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Richard Hather

First light review Pentax SMC 8-24 Zoom eyepiece

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I've had a zoom EP on my radar for a while now, ease of use and more time actually observing is important to me.
So when a second hand Pentax came up on SGL no less and at a very affordable price I couldn't resist.

Specifications

I will use the first light optics link so you can read up on it a bit more here's the link:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/pentax/pentax-xl-8-24mm-zoom.html

First impressions

What can I say it's certainly a big eyepiece but not as heavy as I thought it would be.
It feels solid and just oozes quality, nothing in the design of the EP has been compromised or overlooked.
When I first turned the EP so the ER went from the least to full extent it felt so smooth I smiled to myself same for the magnification which felt almost as smooth very reassuring.

First session

Telescope - Celeston Nexstar 6SE

I setup for my session same way I always do no changes what so ever on how I position the tube on my stand.

I did use a higher mag then what I usually do around the 17mm mark rather then 25mm and honestly I've never had more accurate alignment.

When putting the eyepiece in the diagonal I was very careful to tighten the pins enough and make sure the line which shows what mag it's at was facing up.

So onto my targets first up was Saturn, really good detail on the rings I could definitely see different shades of colour and the rings were simply breathtaking.

I could make out 2 of the moons fairly easily but my attention was mainly focused on the planet.

Conditons allowed me to go up to around 10mm anymore and the degradation was apparent immediately this did improve later on in the  night.

The Pentax was extremely forgiving on we're I positioned my eye I did use the ER to the max setting.

Comfort was immediately apparent, no blackouts or any sort of trouble finding my correct eye position.

I did try observing with my glasses on but I've never been comfortable with wearing my glasses during observations.

I think you could definitely use this EP with glasses on but not for me.

Next on my list was the moon I added my moon filter and started at 24mm.

The moon had a very detailed cool look about it, the craters and mountain ranges along the terminator were almost 3D it was stunning.

What I also found within the first 20 minutes of observing was the zoom mechanism was very easy to use almost  intuitive along with focusing as your increasing mag it all seemed very natural.

I also popped in my 2x Barlow just to see if I could, I managed to get up to 12mm which would be around 6mm with the Barlow and the views were still pin sharp, it was like I was on a mission to the moon incredible.

For my last observations of the night I chose M13/M52.

M13 was stunning as always but what became more apparent was the crisp and detailed view of the stars and surrounding star field.

I was able to identify a lot more then a low/med/high intensity of brightness for each star.

I tried to portray this in my observational sketch and the actual cluster I've never seen it so prominent or big as it was at 17.5mm.

M52 this was my first observation of this stunning open cluster.

Immediately apparent again was all the stars were pinpoint and sharp throughout.

I kept my mag at 24mm and for the first time felt a bit constricted with the 40 degree field of view but what made up for it was the detail and contrast sharp across the field and a lovely dark background stunning.

Conclusion

I was going to do a pros/cons section but I soon realised I don't have enough cons.

As far as I can tell there's 2 cons price and fov.

If I'm honest the price is justified 1 EP which is magically 7 and fov I believe is personal taste to an extent.

Fov was only an issue for me at 24mm when observing an open cluster and to be honest I expected this.

What was apparent through out was how easy it all was, how clear crisp and detailed everything was.

The zoom mechanism adjusting your focus all went hand in hand.

The comfort factor was huge not once was I frustrated with eye position or reflecting light artificial or natural/moon.

So I'm very happy with my purchase, honestly I can't see why everyone hasn't got a zoom?

Here  are a few pics of the Pentax for your viewing pleasure.

Thank you for reading my review.

 

Clear skies ✨????

 

Richard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great review of a lovely eyepiece. Enjoy it.

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

Great review of a lovely eyepiece. Enjoy it.

Cheers stu,

It mite not have been the most technical review but considering I'm still new to this passion I don't think I could really comment in a technical way.

All I tried to do was show how it is to use and what I saw from a beginners perspective ☺️

Richard

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19 minutes ago, laudropb said:

Very nice review on a lovely piece of kit.

Cheers Laudropb,

I couldn't be happier with it, I can't wait to test it more on dso ☺️

Richard

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Hi Richard

Only just came across this review of your Pentax zoom :-).

As the original owner from new it's great to see it go to a good new home and that you like it so much.

I had a look at your sketches and they are excellent, drawing is a gift that passed me by at birth, sadly!

The zoom looks perfect in your scope, a match made in heaven. Keep the sketches coming!

Dave

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3 hours ago, F15Rules said:

Hi Richard

Only just came across this review of your Pentax zoom :-).

As the original owner from new it's great to see it go to a good new home and that you like it so much.

I had a look at your sketches and they are excellent, drawing is a gift that passed me by at birth, sadly!

The zoom looks perfect in your scope, a match made in heaven. Keep the sketches coming!

Dave

Hi Dave, 

The Pentax certainly surpasses even my high expectations of it.

It really does compliment what I want to achieve during a session and the quality is great.

Thank you for your kind compliments of my sketches I do my best to capture what I observe and I get a lot of pleasure doing so it's certainly more then a hobbie a passion is what I call it to my friends and family now there's no better feeling ☺️

Richard

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Great report Richard. Also sounds like the 6se's optics are well aligned and operating sweetly. Although F10 SCTs are forgiving when paired with cheaper eyepieces, I love how top class EPs like the Pentax bring out new qualities in scopes

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