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Opinions on smaller APO scopes?

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#26 Tropobob

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 01:43 AM

Ok folks, I'd like to pick your brains about small aperture APO scopes.
As my b-day is coming up this May I have been given the go-ahead to purchase a small, travel-sized APO.
I've checked out higher-end spotters from Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, etc, but can't justify the high cost for a day scope with limited use for astro.
I'd like a scope that will do double-duty in both daytime spotting and astro use.
I am excited to finally be able to add some really nice glass to the stable.
Ya, it's apples to oranges here, but I know you folks have opinions on some of these, both good and bad. Not looking for any particular brand name or anything like that; looking for a real "keeper".

 

My candidates (so far):
Takahashi FC-76DCU
William Optics APO’s (several)
Tele Vue TV76
Sky-Watcher Esprit 80 mm Triplet
Orion 80 mm ED F/6 CF Triplet
Meade 80 mm Series 6000 f/6
Stellarvue SVX 70T

 

In a nutshell:
True APO optics
Small physical size
Mostly visual use, no AP.
70mm to 80mm
Up to $2500

Prefer larger, 2.5" dual-speed focusers
Also interested in classic scopes that may meet these requirements.

You will be happy with any of the above scopes, except perhaps the Stellarvue 70. IMO, it is too small, the runt of the litter.


Edited by Tropobob, 04 February 2020 - 01:44 AM.


#27 Erik Bakker

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 03:01 AM

Ok folks, I'd like to pick your brains about small aperture APO scopes.
As my b-day is coming up this May I have been given the go-ahead to purchase a small, travel-sized APO.
I've checked out higher-end spotters from Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, etc, but can't justify the high cost for a day scope with limited use for astro.
I'd like a scope that will do double-duty in both daytime spotting and astro use.
I am excited to finally be able to add some really nice glass to the stable.
Ya, it's apples to oranges here, but I know you folks have opinions on some of these, both good and bad. Not looking for any particular brand name or anything like that; looking for a real "keeper".

 

My candidates (so far):
Takahashi FC-76DCU
William Optics APO’s (several)
Tele Vue TV76
Sky-Watcher Esprit 80 mm Triplet
Orion 80 mm ED F/6 CF Triplet
Meade 80 mm Series 6000 f/6
Stellarvue SVX 70T

 

In a nutshell:
True APO optics
Small physical size
Mostly visual use, no AP.
70mm to 80mm
Up to $2500

Prefer larger, 2.5" dual-speed focusers
Also interested in classic scopes that may meet these requirements.

From this list, I would choose either the Tak FC-76DCU or TV76.

 

The nod goes to the Tak FC-76DCU for being the best high power performer of the bunch and to the TV76 for having the most solid build and 2" capability out of the box.

 

Another consideration might be the FC-76DS with it's retractable dewcap and also has 2" capability out of the box.

 

Both should make you a very happy owner and observer.


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#28 Redbetter

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 03:43 AM

Just to give some perspective, since this is a travel scope, it is worthwhile to consider the magnitude increments of various options:

__________Limiting magnitude relative to baseline

80mm_____ 0.0 (baseline)

76mm_____-0.11

72mm_____-0.23

70mm_____-0.29

60mm_____-0.62



#29 Rutilus

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 04:52 AM

I have an 80mm Triplet (photo below), while compact, it's heavy for its size. The scopes requires

a decent mount to put it on. If I was looking for a travel friendly scope then it would be a doublet. 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 80mm-cn.JPG


#30 GlenM

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:40 AM

I would consider the new Sharpstar 76 EDPH, a nice little triplet. I have the 61 EDPH doublet. It's excellent for wide field and day time use. Just something else to consider.

 

Glen.


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#31 Scott Beith

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:46 AM

For a travel scope from your list the TV76 is hard to beat.  The compact and overbuilt nature of the scope would lend itself to worry free adventures wherever you want to take it.


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#32 bobhen

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 07:34 AM

If you intend to travel by air, consider the Borg 107 F5.6 Fluorite doublet. Easy overhead bin compatibility, large 107mm aperture, very lightweight at 2.8 Kg and comes in a variety of configurations. If you feel the need, you can stop it down to 80 mm for daytime use. The components are designed to be easily disassembled.

