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Short Shootout - Vixen HR 3.4, DeLite 4, Nagler 3.5


iPeace
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DISCLAIMER: I'm not a reviewer, and this is not consumer advice, just my own impressions of a short session. Your dog knows more about how eyepieces work than I do.

Most unexpectedly, for Clear Outside had been and still was showing solid red, the stars were out when I did my rounds before bed. I guessed they were just figments and pressed on, but when I saw Jupiter too had followed me home from holiday abroad I figured it was worth a grab-and-go. I did have some new kit to try out, after all: a 1.25" Tak prism diagonal, a 4mm DeLite and the new-to-us-all 3.4mm Vixen HR.

Conditions were certainly odd; no solid clouds to speak of, but a slight filter ranging from haze to murk hung over the proceedings. Nonetheless, Jove was shining brightly, so to work. (The Moon was not to be seen tonight, hiding behind neighbours' houses.)

I was using the Borg 71FL, a 71mm fluorite objective refractor with a focal length of 400mm, making it f/5.6. I had it mounted on a photo tripod with a geared head, giving alt-az slow motion control.

I started off with a summary comparison of the Tak prism to a 1.25" TeleVue Everbrite Dielectric and the view seemed slightly better, so I stuck with the Tak prism for the rest of the session. I've read much in praise of its performance and light weight, as well as less positive opinions on the workings of the eyepiece clamping mechanism, depending on the eyepiece used and in particular the nature of the safety notch - if present - on the eyepiece's barrel (if that's what you want to call the bit that sticks into the diagonal). Tonight, I would find out for myself.

So, Jupiter, a Tak prism, and three eyepieces:

  • 3.5mm T6 Nagler
  • 4mm DeLite
  • 3.4mm Vixen HR

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The 3.5mm Nagler was my baseline, a well-known entity. A solidly dependable performer, it's lightweight and compact and gives a nice wide FOV. I personally cannot fault it, really; it may be easily dismissed by some based on what it is not: it's not an Ethos, nor an ortho, nor an eye reliever, nor is it the latest thing, nor is it cheap. But it sure does work for me. Tonight was no different; it just made the most of what there was to be had with no fuss. Moons, belts, zones, all nicely rendered. The Nagler was, however, the only one that had Tak prism issues; removing it from the diagonal was a bit of a faff as the clamping ring got stuck in its safety groove. We managed.

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The 4mm DeLite did up the game, though; what a nice eyepiece to use! Though longer and a bit wider than the Nagler, it feels not much heavier - if at all - and the big eye lens somehow gives me a bit of scaled-down Ethos, which, as a descendant of Delos, it supposedly is. Really nice view, too; I'm sure to get the 3mm as well, now. Between the two of them, they could prove a luxuriously compelling alternative to the Nagler, even if the quality of the view itself is maybe too close to call.

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Finally, the 3.4mm Vixen HR; long and expectantly awaited, this one should bring the HR quality out from the fringe into regular use. Its three older siblings (2.4mm, 2mm and 1.6mm) have on appropriate occasions provided views with a certain purity to them which was particularly enjoyable, especially on Luna. Tonight on Jupiter, and in the hazy conditions, the advantage of the 3.4mm HR over the 3.5mm Nagler was not as evident, but it was there and held the promise of more on better nights. It seemed just that tiny bit easier to separate belts from zones, etc. and the colours were perhaps a bit more 'natural', if that makes any sense. Pretty much as expected.

For those in need of some kind of verdict, my current feeling is that I would leave the 3.5mm Nagler at home when bringing along a 3 and 4mm DeLite. On lunar (and good planetary) nights, the 3.4 HR will get more use than the Nagler. If I have to compromise and take along the smallest possible amount of kit, I...don't know.

:happy11:

Edited by iPeace
found typo in title
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Good report, interesting that the HR 3.4 is not the clear winner against the Delite, maybe not surprising at all.

I've been debating whether I should get the 3 & 4 Delite or the 3.4 HR for my FC-100dc, I have a 4 SLV which I find to be excellent but wondering whether the 4 Delite would be just that little bit better. 

