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So whats all the hype about 3.5 Questar scopes?

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#1 astro42

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 12:51 PM

Excuse my ignorance but why pay that kind of money for a 3.5 inch scope.

I understand the optics and build quality are top of the line but 3.5" in very limiting considering the price of the Questar scopes.

I'm sure you can buy a nice 5" Takahashi or other higher end refractors for that kind of money that will give you a lot better views.


Edited by astro42, 16 January 2020 - 12:54 PM.

 

#2 Optics Patent

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 12:56 PM

Why?  Same reason Questar owners all drive Bugattis, smoke $100 cigars, fly in our private jets, and drink $1000 wine:  To irritate the masses.

But seriously, you should try one in person.  They are one of the beautiful creations of man, including aesthetics, craftsmanship, design, and performance.  A pleasure to touch, use, and own.

You may as well ask why people would pay $100,000 for a fine new car when a $5000 used Mustang goes nearly as fast.


 

#3 Erik Bakker

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:03 PM

Asking the question is answering it...

 

Keep in mind that a Q 3.5 is fully mounted and accessorized for visual use. It's probably the telescope that stood the test of time better than all others, so there are quite a few people that find benefits in a small, high quality, beautiful 3.5" instrument in a compact, self contained, easy to carry observatory package of 7 lbs.


 

#4 mtminnesota

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:06 PM

On the practical side:  Extreme portability and ease of use.

 

On the perceived value side:  Fine craftsmanship, and the fascination and satisfaction that goes with that.

 

Oversimplified, yes, but I think this goes a long way to define the Questar ownership experience.  It's not about limiting magnitude, Strehl measurements, etc.


 

#5 ShaulaB

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:32 PM

If you would look through one, you would withdraw your question. They live up to the hype.


 

#6 Barlowbill

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:33 PM

I really enjoy reading the Questar forum.  I have an ETX90-AT and enjoy it very much.  So, I too wanted to know what it was about the Questar 3.5 that enthralled so many people.  From what I have gathered, it is the build quality and engineering  as well as superb optics.  I get it.  I drive a 2005 Silverado pickup but I enjoy reading about Corvettes, etc.  Love the Q pictures also.  Art.


 

#7 REC

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:37 PM

Questar owners probably have Leica cameras as well!

 

Seriously, if you really want to learn more about the scope and how it stacks up o the sort of knock offs, you can google Ed Ting from Mass. Very knowledgeable astronomy guy and he once did a thorough review of the scope and compared others of the same size. He tested the Questar vs the Meade ETX -90 and a Cekestron C-90 version. Interesting read. I have a ETX-90 since 1998 and used it to photograph the Solar eclipse of 1998 and still use it. My buddy had the Questar and the pictures looked pretty much the same.


 

#8 RobertPettengill

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:39 PM

Everyone has their own reasons.  

 

For some it's the beauty of its award winning design.

 

For me it's ease of use and portability.  The ability to instantly switch from visual to astrophotography is a big one to me.  The ability to carry-on a complete astrophotography kit on an airplane.  The ability to take images like this from such a tiny scope.

JupiterIo170426-13.jpg

 

Finally you have a scope so rugged and highly regarded that it is still in production after 65 years with ready availability of parts and repairs.  

 

The cost can be a bargain when you look at the cost of outfitting a 90 mm class APO refractor with everything needed to match what is included in the Questar package.   In the end the Questar is the same or less and is much smaller.

 

It isn't my only telescope, the Questar really shines as a Solar System scope because of it's f/15 optics.  It is unsurpassed at full disk images of the moon:

 

Terlingua Crescent Moon (image too larger for CN)

 

For more about the Questar see:

 

The Questar Telescope

 

 


 

#9 Gregory Gross

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:41 PM

In addition to what others on this thread have written, what distinguishes Questar telescopes from all others is:

(1) The very unique overall experience one gets at the eyepiece. Working the control box levers, handling the slow motion controls, enjoying its aesthetics, etc.: there is simply no other telescope on the market that offers one the experience that a Questar does.

(2) Being linked to a lengthy heritage going back to an age before humans had put Sputnik or anything else into space. Indeed, the Questar was the first production catadioptric telescope to reach the market, and it's incredible that it has been in continuous production since 1954.


 

#10 siriusandthepup

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:42 PM

The same reason that a car guy who owns a new Corvette would own and enjoy a classic Mini Cooper as well.

 

The same reason a gun guy who owns a 50 cal Barrett would also own and enjoy a nice and expensive(relatively) 22 cal target rifle.

 

The same reason as in any hobby that you have been involved with for many years - you have been at it long enough to appreciate the finer things in your hobby, old enough and mature enough to realize that there is no "one" best, and also financially well off to be able to afford something truly exquisite.