 

Borg also offers 90mm and 89mm refractors that are even lighter and that cost less.

 

If you do not intend to travel by air or backpack but just take a scope to a dark site, consider the Tak FC100 DF. The OTA weighs 6 pounds and these Taks have killer optics for lunar/planetary as well as 100mm of aperture for deep sky observing.

 

The Borg has a variety of configurations for imaging or daytime photography – the Tak as well.

 

A well configured Borg 107mm F5.6 will run around $2500, the 90mm $2,000 and the 89mm 1,500

HERE is a link to Borg offerings at Cloudbreak Optics.

 

The Tak FC100’s are around $2,500. You are more likely to find a used Tak than a Borg.

 

Bob


Edited by bobhen, 04 February 2020 - 07:35 AM.

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#33 Matty S

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 08:49 AM

I would consider the new Sharpstar 76 EDPH, a nice little triplet. I have the 61 EDPH doublet. It's excellent for wide field and day time use. Just something else to consider.

 

Glen.

I hadn't looked at these yet. Though it seems the consensus is that a triplet is wasted on visual, save for it's compactness. That little 61mm doublet sure is a cutey! lol Thanks for the heads-up.


Edited by Matty S, 04 February 2020 - 08:59 AM.


#34 Matty S

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 08:58 AM


 

In my mind, the important thing here is the dual use, birding and astronomy. Sliding dew shields and a compact, robust build are more important birding than they are for astronomy. This scope will get banged around and maybe even carried in a backpack.

 

I would agree with this, even though I'm fairly careful with my gear, things DO happen when it's getting jostled in and out back seats and trunks, in and out of backpacks and bags, etc. No flying to worry about so airline requirements aren't an issue - I'll be using this out of the car and day hiking, hence my initial interest in the spotters.
 



#35 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 09:10 AM

I would agree with this, even though I'm fairly careful with my gear, things DO happen when it's getting jostled in and out back seats and trunks, in and out of backpacks and bags, etc. No flying to worry about so airline requirements aren't an issue - I'll be using this out of the car and day hiking, hence my initial interest in the spotters.
 

 

Red's suggestion of the AT-72 ED ll is worth considering.  I had the original AT-72ED and it was the closest thing to a Pronto/TV-76 I ever found in terms of size and solid build. But the original had FPL-51 optics and they were good but not completely color free. The ED-ll has FPL-53 optics ended should be quite good.

 

https://www.astronom...fpl-53-f-6.html

 

It's under 5 lbs.

 

Jon


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#36 peleuba

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 09:22 AM

From this list, I would choose either the Tak FC-76DCU or TV76.

 

The nod goes to the Tak FC-76DCU for being the best high power performer of the bunch and to the TV76 for having the most solid build and 2" capability out of the box.

 

waytogo.gif

 

Erik - this has been my impression as well.  Earlier in the week I received a TV76 to finally complete my collection of refractors up through 130mm.  I had the TV76 on the optical bench last night performing some star testing and few autocollimation tests.  While it was decent, I have to think that the FC76 is probably better.  I base this on user reports and other test results I have read about.  I have never tested an FC76.


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#37 Kutno

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 09:28 AM

Used a Tele Vue 76 in daytime, some time ago, and was treated to wonderful views with a 13mm Nagler Type 6 in its focuser.  Don't know about the others; but with the 76, you will have a scope that lasts a lifetime.  Solid!



#38 Matty S

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 09:31 AM

Red's suggestion of the AT-72 ED ll is worth considering.  I had the original AT-72ED and it was the closest thing to a Pronto/TV-76 I ever found in terms of size and solid build. But the original had FPL-51 optics and they were good but not completely color free. The ED-ll has FPL-53 optics ended should be quite good.

 

https://www.astronom...fpl-53-f-6.html

 

It's under 5 lbs.

 

Jon

Agreed. I'm adding this to my list, it does cover a lot of bases, is a complete "kit". Besides, it's always nice to support our sponsors.wink.gif


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#39 25585

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 10:30 AM

My two cents:

 

As a dual purpose birding Astro scope, my choice would be the TeleVue 76. It's a short, compact scope with a build that sets it apart from the rest, it's rugged and robust but not massive.

