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80mm Refractor Opinions

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#1 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 12:35 PM

Hi All,

 

My first post.  I wanted to get some opinions on a couple of refractors I'm considering.  New to AP this year and I've already fallen in love with it, but all of my gear, not including my camera, is borrowed.  I've decided on the EQ6R, but am waiting for next spring to save a couple hundred, as I believe sale price drops from $2200 CAD to around $1800 CAD.  Significant savings to put towards a camera.

 

Anyway, to the point of this post... I'm struggling with deciding on the optics.  I have two in mind (with a third constantly barging into the conversation), but they are different from a design perspective:

 

WO Z81 with a field flattener can be had for $1349 CAD at the moment.  FPL-53 doublet

Meade 6000 80mm with field flattener for around $1560 CAD.  FPL-53 triplet

 

In concept, I understand that for AP, a triplet is better, but I cannot for the life of me account for the price discrepancy.  The WO GT81 triplet with FF is $2430 CAD.  Almost $1K more than the Meade for the same aperature.  Obviously this is throwing me for a loop. 

 

I can understand quality being a large factor, but I can't find anything bad to say about the meade in my scouring of the internet.  My limited experience has me wondering if I'm missing anything.  The buy once, cry once mantra keeps popping into my head as well... nudging me to just fork out for the GT81.  The meade on paper seems like a better choice, but I was hoping some more experienced users might chime in with opinions.  

 

Thanks for stopping by, and especially for any advice or info!

 

Edit: I just realized this probably would have been better placed in the equipment forum... but I can't seem to find the delete button yet...


Edited by sysvector, 26 September 2020 - 12:39 PM.


#2 OhmEye

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 12:45 PM

My main reflex with Meade is they are in bankruptcy or something, and I rarely see them listed as equipment for most of the astrophotography I see. But I really know little about their scopes, again because they don't seem popular enough to be on my radar when researching gear. A quick search for reviews on google I see a lot of positive ones, mostly visual users. I'm not seeing a lot of mention of using for AP so I recommend really looking for comments about the focuser and optics for use with AP.

 

My perception of WO is they are on the pricier end of the midrange spectrum for any given specs, but have excellent fit and finish. I notice comments from WO owners seem generally positive.

 

When reading reviews and comments about scopes on the internet, pay close attention to whether the reviewer is talking about visual use or AP. There is a big difference, and camera used is relevant also.

 

Doublets have more CA than triplets, which is a significant factor when using OSC cameras. The CA is mitigated somewhat by using a mono camera since each channel is focused separately. This is a generalization, some doublets are better than others, some might even be considered as good or better than some cheap triplets for certain uses.


Edited by OhmEye, 26 September 2020 - 12:53 PM.

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#3 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 12:52 PM

My main reflex with Meade is they are in bankruptcy or something, and I rarely see them listed as equipment for most of the astrophotography I see. But I really know little about their scopes, again because they don't seem popular enough to be on my radar when researching gear.

 

My perception of WO is they are on the pricier end of the midrange spectrum for any given specs, but have excellent fit and finish.

 

When reading reviews and comments about scopes on the internet, pay close attention to whether the reviewer is talking about visual use or AP. There is a big difference, and camera used is relevant also.

 

Doublets have more CA than triplets, which is a significant factor when using OSC cameras. The CA is mitigated somewhat by using a mono camera since each channel is focused separately. This is a generalization, some doublets are better than others, some might even be considered as good or better than some cheap triplets for certain uses.

 

The OSC point is one I've considered.  I live just outside the city, on the edge of the 8-9 zone.  My plan was to start with OSC and an l-pro filter to see what I could get.  I will be going to an observatory grounds maybe a few times a month in the summer, but spring and fall will be spent at home.  In that scenario, the OSC makes sense considering I still need all the other gear, but monochrome is in my future I suspect.



#4 AstroBrett

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:00 PM

When I use my WO 80mm doublet with a DSLR or OSC camera I get significant chromatic aberration and halos around my stars. I am planning to swap out my doublet for a triplet, and I would have spent less overall had I gotten the triplet up front.

 

Brett


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#5 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:09 PM

When I use my WO 80mm doublet with a DSLR or OSC camera I get significant chromatic aberration and halos around my stars. I am planning to swap out my doublet for a triplet, and I would have spent less overall had I gotten the triplet up front.

 

Brett

I feel like I will probably see a lot of opinions like yours in this thread.  Thanks!



