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120mm to 150mm ED/APO "budget" choices (non-premium!)

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#1 MalVeauX

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 12:44 PM

Hey all,

 

I am waffling all over the place. Looking to talk about non-premium ED/APOs for context. Both visual and some imaging application. Mounting is not an issue at all for me at these sizes, so weight and length are not an issue here. My only issue is overall value for aperture, correction (good doublet vs lesser triplet) and the focal-ratio to help figure out FOV and for imaging the speed of it. Imaging would be mostly for galaxies and solar system bodies. Visually it would be for literally everything.

 

At first, I thought I would just go for a Skywatcher EVO 150mm F8 ED. Not a great piece of glass, but better than my 150mm F8 achromat. Good reports. Would probably do everything I need and would be fine visually too. I'm not super sensitive to CA. $2k shipped for me. But, why get this when I have a C8 Edge HD and an 80mm FPL53 APO? This makes me waffle.

 

Then, I started thinking, well, when I want to take a refractor with me, do I really want or need a 150mm? Maybe I can explore the smaller ones. I already have an 80mm APO, so I don't need something that small. I would want something in the 120~150mm range, because I don't want something close to my 80mm. I really think the 127mm and 130mm options for budget have the most bang, it seems. So this started me looking at potential "5 inch triplets" options in the same price ranges at the 150mm F8 ED doublet. While I get more aperture with the 6" doublet, why not entertain the idea of a 5" triplet?

 

I started looking at the Skywatcher 120mm ED (FPL53?) naturally. Supposed to be excellent for a doublet. I also looked at the AstroTech AT130EDT (FK-61?), also supposed to be pretty good. Then I looked at the ExploreScientific 127mm F7.5 FCD100 Triplet (FPL53?) and can get it in carbon fiber. Other options similar in price?

 

Then of course, I wonder... back to 150mm F8 ED doublet vs... the 127ish" triplets/doublets. Get the biggest cheapest ED? Or get a better corrected 5"?

 

Let's keep it centered around that $2k USD mark and would love to not have to replace the focuser.

 

Thoughts?

 

Very best,



#2 tony_spina

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 01:00 PM

For me that is an easy choice 

 

Skywatcher 120 ED.  Great glass (FPL 53) in a light package.  Lots of reviews here on the quality of the glass.  Currently under $1500 on Amazon 


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#3 vtornado

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 01:01 PM

I have seen your permanent mount, and of course you can mount all of the above in your observatory.

But what happens if you want to take it on the road?

 

I had the same 150/f8 as you.   It took a CG5 with 20lbs of counter weights, and that was kind of a pain to drag out,

and this was the minimum mount, a breeze would kill the view.  So if you think you are going to put this on a portable tripod, I would stick with 120.

My 120 f8 mounts on a cg4 or cg5.

 

I wish I had a 120 ed to tell you about, it is on my shopping list.

 

I have the 100mm ed, excellent scope, I wish it had more aperture.


Edited by vtornado, 25 August 2019 - 01:42 PM.

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#4 bobhen

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 03:48 PM

I would consider a Sky Watcher 120ED. They get nice reviews, are reasonably portable and a 120 would be a nice companion to your SCT.

 

The 150 ED is a pretty large scope and wouldn’t offer much more than your SCT

 

I like SW optical quality over Explore Scientific.

 

If you plan on doing mostly imaging, then consider a better-corrected triplet

 

Bob


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#5 Jond105

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 03:52 PM

Extremely biased answer here....

120ED

 

greatest purchase I ever made. I’m amazed at this scope and what it can do. This weekend was perfect seeing and the planets and stars did not disappoint. Again Biased opinion, but I don’t think you’d be disappointed myself either. 

