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What's the pecking order for quality

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#1 stevereecy

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:07 AM

Hey guys,

 

I promise my posts will slow down soon...I'm just kind of motivated right now :)

 

I just got a Nexstar 4se and I love it.  I'm really impressed with the quality of the image.  Yet I'm already thinking about upgrading at some point due to the capability of my mount.

 

That got me to thinking:  What are the better Cats & Casses, (brands/models) quality-wise?  Is there a "best to worst" list?

 

FWIW, my question has nothing to do with the mount or tracking systems...only optical quality.

 

TIA,

 

Steve


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#2 SDTopensied

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:12 AM

There isn't much difference in optical quality between the mass produced brands these days.  The differentiator is customer service.

 

Explore Scientific tops the list by a wide margin in that area.

 

-Steve


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#3 macdonjh

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:37 AM

I think I generally agree with SDTopensied.  If you're looking for an "open" scope rather than a SCT or Maksutov, there are Vixen (Vixen Modified Cassegrain) and Takahashi (Mewlon Dall-Kirkham).  Then, there are custom-ish scopes out there: PlaneWave, CFF, Officina Stellare, AG Optical...



#4 SandyHouTex

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:50 AM

Best to Worst list with best on top:

 

  1. Celestron Edge HD ( but the smallest is 8 inches so it won't fit on you Nexstar mount.)
  2. Celestron XLT (these come in smaller sizes.  a 5 inch would fit nicely on your Nexstar mount.)
  3. Meade LX 65 5 inch Mak.


#5 Eddgie

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:57 AM

Despite ongoing threads that suggest every new telescope is "Special," any time spent pursuing published tests will quickly dispel the notion that this particular model is somehow "better" than this other model.  (The C9.25 was for a decade after Ed Ting's review elevated to Level 5 magic performance but I can point to a dozen tests that completely dispel this, showing that just like all  the others, quality varies). 

 

http://teleskop-spez...-teleskope.html

 

http://fidgor.ru/Observers/test.html

 

Now, if you are talking refractor, I think it is a different situation.  There are lens grinding machines that can lay down excellent curves on smaller lenses, and looking at many of the tests sites, it is pretty easy to see that many refractors are indeed coming down to the consumer with quite good optics on a serial basis (reliably well above the diffraction limit, and often very solidly in excellent territory).

 

For the typical broad-appeal Cat consumer brands though, quality varies between poor and excellent with (in my own estimation) the peak of the bell curve solidly in the "Good" range.  Some will be excellent and there will be an occasional lemon (there is one in the tests from the first link that is about as bad as I have seen in recent years) but most will be good optically at a good price point. 


Edited by Eddgie, 09 October 2019 - 10:57 AM.

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#6 sg6

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 11:27 AM

Unfortunatey a degree of luck appears to come into it all.

With a fair spread of final quality. Hence the luck aspect.

 

One small point is the 4SE is a Mak Cass, many others - bigger - are Schmit Cass.

And an interesting post about 4 months ago had the title along the lines of "Has anyone got a good SCT?"



#7 Chuck Hards

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 11:31 AM

It is not possible to judge telescope quality by brand or model.   


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#8 BravoFoxtrot

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 11:35 AM

Sample variation is very real.  In my experience, you can get a great or not so great sample from almost any manufacturer.  However, I believe probability of getting a less than a great sample from a premium or boutique manufacturer is significantly less than the more mass produced options.  


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#9 Bataleon

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 12:02 PM

Most of the common brands of telescopes, Celestron, Orion, Skywatcher etc are made by the same Chinese manufacturer, Synta, so all you're really getting between brands is different badging and color schemes. Explore Scientific and Meade are the outliers and work with different manufacturers, hence the different aesthetics, specs and whatnot, but nearly all popular commercial telescopes are manufactured in China. Generally, this has no bearing on the optical quality as they're all well made in that respect. The common bad thread here tends to be collimation and quality assurance. If they actually spent the time and manpower small private companies do ensuring every single OTA they ship was a work of art, this wouldn't be a concern, but it's usually nothing a little tweaking by a knowledgeable hand can't correct.