#6 OhmEye

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:11 PM

For what it's worth I'm waiting to receive a SVX080T which in my opinion is a better triplet than the WO for a similar cost, and excellent build quality with a better focuser (I chose the Feathertouch.) Opinions and experiences vary, and perhaps the glass hand-figuring and lab report on the SV lenses is marketing hype but they sold me. If I wanted good quality OEM glass for less cost I would have bought a TS Photoline triplet, based on my experience with my TS130.

 

Lately though no matter what I am shopping for it seems like finding stock is half the battle, and I don't know anything about availability, prices, and shipping for Canada.


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#7 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:27 PM

For what it's worth I'm waiting to receive a SVX080T which in my opinion is a better triplet than the WO for a similar cost, and excellent build quality with a better focuser (I chose the Feathertouch.) Opinions and experiences vary, and perhaps the glass hand-figuring and lab report on the SV lenses is marketing hype but they sold me. If I wanted good quality OEM glass for less cost I would have bought a TS Photoline triplet, based on my experience with my TS130.

 

Lately though no matter what I am shopping for it seems like finding stock is half the battle, and I don't know anything about availability, prices, and shipping for Canada.

Thanks,

 

I honestly get lost in the SV models.  There the SVX80T-3SV starting at $2700 cad, and then the (visualy primarily according to them) SVX80T-25SV starting at $2200 cad.  But only from one retailer in the country from what I can see.  I agree, the reviews and marketing do well to sell you on the scope.  I just have a feeling that I can both save money and be happy with a less expensive option, considering how new I am.  Yes, bad time to want to buy equipment... but what are you gonna do?  When you're hooked, you're hooked. :)



#8 DJL

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:30 PM

The whole topic is a 3 legged stool - mount, camera and optics - and you want to take a stepwise path to an end goal without buying anything temporary or buying a telescope you can't use until you get a mount that can carry it. I decided on the WO GT81 - it's shorter focal length, more expensive and higher quality than the ZS81, and I'll be using it with the HEQ5. Might be an option to consider that instead of the EQ6R - are you looking at getting a heavier reflector later? The prices in Canada seem a lot higher than the USA. 

 

After going round and round on modded DSLRs, I am currently thinking ZWO OSC but as always there are tradeoffs. Smaller image sensor = higher crop factor so more magnification for the same telescope. However the crop factor also reduces the F number of the lens because the small sensor is not using the entire image circle. 


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#9 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:47 PM

The whole topic is a 3 legged stool - mount, camera and optics - and you want to take a stepwise path to an end goal without buying anything temporary or buying a telescope you can't use until you get a mount that can carry it. I decided on the WO GT81 - it's shorter focal length, more expensive and higher quality than the ZS81, and I'll be using it with the HEQ5. Might be an option to consider that instead of the EQ6R - are you looking at getting a heavier reflector later? The prices in Canada seem a lot higher than the USA. 

 

After going round and round on modded DSLRs, I am currently thinking ZWO OSC but as always there are tradeoffs. Smaller image sensor = higher crop factor so more magnification for the same telescope. However the crop factor also reduces the F number of the lens because the small sensor is not using the entire image circle. 

 

Yes, absolutely considering larger scopes with the mount decision.  It was between the GEM45 and the EQ6R.  They both have their advantages, but I'm going with the SW because it seems to be more robust with its heft and tripod, and it's significantly less expensive.  I will be tearing down each time, so the weight was a concern there, but I'm only 38 and should never turn down additional exercise. :)

 

Don't get me started on prices in Canada.  We definitely pay a disproportionate amount more for the same products.  

 

I hadn't even considered sensor size.  I figured getting a scope with full frame circle would cover any decision I made on cameras fine.  



#10 OhmEye

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 01:48 PM

Thanks,

 

I honestly get lost in the SV models.  There the SVX80T-3SV starting at $2700 cad, and then the (visualy primarily according to them) SVX80T-25SV starting at $2200 cad.  But only from one retailer in the country from what I can see.  I agree, the reviews and marketing do well to sell you on the scope.  I just have a feeling that I can both save money and be happy with a less expensive option, considering how new I am.  Yes, bad time to want to buy equipment... but what are you gonna do?  When you're hooked, you're hooked. smile.gif

Yeah, it can be confusing. The SVX080T are all the same scope, the difference is the accessories. The 3SV includes a flattener and risers. The flattener is needed for cameras with a sensor larger than about 18mm diagonal (mine is 15mm and I already have a flattener anyway) and the risers are for assuming that you may need clearance from the mount for a camera and filterwheel. Both are available separately but they bundle these for the 3SV. I got the 2.5" Feathertouch focuser and risers, partly because it had a shipping date 6 weeks sooner. As it turns out it's delayed by over a month anyway. frown.gif

 

I know you weren't soliciting suggestions for scopes, but here is what I consider the best budget 80mm triplet I know of:

 

https://www.teleskop...AP-Focuser.html


Edited by OhmEye, 26 September 2020 - 01:53 PM.

