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Olivier Biot
Amused
*****

Reged: 04/25/05

Loc: 51°N (Belgium)
Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out
      #4934549 - 11/25/11 03:46 PM

Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out

By Tim Neubert.


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gatorengineer
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/28/05

Loc: Hellertown, PA
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Olivier Biot]
      #4934887 - 11/25/11 08:48 PM

Pictures of both scopes would have been interesting. Was the custom a home brew? Relative cage ID's and cage heights. Rear end mirror box open or closed. Shrouds.... All of these things and this is literally a stream of thought list could have made differences. No slight to Carls optics in anyway, but fair needs to be fair....

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Daniel Mounsey
Vendor (Woodland Hills)
*****

Reged: 06/12/02

Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Olivier Biot]
      #4934944 - 11/25/11 09:46 PM

Actually Discovery makes some pretty nice mirrors. I've tested several and was quite surprised. They're just an inch too thick though and they need to be that way for counter weight issues from what they told me when I visited the factory. I told them they really should thin their mirrors down. Really nice people though. All my scopes are Zambuto and Taks and that's enough to put a grin on my face.

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James Bielaga
Vendor (Aurora Astro)
*****

Reged: 11/14/06

Loc: Washington, USA
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #4935078 - 11/25/11 11:44 PM

Hi Tim,

I would say you have to test them on the planets. I have 13.1" dob yep old coulter but Carl Zambuto refigured the mirror in 1995 and it's 1/11th wave where before it was 1/2 wave. My scope performs better on planets 312x is easy and have pushed it to over 700x before. It rivals 6" APO refractors on planetary detail. It also does better on globulars and detail on nebulas.

I am not surprised the discovery scope was brighter it has more aperture in the review and more surface area. Carl Zambuto does make some fine mirrors and never seen a bad one. You can get to that 50x magnification per inch if the seeing is right with his optics. But with a dob without tracking sometimes that is hard to do.

Good article enjoyed the review. One of our club members has a discovery premium dob 17.5" and enjoys it and it does have good optics too.

James Bielaga


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deepskydarrell
member


Reged: 03/09/08

Loc: Abbotsford, BC Canada
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: James Bielaga]
      #4935162 - 11/26/11 01:27 AM

Thanks for the comparison Tim.

Wished you would have tested it on more objects. Such as the faint companions of NGC 7331, or Sephan's Quintette, or even (in winter) NGC 2024-- the Flame Nebula --- How would they both perform with the bright star Alnitak just out of the field. Or even the central star in the Ring.

It would be useful to hear more on this.

Thanks.

DSD.


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Jeff Morgan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 09/28/03

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: James Bielaga]
      #4935667 - 11/26/11 12:18 PM

Quote:

Hi Tim,

I would say you have to test them on the planets. I have 13.1" dob yep old coulter but Carl Zambuto refigured the mirror in 1995 and it's 1/11th wave where before it was 1/2 wave. My scope performs better on planets 312x is easy and have pushed it to over 700x before. It rivals 6" APO refractors on planetary detail. It also does better on globulars and detail on nebulas.

I am not surprised the discovery scope was brighter it has more aperture in the review and more surface area. Carl Zambuto does make some fine mirrors and never seen a bad one. You can get to that 50x magnification per inch if the seeing is right with his optics. But with a dob without tracking sometimes that is hard to do.

Good article enjoyed the review. One of our club members has a discovery premium dob 17.5" and enjoys it and it does have good optics too.

James Bielaga





Certainly a longer target list would be interesting, but the logistics of getting the weather, people, and equipment together (not to mention the self esteem of the Discovery owner) all need to be considered.

On the brightness, by my math it looks like a 7% light gathering difference. That should be subtly noticeable all by itself, but the large difference in coating age (7 years and in favor of the larger aperture) would be an even bigger factor. Presumably, the diagonal mirror coatings are of the same age as the respective primaries.

But most revealing was the consistent sightings of the faintest stars which were not visible in the larger aperture. That would indicate to me the smaller aperture was doing a better job of getting all the light on target, and not smearing portions of it randomly around the field.


