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Meade SWA vs UWA

Started by astroboy314, 12/09/2002 11:37PM
Posted 12/09/2002 11:37PM Opening Post
Hey folks, I want to purchase a medium-high power eyepiece in the 12mm-15mm range, and am looking mostly at the Meade 13.8mm SWA and 14mm UWA. I really want the UWA but am not sure I can justify spending that much on an eyepiece (I'm a university student and a few hundred dollars isn't just lying around for me to spend). Is the UWA that much better than the SWA that it should be more than twice as much? I've never looked through either of these eyepieces so I have no personal experience. And does anyone have any info on the Celestron Axiom 15mm? It seems quite reasonably priced. How about Naglers in this range? As you can tell, I have no experience with high-priced eyepieces. If it makes any difference I have an 8" f/10 SCT, but am thinking about getting a 12.5" f/4.8 Dob. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Posted 12/09/2002 11:51PM #1
I know I'm replying to my own message! I forgot one thing... does anyone out there know the eye relief for the Meade eyepieces?
Posted 12/10/2002 06:45AM #2
I have a 13.8 SWA that I got for my homemade 6" f5 dob. Great eyepiece. Easily the most used. Works well with my Ultrascopic barlow. It is very small and light and the eye relief is "medium". That 9-10mm sounds about right. I read a comment once that your eyelashes don't quite touch and believe that is correct. I would not trade my 13.8 SWA unless I somehow can afford one of those tiny T6 Naglers. That being said, every comment I have heard says the 14 UWA is in a whole different league as far as quality. I have not looked through one of those, but then again I could never use it in my scope because of ballance problems. I understand the UWA is one of those monster hand grenade eyepieces with lots of glass.


Fort Lewis Observatory: (37.238, -108.052) ~2360m (7744 ft.) elevation.
Darkness - typically 6.5+
Scope - Meade 16" LX200; f6.3 focal reducer
Focus - JMI Smart focus
Camera - SBIG ST-10XE; (~.5"/pixel)
Guiding - AO-8 and/or Meade 5"/DSI/PHD
Posted 12/10/2002 08:47AM #3
I haven't tried the Meade 13.8mm SWA, but from all I've read it should be "good" in an f/10 SCT. The price is good, but it is an older design that may show some edge degradation even at f/10 and definitely will show edge problems in faster scopes. When people sell these it is often because they have upgraded to an ultrawide with better performance.

The 14mm Meade UWA, on the other hand, is simply one of the best deep sky eyepieces ever made. It's also too big and heavy to be used safely in cheap 1.25" diagonals. I haven't tried the 13mm Nagler Type 6, but it gets good reviews and would probably be a better choice if smaller size and weight are important considerations.

The 14mm Pentax XL is another good choice, especially for an f/10 or slower scope. I love the 10.5mm and shorter Pentax XLs, but at 14mm I prefer the 14mm Radian, which I recommend to you if you can snag one in excellent condition off astromart for a good price.

The 13mm Vixen LVW is yet another choice. However, I've seen people take beatings when re-selling LVWs. Seems to be a matter of timing, though, so YMMV. I used to have the 22mm, 17mm, and 3.5mm Vixen LVWs and they were all pretty much the same except for focal length. If that similarity holds up for the 13mm, it has the worst lateral color you are likely to ever see but otherwise is sharp all across the field at f/10. I would rank the 14mm Pentax XL and Radian well above it, though, unless it doesn't have the egregious lateral color that its brothers have shown me.

So, to summarize, for deep pockets the 14mm Meade UWA or 13mm Nagler Type 6 would be great. Otherwise, my suggestion is to try to snag a used 14mm Radian off astromart.

Posted 12/10/2002 09:14AM #4
What about the 15mm TeleVue panoptic? Any opinions?
Posted 12/10/2002 09:41AM #5
Hi David. I have a 13.8mm SWA that I use in an f.6 refractor. There is noticeable edge degradation; the outer 25 to 30% of the field does not come into focus. I haven't tried it in a longer focal length scope. I also have a 28mm Pentax that is sharp across the field. Try before you buy. (You can try my SWA if you like).
Posted 12/10/2002 03:15PM #6
On the original question comparing the 14mm UWA and the 13.8 SWA, my experience from use (14 less; 13.8 longer) is both are actually 1.25" EPs, but only the former (14mm) is skirted for 2" diagonal which is the best (only?) way to go with that handful! They are so similar data-spec-wise, that one might not appreciate how opposite they are when in hand, or when handing over the credit card. but different as night and day they are.

a) 14 UWA is everything said, claimed, bragged about it to be, plus. Outstanding in every respect, including great bulk, length, weight, cost. But boy will you want one having used one even if affording one is "taxing" in more ways than one. And it will be taxing your equipment once you have it, 2" diagonal withstanding. To sum up, imagine the classic 13mm TV Nagler type 1 with quite a bit of its kidney bean sins well repented & reformed.

b) 13.8 SWA is so petite, handy, unobtrusive and promising of similar viewing experiences. But it is not, kind of lets down--or is not quite all there.

But it is not so problem-ridden, being cost reasonable (--aka used AstroMart), and is handy in bulk, length, weight, that you would want to throw it out (with the proverbial bath water).

The problem is matching its Erfle-like curved field dropoff of an image-degrading-edge-view to the right scope (longer F) that will allow it to "shine." And it can and will! With longer than f5 toward f8 and beyond, IMHO! Otherwise, it is fully enjoyable with on-axis sharpness that won't let you let it go. But the edgefield rest,... ah' like a good marriage, we can all live with some shortcomings? Joseph Wong
Posted 12/10/2002 10:29PM #7
I love my 14mm UWA in my 14.5" dob, but rarely use it in my C8. Anyhow, I don't understand why you'd want either of them in your f/10 C8. My favourite eyepiece for viewing galaxies and faint nebula in my C8 is a 20mm Erfle, which delivers a 2mm exit pupil, and is much better than the results I got when using standard 15mm, 17mm or 26mm plossls. The 13.8 or 14mm eyepieces don't really have a natural target when used in a C8. Their power is too low for use on planets, and not low enough for the DSOs.