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Dude_with_the_tube

Meade Research Grade orthos and erfles.

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Browsing through SGL i only found one topic started by Anthony a few years back inquiring about these Ep`s and he got very little to non response.I heard about them,but never seen one in flesh and obviously never seen through one,but with a purchase of refractor,i was again ignited by the idea of having my BGo set back and initially i started hunting them,until Dave offered his 7mm Meade RG ortho for sale.As a chain reaction,i started looking in forums here and abroad about this eye piece and to my surprise,these are considered as one of the best orthos for "reasonable" money!Aparently a few years back on 20 eye piece shootout in 7mm,Meade RG took the first place.price wise they are on the same level as BGo`s,with difference that these eye pieces where produced from mid 70`s till mid 80`s and then discontinued by more modern plossls.So yes,we are talking about 35 years old eye pieces and they dont come up for sale often as are considered now sort of collectors items or are hunted by planetary observers.Despite they age,they are still considered as one of the best orthos.Obviously shaded by Zeiss and Supermonos and Pentax SMC`s,but for the price range they will be the "ultimate ortho".

Meade research grade set consisted of orthoscopic and wide field "erfles".

Orthos came in sizes:4 ; 7; 10.5 ; 16.8 and 28mm where wide fields where: 7 ; 12.4 ; 15.5 ; 20 and lastly 32mm which had interchangeable barrel from 2" to 1.25".orthos giving 45 deg and erfles 65 deg FOV.

All eye pieces are stamped with JAPAN MOP and according to some reviews MOP stands for Military occupied Prefecture.

there is still a battle going on on who was involved into production of these Ep`s as some say there was either Nikon or Pentax involved,some say different things,one thing is for sure:EACH eye piece optics where hand polished to perfection before passed for coating.

Interesting fact is that barrels are brushed aluminium and not the standard st/steel what makes these EP`s feather light.Only the edge of the barrel is not blackened where filters screw in.

Performance:

Orthos:all eye pieces have so called "cool glass" effect.when you tilt the eye piece to side you can see slight blue hint of coatings,but when looking through glass disappears! Razor sharp edges,no ghosting at all,even at bright objects.Super sharp field stop.dream of eye piece for people who do sketches.object remains the same shape when it drifts from one edge to another.no false colour and no distortion can be detected.In comparison to BGO`s,eye relief is slightly more tighter.Example:7mm BGO will have 6mm  ER where 7mm  meade will be around 5.3,however,vulcano top design compensates for that.i would personally not use the 4mm one in winter as you have a big chance of having this EP permanently stuck to your eye ball :D

Erfles:seemingly not all erfles are erfles.Possibly some of them are 4 element Koenig design,however,Meade advertised them as erfles so i will call them erfles in this topic.

Originally these where meant for Meade research grade range of reflectors(as we call them Dobs) and 12.4 and 20mm where the most commonly supplied with the scope.All scopes where F6 and slower as such erfles had problems performance wise in fast scopes and normally 20% of outer edge where not usable.However,picture changes completely if you use these Ep`s on slow scopes,in likes of F10-F15.you end up having the same ortho performance but this time with 65 deg FOV .I also noticed a slightly better eye relief on 7mm in comparison to ortho.I did manage to use 20mm Erfle on solar and views where sharp and crisp.Sun spots clearly stood out with small detail on my 90mm F14.4 frac.again i have not had a chance of using them during the night due to weather.However,based on reports from other users ,you can expect ortho performance out of them,very sharp views,neutral colour.on fast scope 80% FOV will be razor sharp where outer 20% edge will not.

Recap: meade orthos: superb planetary eye pieces,obvioulsy tight eye relief as usual in orthos,affordable price wise but hard to find.Will perfom beautifully in ANY scope.

Erfles:well,dark horse in my book.I will obviously test them in my 14" dob and report back.Are they worth having in your box? Depends on are you a fanatic who likes whole sets (like me) or not.So far i cant say anything bad about them.

