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John

Baader Classic 32mm Plossl meets Vixen 30mm NPL Plossl

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The Baader Classic 32mm Plossl meets the Vixen 30mm NPL Plossl

32mm is a very popular focal length for eyepieces in the 1.25” fitting because it can show just about as much sky as an eyepiece in this fitting can show and the apparent field of view can still be an aesthetically pleasing 50 degrees. As the focal length gets longer than this, the barrel size squeezes the apparent field ever-smaller with no more sky being on view and the field itself appearing, to me at least, somewhat more distant and less engaging.

24mm wide field eyepieces in the 1.25” fitting can show as much sky but, within the price range of these plossls, this can be at the cost of a rather noticeable loss of sharpness in the outer parts of the field of view when used in medium to fast scopes.

When I was loaned the new Baader Classic eyepiece range by First Light Optics a few weeks ago, I had a chance to try the Classic 32mm which is a plossl design rather than the orthoscopics that the other focal lengths in this range employ. I was slightly hampered though in that I did not have another 1.25” 32mm eyepiece with which to compare the Baader with. Thankfully FLO stepped up to the plate again and have now sent me the 30mm unit from Vixen’s NPL plossl range. The Vixen NPL 30mm has a similar specification to the Baader and is similarly priced so it’s a good eyepiece to measure it against.

Physically the 2 eyepieces are broadly similar in height and weight but the Vixen NPL has a much broader top section that mostly comprises the “click up” 2- position eyecup facility. The eye lens of the Baader measures around 26mm in diameter whereas the eye lens of the Vixen is a little larger at 28mm. The coatings on the Vixen have a reasonably deep greenish tint and the Baaders are a more unusual brownish-purple, almost bronze from some angles.

The Vixen’s top section and integrated thick rubber eyecup have a twist up action raising them around 10mm. There is a click stop at either end of the travel but it cannot be “parked” in between those positions. At the lower position the top section of the eyepiece has a slight rattle but it is firmer at the higher setting, which is where I found the eyepiece most comfortable to use. I did find myself wondering at the longevity of the click stops as they felt like part of the plastic construction.

The Baader has no such mechanism and sports a simple thin rubber rim with a folding rubber light shield which can either be up or down. I preferred down. The Baader Classic 32mm does come with a 10mm matching plastic extension piece which goes on to the top of the eyepiece in place of the eye cup which is then re-fitted to the top of the extension. I found I did not need to use this extension although I believe it could come in useful if the eyepiece is used with a Barlow lens as the eye position will need to be further away from the eye lens in those circumstances.

At the other end, the Baader has a plain black smooth aluminum barrel to match it’s body finish. The Vixen has a more traditional chromed brass barrel with a wide but shallow safety undercut machined into it. Both are threaded for 1.25” filters and both have micro-ridges down their inside surfaces to reduce light scatter. The inside of the Vixen’s barrel was painted flat, matte black (or very dark grey at least) while the Baaders was the same finish as the exterior of the eyepiece and did seem to catch the light somewhat more I have to say.

The Baader Classic has a plain satin powder coated black finish all through but the top section of the Vixen is made of plastic and feels slightly less substantial than the rest of the eyepiece as a result. The Baader dust caps, while looking a little awkward at the top end covering the turned down light shield, do fit snugly. The Vixen’s caps don’t fit so well and have a habit of falling off rather too easily.

The eye relief of the Vixen NPL 30mm is stated as being 24mm. I could not find a figure for the Baader Classic 32mm plossls but it subjectively felt similar to the Vixen so lets say ~25mm which is around 80% of the FL and normal for the plossl design.

When comparing the apparent fields of view of these two eyepieces I felt the Vixen matched it’s claimed 50 degrees. The Baader however was slightly, but noticeably, less and I’d estimate it at around 47 degrees. Both have sharply defined field stops.

Opportunities for practical testing have been rather limited recently but so far I’ve used these eyepieces during a session with my ED102mm F/6.5 refractor and more briefly, with my 12” F/5.3 dobsonian. In the refractor these eyepieces both showed a true field of around 2.25 degrees and in the dobsonian it was fractionally less than 1 degree (based on my estimation of the Baader FoV). Possibly because of its slightly larger eye lens, the Vixen 30mm did seem a little more immersive than the Baader 32mm (see below).

Targets have included the double cluster in Perseus, M35 in Gemini, M42 in Orion and a number of the brighter galaxies in Ursa Major and Leo. I have stuck to deep sky objects so far with these two although I did take a peek at Jupiter with them.

In actual optical performance, these eyepieces seem very close indeed to me. More or less equal in star sharpness across the FoV, that of the Baader FoV just a little smaller at 47 degrees. Vixen shows very slightly more contrast on DSO’s but this might be due to slightly higher magnification given (22.1x vs. 20.7x) but it’s possible than the better blackening of the barrel interior of the Vixen may play a part here too.

The Vixen eyepiece handles more securely due to shape with its bulbous top section providing a firm holding point. The smooth, flat and somewhat slimmer barrel of the Baader Classic plossl did not feel quite so secure in the hand to me.