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#11 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:06 PM

Yeah, it can be confusing. The SVX080T are all the same scope, the difference is the accessories. The 3SV includes a flattener and risers. The flattener is needed for cameras with a sensor larger than about 18mm diagonal (mine is 15mm and I already have a flattener anyway) and the risers are for assuming that you may need clearance from the mount for a camera and filterwheel. Both are available separately but they bundle these for the 3SV. I got the 2.5" Feathertouch focuser and risers, partly because it had a shipping date 6 weeks sooner. As it turns out it's delayed by over a month anyway. frown.gif

 

I know you weren't soliciting suggestions for scopes, but here is what I consider the best budget 80mm triplet I know of:

 

https://www.teleskop...AP-Focuser.html

I don't mind suggestions at all.  My ignorance is what's driving this thread post.  

 

That photoline is actually quite comparable to the Meade in terms of price after conversion.  Shipping isn't bad either.  Would have to check on duties.  But it seems eerily similar to the meade on both price and looks.  To me it even looks like they may be the same scope.  What makes the TS the best in your opinion?  I really know nothing about the company.



#12 OhmEye

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:36 PM

I don't mind suggestions at all.  My ignorance is what's driving this thread post.  

 

That photoline is actually quite comparable to the Meade in terms of price after conversion.  Shipping isn't bad either.  Would have to check on duties.  But it seems eerily similar to the meade on both price and looks.  To me it even looks like they may be the same scope.  What makes the TS the best in your opinion?  I really know nothing about the company.

Good build quality, good optics, good pricing. I have the TS130 and the Photolines are considered one of the best deals in triplets in some circles. I don't know details for sure on the 80mm, most of the scopes at this range in the market are built from similar components or rebranded whole. It boils down the the quality of the focuser and the lenses, the rest is pretty much just tube. It it's got good machining and nice baffles it's a good OTA. You are right that they look very similar, but that's true of most of the refractors. I have no idea what charges there are shipping those to Canada. The custom fees for my $2k order into the US were not significant. I just wanted to point it out as an option for you to research if you are so inclined. I'm not trying to talk you out of the Meade, just offering up more confusion to research! :)


Edited by OhmEye, 26 September 2020 - 02:41 PM.

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#13 Stelios

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:39 PM

I don't mind suggestions at all.  My ignorance is what's driving this thread post.  

 

That photoline is actually quite comparable to the Meade in terms of price after conversion.  Shipping isn't bad either.  Would have to check on duties.  But it seems eerily similar to the meade on both price and looks.  To me it even looks like they may be the same scope.  What makes the TS the best in your opinion?  I really know nothing about the company.

I would advise crossing the Meade from your thoughts. I have seen several people unhappy with the optics. Meade's customer service isn't. 

 

The TS scope recommended to you is a very good choice. Even if it is the same as the Meade initially, it will have gone through better quality control. Also it has very good focuser, it has very nice mounting rings (very important if you want to mount a top dovetail and properly mount a guidescope), and it has *several* flatteners and correctors available. TS is Germany-based, is a very large company, and the only thing to consider is shipping cost to Canada and any possible duty (there's no duty to the US if under $2K or so, but I don't know about Canada). Also you might lose something on the exchange rate. 


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#14 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:52 PM

I would advise crossing the Meade from your thoughts. I have seen several people unhappy with the optics. Meade's customer service isn't. 

 

The TS scope recommended to you is a very good choice. Even if it is the same as the Meade initially, it will have gone through better quality control. Also it has very good focuser, it has very nice mounting rings (very important if you want to mount a top dovetail and properly mount a guidescope), and it has *several* flatteners and correctors available. TS is Germany-based, is a very large company, and the only thing to consider is shipping cost to Canada and any possible duty (there's no duty to the US if under $2K or so, but I don't know about Canada). Also you might lose something on the exchange rate. 

Thank you!  

 

Appears that duties will run 5%.  Will have to find out what my credit card exchange rates are and if there are fees as well.  If I'm ballparking this correctly, it may well be under the WO GT81 package by a good enough margin to seriously consider.  