 

I owned the Pronto, the 70 mm achromatic version off the 76. When the affordable apos arrived on the scene, I sold the Pronto and have owned a number of 66mm to 80 mm ED/apos. They're all been good optically and mechanically but none have combined the optics with the well thought out ergonomic package that the Pronto/ TV 76 represents.

 

I do a fair amount of birding and I think this is where the 76 excels. 

 

Jon

+1

 

The TV 76 is most compact, most robust and has a great OE focuser. A TV 85 is not that much longer or heavier. I love my green tubed one.


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#40 JMW

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 12:37 PM

I like my SVR90T. It is short enough and the padded case it came on is carry-on sized. I can handle it when traveling with my wife who can carry on some of the related accessories. By myself I would probably fly with something smaller.



#41 Matty S

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 03:18 PM

I like both the TV76 and the Tak FC-76DS.

I found this discussion on the two as travel scopes so it seems this not an uncommon debate.

https://www.cloudyni...76#entry8860467

Seems the TV has the edge with durability while the Tak has the better optics.


Edited by Matty S, 04 February 2020 - 03:19 PM.


#42 m9x18

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 03:38 PM

Here's an oldie but a goodie. If you find one on the used market it's something to consider. I really love this little guy. It's the William Optics ZenithStar (WO ZS80FD) 10-year Anniversary scope. It has an FPL-53 80mm f/6.9 doublet lens co-designed by Thomas M. Back. I took mine with me years ago when I was going to the police academy. Everyone who looked through it was very impressed. You should have seen them line up for a peek at the heavens. Very happy with this scope. Photo is of my actual scope courtesy of OPT.

 

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  • WO 80 Anniversary.jpg

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#43 Redbetter

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 03:59 PM

I would agree with this, even though I'm fairly careful with my gear, things DO happen when it's getting jostled in and out back seats and trunks, in and out of backpacks and bags, etc. No flying to worry about so airline requirements aren't an issue - I'll be using this out of the car and day hiking, hence my initial interest in the spotters.

When I hear "travel scope" I think airline or other public transport rather than going by car.  Going by personal vehicle is what I consider a given for anything other than an observatory scope..  Instead it sounds like what you want is what I would call a day hike scope, which means it and its mount must be easy to carry in/on/with a pack, but without worrying about a full multi-day backpacking load. 

 

I suspect the mount is a bigger factor here than the OTA, or that the OTA might be the deciding factor in choosing the mount...which could move things out of the desired portability range.  Still, this is a lot easier than trying to come up with a mount that can be carried backpacking. 



#44 Matty S

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 04:38 PM

When I hear "travel scope" I think airline or other public transport rather than going by car.  Going by personal vehicle is what I consider a given for anything other than an observatory scope..  Instead it sounds like what you want is what I would call a day hike scope, which means it and its mount must be easy to carry in/on/with a pack, but without worrying about a full multi-day backpacking load. 

 

I suspect the mount is a bigger factor here than the OTA, or that the OTA might be the deciding factor in choosing the mount...which could move things out of the desired portability range.  Still, this is a lot easier than trying to come up with a mount that can be carried backpacking. 

Yep, you nailed it. I think most of the scopes we've been talking about are compact enough as a backpack scope, if packed properly.

The mount/tripod is ALWAYS a problem in portability, IMO, even in photography. Fairly sturdy, lightweight tripods/heads are available that break down into small, portable packages; perhaps not good for astro but fine for terrestrial viewing. I've been out of the photography loop for too long to know what's around these days but I bet some of the birders know a few good ones and 1/4-20 adapters seem to still be commonplace.



#45 DeanD

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:50 PM

A nice problem to have! I have a TV76 and it is a very nice little scope, super solid with nice optics. Birders seem to love it  as a "reference" level scope, and I have run mine next to a Leica Televid 82: the TV holds its own very well, although it is not as weather-proof or convenient as a birding scope.

 

I think the Tak 76 shades it in terms of optical quality, but you only really notice this at very high powers (above 150x). (I have a friend who is trying to sell me his Tak 76, but I really can't justify the changeover to the finance department, because I don't really have any complaints against the TV!) 

 

As many people have noted, the TV is a very compact unit for travel, and does just about anything asked of it. Plus you should be able to find a used unit (I did!) and have extra budget for some nice eyepieces (like the Panoptic 24 or 27). I also use the 13mm T6 Nagler and 3-6mm Nagler zoom with mine: magic.

 

All the best for the birthday!

 

Dean



#46 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 07:13 PM

I keep an Orion 80mm F6 CF set up in my living room. It does day time looks at the mountains, and grab and go. It stays on a Stellarview MV1:

 

https://www.stellarv...-azimuth-mount/

 

On a camera tripod, just weighed it and the whole thing (including laser finder and diagonal on there) came to 12lb 12oz. I can pick up the whole thing with one hand easily, and open my sliding door with my other hand.

 

Optically it's very good. Shows no color on any objects that I can see. The only slight downside is that the carbon means it can take a solid 1/2 hour or more to be cooling off properly.

 

IMG_0379.JPG


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#47 Jared

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 09:42 PM

Ok folks, I'd like to pick your brains about small aperture APO scopes.
As my b-day is coming up this May I have been given the go-ahead to purchase a small, travel-sized APO.
I've checked out higher-end spotters from Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, etc, but can't justify the high cost for a day scope with limited use for astro.
I'd like a scope that will do double-duty in both daytime spotting and astro use.
I am excited to finally be able to add some really nice glass to the stable.
Ya, it's apples to oranges here, but I know you folks have opinions on some of these, both good and bad. Not looking for any particular brand name or anything like that; looking for a real "keeper".

 

My candidates (so far):
Takahashi FC-76DS
William Optics APO’s (several)
Tele Vue TV76
Sky-Watcher Esprit 80 mm Triplet
Orion 80 mm ED F/6 CF Triplet
Meade 80 mm Series 6000 f/6
Astro Tech 72 ED ll

 

In a nutshell:
True APO optics
Small physical size
Mostly visual use, no AP.
70mm to 80mm
Up to $2500

Prefer larger, 2.5" dual-speed focusers
Also interested in classic scopes that may meet these requirements.

If it were for astronomy alone I would recommend the Tak FC-76 from your list.  Fluorite doublets are really special.  However, for multi use as a combined astronomy, travel, and spotting scope I would lean towards the TV 76.  The OTA is shorter and more robust, the two inch focuser is solid, and the optics are very good if not quite up to the level of the Tak.

 

I have had mixed results with William Optics scopes so would not recommend them.  My last experience was nearly ten years ago, though, so people who have bought their products more recently could probably give you more useful feedback.  The SkyWatcher is an excellent scope, but is really aimed at astrophotography.  No need to spend money on dedicated flattener (unless you are particularly sensitive to field curvature).  I have never used the Orion, Meade, or Astro Tech scopes, but I can’t imagine any of the three being as robust and compact as the TeleVue.

 

For your intended uses, TeleVue.  It’s a high quality product.



#48 NYJohn S

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 03:29 PM

I just put this together for a lightweight hiking setup. I haven't had it out under the stars yet but tested it as a spotter and worked well. The optics of the AT72EDII seem to be nice and sharp and I didn't see any CA in the tree branches. The tripod fits in the backpack but is barely adequate with the zoom eyepiece. A 2" diagonal with heavy eyepieces wouldn't balance with it. A larger tripod carried over the shoulder is a better way to go for that and that's probably what I'll wind up doing. 
AT72EDII Backpack 1500px SM
AT72EDII Backpack Tripod 1800px SM

 


Edited by NYJohn S, 08 February 2020 - 12:14 PM.

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#49 barbie

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 08:58 PM

I've decided to go with a Takahashi FC76DCU for my away from home travel scope.  It's lightweight and the fact that it can be separated in two halves for easy transport sold me.  It will ride on my Orion Astroview EQ with dual axis drive system for high magnification views of the planets and brighter doubles and dso's.


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#50 Matty S

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 05:31 AM

After much consideration of all the fine options you've all put out there (as well as some private conversations with knowledgeable others) I've decided to go with the Tak FC-76DS as it checks all the boxes best, for me at least.

This was a straight-up apples to apples choice for me, but, as some of you stated, I'm sure I'd be happy with any of the choices put forth.

Thank you all for the input!


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