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8/11/2015

A Comparison of: 24mm ES 82 degree; 30mm ES 82 degree; 27mm Panoptic; 35mm Panoptic; 31mm Nagler; 26mm Nagler; 20mm ES 100 degree, 21mm Ethos; Pentax 30mm XW


     Well this will be interesting.  If your looking for all the technical scoop on these eyepieces, please refer to the following sites:

TeleVue Eyepieces ;  Explore Scientific Eyepieces;     Pentax XW 30mm Review

     In comparing these eyepieces, I am going to state which telescopes I have observed them in, and what the experience was for me. Again, when I review an eyepiece please remember that I have my bias, my likes and what you are getting is my opinion of the eyepiece. What I like, you may not like and you may justify it via specs, science and such, or just because your eye likes the presentation better than my eye perceives it.  In the end, this review should or should not persuade you in make a decision. It should encourage you to explore one of several options. First, if you have extra cash and want to give one of them a go in your scope, purchase one and if you don't like it, sell it used.  Be careful, you probably are not going to get your money back in the used sale. People buying used expect a discount. Second, go that way yourself and buy a used eyepiece. I've done that with great results. Great way to try an eyepiece and if you don't like it, you are more likely to recoup your purchase price.  Astromart and Cloudy Nights here in the States are probably the most common avenues for selling.  Third, go to a star party or if an observing buddy has one, go observing with them and borrow the eyepiece for a while and give it a go.

     So what matters in a wide field eyepiece for me? One is the field of view of course. I don't consider a wide field of view eyepiece unless it will put most objects into that field (minus a few that are just too big).  Second is clear pinpoint stars across the field of view. I love seeing a clean field and yes, even at 50, I seem to be able to take in the field of view on my 70 degrees to 72 degree eyepieces. When I come to my 82 degree eyepieces, it depends on the eyepiece. My 11mm 82 degree ES is fine for me to see the field, but once I jump up to the 24mm 82 degree ES and above, I have to roll my eye so to speak to take in the field. Having said that, I am use to doing that and I don't mind it. I also prefer an eye piece that has good eye relief. My right has an astigmatism of 1.25 and my dominant eye, my left has none.  However, I am near sighted so to align the Telrad and to see the sky, I do need my glasses. The result is more often then not I leave my glasses on or I have a strap attached to them and I let them fall on my chest.  However, being lazy at times, I much more prefer to  just leave them on unless I am really into an object looking for faint details on it.

    What else matters to me? I don't like coma but as long as the center of the eyepiece is in focus and coma free, which they are, I can endure some coma. Luckily the Paracorr Type 1 or Type 2 cleans up coma in the eyepieces.  I do want to point out that coma is the result of the mirror in fast dobs like the ones I own. My f 4.6 on my 14" can use the Paracorr, my f 4.4 on my 17.5 needs one, and even my 10" F4.7 can use one.  I like my eye pieces free of astigmatism, field curvature (yes, the 14mm and 20mm Pentax XW's have them but the Paracorr cleans that up) lateral color.  So having said that, here we go and I am putting this caveat out. I hope some find my review of these eyepieces helpful, but I also have to let it be known that this post is also in a way, for me.  I am trying to make some decisions on my eyepieces, to determine to quote a old Kenny Rogers song but modified, to hold em, fold em (some of them) know if I need to run away from this thinking. There is aperture fever in this hobby, where one always wants a larger scope to go deeper, see more etc. I believe that is a very real thing.  I also believe that equal to that is the eyepiece tumult, where one has a highly distressing agitation of mind or feeling because one wants to see more, see with the best, own and use the best and have options for viewing with different telescopes and objects. So this post is to hopeful share some insight, but to also relieve some eyepiece tumult that I am experiencing. Let me make clear though, I am in no way having a problem with my go to eyepieces, the Pentax XW line and the TeleVue Delos line. Those are staying in their cases and go with me to be used each observing trip! This post will cover the biggies above. Here we go.

