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Takahashi TSA-120 or TOA-130

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#1 thomqos

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 06:35 PM

Hi guys. This is my first post on CN.

 

I have an excellent 10" f6 newtonian which provides great views of the planets. But I am considering getting a ~5" APO.

My reasons are it being easier to handle for impromptu viewing, setup, cool down, less affected by poor seeing, wide-field/RFT & solar use. 

I have no interest in photography... it will be used for visual only.

 

Considering the Tak. TSA-120 & TOA-130; There is only 10mm aperture difference between these scopes, but a big difference in price.

So for visual use, is it worth spending the extra on the TOA-130?  Or am I better off with the TSA-120 & spending the difference on eyepieces!

 

Russ



#2 moonnerd

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 07:00 PM

hey Russ -

 

I have looked through neither of those two scopes, but if it were me I would go with the TSA-120.  People say that a 115mm scope seems closer to a 130 than it is to a 100, so I'm assuming there would not be a lot of difference between the 120 and 130.  Not only is the TSA cheaper, but it is also a smaller and lighter tube (13 pounds vs 22 pounds) which would be easier on you and the mount.


Edited by moonnerd, 19 August 2014 - 07:03 PM.


#3 jrcrilly

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 07:19 PM

I chose the TOA130 as an imaging platform, but I would never have paid the price difference for visual use. The smaller tube diameter, lesser weight, and more central balance point of the TSA are also good compromises in a visual scope. 



#4 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 07:39 PM

For visual only I'd save some good money for eyepieces (Ethos!) and get a lunt/apm 152ed. . . I would guess that the 152 will cool faster than the 130, but somewhat slower than the 120. But 120 vs. 152 when the 152 is cheaper, light, and cools quickly. . . And if you were a seriously cheap *** like myself, APM sells the objective cell which can be mounted in a cheap Chinese-made tube.

 

Oh, and welcome to CN!



#5 samovu

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 07:46 PM

Russ, will this be the only refractor that you'll be getting for some time? Or might you get several eventually? 

 

If only one, get the TSA120 since it is easier to handle and you already have good planetary capability. If you might get two or more, maybe the TOA-130 (used) and then something smaller like a 80mm or 100mm later?

 

I've not handled or seen a TSA120. But I have a TOA-130F and it is built like a tank (read: heavy, especially with the tube weight that offsets the front-heavy scope). Absolutely great views when the seeing permits though. 

 



#6 crazyqban

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 08:47 PM

Hi Russ, I have had both. The TOA-130 is a beautiful scope but a beast that is better for astrophotography. Also, proper mounting on a strong and sturdy mount and tripod are required. The TSA-120 was nice but I ended up selling it within a month because I found the difference between it and my FS-102NSV not enough to justify the extra cost. I did like that the TSA-120 was super compact, just about the same size of the FS-102NSV!!! I think that for visual a Fluorite doublet like the Takahashi FS series will be the way to go. The FS-128 provides great views and fact cool down. The TOA-130 and TSA-120 will take longer to cool down due to their triplet design. I ended up selling my FS-102NSV to get an FS-128 and it was the way to go. I have now replaced that with an FS-152NSV. Hope this info helps.



#7 jrcrilly

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 08:59 PM

There's a third Tak option, too. My FS128 was a terrific visual telescope. Faster cooling than either triplet design, less front-heavy than either triplet design. Still that great Tak quality.



#8 thomqos

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 11:39 PM

Thanks Guys.

 

I intend to purchase only one refractor in my life  - for visual use.  I have no interest in imaging.  Whatever scope I buy, I want to be happy enough with it to keep it for life.  This is the way I'm viewing the purchase decision. 

 

As mentioned above, I have a terrific 10" f6 newt, which is a keeper;  Now I want just one excellent ~5 inch APO to compliment my newt.

 

Sounds like the views above is that the TSA-120 is probably a better & more practical bet than the TOA-130, particularly since I already have a larger scope.

 

As an aside, I am also considering the (cheaper) WO FLT-132... yes, I know what Tak. afficionados will say.   It's meant to be a pretty good scope from what I've read, though maybe not quite as good as the Tak.   I've also considered the TV NP101, but I'd hoped to keep closer to 5" aperture than 4".

 

Russ



#9 samovu

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 12:13 AM

Since you are only buying one, might as well make it the TSA-120. You won't regret it when you first get it and you won't wonder if you should have bought something better a year later or 20 years later. One nice thing many may agree on is that if you push the magnification on these, the image remains great to good. At least that's what I've seen from their 3 and 4 inch fluorite doublets and also the TOA-130F. 

