I decided to post this in refractors, but it affects reflectors as well. I'll try to keep it short and to the point. Be aware that this is mostly related to astrophotography.
I discovered this amazing hobby around 2 years ago and man.....what a ride! I started doing visual astronomy with a 6" reflector and about 10 months ago I managed to take my very first picture using a DSLR and a lens. Since then, I've owned and tried various "budget" (for astrophotography standards) telescopes and cameras, ranging from 500-1600€ a piece.
A short disclaimer here: I understand that these are complex systems, especially regarding the optics. But...
*here comes the rant*
Why is it so hard to produce a telescope that is rock solid and doesn't cost 5-10k (which shockingly enough isn't always the case - I've read numerous horror stories starring premium telescopes)? And I'm not even talking perfection here. I'll take a "90% there" telescope too! I'm sure plenty will chime in saying how awesome and free-of-problems their telescopes are. Good for you!
My biggest complaint relates to round stars (to the edge, please!). I'm very much a newbie, but I've already familiarized myself with concepts like differential flexure, sensor tilts, adjustment screws, collimation tools, dislocated lenses, you name it! I'm only going to focus on refractors at this point cause things are looking much worse in the reflector world, at least in my opinion.
Before any of you jumps on me and rips me apart, allow me to say that I've tested all my scopes indoors using an out-of-focus artificial star, checking center and all 4 corners, so guiding or any other astrophotography "demons" are not in play here. It is also important to note that I've never used any accessories (like OAGs, filter wheels, etc.) when conducting my tests. Such accessories introduce their own "manufacturing" problems, so I've limited myself to the necessary extensions tubes/rings in order to achieve proper backfocus. I did try tilt adjustment in order to rule out sensor tilt where necessary. Moreover, I've always used the required flatteners/reducers (adjustable or non-adjustable) as well as many fine-adjustment-rings (0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.8mm, 1mm, etc.).
Anyway, I promised to keep it short and most of you are already aware of those hurdles, so I'll cut to the chase. Is there any refractor out there (think small, widefield, 500mm or less) that is rock solid and doesn't require that I donate any of my organs in order to make it mine? Rock solid in my world (with my pathetic, little experience) means:
- Simple design that doesn't require a team of scientists to adjust/collimate, if it ever comes down to that (like a doublet for example).
- No adjustable flatteners/reducers! Anything that can be adjusted is a potential source of flexure and/or tilting, in my experience.
- Can cope with the bare minimum flexure/sag introduced by flatteners/reducers, astro cameras (mine is a ASI183MM Pro), filter drawers, OAG.
- Has proper mounting rings (no **** L-brackets that flex like a banana under load).
- Motor focuser (ZWO EAF) should be easy to install (so enough screws for accessories on the focuser base), without being afraid of voiding warranty (I'm looking at you, WO!).
Any suggestions (or criticism) are welcome.
Thank you for reading my rant and sorry if anything I've written upset you in any way!