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Questar vs Meade?

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#1 REC


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Posted 10 August 2018 - 03:51 PM

I hope this is not sacrilegious to ask this question here in the Questar forum, but always wondered? When Meade tried to copy the Questar 90mm in the late 90's at an affordable price, I bought one. I always dreamed of having a Questar when I got my first look at and through this amazing little scope. Our astronomy professor had one and would let us look through his at star outings. We actually had an outing the night of the famous meteor storm in November 1966. We knew it was going to be good and it was, but had no idea it would become a "storm" late on in the AM. We probably quit around 11pm as it was a school night:)


Anyway, there was no Cloudy Nights back in 1996 to report on scope tests back then. I'm sure S&T made some first looks at the Meade ETX-90 when it first came out, but I wonder if anyone out there actually did a side by side comparison of the optical performance at the eyepiece. The Questar is a beautiful instrument just to look at with it's craftsmanship vs the metal and plastic make up of the ETX. BTY, a little tidbit on the ETX name. It was originally named the ET for "everyone's telescope" but the movie ET had the trademark and was not able to use it, so an X was added to it. So I would think that taking a quick look through both scopes, say of the moon and a few open clusters the view at say at 75x would look pretty close, but what about on something a little more demanding like Jupiter and Saturn a100x?


I would even consider a test of the Q vs the larger ETX-125 and they are still a LOT cheaper than the Q 90mm?

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 03:59 PM

We had Meades (all sizes) and Questars (3.5s and 7s) at work... using mostly as collimators. The Meades and Celestrons varied a lot, generally mediocre wavefronts, the Questars were uniformly Very Good to Excellent. All certified in Autocollimation Interferometry.


My conclusion, from that experience and metrology: A Meade Might be good; a Questar IS great.  Tom

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#3 jag32



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Posted 10 August 2018 - 04:22 PM

I've looked through an ETX90 and optically it was similar to my 1965 Questar, I couldn't really tell a difference to be honest. However for me, it's not only about optical quality but the true satisfaction and enjoyment that I feel when using my Questar. The ETX90 is a good telescope for the price, but the Questar is an experience. I would have trouble justifying the cost of a new Q3.5, but at $1700 for my 1965 Questar, I'm very pleased.


I also had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Meade 14" LX850s which all had significant issues stemming from Meade's embarrassingly poor quality control.  If Meade can't maintain any semblance of quality control on their flagship telescope system, then I would be terrified to purchase any of their lower end offerings. It's important to remember that the Meade of today is a totally different company than the Meade I knew and loved in the 1990s. Today, everything is made in China or Mexico (All LX850s are made in Mexico) with little to no quality control, from my experience.  Meade's customer service was excellent in dealing with my LX850 issues, but there is no level of customer service that can accommodate subpar products manufactured with subpar components with nonexistant quality control. 

Edited by jag32, 10 August 2018 - 04:28 PM.

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#4 Joe1950


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Posted 10 August 2018 - 05:20 PM

From what I understand from many competent observers who made side-by-side comparisons of the ETX-90 and the 3.5 Questar, the early ETX models such as the RA (non go-to) and a few after that had consistently superb optics.


The entire optical system of the early ETX scopes were exclusively made and tested in the USA. It was the goal of Meade at that time to offer a scope that could come very close to or equal the vaunted Qs in optical excellence. And evidently they did, for a time.


But, when they fell on difficult economic times due to globalization et al, they were bought up and changed quite a lot as is pointed out very well by Jag32 (above).



The build of the ETX's optical tube was not bad and all metal; still not nearly the craftsmanship of the Questar. And the mount? Forget it. the mount was like comparing a plastic toy to a fine Swiss watch. There really is no comparison.

Edited by Joe1950, 10 August 2018 - 05:21 PM.

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#5 pianowin


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Posted 11 August 2018 - 12:20 AM

It's nice having the GOTO of the Meade, especially with such a small scope. It is nice to be able to find something interesting in a flash - you get more observing time with more objects and that is what it is about for me. 


