Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Classic Collectors and New Chinese Imports

equipment mount refractor tripod optics observing imaging
  • Please log in to reply
191 replies to this topic

#176 jgroub

jgroub

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1390
  • Joined: 17 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 09 December 2017 - 05:43 AM

This has been a very interesting read, as I am curious about these FirstLight scopes myself.  Thank you, Bomber Bob, for your very thorough review.  

 

Two things jump out here - first, that much of the dismissiveness in relation to this ES FL 102mm is due to its being a $300 scope vs. a comparison with a much better Celestron 102XLT 4" f/10 refractor at $400.  

 

That was last year, though.  Now, the price for the ES is just $209, while the XLT is $436.  I don't think you can make the direct comparison between the ES and the Celestron when the ES is less than half the price.  

 

The other thing is that, as was discussed early on in this post, this was a first production run of this scope.  Perhaps this year, this is production run number two, and some of the lesser qualities of this scope have been ironed out/changed/upgraded/improved?  

 

Bearing these two things in mind, does that change the conclusion of generally not recommending this scope?  

 

EDIT - just noticed that in post #106, BB says, "It would be a very good deal if ES offered the OTA separately for $200 -- the list price for the FL-AR80900EQ3 package."  Well, now they do - at $209, close enough.  Looks like at $209, this scope get's BB's recommendation. 

 

 

 

Finally, a separate question:  how do you think this scope at $209 compares to the Meade Infinity 102, another 4" refractor, but one that's just $199 at HPS, and comes with three Kellners?  


Edited by jgroub, 09 December 2017 - 05:49 AM.


#177 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 09 December 2017 - 10:03 AM

The ES is F10 and the Meade is F6... Lunar & planetary with the Meade would be colorful for sure!


  • jgroub likes this

#178 jgroub

jgroub

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1390
  • Joined: 17 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 09 December 2017 - 11:42 AM

The ES is F10 and the Meade is F6... Lunar & planetary with the Meade would be colorful for sure!

Hi, Bob.  Thanks for replying - and thanks for the review in the first place. 

 

True, the Meade is faster and would throw up a ton of CA.  But the wide field views would be nice!  

 

Any other thoughts on this scope at its even lower price of $209?  Do you stand by what you said that it would be worth it at $200?



#179 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 09 December 2017 - 11:45 AM

Do you stand by what you said that it would be worth it at $200?

 

I do.  If I had a Polaris-class mount and wanted a brand new 4" F10 refractor, I wouldn't hesitate to buy the ES FL AR102.


  • jgroub likes this

#180 Augustus

Augustus

    Fly Me To The Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 8220
  • Joined: 26 Dec 2015
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 14 December 2017 - 05:39 PM

 

The ES is F10 and the Meade is F6... Lunar & planetary with the Meade would be colorful for sure!

Hi, Bob.  Thanks for replying - and thanks for the review in the first place. 

 

True, the Meade is faster and would throw up a ton of CA.  But the wide field views would be nice!  

 

Any other thoughts on this scope at its even lower price of $209?  Do you stand by what you said that it would be worth it at $200?

 

BUY. IT.

 

If you have a suitable mount and don't mind replacing the diagonal and finder, it's a ridiculous deal. I had JW's for a few months. Loved it and regret selling it.


Edited by Augustus, 14 December 2017 - 05:40 PM.

  • Bomber Bob and jgroub like this

#181 Adun

Adun

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2615
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2016

Posted 30 January 2018 - 04:54 PM

If someone adds dual drives to the ES EQ-3, please let us know how it does for longer exposures.

 

This could have been me. I just bumped into this thread looking for info on the mount. The review kindof made me regret spending december resisting the enormous temptation of this $209 AR102EQ3 for my 5th scope. Had I found this thread sooner I'd probably just have gotten the deal.

 

To provide a little context: I do EAA with an alt-az goto mount. Being almost at the equator, I didn't (and still don't) feel like risking $280 for a CG4 mount (plus international shipping of it's two counterweights and steel tubes) that might end up not working well for me at my latitude (counterweight hitting north leg, no sight of polaris to align to, etc).