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#6 Tyson M

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 05:15 PM

Not gonna get a different response from me. SW 120ED


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#7 drd715

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 06:35 PM

The APM ED's come with excellent focusers. Especially the 3.7 inch focuser for carrying the weight of a camera. Very solid telescope. The 140ED is probably better for astrophotography than the 152ED. The 140ED has better glass and is shorter plus will provide a wider field view than the 152ED. If you go that direction the 3.7 inch focuser is preferred. A little over your 2K limit, but on the used market the price point will fit.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
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#8 MalVeauX

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 07:09 PM



But what happens if you want to take it on the road?

I have a Twilight II that bosses around my 8" F6 Quartz newt, for visual, so I don't worry about a 150mm refractor. I have a 150mm F8 achromat, side by side with my newt the mount handles it like its nothing. So really, I'm not worried about mounting things. It's more a matter of the scope itself and what I can get for the cash.

 

48609877387_03c74bc0e3_c.jpg

 

Here, featured: 120mm on TW1, 200mm on TW2, C8Edge in Observatory on mount:

 

48609877882_124868e03a_c.jpg

 

Mainly seeking a refractor that will fill the void between my 80mm FPL53 and my C8 Edge. So, targeting that 120~150mm range. The Skywatcher 120ED gets tons of praise here. Just wondering, does the 150mm F8 ED EVO have a chance as well? And does a competing triplet or doublet matter? While an APM140 has a lot of clout, I would get one no doubt, but, I've seen its measurements and its performance is clearly meant for visual as its measurement charts are abysmal in the short wavelength spectrum where I would use it often, so while its great, its not optimal for my use.

 

Very best,


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#9 spencerj

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 07:34 PM

Not to side track, but really is amazing that we live in a time where some one can post a topic with the title. The budget Apo refractor is an actual thing. Don’t take that for granted.
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#10 YAOG

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 07:46 PM

Marty,

 

The SW Evo120 ED is one of the best values on the market in the 120-150mm ED range. They are even hard to beat optically with an FPL-51 class triplet. To beat the SW Evo120 ED you need to go to an FPL-53 class triplet or just buy the SW Evo120 ED.

 

There is another excellent 125mm doublet that has had the price slashed to blow them out, the Stellarvue Access 125mm ED. It is an excellent optic with an FDC100/Lanthanum doublet in an aluminum tube with retractable dew shield, hinged rings and a very good focuser. Optically as good or better than the SW120 and built to Stellarvue elevated specs which is to say not a budget build like the SkyWatcher 120ED. The other good news is they are cheaper than the SW120 ED but they are basically nearly sold out and no more are coming. I'd jump on the SV 125 at this price there is nothing else to compete with it but once they are gone it is the SW120ED that you want. 

 

Chip


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#11 IMB

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 07:53 PM

A variation on the SW 120 ED theme: a nicer tube and a very powerful 3" focuser:

 

med_gallery_264243_9629_206553.jpg

 

med_gallery_264243_9629_1972895.jpg

 

Under 2000 USD including shipping from Germany.


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#12 IMB

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 08:08 PM

<...> I'd jump on the SV 125 at this price there is nothing else to compete with it but once they are gone  <...>

Once SV 125 ED is gone, its identical twin will remain available. The price in USD is about the same.


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#13 ris242

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 09:08 PM

If people are searching for alternatives in Europe, you might as well add the 130mm FPL53 triplet 2.5" focuser though I would spend the extra and get the 3.7" (but you are now at 11kg)

 

https://www.teleskop...-Refractor.html

 

https://www.teleskop...r---FPL-53.html


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#14 tomjones

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 09:27 PM

APM 152 edapo f/8 about same planetary views as my 10" dob.

132 W.O. -53 triple f/7 noticeably better planet views than either of the above.

Glass matters.


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#15 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 09:34 PM

I'm in the same boat as the OP, and have been thinking about a ~5" refractor for awhile..

 

After having tried out an Explore Scientific 6" F8 apo, and having an excellent 8" F7 reflector, I am pretty well cured of any desire for a 6" refractor. The reflector will compete very favorably with any 6" refractor on planets--I use it for planets mostly from my balcony at home.