The quality of the Questar is what will do it for you. For example, the ingenious finder mirror or the amazing feel of the gears is what sets this scope apart from a Meade. 


Will you notice a big difference in the views - I doubt it. I would have to do a side by side - they are close. 


It is just what you think, the Quester you own for the shear quality of parts. That make a good deal of difference in use. Having used both - I'd rather have the Questar. But gosh darn it - I wish it had the GOTO of the Meade!

Edited by pianowin, 11 August 2018 - 12:25 AM.

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#6 Loren Gibson

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 06:28 AM

I have the OTA of one of the early RA model ETX's, and I've always found it's views to be very pleasing. In fact, it's one of the reasons I desired to own a Questar. I knew what can be seen by a quality 3.5 inch Mak.


The only simultaneous side-by-side comparison I've done between it and my Questar Standard was on Jupiter one night with very good seeing. The views were more alike than different with the moderate magnifications that best suit Jupiter. The Q would have to be given a slight nod, had I been forced to pick a winner. But, as you speculate, I'd expect the views between the two to be very similar at low to mid magnifications, at least with my specimen of ETX.


However, while I have not done any other simultaneous side-by-side comparisons, it's not difficult for me to conclude that the Questar images are noticeably better once you get up higher in magnification. Views of the terminator on the moon look fine at c. 50x per inch in the Meade ETX, but it's clear that there's not much point in upping the magnification, because I can just start to see that some of the fine, sharp linear details are becoming just a wee bit "soft," even during excellent seeing. That said, this is nothing I lament, and am very happy with performance like this in a telescope.


The Questar, however, supports much higher magnification without any loss of image sharpness. I have used the Brandon 6 mm eyepiece and the internal barlow, which gives me a magnification well north of 100x per inch, quite a few times on the lunar terminator and the Sun (with the Questar full-aperture solar filter). While no more detail is seen than at more normal magnifications, the image sharpness and fidelity is completely maintained. I was very pleasantly surprised to see this in a telescope.


The ETX is also prone to internal reflections under some circumstances that I don't see in the Questar. So, there may be some objects which appear somewhat better in the Questar due to it's better suppression of internally scattered light. 



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#7 Steve C.

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 08:08 AM

Ed Ting did a comparison of the Q with the ETX and C90.



#8 Joe1950


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Posted 11 August 2018 - 08:53 AM

Ed knows a ting or two about scopes.


I don't agree, however, that the imaging of the moon was really a test of significance. But I'd agree with his overall findings.

#9 REC


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Posted 11 August 2018 - 11:01 AM

Thanks to all for your comments! Found them all interesting.


Steve, oh yeah, I remember reading Ed Tings report, getting senile lol.gif


Yeah, Ed does know his stuff, I used to read his articles and reviews back in the day. A fellow New Englander.

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#10 Matt Looby

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 11:17 AM

If someone wishes to send me their best Meade 90mm with tripod set up- I would be happy to do a review. Otherwise- check this out-




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#11 ehallspqr



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Posted 11 August 2018 - 08:58 PM

Having owned many ETX series scopes and my two Questar 3.5”, did quite allot of side by side comparisons. Not addressing build quality between the two. That’s obvious. Generalization and opinions below.


Between the 90mm ETX vs Questar, the ETX provides a softer view and slightly darker image than my Questar broadband. It just isn’t as crisp and vibrant. I agree with others that the Questar can definitely push higher magnifications than the 90mm ETX. Overall the ETX90 has very respectable optical quality, slightly off the Questar. Especially considering the price you can pick one up for. If you are strictly considering optical performance then the Questar has a slight but noticible edge.


ETX125mm and Questar 3.5? No comparison. The larger aperture Meade outclasses the Q-3.5 in every optical measure you can imagine. Sorry fellow Questar enthusiast but you just can’t argue with the laws of physics. I highly recommend the ETX 125. Optically superb, cheap, while still being very convenient and portable. Now the upcoming Questar 5” should certainly outclass the Meade 125 optics, but as with all things Questar it will be bloody expensive. 

Edited by ehallspqr, 11 August 2018 - 10:35 PM.

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