 

     Above you can see some of the eyepieces I am going to discuss. These are the ones I currently own and use. We have, going from left to right, the Explore Scientific 20mm 100 degrees; Explore Scientific 9mm 100 degrees; Explore Scientific 30mm 82 degree, the 35mm Panoptic; the 24mm Explore Scientific 82 degrees, the 27mm Panoptic; a 10mm Pentax XW for size reference.


This one has the same lineup as above, going from left to right, minus the Pentax 10mm XW on the far right, and now a University Optics 12.5mm Ortho Abbe II in front of these monsters for comparisons.

1. 24mm Explore Scientific 82 degrees  



   The first eyepiece I want to review from above is the Explore Scientific 24mm 82 degree eyepiece. It is in the bottom picture the second eyepiece in from the right and sits next to the 27mm Panoptic which is on the far right. At times when I look at these eyepieces and I think of the O and B stars of our universe, how big they really are and massive.  Anyway, the 24mm Explore Scientific is a heavy and large 2 inch eyepiece. It weighs in at 24.8oz or 704g or 1 lb 8.8oz.  Yes, that is heavy.  Focal length of course is 24mm and the length of the eyepiece is 110 mm.  In terms of performance this eyepiece is straight up an excellent eyepiece. It has a small amount of pin-cushion but I have to look for it to see it, and of course there was some coma in this eyepiece in both my 14" and 17.5" dobs which was cleared up by the Paracorr Type II.  I reviewed this eyepiece back in February 2013 comparing it to the Panoptic 27mm I own, and you can see that review at this LINK. My two negatives on this is its weight, it is heavy and then its eye relief. Stated by ES at 17.5 I would rate it around 16 to 16.5 so it does a decent job, and I can use it with my eyeglasses on if I want, but just a tad more eye relief would have been nice. Now, I said then in 2013, and it bears repeating for the cost of this eyepiece, if you want a solid to excellent performer you cannot go wrong with this eyepiece. I have used it as a finder in the past, now I use it to frame objects that I feel the 27mm Panoptic or 30mm ES 82 degree eyepieces will not give the field I want to frame the object in.

      Furthermore I should share this. I was unsure what to do with this eyepiece originally, see the one in the pictures is not the one I owned in 2013.  I gave that eyepiece to my friend Allan who loved it and enjoyed using it. I remember the evening I have it to him when we were observing at Forest Road 006 Site 1. Well nine months later I was missing that eyepiece, it came on sale and yep, I pulled the trigger and bought it again as you can see. It is a sketching eyepiece in truth, I use the 27mm Panoptic or 35mm Panoptic as my finding eyepieces, and thus in some ways it is redundant. I mean I have two 20mm and a 24mm 68 degree ES eyepiece but man, this eyepiece is cool.  So I keep it, and use it when I think it frames the object the best.  So here is my take on the Explore Scientific 24mm 82 degree eyepiece. 5 is the highest rating, 0 is the lowest.

Build Quality: 5/5
Astigmatism: 5/5
Distortion: 4/5 (some in a refractor on the outer edge)
Field Curvature: 5/5
Lateral Color: 5/5
Internal Reflections 5/5
Eye Relief: 4/5 (maybe 3.5/5 if wearing glasses is important; I recommend no glasses when using this eyepiece).
Kidney Bean: 5/5 saw none
Weight: 4/5
Cost/Benefit: 5/5
Overall: 4.7/5 VERY GOOD TO EXCELLENT EYE PIECE. (Minus cost and weight the rating is 4.56 if you give a 3.5 for eye relief or 4.69 if you accept the 4/5 for eye relief).

A keeper and it will probably stay with me.

2. TeleVue Panoptic 27mm  




 My next eyepiece up there is the 27mm Panoptic.  I have a bias for this eyepiece and I have owned mine for over five years, it still provides outstanding views for me despite a couple of flaws, but they are flaws that for me are easily corrected.  I use it as my first choice as a finder eyepiece and that is mainly due to the weight of the eyepiece. The eyepiece weighs in at 1.03lbs or 16.4oz. Field stop is at 33.5mm and the field of view is 68 degrees (I love that 68 degree to 72 degree range).   I can use it to track down a star hop to an object, pop it out and pop in a Pentax XW (90% of the time) or a Delos and the weight exchange doesn't cause an imbalance (my scopes are pretty well balanced as is).  The 27mm Panoptic is known for having astigmatism and distortion but I find that again, my TeleVue Paracorr Type I or II cleans that up just fine. I have seen the seagull look on the outer edge with clear sharp images at the center before using the Paracorr on this eyepiece.  Coma is cleared up and the stars are sharp across the image. The 19mm eye relief I buy into as stated by TeleVue and I can wear my glasses easily with this eyepiece.  This is a keeper for me, and it will stay in my eyepiece case.  I have considered though IF I were ever to sell it, and perhaps a couple of other eyepieces, on replacing it with the next eyepiece.

