I've spent quite a bit of time searching and reading the forums here on CN over the past many months, but despite many overlapping threads, it seemed like this was worth a post.
I'm pretty new to astrophotography, having only taken constellation and Milky Way landscape shots with DSLRs (APS-C and FF) and a tripod. I'm working on a more DSO-capable grab-and-go setup as my next step in what I'm intending to be a lifelong hobby. Right now I'm (very patiently) shopping for an optically excellent refractor that's lightweight enough to use in an imaging setup on a Star Adventurer. Along with home use and car-based dark sky trips, I'd like to bring this setup on backpacking trips without power, so while I'll dive into astro cameras and auto-guiding eventually, they're off my radar for the moment. I also want to be able to use the scope for visual astronomy, knowing that aperture will be more limiting here. Price is almost a non-factor, but I do have one price-related concern that I'll mention below. I'm looking for direct comparisons if possible, but suggestions, experience, and clarifications are welcome. Here are my top contenders so far, but feel free to tear them apart and/or suggest your own. We Wisconsinites have thick skin.
- Takahashi FS-60CB / FS-60Q. The flexibility of this platform is very appealing, at F/5.9 bare, F/4.2 with reducer, F/6.2 with flattener, and F/10 with extender (the extender wouldn't be used with the SA). My main concern, which I alluded to above, is that it sounds like it can't use standard 2" M48 filters. Is that accurate? I'd really rather not have multiple sizes of the same filters, both for cost and clutter reasons. I live in deep Bortle 9 skies, so I'll definitely be playing with filters at home. Interchangeability between my GnG setup and other future equipment is on the wish list.
- Vixen FL55SS. F/5.5 bare, F/4.3 with reducer, F/5.7 with flattener. One thread I found mentioned this Vixen as having less chromatic aberration than the FS-60CB.
- SharpStar 61 EDPHII / Radian Raptor 61. F/5.5 bare, F/4.5 with reducer. I understand these two to be optically equivalent, so really it's just comparing prices and features in the different packages you find. Can you pull the reducer out of the Raptor if you want to, or is that permanent?
- William Optics RedCat 51 / SpaceCat / NightCat. F/4.9, inherently flattened (Petzval).
- Borg 55FL. F/4.5 bare, F/3.6 with reducer. (added per Catalin81's suggestion)
Thanks in advance!
Edited by Neubadger, 22 November 2020 - 09:52 AM.