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Steely Stan

Pricey zooms worth the money?

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10 minutes ago, Solar B said:

If I honestly thought these "times are a changing" zooms were a patch on the Baader IV

I'd sell mine in a heartbeat ... But I've been using the Baaders for over 15yrs and if they 

were no one would be entertaining the Baaders kind of like Audi , Merc v Ford , Vauxhall.

Brian 

If you have one I sure wouldn’t sell it, the new ones that are being talked about, such as the Svbonys or the Orion ‘ e ‘ model would just be a good compliments to your top end Baader ! Thats why I have several to compliment my older Meade 4000 model and as I said these great performing up and comers are about a quarter the price of the Mark IV to boot. Its fun and interesting to mix and match on any given nite, a change of pace if you will from the old tried and true, lol ! For many having more than one is part of the changin’ times !

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2 hours ago, LDW1 said:

And they are parfocal !

As you've repeated ad nauseam on Cloudy Nights!  As others have pointed out there the 7-21mm certainly isn't parfocal for everyone, including me, but that may be down to lack of accommodation in my elderly eyes.

I tested various eyepieces on the sun with my 72mm f/6 refractor and a Quark earlier this week.  Included amongst them was the Svbony 7-21mm zoom and the Baader Mk IV 8-24mm.  It was no contest - on prominences the Baader was far superior.

Some of you will remember I'd previously tried various eyepieces with the same scope to find what the lowest magnification was to see Saturn was ringed.  Here I was using just the low power end of the zooms.  I reported there was little difference on axis between the Svbony and the Baader, but the Baader was better off-axis.

The Baader is clearly better than the Svbony, but it ought to be at over 4x the price!  However, at £40 to £45 the Svbony is excellent value for money, and as a result I've just bought another for a first scope for a friend's daughter.  Moreover the 7-21mm Svbony (but not the 8-24mm or the 10-30) is really lightweight and slim.  The slimness is especially useful in binoviewers. 

I'll be keeping both the Baader and the Svbony.

One of the reasons is that a Dioptrx can be fitted to both the Baader and the Svbony 7-21 with an O ring/elastic band if you take the eyecup off.  With the Baader it goes in the groove at the top just below the rim.  The eyecup is tightly glued on the Svbony 7-21mm, but it does come off.  The O ring then fits on the very top of the rim.  However, on the Baader the top of the eyepiece revolves when zoomed.  This makes changing magnification slower when using a Dioptrx on binoviewers, and could mean missing fleeting moments of good seeing.  I can't see how to get a Dioptrx to fit the Hyperflex without sticking it on as the twist up eyecup design is similar to the Svbony 8-24 and 10-30.  So I've given it to two of my grandkids.

The main downside of zooms is the small apparent field of view at the low power end.  But the actual real field of view of course also depends on the focal length.  I've had only a quick look with the Hyperflex 9-27 mm, that has a stated field of view of 40-60 degrees.  This was a daytime look at my shed.  This showed the actual real field of view of the Hyperflex at 27 mm is more or less the same as the Baader at 24 mm.  Of course with the shorter focal length the magnification is higher on the Baader.  According to the specs, the actual real field of view with the Hyperflex should also be higher than the 10-30 mm Svbony.

 

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4 minutes ago, Second Time Around said:

As you've repeated ad nauseam on Cloudy Nights!  As others have pointed out there the 7-21mm certainly isn't parfocal for everyone, including me, but that may be down to lack of accommodation in my elderly eyes.

I tested various eyepieces on the sun with my 72mm f/6 refractor and a Quark earlier this week.  Included amongst them was the Svbony 7-21mm zoom and the Baader Mk IV 8-24mm.  It was no contest - on prominences the Baader was far superior.

Some of you will remember I'd previously tried various eyepieces with the same scope to find what the lowest magnification was to see Saturn was ringed.  Here I was using just the low power end of the zooms.  I reported there was little difference on axis between the Svbony and the Baader, but the Baader was better off-axis.

The Baader is clearly better than the Svbony, but it ought to be at over 4x the price!  However, at £40 to £45 the Svbony is excellent value for money, and as a result I've just bought another for a first scope for a friend's daughter.  Moreover the 7-21mm Svbony (but not the 8-24mm or the 10-30) is really lightweight and slim.  The slimness is especially useful in binoviewers. 

