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TAK FSQ106 vs. SW ESPRIT 100

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#1 jerry10137

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 01:14 PM

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.

 

TAK_SW_2.JPG

TAK_SW_1.JPG

 

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 ...

 

11-1-2014%2012-08-45%20PM.jpg

11-1-2014%2012-09-22%20PM.jpg

11-1-2014%2012-09-52%20PM.jpg

11-1-2014%2012-10-39%20PM.jpg

11-1-2014%2012-11-08%20PM.jpg

11-1-2014%2012-11-56%20PM.jpg

 

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.

 

FSQ106 Pic

 

FS106_FINAL_REDUCED.jpg

 

Link to a high res FSQ version

 

SW 100 PIC

 

SW100_FINAL_REDUCED.jpg

 

Link to a high res SW version

 

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.

 

https://www.dropbox....s148ms.CR2?dl=0

https://www.dropbox....s985ms.CR2?dl=0

https://www.dropbox....s086ms.CR2?dl=0

https://www.dropbox....s267ms.CR2?dl=0

https://www.dropbox....s841ms.CR2?dl=0

https://www.dropbox....s617ms.CR2?dl=0


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#2 neptun2

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 01:36 PM

Interesting comparison Jerry just like previous one. This time there are more differences between images. First the SW image is much more warmer as colors at least to me. Looking at histograms in photoshop this looks more like different final tweaks of white balance than anything related to optics. Other thing that i see is are strange shadows in the bright stars halo of FSQ which frankly i can't explain. Also stars look a little bit tighter in FSQ image. This however can be related at leas partially to the resampling of the SW picture. Field of view in the FSQ image is slightly bigger. Both images are good. I personally like the SW image better mostly due to the absence of these strange shadows on bright stars and the fact that the warmer colors make the dust more easily visible in some regions but as i thought this is white balance related and not optics. 



#3 rgsalinger

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 01:56 PM

Looks like the same quality for half the price. Was that your conclusion as well? I guess that the computers are catching up to the opticians or labor in China is 1/3 the cost of labor in Japan. Very nice comparison. Thank you. 

Rgrds-Ross



#4 samovu

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 02:01 PM

Nice work! And beautiful images from both specimens. You've certainly taken out most, if not all of the variables by doing what you did the way you did it, IMO. Thank you very much for executing this and sharing it with us. And very nice images on your website, too!

 

Which product did I like the most? Being purely objective and with no biases whatsoever (I just procured a used 106N  :grin: ), I like the colors of the stars in the corners better on the "N" image.  Have I carefully studied both images in detail? No. Would I be happy with an Esprit? Absolutely. I think that the Esprit is possibly the best example of a high quality OTA coming out of China. There's a nice write up on an Esprit 120 on CN (and the other site) written by a gentleman I've met and have a lot of respect for. 

 

I haven't imaged yet with my 106N. I only hope that my sample performs as well as the one you used. I've got mucho to learn and am only a beginner in the truest sense of the word so my opinions carry little weight. Your mileage will vary.

 

Cheers,

John



#5 jerry10137

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 08:53 AM

Looks like the same quality for half the price. Was that your conclusion as well? I guess that the computers are catching up to the opticians or labor in China is 1/3 the cost of labor in Japan. Very nice comparison. Thank you. 

Rgrds-Ross

 

My ultimate conclusion is that both scopes perform really well.  I am not an optics expert by any means but am very well aware of the basics......I am a DSLR photographer and that is what I devote my time too for my personal work as an artist.  When I examine my photographs, I am not examining each pixel around a star at 400% zoom.  I am looking at the whole picture as it may be displayed on a wall and determining if I am pleased with it or not.  That being said, for the type of work that I do, there is not much difference between both scopes.  Looking at each image produced, I can tell you that I like certain aspects of each scope as the artist.  It would have been nice to run this comparison against a newer 106EDX scope because if my knowledge serves me right, those have ED glass opposed to the 106N used that has Fluorite glass.  Someone please correct me if I am wrong.  I believe there will be some slight color differences unless the artist goes out of their way to manually push more color.  Such techniques were not used here.  As for what is going on with the stars in the FSQ, a shadow is being produced somewhere and this is common with other scopes I have imaged with in the past.  The exact same type of shadow can be seen in images I have taken using a TMB 130 f/6.  It seems this is caused by an ever so slight protrusion into the optical path by the spacers.  I have read and been told this can easily be masked off but why should we need to go an extra effort this way on a premium scope?

