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Barlow and a few eyepiece mini reviews


part timer
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Well, here are a few Barlow's I've had and some eyepieces which I have either bought since my mini reviews were posted or have just remembered.

Eyepieces

40 mm Meade Series 3000 plossl

This is a nice eyepiece and actually seems better in quality than the 4000's I've tried. It is second hand and has Japan stamped on it. I am not sure if Meade later replaced these with cheaper versions or not.

Eye relief is too long for the body. This cold have been solved by simply making the body a bit longer (only a few millimetres) so it's a shame.

Image is very nice and the 40 odd degree field seems strangely larger. It isn't you understand, but it seems that way. I have found I don't miss my 32 at all as this is a nice quality eyepiece and the magnification is only 7.5x less in 40 as opposed to the 32. 40mm plossls almost always give better views than 32mm ones in the same range with much less edge aberrations and so it's a shame that manufacturers don't address the simple problem of accommodating the eye relief into the design.

I can only compare this to the Tal one by memory but it seems to be similar in quality. The tal was perhaps a shade sharper (but the conditions haven't been good this year) but this has a little bit wider field and is a touch brighter.

I am now using this as my low power eyepiece and am very happy with it. I use it for afocal photography too and when I eventually get a TV 32mm I will keep hold of this for that purpose.

Coronado 12mm Kellner.

Plastic body, no eye guard or eye relief! Actually quite nice optically and at least as clear as a similar Plossl. Field is comparable to, but slightly smaller than, a plossl. Ok for cheap scopes and gave nice solar views in my PST.

Tasco 2x Barlow

Plastic lenses and body. Really bad!

Helios/Skywatcher (and several other brands) 2x Delux Barlow

Absolute rubbish. Degraded all images even with cheap eyepieces. Even the tasco did better until it's lenses got scratched. This was one of my first astronomy purchases and was the worst one I've made.

TAL 2x

Nice quality metal body and lovely lenses with beautiful coatings. Very sharp.

Suffers from yellowing of the image though and this spoils it. It makes Images very dim when at high power.

Televue 2x

Essentially perfect, but gives a very slight cast which in the end I didn't like. This is really nit picking as you would not notice it except on the moon. It's is one of the Televue products for which the price cannot be justified but it is a lovely Barlow.

Meade 2x 140 APO

Again almost perfect. I like it a lot and it has no colour cast to me. It does have some light scatter however which I didn't notice until some pointed it out to me. I live with several flood lights over my garden so If the problem is not bad for me then it cant be very bad at all!

Edited by part timer
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More mini reviews! :(

No happy memories of the Skywatcher "deluxe" barlow :D. Probably the worst optics I've ever used.

Televue 2x

Essentially perfect, but gives a very slight cast which in the end I didn't like. This is really nit picking as you would not notice it except on the moon. It's is one of the Televue products for which the price cannot be justified but it is a lovely Barlow.

I don't quite get this - the TeleVue barlow is cheaper than the Celestron Ultima, and is excellent for the price.

Andrew

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Excellent stuff, these mini reviews are great. I agree with you on the whole, just my experience differed slightly a couple of items:

TV 2x Barlow - almost perfect but for me the Celestron Ultima/Orion Shorty Plus just edge it and the Orion for less too (or at least it used to).

Meade #140 Apo - excellent barlow on a par with the others for optical quality. Only downside is it's size, especially the combined length of the barrel and the lens. My WO dielectric wasn't happy about this.

Tal 2x - a nice enough barlow, unable to match the above barlows for optical quality but okay for the money. Both my 2x and 3x Tal's had oversized barrels which the WO diagonal and Meade 1.25" adapter would not accept. The 3x vignetted all the low power eyepieces.

SW 2x Deluxe - had two and both were on a par with the Tal (which made the Tal slightly disappointing). I suppose it's the luck of the draw. I've had four different achro barlows (Meade #126, Tal 2x, SW Deluxe and GSO) and couldn't tell them apart.

Meade 3000 40mm - not had the 40mm but had the 25mm and i had the same experience versus the Meade 4000 26mm. The 3000 25mm was the better eyepiece, all be it with slightly smaller field.

Can't comment on the others. I've had the Tasco 2x but that was 1983. And i had the Coronado 12mm but never used it.

Edited by russ
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Nice mini-reviews - thanks for posting !.

I've owned a Tele Vue 2x barlow and a Celestron Ultima 2x and found their optical performance very similar - excellent !. I ended up keeping the Ultima because, at the time, the shorty format was more convenient for me. The Ultima was only knocked off it's perch by a TV Powermate 2.5x which was superb but is more expensive again (justified though IMHO).

I've owned several Meade 3000's including the 40mm. Mine was the old style (no rubber eye cup) Japanese made one and a wonderful eyepiece. As you say, suprisingly immersive for a 40mm 1.25". Ed Ting (Scopereviews) said that he preferred the 3000's to the 4000's which influenced me to try them out.

