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5mm Pocono Mt. Optics Ortho

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Date: 12-28-2001
Price: $35
Design: Multi coated 5mm Ortho
Description: High quality Ortho with a 40 degree field of view.

The Review

I know that Pocono went out of business and I am probably lucky to have received this eyepiece before that happened.  In all reality I guess I am really lucky to have received any eyepiece from them.  Last January I felt the pressing need to experiment with an Orthoscopic eyepiece.  I was looking for a short focal length (4mm to 7mm) Ortho for high power lunar and planetary views.  After checking out the de facto Ortho experts University Optics (UO) I was sad to see that all of their short focus Orthos had been backordered – my original intention was to get a UO.  But, it happened that a few Orthos under the Pocono name were not only $15 cheaper and in supply but they were getting excellent reviews.  Some even claimed that they were very ‘similar’ to the UO Orthos, and perhaps were from the same place. 

This was all that was needed to get my interest.  Could there truly be a great high power eyepiece for under $50.00.  I promptly placed an order for a 6mm Ortho (notice 6mm not 5mm).  After waiting the normal five days I still had not received anything in the mail or any notification of the purchase.  I waited a few more and begun to worry about the location of my Ortho.  After two weeks I sent numerous unanswered emails to the company and even called them a few times.  Finally after sending in an email with amazingly enough my Webmaster signature for this page I received both a phone call and a written response.  The story was that they were backordered on the 6mm Ortho and gave me a few options; wait for the 6mm, cancel the order, or take a 5mm that they had in stock.  I chose the third option and hence I am writing a review of the 5mm Ortho right now and not the 6mm version.

The only problem I could see about the 5mm was that I already owned a 10mm Plossl and a 2x Barlow lens.  However I did see this as a perfect opportunity for an Ortho vs. Plossl showdown at 200x in my 1000mm focal length telescope.  Anyways I am not terribly fond of either the Plossl (cheap Chinese) or the Barlow. 

The Optics and Testing

After receiving the eyepiece after the normal five days I was happy to see that everything was in working order.  The eyepiece was exceptionally well made and yes it does look remarkably similar to the UO Orthos.  The optics are made in Japan as the stamp on the side says and the lenses feature deep rich red coatings – a very good sign.  The coatings were very similar to my Ultrascopic eyepiece but seemed to be a bit better.  All in all the eyepiece is solidly constructed but surprisingly light and small.

As with all of my new equipment I normally have a hard time waiting for the sun to set before giving them a quick once over.  Luckily I can point my telescope out of my back porch from the comfort of my home through the sliding doors (which I had opened).  My normal targets are a pile of lumber at about 150 feet and a transformer on a power line at about 2000 feet.  It handeled them both exceptionally well.  I even picked up the bar code on the lumber tags easily; this is something that has given the 10mm Plossl and Barlow some problems in the past.  False color was a major issue as it normally is during the day with my 120mm refractor at above 50x.

The Moon, Planets, and More

The first night out I was greeted by a nearly full moon that I felt would make a perfect target for an Ortho, and it did.  The view was both sharp and bright for 200x.  I could pick up much more detail with the Ortho than both my 10mm Plossl and 7.5mm Ultrascopic eyepieces.  While color was an issue at the limb it was non-existent on any of the interior high contrast areas.

After waiting several months for Mars I able to test this eyepiece on a wide variety of deep sky objects.  Granted from a mag. 3 location my selection is quite limited.  It did however perform admirably on both the Dumbell and the Ring nebulas as well as a few of the major globulars.  It seems that perhaps this is where the quality coating help the most because the view is much better than the Plossl.

During the end of the Summer I was blessed with a few perfect evening to observe Mars.  Once again this eyepiece was just begging to be used.  Sadly Mars was suffering quite a bit from its dust storm and most of the features were quite invisble.  I did notice that the eyepiece did give very sharp images of the planet with almost no false color.  Amazing for a large achromat.  Once again the Ortho beat the Plossls but in my opinion lost out to my extremely cheap 6mm Kellner that I had picked up on Ebay.  The Kellner threw up the brightest and sharpest images out of all of my eyepieces – amazing.  Sadly I have yet to explore the gas giants with this eyepiece but I will surely be out very soon.

Negatives

Like all Orthoscopic eyepieces this one features a very small field of view.  I would estimate it at perhaps 40 degrees or slightly less.  The upside of this is that the entire field is very sharp right to the edges; you can watch a star maintain its true form as it drifts off the edge of the eyepiece.  Also eye relief is short and the eye lens itself is extremely small.  Positioning your eye perfectly is essential to getting the most out of this eyepiece.

Final Opinion

I don’t know for sure how well this compares to its UO cousin but I have a good feeling that they are both very similar.  On a scale of 10 I would have to give this eyepiece a 9 based on its two best traits, image quality and cost.  Sadly they may be hard to come by but if you are really in the market for an Ortho you can spend $50 and get essentially the same if not better eyepiece from UO.  However if you do run across one of these it is highly recommended that you spend the $35 and pick one up.

Submitted by Curt Irwin - irwincur@excite.com - Grand Rapids, MI

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