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Equipment Discussions >> Refractors

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collaredkeeper
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Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: Redlands, CA
Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy?
      #5555010 - 12/05/12 02:39 AM

Hello everyone,

I have been in the process of acquiring an AP Setup for a few months now, mostly doing research on products and prices that could afford good astrophotography on a budget.

I started with purchasing an Equatorial Cg4 mount and have picked up an Imaging source camera too. I already have a canon dslr that I can use for long-exposures, so I am mostly trying to search for an OTA that would be appropriate to use.

After reading many reviews, I narrowed affordable scopes downs to an 8" Orion Astrograph f/4, AT6RC, or possibly a Stellarvue 70ED.

Right before purchasing an AT6RC, I read about the Orion 80ED refractor ($450 Amazon). Now I am back at square one!

I mainly want to use the scope for DSI and Planetary imaging (Jupitor/Saturn), and now just again at a loss of what might be the best next step into the field. Would a refractor like the Orion ED really offer similar photos than a reflector/Ritchey-Chretien?

I have not owned a reflector yet (just a cheap meade refractor), so I don't think I would be missing collimating or taking the extra dew precautions needed by reflectors (unless they are the better choice and worth the extra effort).

I am not looking for a super beginner scope either, have been meddling around taking photos through a cheaper setup and with my f1.8 50mm canon lens to feel comfortable going to the next level.

Any advice?

Thanks,
Tony

Edited by collaredkeeper (12/05/12 02:52 AM)


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shams42
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Reged: 01/05/09

Loc: Kingsport, TN
Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: collaredkeeper]
      #5555420 - 12/05/12 10:24 AM

Do yourself a favor and start off with a refractor. I think the Orion 80ED might be your best option out of those listed, particularly if you pair it with a field flattener (which all refractors will need except for Petzval designs).

Mirror scopes are troublesome beasts for AP. I've been imaging for several years now and I'm still enjoying my 80mm APO very much.


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snommisbor
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 06/15/09

Loc: Cedar Park, TX
Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: collaredkeeper]
      #5555426 - 12/05/12 10:28 AM

You cant beat a 80mm scope for a beginner imager. It is small and light weight and has a large enough field that there is a lot of room for error that wont show up. It is also good if you plan on starting out unguided. Depending on how well you are polar aligned you should be able to get 60 sec shots pretty easily, and possible push it to 90 sec. That was what I started out with was a 80mm WO Megrez and was pleased with the results I had. Plus you have a nice Grab n Go when you just want to go out for a quick view if you ever wanted to. You would be able to get great shots of Orion, Andromeda, NA Nebula, Lagoon Trifid, Rosette, M13 would be small but still look nice.

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dhaval
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Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: snommisbor]
      #5555515 - 12/05/12 11:21 AM

Many things to consider with this one - and always fun to watch what someone ends up with. I agree with others, do yourself a favor - get a refractor to begin imaging - it feels just like a bigger lens attached to any DSLR for normal imaging! You can't beat the simplicity about that set up. That being said, you may be compromised for aperture - not a big deal to be perfectly honest. I think a F7 or less is what you should aim for - of course, that puts planetary imaging at risk, but with DSOs, you will be able to capture more details and besides once you get the hang of DSOs, you will probably never image planets anyways! At that, you have some great scopes to choose from and a couple are actually listed on the A-mart. The AT90EDT is a terrific scope and I generally recommend the AT90EDT for a variety of reasons - it is small, compact and at F6.7 will work wonders on the DSOs with less exposure times. Even with the above qualities, I think what really stands out is the R&P focuser. It will hold a ton of weight - so no need to upgrade to either a ML or FT, which with any other scope around that budget, you will have to. Next, and I believe still listed on A-mart is the SV105T - not sure of the focuser on that, but an absolutely amazing imaging scope and built by Vic - can't ask for more than that. If you can get either of the above, you are set for a long time from a scope standpoint, unless, you are like me, who likes to change scopes for the heck of it!
After that, I would seriously look at TV101NP - which is not exactly TV101is, but very similar, and generally a good buy, if bought used.

AT111 (also listed on CN and A-mart) is another gem for imaging. Also look at ES127 (or other such variants, especially used - although, I would recommend the ES over all other Chinese brands) - one of the better made Chinese scopes for imaging and the aperture and F/L are great for both DSOs and planets. The only drawback on both the AT111 and ES127 is the focuser - you will invariably want to change it at some point - although, with the current setup, you might be OK. Same is the case with EON120 from Orion, but definitely worth considering.

On the smaller side - you might want to think of AT65EDQ (or the Chinese version).

With most of the above scopes - except for the 4 element versions, you will find that you will need flatteners or even a reducer for very wide DSOs.

Hope I've helped narrow the choices. Please let us know, with pictures, what you end up with and how much you like/dislike it!!

Thanks,
Dhaval


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cloud_cover
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Reged: 08/17/10

Loc: Restaurant at the End of the U...
Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: dhaval]
      #5555557 - 12/05/12 12:06 PM

Hi Tony,
I'd like to point out one limiting factor: Your mount.
The CG-4 is a fairly lightweight mount, as far as imaging goes, which means you're best served by a light, fast scope (think widefield). This is because when imaging, unlike in visual, every jitter and jiggle matters. This is of course, of less significance when imaging the planets since your exposures (video, rather) will be generally short, usually far less than 1 sec
You've been imaging with a 50mm lens (and that's a great way to start!) which weighs next to nothing, so the CG-4 should handle that with ease.
At AT6RC, however, is (relatively) big and slow - meaning you'll need far longer exposure times. the Orion 8" is even bigger and heavier, although it does have a shorter focal length. I'm concerned that your mount will let you down or that the picture will be the victim of the slightest breeze.
Of your list, I think the wisest choice will be an 80mm as its relatively compact, light and reasonably fast. Do note you'll also need a field flattener thus for that reason you may want to may want to buy a quadruplet design, which already integrates the field flattener. (as stated above)
Although a small scope will reduce the resolution on planets, it will still give nice pictures and for added magnification you can use a barlow or tele-extender


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shams42
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Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: cloud_cover]
      #5555582 - 12/05/12 12:24 PM

Look at the AT65EDQ. That would be a nice choice, and it already has the flattener built in.

