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Astro-Physics the Best Brand?

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#1 Bill McNeal

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:00 PM

AP has a strong reputation in mounts. Are they the king of refractors too?

I thought that TEC and Takahashi were also considered the same top tier. But the AP 130 costs more than the TEC 140! Am I missing something?

Or is there another brand that's the best? I'm referring to optical quality as well as resale value.

#2 mgwhittle

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:18 PM

Hmm....I wonder how this thread is going to go?

Optical quality AND resale value....any late model AP refractor will win based on resale value.

Optical quality...TEC, AP, Tak....all excellent. And the Taks are available "off the shelf" normally...TECs, like the 140, are more easily available than AP130 if you are wanting to purchase soon. I don't know for sure about the lead time if you are wanting a larger TEC. AP is only available "now" if you have been on the waiting list for 9+ years and your name comes up or if you are willing to buy used.

Are you just posting this out of curiosity or actually considering one of these outstanding refractors?

#3 Bill McNeal

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 06:38 PM

Mark, thank you for your input. I'm not in a position to buy in the immediate future, but since AP has a years-long waiting list I wonder if it's worth just signing on.

Besides, it's nice to have a concrete goal to work toward.

#4 PeterR280

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:01 PM

I was debating the same thing 9 years ago so I signed up on a whim. I thought AP had forgotten about me and then a few months ago I get an email that my scope is available if I want to buy it. It's supposed to come at the end of this month. Originally it was August.

#5 The Ardent

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:18 PM

Yes they do (and did) have a waiting list, but there are at least 5 of them on Astromart right now. Anyone can buy one today.

but since AP has a years-long waiting list I wonder if it's worth just signing on.



#6 Doug D.

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:23 PM

I think what is "best" is an almost impossible determination to make - or even a question to take very seriously. Are they "among the best" refractors in terms of optics, mechanics, and performance specs? Sure. But what is best for one may not be best for another for reasons you are going to read a lot about as this thread proceeds..... High resale value may be the least contestable reason to call them "best", but also the least important reason to me as someone who buys a scope to use it (and keep it). And yeah, I have a couple of AP refractors and I'm content with saying they are the best for me in their respective aperture classes.

As for the A-P notification list there is absolutely no reason - nada - not to put your name on every list that they maintain. By doing so you have no obligation to purchase a scope and no deposit needed to join the list. You might as well even sign up for scopes you think you can't afford now - maybe the lottery or an inheritance from a long lost Uncle will come in during the 10 years or so it takes to get the notification. At that point you can agree to purchase and put down your 50% or just say no thanks. It is really a no brainer.

#7 greju

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:36 PM

I think what is "best" is an almost impossible determination to make - or even a question to take very seriously. Are they "among the best" refractors in terms of optics, mechanics, and performance specs? Sure. But what is best for one may not be best for another for reasons you are going to read a lot about as this thread proceeds..... High resale value may be the least contestable reason to call them "best", but also the least important reason to me as someone who buys a scope to use it (and keep it). And yeah, I have a couple of AP refractors and I'm content with saying they are the best for me in their respective aperture classes.

As for the A-P notification list there is absolutely no reason - nada - not to put your name on every list that they maintain. By doing so you have no obligation to purchase a scope and no deposit needed to join the list. You might as well even sign up for scopes you think you can't afford now - maybe the lottery or an inheritance from a long lost Uncle will come in during the 10 years or so it takes to get the notification. At that point you can agree to purchase and put down your 50% or just say no thanks. It is really a no brainer.



Yeh, a no brainer.:foreheadslap:

#8 Dwight56

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:41 PM

I have owned a number of AP refractors over the years and have no complaints or regrets with them what so ever. Right now there are several AP refractors for sale on astromart and this is likely your only avenue of obtaining one. If you place yourself on the wish list now I would say you have a 0 chance of ever getting an AP Refractor. Mounts are another story Astro-Physics over the years has expanded there manufacturing of mounts and you can pretty much timing it right almost get a mount off the self. Of course AP mounts do show up for sale from time to time and are a pretty safe bet used as long as the mounu was not dropped. I've owned a 600 QMD and 600 goto and currently a 400 QMD mount that was purchased used. My 1200 goto was purchased new in 2007 off the self when a number of them came up for sale.

#9 Malabargold

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 08:56 PM

Yep. For my money they are the best refractors, in terms of optical and mechanical quality, reliability, precision and consistency.
Of course, put your name on the list, the GT 130's are flying off the shelves, relatively speaking. Around 500 so far.
Will you get a call for a Roland finished product in 5-10 years? Who knows.