I'll be keeping both the Baader and the Svbony.

One of the reasons is that a Dioptrx can be fitted to both the Baader and the Svbony 7-21 with an O ring/elastic band if you take the eyecup off.  With the Baader it goes in the groove at the top just below the rim.  The eyecup is tightly glued on the Svbony 7-21mm, but it does come off.  The O ring then fits on the very top of the rim.  However, on the Baader the top of the eyepiece revolves when zoomed.  This makes changing magnification slower when using a Dioptrx on binoviewers, and could mean missing fleeting moments of good seeing.  I can't see how to get a Dioptrx to fit the Hyperflex without sticking it on as the twist up eyecup design is similar to the Svbony 8-24 and 10-30.  So I've given it to two of my grandkids.

The main downside of zooms is the small apparent field of view at the low power end.  But the actual real field of view of course also depends on the focal length.  I've had only a quick look with the Hyperflex 9-27 mm, that has a stated field of view of 40-60 degrees.  This was a daytime look at my shed.  This showed the actual real field of view of the Hyperflex at 27 mm is more or less the same as the Baader at 24 mm.  Of course with the shorter focal length the magnification is higher on the Baader.  According to the specs, the actual real field of view with the Hyperflex should also be higher than the 10-30 mm Svbony.

 

Lets not get into the parfocal issue again, at least I won’t ! I am stating my case, my experience, the other great astronomers on here can make their decision ! I made mine and I am happy I did !  I don’t want any part of what could be a high jacking about parfocal definitions ! 

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I have 3 very good zooms and all excel in sharpness. The one area where they don't compete is in transmission. Tested against some other good eyepieces such as the 10 BCO and Docter UWA, other orthos etc the zooms fall short in the transmission dept. Of course this is to my eyes.

The Nagler 3-6 zoom is a mainstay for the Heritage 130.

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5 minutes ago, jetstream said:

I have 3 very good zooms and all excel in sharpness. The one area where they don't compete is in transmission. Tested against some other good eyepieces such as the 10 BCO and Docter UWA, other orthos etc the zooms fall short in the transmission dept. Of course this is to my eyes.

The Nagler 3-6 zoom is a mainstay for the Heritage 130.

Transmission was exactly where the Baader 8-24 that I last owned was a little lacking for me too.

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Excuse my ignorance but how does poor transmission manifest?
Presumably a dimmer image when compared to another eyepiece at the same magnification?

Is the main cause of transmission loss the surface of lenses?
So the more lens elements an eyepiece has the more prone to transmission loss it is?
And the fight back against this is good quality coatings on the lens surfaces?
And these coatings push up the price?
So a cheaper zoom is more likely to suffer more transmission loss than a more expensive one?
Although this is not the only factor in the pricing of eyepieces so may not always be a reliable indicator of superior quality?

Edited by globular

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I’ve had a couple of the OVL 7.2 to 21.5mm zooms and found them pretty good. Not quite up there with the best but very credible and excellent value for money.

I’ve currently got 3 zooms. The 2 to 4mm and 3 to 6mm Nag Zooms, and the Leica ASPH. In fact the main other eyepieces I’ve got currently are a 24mm Panoptic and a set of BGOs. The orthos don’t get used much, not sure why, and most of the time I just use the zooms and the Panoptic.

I really enjoy the Leica, top notch quality and really convenient. I think the edges are a bit scruffier than the Pentax XW or Delos, but I largely view on axis so edges are less important to me. I found it a match for, or even better than the BGOs for transmission and sharpness, and excellent for solar white light. I’ve compared with a Baader and found it better; sharper and better transmission.

I often use it with an AP Barcon which gives me an excellent planetary range; x180 to x360 in my 8” f8. I find I could quite easily live with three eyepieces at the moment; 3 to 6 Nag zoom, Leica Zoom and 24mm Panoptic. If travelling light, that is what I take.

The 2 to 4mm is mainly for my Genesis and occasionally the Heritage 150p to get to decently high powers. It gives x100 to x200 in the Genesis which works well. In fact I need to give it a go on Mars to see how it gets on.

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6 minutes ago, Stu said:

In fact I need to give it a go on Mrs to see how it gets on.

