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Ethos v ZAO , TMB supermono (old v new)


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Hello. To my knowledge some of the old Ortho eyepieces are still regarded as some of the best EP glass available (even today). Therefore i am wondering how the modern eyepieces now stack up against the legendary ZAO and TMB Smono.

The Ethos with its far superior fov and eye relief obviously beats the ZAO , TMB smono hands down in this department, and some may say because of the fov and eye relief advantage by the ethos then this alone gives it the viewing advantage. But on real clarity of views supplied by the ethos does it have a winning edge? Considering the advantages of modern technology and machining and materials now available, then the ethos should in theory beat an old timer like the ZAO , TMB smono , as obvious when these eyepieces where made the materials would of been more basic and the manufacturing process no where near as advanced today. 

So Ethos or ZAO , TMB smono for best in sharpness and clarity. I have never used none of the eyepieces mentioned but all mentioned are all IMO legendary in the Astro world. Are there members out there who have ever owned all or any of these eyepieces who can give their opinion. Also in different scope set ups I should imagine you may get different results possibly. So if the keep it to generally reflector dob, and refractor . Maybe the ethos has the edge in reflectors, but the ZAO, TMB Smono will outperform in a refractor. I would be interested in your views and experience on this , and how you would rate these eyepieces and if the Ethos really is the king of eyepieces or if the old timers in the form of ZAO, TMB Smono  still hold onto their legendary status of the best eyepieces available for image.

I hope this topic of Ethos v ZAO , TMB Smono is of interest to other members as well as myself to the old v new question. 

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Firstly let me say I have never even seen the Zeiss and TMB offerings though I do have most of the Ethos range. The purist will always go for the ZAO, I have read many accounts of how good they are and they always seem to come out on top with the Supermono in second place and the Pentax XO in third. Personally though I really feel it is impossible to compare the two types based on the FOV, the optic problems controlling the 100 degree field will always require a compromise somewhere else.

I like my Ethos eyepieces and I also like the BGO and Hutech orthos but mine cost much less and even then we would only be talking small differences I feel. That does not mean that if a ZAO came up I would not be interested even though they are very expensive and I do find that the tiny fields these offer that I have to be in the right mood for so the Ethos types would always get more use.

Alan

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Not much to add to Alan's post except that the first run of ZAOs were designed to operate best at f/10, so may be better in a long frac rather than a short reflector.

I use CZJ orthos - a bit lower down in the premier EP league - and can safely say they outgun every other eyepiece I have used so far (haven't looked through an Ethos yet), in optical quality at least.

I don't think manufacturing processes such as machining or polishing will have changed that much (Zeiss reputedly have some of the best polishing techniques), but coatings and materials may likely be better than those of yesteryear.

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Well, Ethos has never ever beaten ZAO or TMB`s .Delos has beaten Ethos  and that was confirmed a while ago by a chap in US who did the comparison on a large dob.You can find that review on net.I am guessing with the new offerings from Televue and Baader (De-lite and Morpheus) picture might as well be slightly different,but one thing for sure,Ethos is not the king of the hill.(great eye piece thou)

ZAO unfortunately have been the King/Queen of EP`s for a long time and so far it seems ,will remain in that position,unless,something new,exceptionally good comes out.

Allan mentioned the top draw correct.Its ZAO,TMB and Pentax XO.However,there are few others who do go ahead of Ethos like Pentax 0.965" orthos and few others.Rare as hens teeth,demand silly amount of money,but for purists,every critical detail counts.

However,dont forget,we are not in Arizona desert or in desert in Namibia where you get superb viewing conditions,dry air and magnifications of 400+ is normal thing to have.We are in UK,where most nights are relatively damp,seeing conditions are mediocre / average and maximum magnification is x 250 in most nights.(apart of obvious targets what can take more).Taking that into consideration,i would say that for UK skies and if you are a fan of ultra wide views,Ethos will be top draw EP to have.(doesnt have the greatest of the eye relief on some focal length) 