Build Quality: 5/5
Astigmatism: 4/5 (Paracorr will clean it up)
Distortion: 4/5 (Paracorr cleans it up)
Field Curvature: 5/5
Lateral Color: 5/5 (I have had no issues with mine)
Internal Reflections: 5/5
Eye Relief: 5/5
Kidney Bean: 4/5 (I have had this every once in a while when viewing through it).
Weight: 5/5
Cost/Benefit: 5/5
Overall: 4.7/5 EXCELLENT EYEPIECE. (Minus cost and weight the rating is 4.63)

3. TeleVue 26mm Nagler Type 5



     This is the eyepiece I have used five times now, from a friend and fellow observer and it is the one eyepiece that I really get the itch and burn to pull the trigger on.  This eyepiece is sharp across the field, no Paracorr is really needed though there will be some coma from the mirror so a Paracorr will clean that up.  The eyepiece weighs in at 1.6lbs or 25.6 oz, yes, rather heavy but the 24mm 82 degree ES comes in at 1.88 lbs so the Nagler 26mm weighs less than that. It is still enough if you don't have counterweights to throw your telescope out of balance.  The field stop is at 35mm and it has the 82 degree field of view with 16mm of eye relief. I think the eye relief is a little more as I can use my glasses on this eyepiece or I can dangle them and just use my left observing eye. I love this eyepiece. I love the presentation it gives, the contrast it provides and it just draws me in.  I feel this is one of the best kept secrets by observers because I prefer it over the 31mm Nagler which we will discuss soon. THIS is what is missing from my eyepiece case! This is the eyepiece I firmly believe I need to just bite the bullet on and find used and purchase it.  It can serve as both a finder eyepiece, a framing eyepiece for sketching or as a out and out eyepiece itself. Look at the double cluster in Perseus through this, or NGC 457, or the Veil . . . just gorgeous.  Of all the eyepiece I have observed through and that I do not own, this one is number one on my list and will be my next astro purchase.

Coma: 5/5
Astigmatism: 5/5
Distortion: 5/5
Field Curvature: 5/5
Lateral Color: 5/5
Internal Reflections: 5/5
Eye Relief: 5/5
Kidney Bean: 5/5
Weight: 4.5/5
Cost/Benefit: 3.5/5 (at over $600 new it is its only drawback.  Look for a used one and be patient. If cost was rated higher, say a 5 then this eyepiece would be a 4.95 overall rating, where I would put it on this list).
Overall 4.8/5 OUTSTANDING EYEPIECE!!!!!!! (Minus the cost and weight the rating is 5/5).

