The Zoom Eyepiece

Zoom Eyepiece

The “stock” eyepieces that came with my 8″ 200P Dobsonian were great for me to get started. A new owner should definitely get used to them before considering any “upgrade”.

For me, the stock 25mm produced good results but the 10mm was dim and I was disappointed with the clarity of what I was seeing.

I did consider going down the conventional path of getting a few, mid range (like BST Starguiders) or better eyepieces in the 4.5, 6, 8, 12, 15, 20mm range but in the end, I took a totally different path and chose a zoom eyepiece.

A Zoom eyepiece sounds like the perfect solution: a wide range of focal lengths available in a single ocular, to be changed as simply as twisting the barrel. Zoom eyepieces are of course a compromise. Budget zooms tend to have narrow fields of view at the long-focal-length end, they can be heavy, their many glass elements result in internal reflections and loss of contrast and brightness, and of course, they’re more expensive than a single mid-range eyepiece.

“With my 200P I have a 50X to 338X magnification range”

There are a number of advantages to a zoom. There is no need to swap out eyepieces in order to find the ideal focal length of the object being observed. You will have everything from 24 to 8mm with the twist of a hand. For a non-tracked telescope that convenience and speed is a useful feature. At the short-focal-length end, they actually tend to have longer eye relief and wider fields of view than Plossls, Kellners, and Orthoscopics. With the addition of a low power, wide-angle eyepiece and a Barlow having just three oculars can be very convenient. With the 200P I have a 50X to 338X magnification range!

With all optics, you get what you pay for. If you buy a very cheap zoom eyepiece, don’t expect it to perform anything like as well as a single eyepiece. I did consider a good budget zoom eyepiece like the Celestron 8-24mm or the Svbony SV 188P. At twice the cost, the Baader Hyperion IV zoom and Barlow combo is not a budget option but considering this is an all in one option you may be saving money in the long run. With bright, sharp, crisp images, a “widefield” AFOV ~70 @ 8mm, 2” mode with camera threads, Barlow friendly, comfortable eye relief with no blackouts or beaning it gets great reviews. 

I cannot praise the Baader Hyperion IV zoom and Barlow combination highly enough. It has made a massive difference to my observing in terms of what I can see and the convenience of my observing. The only other ocular I have is a 2″ Revelation/ GSO 42mm wide (65°) angle. It is ideal for targeting and observing wide field objects. With the 2″ supplied adapter fitted, I now no longer use 1.25″ eyepieces. Note that with the Barlow and supplied 2” extender, in order to achieve focus, the eyepiece needs to be withdrawn about 5mm. Therefore I have purchased an additional shorter 2” extender which has solved this issue.

It may seem strange to spend half a much on an eyepiece as I did on my telescope but I am so glad I did just that.
Having said all this, I totally get why a few good fixed eyepieces could be the best option for many. There are plenty of recommendations on r/telescopes, Star Gazers Lounge and Cloudy Nights.

One comment

  1. Spot on. After numerous eyepiece purchases I too ended up settling with the Baader MkIV zoom and barlow and for wide field the Baader Aspheric 36mm. Mag range 46x-320x with zoom and barlow and 31x with the 2″ Aspheric. I’m getting superb views through my 102ed f11 and only 3 things to faff around with. Less eyepiece changing=More observing time! 10/10

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