Lunt Versus Badder Solar Wedge
Physical Optical Comparison
First off the bat many of you will remember that I had originally purchased the Lunt Solar Wedge sometime in the spring and was and still am very happy with the over all quality, price and function. But, much to my surprise I have two telescopes that challenge me when it comes to acquiring back focus. Lets talk briefing on back focus.
Here is one definition: Back focus is the distance from the end of your eyepiece drawtube to the focal plane of your telescope and will vary depending on the type of telescope: Basically, what this says is the light traveling through the optics will eventually come to a point of focus - either naturally or with the aid of an eyepiece for example. So, if you remove the optical elements of the eyepiece and replace it with a camera you will normally need to move the draw tube in closer and this is were we run into trouble.
I will only discuss back-focus as it pertains to these solar wedges - since a solar wedge does bend light and has an impact of where the light will fall into sharp focus, and since the Solar Wedge MUST be used for solar observing or photographic use, it makes no sense talking about using a camera without them as you would do for night time astro photography.
Both Badder and Lunt Solar Wedge work fantastic with eye pieces!! But if you remove the eyepiece to attach your camera you may find you are unable to move the drawtube in far enough to acquire proper focus - the telescope's OTA is too long. Unless you lop off a couple inches of the OTA using a hack saw (not recommended) what can you do?
Answer: Use a Solar Wedge that allows you to direct connect your camera to the wedge base. Badder is the only of these two that will achieve that goal, and in doing so moves the camera sensor about 2 inches closer in thereby allowing in "most" cases proper back focus for your imaging needs. - problem solved.
I own three refactors (150, 127, and 80mm) - of the three I can only obtain back focus on the 127mm with Skyris camera using the Lunt set up. With the Badder Herschel Wedge I am not able to get focus using any of the refractors - unless I attach the camera direct to the wedge. - First challenge was finding the proper adapter to attach my cameras direct to the badder wedge.
Final word on the backfocus issue: Neither Badder or Lunt offers with their wedge a camera adapters, but with a little research I was able to find the ones I needed. Now i can use either camera with the badder for photographic imagining.
Lets Look at the Lunt Solar Wedge First: Lunt offers theirs in two configurations a 2" and 1.25". The pricing is around $288.00 or $220.00 depending on which size you get and both are reasonably priced (at least I think so).
Lunt ships their wedge in a nice all metal carry case with a custom fitted foam liner that protects the wedge when you need to carry it. Although the case is nice enough the interior foam is prone to tearing and I doubt it will last all that long.
Externally, the lunt is a solidly made high quality component and should provide many many years of use. The outer case is all black with a mixture of flat and enamel paints. At the back of the Lunt Solar Wedge is a heat dispersion system made of a finned aluminium disk (red) that will absorb the sun's excess light energy and allow a natural airflow to further dissipate heat. Be advised this does get very hot so, keep any small children and tender skin away, and advise your viewers to not come into contact with the red disk at the rear.
Design: Lunt has designed their Solar Wedge to not allow the removal of the upper tube where the ND 3.0 Filter and eyepiece is inserted. The tube is locked on. This means with the Lunt you only have one option of mounting a camera by using the eyepiece holder. You can not screw the camera direct to the lunt wedge base as you can the Badder. This is really too bad because it limits in some cases what camera and telescope combinations you can use. In my opinion Lunt could have easily engineered this and achieve the "security" of not allowing the removal of the ND filter while allowing the removal of the tube. I have another article that discusses the visual and photographic properties.
To attach an eyepiece or camera to the Lunt Solar Wedge you must use the eyepiece adapter that is affixed to the Lunt. This means your camera must be inserted into either the 2" or 1.25 eyepiece holder and secured using the thumb screws. The Lunt Solar wedge works well and is worth the price when and if you can obtain back-focus using your camera and telescope, if you only do visuals using eyepieces you will be very happy with the Lunt Solar Wedge.
Next Up is the Badder Herschel Wedge: Comes in two flavors V for visual and P for Photographic. I believe the only difference is the benefit of additional filters. Pricing for the Badder is much more that a Lunt Solar Wedge: The Badder V model runs around $639.00 while the P model runs around $719.00. for at least a $330.00 increase if you buy a Badder Herschel Wedge.
Externally the badder is very well made with a custom white speckled painted surface which seems to make sense for solar work. The wedge has a special Badder quick release system that allows attaching eyepieces or cameras by locking it down using the twist ring at the top, twist one way to close, the other to release. At the back of the Badder Herschel Solar Wedge is a ceramic disk that absorbs the sun's excess energy. This solution is a higher tech approach than Lunt's simplistic metal radiator. But, both do a good job of keeping things agreeable while in use.
The arrangement Badder uses to attach eyepieces, cameras, and filters offer much more flexibility that Lunts arrangement. Badder allows when needed to remove the top barrel and attach a camera direct to the wedge, as shown in the photos. This arrangement moves the camera's sensor about 2 inches closer which helps in achieving proper back focus + is a more secure way to attach the camera. Depending on your camera you will need to acquire an adapter and badder has it listed in their owners manual. After purchasing the adapter, I can attach the required ND 3, Continuum, and another filter as needed + my camera right to the base of the Herschel Wedge, making this package perfect for my photographic needs.
I have a comparison on the photographic differences between the Lunt and Badder wedges in another article and will not discuss that here.
In closing and final thoughts on the physical characteristic difference is as follows, Both Lunt and Badder offer two high quality white light solar wedge and are perfect for visual work. If I were only doing visual I would forgo the additional cost of the badder and purchase the Lunt + continuum filter and call it a day.
If your desire is to do photographic work, then adding the additional cost of over $300.00 might be worth the reduction in frustration with the added flexibility of the Badder Solar Solution offers. Badder Herschel Wedge makes imaging much less cumbersome and ensures a higher compatibility with various cameras and telescopes combinations. Mechanically speaking the Badder is a better thought out solution offering greater flexibility.