 

I received a PM last night from one of the members here vaguely suggesting that I disclose my association with Sky Watcher.  Felt kinda rude in a sense because now I am being blamed for bias again.  So once again......Sky Watcher USA does not write me a check.  I am not bound by contract with them in any way nor am I on their payroll.  I wouldn't even be considered a beta tester!  The same holds for Takahashi and Astrophysics.  Neither of these companies need beta testers because it's obvious that their respective QA departments are doing something right.  I am a volunteer for 3RF (Three Rivers Foundation).  A non-profit outreach organization in Texas and Australia.  This is the source of some of the equipment I use.  Sky Watcher mentioned at one time (while visiting campus) that it would be cool if some side by side comparison could be done with their equipment.  Since nobody else really does this, I thought it would be neat to get off my rear, get to the field and do some real work with nice nice equipment that I have access to.  This has given me an opportunity to use very nice equipment from other manufacturers........including Astrophysics and Takahashi.  In fact, I'm gunna push 3RF for one of those new FSQ130's.  Sky Watcher supports my artistic talent as well as 3RF and they ask me if I have time, they would love material (pictures) taken with their scopes.  Material has never been negotiated, taken or used without my explicit permission to do so.  As such, proper credit has always been given.  Example.......I was randomly taking pictures very early one morning at the 3RF campus using an Esprit 100 when I decided to image the Rosette.  It was not a long exposure and given the fairly short amount of time to take the image, I was surprised to see how much detail was revealed.  More especially since I was using one of the noisiest cameras Canon ever produced, the 1000D or Rebel XS.  It was an image I wanted.  Not someone else.  When I became excited over the picture, I sent it to Sky Watcher and said "Hey, look at this neat picture I took using one of your scopes."  A day later, permission was asked if I would allow that image to be used in one of their ads.  I said sure and gave them the details.  This resulted in a first publishing for me after only astro imaging 7 months!!

 

http://www.theconste...NGC2237_new.htm

 

So.....once again, I do not work for Sky Watcher but they are an outstanding group of guys and have my support.  I've met them personally and Kevin is a top notch product specialist as some of you already know.  The Sky Watcher USA guys will go out of their way to help you with anything you need.  They will give you the shirt off their back!  Just do a simple search here on the forums and see for yourself.  Product support alone can make or break a company.  Sky Watcher doesn't need me out there to prove their product.  We already know they have a very well rounded product.  I am performing these comparisons on my own for others to see.  If Sky Watcher would like to use the material for marketing, then I will give them permission to do so and feel good because they see some dedication and devotion in my work.  Driving 5-8 hours ONE WAY from a red zone paying for gas, food, lodging.....ect  The expense alone can be overwhelming for a blue collar worker.  I get tired of seeing all the talks about visual comparisons and more visual comparisons.  What scope is right for me?  What scope do you recommend?  While you sit at home in front of the computer and PM me suggesting that I disclose my position with a company.....I will tell you goodbye, I have more equipment to play with and some personal goals to achieve out in the field because folks would like to know.  I will actually get out there and do it, then post up as a contribution to the community.

 

Jerry


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#6 neptun2

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 10:20 AM

Jerry don't feel bad that somebody blamed you as biased. I personally and many other members find your comparisons useful and thank you for your time to provide them. All in all forums are place where everybody can tell their opinion and it is normal to have many different ones. :) 


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#7 StarDust1

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:01 AM

Jerry, great job!

 

I would love to see a comparison like yours with a TSA-102, FSQ-106, Esprit 100. 


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#8 BKBrown

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:22 AM

Don't sweat it Jerry, you are doing good works here and MANY of us appreciate your efforts. I have done similar comparisons for planetary imaging using various scope/camera combinations and you wouldn't believe some of the comments I received. They included questioning the "reality" of the finished images and implying that the data was somehow not representative of what folks "really" see. It's absurd, and some of our friends here just feel compelled to comment but lack the skills or willingness to put their own results out here to support a meaningful discussion. For the record, I will state that I own, use, and like Skywatcher equipment and that that outfit produces first rate products at reasonable prices enabling lots of folks to play who might not otherwise be able to; my hat is off to them and their US crew. So thanks again for your efforts, please keep them coming...and don't worry about flak from the peanut gallery :)

 

Clear Skies,

Brian

 

P.S. That is a smokin' Rosette image!


Edited by BKBrown, 02 November 2014 - 11:24 AM.

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#9 CounterWeight

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:57 AM

Just wanted to say Thank You for the time and effort to do this and create the fantastic post Jerry - really a great job and a huge service to all here! :waytogo:


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#10 sydney

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 02:21 PM

Both are very nice.  However, looking at details in the nebula, the Tak is clearly sharper to my eyes.  The stars are also less soft.


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#11 Adam S

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 03:33 PM

I also see finer detail in the Tak image, for the money it should be better.  The big takeaway from your post is the extraordinary quality and value that the Skywatcher offers.  Great comparison, fairly done and thorough.  