In the F/6.5 refractor these plossls seemed to generally show stars sharply across most (say 90%) of the field of view. In the F/5.3 newtonian astigmatism (elongated stars) was gradually creeping inwards from the field edges but I did not feel it was become distracting from the overall view in either eyepiece.

When I viewed Jupiter, using the 12 “ F/5.3 dobsonian, I let the giant planet and it’s moons drift across the field of view of each eyepiece. In the central 80% of the field of view the planet was very sharp and well defined with plenty of strong contrast in it’s belts and zones with both eyepieces. As it traversed the outer parts of the field the features blurred slightly and the planetary disk became slightly elongated. The Baader seemed to introduce a hint of false colour to the edges of the planet in this part of the field as well which I did not see with the Vixen.

Light transmission seemed quite similar with these eyepieces. I could not detect any notable differences in overall nebulosity or galactic brightness and the background sky seemed to be equally dark in both. As previously mentioned, at times I did feel that the Vixen NPL 30 showed just a touch better contrast in these objects and was slightly nicer to view through aesthetically.

I feel they are both a subtle improvement over the more basic standard 32mm plossl eyepieces I’ve used in the past and seem decent value for less than £50. Of the two I think my pick would be the Vixen 30mm NPL as I just found it slightly more enjoyable to handle and use and I feel it is just a touch better corrected than the Baader.

I hope the above notes prove useful for anyone considering a ~32mm 1.25" eyepiece :smiley:

Thanks again to First Light Optics for making these eyepieces available to me to try out :smiley:

John Huntley

February 2013

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The NPL also has a slightly smaller exit pupil, that's always good :D.

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The NPL also has a slightly smaller exit pupil, that's always good :D.

Yep - in the F/5.3 dob that could have been helping with the contrast of DSO's a bit. I should have mentioned that :smiley:

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Thanks for the report. Sounds like an even match when you considered there is a slight difference in focal length.

Edited by E621Keith

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Thanks for the report. Sounds like an even match when you considered there is a slight difference in focal length.

Yes, it was pretty even Keith. Quite often the views were virtually identical.

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Excellent review thanks. There has been few comments about the twist up top section being quite loose on the vixen's but at the same time report on its good optical quality but sounds like there isn't much to seperate it from the baader.

I've also considered the vixen due to its smaller exit pupil.

Thanks.

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Nice Report John, interesting stuff :laugh:

I haven't seen the Baader Classic Plossls yet, but your posted pic of the 32mm really reminded me of the Sterling Plossl range available from Smart Astronomy in the USA.. Here's a picture of the 25mm, the barrels look remarkably similar. Interestingly, the Sterling isn't available as a 32mm, although they do a 30mm in a 2" barrel. I did own a 25mm Sterling for a while and was very impressed, regretted selling it on (now, how many times have I said that before?? :grin:

I guess we are lucky to have so many decent eyepieces to choose from at reasonable prices.

cheers

Dave

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Thanks Dave :smiley:

I agree that there is more than a passing resemblance between the Baader 32mm plossl and the longer focal length Stirling plossls.

They have the 25mm Sterling (or a clone of it) at Telescope Services:

http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p4396_Long-Perng-25mm-Super-Ploessl---55--Feld---1-25--Durchmesser.html

It's quite interesting to me as 25mm would give the optimum exit pupil size for the Horsehead nebula (with a suitable filter). Orion is rather awkwardly placed for me now though so this project may have to wait a while :smiley:

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Cheers John. NPLs (8mm and 30mm) were my choice for upgrading from stock eps, and I've been happy with them - but I have nothing to compare with and little experience, so it's nice to hear a positive impression from someone more experienced.

FWIW, I had similar concerns to you and Flinty Fox about the twist up rim when I first tried the 30mm, but I've been using it as my workhorse ep since May and it seems sturdy enough. Of course given the year we've had I've only used it about 25 times at most, but so far so good.

K :D

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Good read and review, thanks. I have just been considering the 30mm vixen as a wide field and object locater eyepiece.

I currently have an old 32mm soligor plosssl. Its field of view is 40. Do you think the vixen would be a decent upgrade

or would i be better off keeping what i have. Would i see much difference through the eyepiece?

Paul

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Good read and review, thanks. I have just been considering the 30mm vixen as a wide field and object locater eyepiece.

I currently have an old 32mm soligor plosssl. Its field of view is 40. Do you think the vixen would be a decent upgrade

or would i be better off keeping what i have. Would i see much difference through the eyepiece?

Paul

I think the Vixen would be a subtle but quite nice improvement Paul. It's not going to revolutionise your viewing but a 40m degree field of view is a bit narrow for a 32mm plossl. 50 degrees is more engaging, in my opinion.

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Hi John

I realise that this is a thread about the Vixen ep (and very nice it sounds too!) so don't want to hijack it. I'm therefore starting a new thread regarding the Sterling Plossls..

cheers

Dave

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Hi John

I realise that this is a thread about the Vixen ep (and very nice it sounds too!) so don't want to hijack it. I'm therefore starting a new thread regarding the Sterling Plossls..

cheers

Dave

I've seen that Dave and posted in that thread :smiley:

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