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38mm Skywatcher PanaView and 40mm Skywatcher Aero comparison review


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38mm Skywatcher PanaView and 40mm Skywatcher Aero comparison review

by Andrew Phethean

In 2008, Skywatcher released two new lines of “super wide” (over 65° AFoV) eyepieces – the PanaViews (in 26mm, 32mm and 38mm) and the Aeros (30mm, 35mm and 40mm). The cheaper PanaViews all offer 70° AFoV, while the Aeros offer 68°. All models have 2” barrels.

I was interested to take a closer look to see how the two lines of eyepieces performed, so I asked Steve at First Light Optics for a loan of one of each to try them and review. The 38mm PanaView and the 40mm Aero were the most similar combination and would allow for the fairest general test between the two lines. N.B. I am only comparing two eyepieces, and not the entire line. Every eyepiece is different and the experiences from this review will not necessarily apply to the other PanaViews or Aeros, although they will likely perform similarly.

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Both eyepieces are fully multi coated. The PanaView on left shows blue/violet coatings, while the Aero's (right) are greenish.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND BUILD QUALITY

Both eyepieces come in a cardboard box. The Aero box has a foam insert and silica gel for greater protection of the eyepiece. The PanaView is also protected from bangs by bubble wrap. The PanaView also included a lens cloth for cleaning.

As soon as I had these two eyepieces side by side, there were some very obvious differences. Firstly, the PanaView is a large and bulky eyepiece weighing in at 640g, while the Aero is comparatively slenderer and much lighter. The PanaView’s end caps are of flexible soft rubber, which are slightly more difficult to remove than the Aero’s rigid plastic caps. Nevertheless, both were of a good fit and offer adequate protection of the lenses.

Both eyepieces offer a similar hard rubber eye guard, but the PanaView’s eye guard can be twisted up to suit the user, whereas the Aero’s is fixed. The PanaView’s twisting action worked well with even, if slightly gritty, motion. As it is not lubricated, there is no danger of lubricant messing up the eyepiece. I found there was no sliding of the eye guard position in use. I did not find the Aero’s lack of twist-up of detriment as eye relief was smaller and there is less need to block out light as the eye is held closer to the eyepiece.

Both eyepieces offer a safety recess to reduce the danger of eyepieces slipping from the focuser, but on the PanaView, this is the more common groove near the base of the barrel. The Aero’s is in the form of a tapering towards the base of the barrel. While I personally have no preference, I believe most are in favour of the Aero’s arrangement as it is less likely to snag on compression rings.

Regarding quality of build, I found the PanaView’s exterior superior to the Aero’s. The surface finish is better, the rubber grip is of a better quality and the general design is much classier. That’s not to say there was anything wrong with the Aero’s build – it just doesn’t feel quite as good in the hand.

LOOKING IN – DAY

Looking through the eyepieces at a bright even background showed the PanaView’s baffling and blackening to be a bit better than the Aero’s. While the latter’s field stop was grey, the PanaView’s was perfectly black. However, as I found out later, this did not affect night-time performance appreciably. Both eyepieces revealed a tiny ring of slight colouration at the extreme field edge – yellow in the Aero and blue-green in the PanaView. I’ve seen worse even on premium eyepieces and speaking personally, this is not distracting in the slightest.

The AFoV difference, though small, is noticeable between the two eyepieces. Eye relief is much smaller in the Aero, at 20mm, than the PanaView's 28mm, but is still long enough to comfortably see the field edge wearing glasses. I found the eye placement very easy and natural in both eyepieces and did not experience any blackening of the FOV or kidney-beaning.

LOOKING IN – NIGHT

This is where the real differences between these two eyepieces started to reveal themselves. I tested the eyepieces on an 8” f/5 newtonian, a 16” f/4.5 dobsonian, a 80mm f/7.5 ED refractor and a 6” f/8 achromatic refractor.

In the 6”, I took a long look to try and discern a difference in true FOV between the two eyepieces by putting stars as close as possible to opposite field edges. While theoretically, the 40mm Aero should offer a smidgen more FOV, I couldn’t see it under scrutiny. Also, the magnification change would suggest a slight difference in background brightness. Again, I couldn’t notice any difference. Furthermore, the 2° AFoV shortfall of the Aero was barely noticeable in use. From these observations, I would not have any reason to pick one over the other in terms of specification as the differences are negligible.

At f/8, both eyepieces showed nice tight stars across the FOV. There was very minor field curvature in the PanaView and barely noticeable pincushion distortion in the Aero. Neither detracted much from the view.

At f/7.5 in the ED80, the differences between the eyepieces were again negligible. Both offered nice bright sharp stars for much of the FOV.

However, in the fast Newtonians, differences began to emerge and this is where the Aero really showed its value. While stars through the PanaView started to become distorted from 60-70% out from the centre, the Aero maintained sharp stars for a larger area. Nevertheless, the PanaView was no slouch, and even in the f/4.5 dobsonian, the PanaView gave memorable sights of open clusters. Yes, there was some field curvature and distortion of stars towards the edge (when focused), but it was still quite impressive.

Even though these eyepieces produced large exit pupils – up to 8.9mm – in the faster scopes, I did not experience ill effects from excessive secondary shadow or otherwise. The benefit of fitting in the entire Pleiades in my 16” was very worthwhile. I could see nebulosity from my mag. 5 skies with this combination. Of course this is only my experience and you may experience unpleasant effects if you have a smaller eye pupil or more local light pollution.

I could discern no differences in contrast, light transmission or resolution between these two eyepieces, although the Aero contains one more lens element (6 in 4 groups) than the PanaView (5 elements).

CONCLUSION

I found both of these eyepieces very comfortable to use and they were good performers all round, especially considering their price. In slightly slower scopes, performance was equal but the PanaView is cheaper making it a better value eyepiece. However, in faster scopes, the Aero is the better performer and its light weight and small size is a bonus. Saying that, if you are on a budget for a wide-field eyepiece for a faster scope, I don't think you will be disappointed with the 38mm PanaView.

Regarding value for money, I think both eyepieces are very good value. In particular I think you will find the performance of the Aero in an f/5 telescope very hard to beat for the price.

38mm PanaView pros

· Good build quality

· Twist-up eye guard

· Excellent performance in slower scopes (over f/5)

38mm PanaView cons

· Quite heavy and large - may unbalance your scope

40mm Aero pros

· Excellent performance in fast scopes

· Small and light for such a large-TFoV 2" eyepiece

40mm Aero cons

· More expensive

I'd like to thank Steve at FLO for kindly lending me these eyepieces for review. I very much enjoyed my time with them!

Andrew

Edited by Andrew*
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Excellent review Andrew. Excellent write up. And you have laid out the Pro's and Con's very clearly. Should help anyone needing to make the choice between the two that much easier.

The Aero ED is a very nice eyepiece for a faster scope. Steve very kindly lent the 30mm but i wasn't in a position to carry out the review, so John did instead. I did use the Aero briefly and it worked very well in my F4.7 dob.

Russ

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Exellent report Andrew - thanks for posting it :(

Interesting that you found the large exit pupil worked OK for you - I suspect my skies are more light polluted than yours and I'm a few years older so I probably would not get away with it.

As you know I tried a 30mm Aero a while back and enjoyed my time with it. They are rather understated eyepieces but very nice performers, even in faster scopes. This was the same eyepiece that Russ had a short turn with.

Edited by John
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I have the 32mm Panaview and absolutely love it, i did a review at the time of buying. For what it offers and at the price, I think any user, new or experienced would love it and use it a lot, as said above, pleides is a dream in one of these, and you can even swing to saturn, see the ringed planet, 2 or three moons as well, not with any great amount of detail but with a couple of stars dotted about it just makes a really nice picture. I would never part with my 32mm panaview.

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Really great review Andrew and I'm now thinking "wonder if I ought to cought up for some Aero's"

Where in the FOV did you start to notice a loss of image quality.? 60% ? 80% ? I'd be interested.

Also, what kind of colour rendition did you notice ?

Many thanks

Steve

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super review Andrew - thanks for the time and effort!

I think as I run a f8.3 refractor and f5.3 dob the Aero might be the better bet and possibly the 35mm for me - possibly at the cost of selling my WO 33mm SWAN which is fabulous in my refractor but loses some in the faster dob.

still, I reckon I'll have a think first as the SWAN is still a decent eyepiece in both and possibly comparable with the Panaview.

thanks again.

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Yet another valuable post Andrew! Thanks again. Actually been waiting for this one since I've read FLO's suggestion for comparison on some other thread. Must admit though, I kinda wanted the Panaview to "win" :(

Marius

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Thanks for the comments :D

Really great review Andrew and I'm now thinking "wonder if I ought to cought up for some Aero's"

Where in the FOV did you start to notice a loss of image quality.? 60% ? 80% ? I'd be interested.

Also, what kind of colour rendition did you notice ?

In the f/5 scope, I remember the Aero was seriously good. Stars were good points until around 90%. At f/4.5, as you would expect, this went down to around 75%. Still good in my book.

Didn't notice any differences in colour rendition, and certainly there was no strong colour cast in either. I didn't spend long on this test TBH.

Yet another valuable post Andrew! Thanks again. Actually been waiting for this one since I've read FLO's suggestion for comparison on some other thread. Must admit though, I kinda wanted the Panaview to "win" :(

Depends what you class as a "winner". I think they both "won" to a certain extent, but if you have a faster scope than f/6, there is one clear "winner". Although I didn't try an f/6, I imagine this would be the sweet spot for the Panaview - just before the image begins to break down, and giving a versatile maximum exit pupil of 6.3mm.

Andrew

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Depends what you class as a "winner".

Andrew

I knew I shouldn't have said that :D

you know that feeling when you kinda have your eye on something, or lean to one side rather than other possibly influenced by some subconscious preference and pretty much have decided on having it (or already have), although maybe more rational choice would've been the other, or none at all. So you "hunt" for any possible pro's just to justify the purchase (in this instance) :D A kind of your "desire" conning your rational thinking :)

Well since I'm considering the Panaview in F/5, it is clear, as you say, there is one obvious winner here. Though I'd still probably have to go down to 32 rather than 38, so I suppose that's a different story.. :(

Marius

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don't be afraid of buying used equipment off this forum. I have bought several things (in fact almost all of my kit is second hand) off people here (and Astrobuysell for that matter) and have never had a problem with anyone. if you don't know them then strike up an email conversation with them and you'll soon suss the dodgy ones I feel - or check their other sales and posts to see their 'record'.

apart from usually being at least a third cheaper than new, it's a great way (if you have the patience to wait for things to come up - and the speed to get in first!) of trying something and seeing if you 'get on with it'. if you do then keep it, if not then sell it on and only really risk the cost of the post or a few quid on top.

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Well since I'm considering the Panaview in F/5, it is clear, as you say, there is one obvious winner here. Though I'd still probably have to go down to 32 rather than 38, so I suppose that's a different story.. :(

I tried all three Panaviews and by a small margin the 38mm was the best. Sorry :D

I knew I shouldn't have said that :)

you know that feeling when you kinda have your eye on something, or lean to one side rather than other possibly influenced by some subconscious preference and pretty much have decided on having it (or already have), although maybe more rational choice would've been the other, or none at all. So you "hunt" for any possible pro's just to justify the purchase (in this instance) :eek: A kind of your "desire" conning your rational thinking :D

I know that feeling very well :D. It happens mostly to me when I've just bought the more expensive of two options, and then I try and kid myself that it was worth it for whatever petty reason...

don't be afraid of buying used equipment off this forum. I have bought several things (in fact almost all of my kit is second hand) off people here (and Astrobuysell for that matter) and have never had a problem with anyone. if you don't know them then strike up an email conversation with them and you'll soon suss the dodgy ones I feel - or check their other sales and posts to see their 'record'.

apart from usually being at least a third cheaper than new, it's a great way (if you have the patience to wait for things to come up - and the speed to get in first!) of trying something and seeing if you 'get on with it'. if you do then keep it, if not then sell it on and only really risk the cost of the post or a few quid on top.

This reflects my philosophy. 90% of my kit is S/H and never had major problems with sellers. :D

Andrew

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I tried all three Panaviews and by a small margin the 38mm was the best. Sorry :D
Oh come-on!! do you just HAVE to do this?! :) I've already tried to ignore AstroBaby's praises for 38 Panaview once :eek: I WAS, however, thinking 38 at first, but 7.6 exit pupil kinda scares me a bit.. :D
if you do then keep it, if not then sell it on and only really risk the cost of the post or a few quid on top.

I know, I too had quite a few smooth purchases and sales here on SGL and am really happy I found my way in here. My sort of problem now is, that a) I am away from my current small scope thus could not test the equipment bought (no try and see if you like 'em I'm afraid :(), so I try and research as much as I can what others have found of any particular piece of equipment I am considering in a near future. :D After eventually buying my "proper" setup I'm moving out of UK (this summer, actually) so again, not as easy to buy-sell stuff (shipping-wise) afterward.

Marius

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 month later...
Just wondered? With a 120mm aperture 1000mm scope (f/8.33) would the 38mm Panview be too much, and would a 32mm be better? Thanks!

CW

Either would work fine - the 38mm would show more sky of course.

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