Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

How close is the Skywatcher 120ED to the TSA 120? Just Visual.

  • Please log in to reply
104 replies to this topic

#1 starcruiser

starcruiser

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 65
  • Joined: 04 Jun 2018

Posted 02 May 2020 - 03:12 PM

For strictly visual performance, how close is the Skywatcher EvoStar 120ED to the Takahashi TSA 120? (Price: $1900+ vs $4400+)

 

For those who have owned or looked thru both, which of the following statements below is accurate?

 

1. Not that close. If you can swing it, get the Tak or save up more to buy later. It's worth it. You won't look back.

 

2. The difference is not that large. But it's there and if you look thru the Tak, you might be second-guessing yourself for not saving up more to get the Tak in the first place.

 

3. It's close enough that you won't be second-guessing yourself for choosing the Skywatcher over the Tak.

 

I would also appreciate any comments on visual observations with either of these two models.


Edited by starcruiser, 02 May 2020 - 03:13 PM.

  • The Luckster likes this

#2 Tyson M

Tyson M

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,466
  • Joined: 22 Jan 2015
  • Loc: Canada

Posted 02 May 2020 - 03:32 PM

I have owned both. I bet there are more similarities than differences at lower powers. I'd say if you're going over 200-250x regularly then I'd start considering one.

 

The TSA is more portable but heavier,where the SW120 is huge in its hard case: barely fits in a small car.

 

TSA120 takes a bit longer to cool down.  The TSA shows no out of focus color in fresnel rings where as the doublet 120 does.  The TSA120 has provided the best views of double stars and lunar viewing to date. 

 

That being said- I wouldnt start off in the hobby necessarily with the TSA120, I'd grow into one by picking up a SW120 first. 

 

But....if you had the budget and werent concerned with the expense, and dont want to do the buying and selling game then buy the TSA120 and enjoy it for many years until aperture fever gets you and you get a TOA130 or something haha.


Edited by Tyson M, 02 May 2020 - 03:35 PM.

  • RogerLaureys, Rollo, m9x18 and 9 others like this

#3 Tyson M

Tyson M

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,466
  • Joined: 22 Jan 2015
  • Loc: Canada

Posted 02 May 2020 - 03:48 PM

I'll also mention that I have a very high regard for SW gear.  I think they are some of the  best deals in the hobby for price vs performance/utility.  They go on sale often so you can grab a new one for cheap if your patient. Going the preowned route can be good as well for even better deals. Focusers are typically very good, I just dont like the single screw visual back so get a scope stuff adapter


Edited by Tyson M, 02 May 2020 - 03:48 PM.

  • m9x18, Kunama, havasman and 3 others like this

#4 havasman

havasman

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,418
  • Joined: 04 Aug 2013
  • Loc: Dallas, Texas

Posted 02 May 2020 - 03:53 PM

Like most hobby gear the last few tiny increments in performance gained drive cost much higher. So the performance is closer than the price.


  • Mr. Mike, stevew, m9x18 and 3 others like this

#5 coopman

coopman

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,981
  • Joined: 23 Apr 2006
  • Loc: South Louisiana

Posted 02 May 2020 - 05:08 PM

Let's say that the TSA120 scores as a 100 visually.  The SW120ED would probably be approx. an 85, in comparison.  Boy, I am really opening myself up to being lambasted with this. 


  • stevew, Miro, RAKing and 3 others like this

#6 RichA

RichA

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,245
  • Joined: 03 Jun 2010
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 02 May 2020 - 06:46 PM

For strictly visual performance, how close is the Skywatcher EvoStar 120ED to the Takahashi TSA 120? (Price: $1900+ vs $4400+)

 

For those who have owned or looked thru both, which of the following statements below is accurate?

 

1. Not that close. If you can swing it, get the Tak or save up more to buy later. It's worth it. You won't look back.

 

2. The difference is not that large. But it's there and if you look thru the Tak, you might be second-guessing yourself for not saving up more to get the Tak in the first place.

 

3. It's close enough that you won't be second-guessing yourself for choosing the Skywatcher over the Tak.

 

I would also appreciate any comments on visual observations with either of these two models.

