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Cheap thrills part2~ Astro Essentials Plossls.

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Part two of my reviews just to show you don't have to spend a lot to enjoy astronomy.

This is out of sequence,it should be part 3 but more testing required on what should have been part2.

part1 is here:

I've managed to  make it through most of my astronomy years with hardly a nod to the humble Plossl...until the last 6months or so.

As most of my ep's are worthy if unremarkable Japanese old school designs, i thought it was high time i picked up some cheap ep's for field trips,quick peeks etc.

My eye was drawn to FLO's Astro Essentials Plossls, as they were  a) cheap & b) listed as FMC~ many of the cheap Plossls are only listed as fully coated.

I find other things being equal, on DSO's at least, better coatings seem give a bit more contrast & a brighter image.

I eventually ended up with a set of  7.5, 10, 12.5, 15 ,17 ,20 & 26mm AE Plossls, probably more focal lengths than you really need to buy, but @ £20  each, it didn't break the bank. Additionally 32mm & 40mm fl's are available for a few £ extra.

1st impressions.

All metal barring the eyecups, nice chromed smooth barrel with no undercut, which i much prefer.

They are parfocal, so only the slightest of touches (may) be required on focus knob when swapping ep's.

The eyecups were a nice suprise~ generally i prefer no eyecup, due to long years without & also personally i have previously found an eyecup pressing on my eye socket uncomfortable.(everyone's different)

from 7.5mm thru 20mm the eyecups are quite thin & flexible~no discomfort here. 👍 on that one, plus very easy to fold down should you wish to do so.

I've used them with f5,f7,7.5,f8 & f12.8 refractors in the 70-150mm range. Nothing fancy.

FLO's website recommends these ep's for f6 plus.

Whilst i found them useable @ f5 i would caution that a significant portion of the field shows distortion(astigmatism?) ,though i strongly suspect in my st120 even an ultra premium ep would show some edge distortion?~ It's a budget fast achro.

@ f7 plus, edge distotion is much tamer & i've personally no issues on that score.  @ f12.8, as should be expected they were great nearly to edge.

I don't currently have an f6 scope but previous experience suggests there's a big difference between f6 & f5 when using simpler ep's.

Ok, next,  Planetary & lunar~ quite frankly this was pretty good, comparing with my orthos maybe a little more scatter on planets but i didn't see any less detail on axis. Maybe on a first class night,with planets @ higher altitude i would.

Lunar,very very good.

On DSO's i found them bright & contrasty, I do have better performing ep's, but not by very much.

minus points? On the odd fl, anodizing was not perfect, one ep had slightly jagged field stop~ this all seems fairly common with budget Chinese ep's, minor quibbles for the low price.

The field stops were in sharp focus however, which is more important IMO.

AFOV~i've not actually measured, but i get the impression lower fl's may fall a little short of 50 deg, longer ones maybe a smidgeon more.

None are quite as 'claustrophobic' as a Classical Kellner or Orthoscopic.

Minimal flare from objects outside FOV. ~a 'pass', as this is a pet bugbear of mine.

If you wear glasses to observe the shorter focal lengths may well not suit~ plenty of info elsewhere on this site relating to that.

If  you are worried about eye relief, don't buy the shortest fl's 1st, work downwards till you reach your own comfort limit.

Personally i find the 7.5mm comfortable. I'm actually ok with a 6.3mm Plossl, but i suspect Mr/Mrs average may find 7.5mm the limit for a Plossl & credit to FLO for stopping the range @ this focal length. I'm sure they could have boosted sales by offering shorter fl's,  but many buying may have ended up disappointed.

Ok, whether this has helped anyone i don't know.

If you only have £20 per eyepiece to spend, these are great. I doubt you'll do better for the price.

If you have a bigger budget, is it worth paying more? Maybe, ask lots of questions first.

Bottom line~ i have been somewhat astounded with these £20 budget wonders. I didn't know what to expect,so i expected nothing & came away pleasantly suprised.

If i only  had a set of these ep's, i could be quite happy, i've been looking heavenward many years & these ep's show pretty much most of what my average scopes are capable of showing.

On a personal note i actually enjoyed the shorter fl's more, though i suspect for most the middle fl's would be the more pleasing.

If you have a premium scope, premium ep's may be called for, but  again i have proved, at least to my own eyes, that you can enjoy visual astronomy on a budget.

~Particularly relevant with the recent Skywatcher price rise.

£20 each, price of a good  Chinese takeaway~ you should be smiling with these long after that takeaway's been forgotten. 😉









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Great report - thanks for putting it together :smiley:

I've had a lot of enjoyment from similar low cost plossls over the years.

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2 hours ago, SiriusB said:

minus points? On the odd fl, anodizing was not perfect, one ep had slightly jagged field stop~ this all seems fairly common with budget Chinese ep's, minor quibbles for the low price.

Check to see if they're labeled/marked Taiwan anywhere, including the boxes.  I suspect they are made by GSO of Taiwan.

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Thanks for taking the time to review the plossls. My first eyepieces were FMC plossls from Opticstar. Ascension branded but I've seen them elsewhere since sold as generics. All under £20. They were sold when I moved onto wider field brands, but during Mars opposition I found a 6.5mm during a loft rummage and to my surprise it was actually pretty nice in the 102mm Mak at max magnification. It barlowed very well in the 150p and the image produced was crisp and no worse than the closest equivalent - a Skywatcher 6mm planetary eyepiece costing twice as much!

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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19 hours ago, Louis D said:

Check to see if they're labeled/marked Taiwan anywhere, including the boxes.  I suspect they are made by GSO of Taiwan.

No, no markings as to the origin anywhere.... but very  minor points.

I'm quite sure FLO would have swapped if i'd asked them on receipt, but it really wasn't a biggie for me, for £20.

Can't expect perfection for £20, when others are still chasing it it @ 20x the price.😉


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Thanks for the review.

I've got the 26mm to use with an erecting image diagonal and Altair 72EDF for daytime and widefield sweeping. At f/6 and with an erecting prism I can only find image deterioration in the extreme outer edge of the view. Very impressive for £20.

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