4. Explore Scientific 30mm 82 degree eyepiece



     Well, now we are in the realm of the giants! If we were talking stars, these are the monsters! As eyepieces they are indeed the monsters and this eyepiece is a monster. I have owned mine since September of 2012 and it has a place all carved out for itself in one of my eyepiece cases.  This eyepiece weighs in at 2lbs 3.5oz which is 35.5oz or 1007g. This monster will tip your scope down if you don't have the right counterweight on your scope! The width is 82mm and the field stop is at 43mm.  For me this eyepiece on its own shows coma quite well on the outer edge, combined with about ten to fifteen percent of the outer edge not totally in focus. When put into my Paracorr Type II, BOOM, perfect.  Recently I had one of my best views ever of a comet in this with Panstarrs and the Veil, the filiments just stuck out without the OIII filter, and add the filter, the four of us observing through the scope in June were blown away.  This eyepiece, has plenty of eye relief at 22mm and glasses or no glasses it is incredible.  I will discuss the 31mm Nagler in a moment and I will provide a foreshadow that to me, the 31mm Nagler is the king of the wide fields. However, for me, there is a reason that since September of 2012 the 30mm 82 degrees Explore Scientific eyepiece has had a place in my case and won't move. I would say it is about 87% to 89% of the 31mm Nagler without a Paracorr, and 90% to 95% of the Nagler with a Paracorr. Yeah, the weight with using both but I am balance to that weight in both scopes if needed so no an issue and for the price, I will take the performance of this eyepiece and its price (and I purchased it at a terrific sales price back in 2012) over the price of the 31mm Nagler.  Why? I only use this eyepiece on specific targets and when I want the field it provides to observe, perhaps sketch and capture the target that is usually very wide. With the new mirror in my 10" scope and the bearings I have there, I think one night this fall, I am going to take the 10" and the 30mm 82 degree ES and just go out and spend one evening sketching just the Double Cluster and M31 with this eyepiece. Heaven. That will be heaven to me and this eyepiece is pretty darn close to it. If there was no Nagler 31mm, this eyepiece would without a doubt, be the one to own. Even with the 31mm Nagler, it just may be the eyepiece to own.

Coma: 4.75/5
Astigmatism: 4.5/5
Distortion: 5/5
Field Curvature: 5/5
Lateral Color: 5/5
Internal Reflections: 5/5
Eye Relief: 5/5
Kidney Bean: 5/5
Weight: 3.5/5
Cost /Benefit: 5/5
Overall: 4.78/5 EXCELLENT TO OUTSTANDING eyepiece! (Note, this eyepiece scores equal to what the Nagler 31mm would rate IF the 31mm Nagler was more cost efficient. Again, this eyepiece is just a tad behind the Nagler 31mm performance, but probably not enough for most observers to notice. Minus weight and cost the rating is 4.91).

5. TeleVue 31mm Nagler Type 5 

   


    Let me state up front, I borrowed the above image from a search on Google so show the 26mm Nagler, and the 31mm Nagler Type 5.  The 31mm Nagler Type 5 is a monster. The 31mm weighs in close to the 30mm 82 degree ES at 35.2 oz or 2lbs 3.2 oz.  Again, that is enough weight to where if you do not add a counterweight to your scope, it is going to tilt down.  I have used this eyepiece 3 times and all I can say is WOW! First off, I want to state that I feel this EP does beyond outstanding in a refractor. In a dob, there are similar issues to the 30mm 82 degree ES.  In my dobs at the time, last time I used this EP was in my 14" without a Paracorr I had strong pinpoint stars out to around eighty-five percent of the field. After that point the stars began to become mush and then at around ninety-three percent the stars became seagull like in appearance, something I expected. In a Paracorr Type 1, not an issue, the field was tight and stars pinpoint for the entire field. The contrast in this eyepiece to me is why it is the king of the wide fields. Just a tad better than the 30mm 82degree ES, it is enough to really appreciate the view one's get through this eyepiece.

     With eye relief of 19mm this eyepiece allows you to view with glasses or without if you want. If I recall there is a very mild sense of kidney beaning with this eyepiece, but I have seen far worse in other eyepieces.  Overall, the 31mm Nagler IS the wide field eyepiece to own IF you can afford the $650.00 cost.  I have to make this point. IF you are patient, and with some luck, you can buy these used. In the last month over on the classified section for eyepieces on CloudyNights, a 31mm Nagler sold for $460 and a 26mm Nagler sold for $400.  That is more in line with what I would be willing to pay for one of these, especially the 26mm. That leads to the next question. Why would I want the 26mm Nagler over the King, the 31mm Nagler. Because to me, and my ratings will reflect this, for my eye, for my observing, my personal king is the 26mm Nagler.  So here are my ratings for the 31mm Nagler:

Coma: 5/5
Astigmatism: 5/5
Distortion: 5/5
Field Curvature: 5/5
Lateral Color: 5/5
Internal Reflections: 5/5
Eye Relief: 5/5
Kidney Bean: 5/5
Weight: 3.5/5
Cost/Benefit: 3.5/5
Overall: 4.7/5  (please note it is the overall cost of a new eyepiece that drags down the overall rating on the Nagler 31mm. Take out cost and weight rating is a 5/5). THE KING, OUTSTANDING