I had a Tak FS-102 and the Skywatcher.  The Tak was better.  I used the Skywatcher along side a TeleVue 102 to view the Mercury transit. The TeleVue provided a sharper image with less light scatter.  This is by no means definitive of course, but the Skywatcher was nothing fantastic.  If I were buying one, I would buy a used one for $800 (I paid $700) because I don't believe it's worth what it costs new now.


  • MortonH and KevH like this

#7 Lola Bruce

Lola Bruce

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,407
  • Joined: 22 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Southern California

Posted 02 May 2020 - 07:02 PM

Problem is perception. If you are the least bit OCD it will always bug you if you go short because you will really never know until you jump the broom. When you are trying to eek out that tiny fleeting target never seen by you before would the better scope have done the deed? I have the TSA102s and on a given night for the conditions I know my 4 incher is not the hindrance.

 

Bruce


  • mikeDnight likes this

#8 25585

25585

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,333
  • Joined: 29 Aug 2017
  • Loc: In a valley, in the UK. Dark end of the street.

Posted 02 May 2020 - 08:27 PM

I have a TSA120 and 120 Equinox (a deluxe S-W 120 ED like the Eon) . Both are excellent.

Tyson is right that a TSA shows its pedigree more at higher magnifications & I add to that at lower altitudes, Taks generally seem to deal with haze very well. 


  • Voyager 3 likes this

#9 RAKing

RAKing

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,064
  • Joined: 28 Dec 2007
  • Loc: West of the D.C. Nebula

Posted 03 May 2020 - 03:27 PM

Let's say that the TSA120 scores as a 100 visually.  The SW120ED would probably be approx. an 85, in comparison.  Boy, I am really opening myself up to being lambasted with this. 

I have owned both. In fact, I have owned a couple of each over the past eight or nine years.

 

I would say that might be a fair comparison -- if you are talking about the Original version of the SW 120ED.  You know, the one that actually used FPL-53 and Schott glass.  That particular scope was one of the best deals in astronomy.  Outstanding optics in a bargain tube.  Spend a few extra bucks to upgrade that cheap, "beginner's scope" focuser and you could have a world-class telescope without breaking the bank.

 

But times change.  tongue2.gif

 

Now I have no idea if the SW 120ED that has been sold since early 2019 is as good as their original versions.  Sky-Watcher changed the glass formulas when they brought out the SW-150 and they will no longer disclose what glass they are using in their ED refractors anymore. 

 

Our problem as consumers is that retailers around the world are still using the exact same marketing blurbs from the original production of these scopes that tout FPL-53 and Schott BK-7.  But when you receive your SW 120ED (if you go that route), you will notice that the Schott brand is no longer on the OTA where it was originally located and you don't have a clue as to what they are using.  

 

If you don't care about the glass or the bargain focuser, then spending 50 percent of the cost for a TSA-120 might bring you a lot of joy and happiness.  But if you are used to decent optics, the Tak is a sure thing.

 

My .02,

 

Ron


  • Illinois, eros312, ewave and 6 others like this

#10 coopman

coopman

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,981
  • Joined: 23 Apr 2006
  • Loc: South Louisiana

Posted 03 May 2020 - 03:39 PM

Another thing is that a Tak will still provide great views at 100X per inch or more on a good night. Very few mass-produced scopes can do that.
As I have said before, buying quality only hurts once. Settling for less can be painful every time that you use it. Pay for the quality and have no regrets.

Edited by coopman, 03 May 2020 - 03:39 PM.

  • M44, RAKing, Heywood and 4 others like this

#11 piaras

piaras

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,355
  • Joined: 26 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Niagara Region

Posted 03 May 2020 - 05:19 PM

Currently no one has proven that SW has changed the glass on the 120ED except via implication by rumors.

 

Here is the topic that SW released on the topic. Dated yes but it is the last that I have seen.

 

https://www.cloudyni...ining-ed-glass/


  • Celerondon likes this

#12 Heywood

Heywood

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,461
  • Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posted 03 May 2020 - 06:41 PM

The Sky-Watcher USA website still states that the Evostar 120ED uses FPL-53 and Schott BK-7 glasses.