 

Yes, you can get more magnification out of your "other" OTA but then it is also nice to take out the handy 'frac and know that it is going to perform when asked to.  YMMV of course.



#10 Erik Bakker

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 04:01 AM

Russ,

 

 

Welcome to CloudyNights!

 

For visual use, the FS doublets would be my choice over the TSA or TOA. Great balance and depending on your local climate and scope storage situation the FS will have a super sharp image 1/2 -1 hour sooner than the triplets. A WO triplet would be a no go for me, nowhere near the quality and consistency of the Taks.

 

Since you already have a 10" Newt, I suggest your refractor should perform from the moment you put it outside under the stars. When after 1-3 hours your 10" has cooled down, it will do better than the 5" apos on the planets or any other object. So why choose a triplet apo that takes a substantial part of that time to reach it's optimum performance? That is where the fluorite doublets do extraordinarily well. And their planetary images are wonderful. My small FS102 delivers superb images after minutes and continues to improve over an hour or so. During that time my high-end 16" f/5 is nowhere near the observable detail the FS102 shows. After an hour they come closer and after 2-3 hours the 16" will sail past the FS102. On many nights I don't have the time or weather stability to wait for that to happen. But when I do and the 16" and atmosphere cooperate, it shows stunning images in a whole different class than any 5" apo. That said, most of the time where I live, I would prefer the image in a 5" APO over that in other scopes. 


Edited by Erik Bakker, 21 August 2014 - 02:07 AM.


#11 aa6ww

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 04:14 AM

The TOA-130 visually is a different experience than the TSA-120. Side by side, the differences are obvious. Its not about the aperture difference, it’s the way the glass performs. Its not just about how the stars look, or the planets look, it’s overall, how even the skies look, how the overall contras lets you see through objects, not just look at them. Its how star light radiates off the stars, you never here people talk about, because they think “pin point” stars define optics.

The 130 doesn't have to be cranked up to be appreciated. Even under 100x, the skies are seductive if you match it with worth eyepieces like the Ethos. In perfect seeing conditions, where the next day, everyone in the forums are talking about how great the conditions were, the optics wont break down. Your upper limits are set by the scopes inability to keep gathering light, not because the optics break down. That’s the 10x pixel density that Takahashi set their standards for when they designed their TOA optics which the camera see's, keeping everything razor sharp, that makes these triplets out perform the Fluorite cousins. Most of the time, the conditions wont let you see that difference, but when the conditions are right, even the visual effect is magical.

People don’t abuse these refractors, and tend to pamper them and go out of their way to keep them pristine. The used market can get you a pristine TOA-130 for the same price as a new TSA-120.

Don’t believe the TOA-130 is a heavy scope. The OTA weights 22 pounds. About the same as a C9.25 Edge OTA in weight. Also the same weight as a Skywatcher Esprit 120ED APO Triplet. No one ever said those scopes were heavy. It’s 5.5 pounds heavier than an FS-128. If you can’t lift a 22 pound scope, then you probably also can’t lift a mount that will support it, so the lighter 120 might be better for you.

I don’t think it’s the weight of the OTA that people complain about when setting up scopes, I think it’s the weight of the mount needed to support whatever scope they have that people complain about.

If you’re going to limit either scopes ability to give you their optimum performance by not matching them to the highest quality eyepieces on the market, I don’t see the point of owning either. People don’t usually go to Costco to buy tires for their Maserati.

The TSA-120 is a scope you have to settle on, because for whatever reason, the TOA-130 is out of your reach. It’s not the other way around.


-------------------------------------------


Having said all of this, it sounds like your really just looking for a small lightweight portable scope that’s easy to set up with great optics. I wonder if you would consider looking at a Skywatcher 120ED with Fluorite glass, they are relatively inexpensive even new, about a 3rd the price of a new TSA-120 and have beautiful optics.

I'm ending this with the Skywatcher comment because sometimes these forums tend to seduce people with Takahashi hype. Everything on the market now is very good. Some are better than others, but the differences are very subtle. The new ED scopes out of China are very very good visual scopes now.

...Ralph
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#12 roadi

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 04:41 AM

For visual only I'd save some good money for eyepieces (Ethos!) and get a lunt/apm 152ed. . . I would guess that the 152 will cool faster than the 130, but somewhat slower than the 120. But 120 vs. 152 when the 152 is cheaper, light, and cools quickly. . . And if you were a seriously cheap *** like myself, APM sells the objective cell which can be mounted in a cheap Chinese-made tube.

