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What happened to the 66-mm refractors?

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#1 JamesMStephens

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 01:27 PM

Back in the early 2000s William optics sold several variants of the ZS66 (I have two specimens ZS66SD myself!), AT had a 66-mm, as dis Stellarvue.  I think these were the big three, though there were more.  Willliam Optics now has the ZS61 II (among other sizes), but the 66-mm aperture seems to have been abandoned.  Has anyone else wondered about this?

 

Jim



#2 grif 678

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 01:45 PM

I do not think I have actually seen a 66 mm scope, unless I just did not know what it was. I think unitron had a 62mm?



#3 sg6

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 02:07 PM

I would suspect simple evolution and demand.

66 is probably too close to 70 and 72 to survive. WO etc will likely have had to choose one or the other, and if you read the cry of "Aprture is king" from forums you can guess which of the 2 would gain the upper hand.

 

At present you would have 60mm, 66mm, 72mm. Just expect the market had to drop one and the 66 was it.

60's have possibly just come in, cannot recall much at 60mm in the ED class before the WO and the AT and copies/clones/rebrands. Think there are least 4 I am aware of, and likely more.

 

If WO made a 66 and Skywatcher a 72 which would gain the market.

Put a post up saying you have the chance of a 66mm ED and a 72mm ED and read the replies saying the bigger.

 

So I suggest the 66 was in a way squeezed out.

In one way I am a likely "culprit" I want a Megrez 72, but never had an interest in the WO 66. Did however buy a WO 61 when they appeared.


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#4 russell23

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 02:15 PM

The 60mm and 72mm f/6 scopes have largely replaced them. Although Orion has a 66mm f/6 right now.
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#5 Supernova74

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 02:22 PM

well it’s only 5mm difference however I guess some manufactures like to mix things up a bit keep us on our toes it’s always confused me in the first place why the silly increments in sizes 



#6 M44

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 02:27 PM

Now there is a 70mm.

 

https://www.astronom...ractor-ota.html



#7 25585

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 02:31 PM

The 66mm is still here.  https://www.telescop...pe/p/118196.uts

 

I gave one to an elderly relative who is very happy with its light weight.

 

I own a 66mm Equinox, neat sweet but not so light as the Orion. The smallest of Sky-Watcher's Equinox range (66, 80, 100 & 120).   


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#8 JamesMStephens

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 02:51 PM

I must admit the ZS61 II is very tempting.  If I didn't have (two!) -66SD's I'd have to get one.

 

Jim



#9 BKBrown

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 02:59 PM

I have a WO ZS66SD that is used as a wide field imager (I have the dedicated FF/R), super finder, Grab-n-Go, travel scope, and wildlife digiscope. A great little instrument!

 

Here it is riding next to my SW100ED Pro both as a finder and for providing wide field views:

 

IMG_6593sc.jpg

 

Clear Skies,

Brian snoopy2.gif


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#10 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 11:34 PM

I think that a lot of it is just fashion. Right before the 66mm came out, I remember several refractor firms saying that they would never produce anything smaller than 80mm because that small size was "useless". TV came out with their little 60, followed by the slightly larger Asian instruments. After that, the 70mm became popular and there was also a time when 90mm instruments became popular. At one point, I seem to recall Vic Maris telling me that due to the sales of the SV 90mm instruments, he might not bother to market another 80mm. Nowadays, the 90mm instruments have largely faded from the market and the eighties are still quite popular.

 

There are numerous other interesting fads. Earlier today, I was picking through a drawer and found my cheap binoviewers from about 15 years ago. They were really hard to use, but I've hung on to them.

 

I guess you've got to keep things fresh and change it up. Unless you're TeleVue. They manage to keep things stable, and classic.


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#11 jmccown

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Posted 31 July 2020 - 08:48 AM

I have been looking to buy a used Astrotech AT66ED for some time. They are occasionally offered for sale in the classified section of this site. And when they are, they sell within seconds.


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#12 JamesMStephens

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Posted 31 July 2020 - 09:09 AM

I think that a lot of it is just fashion. Right before the 66mm came out, I remember several refractor firms saying that they would never produce anything smaller than 80mm because that small size was "useless". TV came out with their little 60, followed by the slightly larger Asian instruments. After that, the 70mm became popular and there was also a time when 90mm instruments became popular. At one point, I seem to recall Vic Maris telling me that due to the sales of the SV 90mm instruments, he might not bother to market another 80mm. Nowadays, the 90mm instruments have largely faded from the market and the eighties are still quite popular.

 

There are numerous other interesting fads. Earlier today, I was picking through a drawer and found my cheap binoviewers from about 15 years ago. They were really hard to use, but I've hung on to them.

 

I guess you've got to keep things fresh and change it up. Unless you're TeleVue. They manage to keep things stable, and classic.

I remember reading a book--I think by Patrick Moore--in elementary school in the 1960s.  He stated that a three inch refractor was about the minimum "serious" size for a refractor, but averred that a modern 2.4" just might render that view obsolete.  He was referring to contemporary 60-mm scopes, maybe Unitron or the higher quality Japanes scopes of the day (and don't forget the excellent Zeiss scopes in this size going back to the early twentieth century.)  There's been a place for serious 60-mm scopes for a long time, but 66 seems like a really nice size and I think you're right, Ken--it's a matter of fashion to some extent.  Modern small refractors are so much more versatile than their ancestors.  They can take high power with a good Barlow or short FL eyepiece and also deliver rich-field views of the heavens.

 

Jim


Edited by JamesMStephens, 31 July 2020 - 02:23 PM.

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#13 Jaimo!

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Posted 31 July 2020 - 09:11 AM

The 66mm is still here.  https://www.telescop...pe/p/118196.uts

 

I gave one to an elderly relative who is very happy with its light weight.