I have used Ethos(sold),ZAO(borrowed) and still own Pentax XO (will never part),have not used TMB`s unfortunately.Pentax issue is very tight eye relief,but this Ep provided absolutely best Jupiter views and details on average seeing conditions and i would love to see Pentax bringing XO series back into production and not only in 2 focal length only but a full ortho line.Superb eye pieces.ZAo,well there is nothing to add there.They are fantastic eye pieces,and views where just what you would expect from them,but at a cost of over 2k per set i found them scary to use due to they silly cost and waste of money,unless i move to Namibia or Arizona lol.Ethos was great for deep sky,but i didnt enjoy them for planetary due to large FOV.At the end,if it up to each individual and his own choice,some like ultra wides,some like orthos,some are after tiny detail increase and dont mind narrow FOV and will go extreme length for that,some will be happy with very simple cheap eye piece.

 

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Hello. These ZAO , TMB supermono  do seem very rare and very expensive when and if they do come up. Obviously the Ethos is a first class performer and as materials, technology in general has moved on ,then I was interested if a eyepiece that is readily available on the shelves today and sensible money you could say compared to price ZAO ,could it compete or beat one of older legendary eyepieces of yesteryear. I know the atmosphere, seeing conditions hold us back in the uk, so eyepieces such as the ZAO and TMB Supermono will never really be able to stretch their legs properly . So this is where the Ethos has the advantage , great fov , eye relief and optics, And I should imagine but don't know, that an Ethos  would certainly give the ZAO a run for its money in a fast dob , such as around the F5 mark . And maybe even fast fracts as Televue do seem to work very well in most focal ratio where numerous other eyepieces can be so picky.

If we are talking  observing like places in the states where the seeing conditions are so much better . Then  I should imagine this is where the likes of the ZAO, TMB will out gun the Ethos in certain focal ratios of scopes,as the seeing conditions allow. But due to the eye relief and fov then I should imagine that using them for any length of period will become very uncomfortable. Therefore as you will get more time in the eyepiece with the Ethos then your observing may be more productive .

I am surprised a manufacturer has not tried to replicate the performance of the ZAO or TMB supermono ,as I am sure we would all love a few really high power,  extreme quality eyepieces(for when we do get those nights of top class seeing conditions).  Maybe the manufacturers feel there is no longer a demand for these extreme quality Ortho eyepieces, as thet are so uncomfortable to use with eye  relief and fov for any period of time, or maybe just so expensive to produce nowerdays. 

Thanks for the input so far , and maybe John will be along at some point as I know he likes his eyepieces and I think had a TMB Supermono so may be able to add a bit more to this post.  

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17 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

not sure you can say whether an Ethos or an ortho is better - it's like comparing a Rolls Royce with a go-kart, or Mahler's 5th with Anarchy in the UK. 

I was thinking Land Rover Defender compared to a Lamborghini:icon_biggrin:

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Just to add something that I thought of after though it was not in relation to either of the orthos's. I remember reading a review I believe by Bill over in America on the new De-lite range and he felt that they out performed another top quality set of eyepieces the Pentax XW's, high praise indeed.

Alan

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Firstly i really doubt that Ethos will give any sort of run for a money to ZAO. They will get close yes,but not to the point that they will give a run for a money.

As for your mentioned focal ratios,just so you know,there where 2 runs of ZAO. ZAO I where the first ones and where made for a slow F ratio scopes.ZAOII where made for fast F ratio scopes,as such,depending on what F ratio scope you have,you will need to look for appropriate ZAO set.

And i will have to agree with poster above,you cant really compare Ethos with ortho.A bit of a different league.Not the same FOV,not the same lens set up.You can compare 100 deg ep vs 100 like Ethos vs ES or who ever else made them,or alternatively ortho vs ortho.

TMB`s are even more different.They only have 30 deg FOV so in reality for FOV they will loose Ethos any time,as for contrast and detail,thats another story.There Ethos will not get the upper hand.

As it has been said,these are completely different eye pieces to compare.

