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Moon Lander

Another eyepiece thread (though a slightly different question)

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Eyepieces can range in price from £25 to £250 and more. Taking the general rule of thumb that you get what you pay for, I was wondering whether there was a point where your scope meant it was pointless paying any more. For example, if I was to buy (which I am not!) a £275 EP for my Skywatch Explorer 200 PDS, does my scope mean I could not actually gain the benefit a high end EP can bring and I would not see any better than with a £50 EP?

Am I better saving up and buying one or two expensive EP's or a larger selection of cheaper ones? What I want to achieve is the best viewing experience as possible with the scope I have rather then ruin it with too cheap EP's.

I would appreciate any thoughts or advice. Thanks.

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I would say its the other way round with your scope. The DS is quite a demanding design being f5, so will definitely benefit from premium quality eyepieces. And the quality of the optics would warrant the spend.

An SCT or Mak on the other hand perhaps wouldn't warrant a major spend as their design is very forgiving.

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A very important factor in the performance of eyepieces is the focal ratio of the scope in which they're used. This is the focal length (1000mm in your case) divided by the aperture (200mm). 1000/200 = f/5.

The lower the number, the "faster" it is. Faster scopes need better quality eyepieces to show clean pinpoint stars to the edge of the field of view, so a more expensive scope would be justified for your "fast" f/5 scope, but much less so for a "slow" f/10 scope.

This article should explain things further: http://stargazerslounge.com/primers-tutorials/63184-primer-understanding-choosing-eyepieces.html

Hope that helps.

Andrew

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I was always of the opinion that no eyepiece was worth that money, I use a 12" f/4.9 dob and since I bought it I have changed my opinion. Cheaper eyepieces show a lot of distortion and kidney beaning towards the edge of the field of view. I have since bought Televues and the stars are sharp right to the edge.

As Russ says, in longer focal length scopes there is more foregiveness, in the faster scopes there is none and I believe that if you want the maximum enjoyment you have to get better eyepieces.

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It depends also on your visual acuity. If it is high (as with me) you tolerate distortions and aberrations less than if your visual acuity is low. That said, F/ratio is the key factor, but I still bought a Nagler 22mm even for my C8 at F/10. The main idea (excuse?) being that I plan to buy a bigger Newtonian (10-12") on which I can still use the Nagler.

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As Russ says, in longer focal length scopes there is more foregiveness, in the faster scopes there is none and I believe that if you want the maximum enjoyment you have to get better eyepieces.

Must remember this when i'm trying to justify buying a more expensive lens! Haha.

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Taking the general rule of thumb that you get what you pay for.

It still deeply saddens me that people believe this nonsense catchphrase used by salesmen.

You don't get what you pay for. That's not true in any industry and it's not even remotely true in astronomy. You get the leftovers after people have helped themselves to your money.

When a Celestron Eyepiece rolls off the factory in Taiwan, it has a certain fixed cost. Then the factory owners multiply what it's worth. Then Synta multiply what it's worth, and put it in a box saying "Celestron". Then David Hinds ship it to the UK and multiply what it's worth. Finally the retailer multiplies what it's worth and puts it on a shelf. What you've "got" is something genuinely only worth a fraction of the price you've paid for it.

Since not all products come by the same route, this "multiplication" process can have a dramatic effect on the price. Orion products often roll off the same production lines as Sky-Watcher products, but the end price is different, e.g. the following eyepieces are identical in all but branding, but check out the big price difference:

- still convinced you get what you pay for in astronomy? :p

I was wondering whether there was a point where your scope meant it was pointless paying any more.

That's a really good question, to which the answer is a resounding "yes".

I always roll my eyes when people say "always buy the best you can afford", because it's pompous nonsense! :D People need to budget appropriately! It makes no difference how rich you are - even NASA and the European Space Agency have budgetary constraints.