6. 30mm Pentax XW


Here I go. Even more than the 26mm Nagler Type 5, I WANT THIS EYEPIECE!  I looked through one four times out observing, by the same guy who got me hooked on the Pentax XW line, and I regret the time I sold this off and now I watch for this eyepiece like a hawk. This eyepiece weighs in at 26.1 ounces, or 1lb 10.1 oz.  Much lighter than the 30mm 82 degree ES or the 31mm Nagler Type 5. Eye relief is listed at 20mm, but I will give it just a tad more. The field stop is at 36.2mm and the field of view is like all the others in its family, 70 degrees.  One thing I will admit to with this eyepiece, it is like all of the Pentax XW's above the 10mm (so 14mm and above). They have positive field curvature and when combined with a dob, it is evident. The Paracorr Type 1 or II will eliminate this and make the 14mm, 20mm, 30mm and 40mm tremendous eyepieces.  This lacks the 82 degree field of the 31mm Nagler Type 5 but I must admit, the tones and contrast in this eyepiece according to my preferences is preferred. I cannot nail it, but the image just seems improved in this eyepiece. Other than that I would say that coma is not an issue, distortion is not, neither is lateral color. I have no internal reflections or kidney beaning once I have adjusted the eye cup to my eye. Just a wonderful eye piece and come September/October, I am keeping enough money aside so that when one of these comes up, I can purchase it. I will probably post a classified ad for it over on CloudyNights.

Coma: 5/5
Astigmatism: 5/5
Distortion: 5/5
Field Curvature: 3.5/5 (gone with a Paracorr).
Lateral Color: 5/5
Internal Reflections: 5/5
Eye Relief: 5/5
Kidney Bean: 5/5
Weight: 5/5
Cost/Benefit: 4/5 (over $600, maybe slightly less used but cannot buy new).
Overall: 4.7/5 OUTSTANDING EYEPIECE! (minus weight and cost rating is 4.81).

7. TeleVue 35mm Panoptic


 

        I have read and heard that people either love this eyepiece, or find that the amount of exit pupil wasted isn't worth keeping this eye piece. I have to say, I have owned mine now for just over 18 months  and I find it a joy to use as a finder eyepiece. The 35mm Panoptic weights in at 1.66 lbs or 25.6 oz.  Heavy, but not the heaviest eyepiece of the list.  The eye relief here is a LOT, 24mm and that for some, means a lot of light goes wasted and changes their view through the eyepiece. The field stop is at 38.7mm and the eyepiece will require some counterweight when using it.  

     Lets address what I and others have seen with this eyepiece. Kidney beaning does exist in this eyepiece until you learn where to place your eye in relation to the glass. I had this when I first got the 27mm Panoptic and figured it out quite quick and did the same on the 35mm Panoptic.  Once your eye is in the correct place though, watch out for the view, it will grab you! It did me. There is some coma until a Paracorr is used, but only on the outer ten to fifteen percent. I have no issues of field curvature, lateral color, internal reflections (unless I use it in the backyard and the lights do impact it somewhat).  I have used this on the Cygnus Loop with good success, and to find Sh 2-91, the Beehive Cluster and other wide field objects with success.  I enjoy this eyepiece and I do use it and it has a place in my case and will stay there. 

Coma: 4/5 
Astigmatism: 5/5
Distortion: 5/5 
Field Curvature: 5/5 
Lateral Color: 5/5
Internal Reflections: 5/5
Eye Relief 5/5 (could go 6/5 or 4/5 . . . depends on you) 
Kidney Bean: 4/5 
Weight: 4/5 (not a major issue for me) 
Cost/Benefit: 5/5
Overall: 4.8/5 (rating minus weight and cost is 4.75, an EXCELLENT EYEPIECE). 


