperPlossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2005 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1565, S110: 77). Doubles: 1382, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 88
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#6

Post by Shorty Barlow »

Bigzmey wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:17 pm
Vixen LV zoom was also a disappointment for me. Performance of that one was clearly below Cel X-Cel LX.
They have a good legacy reputation, apparently some TV and Meade zooms were Vixen made.
TS Optics: 150mm, f/6 Newtonian (GSO SVD series). Altair: Starwave 102ED-R. Sky-Watcher: Explorer 130M, SkyMax 102mm, SkyMax 127mm, Evostar 72ED DS Pro, Evostar 80ED DS Pro, ST80 (TS Focuser), ST102 (SW Dual Speed Focuser), EQ5 Deluxe, AZ5 Deluxe. Vixen: Porta II/SXG Hal-130, Vixen Porta II/APP-TL130. Orion: 90mm StarMax , ST80 (TS Focuser). Celestron: NexStar Evolution 9.25". William Optics: E-BINO-P Binoviewer. A shed load of eyepieces including: Antares, Astro Essentials, Astro Hutech, Baader, Bresser, BST, Bushnell, Celestron, Explore Scientific, GSO, Kokusai, Meade, Orion, Pentax, Sky-Watcher, Solomark, SvBony, TeleVue, Vixen, William Optics & one or two I'm not sure of.
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

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Post by notFritzArgelander »

My experience with the Vixen LV 8-24mm zoom differs. I found it to be better than the Orion, Meade and Celestron clones. It is not quite as good as the Baader Hyperion Mark IV zoom which is the best of the zooms I can afford. J Gardavsky probably has the supreme bull goose loony zoom in his kit though.

After trading off between the Vixen and the Baader Mark IV I kept both, offloaded my other zooms and bought a second Mark IV for binoviewing.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

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Post by notFritzArgelander »

Shorty Barlow wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:35 pm
Bigzmey wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:17 pm
Vixen LV zoom was also a disappointment for me. Performance of that one was clearly below Cel X-Cel LX.
They have a good legacy reputation, apparently some TV and Meade zooms were Vixen made. Obviously things have changed.
Obviously my experience differs. :)
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

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Post by Bigzmey »

notFritzArgelander wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:37 pm
Shorty Barlow wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:35 pm
Bigzmey wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:17 pm
Vixen LV zoom was also a disappointment for me. Performance of that one was clearly below Cel X-Cel LX.
They have a good legacy reputation, apparently some TV and Meade zooms were Vixen made. Obviously things have changed.
Obviously my experience differs. :)
We can compare the notes. My copy of LV zoom had no issues with sharpness, but produced noticeably darker views compared to Mark IV and X-Cel LX. It maybe OK (or even beneficial) for lunar and planets, but not for faint targets.
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & XFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68s; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: BCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV; Russell Optics: SuperPlossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2005 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1565, S110: 77). Doubles: 1382, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 88
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

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Post by notFritzArgelander »

Bigzmey wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:09 pm
notFritzArgelander wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:37 pm
Shorty Barlow wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:35 pm


They have a good legacy reputation, apparently some TV and Meade zooms were Vixen made. Obviously things have changed.
Obviously my experience differs. :)
We can compare the notes. My copy of LV zoom had no issues with sharpness, but produced noticeably darker views compared to Mark IV and X-Cel LX. It maybe OK (or even beneficial) for lunar and planets, but not for faint targets.
My "better" on the Vixen has to do with contrast. I can agree that it is darker so better on Moon and planets. The Mark IV is definitely brighter and more contrast in my experience.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#11

Post by Shorty Barlow »

notFritzArgelander wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:37 pm
Shorty Barlow wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:35 pm
Bigzmey wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:17 pm
Vixen LV zoom was also a disappointment for me. Performance of that one was clearly below Cel X-Cel LX.
They have a good legacy reputation, apparently some TV and Meade zooms were Vixen made. Obviously things have changed.
Obviously my experience differs. :)
Obviously your view is subjective. In a direct comparison with the Meadetrons the three LV's I had were no better. Notwithstanding all of them had badly realised and rough focuser twist actions and their maximum FOV's were noticeably smaller.
TS Optics: 150mm, f/6 Newtonian (GSO SVD series). Altair: Starwave 102ED-R. Sky-Watcher: Explorer 130M, SkyMax 102mm, SkyMax 127mm, Evostar 72ED DS Pro, Evostar 80ED DS Pro, ST80 (TS Focuser), ST102 (SW Dual Speed Focuser), EQ5 Deluxe, AZ5 Deluxe. Vixen: Porta II/SXG Hal-130, Vixen Porta II/APP-TL130. Orion: 90mm StarMax , ST80 (TS Focuser). Celestron: NexStar Evolution 9.25". William Optics: E-BINO-P Binoviewer. A shed load of eyepieces including: Antares, Astro Essentials, Astro Hutech, Baader, Bresser, BST, Bushnell, Celestron, Explore Scientific, GSO, Kokusai, Meade, Orion, Pentax, Sky-Watcher, Solomark, SvBony, TeleVue, Vixen, William Optics & one or two I'm not sure of.
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#12