What is "budgeting appropriately"? - well, it's spending the money where it will make the biggest difference to the overall experience, be that the quality of view, or the pleasure of use. Is there a difference between a £75 Baader Genuine Orthoscopic 18mm Eyepiece and a £350 APM Supermono? Sure there is, but I'll bet that - for the majority of people - it's not as big as if they spent that extra £275 more on their choice of telescope. Extend that argument to a whole set of eyepieces and most people could buy a substantially better scope than they've got now. Even if you've bought the best possible scope in the format that suits you, are "premium" eyepieces the next thing to spend the money on? If you've got a lot of money, then perhaps yes - if not, maybe that money is better spent on weekend trips to dark sky sights instead?

Of course, if someone wants to spend absurd sums of money on eyepieces because they enjoy spending absurd sums of money on nice things, well - provided it's not hurting anyone else (dependants etc.) - then that's fine, and it's no-one's business but their own.

But personally, I like Bill Paolini's well thought-out Astronomy Priorities as listed here <click>

Edited by great_bear

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Best advice I can give:

1) Play with cheap EPs and learn about the hobby.

2) Try going to some star parties and play with expensive gear for free.

3) Set a budget you're comfortable spending and buy just a few EPs that will provide all the magnifications you really need.

I did that and ended with 2 nice TV EPs and 2 barlows for a total of 6 possible combinations that satisfy absolutely every need I have. If my budget was lower I would have bought the SW Nirvanas instead as they have great reviews.

It was a considerable investment but I really enjoy astronomy and they get used often. They also will perform well on any other scope I may purchase in the future.

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Some good points about budgets made above. I would not have considered buying higher end EPs until I new I got some benefit out of them. I started out with a home made scope with 0.96" focuser using Polarex EPs (orthos and achromatic symmetrics). These cost the equivalent of 20 euros. When I got my Celestron C8 I used Celestron Plossls and a Vixen Plossl. I noticed a problem at the short end with eye relief, and got a Vixen LV, which was a clear improvement, and somewhat later i got a second one. Only much later did I get myself the top-end stuff I have now, saved for one at a time, always with the thought that this lot should last, AND be useful in a future fast Newtonian. At every step I confirmed that I could see more detail, or had a more comfortable view than with the previous step. EPs should earn their pay! In every eyepiece I also have in mind the eye relief, which is why I stay away from Ethos and similar 100 deg designs.

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I have found a range of EPs that i really LIKE

I've often wondered about those - what do you like best about them? Are you getting them from Orion Optics UK or somewhere cheaper?

- They're certainly a good price, and look like nice items.

Most important question though - what's the sharpness across the field like?

Edited by great_bear

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The thing to remember is that decent eyepieces will deliver the best views your telescope is capable of producing, whereas poor eyepieces will only ever deliver poor views, regardless of the quality of your 'scopes optics.

It is an often overlooked fact that the eyepiece is fully one third of the 'optical train', (the other two thirds being the telescopes primary lens/mirror and your eye). To get the best out of one end of the OTA, you need to put the best you can into the other end.

Now while I think 'great_bear' may have a point regarding the cost of eyepieces to the consumer, I also think it makes sense to invest a bit in some good quality eyepieces for the reasons stated above. This doesn't mean that everyone should rush out and buy an Ethos or three, but there are considerable improvements to be made over the 'stock' eyepieces supplied with most telescopes. You may find that you try or buy and sell quite a few before you settle on a set which suits you, (I did), but that is part of the fun, and you will learn a lot along the way.

Another thing to consider is that, assuming you stay in the hobby for any length of time, telescopes will inevitably come and go as your interests/observing habits/circumstances change, but a well thought-out set of eyepieces can last a lifetime.

Just a thought...

Lee.

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I've often wondered about those - what do you like best about them? Are you getting them from Orion Optics UK or somewhere cheaper?

- They're certainly a good price, and look like nice items.

I only have the 30mm at the moment which i bought from a fellow SGL member for £20 a couple of weeks ago.

What i like about it is: the sharpness of the stars almost right to the edge of the FOV and the contrast. It really picks up some VERY FAINT stars that i know i have not seen in the same FOV with any of my other EPs before.