8. Explore Scientific 20mm 100 degrees 



     I am not sure how I feel about this eyepiece. There are things I like, and definitely things I don't like. The good, the bad and the ugly I guess. So we will start with the bad and ugly for me and move on to the good.  At 38.1 oz or 2lbs 6.1oz this is the heaviest eyepiece I have put up so far. It sticks in far, and sticks out far. Some may find they need a tube extension to get this to focus on their focuser. Weight isn't my primary concern though. I'll start with the eye relief which is listed at 14.5mm, I might give it 14mm.  Anyway, I have to remove my glasses with this eyepiece and stick my eyeball basically down on top of the eyepiece to take in the view. If I keep the Explore Scientific 20mm (I have the 9mm also) I will be cleaning them after I use them from oils from my long and thick eye lashes.  Once in the view, the view is immersive. I do have to roll my eye to take in the various aspects of the view. Then there is another issue for me, coma. Coma really is quite annoying with this eyepiece if I don't use it with a Paracorr. With the Paracorr, the views are stunning to me. Without it, not sure I like the eyepiece. With the Paracorr, this EP comes close to an Ethos, about 88% of the way I would say, maybe 85% to 88%, and for many for its cost, that is good enough. That was my reasoning. Stunning views when the Paracorr cleans it up. Otherwise not sure for me if it is worth the effort. It would be an eyepiece if I had a friend still observing regularly, I would consider giving it to. Not saying I would, but I might. He likes and enjoys this type of eyepiece experience and dislikes the 20mm eye relief. Preferences and bias' and there is nothing wrong with that! This is a good alternative for someone not wanting to spend the money on an Ethos. 

     Now let me clarify though, once in the focuser, ready to go and in my Paracorr, I do enjoy the view though I have to work at it to see it.  For me what they has confirmed is that my preference is not for the 100 degree field of view. We'll see that again when I review the 21mm Ethos. The 20mm 100 degree eyepiece is a good eyepiece, more like very good. It needs a little help but overall, it is a solid eyepiece. I have mixed feelings and may keep it or may decide to see it. Time will tell. 

Coma: 3.5/5 (if no Paracorr is used: If Paracorr is used, 5/5) 
Astigmatism: 5/5
Distortion: 5/5
Field Curvature: 5/5
Lateral Color: 5/5 
Internal Reflections: 5/5
Eye Relief: 3/5 
Kidney Bean: 4/5 (some if you don't place your eye in the right place). 
Weight: 3/5 
Cost / Benefit: 4/5 
Overall: 4.25/5 (VERY GOOD to EXCELLENT EYEPIECE; minus weight and cost rating is 4.44 ). 

9. TeleVue 21mm Ethos



   For many, this is one of the kings of the eyepiece world. I have never owned one but I have used my friend's Jeff and another's friend 21mm Ethos several times.  Heavy is the word again at 2.25 lbs or 36 oz this is another heavy eyepiece. Eye relief is rated at 15mm and I would agree with that. It is an eyepiece I have to remove my glasses for, but works well with my left  observing eye.  The field stop is at 36.2mm.  Okay, I know my Explore Scientific 20mm 100 degree readers may disagree with me, but that eyepiece is about 88% or maybe only 85% of this eyepiece. For the cost of the ES, that is remarkable and a good deal. Coma exists in this eyepiece without the use of a Paracorr, with some softness near the edge resulting in just a tad of flaring for me at the edge. Put the 21mm Ethos in a Paracorr, bam, perfection.  The view is wonderful, but I have to state I have yet to view through an eyepiece, any eyepiece that gives me that walk in space feel. I love the views I have had through many different eyepieces, including the 21mm Ethos. I personally just don't get the notion I am walking in space. I don't lose myself in the view I guess.  The view here is sharp, crisp and clean and magical.  Contrast is probably one of the best I have seen. Yes, my eyeball is on the glass basically with this eyepiece also and I have to roll my eye to take in the view, but that is okay, I am use to that using a variety of these eyepieces. 

     I guess I have realized that though at one time I thought I wanted the 21mm Ethos, I can say right now, today, I don't. No desire. I fear that as my eyes age it just is going to be too much work to view through eyepieces like this, no matter how wonderful the view. So my only concerns with the 21mm Ethos are weight, and of course, price. At $830 I can think of a LOT of other things to spend my money on for astronomy and for life. I'll be honest, I can afford a 21mm Ethos but I can't justify a 21mm Ethos. It is why I own the 20mm 100 degree Explore Scientific (for now).  I do enjoy and will enjoy viewing through them when I have the opportunity. 