Avtar

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Nice report. My main planetary and lunar scope (C8) isn't up to this kind of short focal length, but it could be interesting in my APM 80mm F/6. I would probably go for the Pentax XW3.5, to complement the XW5 I have, but the Delite 4 with parfocaliser ring might be a good alternative

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I think your findings demonstrate several things...

Eyepiece pleasure is a very personal thing.

The conditions make a massive difference in your findings

Premium kit has very marginal differences, the above two points make the bigger differences to the beholder.

 

 

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4 hours ago, avtaram said:

I've been debating whether I should get the 3 & 4 Delite or the 3.4 HR for my FC-100dc,

Based on last night alone, that decision is sheer agony. ?

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1 hour ago, Alan White said:

I think your findings demonstrate several things...

Eyepiece pleasure is a very personal thing.

The conditions make a massive difference in your findings

Premium kit has very marginal differences, the above two points make the bigger differences to the beholder.

I fully agree. With respect and awe for those who can comment on more objective criteria such as "light transmission", "scatter", etc. I can only really try to see for myself which I enjoy most..and at this level, it's all really nice.

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1 hour ago, michael.h.f.wilkinson said:

I would probably go for the Pentax XW3.5, to complement the XW5 I have, but the Delite 4 with parfocaliser ring might be a good alternative 

Now here's where I have a similar decision to make (or not). Trying the 4mm DeLite is a straightforward thing - it's the only 4mm eyepiece currently out there that appeals to me. Having tried it and liked it this much, the 3mm DeLite is a no-brainer as the only 3mm I'd consider anyway.

But, assuming I'm interested in long eye relief at 5mm and 7mm, where I currently have T6 Naglers, do I go for DeLite or Pentax XW?

I have a 10mm Pentax XW incoming, my first from that line. That may help me decide. :happy11:

By the way, I'm also considering a Delos at 6mm...

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1 hour ago, iPeace said:

 

I have a 10mm Pentax XW incoming, my first from that line. That may help me decide. :happy11:

 

 

The Pentax XW can be very addictive. I know I liked them so much that I got my self a Mini shorter focal length set.

But from what I understand the Delite are very good , but slightly less fov.

I think whichever you decide ,Delite , Delos ,Pentax . These eyepieces are so good then the difference optically is going to be very slight. Top class eyepieces are so good these day's and so close optically that you cannot really go wrong with any of the above IMO.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, iPeace said:

Now here's where I have a similar decision to make (or not). Trying the 4mm DeLite is a straightforward thing - it's the only 4mm eyepiece currently out there that appeals to me. Having tried it and liked it this much, the 3mm DeLite is a no-brainer as the only 3mm I'd consider anyway.

But, assuming I'm interested in long eye relief at 5mm and 7mm, where I currently have T6 Naglers, do I go for DeLite or Pentax XW?

I have a 10mm Pentax XW incoming, my first from that line. That may help me decide. :happy11:

By the way, I'm also considering a Delos at 6mm...

FWIW Mike, I would say go for the 7mm XW. I have had both, and much preferred the XW, and kept it for some time, until switching to binoviewing.:smiley: 

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Very interesting report Mike :icon_biggrin:

I used to have (and enjoy) the Nagler T6 3.5 (and the 2.5 and all the rest as well !) but after borrowing a 10mm XW from FLO for a while I found it just a little better than the NT6 9mm so, in due course, the 4 shorter FL XW's (10, 7, 5 and 3.5) replaced the T6 Naglers.

The Nagler T6's are very good eyepieces though, remarkable capabilities in a compact package.

I've yet to use a Delite or a Vixen HR so can't comment on how the XW's might fare against those. I'm sure someone will fill that comparison gap in due course though :icon_biggrin:

 

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2 hours ago, Timebandit said:

The Pentax XW can be very addictive. I know I liked them so much that I got my self a Mini shorter focal length set.

But from what I understand the Delite are very good , but slightly less fov.

Good point - to prevent a coin toss, I'd go for the extra FOV of the XW.