Post by notFritzArgelander »

notFritzArgelander wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:37 pm


Obviously your view is subjective as well.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Shorty Barlow
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#13

Post by Shorty Barlow »

Obviously.
TS Optics: 150mm, f/6 Newtonian (GSO SVD series). Altair: Starwave 102ED-R. Sky-Watcher: Explorer 130M, SkyMax 102mm, SkyMax 127mm, Evostar 72ED DS Pro, Evostar 80ED DS Pro, ST80 (TS Focuser), ST102 (SW Dual Speed Focuser), EQ5 Deluxe, AZ5 Deluxe. Vixen: Porta II/SXG Hal-130, Vixen Porta II/APP-TL130. Orion: 90mm StarMax , ST80 (TS Focuser). Celestron: NexStar Evolution 9.25". William Optics: E-BINO-P Binoviewer. A shed load of eyepieces including: Antares, Astro Essentials, Astro Hutech, Baader, Bresser, BST, Bushnell, Celestron, Explore Scientific, GSO, Kokusai, Meade, Orion, Pentax, Sky-Watcher, Solomark, SvBony, TeleVue, Vixen, William Optics & one or two I'm not sure of.
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#14

Post by Bigzmey »

We are just three subjective people who mean well, obviously. :)

We also know by now that whether equipment perform well on not for a particular user depends not just on the design or QC, but on targets, observing style/preferences and physiology.
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & XFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68s; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: BCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV; Russell Optics: SuperPlossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2005 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1565, S110: 77). Doubles: 1382, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 88
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#15

Post by notFritzArgelander »

To be more specific, I never found any QC issues in any Vixen eyepiece I've bought. But the I've bought them all directly from Vixen NA not from 3rd parties. Mechanical action on the zoom was smooth and perfect.

QC on 3rd party purchases might indeed suffer. Sites like AliBaba and Amazon might have counterfeit merchandise. I would still (based on my own experience buying from Vixen NA direct) recommend the Vixen LV zoom if the Baader Hyperion Mark IV was too pricey.

The only time I was ever disappointed in a Vixen product was when I went through a 3rd party. Since then I've only bought from Vixen NA which isn't any help to European folks.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#16

Post by notFritzArgelander »

Bigzmey wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:10 pm
We are just three subjective people who mean well, obviously. :)

We also know by now that whether equipment perform well on not for a particular user depends not just on the design or QC, but on targets, observing style/preferences and physiology.
Yep. Plus small sample sizes. :) For instance mechanically my Vixen is perfectly fine, as designed. I just prefer the subtle click stop on the Baader as a nice touch in the dark. Tactile information is good. Also prefer the Baader optics as mentioned.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#17

Post by Shorty Barlow »

It doesn't matter where you buy them from. Vixen are either made in Japan or China. The last LV I bought was from Amazon and imported from the US. The replacement second LV was from a German retailer who sent the first defective LV back to Vixen in Japan. The retailer actually told me this when I complained about the amount of time it was taking. I've been a customer with them for years and I don't think they were giving me a jackanory. Either way, the replacement was better but I could still see debris. I have very good eyesight however and I am quite discerning.

I don't expect perfection, but I do expect not to see debris.

I've not had many QC problems with Vixen. In fact, the only problem other than the defective LV's I can recall was with a series of 8mm NPL's I bought from different retailers which all had decidedly unusable filter threads. Almost certainly from a bad batch. Eventually I acquired a good one.

I'm highly sceptical about black market counterfeit Vixen zoom eyepieces. I mean, I can understand pirated copies of Val Doonican records, counterfeit trainers and knock off Rolexes. But the ersatz amateur astronomy market just doesn't seem credible as a lucrative market for villains to me.

As I said earlier, the Vixen LV was much vaunted and highly regarded years ago. Meade and Tele Vue released Vixen made zooms which gained an excellent reputation. Before I returned them I did side by side trials with the Vixens and other zooms I own. I used refractors, Maksutovs and a Newtonian. The LV's were no better than their nearest in design; the current Meade 4000 and Celestron zooms. In fact, I preferred the latter. They weren't brighter, sharper or better contrasted.