 

smile.gifwaytogo.gif


Edited by siriusandthepup, 16 January 2020 - 01:43 PM.

 

#11 Richard O'Neill

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 01:51 PM

All of the above - and more. flowerred.gif


 

#12 astro42

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 02:02 PM

What I kinda thought but just had to ask.

Thanks!


 

#13 Gregory Gross

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 02:37 PM

I'm going to go out on a limb and share a general observation of mine, an observation that is by no means directed at anyone on this thread but that this thread did bring to mind:

 

There are some who can become quite defensive about justifying their willingness to pay a very large amount of money for something. There are others who are quick to point out what they perceive as the absurdity of paying a lot of money for something that does not deliver a lot of value. When these two parties mix, volatile reactions can often result.

 

I think any honest Questar owner will acknowledge that paying $5150, which is the current starting price for a new standard 3.5-inch Questar, is a lot of money. That honest owner will also concede that the aperture of a 3.5-inch Questar telescope is subject to the same laws of physics as any other aperture is. Honesty will still further demand a recognition of the particular shortcomings that are inherent in any catadioptric telescope. Every telescope design represents a compromise of some kind, and Questar's Maksutov-Cassegrain design is no exception to this.

 

But any product that represents a hand-built, first-rate execution of a given optical design that is realized in small batches by an experienced, dedicated, and proud group of crafters is simply going to cost a premium. I would expect nothing less if I were on that end of the transaction.

 

There is no doubt that one can obtain any number of telescopes that are capable of providing deeply satisfying experiences at the eyepiece for a fraction of the cost of a Questar. I myself have mass-produced telescopes that have given me just that on countless occasions, and I value those telescopes for that reason. But I also think that, for all the ways that folks have commented on in this thread and others, there is something special and unmatched about Questars. It's a strong affinity for these qualities that make for proud and very happy owners of these unique instruments.


 

#14 Toxo144

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 02:41 PM

@Astro42,

 

You are correct, for the most part. You could spend the same on a nice 5" Tak and have a FANTASTIC scope.  Cool.

 

BUT....When you take delivery of that nice new Tak, lets review what comes in the box.  A really nice telescope.  YEAH! Focuser and a dew cap - check.  And maybe mounting rings.  OK. But don't you need some other stuff before you can get first light with that gorgeous new Tak?? 

 

Yeah, you do.  And since it is a Tak, for Pete's sake, you are NOT going to outfit this magnificent scope with bargain basement diagonal, finder, eyepieces, mount, Barlow, et cetera.  Are you?

 

NO WAY, Jose. Lets start adding up how much more you need to spend before that gorgeous Tak becomes minimally usable....well, I bet you see the point.

 

I would be willing to bet that there isn't a single Questar owner on this group that wouldn't LOVE to have that 5" Tak.  I am sure that some do!  I, too, own premium APO refractor triplets.  LOVE 'em.  But I can also guarantee that the scope they use the most for visual is NOT the premium APO.  It is. in fact, the little 3.5" Questar.  Take it outside, with a TriStand even, with one hand.  Set up, very accurately  polar align, tracking in less that five minutes. ON A NINE VOLT BATTERY!  GREAT  views of solar system objects, double stars, moon, and the brighter DSO's.  Only have 45 minutes before the clouds roll in?  I had this situation last night.  Questar came out, had a great time looking at Venus, Double Cluster, Neptune, Pleiades, and Orion Nebula. Clouds rolled in, so grabbed the rig with one hand and took it inside.  Would I have done that with a Tak, AP, TV or other refractor on a portable equatorial mount??

 

NO WAY, Jose.

 

Each telescope is a specialized tool.  NO scope does it all.  EACH is wonderful in it's own right.  You have to USE and EXPERIENCE each to appreciate what it does really well. I would urge ANYONE who asked the same, very legitimate question you raise to ask someone who owns the 3.5" Questar  to let you try it.  Only then can you appreciate what a complete, extremely portable, fast set-up and tear-down, pleasure to use scope with fantastic views the Questar is.  Only then will your question be truly answered.  And THEN if you decide you'd rather own the Tak, that's OK.  If you then wan the Questar, that's OK too.

 

But when I need a scope to take with me on a plane flight to a distant location,  I can GUARANTEE that I'll be taking the 3.5" Questar.  NOT the 5" APO.  THAT is why I paid what I did for this little gem of a telescope.

 

Try it!!  

