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Meade 4000 Zoom Eyepiece Review

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#1
OXO

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Retail's Comments.

High-resolution optics that realize the full potential of the zoom format. For years zoom eyepieces were regarded as "convenient," but without the optical resolution required in demanding astronomical applications. The Meade Series 4000 Zoom Eyepiece has changed that impression -completely and forever . Because, finally, this is a zoom eyepiece designed for the advanced amateur astronomer who is uncompromising in his or her optical performance specifications. Performance is fully consistent with the finest fixed focal length eyepieces.

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Conceived by one of the world's leading designers of photo-optical in- struments, this 7- element system provides an apparent field of 40° at the 24mm setting increasing continuously to a 55° field at 8mm. The internal zoom optics move on smooth, precisely machined surfaces which maintain optical collimation at all zoom settings. A scale graduated in 1 mm units indicates the zoom focal length in operation. All lenses are multi-coated for maximum light transmission and image contrast, while minimizing internal reflections. The chromed brass barrel is threaded for filters. With its high-eyepoint optics and foldable rubber eyecup the Meade Series 4000 Zoom Eyepiece is comfortably usable by eyeglass wearers; even with eyeglasses the entire field of view is easily observable.

On to my Review,

Meade 4000 Zoom Eyepiece Review

What is it?

It is an 8-24 mm zoom eyepiece in 1.25” fitting - an ‘all in one’ eyepiece, if you like. Can you manage with only one eyepiece out in the field? Can a zoom eyepiece be any good? Also, how does it compare to the cheaper Orion 7-21mm zoom? Read on to find out:

Both eyepieces are supplied in a simple cardboard box but Meade also include a bullet-case. In handling, you can tell immediately that the Meade is in a different league. It feels better made with higher quality materials. It is also lighter than the Orion, which is a good thing when balancing a scope, etc.

In use, the zoom action is smooth with no click-stops. This is a bonus in difficult seeing conditions as it means you can increase magnification until the best view is obtained. Click-stops force you to move up and down in distinct steps, say 10 to 9mm.

Out in the Field

I have had both eyepieces for some time and have been lucky enough to use them in ideal conditions.

First stop, the Moon through an 8” f/5 Reflector. At 24mm, the Meade gave an excellent image. I went through all the settings from 24 to 8mm. Even at 8mm, the eyepiece showed no distortions at the outer edge! The view through the Meade showed good contrast and sharpness. I expected some distortion from a Zoom ep - the Orion eyepiece did show distortion.

Next stop M57 (The ring Nebula) through a small 80mm F/5 Refractor. Again, the Meade was exceptional throughout its 8-24mm range.

Next night out, I performed a test against some eyepieces of the same values. Looking at Jupiter, comparing the Meade Zoom EP with a 24mm Celestron XL EP, I could see a difference (remember, I have been observing for over 25yrs). There was ‘slight’ colour in the Celestron not seen in the Meade. The difference was minor, which says a lot. I then placed a Meade Series 4000 9.7 Super Plossl into the focuser. With both Meade eyepieces set to the same focal length, I could ‘just about’ tell that the 4000 9.7 was better in that it showed ‘slightly’ more colour and contrast. The FOV appeared to be the same. I compared the zoom against various other eyepieces of different makes and power but none showed a significant difference and none faired better than the Meade 9.7mm.

How far can I push the Meade Zoom with a 2x Celestron deluxe Barlow, I asked myself. Observing Jupiter, the Meade zoom performed superbly – even at 4mm (barlowed) the view was very good across the entire FOV.

Conclusion

One of the beauties of using a Zoom eyepiece is that you can set the optimum magnification for the subject and viewing conditions. This can make all the difference, especially on Deep Sky Objects with low surface brightness. This was particularly apparent when observing M57, M42, etc.

A Zoom eyepiece of this quality could replace a set of regular eyepieces, which is particularly useful when travelling with a portable scope. At home, its continuously adjustable magnification makes this an all in one eyepiece that will not disappoint. It also offers comfortable eye relief.