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

😁

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11 minutes ago, Geoff Barnes said:

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

😁

Oops indeed! 🤣🤣🤣 I do love spell checker. Now corrected, I’m really not sure Mrs Stu would like that at all!! 🤪🤪

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13 hours ago, globular said:

Excuse my ignorance but how does poor transmission manifest?
Presumably a dimmer image when compared to another eyepiece at the same magnification?

Is the main cause of transmission loss the surface of lenses?
So the more lens elements an eyepiece has the more prone to transmission loss it is?
And the fight back against this is good quality coatings on the lens surfaces?
And these coatings push up the price?
So a cheaper zoom is more likely to suffer more transmission loss than a more expensive one?
Although this is not the only factor in the pricing of eyepieces so may not always be a reliable indicator of superior quality?

The way that I spotted this was observing galaxies and at that time notably Messier 82 because there was a bright supernova in it and therefore that galaxy got a lot of attention. The Baader zoom showed the galaxy nicely and using the zoom the dark rifts across it and knots within the galaxy became more obvious. All very nice I thought, until I compared the views with the Ethos 8mm and the Pentax XW 10mm. It was then that I noticed that the galaxy appeared both generally brighter and the contrast features more apparent when using the fixed focal length eyepieces. Granted, the Ethos and XW's are much more expensive than the Baader zoom so the zoom was doing quite well. But there was a difference and I found that repeated with other galaxies.

This may well be a feature in other zooms as well. I guess there are bound to be one or two compromises in return for the variable focal length ?

The Baader zoom is a good eyepiece generally and I would probably own one again for outreach and travel and be aware of it's strengths and weaknesses.

 

 

 

Edited by John
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I did a short review of the SvBONY 10-30mm zoom here - 

At some stage I will use this zoom in the 12" Dob and really compare it with my more expensive EPs which are really too large and heavy for my Heritage 130P

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33 minutes ago, John said:

The way that I spotted this was observing galaxies and at that time notably Messier 82 because there was a bright supernova in it and therefore that galaxy got a lot of attention. The Baader zoom showed the galaxy nicely and using the zoom the dark rifts across it and knots within the galaxy became more obvious. All very nice I thought, until I compared the views with the Ethos 8mm and the Pentax XW 10mm. It was then that I noticed that the galaxy appeared both generally brighter and the contrast features more apparent when using the fixed focal length eyepieces. Granted, the Ethos and XW's are much more expensive than the Baader zoom so the zoom was doing quite well. But there was a difference and I found that repeated with other galaxies.

This may well be a feature in other zooms as well. I guess there are bound to be one or two compromises in return for the variable focal length ?

The Baader zoom is a good eyepiece generally and I would probably own one again for outreach and travel and be aware of it's strengths and weaknesses.

 

 

 

I should do a comparison between the Leica and some of my BGOs to test that sort of thing John. I’ve done it for solar and the Leica won, so I would expect it to be pretty good on deep sky too but I haven’t actually done a side by side.

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48 minutes ago, Stu said:

I should do a comparison between the Leica and some of my BGOs to test that sort of thing John. I’ve done it for solar and the Leica won, so I would expect it to be pretty good on deep sky too but I haven’t actually done a side by side.

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 🤣

Edited by John
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Just orderd the Svbony 10-30 to try on the quark. The Hyperflex is just a bit too much with the quarks 4x barlow.

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33 minutes ago, John said:

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 🤣

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

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16 hours ago, globular said:

Excuse my ignorance but how does poor transmission manifest?
Presumably a dimmer image when compared to another eyepiece at the same magnification?

In reality it doesn't affect viewing unless your near the threshold objects with your set up IMHO. The Zeiss zoom 25.1-6.7 will show M57 central star which is VG but on seriously small, faint PN in my 24" a difference is plainly seen comparing to orthos or Delos class eyepieces.

What these eyepieces offer is extremely sharp views, including the Nagler zooms. When viewing bright objects such as the moon and planets the small reduction in transmission is a benefit IMHO- as are the differing "tones" that each one offers. I use the icy Zeiss on Saturn and the rich coloured Leica on Jupiter for example.The Nagler 3-6 gets the nod for Jupiter a well.

A real benefit to any zoom is their ability to "catch" the seeing with the variable mag,just my thoughts.

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21 hours ago, Solar B said:

In response to the topic title I would say yes as you do get what you pay for 

But as ever they are subject (like any EP) to the laws of diminishing returns ...

