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Vixen FL102S Fluorite APO

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#1 Bret_Salyer

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 02:50 AM

Hey,
What about this scope that Rick has posted in the shop n swap for $1595 shipped?
Anyone have experience with its optics and mechanics?
He says its '84-'94 vintage.

#2 roadi

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 03:29 AM

Only thing I can add to your post, is that from what I've read and heard the Vixen 102 Fluorites has excellent optics wich doesn't give up anything to a Tak FS102 also fluorite, in optical performance, and some cases even exceeds the performance of the Tak FS102.
Same goes for the Celestron 102 fluorite, same optics as the Vixen.
Mechanical it should be good but not quite the same leaque as the Tak.

#3 Bret_Salyer

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 03:41 AM

Thanks roadi for posting.
I have been thinking of a Tak TSA-102 or TV NP-101 for visual, but this caught my eye.
I am probably leaning towards the new scope, but thought I would kick it with you guys.

#4 roadi

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 05:30 AM

:cool:
Between those two you mension I would chose the TSA, havn't looked through either of them, but claims tells the TSA will have a slight edge in collor correction and sharpness and here in Europe the price of the NP101 is nearly twice of the Tak. If price were equal, it would for me, be a very hard decission between those two.

By the way, I think the Vixen Fl 102 leaves nothing to be desired, in visual term!!


#5 Dave Novoselsky

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 07:14 AM

I too prefer the Tak TSA 102 to the NP101. Back to your original question however, I own a smaller Vixen Flourite, an 80 and the optics are indeed close if not equal to the Tak FC series of flourite refractors that were the contemporaries of the Vixen flourite doublet series. Tak, however, updated the FC series with the FS series of flourite doublets, which had slightly updated mechanicals and, more importantly, more sophisticated coatings. While the Vixen flourites matched the earlier Tak FC series, I would give the nod to a Tak FS series over the Vixen as the FS series coatings offered better contrast. (Indeed, if you read not just my reviews of the period, but those of Todd Gross and Ed Ting, 'shot offs' between the Tak 5" and 6" FS doublets and their AstroPhysics rivals had the Tak holding their own based on their amazing contrast on planetary an lunar.) Finally, Vixen flourites are rara avis and are normally more a collector item. The 102 Vixens and Tak FS 102s (which were produced in much greater number than the earlier FC series or the Vixen flourites) are going to be pretty close in price. I'd opt for the FS as providing better contrast unless you want to have the Vixen as a collector item. Dave (who is old enough and has been at this long enough to remember when the FCs and the Vixen flourites were the current and hot items.)

#6 roadi

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 09:25 AM

I sure would like to do a comparo between a Vixen FL102 and my FS102'er just to see the diffrence, if any to my eyes. Contrast is amazing in the FS102, (without any extra gear behind it, other than the EP) and was the thing that staggered me at first light with it.

By the way, I wish I had the luck to get one of the older Tak FC100 f10 but only limited numbers are made!!

#7 chboss

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 03:37 PM

I remember the Vixen FL 102 being the dream refractor in those days... I had the chance too look through one in the mid 90's and the optics were perfect. This is one of the reasons I bought a FS-102 in the late 90's which is still with me. ;)

The one thing to upgrade is certainly the focuser it could not compete with todays models.

What is the focal ratio of the Vixen? f9?

Regards
Chris

#8 roadi

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 04:02 PM

f8.8 I believe, though I've heard of two diffrent f-ratio's where the first series, the older ones, should have slightly longer f-ratio. If its true I don't know.

#9 JakeJ

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 04:35 PM

I used to own a C-102F and it was a fantastic fluorite apo. It had excellent contrast and one of the best star tests I have even seen. It was f/9 IIRC.

I regret ever selling it and so now I am planning on ordering a Vixen ED102S to replace it.