2 hours ago, Saganite said:

FWIW Mike, I would say go for the 7mm XW. I have had both, and much preferred the XW

That's saying something! That does suggest an advantage. Can you say anything in particular about why you much preferred the XW? "Just liked it more" is a fine enough answer for me. :icon_biggrin:

57 minutes ago, John said:

I used to have (and enjoy) the Nagler T6 3.5 (and the 2.5 and all the rest as well !) but after borrowing a 10mm XW from FLO for a while I found it just a little better than the NT6 9mm so, in due course, the 4 shorter FL XW's (10, 7, 5 and 3.5) replaced the T6 Naglers.

The Nagler T6's are very good eyepieces though, remarkable capabilities in a compact package.

I previously moved a couple of T6 on, thinking I would use my Ethos for ever and for everything. I'm not inclined to do that again...a full set of T6 can hide safely in the astro-closet when not in use. :icon_clown:

1 hour ago, John said:

I've yet to use a Delite or a Vixen HR so can't comment on how the XW's might fare against those. I'm sure someone will fill that comparison gap in due course though :icon_biggrin:

I'm pretty sure myself. :smile:

With the addition of newts - 900mm and 1200mm long - to the fray, smaller differences in eyepiece focal length make bigger differences than in short fracs. I like the Nagler Zooms, but after a while you want to fill those gaps, especially for when you're not on the road; it seems I'm enjoying having a bit more ER as well. I've got recurring OCD that whines for nice round magnification figures, so 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12mm are in order (I don't barlow or powermate). A long-term plan has formed.

  • 3 and 4mm would have to be DeLites or nothing and the 4mm has passed, so I'll get a 3
  • 5mm could be DeLite or XW - as stated, if I like the 10mm XW, it will probably be the 5mm XW for FOV
  • 6mm could be an Ethos - but I'm keen to try the Delos (even though it's slightly heavier!), after liking the DeLites so much
  • 8mm is a Vixen LVW incoming - I like the 22 LVW, so it could be good value; could alternatively be replaced by Delos in due course if I'm noticing the difference
  • 10mm could be Delos or XW - I figured I'd have to get a 6mm Delos anyway, so this is the spot to try an XW; incoming
  • 12mm would have to be Delos

To be continued.

:happy11:

 

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Mike,

The 7 XW was my eyepiece of choice for Jupiter, very sharp with excellent contrast and 70 deg FOV,and it was supremely comfortable to use for prolonged periods, just a pleasure to use, in a way that I did not find with the 7mm Delite.

You may not find the same of course, eyepiece choice is a personal thing, my bet is that you would love the Pentax 7 XW.:smiley:

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13 minutes ago, Saganite said:

Mike,

The 7 XW was my eyepiece of choice for Jupiter, very sharp with excellent contrast and 70 deg FOV,and it was supremely comfortable to use for prolonged periods, just a pleasure to use, in a way that I did not find with the 7mm Delite.

You may not find the same of course, eyepiece choice is a personal thing, my bet is that you would love the Pentax 7 XW.:smiley:

Sounds good! I'll give the 10mm XW a good go. If that's as nice as everyone says, then it will be an XW at 5mm (instead of a DeLite) as well, which would lead to a 7mm XW when I decide I need something between 150x and 200x... :icon_biggrin:

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The 10mm XW is also excellent, but when I had them both, I always felt that the 7mm was 'The jewel in the Crown ' 

I can see a collection coming on here, 5mm, 7mm, 10mm, and dare I suggest the 3.5mm:rolleyes2:

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24 minutes ago, Saganite said:

The 10mm XW is also excellent, but when I had them both, I always felt that the 7mm was 'The jewel in the Crown ' 

I can see a collection coming on here, 5mm, 7mm, 10mm, and dare I suggest the 3.5mm:rolleyes2:

Right. So just order them all and have done? :tongue2: It may well end that way...

Edited by iPeace
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I have the 7mm Delite Mike - and find it performs just as well as the 3 and 4, and loses nothing in detail, contrast and sharpness to the only high-mag ortho I possess - a 6mm Fujiyama. But clearly you can't go wrong with the Pentax. Too heavy for my current set up sadly. But as a fellow TeleVue lover, I'll certainly be interested in your views on the XW 10mm.

