Plossl telescope eyepieces are the most popular type of eyepiece on the market. The combination of high-quality optics and accessible prices have made them the favorite design for amateur astronomers and even professionals.
Some optics brands have taken the next step and launched some eyepieces they have labeled as “Super Plossl”. It sounds cool, they must be better than regular Plossls with that name, right?
But are they really? Let’s take a look. If you just want a quick answer, skip to the conclusion at the end of the article.
Plossl Eyepiece Design
The original design for Plossl eyepieces has existed since 1860. It uses two symmetrical pairs of glass elements (one convex and one concave) to pass the light. This makes them a bit more complex and expensive than other designs, but also gives them a wider field of view, reasonable eye relief, and reduces optic aberrations.
Plossls are extremely versatile and can be used for all use cases. From planetary viewing to deep sky watching.
However, because they have more glass elements than other designs, like Kellners, their manufacturing becomes extremely important to get high-quality optics. There’s a wide range of quality when it comes to Plossls and trusting the brand you are getting one from matters a lot if you don’t want to get an eyepiece with lots of reflection or optical issues.
This is important to keep in mind because it means brands have to try really hard to one-up each other because the competition in a niche hobby such as astronomy can be fierce.
Are Plossl eyepieces good?
short answer: yes. Plossl eyepieces are great. Even though the design has existed for more than a century, it has stood the test of and is still today the standard against which other eyepiece designs are measured.
Even though there are more sophisticated types of EPs, Plossls hit the right spot between high-quality optics and price.
We have compared Plossl against Kellner eyepieces in a previous article. Kellners are the other popular design for amateur stargazing, go ahead and check out that article if you want to dive deeper into the subject.
What Are Super Plossl Eyepieces?
In the 1990s Meade instruments came up with a new design for the Meade 4000 line similar to Plossl that added a fifth glass element on top of the two pairs (4 total).
Because the eyepiece was still similar enough to a Plossl and still kept the symmetrical design, they called it Super Plossl.
This Super Plossl design was better than regular Plossl eyepieces, but not by much. It also was considerably more expensive. At that price point, it couldn’t compete with other 5-element devices like Erfle and Nagler eyepieces that had better performance.
Meade went back to the drawing board and they removed the fifth element, keeping the original Plossl design, however, they kept the Super Plossl brand and added some premium materials.
And that is pretty much what Super Plossl are today. Regular Plossl eyepieces with maybe just a slightly better coating or build quality. On the inside, they are exactly the same design.
Other brands have joined and have used the Super Plossl label, but they all keep the original 4-piece design. You could say Super Plossls are not much more than a marketing tactic these days.
The original Meade 5-piece Super Plossl hasn’t been in production for decades and at this point is more of a collector’s item than a high-performance eyepiece.
Plossl vs Super Plossl differences
For modern eyepieces, the differences between Plossl and Super Plossl is going to depend on the manufacturer. Some brands will add better lens coating, darker edges, or a higher quality case to their Super Plossl products, but strictly for performance, there isn’t a difference between the two.
If one Super Plossl specifies it uses a 5 lens design, then you can definitely consider it a true Super Plossl that might offer better performance, but no brand has released any of those for decades.
Conclusion: Are Super Plossl worth the money?
Not really. I have personally tested a few Super Plossl and compared them to their regular counterparts by the same brand. A couple of them felt fancier, but the jump in performance was either insignificant or non-existent.
If you were considering a Super Plossl made by an entry-level brand, just use those extra funds to instead get a regular Plossl made by a more reputable manufacturer.
If you were considering a Meade Super Plossl, in that case just get the regular one also by Meade. They are a good brand with high-quality eyepieces, you just don’t need to spend the extra money for almost no gain in performance.