#10 Dave Novoselsky

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 07:16 AM

I agree that the Vixen Fluorites were superb when they were made, and every bit the match for the Takahashis of the same vintage. I would not hesitate to buy the 4" now if I did not already have the FL80 Vixen and several Taks of the same era. I do believe the coatings and contrast on the FS series Taks allowed for better contrast, but that is just MHO and not to be taken as Gospel. By the way, the ne plus ulta of the Fluorite era was the Tak FCT series of Flourite triplets. I am fortuante to own the FCT-100 and the FCT-150. Marvelous optics and built to a standard that makes them a joy to look at in addition to looking through.
Of course, there is, as I say to often, no free lunch. The 100 is hardly a lightweight and the FCT 150 weighs 46+ pounds!!!!! Dave

#11 Booji

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 10:11 AM

I have always wondered how the old Vixen FL's compare with the new Vixen ED models that they have now, which is better? Were the FL's discontinued because of manufacturing costs, if they had stayed with the fluorite would that have made the price of the FL's too high for want they wanted to price them at?

#12 JakeJ

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 12:45 PM

Booji -

Hard to say why they discontinued it - it was a very popular and revered model - every one I have seen had stunning optics.

I ordered the new replacement model, which is a bit faster at f/8 - it should be here next week. I no longer have my original C102F to directly compare it to, but if anyone in the Los Angeles area would like to get together to do a comparison, I certainly would be interested to see how it compares.

#13 roadi

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 08:11 PM

Dave, thats an impressive collection you have!! :cool:
I'l be happy for some time, if lucky enough just to touch and look at the Tak FCT150 IRL!! Want my FS102 for a peek through your FCT150?? :grin:

By the way, how would you rate a Tak doublet against the Tak triplet for visual use, specially regarding contrast and sharpness on planets? not collor correction, as I don't care about that tiny bit the doublet shows, anyway!! Ofcause your opinion!!

#14 Wouter D'hoye

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:32 AM

Hi,

These vixen fluorites are very nice! These are every bit as good as a tak or similar doublet fluorites. This unit is the older f/8.8 version. The newer units were f/9

Only drawbacks would be the unusual finder mount and the focuser that is a bit inaccurate for photography... though still workable.

I use the very same telescope and would buy it again without a doubt. Only upgrades I did were a moonlite focuser and a better finder.

wouter.

#15 Tom T

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:38 AM

I sure would like to do a comparo between a Vixen FL102 and my FS102'er just to see the diffrence, if any to my eyes. Contrast is amazing in the FS102, (without any extra gear behind it, other than the EP) and was the thing that staggered me at first light with it.


Been there, done that. The FL102 (in either celestron or vixen badge) holds it's own very nicely. The only complaint I have about the Vixen is the mechanics. The focuser is serviceable, but could stand replacement.

IMO, this was (and remains) one of the best values in a visual apo ever made.

#16 roadi

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 02:34 PM

Wouter,
Thats also what I would expect! ;)

Thanks for the info Tom, you've looked through a lot of scopes and I've often read some of your rewiews, very informative and exciting :cool:

#17 Erik Bakker

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 03:24 PM

The Vixen/Celestron fluorites are amazing instruments. I have the 55, 70 and 102mm. I enjoy my Fluorite 102mm generally more then my EDFS130. It has half the weight and gets to 150-200x easily without a Barlow. Last night I split Delta Cygni using 100x and resolved M13 all through the core. And Jupiter was wondeful. The European Tak importer considered the Vixens slightly better then the Tak's optically. The Vixen uses better glass for the mating element. It's longer focal lenght helps as well. And the elements are polished to an incredible level of smoothness. Also, both the Tak FC and Vixen Fluorites have the fluorite element in the back, where it is much better protected then behind the multi-coating in the FS series.
The OTA of the Vixen is excellent, the focuser functions but really begs for upgrading with e.g. a moonlight 2-speed.

In short: Fl102S: fabulous scope, like all other f/8 - f/9 fluorite doublets from that era.

