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    Default 15mm Plossls shootout



    2/25/18

    The purpose of this shootout was to find the best option for 15mm spot on my Baader EP Q-turret. Equipment: ES 127mm F7.5 APO triplet CF refractor on Bresser Exos2 mount.

    EP turrets are hardly a mainstream future of typical amateur astro setup. Most of models seem to be heavy, expensive and overcomplicated. Baader Q-turret is a nice exception, simple but effective. However, why I appreciate lightweight, compactness and simplicity of the design, it does limit EP weight to about 5 oz.

    I have a few nice wide angle EPs in 15mm range, but they are too heavy and/or too bulky for the turret. There are no 15mm Orthos for some reason, so I thought my options are limited to Plossls. Luckily, I was reminded about Vixen LV line. There are 3 generations (LV, NLV and SLV), I was willing to try any, and then used SLV came for sale.

    Thus, behold tonight’s 15mm line-up: Vixen NPL (China), TeleVue later generation Plossl (Japan), Meade 4000 yellow letter (unknown, likely China), and Vixen SLV (China). The first three are true 4 elements, symmetrical design Plossls. SLV has a more complex 7 elements design. However, since it has 50 deg FOV, many treat them as a souped up Plossls.

    Plsls15mm.jpg


    As in my previous 32mm Plossls shootout I used Orion Nebula complex as a target. M42 presented a great view. Nebula brightness was a bit subdued whether because of the Moon or smaller aperture. Still, there were enough structure and dark and half-tone features to make the testing effective.

    Overall view: At first glance, all 4 EPs did very good job. I was looking through Meade Plossl thinking how one can improve on this: sharp stars, nice nebula details, but then I switched to the Vixen SLV – wow, just wow! Image just got refined in all aspects: sharpness, contrast, level of details. Thus, the first place was easy to assign. The other three took a while to sort out. As with 32mm Plossls, 15mm TV was a bit behind the other two in nebula brightness. Meade had a bit softer focus than other two. At the end overall second place went to Vixen NPL, TV was neck to neck with NPL in sharpness and contrast, but lost a bit in transmittance. Meade took the last place mainly because it was little bit less sharp than other two and had a bit less contrast.

    Field of View: There were no noticeable differences in AFV. However, Vixen SLV was better corrected: the stars were sharp almost all the way to the edge, except maybe last 5%, where they got slightly out of focus. All 3 Plossls showed more edge softness than SLV, but about equal amount. Meade appeared to have fussier stars at the edge, but likely because it had overall a bit softer focus. Still, this field curvature was relatively mild, in no way distracting from the views.

    Sharpness: Sharpness was judged from how sharp and pinpoint like the stars are. I have my 127mm APO for about a year and had plenty of sharp views, but I never saw stars as sharp as with Vixen SLV. The moment I switched to SLV I spotted E component in the Trapezium, right away, at 60x, and not as flitting glimps, but as a sharp dot just sitting there. To achieve that you not just need sharpness, but also good contrast and light scatter control. TV and NPL had similar good sharpness, but a tad less than SLV. Once I knew where to look I found E component to, a bit fuzzier and less obvious. I don’t believe Meade Plossl had enough sharpness to spot E. I don’t blame it. I had plenty views with much fancier EPs in the past and never manage to split E at 60x.

    Light-scatter: Looking at the glow of bright stars, and also placing them just beyond FOV I could not tell any obvious differences between 4 EPs. All had about the same (very good) light scatter control.

    Contrast: Two Vixens and TV showed about the same level of contrast, highlighting nicely structure details within the nebula body and thin filaments coming from the wings. Meade views had somewhat less contrast. In fact some of the thing filaments were not visible.

    Brightness/transmittance: Meade was the winner showing the most of central area of M42 and most of M43. Vixens had very similar transmittance, a little bit behind Meade. TV was a ted darker yet, in fact M42 nebulosity was visible only with averted vision in TV.

