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Thread: Should I buy a zoom eyepiece?

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    Default Should I buy a zoom eyepiece?

    This is a compilation of recent posts on zoom eyepieces:

    From Carlos:

    Just got the September '09 issue of the BBC's 'Sky at Night' magazine, and noticed they feature a 'group test' of 6 popular zoom eyepieces.

    Obviously, copyright constraints don't allow me to scan, or otherwise fully reproduce the article here....
    But here are the salient points from the test - and a comparison of prices, FOVs, and optical ratings.

    Telescopes used in the test were a 12" Dob - a 10" newt - and a 80m 'ED' refractor

    Prices are in UK pounds Sterling - but are all sourced from the same dealer, so for people in other countries, they can still be compared against each other.

    SkyWatcher 8-24mm
    Price - £60
    Optics - 88%
    AFOV - 40°-60°
    Positive - No internal reflections
    Negative - Colours muted

    Celestron 8-24mm
    Price - £76
    Optics - 85%
    AFOV - 40°-60°
    Positive - Good Colour rendition
    Negative - Prominent internal reflections

    Meade series 4000 8-24mm
    Price - £126
    Optics - 93%
    AFOV - 40°-55°
    Positive - Excellent Deep Sky views
    Negative - Some internal reflections

    Televue clickstop 8-24mm
    Price - £185
    Optics - 89%
    AFOV - 40°-55°
    Positive - Small and Light
    Negative - Click stop very stiff

    Baader Hyperion clickstop 8-24
    Price - £189
    Optics - 93%
    AFOV - 50°-68°
    Positive - Nice click action
    Negative - Bulky

    Pentax XW 8-24mm
    Price - £339
    Optics - 93%
    AFOV - 38°-60°
    Positive - Great deep sky views
    Negative - Largest and heaviest on test

    As with all zoom optics - the narrowest apparant field of view (AFOV) comes at lowest magnifications in all these models.

    Of the 6 EPs on test, only the SkyWatcher and the Baader showed no internal reflections at all, when viewing bright objects.
    The Skywatcher was surprisingly sharp, and reflection-free, considering it's the cheapest on test - but did lack colour.
    The Celestron noticeably lacked sharpness at high powers, and showed a lot of internal reflections, but did give the best colour rendition of all (for double stars)
    The Meade 4000, was the sharpest across the FOV of those on test, and gave the best deep-sky views of all. The only criticism was for very faint internal reflections when viewing bright objects.
    The click-stop of the Televue was so tight, that unless the EP-holder was very tight, you could end up rotating the whole EP, instead of zooming, however it's light and compact design makes it great for a portable setup.
    The Baader Hyperion also comes with a 2" adapter, showed no internal reflections at all, had the widest AFOV of all, and also gave the best planetary views of the test.
    The Pentax was probably the best all-rounder, but poor AFOV at low powers, large-heavy design, and high price, all counted against it.

    In conclusion, the tester chose the Meade 4000, as the best in the test, with the Pentax and Baader both very close.
    Personally, I may have been tempted to pay the extra for the superior AFOV of the Baadar - but worth bearing in mind, that the price difference, equates to roughly the cost of a nice 'Ortho' planetary eyepiece.

    From Canon Pete:

    I can deff atest to the quality of the Baader Zoom . Well worth the extra monies for the additional FOV. Is a bit heavy mind you AND/BUT you can also attach DSLR lens to it via an adapter , thus making it heavier ( lol ) and not so good for you're heart. Scary stuff indeed.

    From Nejedljf:

    Thanks much for taking the time to post the results. It confirmed my beliefs.

    I have the Hyperion 8-24 ClickStop-Zoom and am very satisfied. You don't have to stop at the five different settings. The eye relief is great. The twist up eye guard is nice. I use it in the 2" mode, unless I take the Smythe lense off of my Hyperion 21mm and use it with the CliskStop-Zoom to make it a 4mm-12mm zoom!! I am waiting on my 2" 2x barlow and will compare that instead of the extra Smythe (just easier to switch out). It has threads to be used with cameras. Overall great first eyepiece to use with what came with my scope.

    The negative is that the 24mm setting is admittedly pretty poor. I picked up the 21mm for the added features, but also like the Hyperion 21mm view at 68 degrees instead of the Zoom with the lower field of view at that setting.

    From Craterdavy:

    I have the Baader zoom.,.and a powermate2.5x to go with it,.,how do you say.,.the cats meooww.,.,couldn't be happier,.,,O+O

    From Vinnie:

    Jazz I don't have any Zoom EPs

    I have tested some however

    Overall the cheap zooms to my way of thinking are intended for use in spotting scopes, not Astro scopes. For Astro use there is always a sweet spot in a cheap zoom but at either end of its range it loses definition. The other factor is that it is preferred for a Zoom to be Parfocal.

    Of the "Less Expensive" Zooms of a wide range of EPFL the only one that I am truly happy to recommend is the Baader 8mm-24mm Clickstop. Vixen's offering of a 8mm-24mm is fine at the high mag end but loses edge definition at low mags and despite claims is not truly parfocal.

    At the very high end of the Zooms you will find superb offerings from TeleVue and Antares (Speers Waler) but these are specialised planetary EPs that only Zoom over a very narrow range.

    My opinion only: Forget the Zooms and save up a bit. Realistically you will get on fine with only two or three good quality EPs and a nice 2x Barlow
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17° 39' East

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