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#10 mich_al

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 03:10 PM

 

Best to Worst list with best on top:

 

  1. Celestron Edge HD ( but the smallest is 8 inches so it won't fit on you Nexstar mount.)
  2. Celestron XLT (these come in smaller sizes.  a 5 inch would fit nicely on your Nexstar mount.)
  3. Meade LX 65 5 inch Mak.

 

Wow   ---  the whole top of your list disappeared !!


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#11 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 03:19 PM

You'll find quite a bit that folks who have an SCT will say "I think I got a good one" and then you'll get feedback from other folks looking through the scope saying that you got a good one. Inconsistency seems to be the norm for SCT's. I think my 2016 C8 is pretty good because I can resolve the Cassini Division very well in good seeing. That may not be the best of tests, but its ok for me. For me currently convenience is the most important, so an SCT is easily transportable to the dark site



#12 SeattleScott

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 04:32 PM

The vast majority of SCTs are Celestron and Meade. A third believe Celestron is clearly superior, a third favor Meade, and a third don’t know/don’t care. Whether Meade or Celestron it will be a mass produced optic subject to sample variation. Granted there are a couple premium brands out there with great reputation but few buy them because of the high price. And Meade/Celestron have excellent GoTo systems, and let’s face it, how many people out there use 8”+ SCT on manual mounts anymore? I know, some do, but probably 90% of SCTs are on GoTo mounts. So people normally opt for the excellent electronics and good optics (and low cost) of mass produced SCTs.

Scott
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#13 Bataleon

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 04:52 PM

The vast majority of SCTs are Celestron and Meade. A third believe Celestron is clearly superior, a third favor Meade, and a third don’t know/don’t care. Whether Meade or Celestron it will be a mass produced optic subject to sample variation. Granted there are a couple premium brands out there with great reputation but few buy them because of the high price. And Meade/Celestron have excellent GoTo systems, and let’s face it, how many people out there use 8”+ SCT on manual mounts anymore? I know, some do, but probably 90% of SCTs are on GoTo mounts. So people normally opt for the excellent electronics and good optics (and low cost) of mass produced SCTs.

Scott

So far my goto SCT has been spot on for nearly everything except very difficult targets like Neptune but even then, it's not far off. Speaking of goto mounts, I'm the proud new owner of an EQ6-R pro which should interface with just about anything with a Vixen rail. I plan to defork my 8" SCT and put it in the EQ. Further down the road, I'm planning to perhaps acquire one of these higher end SCTs of a larger caliber than my current one, at which point I'll put the C8 back on its OEM mount and sell it.

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#14 SeattleScott

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 05:31 PM

Yes, if you want one of the high end models you usually put it on a 3rd party GoTo EQ Mount. Good plan.

Scott

#15 carolinaskies

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 05:34 PM

My Opinion - others may differ. 


In the off the shelf Mak world it's 
1Questar
2Everyone else

In the SCT world off the shelf it's Meade/Celestron anything else is a variant of the Celestron/Synta with different focuser options. 

ACF and Edge HD are so similar only a small handful of overly vocal owners who also spend 200+ on individual eyepieces believe there is enough of a difference to call one better. 

Quality control of optic production is somewhere above 99.9% because it's computer controlled.  This means mirrors and correctors are by and large at least 1/4 wave or better.
 
Quality control of final assembly pairing of mirrors/correctors is somewhere around 99% or better because otherwise there would be constant reports of very poor performance out of the box.  


 


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#16 Seaquel47

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 05:49 PM

FWIW, last month at our astronomy club meeting I met the owner of Company Seven in informal conversations after the meeting.  He was visiting our area.  It didn't take long to realize he knew his stuff and that they do a lot of work for NASA and the government.  He talked candidly about various brands saying that for the most part they are all good.  If I were to buy new I would seriously consider them because they have high end testing equipment and they test every scope before sending it out.  He said Celestron hand picks scopes to send to him because he is so picky and will send back poor performers.  