 

Oh, and welcome to CN!

I would do exactly the same! None of the ultra high quality triplets would match the performance of a (37% < ) larger "by area" ED doublet, be it deep sky or planetary visual.

Had it been for imaging, then the triplets makes sense. And as "areyoukiddingme" said.. you save a lot money for high quality equipments.

Visual.. go for the larger Lunt/Apm ED152.


Edited by roadi, 20 August 2014 - 04:43 AM.


#13 NHRob

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 07:34 AM

Hi Russ,

  I have been going through the same search myself over the years.  I just turned down an AP130 and am getting a TSA-120 instead.  Purely visual guy, this will be my only scope for awhile.  I kept my old 10" f/6 dob structure and hope to resurrect it someday with a CZ mirror ... when I have the time.

Anyway,  a 5" apo is a nice place to be IMO.

  I've owned a TEC140, AP130EDFS, and TOA-130 (among others). I found that the TOA was very heavy for its aperture.  Great for imaging perhaps but, not my choice for a visual only apo.  I feel that a lighter scope means a lighter weight mount and the total package is much more manageable.  I find this to be more important to me as I get older.

There are lots of nice 5" options out there.

Good luck with your choice.

 

Rob



#14 DeanS

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 09:05 AM

Rob, why did you get rid of the TEC140?  We hear that they are great scopes, both for the performance, and cost.  I just picked one up myself and have only had a single session with it, thru the haze, but it does look like a keeper.  BTW I will also probably pass on the AP130 when my name comes up.  

 

The OP never mentioned the ES 127 size scopes, perhaps not Tak quality but for a visual scope they are very nice.  I have the ED127CF, and will do a side by side comparison with it and the TEC140 soon, unless the ES sells before I get the chance.  I never noticed that it took long to cool down either.

 

I did have a TOA-150 that I used for imaging.  Great scope but that air spaced design took for ever to cool down, and with our large winter temp swings it seemed like it would never catch up.  And yes very heavy for its size.  

 

Anyways good to have so many choices in this size range.

 

Dean



#15 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 09:27 AM

Rob, why did you get rid of the TEC140?  We hear that they are great scopes, both for the performance, and cost.  I just picked one up myself and have only had a single session with it, thru the haze, but it does look like a keeper.  BTW I will also probably pass on the AP130 when my name comes up.  

 

The OP never mentioned the ES 127 size scopes, perhaps not Tak quality but for a visual scope they are very nice.  I have the ED127CF, and will do a side by side comparison with it and the TEC140 soon, unless the ES sells before I get the chance.  I never noticed that it took long to cool down either.

 

I did have a TOA-150 that I used for imaging.  Great scope but that air spaced design took for ever to cool down, and with our large winter temp swings it seemed like it would never catch up.  And yes very heavy for its size.  

 

Anyways good to have so many choices in this size range.

 

Dean

 

Congrats on the TEC 140, it's a fine scope. I've never owned one, but I have looked through a couple.

 

BTW, you need to update your signature line. ;)



#16 NHRob

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 09:31 AM

Hi Dean,

  Can't go wrong with the TEC-140.

The TEC-140 is a great scope.  Great choice for a visual apo. Wish I still had it.  I went through a phase of financial and family distress awhile back.  I sold off all my scopes and took a break for awhile.

In the past year I've gotten back into it but, keeping my budget more reasonable.  The TEC-140 would need a bigger mount than the TSA.  That is one consideration.  I used a CGEM and a G-11 with my TEC140s and both were great matches.



#17 Scott99

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 10:54 AM

Tak scopes are a great choice, I would go with the TSA120 because I don't image and don't want the weight of the TOA130.  The next jump up would be a TEC140, it's also light for the size.   If you're willing to spend that much the 140mm is a powerful scope, will give great deep-sky views.



#18 tomcody

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 11:19 AM

The choice between these two scopes in practical terms comes down to the same one as: 4" vs 5" refractor as far as weight/ mount and portability goes. Ralph pointed out that a TOA is 22 lb but he noted in his review of the TOA130 that his scope weighed in at 35lb loaded with rings/ diagonal/eyepiece/ finder etc.  a load that will require a fairly heavy duty mount. The TSA should be about 20-22 lb  dressed out the same.

Its a given that the 130 will have a little more reach and light gathering, the question "is it worth the extra weight and effort?" is up to th buyer.

Rex

PS As for mounts, the 35lb of the TOA suggests a Losmandy G11 class mount, the 22 lb of the TSA can do well on a Losmandy GM8 class mount.