 

Toxo


 

#15 Loren Gibson

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 03:39 PM

Good question. I went through that kind of thought process (what do buy for a premium scope) when I purchased my Questar Standard 4 years ago. I wound up paying about $7,500 (if I recall correctly) altogether for the scope, Tristand, full aperture solar filter, and all six Brandon eyepieces. I was also looking at alternatives like the premium refractors and mounts as alternatives. Note well that when purchasing new, the 5” Tak with a mount is likely to set you back more than what I spent, so you have to scale back the size of a premium refractor. At the time I was thinking of maybe a TEC 140 (actually bigger than 5", despite what I just said) with a GM8, among other things, as an alternative.

 

Gregory Goss is correct in that every telescope marketed is a compromise of some sort. If you ignore aesthetic considerations (things like its appearance, if it’s collectible or antique, personal preferences, made in USA or not, etc.), every telescope is the result of design compromises (cost being one of the constraints). If it were otherwise, we’d all own the same telescope system. For me and my particular circumstances, the size and weight of the Questar 3.5”, it's built-in mount, and the Tristand pier, won the decision for me, as much as I’d enjoy other premium scopes.

 

Loren


Edited by Loren Gibson, 16 January 2020 - 03:40 PM.

 

#16 rcwolpert

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 04:57 PM

Great answers. The only thing I would add is that with careful searching, you can get an excellent, like new Q3.5 for $2000 - $2500. The one I purchased for $2300 was used only one or two times when I received it. I couldn’t distinguish it from new. The power cord was never unwound. It’s worth the wait.


 

#17 astro42

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 05:46 PM

I'm sure if I had the cash I would buy a Questar.

But I need to stop dreaming.


 

#18 medpeds

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 08:46 PM

As one who recently acquired a new Q 3.5 from New Hope, I made a long and careful appraisal of pros and cons before purchasing my Q. I indeed considered the purchase of a small apo refractor however as pointed out above, significant additional outlay is needed to similarly equip it to the baseline features of a Q 3.5. In the end, I ended up purchasing a new Q 3.5 standard with broadband coatings, and I could not be happier with it! There are tangible and intangible reasons why I DID purchase it, and these include the following:

 

1) Exquisite optics (with essentially a perfect star test in my unit)

2) Ease of use (lightweight, portable, stows in an elegant protective case, built in finder, Barlow, and easy solar filter use.) 

3) Integrated tripod mount. Although criticized by some, I have used the tripod legs to set up for ad hoc solar viewing through an open window in several minutes inside of my home office

4) 9 V Battery operated clock drive

5) Extremely smooth and refined movement

6) Essentially a work of art that invites one to fiddle with and gaze at.

7) Long-lasting heirloom that I hope my grandchildren will still be able to enjoy someday!

 

In order to appreciate the attributes of a Questar, one needs to actually use it. One of the greatest conveniences that I find is the integrated finder from which I can almost instantly switch to 2 higher powers without taking out an eyepiece or mounting a Barlow lens. It is a relaxed and engaging observation experience. The scope is easy to use for both astronomical and terrestrial observation. For instance, my wife and I were fascinated with close-up views of a burning candle 12 feet away in the kitchen.

 

So why did I buy a Questar? The smile on my face when I use it is the reason!


 

#19 Erik Bakker

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 02:19 AM

Well said!


 

#20 Erik Bakker

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 02:25 AM

While the price of admittance for a 3.5" Questar is quite high, especially if related to it's aperture, the price for the total observing package is already quite reasonable. The total cost of ownership, especially over decades of happy use, is low. As is the price per foton directed to your retina.

 

No other 3.5" scope is as easy to use or as beautiful. So they tend to see a lot of (star)light wink.gif


 

#21 RMay

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 03:23 AM

I’ve owned my Questar 3.5 for now over 37 years. It’s always been and remains a pleasure to use, from grab-n-go nature observing to serious lunar, planetary and even deep-space observing when conditions are generous. My first scope was a Celestron C-8, which consisted of the scope stored in a footlocker-sized case, plus a pretty hefty tripod and wedge.

It was after enough schlepping that I learned a lesson, and that is a telescope is only as fun and useful and interesting as it is easy to use, and I don’t believe there’s a telescope on the market that is as easy to use and as high-quality with a reputation to match as the Questar. And unlike some other products where used versions maintain or exceed the value of new (Rolex and Patek Philippe come to mind), a good used Questar can be purchased for 1/2 to 1/3 of the price of a new telescope. Careful and cautious buying can get you a product you’ll be proud to own, proud to use, and proud to pass down to your children when that time comes.

I’ve never once regretted buying mine...

If you’re thinking of getting one, eat beans once a week and save up for it. I expect you will love it, too.

Ron

Edited by RMay, 17 January 2020 - 03:24 AM.