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#12 Magnus Ahrling

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 04:44 PM


Thanks for your posts & and hard work, Jerry!

Magnus 57N.
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#13 Moey

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 04:45 PM


Looks like the same quality for half the price. Was that your conclusion as well? I guess that the computers are catching up to the opticians or labor in China is 1/3 the cost of labor in Japan. Very nice comparison. Thank you.
Rgrds-Ross


My ultimate conclusion is that both scopes perform really well. I am not an optics expert by any means but am very well aware of the basics......I am a DSLR photographer and that is what I devote my time too for my personal work as an artist. When I examine my photographs, I am not examining each pixel around a star at 400% zoom. I am looking at the whole picture as it may be displayed on a wall and determining if I am pleased with it or not. That being said, for the type of work that I do, there is not much difference between both scopes. Looking at each image produced, I can tell you that I like certain aspects of each scope as the artist. It would have been nice to run this comparison against a newer 106EDX scope because if my knowledge serves me right, those have ED glass opposed to the 106N used that has Fluorite glass. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. I believe there will be some slight color differences unless the artist goes out of their way to manually push more color. Such techniques were not used here. As for what is going on with the stars in the FSQ, a shadow is being produced somewhere and this is common with other scopes I have imaged with in the past. The exact same type of shadow can be seen in images I have taken using a TMB 130 f/6. It seems this is caused by an ever so slight protrusion into the optical path by the spacers. I have read and been told this can easily be masked off but why should we need to go an extra effort this way on a premium scope?

I received a PM last night from one of the members here vaguely suggesting that I disclose my association with Sky Watcher. Felt kinda rude in a sense because now I am being blamed for bias again. So once again......Sky Watcher USA does not write me a check. I am not bound by contract with them in any way nor am I on their payroll. I wouldn't even be considered a beta tester! The same holds for Takahashi and Astrophysics. Neither of these companies need beta testers because it's obvious that their respective QA departments are doing something right. I am a volunteer for 3RF (Three Rivers Foundation). A non-profit outreach organization in Texas and Australia. This is the source of some of the equipment I use. Sky Watcher mentioned at one time (while visiting campus) that it would be cool if some side by side comparison could be done with their equipment. Since nobody else really does this, I thought it would be neat to get off my rear, get to the field and do some real work with nice nice equipment that I have access to. This has given me an opportunity to use very nice equipment from other manufacturers........including Astrophysics and Takahashi. In fact, I'm gunna push 3RF for one of those new FSQ130's. Sky Watcher supports my artistic talent as well as 3RF and they ask me if I have time, they would love material (pictures) taken with their scopes. Material has never been negotiated, taken or used without my explicit permission to do so. As such, proper credit has always been given. Example.......I was randomly taking pictures very early one morning at the 3RF campus using an Esprit 100 when I decided to image the Rosette. It was not a long exposure and given the fairly short amount of time to take the image, I was surprised to see how much detail was revealed. More especially since I was using one of the noisiest cameras Canon ever produced, the 1000D or Rebel XS. It was an image I wanted. Not someone else. When I became excited over the picture, I sent it to Sky Watcher and said "Hey, look at this neat picture I took using one of your scopes." A day later, permission was asked if I would allow that image to be used in one of their ads. I said sure and gave them the details. This resulted in a first publishing for me after only astro imaging 7 months!!

http://www.theconste...NGC2237_new.htm

So.....once again, I do not work for Sky Watcher but they are an outstanding group of guys and have my support. I've met them personally and Kevin is a top notch product specialist as some of you already know. The Sky Watcher USA guys will go out of their way to help you with anything you need. They will give you the shirt off their back! Just do a simple search here on the forums and see for yourself. Product support alone can make or break a company. Sky Watcher doesn't need me out there to prove their product. We already know they have a very well rounded product. I am performing these comparisons on my own for others to see. If Sky Watcher would like to use the material for marketing, then I will give them permission to do so and feel good because they see some dedication and devotion in my work. Driving 5-8 hours ONE WAY from a red zone paying for gas, food, lodging.....ect The expense alone can be overwhelming for a blue collar worker. I get tired of seeing all the talks about visual comparisons and more visual comparisons. What scope is right for me? What scope do you recommend? While you sit at home in front of the computer and PM me suggesting that I disclose my position with a company.....I will tell you goodbye, I have more equipment to play with and some personal goals to achieve out in the field because folks would like to know. I will actually get out there and do it, then post up as a contribution to the community.

Jerry

Brilliant reply! Couldn't have said it better myself.
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#14 Moey

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 04:46 PM

BTW absolutely love these comparisons. Thank you for all the effort, been very informative.
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#15 KGoodwin

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 05:37 PM

Your two comparisons have been very useful to me. It's exactly the sort of thing I come to CN for. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope to see more!

#16 David Pavlich

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 05:48 PM

I'd like to see this test done with a full frame DSLR or a 11000 class chipped CCD camera to see which has the best coverage.  There really isn't that much difference in image quality using the crop sensor.  What would the image quality be on the bigger chips?

 

David



#17 jerry10137

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 06:13 PM

I'd like to see this test done with a full frame DSLR or a 11000 class chipped CCD camera to see which has the best coverage.  There really isn't that much difference in image quality using the crop sensor.  What would the image quality be on the bigger chips?

 

David

Interesting you bring that up because I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on my own modified 6D. Maybe I can secure another one somehow for another round of testing. The 6D would make for a perfect full frame test camera with its low noise qualities and 36x24mm sensor. I have access to a one shot color STL11000 but not two of them.



#18 KGoodwin

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 07:38 PM

It looks like the Skywatcher image is just a touch over stretched and bringing out the noise and grain a bit too much.  I think if you weren't trying to go for an equal exposure length comparison you'd have exposed that one just a bit longer and gotten the nice smooth nebulosity seen in the FSQ image, but since the Skywatcher is slightly slower at f/5.5 it just didn't quite get there with this exposure length and it shows in the processed result.


Edited by KGoodwin, 02 November 2014 - 07:38 PM.

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#19 Joe G

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 09:45 PM

Jerry,

 

These are great comparisons.  They are both very nice scopes.  That's why I have one of each.

 

But seriously, these are helpful to most of us and much appreciated.  I agree with David, part of the attraction of the Tak is the ability to use a full frame sensor.  It would be interesting to see how a full frame sensor performs on the Skywatcher.

 

Thanks again.

 

Joe


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#20 agavephoto

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 10:52 PM

I think the Esprit 100ED performs pretty well with full frame ...

 

Both of these are from the output from PixInsight's aberration inspector, 512px, from two different full frame shots my last night out (last month's new moon) using an umodified 5D2 with an SW Esprit 100ED. Focus may not be perfect here, and there was some wind for some sub-frames. Near the extreme corners, the stars are no longer round, but most of the image is quite good, I think. However, the Esprit 100ED is advertised as having only a 40mm image cirlce: a little smaller than the 44mm full frame requires, but there is no hard vignette at 40mm, either.

 

First shot is of the double cluster area.

 

esprit100ED_5D2_ai1.jpg

 

2nd shot is of the NGC7789 region.

 

esprit100ED_5D2_ai2.jpg

 

 

I hope this helps with the discussion.

 

Drew

 

[Edited to correct a quotting error and to add the 2nd aberration inspection image.]


Edited by agavephoto, 02 November 2014 - 11:04 PM.

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#21 Art43

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:31 PM

Jerry,

 

Most excellent report.

 

 

Thank you,

 

 

a



#22 KGoodwin

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 08:27 AM

Drew,

 

It looks like those images speak exactly to the differentiation between the two scopes.  I think the FSQ has long been a large chip dream scope for good reason and will remain so.  The Skywatcher will be able to really deliver the goods for those who don't need the larger than ~40mm image circle, though, which at the Skywatcher's price point is still really quite an accomplishment.



#23 David Pavlich

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 09:05 AM

 

I'd like to see this test done with a full frame DSLR or a 11000 class chipped CCD camera to see which has the best coverage.  There really isn't that much difference in image quality using the crop sensor.  What would the image quality be on the bigger chips?

 

David

Interesting you bring that up because I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on my own modified 6D. Maybe I can secure another one somehow for another round of testing. The 6D would make for a perfect full frame test camera with its low noise qualities and 36x24mm sensor. I have access to a one shot color STL11000 but not two of them.

 

Good deal, Jerry!  Your imaging is quite good.  I'm looking forward to your work with the 6D.  I have one for terrestrial imaging and it sure does make some nice pictures!

 

David


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#24 David Pavlich

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 09:08 AM

The whole Esprit line is terrific, especially if you image with a Canon DSLR.  Take all the goodies out of the case, mount it, balance, focus it and start imaging.  What's not to like?! :grin:

 

David


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#25 Starhawk

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 09:59 AM

I like this comparison- and making the raw images available really should clear up side issues.

 

At the Sky Watcher booth at ASAE yesterday, I got to see the Esprit line for the first time.  They indicated the 100ED was their best seller of the group, even though the 80ED is faster. I'm can see why, and the fact they each come with a dedicated flattener is the secret sauce, here,

 

Sky Watcher also indicated their optics guys said they thought they had a reducer already which should be compatible.  I asked Jeff at SW to please check that out and make sure they are very specific, as which reducer really works for what use with which scope is an ongoing pain in the neck for the user community. 

 

-Rich


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