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Equipment Discussions >> Refractors

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scholastic sledgehammer

Reged: 09/15/03

Loc: Burks Falls, Ontario, Canada
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: bluestar]
      #5853334 - 05/11/13 07:42 AM

Gord, I now understand why you are taking your negative position with Istar. Dealing with Istar in the early years - Czech, cash flow, developing their telescope lines - was more difficult than now. Since they moved to the USA and hired Mike, I assume it has become better. I had a warranty issue with a focuser. It was one of their first generation ones. Istar replaced it with their latest version at no cost. They even paid the return shipping.

Your unfortunate experience in the early part of Istar's existance may not accurately reflect their current customer service.

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Carpal Tunnel

Reged: 11/06/05

Loc: Maryland Eastern Shore
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: RGM]
      #5853830 - 05/11/13 01:39 PM

June 2012-2013 closure window sounds pretty current to me...and still dealing with Czech.

I don't know about anyone else but I'd feel played as an ultimate sucker if I was talked into relenting to a cash refund installment plan all the while being pressured into purchasing a new instrument...i.e. sending more money so I can get my initial $ back. The "investor" analogy is correct, this smells like money games at their worst.

Third party parts and assemblers like focusers are a whole different category than lens fabrication...the foundation of the instrument, which is third party as well. Istar makes nothing, as Gord has pointed out, except excuses.

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Post Laureate

Reged: 09/27/06

Loc: Seattle, WA
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: bluestar]
      #5853881 - 05/11/13 02:10 PM

Wow Gordon! That is a very detailed report, sounds like a nightmare to me.

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professor emeritus

Reged: 11/16/09

Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: bluestar]
      #5853908 - 05/11/13 02:21 PM


Istar makes nothing, as Gord has pointed out, except excuses.

What baloney.

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A. Viegas

Reged: 03/05/12

Loc: New York City/ CT
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: bluestar]
      #5853995 - 05/11/13 03:14 PM

Gord, I was sorry to hear of your troubles. Overall, there are far to few telescope manufacturers left in this business and I really hope Istar can survive and become successful. I am very happy with my 150mm Istar. Many years ago I purchased a very expensive 'name brand' sports car that was plagued with problems. It took me a long time and great effort to get them to admit to the obvious uber-lemon I had bought, and I ended up getting another one that I have never sold and still is in pristine condition today. There are probably a few unhappy customers of other 'premium' refractors out there, so like was all know sometimes *BLEEP* happens. Overall, although it took a while and plenty of perseverance on your part, it seems like you ended up getting a refund or getting some satisfaction albeit after much angst... Who ever said life was a bed of roses 'eh?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, after doing some pre-purchase comparison shopping, I ended up getting the Istar over an ES 127 and a Tak FSQ106. I admit the Istar is a real monster, but I think the increased light gathering and very obvious quality build (like a tank!) is a big plus. Does it have some CA? yup. Does that bother me, maybe a little... but heck I am on the list for the AP175 so I figure I can break in my refractor legs on this baby over the next couple of years before deciding to pony up the extra $ for the extra aperture and quality.

I suppose in the back of my mind I was also attracted to the Istar because of the promised 'Raycor' - my view here was that if it never materializes or is not that great, well then I still have what I bargained for, so no loss... while if the 'raycor' ever comes out and is anything like what is promised... well then I will be even happier...


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professor emeritus

Reged: 10/22/12

Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5854175 - 05/11/13 05:33 PM

Post deleted by Kunama

I have no more to say about Istar

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professor emeritus

Reged: 10/22/12

Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: Kunama]
      #5854655 - 05/12/13 12:00 AM

Post deleted by Kunama ............

Edited by Kunama (05/12/13 02:10 AM)

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Now I've done it

Reged: 03/03/06

Loc: British Columbia Canada
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: Kunama]
      #5854703 - 05/12/13 01:05 AM


I've just received a personal email from Neil English who as a result of the post above will now remove my classic Berry & Mackay refractor from his website. All I said was I thought the Raycorr to be like the proverbial Carrot to keep people buying scopes and that I personally will be very surprised to see the Raycorr in production.

I am sorry to here this.
I believe on a public forum like Cloudy Nights everyone is entitled to their own opinion with out retribution.