    Colors: Vixens had the neutral palette, which I liked the most. TV had warmer tones and Meade was on the colder side. SLV showed a bit more, while Meade a bit less color saturation, with TV and NPL in the middle.

    Ergonomics: SLV was clear winner with plenty of eye relief (20mm) and screw-type eye cap which you can place at comfortable level whether you observe with glasses or not. TV had the least ER. It felt tight before but now comparing to NPL and Meade, it became obvious. I did not dig NPL design first, but then I realized that it uses the most of eye relief, in fact I can just yet see the field stop with my glasses on. Not possible with other two Plossls. With that in mind I assign second place to NPL. But I can see why some may prefer traditional design of TV and Meade.

    Value: While there are winners and runners up in this shootout, there are no losers. I wan’t hesitate to recommend all 4, in particular because they come at different price tags.

    SLV has the highest price tag, but also overall the best performer. In fact I would strongly recommend to give it a shot to all APO/ED scope owners and planetary and doubles enthusiasts.

    At ~$50 new /~$30 used NPL is the best value as far as performance/price goes. TV may perform better on the Moon and planets because of darker coating (yet to see ), but it is a bit less attractive pricewise.

    Finally, Meade with excellent light transmittance is an attractive option for DSO hunters and those who look for inexpensive but well performing EP.

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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Thank you for this fine report Andrey. I appreciate! :-)
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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Nice review! In my opinion the Plossl design for 11-15mm is an underappreciated tool, comparing well to more modern designs that carry a much higher price tag. When doing solar viewing my little (9-11-15mm) TV plossls are better than anything else I own.
    Dave

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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Thanks for an excellent and comprehensive review of these eyepieces. I have one joke and also a serious remark. The joke is about

    Thus, behold tonight’s 15mm line-up: Vixen NPL (China), TeleVue later generation Plossl (Japan), Meade 4000 yellow letter (unknown, likely China), and Vixen SLV (China). The first three are true 4 elements, symmetrical design Plossls. SLV has a more complex 7 elements design. However, since it has 50 deg FOV, many treat them as a souped up Plossls.
    You know there is an argument to be made that the TV Naglers are souped up Plossls too!

    But there is a kernel of truth in the joke. The design heritage of the wide fields is all back to Plossls with added elements to push the designs.

    Older TV Plossls coming from Taiwan have different coatings, more throughput, and a more neutral tone than the more recent ones. If you can get your hands on some of the oldies they are great for detecting faint objects. Terrific transmission. Why they changed is a mystery, presumably aiming more at lunar / planetary than DSO viewing.

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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Thanks not_Fritz for the input,

    Quote Originally Posted by not_Fritz_Argelander View Post
    ...
    Older TV Plossls coming from Taiwan have different coatings, more throughput, and a more neutral tone than the more recent ones. If you can get your hands on some of the oldies they are great for detecting faint objects. Terrific transmission. Why they changed is a mystery, presumably aiming more at lunar / planetary than DSO viewing.
    Yes, there are several kernels of truth in the eyepieces.

    The old Tele Vue Plössls with the green "circle N" and with the Unitron-like fashion towards the observing eye,
    are the best astronomy Plössls ever made, and at that time manufactured in Japan,
    see the first 2 from left in http://www.astronomyforum.net/member...2mm-japan.html

    Lots of the astronomy Plössls, and possibly most of them, are achromatized symmetricals, so they are not Plössls,
    and even not when looking from far away.
    True Plössls have asymmetric glass materials prescription with different lens surface curvatures.

    Best,

    JG
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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigzmey View Post
    2/25/18

    The purpose of this shootout was to find the best option for 15mm spot on my Baader EP Q-turret. Equipment: ES 127mm F7.5 APO triplet CF refractor on Bresser Exos2 mount.

    EP turrets are hardly a mainstream future of typical amateur astro setup. Most of models seem to be heavy, expensive and overcomplicated. Baader Q-turret is a nice exception, simple but effective. However, why I appreciate lightweight, compactness and simplicity of the design, it does limit EP weight to about 5 oz.

