I am now strictly visual, and yes I have done some serious imaging, but not with the scopes in my sigline. Many thoughts crossed my mind while reading through this thread and Ill put them below.
The disposable income question is too individual to answer as far as relative cost. In my way of thinking we here with telescopes and internet access and food within reach and roofs over our heads are a very miniscule fraction of people on earth that can afford such a luxury. We are living the dream, I try to never loose sight of that, and why I invite anyone around that might want to have a look to do so for as long as they wish.
Anyone interested can cruise the web and read marketing material and reviews and "spec's" and make conclusions based on them, but that is as far from the experience of using the scope as it can get. It is information until you do it for yourself.
I have been in and out of the hobby all my life, more in than not, from that I feel any telescope has a personality. Might need cooling down, might need collimation, dew control, how the aperture works in my typical seeing, ... these are scope and location specific. Add to this my individual visual acuity and eye health... I just want to say that any scope can only perform within the environment it is used in, and principal there is - climate and seeing conditions. As aperture increases it is possible to own a scope in a location where it may never be able to achieve it's design optimals. That does not make it "a bad scope".
What I always wish we could get away from is the idea that saying something good about one scope is to somehow say something bad about another scope. How to really like something and keep a balanced approach to it? Simple really. It does what it does as well as I can expect, where and when I use it. Not to say something else does not, would not, or cannot.
Why do I own 3 Tak's? Mostly because I can't own four (yet).
I set them up with my 14" Dob/Newt nearby. I enjoy all of them for what they do well, and each is different. When you do the matrix hopscotch of field of view and exit pupil and object and seeing conditions, it's possible to have very different great views of a single object. My Tak's uniformly give me faultless visual performance in their 'windows of usefulness' for whatever object, but then I know from experience what to expect. I'm sure it is daunting, all the information out there and all the reviews and opinions for someone new to the hobby.
I'm very impressed with the views I get from my Dob/Newt. It does have it's personality and limitations like my Tak's. Surprisingly good optics, and a very capable observing tool within what it can do well. Does it do as well as I can expect? I believe so. Could I spend more money and achieve reliably better? Very possibly spend more money (as it has GOTO and tracking) but I'm happy enough.
I managed to say all this without challenging the laws of optics, yea!
This is not meant as hype, it is my personal experience, not taken from other threads or reviews. I have taken time and effort to obtain my opinion, and try to avoid excess in validating it.
The usability of any scope. If you can leave it set up and just remove covers or roll an observatory roof out of way that is best of all worlds. If you set up and tear down each time, there can be many considerations. If it is sensitive to collimation that adds a very important consideration, as I also feel over the years my scopes that did need collimation each had their personality about it. The same can be said for acclimation.
My Tak scopes require little acclimation and nothing else, in my climate not difficult in that respect. Set out at evening dusk and by the time twilight is getting along I am good to go, depending on time of year it can be ready well before. Good to go with 'as good as I can expect' from the optic, and that expectation is very high. Very high, but not "unrealistic", as in - "No it wont splash the center of M13 all around my wide field eyepiece like the Dob/Newt can under good seeing conditions", but then I don't expect to. Will my Tak give me a very high quality image of M13 'hanging in space"? Absolutely... every time. Is it visually measurably better than a SkyWatcher 120pro? My opinion is yes but it is not a slap in the face difference even to an experienced eye all depending on what you are looking at, the SW 120pro is a fine scope! Highly recommended as are so many others.
I feel my Tak scopes are not overpriced or overly expensive. Getting more true as time goes on is that you can get very close to their performance for less coin, and you can spend more money on some scopes than a Tak at about the same aperture depending on where you live and import / export and all that.
To own one over a few years and use it season after season put's all in perspective. My FC 100DL and TSA 120 still need a few years as they are recent acquisitions. From my initial impressions I have high expectations, not unreasonable ones.
I'll borrow a quote here.
"To those who believe no proof is necessary. To those who do not believe no proof is possible"
My recommendation is to avoid 'belief systems' in our hobby and see for yourself if at all possible, judge on merits, draw your own conclusions. Understand the importance of where it is being used and what can be reasonably expected for the conditions.
There is enough science behind telescope optics that I like to think leaves no room for belief systems. If someone says they did this with their scope and etc. in this location I have no reason to doubt. Most experienced observers are careful to include that critical information, and how they rate the seeing for that place at that time. In many respects it is critical to know that data of "where", this "where" aspect of observing is as far from one size fits all as is possible. This again and too takes experience... what is decent seeing where you live? might take a good amount of time to discern that, especially if days of fantastic seeing are exceptionally rare as in where I now live.
So many times I've had folks look through these little scopes and said "wow, I didn't know a little telescope could do that", this even with the big Dob/Newt on the same target, here I apologize for the only anecdotal part of this, but again, it is my experience, folks speaking the evidence of their own eyes, some lifetime owners of larger aperture or just other scopes than mine, some never looked through a telescope before. Not perfect seeing conditions but reasonably good for here.
Hope the above is helpful.