 

However, after 8 months of EAA experience, I can see how a little more exposure can show a little more DSO detail, and my camera can take it, but my alt-az mount limits me to around 10s exposures at most. When I saw the FirstLight deals, this EQ3 piked my curiosity. Unfortunately there's almost no information about the mount, except a couple owners who considered it trash and "sent it right to the attic" upon receiving their FL scope, and another who managed to attach a Celestron drive to get it to track (and then gave the mount  to his son).

 

I like to tinker with things (I built my own DSC for my 10" dob), and I'm itching to try motorizing an EQ3. Worst thing I'll only get tracking good enough for visual, best thing I'll manage to build some DIY DSCs or goto  to work.

 

 

Is it worth $300?  Absolutely.  My first scope buy in 30 years, and I have no regrets.

 

Thank you Bob for your great review!

 

If you don't mind me asking: 

 

¿Would you say this mount is worth it's $99 asking price?

 

... for a 1 year experience amateir who has small and very short OTAs such as a 2.3 lb 80mm short achro, and a 5 lb C90 (that I'm hoping to replace with a 7 lb C5).


Edited by Adun, 30 January 2018 - 04:58 PM.


#182 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 31 January 2018 - 01:47 PM

¿Would you say this mount is worth it's $99 asking price?

 

Yes!  But...  the metal tripod is rickety for the OTA; but, would be stable enough for the 80mm & C90.


  • Augustus and Adun like this

#183 Adun

Adun

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2615
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2016

Posted 31 January 2018 - 02:13 PM

Thanks!



#184 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 31 January 2018 - 02:28 PM

I'm itching to try motorizing an EQ3.

 

IME, decent tracking can obviate a less than perfect tripod / pedestal when observing / imaging an object (in my case, usually planets).  As long as the object doesn't bounce around while centering / focusing, I can wait a few seconds for the drive to engage and the view to stabilize.


  • Augustus and Adun like this

#185 Adun

Adun

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2615
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2016

Posted 01 February 2018 - 06:41 AM

ES gave me a 10% coupon, so the mount was $90, including shipping. 

 

Now there's some tinkering in my future


Edited by Adun, 01 February 2018 - 01:16 PM.

  • Bomber Bob likes this

#186 memento

memento

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 695
  • Joined: 19 Aug 2008
  • Loc: 51N 7E

Posted 15 April 2018 - 04:44 PM

Maybe it's just my very personal view but I would not like the flimsy plastic lens cell in a 90mm or 102mm refractor. Regarding the plasticy focusers: I could live with them actually, if they at least support more lightweight 1 1/4" eyepieces comfortably. Even the plastic viewfinder does not seem such a problem to me. All those parts, as long as the focuser is decently done, would be enough for even serious observing, yet still keep the budget low. And it's easy to upgrade a focuser if you wish so. But upgrading a lens cell ... well ... what's the point there. That part should be solid quality from the beginning. Thomas



#187 ValhallaObserver

ValhallaObserver

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 97
  • Joined: 21 Feb 2018
  • Loc: Minnesota North Suburbs of Minneapolis

Posted 27 November 2019 - 08:28 PM

Sort of reinventing this post great info. I did read it all.

 

The cost is $212.99 USD.

 

I am buying this on impulse a bit. Where can you procure a quality (optically) 4 inch refractor for 212 dollars? That is not a lot of straight cash, homey.

 

The tripod can repurposed if not adequate.

 

An entry level person would be thrilled.

 

Bob did a good job being neutral. I am a newer yet older observer. This would meet many, man,y young or new observers needs and at the price point do wonderful things.

 

Then they can say get a Christmas upgrade a new diagonal say a new eyepiece maybe a new mount.. even computerized.

 

They can see Saturn Jupiter Nebulas and the moon views are really nice.

 

Keep in mind the price point and the ability to upgrade.

 

VO (Shawn)


  • Bomber Bob likes this

#188 dscarpa

dscarpa

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4022
  • Joined: 15 Mar 2008
  • Loc: San Diego Ca.

Posted 27 November 2019 - 09:49 PM

 Nice looking scope but that tripod looks comically spindly!  I've got a 3/4" steel tripod that's not very expensive or heavy, is very stable and has long legs.  David



#189 Terra Nova

Terra Nova

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 20649
  • Joined: 29 May 2012
  • Loc: Middle Earth

Posted 28 November 2019 - 07:54 AM

I find it very nice to have a combo of available focal lengths of 4" refractors! Mine are F 6.4, F11, and F15.

All those 4” refractors I listed nearly three years ago are now gone, replaced by by TeleVue Genesis SDF and a Vixen ED102S. I was bitten by the apo bug. In response to the original post of this thread, of the fourteen scopes in my current and now static collection, none are Chinese (or Taiwanese), and all are classic and soon to be classic.


Edited by Terra Nova, 28 November 2019 - 07:55 AM.

  • 25585 and j.gardavsky like this

#190 ValhallaObserver

ValhallaObserver

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 97
  • Joined: 21 Feb 2018
  • Loc: Minnesota North Suburbs of Minneapolis

Posted 28 November 2019 - 09:06 PM

Starman (Bob) gave me some assistance. He mentioned that he has had many and some can be good but Collimating is often necessary. I did that once on a C8 I own. I kind of got out of the hobby for bout a year due to health reason but now back in it. He told me how to Collimate a refractor. It was on back order but I bought this for 212 bucks so hard to go worng. Like Earthgirl above, if I had my wishes I would own a TAK and a TV and I may someday. In terms of small refracts I have a 5omm Stellarvue (sweet little guy) and a AT72EDII. So you can see I like getting value. Part of the fun of this hobby is finding something and maximizing it s value. Having said that, money into a good eyepiece is never wasted.  A good eyepiece can take a poor scope and improve it often thogh a oblong blob is an issue with a bad scope. Cant fix that but collimating can help it sounds like.

 

SDH



#191 drd715

drd715

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 185
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2015
  • Loc: Fort Lauderdale

Posted 01 December 2019 - 12:20 PM

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but even at the incredible price of $212 it would not be exciting for me. some significant portion of my viewing pleasure comes from using the equipment. I expect a sharp crisp image and a focuser that is solid, smooth and no sag in its travel. In a economical refractor this really comes down to F-9 plus, and ED glass is better. With the SW 100ed F-9 going for $626 now on sale (b&h, amazon) and the very well done TS or altair astro 102ed F-11 in the $700 range the price to value equation at least for me is in these two scopes. Now the $212 scope is F 10 which helps,but the shaky mini mount and useless diagonal or plastic focuser tube just don't make it for me. If all you have is $250 to spend well maybe? But upgrades and replacement items just don't compute. the SW comes with case and kit, just ad a decent mount and your much better setup at a reasonable price. When all is done you could have 5 times the quality for $900 or less verses the end cost of the F-10 achro coming in at $450 with the needed upgrades and extras. yes it's twice the price for better quality here, but the potential for longer term disappointment is too much..

For the limited amount of time I can get out and observe (work and life time limit) i feel that a better interaction with the equipment and best image are important to the enjoyment of the experience. And this enjoyment level may be the difference for a beginning observer to continue their fascination or not.

Hopefully I have not offended anyone, this is just a personal view on money versus value.

#192 Odin Exodus

Odin Exodus

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 108
  • Joined: 02 Jun 2015
  • Loc: NE Ohio, USA

Posted 02 December 2019 - 12:46 PM

Great pickup! I love the all-white mount/scope combo, very sharp! (Also, I didn't know you could check the part/serial # on shipping crates? I wonder if I dug out the original box to my AT130 if I could find out which number it was? Anyone know?)




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: equipment, mount, refractor, tripod, optics, observing, imaging



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics