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Reasonably Priced Barlow Shootout

Discussion in 'Eyepieces, Barlows, and Filters' started by Mak the Night, Mar 19, 2018.

Reasonably Priced Barlow Shootout

Started by Mak the Night on Mar 19, 2018 at 1:05 PM

35 Replies 2545 Views 4 Likes

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  1. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    This is a shootout between eight reasonably priced achromatic 1.25“ Barlows. I’ve acquired these over a period of years, two were from kits, one came supplied with a 102mm refractor I bought recently, one was on sale and the others probably seemed like a good idea at the time. None of them have compression rings and some of them now have different drawtubes.

    1.jpg

    From left to right in the above picture, they are:

    1/ Meade 2x Telenegative
    2/ GSO 2x
    3/ Celestron Omni 2x
    4/ Celestron 2x (94303 Eyepiece and Filter Kit)
    5/ Baader Q-Turret 2.25x
    6/ Celestron 2x Barlow T-Adapter (AstroMaster Kit)
    7/ Sky-Watcher 2x Deluxe Barlow
    8/ Celestron 2x Barlow T-Adapter

    Over a period of time I’ve used these in 130mm, f/6.9 and 150mm, f/6 Newtonian telescopes, 90mm and 102mm Maksutovs and in two ST80 short tube achromatic refractors. They all seem good quality to me and any real differences are mainly ergonomic.

    2.jpg
    Three 'Barsta' T-Adapter Barlows

    The Meade has the shortest focal length and has a chromed brass drawtube, as far as I can tell the element can’t be unthreaded. I’ve easily had a 300x magnification on the Moon with a 6mm Plossl on both of my Newtonians with no noticeable problems. The element itself is nicely sized and the field lens surface seems quite highly curved and well coated. The thumb screw seems a bit wimpy to me though, but overall the Barlow feels like a quality product. I’m guessing the glass is JOC.

    3.jpg
    Comparison between the very similar GSO and Celestron 2x Barlows. Note the drawtubes are different lengths denoting different focal points, plus the elements are noticeably different designs.

    The GSO has a removable element, a smooth aluminium drawtube and probably the best thumb screw out of all of them. The focal point is different to the very similar Celestron/Sky-Watcher Barlows and its drawtube is 30mm as opposed to the standard 22mm tubes on Barsta made Barlows. The elements are also distinctly different to the Barsta made Barlows of 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8 in this list. In fact the Barlow elements in 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8 are identical as far as I can tell, both in their design and the way they focus. These five Barlows are all almost certainly made by Barsta.

    4.jpg
    Celestron kit Barlow and T-Adapter showing identical detached elements.

    The Celestron Omni and the Celestron 2x from the 94303 Eyepiece and Filter Kit are basically identical except for their colour. The Omni originally had the same type of drawtube but I’ve switched it to a smooth brass one. Their respective elements are removable.

    5.jpg
    Five 'Barsta' Barlows!

    The three T-Adapter Barlows are more or less identical to the previous pair apart from having a T-thread. The elements are all removable. The AstroMaster Kit Barlow has its original chromed brass drawtube and has been used a lot as an extension tube over the past few years. The Sky-Watcher Deluxe has had its aluminium drawtube replaced with a brass one. It came included with my ST102 OTA.

    6.jpg
    Baader and Meade elements.

    The Baader is a bit of an oddball. It is very small and light, yet very nicely made. It also gives a 2.25x magnification which is a little more powerful than the others. The element can be removed and threaded directly into an eyepiece. Although these were designed to be used with the Baader BCO orthoscopics I find it can work well with small Plossls and other orthoscopic eyepieces. I’ve had a sharp 337.5x on the Moon with this Barlow, and a 6mm Astro Hutech orthoscopic in a TS Optics (GSO) 150mm, f/6 Newtonian.

    7.jpg
    Barsta element left, compared with the GSO element on the right.

    And the winner is ... well, there isn’t one. All of them are good.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
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  2. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    Now that's a great review and/or synopsis, Mak! Your conclusion is a surprise, though an excellent one.

    Would you say that with what you've seen with these, that the price would be a good way to choose one?

    Cheers! And thanks again for this review!
     
  3. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Dave, I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I don't know why the conclusion is that much of a surprise though. I don't think price is anything to go on to be honest Dave. The Meade and the Baader are just under 40 quid here, the others are under £30 I think.

    IMG_20180320_003709.jpg

    The X-Cel in the middle above are pushing £80 in the UK. I'm fairly sure it's three element though, whether it's a true apochromatic is unknown. The 'Omegon' on the left cost me nearly £90 two years ago and I bought it from Germany (Astroshop), they're actually made by Barsta and now marketed in the UK for just under £50. I've owned the TS Optics three element 2.5x Barlow on the extreme right for around four years, it's actually GSO. I'm not sure what I paid for it but they're also pushing nearly 80 quid now. You can buy it as a 'Revelation Astro' from Telescope House for £34!

    https://www.telescopehouse.com/barlows/revelation-barlows/revelation-astro-2-5x-barlow-lens.html


    rev.jpg

    So one thing I've learned about buying Barlows is that price doesn't mean a great deal.