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mikey cee

Reged: 01/18/07

Loc: bellevue ne.
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: Kunama]
      #5854719 - 05/12/13 01:28 AM

Well I for one believe that there are two sides to a story. I'll defer any comments until I hear both sides. But quite frankly if I were Ales I'd avoid any comment because then it gets down to that "he said, I said" scenario and we get no closer to the truth. From the quality of my lens and my several dozen e-mails with Ales he's done right by me. I too believe that Istar might be guilty of too many irons in the fire....trying to click with something that has some "business bite" to it. I sure as heck could do no better than Ales if the burden was placed on my shoulders. I'm also 100% certain non of you critics could do any better either....maybe differently but not more successfully. It takes a hell of pile of capital to get something like this off the ground and many sleepless nights too. The sheer magnitude of networking along with doing a juggling act with many facets of the business. Then dealing with customer and quality control issues. I don't believe Ales got into this business by thinking he could make a killing by just peddling mediocre products by third parties. I do actually believe he has a personal hand into every aspect of this business including the design and production of the optics, machining of parts, inspection and fullfillment of orders. If the machining of Istar's components is second to none in the business would you not expect them to try to the best of their abilities with the optics also? At any rate we shall just have to wait and see how the market place reacts. Mike

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Carpal Tunnel

Reged: 11/21/07

Loc: St. Louis, MO
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: mikey cee]
      #5854793 - 05/12/13 03:43 AM

There are two sides to a story unless you are here to bash Istar. I can understand Gord's desire to paint Istar in a bad light if he feels he has been wronged, but going to the lengths that he has to question aspects of Istar product that he has no facts to back up, as he has done in other threads, and to show a pictures taken through a bad lens, as if it were something he got stuck with is nothing but vindictive.

All you folks jumping on the " lets hate Istar " bandwagon should re think your logic processes. All the testimony in the world wasn't good enough to prove they're good without testing by Rohr, but now your willing to take one bad experience that you can't possibly count as factual as absolute proof that the company is terrible. Is it just me, or is this blatantly hypocritical?

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Reged: 07/15/08

Loc: Darwin Australia
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: Gord]
      #5854806 - 05/12/13 03:54 AM



Misalligned lense in its cell? , but I have to ask how much zoom was used in producing this shot ? looks like a LOT , and where in the photo was it taken from? right in a corner ? .
What camera was used ? seeing conditions ? etc , etc ,,,

I could duplicate this using the best shots taken with the best APO refractor given the right computing tools .

I am interested to see the whole photo used for this crop in the standard CN's format here , any chance of that Gord ? thanks mate .

But if its a kosher shot its pretty bad , If it was mine I would not be happy and definatly send it back .


I can assure you, this image is nothing but legit. Given all the pain I've had to go through with this, I wish it wasn't. If you are really doubtful, I can go dig for the original frame (and many others...). It's actually one from a detailed analysis I did for IStar's benefit to fully illustrate to them the nature of issues with this lens.

Some details you asked about:
1. Artificial star in a closed environment (perfect seeing)
2. Canon 400D, center of frame
3. Airy disk at approx. 600x (yes, you can just make out a bit of the disk on the top right side)
4. Star is perfectly centered on axis, collimation correct
5. No funny business with modifying the image

This lens, and all of the 160mm F12's they made (there were only 3 as I understand it) were defective. There is an edge problem and the image improves as it is stopped down. When you get it down to 80mm (!!!), it displays a proper airy disk (and better color correction of course). There were three sold (April 2011), and mine was the first out. And it was the first to tell how bad these all were. I suspect that this is the case for the 140's as well as there was only ever one of those to get out that's I've seen mention of, and it was dumped by the owner immediately. And an interesting side note about these 160's, one of the other intended recipients was none other than Mike Hardin (Mike from IStar).

The fact is IStar knew they were bad and so were selling them off as prototypes of this design that were only needing a slight correction improvement for production. If you look back in the history here on CN, you will see the details. The real details though, weren't revealed until AFTER I had purchased and the lens shipped. Then I was informed by Ales that these lenses had a "slight edge defect" and "needed to be stopped down by a few mm to perform sharply" and that "this slight reduction isn't important to the performance" and that "all other manufacturers do this as well, it's completely normal". WOW!! That's quite a statement, eh? At this point, the red flags were up, but it was to late, the lens was about to arrive. I was soon to see just how bad this thing actually was.

BTW, this is all documented in many emails if anyone doubts it. I'm not going to share publicly.

I informed them of how bad things were, and produced a detailed analysis of all of the issues. Ales claimed to be shocked and that he had used this lens himself for incredible views of Jupiter. He said to send it back and they would investigate.

Many hoops had to be jumped through to do that (like writing letters to Czech customs to get the lens released back to IStar...) and after some time they agreed it was defective and they would produce another one in the standard "2-3 months".

I was wondering if lens centering too could be the issue, although given the cell, it couldn't move much. When I suggested this to them they immediately agreed this was the issue, however in separate private consultations with true experts I have done myself, they felt it was unlikely this would be the cause (but rather a defect in the lenses).

I told IStar to take their time to make sure they got it right. I had no issue with waiting some months to get a good result. After checking in occasionally for 6 months, I said "hey, this has got to be getting close, what's the ETA?".