The EP only has a 50 degree AFOV...but it feels a LOT bigger/wider.

I would seriously recommend this range of EPs to anyone who has a middle of the road budget.

Even to me (a newbie) the quality of the EP jumps out at you...when compared to the standard EPs supplied with scopes or even those Plossls in the EP kits.

I will be buying the full range over the next year or so. Direct if i have to but would prefer to save a few squid by buying 2nd hand......but there is not much in the difference.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher

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Anything in this world is budget driven. (obviously) The question of do you get what you pay for has evidently opened a can of worms. It is true however (industrial/market politics aside) that some EP's are mass produced and re-branded by the likes of Orion or Synta (SkyWatcher) etc. Lenses by Celestron and Orion etc are all of reasonable quality. The high end lenses such as Meade 5000's or Televue/Nagler are a step up in quality and price. BUT it really depends on what you are lookin for in a lens. if you pop out every now and again and enjoy what you see now then spending several hundred pound on one lens is daft.

I spend as many clear-sky hours at the lens as i can and squint for every detail. My scope is modest in size but the meade lenses do look far better than the standard lenses that were supplied with my SkyWatcher. I tend to pick and choose whichever lenses suit my needs rather than a box set.

TBH when observing from my garden in suburbia even the best of lenses has to fight the horrid light pollution but when at the caravan in wales the difference between a good lens and an average lens is far more apparent.

You don't need six or seven lenses you only need three or so and maybe a reasonable barlow for most viewing needs. pick out a high, medium and low power lens (based on budget) and buy them one at a time if needs be. (that's what i do)

If you do upgrade your scope in the future you'll still keep your fav lenses anyway so it won't be money wasted if you plumb for a better lens now.

Cloudless nights!

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My SW heritage 130P scope cost me £170 (incl shipping) from FLO (great,swift service).

I honestly can not justify in MY mind paying more for an EP then my scope cost.

Am i WRONG in my thinking?

I know EPs are a vital enhancement to ANY scope and at the end of the day if i buy 10 EPs for 30 quid each that my EP collection is worth m,ore then my scope.

Already since i bought my Heritage 130P i have spent just about the same money on a LPF, a TAL 2X barlow and a couple of EPs. Including exchange rates and postage.

Do i care? not really because it has enhanced the usability of my scope and thats what count.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher

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A couple of comments here:

poor eyepieces will only ever deliver poor views

But where do these poor eyepieces come from of which you speak? The MA eyepieces supplied with scopes today - not ten years ago - are actually quite passable as eyepieces go (albeit less than an ideal choice for faster scopes). True, the barrels are plastic - but that doesn't affect the views. Not great, but really OK for someone starting out.

I suspect that most of the stories about really dreadful eyepieces supplied with scopes are based on what was sold in the past - not what's sold now. Even the standard Sky-Watcher "Super Wide 10" of vintage 2010, is not the same "Super 10" of a few years ago. You have to go out of your way in the second hand market and actively seek out unbranded £5 "H" eyepieces to get something truly awful.

It is an often overlooked fact that the eyepiece is fully one third of the 'optical train'

No it isn't :D

Maybe in item count? One eyeball, one eyepiece, one objective? But not in any scientific meaningful way like percentage of lens elements in train, overall thickness of glass, or importance of manufacturing tolerances. I'm not trying to be argumentative, but its neither helpful nor meaningful to look at it that way. Spend twice the money on a scope, and you'll notice a difference; spend twice the money on eyepieces, the difference won't be so great.

I also think it makes sense to invest a bit in some good quality eyepieces for the reasons stated above.

The difficulty with this is that "invest" sounds expensive. It's simply not clear to a beginner - and even harder for them to believe - that a second-hand ortho at £25 can put up a planetary view matching eyepieces literally ten times the price - even though seasoned observers will concede that this can be the case.

