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alex_stars

[settled] 12 mm Planetary Eyepiece. Ortho or Zoom?

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Dear esteemed Stargazers,

I would like to ask for some recommendations for an eyepiece I look for. First off, I have a 7" Mak with 2700 mm focal length. So I figure, a 12.5 (or 12.0) mm EP should be very nice to start viewing planets (my main interest) on good nights. This would result in 0.83 (0.8) mm exit pupil and 216x (225x) magnification. So far so good and I really would like to add some fixed focal length EPs to my collection as I only own 8-24 mm zoom.

The conundrum starts with the choice of EP design and three choices I face

  • shall I go old school style and buy a 12.5 mm orthoscopic EP (Takahashi or Masuyama)?
  • or shall I  buy a more modern design with more eye relief and go for a 12 mm Vixen SLV?
  • or do I completely miss an eyepiece and should go for that?

Thus I thought I tap into the collective wisdom of the community and ask for advice.

Clear skies,

Alex

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Do you like the field of view when using the 8-24 mm zoom at its 12 mm setting? :happy11:

Do you like the eye relief of the zoom?

Which zoom do you have? Baader or other?

Just to get a hint of where to go with this.

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If you mount tracks, then a narrower eyepiece would work fine.

If your mount doesn't track, a wider eyepiece will help keep the planet in the field.

If you wear glasses, you have no choice and need more eye relief.

If you don't wear glasses, eye relief only gets annoying when your eyelashes brush the lens all the time.  A 12-12.5mm Abbe ortho won't be an issue there.

If you want an eyepiece ONLY for planets, then the narrow high resolution eyepieces work fine.

If you want an eyepiece for multiple kinds of objects, then a wider eyepiece would be better.

You can sort of get the best of both worlds with eyepieces like the TeleVue Delite.

 

But, if looking for a planets and deep sky eyepiece, I'd look seriously at the Baader Morpheus 12.5mm, TeleVue Delos 12mm, and APM Hi-FW 12.5mm eyepieces.  All are 1.25" eyepieces.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, iPeace said:

Do you like the field of view when using the 8-24 mm zoom at its 12 mm setting? :happy11:

Do you like the eye relief of the zoom?

Which zoom do you have? Baader or other?

Just to get a hint of where to go with this.

Hi and thanks for your reply.

I quite like the view at 12 mm with my zoom (Seben brand, like Skywatcher standard zoom). At 8 mm it has 60 deg FOV so i guess I am around 50-55deg at 12 mm. Eye relief is comfortable at about 20 mm. I don't think I would mind less though.

Sometimes I go down to 8 mm but then quite some floaters appear in my eyes and the seeing these days is not that great, so I often end up around 12 mm.

Looking forward to see where you take it from here.

CS,

Alex

Edited by alex_stars

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4 hours ago, Don Pensack said:

If you mount tracks, then a narrower eyepiece would work fine.

If your mount doesn't track, a wider eyepiece will help keep the planet in the field.

If you wear glasses, you have no choice and need more eye relief.

If you don't wear glasses, eye relief only gets annoying when your eyelashes brush the lens all the time.  A 12-12.5mm Abbe ortho won't be an issue there.

If you want an eyepiece ONLY for planets, then the narrow high resolution eyepieces work fine.

If you want an eyepiece for multiple kinds of objects, then a wider eyepiece would be better.

You can sort of get the best of both worlds with eyepieces like the TeleVue Delite.

 

But, if looking for a planets and deep sky eyepiece, I'd look seriously at the Baader Morpheus 12.5mm, TeleVue Delos 12mm, and APM Hi-FW 12.5mm eyepieces.  All are 1.25" eyepieces.

Hi and thanks for the reply,

Just a few answers to the valuable comments you made:

I have a tracking mount and don't have to wear glasses (astigmatism only on one eye) I have looked through a 10 mm Plössl and the eye relief was ok.

Thanks as well for pointing me to the wide field options, I did not consider them as I mainly focus on planets.

CS

Alex

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Hmm lot's to consider.

4 hours ago, johninderby said:

What sort of budget?