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11 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

Too heavy for my current set up sadly.

Just looked up the figures - 390g vs. 207g. Hm, in certain scenarios, that's +1 for the DeLite. XW may not travel as easily. Won't be an issue with the newt, though.

20 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

I have the 7mm Delite Mike - and find it performs just as well as the 3 and 4, and loses nothing in detail, contrast and sharpness to the only high-mag ortho I possess - a 6mm Fujiyama.

That's high praise as well. Steve's is the only direct comparison at 7mm I know of so far, and if the XW is anything like the XL Zoom - the only other Pentax eyepiece I've tried - I can imagine how it's posh feel, and larger FOV, could carry the day (this is not to say a DeLite is anything but posh).

So the 5mm and 7mm positions are up for grabs - FOV or weight? You can see where this is going... :rolleyes2:

36 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

I'll certainly be interested in your views on the XW 10mm. 

Yes, that's the first order of business if I'm to be at all sensible. I'll be sure to share my findings.

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The compact 4mm DeLite is comfortable, engaging, sharp, excellent contrast and yes the big lens does provide a sense of an ethos feel, used with a small wide field refractor. I think that you will appreciate the 7mm DeLite Mike, which I have used for lunar observing with my TV-85, equally as engaging as the 4mm. The only XW I have is the 5mm and is used between the two. Had a 6mm Delos for a time, I think that it just teased out a little more detailing on Jupiter compared to the 6mm Ethos, which I prefer with a dob. Also use a 10mm Delos, comparable XW focal lengths, clearly alternative considerations. 

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On 01/06/2018 at 16:32, iPeace said:

Right. So just order them all and have done? :tongue2: It may well end that way...

I did it in 2 goes - I purchased the 5mm and 3.5mm XW's about 3 years back from the used market (SGL member in fact) and the year before last I splashed out on the 7mm and 10mm new from FLO to complete the "short set" :smiley:

I also added a 24mm Panoptic and 17.3 and 14mm Deloi plus the 2-4mm Nagler zoom to complete a comprehensive 1.25" set which is what I primarily use with my refractors.

Over the past couple of months I've also been using a rather uncoventional 1.25" pairing of a 7.2mm-21.5mm Zoom and a Baader Q-Turret 2.25x barlow. I got these originally for use with my travel scope but I've found that the image quality compares rather well with my more expensive eyepieces so they are getting a lot more use than originally planned.

Strange to think that I didn't get along with the mighty and venerated Leica ASPH zoom and VIP barlow but this much, much lower cost pairing has hit the mark :dontknow:

 

 

zoombarlow.JPG

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+1 for Pentax XW (or the older XLs).

I've only owned one Delite, a 5mm which I really didn't like ( I bought it new at a good discount as I recall). In fairness I may not have given it a long enough trial, but I had previously had a 5mm XW and I simply felt the XW delivered nicer , wider ( you notice the difference) views compared to the Delite.

I also had the 7mm (and still have an XL 10.5mm which I love).. but if you're a dedicated TV fan you may feel different. 

I doubt that new XWs will be around for much longer and I predict they will become scarce on the used market, rather like the BGOs have..so, if you are tempted by the XWs I wouldn't delay in pouncing!?

Dave

 

Edited by F15Rules
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On 01/06/2018 at 13:02, Timebandit said:

XW

On 01/06/2018 at 09:04, michael.h.f.wilkinson said:

XW

On 01/06/2018 at 13:21, Saganite said:

XW

 

8 hours ago, scarp15 said:

DeLite

1 hour ago, F15Rules said:

XW

23 hours ago, Highburymark said:

Delite

On 01/06/2018 at 14:31, John said:

XW

Hope I haven't missed anybody so far...there's only one way to keep everyone happy. :icon_biggrin: To be continued.

P.S. Thanks all for weighing in on this, much appreciated!

Edited by iPeace
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7 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

Looks like you have an answer Mike - must say I've never compared Delites with XW so not in a position to vote on this one

No worries Mark, I've come up with a pretty comprehensive compromise. :grin:

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