Erik

#18 DLB242

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 04:07 PM

The Vixen 102 Fluorite should be a close match optically against the TAK FS102. The TAK has the edge with quality of build, upgrading the focuser will fix that but will cost you more. The f/8.8 is the older model, it was imported here under the Celestron brand and I believe all of those had the adjustable lens cell unlike the f/9 versions sold later by Orion. I would go for it with an eye toward replacing the focuser later on. The price is right, I don't know the reputation of the seller being some what new here but if he is respected don't wait do the deal you will own one of greatest 4" APO of that era and no slouch even by today's standards.

#19 Bob S

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 04:19 PM

I had the Orion version of the Vixen 102 fluorite. It had terrific optics, and could take crazy amounts of magnification on good nights. It showed great planetary detail, the cloud bands on Jupiter at about 200x were like an engraving. I had to sell it a few years ago, and have been kicking myself ever since. The market prices for them have been going up, and the price quoted seems about right.
Bob Schoenstene

#20 Dave Novoselsky

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 07:40 PM

Dave, thats an impressive collection you have!! :cool:
I'l be happy for some time, if lucky enough just to touch and look at the Tak FCT150 IRL!! Want my FS102 for a peek through your FCT150?? :grin:

By the way, how would you rate a Tak doublet against the Tak triplet for visual use, specially regarding contrast and sharpness on planets? not collor correction, as I don't care about that tiny bit the doublet shows, anyway!! Ofcause your opinion!!


My problem in answering your question is thinking back to what I saw in the EP of my Tak FS152, now several years in someone else's hands and what I see in the EP of the Tak FCT150 now. "Visual memory" is a tough call, but the coatings in the FS were more up to date so it may be a wash. I can tell you that having the FCT up against the AP 155 recently at a friend's place, I disagree with Ed Ting's placement of the Tak behind the AP, I'd rate the Tak ahead of the 155 AP in contrast and in 'sharpness.' Ed rated the FCT ahead of the FS 152, so perhaps that is the best answer I can offer without finding an FS152 to test again. I do recall my original review of the AP and the FS as too close to call, but based on that, and looking over my notes, I'm guessing the FCT series was a bit better.

Sorry to be evasive, but I just can't provide a definitive answer.

Now, the new Tak 102 triplet IS sharper and a bit more contrasty than the FS, based on a side by side, I say the new Tak triplet is the current ne plus ultra of 4" APOS. Dave

#21 Littlegreenman

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 03:37 AM

I have a Vixen/Celestron 90mm Fluorite. I've had the pleasure of looking through a friend's Celestron/Vixen black 4" Fluorite on several occaisions. I haven't compared either to a Takahashi, but I have also owned a TV-85, TV-101, and Vixen 114ED f/5.3. Orion brought in the f/5.3 version for a while; mine was shipped directly from Japan. I've also looked through a lot of achromats from 60mm to 5" both short and long.

The 90mm Fluorite was the best overall. For wide field FOV the 114 ED f/6.3 with a 35mm Panoptic was astounding. Color free at lower mags, nearly color free at higher mags.

The TV-101 I found unimpressive. I wonder about that particular scope though; it had some issues.

Back to the Vixen 90mm. My sample has a JMI Motofocus on it, which is great for fine focus. It gets a little in the way for focusing otherwise. You have to muscle through the resistance of the motor.

Baffles and 2" eyepieces
I am not sure but I seem to remember reading this probably here, maybe over on Astromart. The Celestron branded fluorites originally came with 1.25" focusers. I don't know if the Celestron's eventually came with 2" focusers or not. The Orion branded scopes I'm pretty sure came with 2" focusers; or at least they had a 58 or 60mm drawtube that took thread on nose pieces of different sizes. The earlier versions like my 90mm have smaller diameter drawtubes.

The issue is that the older 1.25" shipped scopes had interior baffles sized for 1.25" eyepieces. So, if you put an after market 2" focuser on a scope with baffles for a 1.25" eyepiece, you could get vignetting. So, instead of a Moonlight focuser with 2" capability, I should get a 24mm Panoptic that will show about the widest FOV anyway? Unless you want to start replacing the baffles while you're at it. Feel free to correct me on that if I've got it wrong.

One last little tidbit. The Vixen tubes are lighter than all of the other contenders. It may make a difference in what mount you could use. The 4" is listed at 7.9 lbs on the link below.