Edited by tomcody, 20 August 2014 - 12:17 PM.


#19 thomqos

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 04:37 PM

I'm about to purchase a G11, so that I can equatorially mount my 10" f6 newt.  So whatever APO I get will go on that for the foreseeable future ($$$).  

I tried to contact TEC about the TEC-140, but there is problem accessing their website & they're not responding to emails (there's a separate thread on this).

Based on everyone's feedback, I'm swaying toward the TSA-120. Was out last night with a pair of binoculars re-acquainting myself with the sky & milky way... re-enforced my desire for RFT capability in whatever I buy.



#20 jrbarnett

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 04:59 PM

"None of the ultra high quality triplets would match the performance of a (37% < ) larger "by area" ED doublet, be it deep sky or planetary visual."

 

Assuming the doublet is of comparable optical quality, then yes.  But that is a very big assumption IMO.

 

Regards,

 

Jim



#21 roadi

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 05:41 PM

"None of the ultra high quality triplets would match the performance of a (37% < ) larger "by area" ED doublet, be it deep sky or planetary visual."

 

Assuming the doublet is of comparable optical quality, then yes.  But that is a very big assumption IMO.

 

Regards,

 

Jim

Ok, you have the TEC 140 in mind I guess! I forgot that one :D now that would be too close to make that claim I believe!! I was thinking about the TSA120 and the TOA130 or any other 5" triplets for that matter.

I believe in the quality of the APM/Lunt ED152  ;)  and I all ready know of one CN'er whom is very pleased with his Lunt ED152  :)

Here's a test of the APM ED152 objective:

 

https://translate.go...5305&edit-text=

I agree one should be careful making assumptions, but the aperture gap is just too much for the smaller triplets to overcome IMO.


Edited by roadi, 20 August 2014 - 05:48 PM.

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#22 BillP

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 06:17 PM

Hi Russ.  If it were me, of the 2 scopes I would probably do the 130 TOA over the 120 TSA.  130mm seems to be a sweet spot for refractors and so many more objects are portrayed pleasingly better IMO.  Plus the TOA has a look and feel to its finish and proportions that is a step up IMO.  Yes it will be a bit heavier and bigger, but overall the look is quite fantastic.  Aesthetically a beautiful scope and about as perfect 130mm as it gets.  A work of art that you will enjoy both looking at and looking through.  I would also recommend staying at 130mm or less as going more in aperture makes the distinction of a 10" Dob less than I personally like.  I hate my scopes competing with each other so like to give them some room, and to me the 130mm - 10" combo is a heavenly match.

 

Ralph - Very interesting comment on the starlight.  I will have to look for that nuance. Thx!


Edited by BillP, 20 August 2014 - 06:18 PM.


#23 Allan Wade

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 07:55 PM

Russ, I don't believe anyone has emphasised enough just how long it takes the TOA130 to cool down. Being a widely air spaced triplet it takes a lot longer to cool than the TSA120. It won't make for a good grab and go/quick session type telescope if that's what you had in mind as a complement to your 10". 

 

My NP101 fills that roll perfectly as would the FS scopes that get mentioned many times. Just another thought to make your decision easier.  :grin:


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#24 NHRob

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 08:32 PM

The TOA-130 is not just a little heavier ... it's a lot.  It's basically a brick with a lens in it.

I've had one before. 

It's very front heavy. To make it manageable I had to use the counterweight ring on the tube. Thjs adds to the weight.

Since you mentioned "easier to handle" I would discard the TOA-130 as an option.

 

... just my $0.02



#25 Erik Bakker

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 02:27 AM

In mild climates with small differences between inside and outside temperatures and little cooling during the night, scopes can easily perform at their best. That is a situation we can simulate by indoor star testing. As soon as one puts a scope under rapid falling night sky temperatures, their thermal behavior becomes a very important factor in image quality at the eyepiece and how that develops over time. So how we store our scopes and under what climate conditions we live and observe should be very important considerations in what scope we choose.

 

Another thing I notice is that I use my smallest and lightest instruments most often. A simple example is Comet Jacques, now beautifully visible in Perseus near the double cluster. I've observed it over the last 3 nights with my 10x56 and 18x70  binoculars and enjoyed this cosmic traveller immensely. The only scope that got to see it was ................... my tiny and lightweight C5. I sat comfortably while taking in the views at 40-130x. Satisfyingly sharp and bright. Beautiful images of the comet. Couldn't get myself to drag out the 16" f/5 or even the 4" f/8 on it's solid but heavyish GEM. 








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