  • piaras likes this

#13 John Huntley

John Huntley

    Gemini

  • ***--
  • Posts: 3,015
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2006
  • Loc: SW England

Posted 03 May 2020 - 06:44 PM

The original Synta ED doublets had no Schott sticker on them but still used a glass by that manufacturer as the mating element to the Ohara FPL-53 element I believe.

 

The later addition of the Schott sticker on the tube was the result of a promotional agreement between Synta / Skywatcher and Schott. When that agreement ended the sticker no longer appeared on the tube but I don't believe that the glass types used changed at all.

 

I have one of the original Skywatcher ED120's (gold tube, no sticker) and it is a great performer but I have also used a much more recent ED120 (about 1 year old) and that performed just as well.

 

I would have thought that it would be too much trouble for Skywatcher to change the glass types being used in the ED 80, 100 and 120 to something else when the optical designs, spacing, coatings and cells are established and proven.

 

The ED72 and ED150 are much more recent designs and those are the ones where the glass types are undisclosed.


  • SteveG, Illinois, piaras and 3 others like this

#14 Michaeljhogan

Michaeljhogan

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 485
  • Joined: 25 Aug 2014

Posted 04 May 2020 - 01:17 AM

For strictly visual performance, how close is the Skywatcher EvoStar 120ED to the Takahashi TSA 120? (Price: $1900+ vs $4400+)

 

For those who have owned or looked thru both, which of the following statements below is accurate?

 

1. Not that close. If you can swing it, get the Tak or save up more to buy later. It's worth it. You won't look back.

 

2. The difference is not that large. But it's there and if you look thru the Tak, you might be second-guessing yourself for not saving up more to get the Tak in the first place.

 

3. It's close enough that you won't be second-guessing yourself for choosing the Skywatcher over the Tak.

 

I would also appreciate any comments on visual observations with either of these two models.

No comparison night and day I have one they are not even close it’s call a super Triplet for a reason 

not only the lens is much better the built quality as well you get what you pay for.


  • beanerds likes this

#15 MrRoberts

MrRoberts

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,010
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2016
  • Loc: Green Valley, AZ

Posted 04 May 2020 - 09:50 AM

Never looked through the TSA120. But I can say that the Esprit 120 is an outstanding visual performer for the $


  • beanerds likes this

#16 John Huntley

John Huntley

    Gemini

  • ***--
  • Posts: 3,015
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2006
  • Loc: SW England

Posted 04 May 2020 - 10:22 AM

No comparison night and day I have one they are not even close it’s call a super Triplet for a reason 

not only the lens is much better the built quality as well you get what you pay for.

Can you give some specific examples of the differences, eg: particular targets etc - it's difficult to judge from a blanket statement.

 

I regularly compare my ED120 with my TMB/LZOS triplet 130mm F/9.2 (also a "super triplet") and my Tak FC-100 DL on targets such as binary stars, the Moon, Venus etc and while the much more expensive and exotic scopes show some subtle benefits the ED120 is far from outclassed.

 

"Not even close" seems to infer that a target observed with the ED120 would bear no comparison at all with the same target observed with the TSA 120 which seems a little unlikely to me, based on my experience above.


Edited by John Huntley, 04 May 2020 - 10:23 AM.

  • ad701xx, Dougal, payner and 4 others like this

#17 SeattleScott

SeattleScott

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11,268
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2011

Posted 04 May 2020 - 10:52 AM

Subjective indeed. Basically there will be no difference in DSO. It is really planetary and double stars that you are paying for.

I am a prime example of a case that has been alluded to. I started out with the 100ED and was quite happy with it. But ten years later, as I upgraded my other scopes, I could see the 100ED wasn’t quite on par. This led to some general dissatisfaction with it and lower usage. Until I got a deal on a Vixen ED103S and sold the 100ED. On the one hand I sold the 100ED for a considerable loss. But I did get ten years out of it, and I wasn’t quite in the place of mind to spend $2k on the TV 4” Apo at the time (although I did consider it).

If $4400 is too rich, a Vixen SD115 would be an excellent compromise. On sale for $2200 right now. Very portable, fast cooling doublet. It is a few mm behind on aperture but it will deliver outstanding contrast for half the price of the Tak, while being lighter and cooling faster.