The bottom line is that it's not a linear price/performance thing at all, and cost bears little correlation to optical quality other than a handful of products at the extreme ends of eyepiece price range - eyepieces which most people will never see, let alone buy.

Today, in the range of commonly-available eyepieces, the main thing that price buys you is width-of-view and a satisfying build-quality (both desirable attributes nonetheless :p ). But price is certainly not - in and of itself - a guide to eyepiece optical quality anymore.

Edited by great_bear

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My SW heritage 130P scope cost me £170 (incl shipping) from FLO (great,swift service).

I honestly can not justify in MY mind paying more for an EP then my scope cost.

Am i WRONG in my thinking?

No, but with your 130P, don't go putting a borrowed Nirvana 16mm in there, cause you'll never give it back! :D It'll blow your mind - really! It turns using your scope into a completely different kind of experience.

PS, those NPLs sound great!

Edited by great_bear

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I am in no position to borrow ANY EP ....so no fear of me experiencing a Nirvana 16mm.

I really think that the Vixen NPL's are my destiny.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher

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you only need three or so and maybe a reasonable barlow

I'd agree with this, and I do think it's a shame that there's not more 1.5x Barlows on the market, as I think this is more useful than the ones that catapult your focal lengths from the bottom end of the range to the other - especially as you may want widefields at the bottom end, and orthos at the top.

Edited by great_bear

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I'd agree with this, and I do think it's a shame that there's not more 1.5x Barlows on the market, as I think this is more useful than the ones that catapult your focal lengths from the bottom end of the range to the other.

I agree. 3 top notch EPs and a good quality barlow and you are set for life.

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great_bear,

I think you entirely missed the point of my post. I was going to answer each of your arguments in turn but, to be honest, there's probably little point.

I do think you are being argumentative and, if I'm honest, overly pedantic.

All I am trying to say is that there is often good reason to upgrade the 'stock' eyepieces supplied with many telescopes - particularly those marketed to 'beginners'. However, this doesn't necessarily mean spending hundreds of pounds.

If you have never seen a 'truly awful' eyepiece, then you have been very lucky - I have seen enough to know that there are more than a few of them out there. I cannot help but wonder how many potential amateur astronomers have been put off the hobby by the views through these nasties?

Lee.

Edited by StarMan1701

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I agree. 3 top notch EPs and a good quality barlow and you are set for life.

think ive got the same disease as u luke i got a cheap scope but the way i see it i can buy decent EP while i find my way around and if i upgrade a scope then at least of got half decent EP straight away.

its easier to buy a EP every month then save up 6 months for a scope (im impatient) :D

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Thank you all for the advice. I didn't realise eyepieces were so contentious and we even had a business studies lesson thrown into the mix :D.

I was not planning on purchasing any additional EP's yet as I want to get used to the scope and using what I have. I was trying to assess though whether I needed to save up longer to buy a more expensive EP or whether I could get a cheaper one. The general consensus seems to be:

- Price does not always equal quality.

- The same eyepiece can be branded differently with a significant differential on price.

- Very expensive EP's will significantly enhance the viewing but if you have never used one of these you won't know that you are missing anything!

- For a fast scope, a good quality EP is recommended.

- Much is down to personal preference which will only be known by trying different EP's out, maybe at a Star Party.

This has given me some good guidance and I will continue to read future threads on the subject to help me when I come to buy another. Thanks again.

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Sorry to throw this into the mix...

how do filters change things? Will a cheap filter (E.g. Nebula) on a cheap eyepiece provide better views than a higher cost EP on its own?

Do expensive filters make a huge difference over cheaper ones?

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I do think you are being argumentative and, if I'm honest, overly pedantic.

No; I told you that I am not.

It's just the way the written word comes across on forums sometimes.

All I am trying to say is that there is often good reason to upgrade the 'stock' eyepieces supplied with many telescopes - particularly those marketed to 'beginners'. However, this doesn't necessarily mean spending hundreds of pounds.

Then I'm entirely in agreement with you :D

Edited by great_bear

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