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collaredkeeper
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Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: shams42]
      #5555715 - 12/05/12 01:49 PM

Wohoo guys, thanks for all the feedback, will go over them a few times and post again.

Thanks for all the information, it is much appreciated.


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rflinn68
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Reged: 03/09/12

Loc: Arkansas
Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: collaredkeeper]
      #5555930 - 12/05/12 04:20 PM

I'll 2nd the AT65EDQ. I absolutely LOVE mine! I wish I had started with it when I first dove into astrophotography instead of the AT8IN. Cant go wrong with it. I think the CG5/AT65EDQ combo makes the perfect AP set up.

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skycamper
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Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: rflinn68]
      #5556721 - 12/06/12 12:29 AM

Sorry I bought the SV105T on this site this morning so that wont be an option for you! I would go for that AT111EDT Thats listed for $1300 asking price in the refractor adds. You wont need another scope for a long time. But a refractor is for sure the way to go.

Abraham
SV110ED
Vixen GPDX Autostar mod
Meade DSI II
Orion ST80
Canon T1i
CLS filter


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chboss
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Reged: 03/24/08

Loc: Zurich Switzerland
Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: skycamper]
      #5556780 - 12/06/12 01:32 AM

With that small mount I would go with the quadruplet 65mm scope that was suggested. You should try to keep the weight low. Furthermore no additional flattner needed.

this scope will still be useful when you buy a bigger imaging scope later on for guiding or wide field pictures.

best regards
Chris


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tomcody
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Reged: 07/06/08

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Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: chboss]
      #5556804 - 12/06/12 02:09 AM

Get a copy of the book "The backyard Astronomer's Guide" by two of the contributing editors of Sky & Telescope. In it they recommend starting with telephoto lens and a DSLR. After 15 years of astrophotography, I think that is the best way to start and learn what you are doing.
Rex


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cloud_cover
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Reged: 08/17/10

Loc: Restaurant at the End of the U...
Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: tomcody]
      #5556846 - 12/06/12 03:21 AM

Quote:

...they recommend starting with telephoto lens and a DSLR. After 15 years of astrophotography, I think that is the best way to start and learn what you are doing.
Rex




I have to disagree respectfully. A telephoto lens is great in that its usually much shorter in focal length than a "normal" telescope but most telephotos will exhibit field curvature wide open at maximal zoom (usually where you want to use it), fine focusing is usually an issue and there is no focus lock to ensure you didn't accidentally shift it. Also, you can't use filters, which are really useful in today's light polluted environment.
An AT65EDQ, on the other hand, has a perfectly flat field, better color correction than my reference telephoto (Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 ED) with a decent 2 speed focuser. At f/6.5 its only marginally slower than most consumer grade telephotos (e.g. the ubiqutous Nikon - or Canon - 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 ED), costs about the same and can eventually be used as a guidescope or have one piggybacked to it with the included rings, which would have involved rather expensive adapters for a normal telephoto lens.
I think though that compared to most other scopes (doublets or triplets), a telephoto lens is a better beginning choice because most scopes will exhibit the field curvature anyway or you'll have to play with a flattener which has stringent spacing requirments.


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orlyandico
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Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: cloud_cover]
      #5557276 - 12/06/12 10:55 AM

Actually a telephoto prime is a good way to get into AP.

Over on the DSLR forum there are a lot of nice photos from say the Nikon 180/2.8 ED IF. Stopped down to f/4 it is essentially perfect from corner to corner on APS-C.


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collaredkeeper
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Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5557669 - 12/06/12 02:44 PM

Thanks for all the information everyone, it has really helped me understand comparing refractors vs. reflectors for AP. I had everything somewhat upside-down, so thanks for helping clear that up!

I think I will end up going after a good used 80mm refractor or small APO. The ones you listed all had really good reviews too so will be keeping an eye out for those.

I do have a quite a bit of learned experience with the dslr and basic star imaging and timelapses (enough to fully understand ISO, Aperture, Exposure, Shutter Speed, etc). I also have a good telephoto lens (Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6), but have yet to test it on the stars. Planning on trying it out on the 12th for the meteor show. Outside of that I do have a very cheap meade refractor (Ds2000 f8.8 90mm) and have a bit of experience imaging say the moon and a blurry Jupiter, just don't think the optics are there to do anything more (scope is also broken at one too many points).

P.S. tomcody: "The backyard Astronomer's Guide" has been on my christmas list (sister has hinted that it is a very good book) :P


Thanks again everyone
Tony


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orlyandico
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Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: collaredkeeper]
      #5558380 - 12/06/12 10:15 PM

I know someone who uses the 100-400L for astrophotography.

It's a great lens for that, I think. You might want to consider using it. At 400mm it is pretty much comparable to the Astro-Tech 65EDQ.


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UniversalMaster
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Reged: 11/20/08

Re: Astrophotography scope troubles: Which to buy? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5565683 - 12/11/12 10:33 AM

I would without doubt get the Orion 80ed with the matching reducer.

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