 

I'd like something in the 5" range in a refractor that would be easy to move around and take out when I feel like a simple set up that gives more than my 80mm refractor.

 

So I also think that the sweet spot is something relatively light weight but decent aperture.

 

I've gone back and forth on the Skywatcher 120 and the TS 125mm F7.8, and have also looked at the APM 140. 

 

My guess is that the APM is sufficiently heavy that I'd probably just go for the 8" reflector, and the same may be true of the TS.

 

So of this bunch, that leaves me thinking about the Skywatcher.

 

The only alternative would be the Tak TSA 120, but I'd only be interested to get one shipped from Asia as the U.S price bump is more than I could tolerate. 


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#16 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 11:02 PM

My story:

 

When I was looking at ~5 inch ED/Apo Refractors that were more capable at high magnifications than my 4 inch apo but still "grab and go" I decided a full 5 inch was just too big to be handy.

 

The Skywatcher 120 mm ED looked to be a nice size but I wanted something with a nicer build and a sliding dew shield. I settled on the Orion Eon 120 mm. It has the 120 mm Skywatcher ED optics but in a nicer OTA. They are no longer available new but they pop up on the used market

 

I am most happy with the Eon. It's a stunner to look at and to look through. I will admit to selling it after 2 years in a moment of financially induced guilt but I got to missing it so I recently bought a second one.. 

 

Eon Number 2 Backyard 1.jpg
 
Jon

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#17 MalVeauX

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 04:15 PM

Heya,

 

Portability is less of an issue. I have no problem mounting an 8" newt or 6" frac in minutes, effortless really, on a manual mount for quick visuals. My Obs has a mount and scope at all times, and it takes 5 minutes to open and turn it on and slew to a target. But, sometimes, I just want the primal feel of a manual mount and just cruise around and look at stuff with a manual mount and smaller scope without opening up the Obs (true, true laziness!). I have 6+ mounts, lots of scopes, and they setup in 1 minute to 2 minutes, literally, for visual from the Obs (already on the mounts).

 

I'm really just looking to add an instrument to fill the void. I have 40m to 200mm (I recently sold my 250mm, I will explore larger aperture again later when I figure out what I'm doing between a large 12~16" aperture dob and how I want to implement it versus adding a C11, that's another topic). I have several 8" (200mm) scopes, namely a C8 Edge HD and a 8" F6 Quartz newtonian. Both are excellent. My C8 Edge isn't something I'm going to take anywhere, and it generally lives on my mount in the Obs. My 8" Quartz is more of a visual instrument for me, I image with it too, but I like it for visual with the wider potential FOV and simple operation and it's not heavy so I don't mind picking it up to move it around. Mean while, my best APO is 80mm (FPL53 doublet), the other refractors are all wide field or large achromats, all with false color. So my void is the 5" ED/APO corrected refractor. I'm exploring that because it truly is still grab & go for me, affordable, and throws up a good image without effort nor waiting times. Mounting is not an issue at all. I can over-mount any 5" refractor at this point as long as its no longer than F9 or so (F15 would be a challenge), F6~F8 will be easy to mount currently.

 

Skywatcher 120mm ED (FPL53) has a lot of information and support. Focuser looks meh.

AstroTech 130mm Triplet has little support, less info, focuser looks great.

ExpSci 127mm F7.5 FCD100 Triplet (FPL53) has info, less support. Focuser looks ok, not sure.

 

I'm really curious at this point about the Skywatcher 120mm ED vs an ExplSci 127mm FCD100. Both are FPL53. The ExpSci has triplet. No one seems to push for this one though.