Coma: 5/5
Astrigmatism: 5/5
Distortion: 5/5
Field Curvature: 5/5 
Lateral Color: 5/5
Internal Reflections: 5/5
Eye Relief: 4/5 
Kidney Bean: 5/5
Weight: 3/5
Cost/Benefit 3/5 
Overall: 4.45 (again weight and cost brings it down for me.  If you take those factors out I would rate this as a 4.88.  It is an OUTSTANDING eyepiece!). 

     The winners for me by rating and I will rate minus weight and cost is thus: 

26mm Nagler 5/5 
31mm Nagler 5/5 
30mm Explore Scientific 82 degree 4.91 
21mm Ethos 4.88 (I know, probably number one but not for me) 
30mm Pentax XW  4.81 
35mm Panoptic 4.75 
24mm Explore Scientific 82 degrees 4.69
27mm Panoptic 4.63 (I rate this higher than the 24mm Explore Scientific 82 degree; next to the larger brother, the 35mm Panoptic but I am trying to be true to the ratings)
20mm Explore Scientific 100 degrees 4.44 

     Note, your ratings WILL differ. I prefer a good eye relief number one, and I find with the Ethos and Explore Scientific 100 degree lenses that sticking my eyeball on the glass is not my idea of fun observing. Thus that is reflected in my ratings. No way is the 24mm Explore Scientific 82 degree better than the 27mm Panoptic, but a few things about the Panoptic if you use it without a Paracorr bring it down and I tried to reflect that. With the Paracorr, no question the 27mm is the hands down winner. This chart shows me I am about where I need to be with wide field eyepieces. Yes, I still want the 30mm Pentax XW and the 26mm Nagler, but that may temper with time. Also if I add cost and weight in this is the rating for me: 

26mm Nagler 4.8/5
35mm Panoptic 4.8/5
30mm Explore Scientific 82 degrees 4.78/5 
31mm Nagler 4.7/5
30mm Pentax XW 4.7/5
27mm Panoptic 4.7/5
24mm Explore Scientific 82 degrees 4.7/5
21mm Ethos 4.45/5
20mm Explore Scientific 100 degrees 4.25/5 

     That reflects more my personal view of using these eyepieces when combined with the overall experience of using them and the cost and weight factors contributing to the score. It is probably more realistic of how I rate these eyepieces over the first ratings minus the weight and cost.  Many, and I mean I expect MANY to vastly disagree with me here, but I stated this is probably more for me than for you and reflects my tastes and preferences for a wide field eyepiece. There is no doubt that the TeleVue's are probably the best of the best when you actually sit down and view through them. I will state I firmly believe the Pentax XW line is equal to corresponding TeleVue's but I only compared one of them here. Now for my take aways. 


     So there you have it. Those are the wide field eyepieces I own or have used in the field. What is my take aways from this blog post? First, as most know, Explore Scientific gives you a 87% to 90% experience of a corresponding TeleVue for far less cost. In the case of the Explore Scientific 30mm 82 degree eyepiece, I have owned it for 3 plus years and will continue to own it. That eyepiece is in my estimation 90% to 93% of the Nagler 31mm. At that success rate and with the cost of the Explore Scientific 30mm, I cannot justify the money for the 31mm Nagler at the price they ask. That and I want to spend what money I do put aside for eyepieces on two other ones. I also realized that I own to many dang eyepieces! I need to end the tumult by simply not buying anymore and perhaps not selling. 
  