From this point,i will be passing the ball onto Anthony Mc Ewan who kindly volunteered to do a proper review on the set and post his thoughts.Also as we both have full sets of BGo`s,we will be conducting our own "head to head" against BGO and Meade.I am hoping to carry this out during the summer,but if real life comes into our way we will postpone this until autumn.So bear with us folks.

there are few topics about these eye pieces in cloudy nights forum if someone got interested in these.

Picture of my set:

DSC_0592_Medium.jpg

Edited by Dude_with_the_tube
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Heh, yes I'm kinda jealous of that set! Notice you don't have the 32mm though. What's wrong with you? Don't you have a spare kidney?

It will be an interesting comparison, comparing them as a set to the more modern BGO's. These are definitely "classic" eyepieces, and for the time they were made were probably the top tier of optical performance for amateurs. But that was three decades ago. How will they compare with more modern glass and coatings?

Interesting to hear how good the Erfles are performing. I have not seen any of those myself, though of course now I do own a 7mm RG Ortho, and have owned the 10.5 in the past (without looking through it!).

It is also interesting to note that another range of eyepieces with almost orthoscopic performance these days are the Pentax XW's - and they're wide-filed 70 degree eyepieces! I had several of the XL's and they were excellent for planetary views - no doubt using the expertise and SMC coatings garnered through the production of the old Pentax Ortho's.

Long refractor + classic Ortho's (old and newer) = something to look forward to! :) BUT... it is also worth pointing out that Ortho's make superb DSO eyepieces too, as long as the right magnification is used to frame the object and, if one is being picky, to give the exit pupil that will reveal the most detail and/or structure in the target.

Up here at 57.4'N there is no chance of it getting astronomically dark at the moment. The only targets here for me are Jupiter and Mars and they are not ideally placed. To properly test the full range we really need a proper dark sky with a nice selection of targets: double stars, multiple stars, planets, Moon and nebulae. Hey, a comet or two would be nice too!

But in the meantime, that's a lovely collection to have. Hope you continue to get some great views out of them, of anything you're able to see at the moment.

Ant

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Haha,no I don't have a spare kidney Ant! Last time that elusive 32mm erfle went on astromart auction for a whopping 600 usd! That's way above the price I would be happy to pay for.i know a few people been chasing it.

I do intend to use orthos for DSO on my dob same as erfles.I am quite tempted by Pentax XW range or TV Delos range to be perfectly honest.But somehow these old eye pieces appeal to me a lot as each of them have personality and soul in them.Modern ones might be modern but that's just computer machined piece of metal with glass.

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Some good reading on here already, i rather wanted to try a research ortho, but i dont think it will ever happen, i really like my VT circle T`s so i will stick with them

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Hey Gaidis :laugh: , great post and very interesting reading!

I totally understand why you are a big fan of the orthos...when I let my RG 7mm go to your good self, it was a VERY reluctant sale. But it helped me fund the big D&G refractor so it was in a good cause. I've only owned that one RG ortho, but I've owned the entire set of BGO's at one time or another and rate them very highly. I honestly think that the Meade RG just had the edge on the BGO,s they are that good. And they also have the advantage of being a volcano top like a Circle T ortho, just with that bit extra performance - I do think those coatings are superb and probably as you suggest the hand polishing was pushed right to the limit.

I've just acquired a 6mm BGO for use in the D&G. Although I'm going to be using the Leica Zoom as my workhorse ep, I did want an uber high power ortho for the (very) rare best seeing nights and the 6mm at x317 fits the bill nicely. At the other end I also wanted a wide field low power ep (as if a 5" F15 will EVER deliver a wide field, ha ha), so I've gone for a Baader 31mm Aspheric which actually arrived today :p  :p  (and of course it's wall to wall cloud..).

I'd recommend the Meade RGs and BGO's to anyone without hesitation. Also the Circle T volcano tops are really nice too and all can give great views in most scopes. In long refractors they are just SO sharp, with great contrast.