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#17 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 07:36 PM

FWIW, last month at our astronomy club meeting I met the owner of Company Seven in informal conversations after the meeting.  He was visiting our area.  It didn't take long to realize he knew his stuff and that they do a lot of work for NASA and the government.  He talked candidly about various brands saying that for the most part they are all good.  If I were to buy new I would seriously consider them because they have high end testing equipment and they test every scope before sending it out.  He said Celestron hand picks scopes to send to him because he is so picky and will send back poor performers.  

How does Company7 work? Their website is a little odd. Does it cost more to buy from them?


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#18 Mitrovarr

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:52 PM

Wow, that website is crazy. No online ordering? They must be carried 100% by their reputation.
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#19 Scott in NC

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 09:06 PM

There isn't much difference in optical quality between the mass produced brands these days.  The differentiator is customer service.

 

Explore Scientific tops the list by a wide margin in that area.

 

-Steve

I believe the OP was inquiring about SCTs (or other Cassegrain-type scopes).  I'm not aware that Explore Scientific sells any of these.


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#20 Wildetelescope

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 09:36 PM

FWIW, last month at our astronomy club meeting I met the owner of Company Seven in informal conversations after the meeting.  He was visiting our area.  It didn't take long to realize he knew his stuff and that they do a lot of work for NASA and the government.  He talked candidly about various brands saying that for the most part they are all good.  If I were to buy new I would seriously consider them because they have high end testing equipment and they test every scope before sending it out.  He said Celestron hand picks scopes to send to him because he is so picky and will send back poor performers.  

Marty is an interesting character but he knows his optics and won’t steer you wrong.  Bought my first scope from them years ago.  The website is at least 20 years old:-).  Best to call them directly.  If you are local, a trip to the store is very much worth the time.  Part show room, part museum.  It is the only place I know of that you can actually look through a televue or AP scope before you buy one.  

 

Jmd 


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#21 Wildetelescope

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 09:58 PM

Hey guys,

 

I promise my posts will slow down soon...I'm just kind of motivated right now smile.gif

 

I just got a Nexstar 4se and I love it.  I'm really impressed with the quality of the image.  Yet I'm already thinking about upgrading at some point due to the capability of my mount.

 

That got me to thinking:  What are the better Cats & Casses, (brands/models) quality-wise?  Is there a "best to worst" list?

 

FWIW, my question has nothing to do with the mount or tracking systems...only optical quality.

 

TIA,

 

Steve

As others have said,  most brands are pretty good, barring the occasional lemon.  Pick one and go.    Buy from a reputable dealer, so you can return if there is an obvious problem.   My best view of Jupiter came with a buddy’s 10 in Meade sct. My most memorable view of the moon was with my c8 edge at 400x.  Most memorable view of Saturn was with my C11.  8 inches is a nice aperture size for an SCT.  Small enough to handle easily, large enough to have some serious resolution on planets, and good light gathering for DSOs. When you get one, learn to check and adjust the collimation.  That is likely the number one reason folks become unsatisfied with their  SCT s performance.  Checking the Collimation of the scope is like changing the oil in the car.  Most important have fun!

 

cheers! 

 

Jmd 


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#22 stevereecy

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:09 PM

I believe the OP was inquiring about SCTs (or other Cassegrain-type scopes).  I'm not aware that Explore Scientific sells any of these.

OP here:  I think that's right.  Quite honestly, though I've even built my own dob in the past, i am a virtual noob when it comes to SCTs.  The fact is that i don't feel confident identifying the difference between these.  I know mine is a Maksutov Cassegrain.  I know my Comet Catcher is a Schmidt Newtonian, and I understand how they work.  Yet I don't know what terminology best describes the entire class of these short-tube, light folding wonders...all I know is they all seem to work well and have such a long focal length relative to their actual length and correlating weight.  But  I'm quickly becoming a big fan.  I just showed my 16 year old daughter the moon and Saturn and got a genuine exclamation of interest out of her typically unimpressed self....that's saying something!

 

Anyway, my interest is that I think I can move up from my Nexstar 4SE to at least a 5-inch, and maybe a 6-inch and still keep under the weight I'm trying to stay under.  However, after reading what I've just read, I may just hold onto my 4SE until after I purchase a 6-inch scope to assure myself that I don't inadvertently release a excellent performer to the wild.  For now, I don't know whether what I have is average or above average, but I'm impressed by it...last night I saw the Casini Division boldly...I need to figure out other ways to test it (splitting double stars maybe?)    

