As you settle in with your Questar, I'd be interested to know your thoughts about how it compares with how you remember your ETX 90. Your comparison immediately brought to mind Ed Ting's writeup entitled "90 mm Maksutov Comparo."
Well I’ve read Ed Ting’s reviews many times and had been a little anxious when he said he didn’t get on with the finder and it took time for him to master the Q. Well thankfully I didn’t have those issues. With a break in the bad weather and pretty decent seeing I took the Questar out on the tristand and within a few minutes had roughly polar aligned and turned on the tracking. From that moment the tracking just disappeared into the background, worked flawlessly and silently. I had pondered whether to use the tristand as it’s still quite heavy but having now used it I realize it’s a perfect partner for the Q. Once sitting it all just feels right. The rotating eye piece tray is positioned perfectly, slow motion controls for alignment smooth and the whole thing just feels part of a system that doesn’t get in the way.
Optically, even before the scope had reached perfect equilibrium a quick check on a few stars showed beautiful and perfect concentric rings without the internal barlow. When the scope cooled completely the stars really were pin pricks and even though everything feels a little tight the 24mm Brandon is a joy.
Where as Ed’s review perhaps suggested the finder wasn’t a great experience it was probably my favorite aspect. Flicking the finder switch and pushing the little scope to a region of the sky, then flicking the switch back felt incredibly natural, fast fluid and effective. The finder view for me was perfect and switching back to the genuine scope view amazing. I certainly didn’t use it to do some serious star hopping but for the casual observer I think it’s one of the best finder systems around.
In terms of the views the 24 although a little cramped was probably my favorite of the night and just managed to fit the majority of the double cluster into the view. I’ve viewed the double cluster in all my scopes and although nothing beats the FSQ130 for the smallest pin pricks of light I really enjoyed just how sharp the optics of the Q where. I still think I’ll need a little wider and will look for the 32mm.
With limited targets, I didn’t have a long test of the internal barlow. I certainly noted that once engaged the barlow did steal a fraction from the perfect concentric rings dependent on the eyepiece. Oddly it appeared to effect the 24mm more than the 8. Without the internal barlow seeing perfect bullseyes was very rewarding but engaging the barlow and seeing not so quite perfect bullseyes not so much. I’m being picky for sure as the difference is very small at 8mm but it is present.
I also found that the engagement of the barlow did not have a definitive stop and start position. Where as the finder had a very rewarding and clear start and stop to the motion I felt the barlow movement had almost 4 positions. A position just before the start and a position just after the barlow had been engaged. Moving incredibly gently you could still feel the positions past the start and stop. I don’t know if it was the lever simply slipping or the movement assembly itself but overall it certainly did not detract from the experience.
So the first few hours of the little Q were as good as I’d hoped and I’m some ways better. It’s an incredible package that really does let you see what you want to see. It doesn’t have the grasp of a larger scope but brings in a huge amount of joy bringing in what it can see. The overall experience with the Q is real and certainly worth the premium.
Lastly, it’s been a long time since I last had the ETX but still remember fondly some of the views it brought up once you’d managed to fight it to get it to point to the right place. With it’s awful finder, loose gears it was always a pain and detriment to the experience. It’s views though were good but this little Q is a noticeable step up. Finding focus is literally a snap. The focuser buttery smooth and the focus point simply snaps into view. Neither my ETX or Q had or have any focus shift to worry about but optically I think this Q is genuinely a notch sharper. When the moon finally arrives I’ll be able to check more. Hopefully the internal barlow isn’t going to steal too much contrast if it is ever so slightly out but time will tell.
Overall, thrilled with just what this little scope can deliver. Thank you Questar.