     As I said, IF I decide to spend money on eyepieces there are two I am looking to get. One of those is the 30mm Pentax XW.  That is my major take away for me. I thought I really wanted the 26mm Nagler Type 5, and I do. I want the 30mm Pentax XW more.  I'll end up with both but at costs we'll see, and more than likely I will find a used 26mm Nagler Type 5 before I find a 30mm Pentax XW.  I have to decide what I want to do with the 20mm and 9mm Explore Scientific 100 degree eyepieces. Keep or go I don't know. I need to use them a few more times and I may keep them for outreach. They do work good for that! So do I want to keep the 24mm ES 82 degree is another question I have to ask. I do use it to sketch so we'll see. Last regardless that probably fifty percent of observers dislike the Panoptics in the 27mm and 35mm, I really enjoy both eyepieces. As a result they will always have a place in my cases. If you think about it, you can get a 27mm and a 35mm Panoptic for the cost of one 31mm Nagler! 

     Now I will admit openly, I have far too many wide field eyepieces and some need to go. Why? because I don't use them that much. I use the Panoptics as finders, and then I go to higher power with the Pentax XW's or TeleVue Delos in the 7mm to 12mm range (14mm sometimes).  The 7mm to 20mm range is where ninety percent of my observing goes and that is where I have the eyepieces that work for me and work extremely well for me.  These low power low magnification eyepieces are fun for me. I can see the day come where I get rid of the 24mm ES 82 degree, the 20mm ES 100 degree eyepiece (just decided, keeping the 9mm for outreach since M15 floats through it so well and for so much longer!) and bring in a  26mm Nagler Type 5.  The 27mm Pan will stay because of size and weight, easy transition over to my Pentax XW's. IF I can find a 30mm Pentax XW and after comparing it to the 30mm ES 82 degree and I find the Pentax XW 30mm better overall, that beloved 30mm ES may go to.  We'll see, I'm not too sure on that one. That one may stay for sentimental reasons like the 27mm Panoptic, my daughter have me that eyepiece so I will never sell it. 

    And so it goes. There is no end to this thing I call the Eyepiece Tumult. It continues to grow, to evolve and to change and in the end, who knows what my own wide field eyepieces will become. In the end, I guess that is part of the fun with this hobby. I don't know. I think this year I have reach a point that I am very content with what I have from telescopes, to equipment to eyepieces. I may simply not do anything and just hold with what I have. I may discard a few and pick up a couple to replace them. One thing I do know, I am not folding when it comes to the hobby. I enjoy it, all of it, and nothing more then picking an eyepiece, putting into the focuser of the telescope I am using, and gazing at what is in the eyepiece. In the end that is what matters, not what wide field eyepiece you have or don't have. Keep looking at the wonders of our sky! 

2 comments:

  1. Jay, it was a long read, but I enjoyed it. Nice to see a similar kind of reasoning/perception. Other than that, it's all so very personal, ergonomics and comfort and what bothers one and what does not. I hunt for second (or even third, fourth) hand stuff, mainly because I cannot justify, especially to the Missus, shelling out on the brand new ones and in a way that sort of hunting (and excercising sme modicum of patience) is also part of the enjoyment, beside our beloved star stuff up there. So I got the Nagler 26, and the XW 10, and Powermates 2X, 4X, 5X. I even got this odd 2mm Sky Watcher LET eyepiece. Baader Hyperion 8-24 zooms, a Wiliam Optics binoviewer, a treasured 190 mak-newt, but alo a cranky ETX-70 and an Skywatcher 102 achromat while also having gotten an ES 102 triplet F7 (one most perhaps go, some day, but figuring it out takes so much time), then there is the filter flurry - you could write up just as much on filters as you can on eyepieces, but recently I got surprisingly very excited about a modest Orion Q70 26mm and 38mm eyepiece. Would you believe it ? It's not a perfect eyepiece, obviously, but it's so utterly pleasant to use for grab and go, for travel in the car to the mountains and the beauty is: it costed me (each) no more than the price of a roasted chicken, as a figure o speech. I can't explain it, but it just gave me more fun looking through hem, than some of my more famous eyepiece possession. isn't it just extremely odd ?! Anyway, thanks for your efforts writing such a beefy piece of insight and greetings from a far flung Dutchman.

    Cheers,
    Marc

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  2. Anonymous4/20/2016

    Jay; I'm glad to see you rated the 35mm Panoptic so high, I absolutely love it in my 12 inch dob

    The 30mm ES is my dream eye piece I may never be able to afford, but its in my target list, lol

    Andy ( droid )

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