    IMG_20180320_003455.jpg
     
  4. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    I didn't think so anywho. I just wanted that one off the plate! :p

    The last Barlow I bought was the GSO ED 2" 2X Barlow Lens. It came with a 2" - 1.25" adapter to use with 1.25" eyepieces. However the first time I tried it, it's copper tightening-band became hopelessly stuck and I had to stretch and twist it to remove the thing. It was a total loss. But the Barlow it's self works fine.

    I had an extra WilliamOptics 2" - 1.25" adapter, and it works just fine - as always. So it's now living in the 2" Barlow.
     
  5. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    I hate it when stuff like that happens, come to think about it, I hate compression rings lol. I only have one 2" Barlow, a Celestron Luminos, so it's difficult to have a 2" shootout. ROTFL.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
  6. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    I rather thought you'd love my tale of tragedy with that damned thing! :D

    It was too easy not to see it coming!
     
  7. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure which I dislike the most; the undercut defect or compression rings lol.
     
  8. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    It was both dancing together at the same time which sounded the 'death-knell' of that adapter. The eyepiece, which had an undercut on it's barrel, escaped any injury in the escapade. But the round mass of copper-coil was a sight to behold! :D

    It was the adapter's design that was to blame. But my WilliamOptics adapter is much better designed. I've never had one cause that sort of mess, even though it, too, utilizes a copper/brass compression-ring. GSO missed the mark on that silly adapter.
     
  9. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, together they're a disaster. GSO are phasing out their undercuts, which is odd as they had TeleVue style flared lower lips, which weren't any real problem. Some undercuts are less of a problem; such as the Vixen type wide shallow ones. Flared drawtubes can be OK, although some 2" eyepieces with flares can deform compression rings.

    It's a bit of a mess. :confused:
     
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  10. Pleiades

    Pleiades Well-Known Member

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    As always. Great stuff here. I just think EP's and now barlows are just fun. I remember getting into this and thinking I would need two EP's and a 2X barlow, and I would be set for life. Ha! I have 9 EP's and a Barlow, and still find myself, browsing Agena, like a kid in a candy store.

    I'm sure I'll be buying another barlow. If for no other reason, sometimes I find my son and I will have two scopes employed at the same time.
     
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  11. Pleiades

    Pleiades Well-Known Member

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  12. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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  13. Nebula

    Nebula Well-Known Member

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    As always. Great stuff here. I just think EP's and now barlows are just fun. I remember getting into this and thinking I would need two EP's and a 2X barlow, and I would be set for life. Ha! I have 9 EP's and a Barlow, and still find myself, browsing Agena, like a kid in a candy store.

    Same thing here lol

    I have a 2x barlow but what would be very nice is a 1.25x or 1.5x barlow (especially 1.25). With my scope it would unleach many new interesting possibilites. Overall I am not a big fan of barlows, but it's a good thing to have one 2x at least..

    My knowledge is limited on that subject but my Xcel LX 2x seems like a good shorty one. Very effective to double my 12mm starguider has well has my 7mm orthoscopic.

    I need to try it with my 9mm eventually.. but strangely, I don't find the Xcel LX barlow to be very good with the Xcel LX eyepieces.. I suspect because of the very long eye relief of these eyepieces.
     
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  14. Pleiades

    Pleiades Well-Known Member

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    I have not bought any XCel LX barlows or Eyepieces, but they have certainly caught my eye. I have a couple of the Celestron Omni, $30, EP's and they really do a nice job for my old eyes. But with me needing a 9mm, with all this planetary action going on, plus the price drops on the XCel LX EP's (about $73.oo. ) I might just have to pick one up on my next allotment of mad money.
     
  15. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Caveat emptor.

    I once had to return three 7mm Celestron X-Cel LX eyepieces to the retailer I purchased them off. All of them had noticeable debris spots when viewing through the eye lens. At first I thought these could be rocket blown or brushed off the eye or field lens. I'm certain they were internal, possibly contamination from some sort of flocking or baffling. Furthermore, after a little research I have discovered that there have been similar reports of this visible debris on 7mm X-Cel EP's going back some four years or so. The 9mm X-Cel I have is fine. This was a bit disappointing as I really liked the 7mm X-Cel.

    xcelpair1.jpg IMG_20160703_154856.jpg
     
  16. Pleiades

    Pleiades Well-Known Member

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    Awee- Hael-Naw! Well, I'm not brand faithful anyway. Now Meade EP's are looking nice again. It's the Eye Relief I seek anyway.
    https://agenaastro.com/meade-series-5000-9mm-hd-60-eyepiece.html
     
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  17. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if that lens-element can be taken off and screwed directly into an eyepiece....?

    It looks a bit dubious in that department. But at $24.95, it's a real bargain price alright - if one is in need of a 2X Shorty.
     
  18. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    My 9mm is fine, but there seems to have been a contaminated batch of 7mm knocking about for a while. I've heard the Meade 5000's are the same EP's in different housings. FWIW I really liked my 9mm X-Cel for planetary although it could ghost slightly on a bright Moon. I tend to use a 9mm Circle T now.
     
  19. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    No, although you can unthread the barrel. The optics make up for not being able to unthread the element, trust me.
     
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  20. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    And a previous & failed verson of one of the LX-series:






    Worst Eyepiece Ever.jpg
    PS - That's what I thought, Mak. Thanks for the confirmation!
     

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