    I have a few nice wide angle EPs in 15mm range, but they are too heavy and/or too bulky for the turret. There are no 15mm Orthos for some reason, so I thought my options are limited to Plossls. Luckily, I was reminded about Vixen LV line. There are 3 generations (LV, NLV and SLV), I was willing to try any, and then used SLV came for sale.

    Thus, behold tonight’s 15mm line-up: Vixen NPL (China), TeleVue later generation Plossl (Japan), Meade 4000 yellow letter (unknown, likely China), and Vixen SLV (China). The first three are true 4 elements, symmetrical design Plossls. SLV has a more complex 7 elements design. However, since it has 50 deg FOV, many treat them as a souped up Plossls.

    Plsls15mm.jpg


    As in my previous 32mm Plossls shootout I used Orion Nebula complex as a target. M42 presented a great view. Nebula brightness was a bit subdued whether because of the Moon or smaller aperture. Still, there were enough structure and dark and half-tone features to make the testing effective.

    Overall view: At first glance, all 4 EPs did very good job. I was looking through Meade Plossl thinking how one can improve on this: sharp stars, nice nebula details, but then I switched to the Vixen SLV – wow, just wow! Image just got refined in all aspects: sharpness, contrast, level of details. Thus, the first place was easy to assign. The other three took a while to sort out. As with 32mm Plossls, 15mm TV was a bit behind the other two in nebula brightness. Meade had a bit softer focus than other two. At the end overall second place went to Vixen NPL, TV was neck to neck with NPL in sharpness and contrast, but lost a bit in transmittance. Meade took the last place mainly because it was little bit less sharp than other two and had a bit less contrast.

    Field of View: There were no noticeable differences in AFV. However, Vixen SLV was better corrected: the stars were sharp almost all the way to the edge, except maybe last 5%, where they got slightly out of focus. All 3 Plossls showed more edge softness than SLV, but about equal amount. Meade appeared to have fussier stars at the edge, but likely because it had overall a bit softer focus. Still, this field curvature was relatively mild, in no way distracting from the views.

    Sharpness: Sharpness was judged from how sharp and pinpoint like the stars are. I have my 127mm APO for about a year and had plenty of sharp views, but I never saw stars as sharp as with Vixen SLV. The moment I switched to SLV I spotted E component in the Trapezium, right away, at 60x, and not as flitting glimps, but as a sharp dot just sitting there. To achieve that you not just need sharpness, but also good contrast and light scatter control. TV and NPL had similar good sharpness, but a tad less than SLV. Once I knew where to look I found E component to, a bit fuzzier and less obvious. I don’t believe Meade Plossl had enough sharpness to spot E. I don’t blame it. I had plenty views with much fancier EPs in the past and never manage to split E at 60x.

    Light-scatter: Looking at the glow of bright stars, and also placing them just beyond FOV I could not tell any obvious differences between 4 EPs. All had about the same (very good) light scatter control.

    Contrast: Two Vixens and TV showed about the same level of contrast, highlighting nicely structure details within the nebula body and thin filaments coming from the wings. Meade views had somewhat less contrast. In fact some of the thing filaments were not visible.

    Brightness/transmittance: Meade was the winner showing the most of central area of M42 and most of M43. Vixens had very similar transmittance, a little bit behind Meade. TV was a ted darker yet, in fact M42 nebulosity was visible only with averted vision in TV.

    Colors: Vixens had the neutral palette, which I liked the most. TV had warmer tones and Meade was on the colder side. SLV showed a bit more, while Meade a bit less color saturation, with TV and NPL in the middle.

