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Pricey zooms worth the money?


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Hello

Now I've got my telescope working and I'm regularly shouting at the sky with cloud-rage, I'm starting to think about eyepieces.  My telescope (Celestron Nexstar 8SE) only comes with a single 25mm Plossl, so my thinking was to lay hands on a zoom, say 7-21 or 8-24, and work out what settings I use most and then buy dedicated fixed focal length eyepieces accordingly.

With that strategy in mind, I've been waiting to get lucky on flea-bay for a Baader mk 3 or even mk 4 zoom but its such a waiting game not knowing if you can win an auction. - looks like about 2 a week come up.  There seem to be three options...

Get a brand new Baader - £185

Lurk on eBay till you get lucky - £100 to £125

Lose patience and  drop a crafty £40 on a SVbony 7-21 and find it good enough to perform my experiment, or perhaps better than the price might indicate.

 

Anyway, the point of this is to ask, do the better quality, and probably pricier zooms earn their corn becoming "keepers"; or do they inevitably get relegated when one finds one's sweet spot with two or three fixed eyepieces?

Stan

Edited by Steely Stan
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I can see the Horsehead from my house, provided the horse is in the right place in the field opposite......

The Horsehead Nebula is a good comparison Stu. With the Baader zoom it was totally impossible to see but with the 10mm XW it was just plain invisible 🤣

Ooops, not sure your Mrs  will be too impressed with that Stu! 😁

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I have both the SV135 (7-21) and SV171 (8-24) zooms, they are nicely made and perform well optically from the brief outings they've been able to have so far 😉 The SV171 is huge and heavy but potentially better optically but the smaller SV135 works very well and is a more "normal" size and weight. Adding a good 2x Barlow they still perform very well so to me they are an easy recommendation. Going direct to their store on Ali current retail is USD 49 and arrives in a week ish so they are a bargain at the moment.

I'm sure the Baader will be better, but £100 better? Can't comment as I don't have the Baader to compare against but others will be along I'm sure.

Edited by DaveL59
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I'm following similar logic to you Stan and I got a Hyperflex Zoom 7.2-21.5.
It came highly recommended before I got it and I have found it great on Mars recently.
It will be a keeper for me, even if / when I have individual EPs covering that range, as it's really good at finding the optimal magnification supported by the seeing conditions.

 

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I wish I'd kept my Baader zoom. I prefer my fixed focal length eyepieces usually but sometimes a zoom is just more convenient. I think I will aim to pick up a good zoom again at some point. I have a cheap one and it does get some use, enough to justify a good one in the long term!

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I have several zooms ranging  from inexpensive (Seben, Celestron and Vixen) to medium cost (Baader) and expensive (Leica).  All give good results with the equipment I use them on, the difference between them is marginal, the more expensive ones can work well at shorter focal ratios and tend to have slightly wider fields of view.  If the intention is mainly convenience rather than an alternative to single eyepieces then the mid range ones are ideal.  You still need a good wide field low power eyepiece to complement them.      🙂

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I would start with the SV171 and see if you like using a zoom eyepiece at all.  Some people just don't care for them on a day to day basis.  I mainly use a pair of Celestron/Olivon Regal zooms in my binoviewer because it's such a pain to change two eyepieces to change powers and to make sure they aren't tipped in their holders causing merging issues.  In general, I prefer monoviewing DSOs with premium wide field eyepieces.  Planets and the full moon demand binoviewers, though.  I just see so much more detail with two eyes with them.

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I've owned 3 of the Baader 8-24 zooms over the years. They are pretty good. I tried the Leica ASPH zoom (about £700 new I think !) for a while and that was excellent but I still preferred my fixed focal length eyepieces.

My current zooms are the Hyperflex 7.2mm - 21.5mm and a Tele Vue Nagler 2mm-4mm. I use both of those a lot (the Hyperflex often with a 2.25x barlow to make a high power zoom).

I would not have a zoom as my only eyepiece (that was what the Leica ASPH experiment demonstrated) but they are useful to have in the tool box.

 

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I have the TeleVue 8-24 zoom which is very good. Unfortunately its no longer available. However, I did own the Baader Mk3 zoom which was okay.

I have heard good things about the Hyperflex 7.2mm - 21.5mm zoom which is reasonably priced. I have not seen the SVbony zooms so cannot really comment although I have bought and still use SVbony  products.

To answer your question a zoom can be really useful and you can get good observation views with them. However, I still prefer individual EPs especially the widefield because zooms have small FOV at the wide end.

