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TV 19mm Panoptic vs Orion 17mm Stratus

Posted by John Fitzgerald   10/19/2008 01:46PM

Reviewer: John Fitzgerald
Location: NW Arkansas
Years experience:40 plus

Orion 17mm Stratus 1.25/2"- retail $119.95
This eyepiece is very similar to the Hyperion 17mm


TeleVue 19mm Panoptic 1.25" - retail $245

Physical Likes:
17 Stratus
nice rubber grip band around body

19 Panoptic
very well made
nice coatings
light weight

17 Stratus
2" barrel too short to be useful (used as 1.25" EP)
heavy for its focal length

19 Panoptic

Performance on sky:

Telescope used: 120mm f5 achro (a good sample that does not exhibit objectionable aberrations other than normal CA)

17 Stratus
This eyepiece gives contrasty and sharp images virtually all the way to nearly the edge of the field, but there is a lighter band encircling the outer extreme edge of the field that is slightly objectionable.Very little field curvature or astigmatism is seen in the entire 68 deg AFOV.Transmission and sharpness in the center of the field is very good, about the same as the 19 Pan. The true field seems to be about the same as the 19 Pan, but the magnifications are not that much different (35 and 32x)

19 Pan: Transmission and contrast are excellent over the entire field, which is to be expected for the price. There is no lighter band around the field edge as in the 17 Stratus. The faintest stars visible are about the same as in the 17 Stratus. Sharpness is excellent. Eye relief is noticeably less than in the 17 Stratus, but eye positioning is easier.

The 19 Pan cost over twice as much as the 17 Stratus, so it should be better, but the 17 Stratus in my opinion is one of the best bargains out there. I could not tell any differences in sharpness, contrast, or transmission between them near the center of the field, or up to about 95% toward the edge. If one could cut the 17 Stratus down from a 68 deg AFOV to a 65 deg, it would be nearly perfect. I expect it would perform nearly perfectly at f7 or better. Optically, in my opinion the 19 Pan is only about 5% or so better, and this 5% is near the field edge. The Pan is much lighter and will not cause balance problems with smaller Dobs, so it wins there. For the money, in my opinion, the 17 Stratus is better. It is possible "your mileage may vary" depending on aberrations in the individual telescope that the eyepiece either tends to cancel out or make worse.