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Chinese clone 8-24mm zoom compared to Vixen/TV zoom

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Old Tuesday 7th June 2005, 00:13   #1
zack2
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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Chinese clone 8-24mm zoom compared to Vixen/TV zoom

I recently purchased a used, mint condition Vixen 8-24mm zoom (optically identical to the Televue 8-24 and Meade 8-24 zooms), and had a chance to compare it to the Chinese clone I had previously purchased from Owl Services. This clone is the same lens that is being sold uner the 'Zhummell' brand, or with no brand at all on ebay, and I believe it is the same 8-24mm zoom that Celestron is selling for $60. It comes in an odd conical plastic case with the designation 'MZT8-24' printed on the end cap.

First of all, despite some reports to the contrary, the clone is NOT optically identical to the Vixen. It's very similar, but it's not identical. The moving bottom group of elements in the Vixen has a significantly greater range of travel than does the equivalent group of elements in the clone, indicating that the optical design must be somewhat different. Also, the color of the lens coatings is slightly different -- the clone has a bit of a green cast, the Vixen is more magenta.

Physically, there are differences as well. Retaining rings have a slightly different shape, the Vixen uses philips screws where the clone uses hex nuts, etc. The Vixen is somewhat lighter than the clone, and about 1/4 inch shorter (not counting the eyecup).

Optically, the eyepieces are surprisingly close, but the Vixen comes out on top. I've only played around for a few daylight hours so far looking out my window using my Pentax PF65ED, but this is what I've found: At the 8mm end, the Vixen seemed to have slightly better contrast and slightly more saturated color than the clone. At all focal lengths, it seemed consistently easier to focus the Vixen than the clone, implying slightly better resolution and/or contrast in the Vixen. The Vixen had slightly better eye relief than the clone at the 8mm end. and generally seemd a bit easier to look through -- the clone had a bit of kidney-beaning that was absent from the Vixen. The Vixen had a slightly wider FOV at 24mm than the clone, but oddly the clone had a wider FOV at 8mm. The very outer edge of the clone displays some odd color fringing which is missing from the Vixen (though this fringing is not something that bothered me at all when using the ep terrestially).

Having said all this, the differences were subtle. The clone is a surprisingly good ep, especially considering the low price. However, if you are relying on the zoom as your sole (or principal) eyepiece and can afford the extra money, I think these subtle differences might add up to a significantly more enjoyable long-term viewing experience. Also, it would be interesting to compare these two eyepieces on the moon and on a bright planet like Jupiter or Saturn; of course, it's been cloudy the last several days!

Hope this is useful!
Zack
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Old Wednesday 8th June 2005, 22:23   #2
CliffMartin
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Colorado, USA
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Thanks for the continued updates and information regarding different eyepieces as used on the Pentax 65ED. I am interested in this scope, as well as the many eyepiece choices it offers. I am very interested in seeing how this scope does for digiscoping. Do you (or anyone else) know of any samples of digiscoped shots taken with this set-up? I'm dying to see some results so that I can make a decision!

Thanks again,
Cliff
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