An 8mm would be a good high magnification planetary eyepiece. I used to use a 7mm 82degree eyepiece on lunar / planetary when I had a Skymax 180. The Televue eyepiece calculator is quite usefull.

http://www.televue.com/engine/TV3b_page.asp?id=212&plain=TRUE

Down to 7mm, wow. I will have to test my 8mm zoom setting more to see if floaters don't get out of control with such a small exit pupil. Good to know though that this is possible.

Budget wise I was more in the around 200 Euro range, so I was not considering the Televue EPs.

Thanks for pointing me to the TV calculator.

CS

Alex

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1 hour ago, alex_stars said:

Looking forward to see where you take it from here.

Right. No pressure, then. :happy11:

From my own experience, close to 12mm (I won't spoil the web-window-shopping by putting in all the specs here):

A little too long...

  • 13mm Tele Vue Ethos: Fantastic. Very wide view. Very expensive. Probably the last 13mm you'll ever acquire, a keeper, unless the size and weight eventually put you off (it happens... 🙄).
  • 13mm Tele Vue Nagler Type 6: I use the Type 6's exclusively now, my personal compromise. Wide and sharp, compact and light. Not cheap.

Just about there...

  • 12.5mm Baader Morpheus: Very nice eyepiece; view certainly wide enough, lovely big eye lens, not too big or too heavy. Excellent value for dosh. Recommended.
  • 12mm Tele Vue Delos: Again, very nice, not cheap. Beautiful big eye lens. My own experience was a feeling that it was a bit too chunky and heavy for the view I was getting - but this is a very personal observation and probably an injustice; these have a solid following. For the size and weight, I preferred Ethos.
  • 11mm Tele Vue Nagler Type 6: See above; this focal length is no longer in production.

Getting a bit short, now...

  • 10mm Tele Vue Ethos: See above.
  • 10mm Pentax XW: Goodness, these are nice. Premium build quality, huge lovely eye lens, fantastic views. To me, it's the ultra-posh version of the Baader Morpheus. If only they made a 12mm for you...

Special mention for:

  • 11 or 13mm Tele Vue DeLite: I never tried these; did own and enjoy the 3, 4, 5 and 18.2mm versions. The least wide, but very sharp, lightweight and the most compact but for the Type 6 Naglers.

 

So... what to do? Well, you can't go wrong with any of the above IMHO. You decide how large and how heavy you'll allow your eyepiece to be - and how expensive. Putting myself in your shoes (as best I can), I reckon the 12.5mm Baader Morpheus, while being the cheapest, may well hit a sweet spot for you. I really like its ergonomics and its price-to-performance ratio, and would live very happily with its performance for the budget (diminishing returns, etc.).

Looking forward to reading how you get on.

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Posted (edited)

Again, thanks for the replies.

11 hours ago, iPeace said:

Right. No pressure, then. :happy11:

So... what to do? Well, you can't go wrong with any of the above IMHO. You decide how large and how heavy you'll allow your eyepiece to be - and how expensive. Putting myself in your shoes (as best I can), I reckon the 12.5mm Baader Morpheus, while being the cheapest, may well hit a sweet spot for you. I really like its ergonomics and its price-to-performance ratio, and would live very happily with its performance for the budget (diminishing returns, etc.).

Looking forward to reading how you get on.

No pressure intended, right? 😀

I really like your summary. I am fascinated with the Tele-Vue and Pentax EPs but they are currently above what I can spend on EPs. So you might just be right and I go for some Morpheus EPs as my upgrade from my zoom. A reasonable list of EPs could be:

  • Morpheus 17.5 mm for 154x magnification and 1.17 exit pupil (fallback for not that perfect seeing nights)
  • Morpheus 12.5 mm for 216x magnification and 0.83 exit pupil (for very good nights)
  • Morpheus 9 mm for 300x magnification and 0.6 exit pupil (for the very best nights)

Hmm. Nice to crunch the numbers. I guess I'd start with getting the 12.5 mm. Then speculate if the 17.5 or the 14 are a better fallback and later on aim for the 9mm.... if at all. I have a Hyperion 2.25x Barlow, which would take the 17.5 down to 7.7 mm. Guess that would be just ok for the very very good nights.

Edited by alex_stars
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11 hours ago, johninderby said:

I used the 7mm Nirvana and found it an easy to use eyepiece. About as good as a Nagler in a Skymax180 and a real bargain.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/ovl-eyepieces/ovl-nirvana-es-uwa-82-ultrawide-eyepieces.html

Nice! Thanks. I saw the same Nirvana under quite some brands now (SW, TS, Auriga,...) and you are right, they are a real bargain. As said above I will keep it in the back of my mind and test more with my 8 mm zoom setting to see if I can work with such small exit pupils. The 7mm would result in an exit pupil of 0.47mm. Last time I used my zoom at 8 mm on Jupiter I had a few issues with floaters, thats why I want to test more...

Anyhow great to know that the 7mm worked for your on your Skymax 180.

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Hi Alex,

Another option perhaps would be to save your pennies for a high end zoom ?

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, dweller25 said:

Another option perhaps would be to save your pennies for a high end zoom ?

Hi David,

thanks I have considered that but was not sure how much an upgrade would improve from my standard zoom. Which high end zoom do you have in mind? Pentax XL 8-24?

Edited by alex_stars

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I use a leica ASPH 8.9 - 17.8 which is just as sharp as my Pentax XW’s

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3 minutes ago, dweller25 said:

I use a leica ASPH 8.9 - 17.8 which is just as sharp as my Pentax XW’s

OK. Wow. Certainly a nice zoom EP, but I would have to save up quite some pennies for that one. Nope currently not in the budget. But thanks for the idea of a high-end zoom.

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Zooming makes so much sense when playing around to find what the conditions / target will bear.

I've become quite a convert - my fixed focal length eyepieces are getting a bit neglected !

 

 

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2 hours ago, John said:

Zooming makes so much sense when playing around to find what the conditions / target will bear.

I've become quite a convert - my fixed focal length eyepieces are getting a bit neglected !

I fully agree with the notion of zooming. That's why I got my entry level 8-24mm Zoom. However now I wonder on how to upgrade.

The Leica ASPH certainly would be an upgrade, however out of reach at the moment.

So I guess the initial question could be expanded to "which 12mm EP for planets, or high quality zoom?"

@John which zoom do you prefer over your fixed focal length EPs?

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1 hour ago, alex_stars said:

@John which zoom do you prefer over your fixed focal length EPs?

I use the 2mm - 4mm Nagler zoom (no use in your 180 mak of course !) and a moderate cost 7.2mm - 21.5mm zoom which is sold under a number of brandings. I use the latter with a 2.25x Baader barlow lens for a 9.55mm - 3.2mm zoom which is really effective.

I've been as surprised as anyone that the latter combo has worked so well but there it is. It was purchased as an outreach / travel setup but gets a lot more use than that.

(not that travel and outreach has been on the agenda for quite a while now !)

 

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Thanks @John,

I guess in summary I am back to square one and not sure if I should upgrade to some fixed-FL EPs or to a better Zoom. Planets and the Moon are after all my main focus.

😕

I'll have to rethink this subject. Nevertheless thanks for all the input. More is of course welcome.

Clear skies,

Alex

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55 minutes ago, alex_stars said:

I'll have to rethink this subject. Nevertheless thanks for all the input. More is of course welcome.

Thoughts:

I urge you to read the following, as it thoroughly explains @John's zoom-barlow-combo:

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/317641-happy-coincidence/

It would seem that this barlow enhances the performance of this particular zoom, giving excellent views at (barlowed) focal lengths ranging from 9.55mm to 3.2mm. (I tried this combo myself, and was impressed as well.)

This does not cover your desired focal length of 12mm.

It's in my mind that the (unbarlowed) Hyperflex zoom at 12mm would not be much of an improvement (if at all) in any way over your current zoom. Unbarlowed,  the Hyperflex is a good zoom, very good value, but to me, not exceptional.

It's also in my mind that it's (still) a question of what you're seeking to gain with a new eyepiece. You've very carefully determined that 12mm is the focal length you like to hang around at when observing planets; so what is it about your current zoom eyepiece at the 12mm stop that you'd like to improve? How will you know that the upgrade is a success, what will give you more enjoyment?

  • Bigger eye lens? Plenty of options.
  • More eye relief? Plenty of options.
  • Wider field of view? Plenty of options.
  • Sharper, more contrast? Also plenty of options, probably the absolute most to be gained here with an ortho (compromising on eye lens size, eye relief and field of view).
  • A bit more of everything? :happy11: It's to be had - you have my own input on this.

But it's true, the diminishing returns start where you are now. If you're happy with the view as it is, then perhaps seek to try something new to see if it impresses, before a purchase. Not always possible, I realise.

 

 

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The 7.2 to 21.5 zoom does work well with a William Optics barlow nosepiece. 👍🏻

28163AAD-9206-471A-97DD-D8B7A4625A4C.jpeg

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23 hours ago, Don Pensack said:

If you mount tracks, then a narrower eyepiece would work fine.

If your mount doesn't track, a wider eyepiece will help keep the planet in the field.

If you wear glasses, you have no choice and need more eye relief.

If you don't wear glasses, eye relief only gets annoying when your eyelashes brush the lens all the time.  A 12-12.5mm Abbe ortho won't be an issue there.

If you want an eyepiece ONLY for planets, then the narrow high resolution eyepieces work fine.

If you want an eyepiece for multiple kinds of objects, then a wider eyepiece would be better.

You can sort of get the best of both worlds with eyepieces like the TeleVue Delite.

 

But, if looking for a planets and deep sky eyepiece, I'd look seriously at the Baader Morpheus 12.5mm, TeleVue Delos 12mm, and APM Hi-FW 12.5mm eyepieces.  All are 1.25" eyepieces.

+1 for the Morpheus, superb eyepiece with great comfort too. I'm sure the Delos is excellent too, but you may not want to take out a second mortgage to buy one..(£342 shipped new in UK..the Morpheus is  £195 new shipped in UK, source FLO).

I can't comment on the APM as I know nothing about them. I'm sure they will be good eyepieces though,😊.

Dave

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48 minutes ago, iPeace said:

It's in my mind that the (unbarlowed) Hyperflex zoom at 12mm would not be much of an improvement (if at all) in any way over your current zoom. Unbarlowed,  the Hyperflex is a good zoom, very good value, but to me, not exceptional.

It's also in my mind that it's (still) a question of what you're seeking to gain with a new eyepiece. You've very carefully determined that 12mm is the focal length you like to hang around at when observing planets; so what is it about your current zoom eyepiece at the 12mm stop that you'd like to improve? How will you know that the upgrade is a success, what will give you more enjoyment?

  • Bigger eye lens? Plenty of options.
  • More eye relief? Plenty of options.
  • Wider field of view? Plenty of options.
  • Sharper, more contrast? Also plenty of options, probably the absolute most to be gained here with an ortho (compromising on eye lens size, eye relief and field of view).
  • A bit more of everything? :happy11: It's to be had - you have my own input on this.

But it's true, the diminishing returns start where you are now. If you're happy with the view as it is, then perhaps seek to try something new to see if it impresses, before a purchase. Not always possible, I realise.

Thanks @iPeace for the additional input. I have the feeling too that another standard zoom EP will not much improve upon my existing 8-24 mm one. Great to know that the Hyperflex performance is probably due to the barlowing.

I will ponder and test more what I expect from my upgrade. Simple answers would be more contrast, certainly as every planet observer tries to max out that. However I think I test more my setup with my existing zoom, such that:

  • observe a large part of a good seeing night @ 12 mm setting only. Imagine that is a fixed EP and note down what I like and dislike.
  • Do the same for the 18 mm setting as well as maybe the 8 mm one.
  • Compare and come up with more detailed list to answer your questions.

Just for comparison for later on I would say now (order of importance):

  1. Sharper, more contrast views
  2. Field of view, maybe
  3. Bigger eye lens, don't know
  4. More eye relief. I really like the 20 mm of my Zoom.

I will report back as soon as I got some more nights in with the current zoom setup.

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The 11mm DeLite would satisfy most of your requirements except for price.  It's reportedly just a slight step down contrast wise from dedicated planetary eyepieces like the ZAOs and Pentax SMCs.

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I think the 7.2 - 21.5mm zooms do offer a bit more performance un-barlowed than the Seben / Celestron / Skywatcher / whatever 8-24 zooms, personally.

I've also owned the Baader 8-24 (a couple of those) and the very expensive Leica ASPH zoom mentioned by @dweller25 above which is the best performing zoom that I have owned but it didn't really gel with me so I sold it on after a few months comparing it with Pentax XW's etc.

 

 

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