Edited by John
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I don't quite get this - the TeleVue barlow is cheaper than the Celestron Ultima, and is excellent for the price.

Very true, but in that case the same applies to the ultima (which I haven't owned).

They are excellent and I have no issues with them in that regard , but the price is crazy when other firms (even Meade!) are producing equal quality for half the cost.

And yes, the Meade and TV Barlow's are long. I don't notice this 'cause I use a Newt so I forgot to mention it. It was an issue with my Skywatcher Mak though.

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I have had the skywatcher 2x deluxe and found it to be fine as well, comparable in quality to my Tal 2x, but not in the same league as my TeleVue barlows. Perhaps the current SW barlows are better than the older ones?

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Just to clarify, The 'deluxe' Barlow I had was a Helios branded one and was truly awful. A few years later I looked at the Sky watcher ones and it seemed identical in every way.

In any case you can get a nice Barlow for only a few pounds more so this one is still something I would recommend avoiding!

A Barlow should not do anything to the view except magnify it. There are Barlow's around for £45- to 50 which do this, so there is really no need to waste £30-35 on this.

Edited by part timer
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Just to clarify, The 'deluxe' Barlow I had was a Helios branded one and was truly awful. A few years later I looked at the Sky watcher ones and it seemed identical in every way.

In any case you can get a nice Barlow for only a few pounds more so this one is still something I would recommend avoiding!

A Barlow should not do anything to the view except magnify it. There are Barlow's around for £45- to 50 which do this, so there is really no need to waste £30-35 on this.

I agree, if you can afford it, bypass the Tal, SW & GSO etc....go for the Orion Shorty Plus. Identical to the Celestron Ultima but cheaper by £16. It's a shorty as the name suggests, so doesn't have a problem with diagonals. Happy in Newts, Fracs or SCT/MCT.

The Powermates are awesome. I've had the set (2.5x, 5x, 4x 2") and they were faultless. As John says, worth the money.....if you have it off course.

And which barlow do i have?

TV Powermate......nope!

Orion Shorty Plus.....nope!

SW Deluxe even....nope!

.

.

.

Meade #124 mega cheap bargain basement. And it does okay.

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Meade #124 mega cheap bargain basement. And it does okay.

And that is what counts.

It's a funny thing with Barlow's, that people seem to put up with far worse quality than with eyepieces themselves. I've read countless times on the internet that a Barlow lens reduces image quality. It shouldn't! If it does then you have a bad one, it's as simple as that. Lower priced equipment is often very good these days but if you haven't used a particular item then you take a risk.

The point of these reviews is to show which ones work and which don't and perhaps make the choice for others just a little easier.

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I now have a collection of four of the Skywatcher Barlows! They are very variable in quality: one is excellent, two are good and one is dreadful. Pot luck which one you get...

I dismantled the dreadful one and fastened a camera adapted to the top thread! Well, it works and the Barlow found a use!

I use a Rigel X2 2" for my 2" eyepiece (I've never tried it at high power) and a Meade 140 X2 Apo for high power work.

The Meade is so good I see no reason to change/upgrade.

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I used a x2 Celestron Ultima Barlow with a 10mm Plossl and compared it with a 5mm Baader Orthoscopic (giving x208 in my refractor) on Mars. There was no difference in the available detail or contrast.

Good Barlows don't degrade the views.

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I used to use a Tele Vue Powermate 2.5x with my 9mm Nagler to give high power views. I then decided that an eyepiece on it's own would work better so I bought a 3.5mm Nagler. The views are just the same - excellent. Good barlows / telextenders just "get out of the way".

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hi all

great mini reviews John as usual.

for me, having had a few barlows in my short astro 'career', there's no replacing the TV 2.5x powermate. I know it's dear at maybe £100 used but is really is the best thing I have used. just superb and well worth the money IMHO. not used it with lenses other than TV but assume they'd be great too (or as good as they can be).

I suspect (like me) some people mistake the normal darkening and fuzziness you get when you push magnification too far, with a poor quality barlow.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I recently bought a second hand TAL 3x Barlow so I'll review that now.

First thing is construction. You often see eyepieces etc advertised as 'all metal construction', well this one is constructed with almost solid metal. The barrel is about a centimetre thick metal! It is a tiny Barlow (shorter than a 25mm Plossl) and is unbelievably heavy. If you drop this you will damage the concrete but not the Barlow!

Optically, its only problem is the tiny lens diameter which vignettes longer FL eyepieces. My 17mm has a very small field when used with this Barlow.

Image quality is very good and I have been surprised to find very little colour cast, much less than the 2x and barely there at all.

I bought it to increase image scale for afocal planetary pic's but I now use it visually with my new ST 80 and find the two work very well together.

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