#15 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 03:06 PM

Good build quality, good optics, good pricing. I have the TS130 and the Photolines are considered one of the best deals in triplets in some circles. I don't know details for sure on the 80mm, most of the scopes at this range in the market are built from similar components or rebranded whole. It boils down the the quality of the focuser and the lenses, the rest is pretty much just tube. It it's got good machining and nice baffles it's a good OTA. You are right that they look very similar, but that's true of most of the refractors. I have no idea what charges there are shipping those to Canada. The custom fees for my $2k order into the US were not significant. I just wanted to point it out as an option for you to research if you are so inclined. I'm not trying to talk you out of the Meade, just offering up more confusion to research! smile.gif

I honestly think I wanted to be talked out of the Meade.  The price just seems too much of an outsider in the category.  The TS is in the same price range, but is on sale.  I'm wary of support/return issues in ordering from out of country, but there's confidence in knowing others have had good experiences.



#16 jewelsdean

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 03:27 PM

I can't say much for the Meade or WO but I love my Altair StarWave 80 EDT-R, if your not crazy about the travel size on this they have some other great options with the Wave series as well.  This is a review on the 70mm EDT-R if your interested.  https://www.skyatnig...edt-r-refractor ( And they are triplets for a decent price.  I would recommend the flattener as well.

 

I've heard good things about the SkyWatcher ESPRIT-80ED PROFESSIONAL F5 SUPER APO TRIPLET as well you may want to take a look at that.  Can be had for around 1200.00 us dollars.


Edited by jewelsdean, 26 September 2020 - 03:27 PM.

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#17 venyix

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 04:54 PM

I have an explore scientific 80mm triplet that I really like, plus I’m using it without a flattener. I’m shooting with a 183ASI MM and an EQ6R PRO


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#18 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 07:52 PM

...New to AP this year and I've already fallen in love with it, but all of my gear, not including my camera, is borrowed.

 
I have nothing useful to say except that it's great that you're getting some experience before rushing out to buy things. Also, great choice buying an 80mm. A good 80mm will always have a use. My eighty has a lot of miles on it and I still use it despite owning bigger instruments.

 

Edit: I just realized this probably would have been better placed in the equipment forum...


No. It's perfect here. It's an imaging topic. The Equipment Forum is for stuff like flashlights, chairs and stuff that has no better place.


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#19 Deesk06

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 10:16 PM

Stay away from the meade. I had one and I had some optical issues. Tried talking to meade customer service. They responded once or twice but they eventually stopped replying to me or helping me out. The vendor ended up having to take the scope back instead of sending it to meade for a check up or warranty repair. Gave me full credit and I just decided to go with a WO GT81. Yes it is more expensive for somewhat similar optics, but I am going to assume that customer service is way better than Meade. Ultimately, if you can go with Stellarvue then do so.
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#20 sysvector

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 11:18 PM

Stay away from the meade. I had one and I had some optical issues. Tried talking to meade customer service. They responded once or twice but they eventually stopped replying to me or helping me out. The vendor ended up having to take the scope back instead of sending it to meade for a check up or warranty repair. Gave me full credit and I just decided to go with a WO GT81. Yes it is more expensive for somewhat similar optics, but I am going to assume that customer service is way better than Meade. Ultimately, if you can go with Stellarvue then do so.

Thanks!

 

I think you've sealed the deal on avoiding the meade.  The WO is available from my local dealer and I prefer that.  Their 2yr warranty is also a nice bonus.  


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#21 bobzeq25

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 12:08 AM

Hi All,

 

My first post.  I wanted to get some opinions on a couple of refractors I'm considering.  New to AP this year and I've already fallen in love with it, but all of my gear, not including my camera, is borrowed.  I've decided on the EQ6R, but am waiting for next spring to save a couple hundred, as I believe sale price drops from $2200 CAD to around $1800 CAD.  Significant savings to put towards a camera.

 

Anyway, to the point of this post... I'm struggling with deciding on the optics.  I have two in mind (with a third constantly barging into the conversation), but they are different from a design perspective:

 

WO Z81 with a field flattener can be had for $1349 CAD at the moment.  FPL-53 doublet

Meade 6000 80mm with field flattener for around $1560 CAD.  FPL-53 triplet

 

In concept, I understand that for AP, a triplet is better, but I cannot for the life of me account for the price discrepancy.  The WO GT81 triplet with FF is $2430 CAD.  Almost $1K more than the Meade for the same aperature.  Obviously this is throwing me for a loop. 