Scott
  • Jason B, JKAstro, RAKing and 4 others like this

#18 Erik Bakker

Erik Bakker

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,308
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2006
  • Loc: Netherlands, Europe

Posted 04 May 2020 - 12:10 PM

Perhaps a good way of saying it is you're paying for the purity of the images in a very good refractor. The last bit of purity commands a premium that is worth it to some and a waste of money to others. There is now right or wrong, just different personal assessments of the quality in different instruments and the premium that is reasonable to ask/pay for that.

 

Once you're owned a scope with perfect optics for some time, it gets more difficult to go back though wink.gif


  • Daniel Mounsey, Jason B, RogerLaureys and 10 others like this

#19 jag767

jag767

    Kinesis Custom Machining and Refinishing

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1,232
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2013
  • Loc: Massapequa, NY

Posted 04 May 2020 - 12:17 PM

Perhaps a good way of sayin it is you're paying for the purity of the images in a very good refractor. The last bit of purity commands a premium that is worth it to some and a waste of money to others. There is now right or wrong, just different personal assessments of the quality in different instruments and the premium that is reasonable to ask/pay for that.

Once you're owned a scope with perfect optics for some time, it gets more difficult to go back though wink.gif


Put differently, a tak 60q, TS 102mm f7 doublet apo, and a TS 152mm f5.9 achro are all about the same price. Which is the "right" purchase? 😅
  • mtminnesota likes this

#20 mikeDnight

mikeDnight

    Apollo

  • ****-
  • Posts: 1,398
  • Joined: 19 Apr 2015
  • Loc: Lancashire UK

Posted 04 May 2020 - 01:46 PM

  After using many Tak refractors, including the TSA 120, and being the proud owner of both the Takahashi FS128 and FS152, I vividly remember my first view through a SW120ED. At the time I was observing the Moon using a TVNP101, a very expensive quadruplet apochromat. When I looked through the 120ED I was stunned by its clean, razor sharp performance,  and could have quite easily mistaken it for a Tak at first glance through the eyepiece. 

  Takahashi however definitely have the edge if you're looking for a top performing visual refractor. If you were to aim both the 120ED and the TSA 120 at a close binary star, and continue to increase the magnification, you'll find that the 120ED will become softer as the power approaches 250X-300X, (this is roughly the limit of the telescope aperture, so its not a bad thing);  where as the Tak will sail past 300X well into the 400X and even 500X power range (well beyond its aperture limit), and seemingly limited only by the seeing conditions and the ever decreasing exit pupil of the eyepiece. Tak's are powerful scopes when the conditions allow for it, and their ability to produce an essentially perfect star image at high power, also has benefits for lunar and planetary viewing, as ultra-fine detail is so perfectly presented. 


  • RogerLaureys, bobhen, Dougal and 14 others like this

#21 bobhen

bobhen

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,040
  • Joined: 25 Jun 2005

Posted 04 May 2020 - 02:36 PM

  After using many Tak refractors, including the TSA 120, and being the proud owner of both the Takahashi FS128 and FS152, I vividly remember my first view through a SW120ED. At the time I was observing the Moon using a TVNP101, a very expensive quadruplet apochromat. When I looked through the 120ED I was stunned by its clean, razor sharp performance,  and could have quite easily mistaken it for a Tak at first glance through the eyepiece. 

  Takahashi however definitely have the edge if you're looking for a top performing visual refractor. If you were to aim both the 120ED and the TSA 120 at a close binary star, and continue to increase the magnification, you'll find that the 120ED will become softer as the power approaches 250X-300X, (this is roughly the limit of the telescope aperture, so its not a bad thing);  where as the Tak will sail past 300X well into the 400X and even 500X power range (well beyond its aperture limit), and seemingly limited only by the seeing conditions and the ever decreasing exit pupil of the eyepiece. Tak's are powerful scopes when the conditions allow for it, and their ability to produce an essentially perfect star image at high power, also has benefits for lunar and planetary viewing, as ultra-fine detail is so perfectly presented. 

Well said.

 

Bob



#22 25585

25585

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,333
  • Joined: 29 Aug 2017
  • Loc: In a valley, in the UK. Dark end of the street.

Posted 04 May 2020 - 04:44 PM

I have owned both. In fact, I have owned a couple of each over the past eight or nine years.