Looking forward very much to your (and Ants') head to head BGO vs RG shootouts. Bring it on!! :grin:  :grin:  :grin:

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well i do like your scope Dave a lot and i want one of these myself to be perfectly honest! :D

 I had to get BGO`s back as i felt i am missing something when i didnt had them.these meades where superb pure luck when that guy from US contacted me and asked if instead of couple of eye pieces would i take the whole set.I actually couldnt believe that there is a full set available for sale as they are so rare to get individual focus length,never mind a full set.I am over the moon that i have them and this time i will be smarter and i will sell my 100 degs but not the orthos if something goes wrong in RL.will not repeat that mistake again! I agree with you on meades,they are nice to use.Abut the edge,this going to be tested.

Had the Baader zoom Ep and it was nice,but i felt a bit "cornered" with that EP.Didint feel like home with it.However,I did like the 31mm Aspheric.nice sharp views.Unfortunately sold it when that stupid ultra wide bug bit me lol.i will deffo keep you in the loop how we/me are getting on with the Meades and what is happening with the head to head.i think it will be interesting.There is one Ep in particular what i am afraid to give to Ant as if he does have a look throught it,he will want one himself.Pentax XO 5mm. I did had a look through it and i had to step back with a big grin on my face.that Ep does blow Meade and BGO clear out of the water! yes the eye relief is very tight,but boy what that thing can deliver is unbelievable,it is a real shame that only 2.5mm and 5mm was ever made.I really wish  Pentax did decide to make a full set of these,they would be THE ULTIMATE ortho!But what they did? They discontinued them!

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......Pentax XO 5mm. I did had a look through it and i had to step back with a big grin on my face.that Ep does blow Meade and BGO clear out of the water! yes the eye relief is very tight,but boy what that thing can deliver is unbelievable,it is a real shame that only 2.5mm and 5mm was ever made.I really wish  Pentax did decide to make a full set of these,they would be THE ULTIMATE ortho!But what they did? They discontinued them!

With respect I think the term "....blow Meade and BGO clear out of the water...." is over the top. I've owned a TMB Supermonocentric 5mm which is in the same league as the Pentax XO on optical performance terms and I've used a Zeiss ZAO which are the best there is and the differences between them and Baader GO's (and Astro Hutech / Fujiyama / University HD orthos for that matter) are quite subtle and only show themselves under the best viewing conditions.

"blowing out of the water" may be an appropriate term to describe the difference between the a stock MA 10mm eyepiece and a 10mm Delos or Pentax XW (for example) but it's just not what you find when you compare high performing eyepieces, on the basis of the years I've been comparing them and in my humble opinion, of course  :smiley:

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Tend agree with John, the words "blow out of the water are easy to write but I have never seen such in all the eyepieces I have had the pleasure of using,.Maybe as said, stock 10mm SW matched against 10mm  XW or Delos will show something aproaching this but I really don't think that there is anything on the market that could be described to have done this to any of the BGO range, again only 5 bob's worth.

Alan

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my humble apologies to all review gurus for using a strong term "blowing out of the water",i admit i was over exited as such forum mods or super admins,please delete this topic complitely and I promise not to do any reviews or anything stupid like that again on this forum.

thank you very much.

Edited by Dude_with_the_tube

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Dude,

The review you put together on the Meades is a very good and interesting piece of work, I for one enjoyed reading it as it is as you say rare to see any of these and to see such a fine collection is great.

 I was mearly saying that I would never use words as strong as this as i feel they can mislead someone, but that is just me.The XO clearly made a strong impression on you and i would dearly love one for those special nights.

I look forward to reading more about these.

Alan 

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I just want to echo what Alan has said. There is no doubt that the Meade RG's and the Pentax XO are great, as well as quite rare, eyepieces and your views on their performance are interesting and very welcome. 

I was only questioning how much of a performance difference there really is between the XO 5mm and the Baader GO / Meade RG of that focal length - the term "blow out of the water" suggests a really massive difference. Maybe that is what you felt though and thats fair enough.

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