At this point, they said, "yes, well into production, will be ready in just 60 more days. Oh yeah, and we need more money since this is a different lens than the one we sent you originally.". At this point I told them "no thanks, I'll get off the ride now. Please send me a refund.". They said, "Oh, ok, since you are a good customer, we'll give it to you at the original price as long as you review it and tell others".

So, another 60 days go by and I check in again and it's "almost done, just another 30 days". 2 months later, checking again, "yes, it will be ready in spring". This is almost a YEAR later! I keep on waiting and.... nothing. So, check again and yes, it will be ready in "30 days".

At this point, I figure I've been in it that long, lets give it the last month, what can it hurt? A month goes by, I check again and so I say "give me my lens, or give me my money!". No lens, and NO MONEY!! "We're a small company and don't have the money on hand, we have to get some sales before we could do a refund". UGH!!!

So I worked out a deal with them to pay back in installments. Over then next approx. 3 months, I got most back. But of all the simple things that could be done, I had to hound them for months still just to get a signed document indicating that I had returned the lens so I could get my customs tax back. And *I* produced the documents, all they had to do was sign and send it back to me!

During the hounding of them for that, Ales replied to an email of mine and said "how could you need such a document from us since you couldn't have had this lens? None have been produced yet!"! I think it was around June of 2012 when I finally had most of the money recovered, and January(?) 2013 when I finally got the document from them.

When I was at the end and just wanted it resolved, Ales was pushing me hard to take one of these new R30's. I almost did, but my wife vehemently disagreed and demanded that it be a refund and have nothing to do with them again. Smart woman!

So you can see, I've experienced serious issues with their credibility and capability. They either knew completely things were bad and sold anyway, or weren't capable of identifying this kind of issue, or never checked to begin with. Given the information they provided me, I'm pretty sure which one it is. But really, none of those three are good.

I've said it before, I wouldn't trust them to do anything more complex than a doublet and at that, it will be what their suppliers give them. Contrary to what some have said, I've seen no evidence to suggest they have any more capability than assembling the parts. And when people go on about how good their service is and they won't let any "stinkers" out, or that they will take care of things, well, my experience has been different. Perhaps I'm not a customer but rather an investor!

Oh and a final footnote to this story that made me raise an eyebrow... I've since recently heard privately of an individual in Europe receiving a triplet lens from IStar with a similar sounding issue and them also having to chase them for it. Could it be the same lenses? When I had asked Ales (way back in 2011) what were they now going to do with these defective ones, he said he wasn't completely sure but thought they would try to see if they could improve them and then re-sell. Hmmmmmm.....

Clear skies,

Sounds like a bummer you have going on here Gord , I read your reply 3 times .....
I understand your frustration ,, I have had the same responses from some big name Co's ( No names mentioned) but , hows about you take the offer of a R30 with a recompence $$ wise your way ?
It cant hurt anything , except a bit of time ? and this is a first step to a comprenshive test of the Istar R30's ? what do you recon ? .

Thanks for your detailed reply to my Q's , but I did not ask , what magnification were you using ?
I am still in love with the 140 f/12 Fornax , thats a good price for a top scope .
If I sell a lot of gear soon and grab this OTA I will keep you all informed ,, the seed has been planted .

If not I will save a few more $$'s and grab a 127mm f/8 R30 myself and do a side by side comparo here , for only $660 and a 2 month wait ?
If this happens I will post on Istar's web page .
Stay tuned .
And Gord think about te Istar offer , you may suprise your self and others


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Carpal Tunnel

Reged: 01/06/04

Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: watcher]
      #5855261 - 05/12/13 11:26 AM


There are two sides to a story ...

Joe, Mike,

What _possible_ valid justification could there be for a company continually mis-leading a customer by saying they are doing something when they are not?!!?!!

Give me ONE VALID reason!

There aren't any. And being busy and under stress and having to many irons in the fire are NOT valid reasons! It's poor business management.

This is the pros & cons thread. Some have been expressing their unfettered love of all things IStar and giving the message they are all great and can do no wrong. I've tried to move on from the experience but when I see so much of this being said that doesn't even come close to my experience with them, I think it's important that people hear about it.

If IStar is any good, let them stand on real technical merit and customer experience in the marketplace. A reputation takes years to earn but can be lost quickly by poor actions.

Clear skies,

Edited by KWB (05/12/13 11:50 AM)

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Reged: 09/30/06

Loc: Westminster,Co Elev.5400 feet
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: Gord]
      #5855299 - 05/12/13 11:40 AM

This thread is locked pending moderator review.

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Scott in NCAdministrator
80mm Refractor Fanatic

Reged: 03/05/05

Loc: NC
Re: Istar refractors Pros and Cons? new [Re: KWB]
      #5855810 - 05/12/13 03:51 PM

After considerable moderator discussion and post editing due to multiple TOS violations, this thread will remain locked.

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