 

I can understand quality being a large factor, but I can't find anything bad to say about the meade in my scouring of the internet.  My limited experience has me wondering if I'm missing anything.  The buy once, cry once mantra keeps popping into my head as well... nudging me to just fork out for the GT81.  The meade on paper seems like a better choice, but I was hoping some more experienced users might chime in with opinions.  

 

Thanks for stopping by, and especially for any advice or info!

 

Edit: I just realized this probably would have been better placed in the equipment forum... but I can't seem to find the delete button yet...

You're not missing much.  This is a great example of how beginner's needs are different than experienced imagers needs.

 

All three are fine as scopes to learn AP with.  Somewhere a long time down the road, you'll be going for smaller stars, where the triplet shines.  Right away, you'll appreciate the better focuser on the expensive WO, focus is critical for AP.

 

But most all of us move on from our first scope.  Buy once cry once is a strategy best used by people who know exactly what they need.  You're not there yet, nor should you expect to be.  The inexpensive WO Z81 doesn't get in the way of learning, which is the most important thing for quite some time.  The extra money for the other two (either one) is "worth it" for an experienced imager.  For a beginner, it's somewhat overkill.

 

If you want a TS scope, this guy tests the specific scope before he ships it out, will provide rudimentary test results on request (there may be a trivial fee).  I bought my TS 130 F7 from him because I too was concerned about ordering from overseas.  The box was enormous, very well packed.  I like the scope a lot.

 

https://www.teleskop...1f03a7f2db11c1a

 

If you avoid the _really_ cheap scopes, you can't go far wrong here.  I'd get the Z81.

 

But, if you don't agree (people often don't <grin>), THIS is the buy once cry once choice.  They too test every scope.  They have the expertise and equipment to fix most any problem, this is not like buying from a typical vendor.   Scroll down.  Ever seen an optical quality report like that?  The Stellarvue focuser is superior, you can get "world class" by paying the $500 extra for the Feathertouch.  The test report for your specific scope is not rudimentary.  <smile> 

 

https://www.stellarv...om/svx080t-3sv/

 

They do throw in the reducer with the $2195 ($2695) scope.  <smile>

 

I also have two Stellarvues.  You probably will buy another scope down the road.  But you'll keep the Stellarvue as your 80mm.


Edited by bobzeq25, 27 September 2020 - 12:35 AM.

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#22 HxPI

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 12:26 AM

I have an explore scientific 80mm triplet that I really like, plus I’m using it without a flattener. I’m shooting with a 183ASI MM and an EQ6R PRO

I use the ES80 refractor with ASI294MC and the image edges don’t look so good without a FF. The central views are great though. I concur with using a small image sensor size with this particular scope. Looking forward to seeing the recommendations for a wide flat field scope.


Edited by HxPI, 27 September 2020 - 12:29 AM.

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#23 bobzeq25

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 01:12 AM

I use the ES80 refractor with ASI294MC and the image edges don’t look so good without a FF. The central views are great though. I concur with using a small image sensor size with this particular scope. Looking forward to seeing the recommendations for a wide flat field scope.

Takahashi FSQ106 (quad for flat) with their F3 reducer. 318mm wide enough?  44mm image circle for your full frame camera?  About $8000.  <smile>

 

All recommendations depend on your budget.


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#24 Stelios

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 02:28 AM

The Stellarvue is probably beyond the OP's (sysvector) budget, but just in case it isn't, rest assured you don't need the Feathertouch upgrade. The SV focuser is *excellent*. I've had absolutely zero slippage with mine, perfect V-curves with a Rigel stepper for autofocus. (I also have a Feathertouch on my APO, it's very good but not better). A forever scope, I don't care *how* good you get--but perhaps overkill for the beginner. 


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#25 Deesk06

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 11:16 AM

Thanks!

 

I think you've sealed the deal on avoiding the meade.  The WO is available from my local dealer and I prefer that.  Their 2yr warranty is also a nice bonus.  

Yes, go with something other than meade. I would listen to both Bob and Stelios with regards to stellarvue. I don't have much experience or use with scopes under my belt. I do however know both of them advocate very often for stellarvue. Their suggestions put any worries at ease. 

 

For WO I have no experience. It will be my first time using it as well. Others seem to enjoy them and get great use out of their scopes. I am comfortable enough to use their scope. I would go with the stellarvue, but between shipping things back to vendors and buying different products and spending a bit more on scopes already, I feel like I will just need to stick with the WO for now. If it gives me good results I will probably keep it. However, from here on out my future scope purchases will first be stellarvue. 


Edited by Deesk06, 27 September 2020 - 11:20 AM.

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