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Hello. Yes I understand they are different eyepieces with field of view , eyerelief. But optically you either can give the opinion that on the same target if one's performance when it's comes to sharpness and contrast is  a winner. And my interest is that these two Ortho  have been IMO given the legendary status of probably the best eyepieces visually there has ever been. And as modern eyepieces get better and better then does an eyepiece such as the Ethos with its much wider fov ,eye relief, better use ability have the optical quality now of such old timers ZAO , TMB Supermono. So from what has been said so far the Ethos is very good but not still as good as old timers such as the ZAO when it comes to pure optical quality.

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To answer it plain and simple,then for same target winners will be ZAO and TMB or TMB and ZAO. TMB is not really an old timer.They are still produced time to time and are easier to find in s/h  then ZAO .There have been 3 runs of TMB`s in total so far.Last one i think was in 2011 or 12 cant remember now exactly with new focal length introduced in 2nd and 3rd run.

Ethos is by all means a great eye piece and will do everything you require,i wouldnt however say that eye relief on Ethos is great or the best.There are Pentax XW and Delos and others with a better one out there.But optically Ethos are really great.

 

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I got lucky enough to try those : Ethos 13, 10 mm and ZAO's (all). Indeed, the usage was different for the times I tried them : Ethos did great on a manual Dobsonian or for deep sky observing overall. The ZAO's were used on a refractor with a motorized mount in order to do some planetary job or close tight double stars, with anyway a smaller aperture than the dob. Having said that, I did planetary observing on the same refractor and the same mount with Pentax XW and Delos, and they give a bit less transmission (light) than the ZAO's, a tiny little bit less details, a bit more scatter, a bit less contrast maybe... but way more confortable. All in all, it's a matter of taste, quite subjective, and the real difference is in the small details : for example, Saturn satellites that are at the limit of detection (magnitude) can be seen in direct vision with the ZAO's, and with averted vision on the XW or Delos. I would guess it's the same for the Ethos. Most of the time there is not much difference, but when you have an object in the field of view that is at the limit of detection, then you can a bit further with the ZAO's than with the wide FOV. This is to my eyes, and I understand that we don't all see the same.

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5 hours ago, disciplus55 said:

I got lucky enough to try those : Ethos 13, 10 mm and ZAO's (all). Indeed, the usage was different for the times I tried them : Ethos did great on a manual Dobsonian or for deep sky observing overall. The ZAO's were used on a refractor with a motorized mount in order to do some planetary job or close tight double stars, with anyway a smaller aperture than the dob. Having said that, I did planetary observing on the same refractor and the same mount with Pentax XW and Delos, and they give a bit less transmission (light) than the ZAO's, a tiny little bit less details, a bit more scatter, a bit less contrast maybe... but way more confortable. All in all, it's a matter of taste, quite subjective, and the real difference is in the small details : for example, Saturn satellites that are at the limit of detection (magnitude) can be seen in direct vision with the ZAO's, and with averted vision on the XW or Delos. I would guess it's the same for the Ethos. Most of the time there is not much difference, but when you have an object in the field of view that is at the limit of detection, then you can a bit further with the ZAO's than with the wide FOV. This is to my eyes, and I understand that we don't all see the same.

I'd have to agree with the above, whilst stating that I have not had the pleasure of viewing through any of the premier league names mentioned.

But I've used (and use) some good quality eps, including XW and XL Pentaxs, Vixen LVWs, Meade UWA, CJZ orthos, BGO's, Meade RG orthos  and now Baader Morpheus. As no two nights ever seem exactly the same, I think that here in the UK, the atmospheric conditions (Jetstream etc) will often play far bigger a part in what we see than any real differences between the top brands. And I don't think we should assume that because an eyepiece is 30 or more years old that it can't hold it's own versus today's top tier offerings: I think that one of the most important aspects of an eyepiece  or objective's quality is it's polish. For example, my Vixen ED doublet uses, I believe, FPL53 glass, as used in cheaper Skywatcher ED doublets etc. But I know that the Vixen gives better contrast and less scatter, having used (very nice) ED100 doublets for some years,  and the scatter being less is a direct result of the better polish which I believe the Vixen objective has. Same with Tak, AP, TMB and other good lenses. I'm sure that the ZAO and TMB Supermono's do so well due to their polish being done to a higher tolerance. And the extra work in polishing lenses adds significantly to the cost. Sadly, I fear that in today's mass market dominated culture, it would be difficult for any company to offer Zeiss quality at anything other than very high cost. Hence the cost of Takahashi scopes, with their fastidiously polished Canon objectives.