 

I can say I do get the manufacturing variability concept.  20 years ago I bought an 6-inch unlabeled circa 1980s Celestron reflector that worked so well that a seasoned amateur looked through it at the cigar shaped galaxy, turned around and said, 'mark my words...never sell this telescope".  Yet I did.  But thankfully bought it back 10 years later.  I need to get that scope up and running, or replace it with a Mak that works as well.

 

To be brutally honest, i sometimes wonder if I've been lucky with finding better-performing scopes there and there, or whether I'm just easily impressed.  I'd like to think the former over the latter, but in the end, does it really matter as long as I'm happy?


Edited by stevereecy, 09 October 2019 - 10:16 PM.

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#23 Mitrovarr

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:12 PM

I believe the OP was inquiring about SCTs (or other Cassegrain-type scopes).  I'm not aware that Explore Scientific sells any of these.

ES sells mak-casses, I believe. Also mak-newts.



#24 Chris Y

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 12:33 AM

ES sells mak-casses, I believe. Also mak-newts.

Eeyup, I can vouch for that.  I have an ES 152 Mak and I love it.  It's especially nice that it has a 2" focuser (actually 2.5" hex) so I can take advantage of low power, wide field 2" eyepieces.  My 35MM 70° Bresser gives a TFOV of 1.29°.

 

The ES 152 Mak might be a bit heavy for the NextStar mount.  It's weight isn't listed on the website, so I called customer service and got Scott Roberts, the company president.  He had on of the guys grab a 152 from the floor and weigh it on their shipping scale, and it came in at 17 pounds with rings, RDF, diagonal, and the factory supplied 25MM Super Plossl.

 

And Mitrovarr is correct that they also make a Mak-Newt; the 152MM David H. Levy Comet Hunter that is sold exclusively at Woodland Hills.

 

 

Edit:  The 152 Mak is the only one in the ES Mak series that uses rings.  The 127's and down have fixed vixen rails.


Edited by Chris Y, 10 October 2019 - 01:32 AM.

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#25 Stephen Kennedy

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 03:51 AM

OP here:  I think that's right.  Quite honestly, though I've even built my own dob in the past, i am a virtual noob when it comes to SCTs.  The fact is that i don't feel confident identifying the difference between these.  I know mine is a Maksutov Cassegrain.  I know my Comet Catcher is a Schmidt Newtonian, and I understand how they work.  Yet I don't know what terminology best describes the entire class of these short-tube, light folding wonders...all I know is they all seem to work well and have such a long focal length relative to their actual length and correlating weight.  But  I'm quickly becoming a big fan.  I just showed my 16 year old daughter the moon and Saturn and got a genuine exclamation of interest out of her typically unimpressed self....that's saying something!

 

Anyway, my interest is that I think I can move up from my Nexstar 4SE to at least a 5-inch, and maybe a 6-inch and still keep under the weight I'm trying to stay under.  However, after reading what I've just read, I may just hold onto my 4SE until after I purchase a 6-inch scope to assure myself that I don't inadvertently release a excellent performer to the wild.  For now, I don't know whether what I have is average or above average, but I'm impressed by it...last night I saw the Casini Division boldly...I need to figure out other ways to test it (splitting double stars maybe?)    

 

I can say I do get the manufacturing variability concept.  20 years ago I bought an 6-inch unlabeled circa 1980s Celestron reflector that worked so well that a seasoned amateur looked through it at the cigar shaped galaxy, turned around and said, 'mark my words...never sell this telescope".  Yet I did.  But thankfully bought it back 10 years later.  I need to get that scope up and running, or replace it with a Mak that works as well.

 

To be brutally honest, i sometimes wonder if I've been lucky with finding better-performing scopes there and there, or whether I'm just easily impressed.  I'd like to think the former over the latter, but in the end, does it really matter as long as I'm happy?

20 years ago, Newtonian reflectors sold by Celestron were actually made by Vixen of Japan which produces superior optics.  Newtonians sold by Celestron in recent years have been made by Synta of China and while not bad, are no Vixens.


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