My money would be on the Baader as you've got to go some to beat that , i normally 

use the Leica ASPH for everything now but would love to try the Pentax XL zoom  (not XF) 

Brian 

 

 

My advice: save your money.  The XL zoom is not very sharp, is very dark, and suffers from astigmatism in the outer 50% of the field.

The Baader Zoom is better in every way.

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19 hours ago, Don Pensack said:

My advice: save your money.  The XL zoom is not very sharp, is very dark, and suffers from astigmatism in the outer 50% of the field.

The Baader Zoom is better in every way.

It's cool Don thanks .... I'm not spending any more on EPs for years .... I went way over budget this year .... but would like to have tried an XL

Brian

 

 

Edited by Solar B

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So first go with the Hyperflex 7.2-21.5 zoom EP;  gave the 200P scope a good hour to cool but the windy conditions really made observing difficult including making my eyes water continuously. Quite obvious that tube currents were also affecting the image but persisted and managed to get some acceptable views of Mars with a polarising filter.

Could make out the Mars phase and a Southerly low albedo feature, occasionally a tiny white spot of the SPC appeared. The conditions really hampered narrowing down which magnification was the optimum so I compared it at 10mm to my BCO 10mm, which gave much sharper views and presented the Martian features more often, quite astonishing given the seeing (I really love the BCO!).

For a laugh I thought I try the Hyperflex with a 2x barlow and surprisingly it held up really well, in fact may have even been an improvement in sharpness of image at the high end, which has got me scratching my head a bit.

Overall, really liked how smooth the zoom function is, and it only needs a slight tune with a micro-focuser to refocus the object. Didn’t ever feel the FOV was too restrictive, even on the lowest zoom. Certainly need better conditions and more viewing opportunities/targets, I look forward to the next session I get with the hyperflex.

 

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I had a go on Mars about a week ago, with the Hyperflex 7.2-21.5 and Svbony 7-21 zooms in a SW150PL (1200mm f/8). Neither of them gave me enough magnification really (didn't have a barlow to add at the time) but I fancy I could just make out a tiny bit of detail at the shortest FL (x170-ish). Seeing and clarity did seem very good but I'm not experienced enough to say that with conviction. By comparison, I thought the Hyperflex had a slight edge on sharpness but so slight that I'm not quite sure, could have even been seeing varying in between changes. I found the Hyperflex a little smoother and easier to zoom (maybe due to the larger barrel) but both were slightly hampered by having a helical focuser-holder - meaning you have to hold the main barrel to operate the zoom, or lose focus badly - which slows things down a bit.

Since then it's been either solid cloud or more-cloud-than-sky so I've not had another chance - and a Baader x2.25 barlow has arrived so fingers crossed!

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Update:  Well, in the end I got a Svbony 21-7 out of impatience, and then shortly after bagged the Baader 24-8 Mk IV on eBay - it was always going to happen like that.  The Baader only arrived yesterday so I've been mucking about with the cheap one for a bit, and getting a bit disillusioned - hard to focus, very stiff action, and about as parfocal as the bottom of a beer bottle.  Then in waltzes the Baader, and its like chalk and cheese - the Baader is markedly better.  I don't know all the tech terms to say what's better but I can see more detail, in better and easier focus at higher magnifications on the Baader; plus its handling is smoother.  Saying that, the seeing was a bit better  early last night, so I suppose that will be part of it - I should have compared them, but I got carried away with the Baader.

I already know that I won't be going much above x150 mag unless its an exceptional night, although I do find the moon tolerates greater mag, but it is quite high in the sky tonight , compared with Jupiter, which I was also looking at - its getting quite low now by the time I can get outside.

I still can't get used to bringing something into good focus and then finding it goes vague on me, then comes back etc etc.  I'm having to consciously resist refocussing once I've got a good glimpse as it seems it will come in and out a bit on its own.  It's a real jolt when you are struggling to get any crisp focus, and sort of "middle it" as best you can, then suddenly the image pings into sharp focus for two seconds and disappears again.  Its like chasing a ten pound note in the wind.

I also find with a zoom in the scope I'm tempted to endless fiddling, but if I put the humble Celestron 24mm Plossl in, I focus and then stand there gawping at the view instead of messing around.  I'm pretty sure I will fairly quickly settle on no more than three fixed eyepieces, and maybe a Barlow.

 

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