Same song and dance as the AP160 vs. SW Esprit 150 comparison..........only this time I added supporting items to this original post. I hope folks can find this information helpful!
I had an opportunity to borrow a TAK FSQ106N scope for a little while and decided to do some side by side testing with the SW Esprit 100 I have on hand. I've read in the past where a few folks were interested in such testing but so few get out there and actually do it. I would like to detail my experience with this side by side setup in a photographical sense. Please understand that both scopes are engineered very well and that I am a strong supporter of Sky Watcher due to their price point. That being said.......I am also a very honest person and nothing here has been fabricated as some may quickly assume. The TAK FSQ106 scope is, without a doubt, an extremely nice scope to have. This is an older version of the scope but I did not have access to one of the newer ED versions.
I attended the El Dorado star party recently in Texas for a few days and wanted to image M45. The results may surprise you and they may not but I am here to detail what I personally found. First......here is the setup....
Takahashi FSQ106: The FSQ is an F 5.0 scope with 106mm of aperture and a pretty heavy duty native focuser. The focuser will handle some of the larger payloads but this was a non issue being as this test was conducted using a lightweight DSLR. It does not have the dual speed focuser either so extra care was needed while focusing manually.
SW100: Out of the box F5.5 and 100mm of aperture....no extra items needed. It comes with rings, a flattener and a t-ring for Canon cameras. It also has a fairly stout 2 speed focuser and was focused manually.
Cameras: I used two identical Canon 60Da cameras. All menu settings were matched and both cameras have a very low shutter count.
Capture: Backyard EOS Premium on one laptop.
Guiding: Orion SSAG Magnificent Mini Autoguider
Mount: A single Takahashi NJP was used with a dual saddle configuration. This is my personal mount and guiding was monitored very closely. Things were pretty smooth throughout both nights.
Processing: I use PixInsight and the same basic workflow was used to process both pictures. The only real abnormal modification is that I scaled down the SW100 picture to match the FSQ106 picture exactly. PixInsight has a real nice tool for this. Both pics could then be processed side by side using the exact same techniques once cropped identically. 98 lights from each camera were used at 360 seconds each (6 minutes). 41 darks were collected and used on both rigs separately. I threw in 100 bias frames and also used 30 flats. Here are some star statistics for you to view ...
Target: M45 is an open star cluster we all love to stare at. It's visible with the naked eye even in heavy light pollution. You might ask why this target? Well, I chose this target mainly because I knew it would allow me to utilize the full frame of the chip. Just look at all the streaming dust in this sucker! It also has a number of nice little galaxies in the background. Being as this was shot with a DSLR, I am very happy with the result and think it looks very good.
SW 100 PIC
Now....I know what you are thinking.....there is no way this is a good comparison! This is why all images were taken at exactly the same time (same sky quality) using the same mount and guiding (same error if any). The number of exposures are identical. I even went as far as to babysit the rig 100% because I dithered every 3 images. Therefore, I had to pause one of the sessions a few seconds while the other dithered the mount. The sensor from one camera sat and cooled NO longer than the other. I can thank Backyard EOS for the ease of use. Their software really helped in making this as simple as possible.
Bottom Line: Is one scope really better than the other? Only you can be the judge.
Links to some raw subs.....the same ones used for the star analysis.