 

I own a 66mm Equinox, neat sweet but not so light as the Orion. The smallest of Sky-Watcher's Equinox range (66, 80, 100 & 120).   

Wow Orion is amazing, $650 for an small FLP-51 refractor.  The WO Z61, AT60ED, and Aptura 60 are all FLP-53 and run between $370 and $550, depending on vendor and accessories...

 

I have both the WO66SD and WOZ61, I love the old 66, but the modern focuser and batinov mask are very nice.



#14 Jaimo!

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Posted 31 July 2020 - 09:15 AM

I remember reading a book--I think by Patrick Moore--in elementary school in the 1960s.  He stated that a three inch refractor was about the minimum "serious" size for a refractor, but averred that a modern 2.4" just might render hat view obsolete.  He was referring to contemporary 60-mm scopes, maybe Unitron or the higher quality Japanes scopes of the day (and don't forget the excellent Zeiss scopes in this size going back to the early twentieth century.)  There's been a place for serious 60-mm scopes for a long time, but 66 seems like a really nice size and I think you're right, Ken--it's a matter of fashion to some extent.  Modern small refractors are so much more versatile than their ancestors.  They can take high power with a good Barlow or short FL eyepiece and also deliver rich-field views of the heavens.

 

Jim

3" may be true for visual, but for astrophotography the 300-ish mm focal length is really nice, especially for larger celestial objects.  With modern CMOS and CCD cameras and the ability to stack images, aperature seems less important than in the days of visual and film.


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#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 31 July 2020 - 04:58 PM

There's been a place for serious 60-mm scopes for a long time, but 66 seems like a really nice size and I think you're right, Ken--it's a matter of fashion to some extent.  Modern small refractors are so much more versatile than their ancestors.  They can take high power with a good Barlow or short FL eyepiece and also deliver rich-field views of the heavens.

 

 

I had an WO 66 SD. Many of those 66s did not have 2 inch focusers, the could use SCT diagonals but focusing could be a problem.

 

Optically, at higher mags, my ~1960 Asahi-Pentax 60 mm x 800mm was clearly the better planetary, double star scope, it just had better optics.

 

I think the 66's were all manufactured by 1 or 2 factories. They moved on to the 70-72 mm models with a 2 inch Focuser. Bigger than the 66s but they go wider and are more standard.

 

Jon


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#16 25585

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Posted 31 July 2020 - 08:12 PM

Wow Orion is amazing, $650 for an small FLP-51 refractor.  The WO Z61, AT60ED, and Aptura 60 are all FLP-53 and run between $370 and $550, depending on vendor and accessories...

 

I have both the WO66SD and WOZ61, I love the old 66, but the modern focuser and batinov mask are very nice.

Carbon fibre tube pushing up the price I expect


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#17 russell23

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 05:55 AM

Carbon fibre tube pushing up the price I expect

It also includes one eyepiece, a diagonal, and a hard carry case. But  I still would not spend that much for that scope - especially with a 1.25” focuser.  



#18 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 06:03 AM

Carbon fibre tube pushing up the price I expect

Probably but in a scope that small, it probably doesn't significantly affect the weight one way or the other.  It also has a 1.25 inch focuser so it's limited in terms of field of view compared to an 80mm with a 2 inch focuser.  I would prefer aluminum over CF.  

 

They are marketing it to the spotting scope market, "Best for Nature and scenic."  Compared to a standard spotting scope, it's capable of a much wider field of view. But it's not waterproof, so that's a significant downside for many users of spotting scopes.  I bought my WO 66 SD to use as a spotter, some basic FPL-51 optics.  It just didn't work out..  

 

https://www.telescop...pe/p/118196.uts

 

Jon



#19 Eddgie

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 06:47 PM

This is entirely speculation on my part.   I don't think the 66mm was really unique to the telescope, and in fact, my guess would be that it was simply the same lens that Kowa (and others) uses in its spotting scope.

 

For every 66mm telescope sold in the world there were probably a dozen 66mm spotting scopes.

 

When the contracts for the 66mm spotter were filled, the machines were re-programmed to spit out whatever design was next on the contract fulfillment workload. 

 

If the spotting scopes all sell out and another order is made, then whoever bought lenses from that run to make telescopes will look at their sales and decide if they want to buy more lenses.

 

It is a lot cheaper to piggyback off of a large contract order than to go in and say you want 200 of something.  The guy that wants 2000 gets a far better price and if they are already going to make 2000 of something and you know the company, they will probable give you the same rate if you buy a couple of hundred.

 

That is my guess as to what happened.  Business happened. I was in business for 35 years and this is the kind of thing that was probably at play here.  Again, speculation on my part, but that is how business works.  The people that make the lenses want to get as much production on the order as possible and when that order is done, everything is geared to make the next design for the next customer. 


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#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 09:29 PM

This is entirely speculation on my part.   I don't think the 66mm was really unique to the telescope, and in fact, my guess would be that it was simply the same lens that Kowa (and others) uses in its spotting scope.

 

 

I doubt that. These objectives were not all the same focal length, some were 400 mm, the WOs were 386mm.

 

What happens is Long Preng and Kunming United have these designs in their catalogs and their available to vendors who put their little twist on it and sell it under their name.. they do optics in house..

 

The 66s came and went. Now they're 70-72s and 60s. And 80s and 102s.

 

Jon


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#21 nebulasaurus

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 03:26 PM

I have been looking to buy a used Astrotech AT66ED for some time. They are occasionally offered for sale in the classified section of this site. And when they are, they sell within seconds.

 

Looks at his AT-66ED and wonders if he still needs it .......


Edited by nebulasaurus, 08 August 2020 - 03:27 PM.

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