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chollman
sage
*****

Reged: 04/24/08

Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Jeff Morgan]
      #4935743 - 11/26/11 01:04 PM

If you add pricing as the eight criteria. Would that make the discovery mirror more attractive being that it is $1000.00 cheaper? Charlie

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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: chollman]
      #4935852 - 11/26/11 02:07 PM

The brightness difference can be easily explained as the standard coatings on Discovery mirrors are enhanced, whereas Zambuto mirrors always have standard coatings.
The visibility of faint stars is often determined by superiority of focus, and the Zambuto optics may have had a superior Strehl ratio, putting more light into the star's spurious disc, and, hence, making fainter stars more visible.

I discovered the same thing when using a Paracorr. It obviously cuts the light by a tiny percentage, but fainter stars were visible WITH the Paracorr than without for exactly the same reason--a better concentration of the star's light in a tiny point.

So the results, to me, imply that, whereas the Discovery was an excellent mirror, the Zambuto was a tad better.
This seems to conform to what I've seen through the years.
My current mirror is from the Ostahowski era of Discovery and my next scope will have a Zambuto mirror.

No question the Discovery optics are a bargain among the premium mirror makers. It would be interesting to know if the Discovery mirror was from Terry Ostahowski, or made after that period.


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Sean Cunneen
Let Me Think
*****

Reged: 08/01/07

Loc: Blue Island Illinois
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Starman1]
      #4935865 - 11/26/11 02:14 PM

A great comparo, truly enlightening! You always wonder exactly what you are going to get with those mirrors ground with pixie dust... No I have an idea!

Sean


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
*****

Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Olivier Biot]
      #4935902 - 11/26/11 02:32 PM

Thanks for the write-up.

Do you happen to have notes as to which eyepieces were used in each scope for the observations of each target?

Regards,

Jim


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Tim Neubert
newbie
*****

Reged: 08/09/11

Loc: San diego, CA
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #4938888 - 11/28/11 10:36 AM

Thanks for the feed-back guys!!

As for comparing on planets, Saturn was very low in the sky when we did the comparison and just wasn't worth it.

We used both eyepieces (Explore-100 degree and Ethos) on each target. We spent a lot of time back and forth between scopes on each target moving each eyepiece back and forth in an attempt to eliminate variability. We should have also done and Ethos versus Explore Scientific shoot-out as well!!

The differences between the optics was subtle but clearly observable. I actually owned the Discovery and I have to say it is amazing the quality you get for the money with Discovery. The owner of the Zambuto scope was truly taken by surprise. He thought it wouldn't be much of a comparison and was really impressed with views the Discovery produced.

One other thing to take into account is that this only one comparison and it is nearly impossible to take out all the variability. So, get out there and do a comparison of your own. Comparisons from multiple owners that show a clear trend is the only way to prove that Zambuto optics consistently outperform the competition by meeting the seven criteria.

Sincerely,

Tim Neubert


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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Tim Neubert]
      #4939157 - 11/28/11 12:57 PM

Thanks for taking the time to compare these two mirrors. Very interesting and insightful.

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LivingNDixie
TSP Chowhound
*****

Reged: 04/23/03

Loc: Trussville, AL
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Tim Neubert]
      #4939159 - 11/28/11 12:58 PM

Put the scopes through this on the planets or Moon, and I would expect the Zambuto will pull further ahead. And I have owned a Discovery and love the products they make.

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bob irvin
sage


Reged: 03/22/11

Loc: Greater Los Angeles, CA
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Olivier Biot]
      #4939379 - 11/28/11 03:38 PM

Thanks for putting the review together Tim. I know it takes time to do the work and write it up and it's a value to us readers.

bob


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Qi Dang
newbie
*****

Reged: 02/18/08

Loc: California
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Olivier Biot]
      #4940299 - 11/29/11 04:16 AM

This should be a double blind comparison.

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hoof
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Redmond, WA
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Qi Dang]
      #4940643 - 11/29/11 10:41 AM

A few thoughts:

1) Were the two 'scopes equally thermally acclimated? If the Discovery is considerably thicker, it could have had some extra thermal distortion effects degrading it's contrast if it hadn't had time to come to ambient temperature.