 

Does everyone think the Skywatcher 120ED is better or equivalent to the ExpSci Carbon Fiber 127mm FCD100 triplet really? Both can be had at $2k or less.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Current situation:

 

ST120 (> 4.3 degree FOV)

6" F8 Frac (achromat, lots of false color)

ED80 (FPL53)

TWII

 

48625898931_12cc3b1cd9_c.jpg

 

48625898061_5e8d92b648_c.jpg

 

Very best,



#18 tony_spina

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 04:54 PM

If visual only then go with the SW120 which is a doublet.   Lighter and faster cool down time 


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#19 YAOG

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 06:52 PM

I'm in the same boat as the OP, and have been thinking about a ~5" refractor for awhile..

 

After having tried out an Explore Scientific 6" F8 apo, and having an excellent 8" F7 reflector, I am pretty well cured of any desire for a 6" refractor. The reflector will compete very favorably with any 6" refractor on planets--I use it for planets mostly from my balcony at home.

 

I'd like something in the 5" range in a refractor that would be easy to move around and take out when I feel like a simple set up that gives more than my 80mm refractor.

 

So I also think that the sweet spot is something relatively light weight but decent aperture.

 

I've gone back and forth on the Skywatcher 120 and the TS 125mm F7.8, and have also looked at the APM 140. 

 

My guess is that the APM is sufficiently heavy that I'd probably just go for the 8" reflector, and the same may be true of the TS.

 

So of this bunch, that leaves me thinking about the Skywatcher.

 

The only alternative would be the Tak TSA 120, but I'd only be interested to get one shipped from Asia as the U.S price bump is more than I could tolerate. 

Scott,

 

A few years ago there were some incredible 130mm f/6 FPL-53 triplets being produced at the start of a shooting war between some of the major scope makers that never happened due to the recession that started in 2006/2007. The Astronomics AT130mm f/6 scopes were spectacular optically, very good mechanically but not particularly cheap. These pop up once in awhile, not often but they are out there and they were not over built tubes so they were lighter than the high priced spread scopes like AP and Tak. These days the only fast 130mm EDTs using FPL-53 ED glass or something like it are AP and LZOS and they are $6-$7K+ scopes. If you can find one the AT130 f/6 EDTs are compact, lightweight, outstanding optically and almost affordable due to the A-T name being more recently known for their value scopes. Worth looking for IMO. 

 

Otherwise the only real options IMO optically are the TS & SW 120mm FPL-53 ED doublets which are a lot less money and available new off the shelf which is a big plus IMO anyway.   

 

Chip


Edited by YAOG, 26 August 2019 - 08:36 PM.

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#20 bobhen

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 08:01 PM

 

 

Does everyone think the Skywatcher 120ED is better or equivalent to the ExpSci Carbon Fiber 127mm FCD100 triplet really? Both can be had at $2k or less.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Current situation:

 

ST120 (> 4.3 degree FOV)

6" F8 Frac (achromat, lots of false color)

ED80 (FPL53)

TWII

 

 

 

 

 

Very best,

Just because a refractor is a triplet is no guarantee of optical quality.

 

The lens figure and polish along with the glass type and lens design are all important.

 

At these lower price points, a doublet means one less lens element to figure and mount in a cell and that can translate to one less lens element to mess up and the doublet being a better overall optic.

 

There's a reason why high quality triplets cost what they do.

 

I haven’t seen a 127 FCD100 but I did observe with the previous version. Based on that experience, I’ll just say I would pick the SW 120. Replace the focuser if you feel the need.

 

Bob


Edited by bobhen, 26 August 2019 - 08:02 PM.

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#21 aa6ww

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 08:03 PM

You shouldn't get too hung up on FPL-53 Glass or any single glass type. I see this allot out here. Its never that glass alone that makes for a quality scope. Focal length plays a big part of the equation as well as the mating element.

FPL-53 is great in shorter focal length scopes but at F8, its not needed for the same color correction as needed at F7.That's why the SW-150ED or APM 152ED does not need that same glass type for excellent results.

Read up on why the lens designers balance glass type to mating element to focal length and even how all of this factors into the cost of scopes.

You could save quite a bit of money by doing your homework by not being so hung up on one glass type vs another once you understand the differences.