 

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to give a sense of scale, pic shows the SV171, SV135 and regular NPL 20mm and TAL 25mm plossl

image.png.cbef95e562bca4833eda96bdf6f4989d.png

Note the overhang on the SV171 which can obstruct/lean against the eyepiece retaining/locking screw. Did I mention it's pretty heavy? 😉 

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5 minutes ago, DaveL59 said:

to give a sense of scale, pic shows the SV171, SV135 and regular NPL 20mm and TAL 25mm plossl

image.png.cbef95e562bca4833eda96bdf6f4989d.png

Note the overhang on the SV171 which can obstruct/lean against the eyepiece retaining/locking screw. Did I mention it's pretty heavy? 😉 

Good grief!  That 8-24 looks huge.

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Well, your advice helps a lot.  I'll get the cheaper SVbony as a taster - its not much of a risk at just over £40, and gives me something to skip lightly to the door for when the postman knocks.  Naturally there won't be clear night for two weeks now just to frustrate me.

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1 hour ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

I did not appreciate that SVbony produced 3 different zoom EPs. I wonder what the 10-30mm would be like? 

Quick initial impressions and first light on CN here and here by member LDW47.  There are also more user impressions further down by LDW47.

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The only zoom I have experienced is the Hyperflex 7.2-21.5. Good quality construction, smooth zoom action, excellent views & not expensive. I bought two to use in my binoviewers. Never regretted my purchase. Use at both f7 & f12 & the quality is really good. I have viewed the moon in cyclops with the hyperflex & Baader Morpheus eyepieces & there ain’t much between them, that’s how good the hyperflex is! Don’t have any problem with zoom settings without click stop in the binoviewers. You can judge the magnification using the view in each eye quiet accurately.

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Hmmm, this has got me wondering if having a zoom EP would be useful for those days of questionable seeing where it could either be used exclusively or help identify the EP of optimum magnification. The Hyperflex 7.2-21.5 seems to be getting a fair bit of love at a very decent price? Is this a continuous zoom EP? How does it compare to the Baader mk IV?

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4 minutes ago, IB20 said:

Hmmm, this has got me wondering if having a zoom EP would be useful for those days of questionable seeing where it could either be used exclusively or help identify the EP of optimum magnification. The Hyperflex 7.2-21.5 seems to be getting a fair bit of love at a very decent price? Is this a continuous zoom EP? How does it compare to the Baader mk IV?

It is a continuous zoom (no click stops). I would say that it is optically about the same as the Baader 8-24 but the field of view is narrower - around 38 degrees at 21.5mm to around 55 degrees at 7.2mm.

It barlows well with the Baader 2.25x Q-Turret barlow to give a 9.55mm - 3.2mm zoom.

 

 

 

Edited by John
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I used to have a Baader zoom, and while it was good it wasn’t much of a difference over the Hyperflex or one of it’s clones. Just a bit of an  improvement. Have been testing one of the Svbony 10-30 zooms and it is also rather good.

Zooms are great for first use in a scope as they give you a chance to find the optimum magnifiation before switching to a fixed focal length eyepiece although sometimes don’t get round to a regular eyepiece.

 

 

Edited by johninderby
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7 hours ago, johninderby said:

Have been testing one of the Svbony 10-30 zooms and it is also rather good.

 

That is useful information John. I undertake Outreach observing (if covid ever allows me again) and I thought this zoom would be a useful addition to protect my main EPs. I did have a Nagler EP almost ruined by someone wearing eye mascara. I note that I can purchase this zoom for £45.99 with free postage so worth a punt.

I will let members know how I get on.

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44 minutes ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

That is useful information John. I undertake Outreach observing (if covid ever allows me again) and I thought this zoom would be a useful addition to protect my main EPs. I did have a Nagler EP almost ruined by someone wearing eye mascara. I note that I can purchase this zoom for £45.99 with free postage so worth a punt.

I will let members know how I get on.

That was originally why I bought the Hyperflex but I've found that I use quite a lot for regular observing as well.

 

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2 minutes ago, John said:

That was originally why I bought the Hyperflex but I've found that I use quite a lot for regular observing as well.

 

How does the Hyperflex perform in regards to reflections, ghosting and scatter? I've wondered about getting one for h-alpha but wonder if that might push it a bit too far. 

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The Lunt zoom they sell for their solar scopes is the same as the Hyperflex. Works very well on HA. Not as good as the Pentax XF zoom for HA but still very good.

Lunt zoom with thered band and Hyperflex with the black band.

 

 

98C384B7-9A16-4A2A-BA39-9A38E7EB277D.jpeg

068DC5D5-C8C4-4A47-AFEA-A192EF8464E3.jpeg

Edited by johninderby
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12 minutes ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

I use my TeleVue mainly for Ha which provides an excellent observing image. Its going to be interesting to compare the SVbony with the TeleVue in my Ha PST scope.

Best solar zoom I’ve ever used os the Pentax XF. Actually as good as a Baader Genuine Ortho for HA I found. 

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