 

I would say that might be a fair comparison -- if you are talking about the Original version of the SW 120ED.  You know, the one that actually used FPL-53 and Schott glass.  That particular scope was one of the best deals in astronomy.  Outstanding optics in a bargain tube.  Spend a few extra bucks to upgrade that cheap, "beginner's scope" focuser and you could have a world-class telescope without breaking the bank.

 

But times change.  tongue2.gif

 

Now I have no idea if the SW 120ED that has been sold since early 2019 is as good as their original versions.  Sky-Watcher changed the glass formulas when they brought out the SW-150 and they will no longer disclose what glass they are using in their ED refractors anymore. 

 

Our problem as consumers is that retailers around the world are still using the exact same marketing blurbs from the original production of these scopes that tout FPL-53 and Schott BK-7.  But when you receive your SW 120ED (if you go that route), you will notice that the Schott brand is no longer on the OTA where it was originally located and you don't have a clue as to what they are using.  

 

If you don't care about the glass or the bargain focuser, then spending 50 percent of the cost for a TSA-120 might bring you a lot of joy and happiness.  But if you are used to decent optics, the Tak is a sure thing.

 

My .02,

 

Ron

The Equinox is like an Orion Eon with 2 speed focuser, retracting dewshield and CNC rings. Mine is Schott Ohara FPL53 lensed .    



#23 barbie

barbie

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,520
  • Joined: 28 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Northeast Ohio

Posted 04 May 2020 - 05:11 PM

I think that Taks really come into their own on close doubles, lunar and planets going that extra step to assure a textbook image. As good as the SW apos are, the Taks are definitely a step or two above.  If I were in the market for a 120mm refractor, I would save my $$$ and get a Tak, they are THAT good!!  I've even seen differences at medium powers when comparing the views in my Taks versus the cheaper priced alternatives!! Others may not however and the cheaper alternatives may satisfy. They did so for me before I bought my Taks. There are also other brands besides SW that are excellent. The only thing preventing me from getting a Tak 120 is the need for a bigger, thus heavier mounting that I can no longer handle. If weight is no concern, I would definitely save for the Tak 120mm!!


Edited by barbie, 04 May 2020 - 05:26 PM.

  • RAKing, mikeDnight, 25585 and 1 other like this

#24 SeattleScott

SeattleScott

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11,268
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2011

Posted 04 May 2020 - 06:23 PM

Put differently, a tak 60q, TS 102mm f7 doublet apo, and a TS 152mm f5.9 achro are all about the same price. Which is the "right" purchase? 😅

I read a post about a guy who bought a 120 or 130 Tak, and loved it for years. But then was highly annoyed when he got a much cheaper C9.25 that easily bested it, at least on DSO. So yeah it can get complicated to compare small aperture perfection with big aperture mediocrity but you just have to look at your scope lineup, your budget, and see what fits for you. Personally, given my other scopes, I don’t think a Tak 120 is a priority for me personally, although if I inherited one, I could find a way to put it to use.

Scott
  • John Huntley, BravoFoxtrot, m9x18 and 2 others like this

#25 Michaeljhogan

Michaeljhogan

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 485
  • Joined: 25 Aug 2014

Posted 04 May 2020 - 11:37 PM

For strictly visual performance, how close is the Skywatcher EvoStar 120ED to the Takahashi TSA 120? (Price: $1900+ vs $4400+)


For those who have owned or looked thru both, which of the following statements below is accurate?

1. Not that close. If you can swing it, get the Tak or save up more to buy later. It's worth it. You won't look back.

2. The difference is not that large. But it's there and if you look thru the Tak, you might be second-guessing yourself for not saving up more to get the Tak in the first place.

3. It's close enough that you won't be second-guessing yourself for choosing the Skywatcher over the Tak.

I would also appreciate any comments on visual observations with either of these two models.



If you are totally visual I don’t think it’s worth it unless you will do some imaging as well my TSA-120 has a Feather touch FT3035 focuser so it’s mainly for imaging the
TSA-120 is a multi purpose Apo that can do both great but it’s up to you I like to do a bit of visual every now and again but I soon grew out of it Imaging you never get tired of.


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics