Oculars by Price Class

By Chuck Hawks

Naturally, the price of individual eyepieces varies from retailer to retailer, so the categories below are only approximate. The price classes used in this article are based on the selling prices from major online telescope retailers, such as Optics Planet, OPT, Astronomics and Woodland Hills Telescope at the time of publication.

Prices frequently change, which is why I have not attempted to attach dollar amounts to the various price classes. Instead, I have relied on general categories and star ratings. You may have a different idea of what constitutes, say, a medium price ocular, but the ocular brands and lines in any given category should remain the same, regardless of what the category is called. For example, if you are willing to spend up to $100 for a new ocular, you should be looking at those in what I have labeled the medium-low (three-star) price class.

The price categories/ratings below are based on 1.25" (mount barrel diameter) oculars. 2" oculars in any given line are more expensive to manufacture than 1.25" oculars and will typically jump up one price class, although they are not of higher quality. The same applies to zoom (variable focal length) eyepieces.

Not every brand and line of eyepiece appears below, but the majority of the widely distributed brands and lines are included. No one-star oculars are listed. These would be simple two element, achromatic designs of the sort sometimes supplied with cheap department store telescopes. They are not suitable for any sort of serious astronomical viewing and should not be considered for use in any name brand astronomical telescope.

Ultra-Deluxe Price Class (Five-Star-Plus)

  • Explore Scientific 100-degree Series
  • Pentax SMC Zoom
  • Tele Vue Ethos
  • Tele Vue Nagler Type 5

Deluxe Price Class (Five-Star)

  • Pentax XW Series
  • Tele Vue Nagler Type 4
  • Tele Vue Nagler Zoom

High Price Class (Four-Star-Plus)

  • Baader Planetarium Hyperion Click-Stop Zoom
  • Meade Series 5000 Ultra Wide
  • Orion MegaView
  • Orion Premium Zoom
  • Pentax XF Zoom
  • Pentax XO Series
  • Questar Brandon
  • Takahashi ED LE Series
  • Tele Vue Click-Stop Zoom
  • Tele Vue Nagler Type 6
  • Tele Vue Panoptic
  • Tele Vue Radian
  • Vernonscope Brandon
  • Vixen NVL Click-Stop Zoom
  • Vixen Lanthanum LVW
  • William Optics Uwan

Medium-High Price Class (Four-Star)

  • Explore Scientific 82-degree Series
  • Meade Series 5000 Super Wide
  • Pentax XF Series
  • Takahashi LE Series
  • Vixen Lanthanum NLV

Medium Price Class (Three-Star-Plus)

  • Baader Planetarium Hyperion Modular
  • Coronado Cemax
  • Celestron Ultima LX
  • Lunt Solar Systems Zoom
  • Meade Series 4000 Zoom
  • Meade Series 5000 Plossl
  • Orion Stratus Wide Field
  • Orion Zoom
  • Vixen Lanthanum LV
  • Vixen Lanthanum LV Zoom
  • Williams Optics SLP

Medium-Low Price Class (Three-Star)

  • Astro-Tech Paradigm Dual ED
  • Astro-Tech Titan
  • Baader Planetarium Orthoscopic
  • Burgess/TMB Planetary
  • Celestron Omni Plossl
  • Celestron X-Cel LX
  • Celestron Zoom
  • Meade Series 4000 Super Plossl
  • Orion Deep View
  • Orion Edge-On
  • Orion Edge-On Planetary
  • Orion Epic ED
  • Orion Expanse
  • Orion Explorer II Zoom
  • Orion Highlight Plossl
  • Orion Ultrascopic
  • Skywatcher LET
  • Tele Vue Plossl
  • Vixen NPL Plossl
  • Williams Optics SWAN

Low Price Class (Two-Star)

  • Astro-Tech Series 6 Wide Field
  • Celestron E-Lux Plossl
  • Meade MA
  • Orion Explorer II
  • Orion Sirius Plossl
  • Stellarvue FMC

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Copyright 2009, 2011 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.