#10 David Pavlich

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 09:30 PM

I have noticed of late that there are a lot more AP refractors than what we normally see. I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but it sure is strange and a diverse group as well. I would say that AP is arguably the best visual refractor and that the TOA series of Tak scopes have a tiny bit better color correction. I'll leave out the FSQ series since they are of a different design and purpose. But if you factor in resale, AP is the clear winner.

David

#11 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 10:35 PM

Will you get a call for a Roland finished product in 5-10 years? Who knows.


RC is reportedly in the mid-60's. One hopes he will continue to be happy and productive in the optical shop for many years to come.

But statistically speaking ....

#12 Starhawk

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 11:05 PM

Is this intended as a joke? There is no better glass available.

If you want a new AP130 EDFGT, you can get one from someone who has it show up and says, "Whoa, that's more than I bargained for" and sells it off immediately (they usually do it at cost) on A-mart.

And you will never be sorry or wish you had something else after you look through it.

-Rich

#13 okieav8r

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 11:30 PM

Yes they do (and did) have a waiting list, but there are at least 5 of them on Astromart right now. Anyone can buy one today.

but since AP has a years-long waiting list I wonder if it's worth just signing on.


One thing you can say for the AP waiting list--you've got plenty of time to save up for the telescope while you're waiting. Sign up, open a savings account and contribute to it every payday, and when your name comes up, buy your telescope.

#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 04:34 AM

AP has a strong reputation in mounts. Are they the king of refractors too?

I thought that TEC and Takahashi were also considered the same top tier. But the AP 130 costs more than the TEC 140! Am I missing something?

Or is there another brand that's the best? I'm referring to optical quality as well as resale value.


Bill:

For my purposes, there are a number of manufacturers who produce top quality optics. But, I think there is no doubt that Roland Christen was the one lead the way in the development of the modern achromatic triplet. And I think there is no doubt that he is an obsessive perfectionist when it comes to optics, in fact in every aspect of telescope production.

From my point of view as someone who has been interacting (me asking, Roland answering) with Roland since the days of the Usenet and the legendary newsgroup S.A.A (Science.Astro.Amateur), Roland is still an amateur astronomer at heart, still just someone who decided to build telescopes and then mounts because no one else built ones that were good enough for him. Some of Roland's photos.

Of all the big names in Amateur astronomy, Roland has been the most accessible, shared himself the most. Certainly Al Nagler is gregarious and very open but Al never took to the internet to share and discuss things the way Roland did.

The late Thomas Back was a friend of Roland's, a contributor to S.A.A. and it was only later in his career that he became a lens designer. His essay, "A Brief History of Astro-Physics Lenses" is definitely worth a read as is the Company 7 Astro-Physics webpage. If I am not mistaken, for quite some time, Company 7 was the only dealer for A-P products.

A couple of further comments:

- I believe that Yuri Petrunin of TEC and Roland Christen are good friends. Back in the day, Yuri was a contributor to S.A.A. as was Valery Deryuzhin (also a friend) of Aries Optical. Valery is known for taking on a challenge, the Chromacorr that turns an Achromat into an apo is still sought after and Aries Optical has the capability of Ion Milling Ritchey-Chretien optics up to 1 meter. These three are the ones that do everything in house, do their own optics etc. Of the three, Valery is the only one who has ventured to Cloudy Nights.

- My favorite story about Roland is one he told himself. It seems he was at a Star Party and someone had something he really wanted. The deal he made was to trade one of the latest production run scopes for this particular item. However, his wife, Marj, nixed the deal, telling him, he didn't have a place in line for the scope...

'nuff rambling, 'nuff said.

Jon Isaacs

#15 t.r.

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:27 AM

I have had a sample or two of each of the major manufacturers...Celestron, Meade, Towa, Televue, Takahashi, TEC and Astro-Physics...yes, they are the king. ;)

#16 RAKing

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:57 AM

Like a few have already said, this is a very subjective question and I don't know if there is a correct answer.

From my own personal experience, Astro-Physics is at (or very near) the top of the list with everything they make. It's not just the quality of the workmanship or the finish of the products. They also are at the top of the list for customer service. You can pick up the phone and talk to them -- and surprise, surprise, they are ready and willing to help.

I bought my Mach 1 four years ago after an 18 month wait. It has been everything I hoped for and is the last mount I'll ever really need. I bought an A-P 105mm Traveler from a friend of mine and it's never going anywhere. I have been on the 130 list for about 8 years, so I figure my name should be coming up soon.

BUT...I also have a wonderful TEC 140 and everything I've said about A-P can be applied to my experience with Yuri (and Sergei), too.

For Takahashi, I could also say the same nice things about Art and his crew at Texas Nautical Instruments. When I owned my Takahashis, they were the guys to call and I never had a question they couldn't answer.

I cannot say any of these three are "Best". They are all tied for first place in my book. :waytogo:

Cheers,

Ron

#17 Mike Holland

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 07:05 AM

Ok, someone has to do this; it might as well be me.