Littlegreenman

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#22 roadi

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 05:48 AM

Dave, thats an impressive collection you have!! :cool:
I'l be happy for some time, if lucky enough just to touch and look at the Tak FCT150 IRL!! Want my FS102 for a peek through your FCT150?? :grin:

By the way, how would you rate a Tak doublet against the Tak triplet for visual use, specially regarding contrast and sharpness on planets? not collor correction, as I don't care about that tiny bit the doublet shows, anyway!! Ofcause your opinion!!


My problem in answering your question is thinking back to what I saw in the EP of my Tak FS152, now several years in someone else's hands and what I see in the EP of the Tak FCT150 now. "Visual memory" is a tough call, but the coatings in the FS were more up to date so it may be a wash. I can tell you that having the FCT up against the AP 155 recently at a friend's place, I disagree with Ed Ting's placement of the Tak behind the AP, I'd rate the Tak ahead of the 155 AP in contrast and in 'sharpness.' Ed rated the FCT ahead of the FS 152, so perhaps that is the best answer I can offer without finding an FS152 to test again. I do recall my original review of the AP and the FS as too close to call, but based on that, and looking over my notes, I'm guessing the FCT series was a bit better.

Sorry to be evasive, but I just can't provide a definitive answer.

Now, the new Tak 102 triplet IS sharper and a bit more contrasty than the FS, based on a side by side, I say the new Tak triplet is the current ne plus ultra of 4" APOS. Dave


Hi Dave
Sounds like its a bit like splitting hairs between the Triplets and the fluorite doublets in visual term, If I understand it correct it would take an experienced observer to see the difrence in contrast and perhaps sharpness too.

Great info, I appreciate it, thanks!!

#23 Dave Novoselsky

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 07:10 AM

Yep

#24 DLB242

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 03:23 PM

I don't know about the older Celestron versions but the Orion version came with a 2" focuser. It was however shipped with with an 1 1/4" visual back. A 2" back was available from Orion and MSS also offered a 2" back with brass compression ring. Joe's much better than the one Orion sold. As far as I remember there were no problems vignetting with the f/9 Orion offering going to the 2" back. I had the f/6.65 Vixen VX-102ED Orion was selling at the same time and vignetting was not a problem with that scope with the 2" back. I have an MSS back for the Orion version if the original poster should buy this scope and wants to keep the stock focuser contact me.

#25 peleuba

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 05:06 PM

Been there, done that. The FL102 (in either celestron or vixen badge) holds it's own very nicely. The only complaint I have about the Vixen is the mechanics. The focuser is serviceable, but could stand replacement.

IMO, this was (and remains) one of the best values in a visual apo ever made.



I owned several of these Vixen Fluorite doublet APO's going back to the days when Orion was the sole Vixen importer. They are wonderful telescopes and as you say hold there own in head to head comparos.

We've tested some using the Roddier method and have computed Strehls in the neighborhood of .97x. My avatar is an a star test example from a sample of the Vixen Fluorite with a Roddier computed Strehl of .974.

Roland speaks highly of these scopes and has described them as having a "honey of a lens". I would have to agree. There is less color then a TeleVue doublet and almost no spherical error. Interestingly, though, some of the later Orion branded versions had some striae (slight homogeneity) in the lens which is noticeable in the star test. It appears as little worm like lines running through the Fresnal pattern. At first glance you may think this is thermally related, but unfortunately they are in the glass, are always present and they rotate as the lens rotates. This aberration seems to have a minimal effect on the in-focus image.

I liked these scopes so much that I ran a WTB ad on Astromart a few years back I ended up with purchasing a several of the black-tubed Celestron branded scopes from the late 1980's. Both scopes tested out excellent with virtually the same sphercial correction. I used an indoor artifical star setup using a collimated light source to generate the "star". Looking for a project, I ended up keeping the one scope that was in the worst mechanical and cosmetic condition. I then embarked on a full restoration.

The final results are below... New paint, New focuser, New decals, etc.

Attached Files








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