...Ralph





Hey all,
 
I am waffling all over the place. Looking to talk about non-premium ED/APOs for context. Both visual and some imaging application. Mounting is not an issue at all for me at these sizes, so weight and length are not an issue here. My only issue is overall value for aperture, correction (good doublet vs lesser triplet) and the focal-ratio to help figure out FOV and for imaging the speed of it. Imaging would be mostly for galaxies and solar system bodies. Visually it would be for literally everything.
 
At first, I thought I would just go for a Skywatcher EVO 150mm F8 ED. Not a great piece of glass, but better than my 150mm F8 achromat. Good reports. Would probably do everything I need and would be fine visually too. I'm not super sensitive to CA. $2k shipped for me. But, why get this when I have a C8 Edge HD and an 80mm FPL53 APO? This makes me waffle.
 
Then, I started thinking, well, when I want to take a refractor with me, do I really want or need a 150mm? Maybe I can explore the smaller ones. I already have an 80mm APO, so I don't need something that small. I would want something in the 120~150mm range, because I don't want something close to my 80mm. I really think the 127mm and 130mm options for budget have the most bang, it seems. So this started me looking at potential "5 inch triplets" options in the same price ranges at the 150mm F8 ED doublet. While I get more aperture with the 6" doublet, why not entertain the idea of a 5" triplet?
 
I started looking at the Skywatcher 120mm ED (FPL53?) naturally. Supposed to be excellent for a doublet. I also looked at the AstroTech AT130EDT (FK-61?), also supposed to be pretty good. Then I looked at the ExploreScientific 127mm F7.5 FCD100 Triplet (FPL53?) and can get it in carbon fiber. Other options similar in price?
 
Then of course, I wonder... back to 150mm F8 ED doublet vs... the 127ish" triplets/doublets. Get the biggest cheapest ED? Or get a better corrected 5"?
 
Let's keep it centered around that $2k USD mark and would love to not have to replace the focuser.
 
Thoughts?
 
Very best,


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#22 stevew

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 08:07 PM

A variation on the SW 120 ED theme: a nicer tube and a very powerful 3" focuser:

 

med_gallery_264243_9629_206553.jpg

 

med_gallery_264243_9629_1972895.jpg

 

Under 2000 USD including shipping from Germany.

Way nicer tube and focuser than the typical budget skywatcher..waytogo.gif


Edited by stevew, 26 August 2019 - 08:25 PM.

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#23 aa6ww

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 08:20 PM

There are no bad 120 to 130mm ED or triplet refractors on the market today. Find one that makes you smile when you look at it, is comfortable on the mount you plan to use it with and you can afford comfortably and you absolutely will not be disappointed with it.
Some people are hung up on sliding dew shields, some like the black tubes, some the white tubes, I don't like the pebble finish scopes but that's just me.

Any focuser you get, regardless of the scope, can be upgraded to a better aftermarket one if you want one.

I've noticed in this hobby, there's plenty of wiggle room in costs even if you claim to have a tight budget. Sacrifice something else in your life for a few months and get the scope you want most of all or you will not be happy in the long run.

Its a great hobby, the equipment is half the fun. Spoil yourself and get what you want. Refractors are Great and fun even just to look at. Take a bunch of photos of it when you get it and enjoy life!!!!

..Ralph
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#24 droe

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 08:20 PM

The ES 127mm APO FCD100 CF is spectacular. Absolutely no CA and the most crystal clear views of the Moon I have ever see in any telescope. It is totally a perfect AP scope.

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#25 Gary Riley

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 11:10 PM

I enjoy my SW 120 ED Pro!  Fairly light weight, ready to go once outside, nice pin-point stars and color.  I can not detect any CA with it.  Focuser can need a little bit of adjustment from time to time to prevent slippage with heavy eyepieces when angled fairly high.  Otherwise, a very good scope for the price, IMO.

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