I've only seen through one AP telescope (130mm, late 90s design), and while it was a truly great telescope, it wasn't the best on the field that night. A nearby NP-127 had sharper stars near the edge of the field (it's a Petzval, after all), and it was as sharp in the center.

Two things resulted from this comparison:

1. I was really disappointed after hearing all of the hype. I was expecting to feel afterwards as though I'd never seen through a real telescope before, and was let down when it turned out to only be an excellent telescope (as opposed to having some feeling of a divine presence).

2. I bought my NP-101 (I couldn't quite see spending more for the NP-127).

What you can expect in an AP (from my brief experience and LOTS of reading) is that it will be an exceptional telescope--optically and mechanically. What you shouldn't expect is to see though one for the first time, hear angels sing, and then feel an irresistible urge to angrily throw all of your junkie non-AP crapola telescopes (like Televue, Tak, TEC) into the nearest volcano to cleanse yourself.

AP, Takahashi, TEC, and Televue are all pretty close, and each has its advocates here on the Refractor Forum. The great news is that refractors are better now than ever, and you really can't go wrong with any of those brands.

Clear skies, everyone! :-)

Mike

#18 City Kid

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 08:11 AM

My favorite story about Roland is one he told himself. It seems he was at a Star Party and someone had something he really wanted. The deal he made was to trade one of the latest production run scopes for this particular item. However, his wife, Marj, nixed the deal, telling him, he didn't have a place in line for the scope...


Now that's funny! :lol:

#19 orion69

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 09:11 AM

TS refractors are best, AP is not even close...










Just kidding! :grin:

#20 PeterR280

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 09:31 AM

I am still waiting for my AP130GT to compare to the C102GT for $59.

#21 opticsguy

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 09:36 AM

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to share some observing time with Roland. Asked him about searching out pluto with his 6". Roland aimed the scope at the field of Pluto and a check with my hand held deep sky map we easily identified Pluto, not a scintillation but a solid star!! Much easier to see and identify than in other larger scopes.

Yes, AP is as good as it gets.

#22 Eddgie

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 09:42 AM

To answer your quesiton, I am going to narrow in somewhat on what an AP telescope is and is not.

The AP is sold as a telescope, but it would be a waste of money to buy a large AP and stick an eyepeice in it. For less money, you can get a telescope from a variety of manufacturers that will give you the same visual image. The value of the modern large AP refractor is not to be found when it is used as a visul instrument.

What the larger AP scopes really are though is that they are high quality astrograph instruments. Where they still perhaps hold the high ground is when they are used as imaging lenses.

The AP scopes are perhaps still correctoted over the widest range of wavelengths than any other refractor of similar apeture made (funny though, even a cheap reflector is CA free..)

Not only that, but the aspherizing and design of these intruments often produce results that are capable of producing pinpoint and color free star images right to the corners of the biggest CCD cameras normally used by amateurs.

And since astro-imaging is far more demanding than visual use (the eye is simply not a very good detector) and the APs still produce the finest wide field images, with color free stars that are aberattion free and pintpoint right to the corner of the biggest chips, I would argue that the AP is still the best brand money can buy.

There are no other similar sized amateur instruments I think that can approach the wide field imaging capabilities of the latest generation of large AP refractors.


The off axis performacne of the large AP refractor is peerless. No one makes a better similar size astrograph.

Is AP the best brand? Well, if you are discerning and have a honking big CCD camera, and you want wide field with a big image scale and pinpoint and color free stars right to the edge corner of the frame, it is I think still the very best game in town.

If you just want to dork around with an eyepeice, it is a waste of a high quality astrograpich lens, You can do far better visual observing with any number of different telescopes.

Measured for what it is not (not the best planetary scope on the planet for example) is unfair.

Measured for what it is, I think it is the best brand.

#23 PeterR280

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 10:40 AM

The telescope is not sold as an astrograph. I happens to excel in all areas including visual and photography but that is because all the fundamentals are there. There are better telescopes for astrophotography like the RCs that AP sells. A C14 will produce incredible planetary images.

#24 Paul G

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 11:43 AM

AP has the highest minimum guaranteed optical quality (Strehl .984). Superb astrographs, and the optics are nulled at the wavelength of maximum visual sensitivity so they are top notch for visual as well.

#25 John Anthony

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 12:06 PM

Best ??? Maybe but I have never noticed a big enough visual difference with apertures smaller then 140mm to really talk about, it's splitting hairs, Tec, Takahashi, Tele Vue, Stellarvue and TMB all included.

I will say this, the absolute finest views I have ever had bar none all telescope designs and apertures included have been thru 6 inch or larger refractors from AP. :grin:






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