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Eyepieces - advice needed for beginner


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Hi

Can anyone give me their help or opinions about this?

I recently bought a Skywatcher 200p on an equatorial mount. I want to get some new lenses other than the stock ones which came with it. I can afford up to £300 on this, but am confused whether to go for a Pentax XF or SL, which are v expensive, a Nagler 3mm-6mm zoom or a Baader zoom, or a couple of fixed eye pieces.

The image quality is the most important thing to me. Currently I have been looking at planets, but would like to see galaxies and nebula. There are so many choices and I appreciate any advice anyone can give as to what would be best to get. Once I get this new lens / lenses I can't afford any more, so want to make sure I make the right decision first time!

Also, do you think it's worth getting a polarising filter, and if so can you recommend a good one?

Thanks

Jon

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Not sure and bound to be shot down but I think a 3-6mm Nagler zoom would be little use.

Do not know anything about the Baader zoom, other then you tend to lose field of view, so likely not a great idea with a 200P and going DSO observing.

Pentax's are nice but costly, as you say.

You seem to be picking/listing "expensive" items, any reason?

For £300 I would suggest you make Alan happy and buy the set of BST Starguiders, 5mm, 8mm, 12mm, 15mm, 18mm, 25mm.

At £49 each that is £294.

If planetary observing was a specific the the Celetron X-Cels, better selection at low focal lengths for planets, similar set but there is a 5mm, 7mm, 9mm 12mm then upwards. 6 in that group also and £59 each.

Cannot think of a use for a polarising filter - unless you mean a variable one that can be used for the moon??

If it is specifically the more costly items you want then maybe 2 of the ES82's, but that is where I stop.

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EPs dont have to be expensive to get the job done, and on the f/5 Explorer you still don't have to spend a fortune.

£300 is not enough for some EPs, and plenty for other brands. Many folk will also mention, try for second hand.

Edited by Charic
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I have a 200P and reckon the Baader zoom is fantastic.   I really like the fact that I can zoom in an out and not have to change EPs.   Saving up for a Skywatcher panaview 32mm (or something similar) to complete. 

Also thought about BSTs but a 2nd hand Baader zoom came up and was too good to pass over - definately no regrets!

If you're close to a club you might want to see if you can root out people with these EPs and have a look youreslf.

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Jon, my general advice would be to buy once and make it count.

Although initially expensive, premium eyepieces will turn out to be the cheaper option and are never going to be a waste of money.

Many astronomers - myself included - have followed quite a predictable path when it comes to buying EPs. We generally start out buying new and cheapish stuff but if we stuck at this hobby for a good while, soon enough arrives a day when we wanted to upgrade or check out one of the premium eyepieces and so we found ourselves in a curious situation. 

We have this one quality EP and a case full of relatively cheap EPs that on the secondhand market have lost a considerable amount of value. Little by little we start upgrading but each time we upgrade, we're not only forking out more cash on new eyepieces, but we're also losing cash on that cheaper eyepiece we're now selling on. So with hindsight it would have been better just to buy premium and have been done with it. When buying premium you only cry once. Or again, paradoxically speaking, "a poor man cannot afford not to buy premium."

Generally speaking, eyepieces like those from Tele Vue or Pentax become lifers, so you never have to upgrade again or you can always re-sell them without losing much money, especially if you have bought them already secondhand. Premium eyepieces simply hold their value more than cheaper ones. They also offer a very important psychological benefit. After a session, you are not left with any nagging feeling of 'what if...', for you know that this end of your optical system is about as good as it is going to get. If the view was poor, if you didn't get the expected detail or resolution, it will not be due to the eyepiece.

For general DSO viewing, you don't need more than three eyepieces.

For your 8" f5, I'd be working towards a preference of wide field (65º +) offering around 50x, 90x and 125x. Buy a decent Barlow and you're sorted. You'll have, 50x, 90x, 100x, 125x, 180x and 250x which should suffice for most clusters, galaxies, nebulae, and general lunar and planetary work. If it took your fancy, for white light solar viewing the 50x will be ideal and all you'll need is Baader's Visual Solar Film from First Light Optics which is extremely effective and cheap.

If you decide later to really get into planetary and lunar observation, you might need a good run of high power eyepieces. Even the difference of just 1mm in focal length - about 10% to 15% difference of magnification - can be surprising. But the good news is the eyepieces themselves do not need to be widefields, so you can buy cheaper Orthos and there's no hurry to build the collection all at once.

There's certainly no need to go spending loads of money to get decent eyepieces and on this account your best bet is to scan the secondhand market. Nevertheless, extracting budget from the equation and purely looking at some of the the most popular eyepiece options they appear to be:

Tele Vue

Pentax

Explore Scientific ES68, 80 and 100

Meade 5000 UWA

William Optics UWAN's

Skywatcher Nirvanas

Orthoscopic like Baader's Genuine

X-Cels LXs

BSTs

If, for the sake of argument, we start with the TV Plossl as the benchmark of excellent quality but cheaper end eyepieces, you will find they offer sharp, flat fields and excellent edge to edge performance. They are superbly executed eyepieces and the only reason they are not quite premium-premium is simply because they lack the important and expensive features of premium EPs, viz, wide fields and better eye-relief. TV Plossls start around £50 secondhand.

Although the plossls are first class, for the main 3 eyepiece set up, as already mentioned I'd suggest you go for a wider field to frame the object in an easier and more aesthetically pleasing manner and with better eye-relief so you're more comfortable at the eyepiece. If you can hang on, look out for Radians on the secondhand market. You should be able to find them for about £110 to £120. If you can save a little more you can't go wrong with Delos or Naglers. 

I can't comment on the other eyepieces mentioned (apart from the high power orthos) above but I'm almost certain they will also get top marks from those who use them. At the end of the day, try not to buy a load of eyepieces but instead, save for two really cracking, premium, quality glass eyepieces and a decent low power eyepiece and Barlow that will last you many, many years. Keep an eye on the secondhand market for things like Delos, Radian, Nagler, Panoptic, Pentax XW, XF and you will save yourself a lot of money in the long run.

Buy once and make it count :grin:

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You say lenses as plural so I would agree with the Bst,s I still have the 8mm and it,s a great ep.As you can see in my sig similar setup.If you bought secondhand one you would save money also would not lose any I suspect when re selling.Keep them for a year then start thinking about those green and black ones.(In my dreams).It will also give you a chance to start saving,you will need a lot.

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It still humours me that expensive premium eyepieces are often available second hand! How does this make them 'lifers' if/when constantly changing hands ? ;-)

No doubt, my turn will arrive one day to try some premium Eps, on the right telescope, but happy to wait a little longer for that event.

Edited by Charic
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It still humours me that expensive premium eyepieces are always available second hand! How does this make them lifers, constantly changing hands? ;-)

You really do seem to have something against high end ep's. for the life of me, I can't imagine why. me owning a couple of 13mm ethos for my binoviewers, is not going to effect you in the slightest (I don't by the way).I've seen the odd aston martin, porsche, hell even jensen button sold his veron. I'm sure others would keep them for life.

I also assume no-one can predict financial difficulties either

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It still humours me that expensive premium eyepieces are always available second hand! How does this make them lifers, constantly changing hands? ;-)

A quick look at ABS-UK shows there are many more cheap EPs by far. The first two pages of eyepiece adverts contain just one Nagler, loads of Plossls, quite a few Orthos, one Luminos, a stray Clave, and two or three sets of Zeiss EPs. The Naglers are both 5mm type 6. I can well imagine wanting to replace that with something with more eye relief, or even an ortho, as 5mm is quite well into planetary EP territory.

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It still humours me that expensive premium eyepieces are often available second hand! How does this make them 'lifers' if/when constantly changing hands ? ;-)

No doubt, my turn will arrive one day to try some premium Eps, on the right telescope, but happy to wait a little longer for that event.

Try and find, for example, a Nagler 3-6 zoom, a 21mm Ethos or Pentax XW's on the used market. They don't crop up too often and tend get snapped up in minutes when they do appear.

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Premium eyepieces are lovely but tend to tie up a fair amount of cash. If pushed financially then selling a few of these can release funds quite quickly. I would rather sell some secondhand eyepieces than some of my scopes which are harder or impossible to replace.

On a limited budget, recycling kit helps to fund other purchases too. I've bought and sold probably 60 or 70 eyepieces, most of them could be considered premium; I've sold not because I didn't like them but because the funds went towards something else, either Astro or non astro.

The hardest thing I've done in this game is let this lot go, but it helped me buy my Vixen 150ED.

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All gone... :-(

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You really do seem to have something against high end ep's. for the life of me, I can't imagine why. me owning a couple of 13mm ethos for my binoviewers, is not going to effect you in the slightest (I don't by the way).I've seen the odd aston martin, porsche, hell even jensen button sold his veron. I'm sure others would keep them for life.

I also assume no-one can predict financial difficulties either

I have nothing against TeleVue, I have three on my list?

You have your opinions, I have mine, often from both ends of the spectrum, totally expected on a forum, yet you seem more concerned about my comments, than I of yours. Let it be, their only opinions.

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I have nothing against TeleVue, I have three on my list?

You have your opinions, I have mine, often from both ends of the spectrum, totally expected on a forum, yet you seem more concerned about my comments, than I of yours. Let it be, their only opinions.

Merely an observation. or as you put it, my opinion, which I'm expressing. No harm was meant :D

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It still humours me that expensive premium eyepieces are often available second hand! How does this make them 'lifers' if/when constantly changing hands ?

By virtue of the argument given, Charic :smiley:

Along with all the other virtues of a premium eyepiece (ergonomics, quality, performance, innovation etc), the buyer ought to feel entirely confident with their purchase; there should be no nagging feeling of 'what if...?', "for you know that this end of your optical system is about as good as it is going to get."

In consequence, by virtue of being premium there is not only a significantly smaller market to upgrade into but if one does decide to sell on their eyepieces- for whatever the reason - they will do so without losing much money, especially if one has already bought them secondhand. Under such conditions, this class of eyepiece was termed a 'lifer', much as one may hear the term 'lifer' used within judiciary institutions. It does not necessarily indicate 'for the duration of a human life' :smiley:.

I'm disappointed that this inference wasn't construed from the arguments made in the post and if there remains any ambiguity I hope it has been clarified. A more charitable reading would have seen that I was trying to make a number of claims that I felt would serve the OP well and within reason are supported with concrete, real-world evidence and testimonies. I would have thought this rendered the post a little more than a mere opinion :p .

I guess, Charic my argument comes down to being frugal. Being frugal doesn't mean cutting corners or just saving money. It also means spending wisely. Often in astronomy one will find that buying cheap eyepieces can lead to spending more down the line and losing money when selling on the cheap eyepieces. In such light, it might have made more sense to have spent that little extra now - certainly not always necessary! - investing in quality and not be lumbered with further costs further down the line.

It's also arguing for a shift in mentality. Sure, we live in a disposable world, many things can be disposed of and re-purchased and it's easy to get to think everything is a mere commodity. Frugality would suggest that one made purchases that really mattered, that really offered the user a well-earned psychological benefit and pleasure in use and no nagging feelings of what ifs, or if onlys. The argument was about playing the long game and being an empirical argument it is not absolute nor infallable :p.

Hope that clears things up :smiley:

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I have been at both ends of this discussion. I had to sell all, yup all my gear to fund three funerals. My wife lost her dad, mum, grandma in quick succession. All from 10"sct to st120 had to be sold.

I have rebuilt a bit, buying second hand gear when others on this thread have upgraded. I love BST eyepiece. But studded in my case are now an 23mm axiom, 13mm nagler, 10 mm axiom and a 9mm myriad. And if things had allowed a 16mm nagler again from a poster to this thread.

Buy what you can afford and what suits you. Use your kit to the fullest, when one of the chaps or chapesses upgrades, they usually offer their redundant kit at reasonable cost. This is our chance to get well loved premium kit.

Each to their own but please no hangups on the forum. Its a great place to be.

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