2) What is the status of the secondaries? Even the best primaries can have their capabilities degraded by a less-than-stellar secondary. If the secondary was noticably better on the Zambuto 'scope vs the Discovery, this alone could explain the difference even if the Discovery's primary was actually better.

Without knowing the situation for the above two situations, it's harder to really judge the situation.

Finally, a dimmer image (due to smaller area and more-degraded coatings) could actually increase perceived contrast in certain situations.

Why? Because the background would be darker. I have observed many times DSOs that were more easily observable when the magnification increased. Since this darkens the overall view, this seems counterintuitive, but it's the darkening of the background vs the DSO that can make the difference. This could easily be affecting the results between the two optics in this test.

Finally, we are only observing with one sample of each manufacturer's optics. That means we can only know how these particular optics performed, which tells us almost nothing about how any other optics would compare from both manufacturers.

So I'd say we can't draw any real conclusions yet based on this comparison. Both are obviously great optics. But which one is better? Hard to tell.


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Tim Neubert
newbie
*****

Reged: 08/09/11

Loc: San diego, CA
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: hoof]
      #4941139 - 11/29/11 03:27 PM

Jonathan,

You are correct that this only one comparison and it is nearly impossible to take out all the variability. So, get out there and do a comparison of your own. Comparisons from multiple owners that show a clear trend is the only way to prove that Zambuto optics consistently outperform the competition by meeting the seven criteria.


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Jeff Morgan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 09/28/03

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: hoof]
      #4941228 - 11/29/11 04:18 PM

Quote:


Finally, we are only observing with one sample of each manufacturer's optics. That means we can only know how these particular optics performed, which tells us almost nothing about how any other optics would compare from both manufacturers.




Small sample size is an inherent problem in testing of astro equipment. Especially since the effort and expense of statistically proper tests are immense, and the profit motive none. If there was a telescope in every garage, maybe someone like Consumer Reports would step in. But of course we know that our small hobby will never generate that type of interest. (Their loss, no?)

But let me turn this around for you: When a significant "sampling" of amateur astronomers over a number of years are universally praising the work of a particular optician (Christen, Zambuto, Royce, etc) in comparison to mass-produced work, and then back up words with a product order, there is something real and significant going on.

I suppose it is possible that very rarely one of the premium makers has a "bad one" get out of their shop. And mass-produced mirrors can be consistently good, and be good value for the money. Maybe a random selection could result in a mass-market optic equalling or bettering a premium one (manufacturing is after all a statistical process). But if you think the odds of this are any more than "remote" you're kidding yourself.

Each type of optic has a place in the hobby, and free-market pricing has sorted it out - as it always does.


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Tim Neubert
newbie
*****

Reged: 08/09/11

Loc: San diego, CA
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Jeff Morgan]
      #4942347 - 11/30/11 10:15 AM

Jeff,

Your right in saying there are clear levels of optics and that their optical performance directly correlates with their price tag. However, what I am trying to answer is different.

My question is about the Zambuto seven criteria. Do they translate to an observable difference in contrast over other premium optics? Does perfection of the small scale features of the mirror truly make a difference? This is a hard concept to grasp and something that I really only noticed on those special nights of good viewing when I saw detail in specific targets that I never saw before with other optics on equally good nights of viewing. Others have had similar experiences, but is it real?

Tim Neubert


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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Discovery vs. Zambuto Optical Shoot-out new [Re: Tim Neubert]
      #4942520 - 11/30/11 11:58 AM

Quote:

Jeff,

Your right in saying there are clear levels of optics and that their optical performance directly correlates with their price tag. However, what I am trying to answer is different.

My question is about the Zambuto seven criteria. Do they translate to an observable difference in contrast over other premium optics? Does perfection of the small scale features of the mirror truly make a difference? This is a hard concept to grasp and something that I really only noticed on those special nights of good viewing when I saw detail in specific targets that I never saw before with other optics on equally good nights of viewing. Others have had similar experiences, but is it real?

Tim Neubert



It's hard to evaluate.
1) Extremely good seeing, where differences in premium mirrors are in evidence, are rare.
2) Cooling, collimation, and cleanliness have to be identical in the two scopes.
3) The difference would result in a "slight" increase in contrast only, which would take some time to establish.
Star images might be the easiest to use to see a difference.


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