A quick search on the Internet shows prices from £229 pounds.

Great value for money!

10/10 Excellent!

Thanks to Steve and LCE Exeter for providing the eyepiece.

Regards,

James

#2
GazOC

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WOW James, your really impressed eh?

#3
MartinB

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Very useful and informative report James. I was interested to hear about the field of view matching the equivalent super plossels. I always thought that was where the compromise came in. Are there any downsides to the zoom? Were you able to balance your short refractor ok? Is there any focus shift as you zoom in or out?

#4
GazOC

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I hadn't noticed that, it is unusual to get the same FOV as regular EPs.

#5
FLO

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... provides an apparent field of 40° at the 24mm setting increasing continuously to a 55° field at 8mm.


Great review James :D

Its good to see that you liked it.

I have one myself - its a very useful and under-rated eyepiece.

#6
GazOC

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Ah, gotcha! It goes from say 40-45 degrees at 24mm to 55 degrees at 8mm? It "only" (sorry bad use of the word!) has Plossel FOV from 10mm or so down?

#7
OXO

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Ah, gotcha! It goes from say 40-45 degrees at 24mm to 55 degrees at 8mm? It "only" (sorry bad use of the word!) has Plossel FOV from 10mm or so down? Correct Gaz :D

Are there any downsides to the zoom?



Hand on heart i cannot praise the Zoom eyepiece enough Martin nothing about it says"Don't buy me" i can see some people maybe put off by the Price but rest assured if bought it wouldnt be an issue.

Balance wise Easy the Eyepiece is so lightweight makes no differance at all.

Cheers

James

#8
MartinB

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No fence sitting there then James. Great stuff. Perhaps when we have evidence of an especially useful piece of kit objectively reviewed we should give it the SGL Seal of Approval. Could have its own section under equipment reviews.

#9
Grant

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That is a super idea Martin!

I shall go make a new section :D

#10
OXO

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Sounds Good Martin :D id stamp this Ep :D

#11
GordonCopestake

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Is this the same as the vixen/synta/televue 8-24 zoom? Most of these seem to be re-branded. I have the vixen 8-24 and rate it highly

#12
OXO

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Deff not a synta one Gordon i don't like it at all tbh, as for the Vixen one ive been told thats the same as the Orion one which isnt a patch on the meade zoom Ep ,Televue zoom ep never used before.

#13
GazOC

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The Vixen/Televue are the same EP. Orion do two zooms - a $60 one and a $230+ one. It wouldn't surprise me if all 4 (Vixen, Televue, Meade and dearer Orion) were the same model.

#14
GordonCopestake

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I'm not 100% sure but im fairly sure that the televue one is identical to the vixen one which is identical to the orion one which is identical to the synta one which is the same as the seben one. In that order of quality.

I think ALL the 8-24 ones are the same, the 7-21 ones are different and are much lower quality. The only difference in the 8-24's is that each company checks there own quality assurance and rebrands so the televue ones are just the best ones of the batch and the rest might not care as much to let lower quality examples through as it's a lower price point.

As far as i can tell anyway. Could be wrong.

#15
GazOC

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Televue/Vixen is def. the same eyepiece. :D

#16
FLO

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The Orion/Synta are definitely not (the same as the Meade).

#17
GazOC

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I'd love to here a report on those Seben zooms even if they are just "OK" they'd be a handy addition to an eyepiece collection.

BTW just to clarify my last post I meant to read that the Vixen/Televue eps are the same as each other, I've no idea whether they are the same as the Meade.

#18
GordonCopestake

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Not 100% sure i only have experience of the vixen one i own.

#19
Jamie

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Hi James a great and very informative review.

Nice one.

#20
GazOC

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Not 100% sure i only have experience of the vixen one i own.


The Televue ones get QC'd at Televue, so in theory they are cream of the crop. Does yours rattle Gordon? I've heard a few Vixen owners say theres do.




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