I can totally see how wider fields become addictive, too. I've moved in the past couple of years to wide(r) fov eps such as XL/XW Pentax, Explore Scientific, Baader Morpheus (76deg), Meade UWA etc, and find them very comfortable to use for longer sessions. I personally don't like much above 82 degrees, and my own preferred fov is 65-70degrees, but I was struck recently by how much I have moved away from narrower fields when I acquired a Televue 20mm plossl to fill in a gap between my 14mm Morpheus and 24mm ES 68: although the TV is 50 degrees, quite respectable compared to the orthos etc, it felt very narrow indeed to me, and in fact I moved it on quickly for that reason - nothing wrong with the view in terms of contrast and sharpness, but I felt the field didn't "frame" the object I was viewing as well as the wider field units.

This is all very personal, and I don't think there is a right or wrong ultimate view - it's just what an individual likes. I will just say that it is in my opinion difficult to beat the sharpness and delight delivered from a close double through a good lens and and high quality ortho, OR the beauty of a nice star cluster or nebula framed in a good quality 25-35mm wide field eyepiece!

 

Dave

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I've owned a TMB Supermono 5mm (second run) and have compared it with a 5mm Uniuversity Optics HD ortho, a 5mm Pentax XW and the 6mm Ethos (I didn't have the 4.7mm Ethos at that time).

In the same scopes on the same object, under the best conditions (2 out of the 7 sessions I had with them) I found that the TMB SM 5mm was slightly better at controlling scattered light than the complex wide fields, around the same as the UO HD ortho and the most subtle features on Jupiter and Saturn were just a touch easier to see with the TMB although visible in all the other eyepieces as well.

Under more moderate conditions I found these differences were not really apparent.

While the TMB SM's are very expensive now I bought and sold the one that I owned for around £100 - should have held onto it and made a profit I guess !

I've only used a ZAO (6mm) for a very short time and only compared that with Nagler T6's so it's not really relevent and I've not used a Pentax XO, as yet.

Would I buy another TMB SM ? - for £100 probably but I'd also probably get a little frustatated with it and sell it again. Will I get the chance to buy one for £100 again ? - probably not !

I'd probably pay a couple of £hundred for a ZAO but I'd still want UWA's / SWA's of top quality in my eyepiece case because most of the time they would do as well and I'd find 40 degree AFoV, a tiny eye lens and a few mm of eye relief tiresome if I had to use it all the time.

"Your mileage may / will vary" of course :icon_biggrin:

 

Edited by John
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Very interesting thread Simon. I have never tried ZAO or TMB SM but if I was able it would need to be on a motorized mount with my 4" Astro Tech APO. I have owned the 8mm, 13mm and 21mm Ethos EPs and they were fantastic. I have owned some Hutech and Baader Genuine Orthoscopic EPs and the planetary views were excellent. I can recall viewing the Super Novae M82 (2014j) and using the Hutech Ortho and the 13mm Ethos and I could see fainter stars with the Ortho.

Notwithstanding what I stated above I much prefer the views of 82 and 100 degree EPs although I fancy trying out the TeleVue Delite range but that takes us away from the original question.

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Hello disciplus55. I wish I lived in Nancy France . You have one Brilliant eyepiece collection  by the look of it. I would love to pop round and have a peek through some of the quality glass you have in your case  ?

Also you probably have clearer sky's to use them in compared to the uk?

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Actually, Nancy is in the North East, where the weather is very much like the UK.

i only have 10 eyepieces actually in total, and use them all, when the weather permits it, and only 2 scopes : a Dob and a refractor. Eyepieces that I don't use go for sale, like a Clavé I have now on ABS.

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17 minutes ago, disciplus55 said:

The more I read that thread, the more I think I should try a few Ethos, like 21, 13 and 6 (or 8).

 

Hello and good idea. Keep it secret though and don't let the Dob mob know as we will be told we are collectionists ?

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