    Ergonomics: SLV was clear winner with plenty of eye relief (20mm) and screw-type eye cap which you can place at comfortable level whether you observe with glasses or not. TV had the least ER. It felt tight before but now comparing to NPL and Meade, it became obvious. I did not dig NPL design first, but then I realized that it uses the most of eye relief, in fact I can just yet see the field stop with my glasses on. Not possible with other two Plossls. With that in mind I assign second place to NPL. But I can see why some may prefer traditional design of TV and Meade.

    Value: While there are winners and runners up in this shootout, there are no losers. I wan’t hesitate to recommend all 4, in particular because they come at different price tags.

    SLV has the highest price tag, but also overall the best performer. In fact I would strongly recommend to give it a shot to all APO/ED scope owners and planetary and doubles enthusiasts.

    At ~$50 new /~$30 used NPL is the best value as far as performance/price goes. TV may perform better on the Moon and planets because of darker coating (yet to see ), but it is a bit less attractive pricewise.

    Finally, Meade with excellent light transmittance is an attractive option for DSO hunters and those who look for inexpensive but well performing EP.
    Very interesting shootout. At one time I think I had more 15mm eyepieces than any other focal length.

    fifteens.jpg

    I have a pair of 15mm TV's originally for binoviewing, although the 10mm eye relief is a bit tight. I use them for lunar/planetary singly mostly nowadays. I have a relatively new Meade and I always found it very bright and contrasted for medium power lunar viewing. I think they're often underrated as they undoubtedly have JOC glass and even have nicely made chromed brass undercuts. The NPL is as good as the TV 15mm, although there's something I dislike about the ergonomics of the eyeguard. I'd say there was little difference between the Meade and the GSO. I quite like the 15mm Omni and would have gone with a bino pair for using with a Mak if I could have bought them originally with drawtubes with no undercuts. I'm pretty sure the Antares 15mm 'Plossl' isn't, as I'm convinced it has five lenses. I used to use this a fair bit for DSO's on an f/6.9 Newtonian.
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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Nicely done, Andrey! I have a soft spot for the Plossl's and use my Unitron branded often for personal observing

    Dave
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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Thanks for the roundup Andrey. I enjoy reading these these shootouts of yours.

    Now...

    Which of these are you putting up for sale?
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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by spelunkerd View Post
    Nice review! In my opinion the Plossl design for 11-15mm is an underappreciated tool, comparing well to more modern designs that carry a much higher price tag. When doing solar viewing my little (9-11-15mm) TV plossls are better than anything else I own.
    Agree! As far as sharpness and contract they are hard to beat.
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    Default Re: 15mm Plossls shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by not_Fritz_Argelander View Post
    Thanks for an excellent and comprehensive review of these eyepieces. I have one joke and also a serious remark. The joke is about



    You know there is an argument to be made that the TV Naglers are souped up Plossls too!

    But there is a kernel of truth in the joke. The design heritage of the wide fields is all back to Plossls with added elements to push the designs.

    Older TV Plossls coming from Taiwan have different coatings, more throughput, and a more neutral tone than the more recent ones. If you can get your hands on some of the oldies they are great for detecting faint objects. Terrific transmission. Why they changed is a mystery, presumably aiming more at lunar / planetary than DSO viewing.
    Quote Originally Posted by j.gardavsky View Post
    Thanks not_Fritz for the input,



    Yes, there are several kernels of truth in the eyepieces.

    The old Tele Vue Plössls with the green "circle N" and with the Unitron-like fashion towards the observing eye,
    are the best astronomy Plössls ever made, and at that time manufactured in Japan,
    see the first 2 from left in http://www.astronomyforum.net/member...2mm-japan.html

    Lots of the astronomy Plössls, and possibly most of them, are achromatized symmetricals, so they are not Plössls,
    and even not when looking from far away.
    True Plössls have asymmetric glass materials prescription with different lens surface curvatures.

    Best,

    JG
    Thanks nFA and JG! Are all old style/smoothie TV Plossls come with brighter coatings? Should I look for "circle N" (it is the same as "circle NJ, right?)? What about "circle R"?

 

 
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