 

#22 Vinito

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 10:55 AM

Not being a Questar owner myself but admiring them from ads since the early '80's, I'll toss in something I've noticed lately that applies to the question.

 

I have piddled with telescopes since I was a kid, most of the time dealing with horrible, cheap toy equipment. Obviously that stuff is mostly a pain to use interspersed with brief successful viewing experiences every once in a while. Just the past couple weeks, I figured I'd give it another try but I decided I'm totally out of the loop so I'm slowly entering the water, though picking stuff which is slightly (though only) a bit higher quality. One more fact about me is that I'm a machinist by trade and my oldest brother was a watchmaker, so to say the least, I'm no stranger to knowing high-quality workmanship compared to cheap mass-production.

 

Anyway, the thing I noticed while choosing this new round of equipment is that I can see from the marketing pictures, most of them being reputable items whether OTA's, mounts, cameras, etc. is that there are glaring things like clamp levers, pivot points, internal gear trains, etc. which show telltale evidence that they are all built down to a price pretty much throughout. Some of this stuff is still somewhat pricey, and yet there are head-scratcher choices on components everywhere inside most of this stuff.

 

Though a lot of equipment available today seems to have good reputations for high quality, most of the stuff I've seen is filled with parts which I'm sure are adequately functional, but is not something I'd be particularly inspired to show off. It's not the "showing off" which is important, rather the simple fact that a most of today's equipment appears to me to not be made all that great really. Like I said, I'm sure it functions fine. I am not really referring to optics but all the stuff we need to hold, move point the optics (because that's what's in my wheelhouse). I suspect that most of us are using equipment that seems fine because it's better than objectively toy junk. But I'd bet good money that handling a Questar is a whole 'nuther level of experience and that the quality difference would be apparent instantly.

 

Anyway, I guess my point is that I think that on the whole, the astronomy equipment consumer appears to have been conditioned to accept a level of workmanship which is certainly (much?) lower than what astronomers a couple generations or so ago would have been happy with. I've looked at Questar lately again and everything I've seen looks pretty darned good. I could nitpick small details (because that's just what I do), but honestly, I can tell you with some authority that the workmanship appears to be at a whole 'nuther level. And we need something like Questar (and others of course) just so we can have something tangible to hold up as comparison so we don't let the market condition our critical eye downwards over time so our collective "acceptable" quality level is lower than we actually want or need. I'm not sure, but I think this is what has happened over the past 30 years or so - like boiling a frog.

 

Full disclosure, I'd have a hard time coughing up 5 grand for one, but I am nowhere even close to an astronomy buff yet, let alone connoisseur. However, I'd pay half that (not today, but maybe later) if I was lucky enough for that kind of deal to cross my path.


Edited by Vinito, 17 January 2020 - 11:00 AM.

 

#23 Gregory Gross

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 12:05 PM

Full disclosure, I'd have a hard time coughing up 5 grand for one, but I am nowhere even close to an astronomy buff yet, let alone connoisseur. However, I'd pay half that (not today, but maybe later) if I was lucky enough for that kind of deal to cross my path.

One of the distinct advantages of buying a used Questar, as others have pointed out, is that, if you're a careful buyer, you can indeed obtain one in good condition at about half the cost of a new one. And Questar as a company is always there to service an instrument. If the optics don't need major work, you'll have a like-new telescope for what would still be a fraction of the cost of a new one.


 

#24 emh52

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 12:40 PM

I think a Q is one of those covet things at least for the generation that saw the S&T ads every month. It is like a few other things I can think of that are close to perfect for what they. A prior post mentioned Rolex for instance, the Rolex explorer watch has that reputation ever since Hillary Everest climb, perfect for what it is, the Posche flat 6 engine is another, the Q is in this company. The Q a timeless classic. I fly fish and I liken to the Q to my favorite bamboo rods, classic, functional, made by craftsmen to exceed expectations. To use it for what is intended it is kind of perfect. It gives amazing Moon and Sun views, and in a Lunar eclipse or occultation the high F at FL yields high contrast and with its optics amazing detail. Double stars are well split (see S&T last summer) exceeding the Dawes limit. I have a duplex so I can pop the tube off and put it on a tripod to reach out and touch a distance bird on a Saguaro. Perfection has its price, like a Rolex, or Porsche there is its cost and for those who both can and want to pay the entrance fee it is still something to covet and use and pass on.


 

#25 astro42

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 03:25 PM

So there is the 1999 Questar in the classified adds right now.

The price of $3000 seems a bit on the higher side after reading some of the comments in the thread.

What's your take on used pricing on these and what should a person expect to pay for a 1999 3.5 Questar?


 


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