Image
TS Optics: 150mm, f/6 Newtonian (GSO SVD series). Altair: Starwave 102ED-R. Sky-Watcher: Explorer 130M, SkyMax 102mm, SkyMax 127mm, Evostar 72ED DS Pro, Evostar 80ED DS Pro, ST80 (TS Focuser), ST102 (SW Dual Speed Focuser), EQ5 Deluxe, AZ5 Deluxe. Vixen: Porta II/SXG Hal-130, Vixen Porta II/APP-TL130. Orion: 90mm StarMax , ST80 (TS Focuser). Celestron: NexStar Evolution 9.25". William Optics: E-BINO-P Binoviewer. A shed load of eyepieces including: Antares, Astro Essentials, Astro Hutech, Baader, Bresser, BST, Bushnell, Celestron, Explore Scientific, GSO, Kokusai, Meade, Orion, Pentax, Sky-Watcher, Solomark, SvBony, TeleVue, Vixen, William Optics & one or two I'm not sure of.
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#18

Post by notFritzArgelander »

Well that is certainly not my experience. This particular eyepiece is made in China, the Vixen LV Zoom that is. If the Meade and Celestron clones are clones of the Vixen design. So your previous remark about PRC QC being superior to Japanese QC is quite silly for an eyepiece that is only made in the PRC.

I suspect that there may be difference in QA/QC depending on the details in the supply chain. The PRC often does not play nice on quality issues as is well known.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

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Post by notFritzArgelander »

I suspect that there may be difference in QA/QC depending on the details in the supply chain. The PRC often does not play nice on quality issues as is well known. I think one has a chance of an additional QC intervention passing through Vixen's own or a conscientious Vixen distributor. In the US I use https://www.vixenoptics.com and https://www.mrstarguy.com and never have an issue. Only with third parties have there been problems on PRC made Vixen goods. I'm going to continue to do business with Vixen in the manner I find useful from experience.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: 2020: A Zoom Odyssey

#20

Post by Shorty Barlow »

My LV's had Japan written on them, so I assumed they were made in Japan like the original Vixen LV's were. I'm guessing that's why they had Japan written on them. It would be silly to assume that they were manufactured outside of Japan being as they had Japan written on them. They may not have been made in Japan. They may have been counterfeits. I mean, that's a good strategy for knock-off eyepiece counterfeiters. Unless they were themselves Japanese. There again, that may itself be a double bluff and they could have been Japanese counterfeit eyepieces made by Japanese counterfeiters feigning a different nationality entirely by claiming that they were Japanese assuming people would believe they were really non-Japanese. I think.

The LV's were also made in China, especially some of the later ones. I do know that as I've seen a Chinese LV. The PRC QC 'plays' the same as everyone else's QC. In percentage I'd say EP QC was fairly consistent across the board. I've returned several faulty Tele Vues. If I compare the amount of TV's to PRC eyepieces I have I'd say the borking average was about the same between them all. It still doesn't matter where you buy an individual eyepiece from. The QC is performed at the factory they're made in as far as I know.

The original LV's made in Japan had a very high reputation.

Competitively priced similar eyepieces were manufactured by other companies in the PRC. Vixen, for reasons unknown, switched production back to Japan.

So when I compared the new Japanese LV's to their PRC non-Vixen counterparts I couldn't detect any real difference in contrast and sharpness. I did find the PRC zooms were slightly brighter and had a larger maximum FOV. Which is why I preferred them. And like I said earlier, the new Japanese LV's all had the same mechanical issues.
TS Optics: 150mm, f/6 Newtonian (GSO SVD series). Altair: Starwave 102ED-R. Sky-Watcher: Explorer 130M, SkyMax 102mm, SkyMax 127mm, Evostar 72ED DS Pro, Evostar 80ED DS Pro, ST80 (TS Focuser), ST102 (SW Dual Speed Focuser), EQ5 Deluxe, AZ5 Deluxe. Vixen: Porta II/SXG Hal-130, Vixen Porta II/APP-TL130. Orion: 90mm StarMax , ST80 (TS Focuser). Celestron: NexStar Evolution 9.25". William Optics: E-BINO-P Binoviewer. A shed load of eyepieces including: Antares, Astro Essentials, Astro Hutech, Baader, Bresser, BST, Bushnell, Celestron, Explore Scientific, GSO, Kokusai, Meade, Orion, Pentax, Sky-Watcher, Solomark, SvBony, TeleVue, Vixen, William Optics & one or two I'm not sure of.
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