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Barlow Lenses offer a simple and affordable way to increase the magnification of your current telescope. Whether by doubling (2x) or trebling (3x) your magnification – a good Barlow Lens can unlock a new dimension to your astronomical observations. They are one of the easiest and most practical upgrades that you can make.
With a lot of different brands, models and options, it can be hard to identify what is the best Barlow Lens for you. Ultimately there are certain things you are going to want to consider, different price points and ultimately a host of pros and cons to the options available on the market. This buyers guide will help you to make a decision and ultimately find the best one for your current needs and circumstances.
What Is A Barlow Lens?
In their simplest sense, a Barlow Lens is a detachable, small component that you can attach to a telescope to increase its magnification. This prevents the need for buying a new telescope, and can instantly give considerably more magnification to your current telescope with this simple addition.
A Barlow Lens is placed between the eyepiece and the objective lens, and can be done so manually by hand and without any specialist equipment or advanced knowledge. Moreover they are very easy to use once applied.
They are typically available in 2x, 2.5x, 3x and 5x multipliers, meaning that you can get one that suits your own individual needs and requirements.
Factors to Consider
The majority of the big telescope manufacturers and brands have created their own Barlow Lenses. These can be applied to and used interchangeably on telescopes, (does not matter what brand of Barlow Lens/Telescope you have – any combination will work.)
One thing to consider however, is that you need to know the barrel size of the Barlow Lens you are interested in. This needs to match your telescope, or otherwise it will not fit.
For the most part, Barlow Lenses are made to be 1.25 inches – this is the universal and standard size for most telescopes. However, But, not every Barlow Lens will be this size so this should be one of the first things you should check.
Unsurprisingly, the magnification provided is going to be your other big factor when making a decision. The Lenses that provide the smaller magnifications, 2-3x, are not designed to provide you with dramatic increases. This will of course depend however on your current telescope and its magnification.
A good rule of thumb is that if you are not sure with what magnification to go for, go with 2x magnification (less is often more in this respect).
Best Barlow Lens
The following recommendations take into account: quality, price, customer and personal experience into account. Each Barlow Lens listed below qualifies for the list against one of, or all of, the factors listed above. Regardless of your budget, experience or preferences, there will be a Barlow Lens listed below suitable for you.
Celestron X-Cel LX (2x/3x Barlow Lens)
One of the best Barlow Lenses that you can get; the Celestron X-Cel LX combines premium design with ideal magnification at an affordable price. This is an ideal lens to consider particularly for lunar and/or planetary observations.
Either way, you’re going to benefit from fully multi-coated optics that provide bright and sharp images as the lens corrects for color disorientation automatically. Beyond this, chromatic aberrations are reduced as optics are apochromatic which ensures precise and accurate views and observations.
Its sturdy and well-built lens; it has a black anodized housing and a rubber grip that helps you to retain grip on the barrel (regardless of the conditions!) It has also been designed with a brass compression ring which secures it gently but securely and prevents any unnecessary damage to your apparatus – like protecting the barrel from scratches.
If you are looking to observe the planets, the 3x lens is the way to go. On the other hand if you’re new to astronomy or are not looking for this much magnification the 2x lens would be a better place to start.
Lastly, either the 2 or 3x lens will slot seamlessly into any 1.25″ eyepiece, making it ideal if you have a short focal length telescope.
✔️ 3-element apochromatic, fully multi-coated optics
✔️ Black Anodized Housing, Rubber Grip Design
✔️ Barrel is threaded to accept 1.25” filters
✔️ Brass Compression ring protects/secures eyepiece in place and protects barrel from scratches
Celestron Omni 2x Barlow Lens
The second Celestron Barlow Lens to feature in the list. This time, its from the Omni range. This is a more affordable and budget-friendly option but you’ll still be benefiting from the sleek design and manufacturing from this prestigious astronomy manufacturer and brand.
The Celestron Omni Barlow Lens offer 2x magnification, and will prevent any chromatic aberrations when in use. Again, you’ll benefit from the fully multi-coated optics but you’ll also enjoy great light transmission and minimal reflections that come from the blackened edges.
Its a sturdy Barlow Lens built for durability, and was designed with a sleek silver frame. The 1.25″ barrel will fit perfectly into any standard focuser and diagonal of the same size, and will of course accept 1.25″ eyepieces.
✔️ Fits into any 1.25″ focuser, diagonal and accepts 1.25″ eyepieces
✔️ Fully multi-coated optics with blackened edges for good light transmission and minimal reflections
✔️ Affordable and Budget-Friendly
Celestron Luminos 2.5x Barlow Lens
The Celestron Luminos Barlow Lens is one of the best visually appealing on the eye; and will match most telescope set-ups and colour themes. Its also from the Luminos range which is considered to be one of the best and most premium collection of apparatus that you can purchase for your telescope. As such, if you have a bit of extra room in your budget, then this is likely to be the Barlow Lens for you. Its great for more seasoned Astronomers.
As you can instantly see just through pure observation, the major difference with the Luminos and some of the cheaper options available on the market is the material used to construct it. The Luminos Barlow Lens was built with hard-anodized aluminum barrel, making it the most sturdy, strong and robust option.
The major benefit to this Barlow Lens is that it fits both 2” and 1.25” eyepieces, and will provide you with 2.5 magnification which is a really great range (not too much nor too little). This is because you are provided with a 2” to 1.25” adapter that is easy to install and use.
As you would expect it has the best optics installed; premium 4-element apochromatic optics which are fully multi-coated to ensure maximum light transmission and enable great contrast to your images. The Luminos will provide you with the highest quality images compared to any other lens featured on this list (and most on the market for that matter).
Again, just like the X-Cel LX line, you’ll be benefiting from a rubber grip and a compression ring making it easier to handle, more secure in your hands and provides protection to your barrel.
✔️ Premium 4-element optics provide flat fields for sharper images without any extraneous color
✔️ Hard-anodized aluminum barrel for durability
✔️ Brass Compression ring protects/secures eyepiece in place and protects barrel from scratches
✔️ 2” to 1.25” adapter is included. Allows the use of both 2” and 1.25” eyepieces.
Orion High-Power 3x Barlow Lens
Orion are another premium, well-respected manufacturer that provide a wide range of excellent astronomy equipment. Their High-Power Barlow Lens is no exception, and in many ways rivals some of the others listed above.
Again this is another premium lens, that will require a slightly higher budget than perhaps the Omni or SVBONY (discussed next). However, just like the Celestron Luminos, you’ll be benefiting from 4-element apochromatic optics that will enable high-power and clear, crisp views of the Moon and the planets including Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
Fully multi-coated, with anti-reflection coatings and edge-blackened, this lens will provide maximum light output and optimal image contrast making it an excellent purchase. I also like that the filters are glare threaded to prevent internal reflections from affecting your observations.
The housing consists of solid aluminum and you’ll also get a grip-friendly rubber exterior making it easier to hold and work with. Again, a brass compression ring secures eyepieces and prevents and scratches and damages from occurring on your barrel.
Integrating superbly with any 1.25″ eyepiece, this Barlow Lens offers 3x magnification as standard. The extra power granted by this lens is ideal when attached to any short focal length telescope that ordinarily would not be able to provide the kind of magnification required.
✔️ Ideal for high-power telescopic study of the Moon and planets such as Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
✔️ Sophisticated fully multi-coated, 4-element lens design renders exquisite images without introducing additional chromatic aberration for crisp, color-correct views
✔️ Great for high-magnification lunar and planetary Astrophotography
SVBONY 2x Barlow Lens
If you are on a budget, or funds are limited, the SVBONY 2x Barlow Lens may be one that you want to consider. SVBONY are recognized for providing some of the most affordable astronomy equipment, their Barlow Lens is a case example.
Available for a fraction of the price, you are not going to benefit from the quality and durability like you would get with Celestron/Orion alternatives. Instead, what you will get is a lens that does the job and enables you to obtain 2x magnification. Its perhaps the most sensible choice for beginners or casual observers.
As you would expect, the quality of the Lens is not as superior, but the housing is made from aluminium metal and is black anodized as opposed to plastic. The optics are only 2-element and are not fully-multi-coated. Nonetheless, you do benefit from blackened housing to maximize image contrast and you will not experience any additional chromatic aberration.
When you consider its price, you’ll struggle to find a better lens at this price point.
✔ One of the most affordable Barlow Lenses available on the market
✔ Aluminium and Black Anodized Metal Housing
Overall, a Barlow Lens is a great, affordable and practical way to increase the current magnification of your telescope. You can instantly add 2-3x on top of what you already have, which will really help you if you are into Planetary Observations, Astrophotography or viewing Deep Sky Objects (DSO’s).
Thankfully, Barlow Lenses are affordable, and there are a range of options on the market which ensures you have choice and can get one that will best work for you. Hopefully this guide has provided you with the best lenses to take a look at.
One final thing to consider, is that purchasing a Barlow Lens is usually better than opting for a new telescope eyepiece. this is because a Barlow Lens is more versatile in the sense that you can use it alongside different eyepieces. For example, if you had two eyepieces (15mm & 20mm), by adding a 2x Barlow you can get 30-40mm ranges.
Ultimately, if you want to upgrade your telescope and improve its magnification, one of the Barlow Lenses mentioned above is the way to go.
If I were you I would opt for the Celestron Luminos or a Orion High Power Barlow Lens. With either one of these you will not go wrong. These are the standout winners and my personal favorites with everything considered.