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Best refractor in the 3,000 to 4,000 USD (visual and DSLR photo)

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#1 Northern Jeff

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 07:23 AM

Hello there.

I prepare my overdue return to astronomy. Already own an old 8" SCT and looking forward to buying a scope for visual and AP with DSLR. What are the options for this budget? I'll definitely buy a good mount for this scope. Moon, planets, deep-sky objects...everything is an interesting subject.

 

I bought a piece of land in the mountains and I live there 100% of my time to enjoy every clear sky that will show up. 

 

Thanks in advance and clear skies to you all.

Regards.

Jeff

 


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#2 otocycle

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 07:45 AM

Your price point lets you move up from an ED doublet to a triplet in the 120mm class for better color correction.   Consider the Skywatcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet for $3200 USD as it includes a field flattener/corrector, rings, dovetail, finder, and large 2-speed focuser.

 

https://www.skywatch...t-apo-refractor

 

This would leave more budget for a mount or other accessories.

 

I love to spend other people's money !


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#3 Spikey131

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 07:53 AM

Televue NP101is is an obvious option.


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#4 nic35

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 07:58 AM

I'm sure lots of folks will willingly tell you how to spend your money.

 

I really like Ed Ting's scope reviews.  And, especially his new video ones.  You can see them here https://www.scopereviews.com

 

If you go to the alphabetized list,  you'll see reviews for over 75 refractors of all sorts.  

 

My only observation is that he is short on reviews of Stellarvue scopes.

 

Have fun !

 

j


Edited by nic35, 27 March 2021 - 07:59 AM.

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#5 Northern Jeff

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 07:58 AM

Thanks Apollo. I did reviews of the tech specs of several options in that price range. SW is something I looked at but I thought of faster scope for AP.

 

What do you think of Televue? I thought of having smaller but better. 

 

Really appreciate your time.



#6 Northern Jeff

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 08:01 AM

Televue NP101is is an obvious option.

Indeed. One of the three serious options I look at. You have one?



#7 bobhen

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 08:05 AM

If you are replacing the C8, you might consider the APM 152mm F7.9 ED refractor with the 3.7-inch focuser. The OTA is around $3,300 USD. Additional reducers can be purchased for imaging as well.   HERE is a link.
 

If you are keeping the C8 and want a refractor to compliment the C8, you might consider one of the many 4-inch class apo refractors on the market

 

Takahashi offers their FC 100DZ for around $3,000 USD
Stellarvue offers their SVX 102T for around $3,000 USD
Telescope Service offers 3, 4-inch-class apos from around $1,000 to $2,500 USD

As others have mentioned, the TV 101is would be a consideration as well. 

 

Refractors make great imaging telescopes and most can be equipment with reducers and flatteners if needed.

 

Bob


Edited by bobhen, 27 March 2021 - 08:06 AM.


#8 otocycle

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 08:07 AM

Since there are several competing objectives (pun intended), you will have to decide what factors are more important to you (aperture, f/ratio, weight, preferred objects, etc.).   More visual use with some casual DSLR astrophotography points to a larger, general purpose refractor at perhaps f/7.

 

Smaller but faster gets you a better dedicated AP scope for that kind of money.

 

TS-Optics (import from Germany) also has some very good options (Photoline):

 

https://www.teleskop...Telescopes.html



#9 Northern Jeff

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 08:21 AM

Good point Apollo. This is so hard to pinpoint since I want to buy one and be able to do it all. 

Kindly.

Jeff



#10 otocycle

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 08:31 AM

The solution I arrived at is to buy the high quality refractor(s) as well as a very affordable astrograph reflector (200mm f/3.9).   You are going to need a good mount anyway, and it should be able to support visual and AP needs.  Larger aperture Newtonian reflector astrographs are very affordable compared to apo refractors.

 

No telescope can do it all, so we make our best choices and try to compliment each one to cover all bases.


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#11 Northern Jeff

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 08:43 AM

The solution I arrived at is to buy the high quality refractor(s) as well as a very affordable astrograph reflector (200mm f/3.9).   You are going to need a good mount anyway, and it should be able to support visual and AP needs.  Larger aperture Newtonian reflector astrographs are very affordable compared to apo refractors.

 

No telescope can do it all, so we make our best choices and try to compliment each one to cover all bases.

I know I'll have to come up with a larger one in 3-5 years from now. I need to  get familiar with the imaging, the processing, etc... I look at an Ioptron CEM40 for my mount. With the 60% of the 40 lbs capacity, it should be enough for a decent astrograph later on.


Edited by Northern Jeff, 27 March 2021 - 08:44 AM.

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#12 Supernova74

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 08:48 AM

Well if your considering a Chinese of origin take your pick as thay are all becoming practically the same now,and it’s only a question of time you pick one out of three contenders will not make much difference apart from the anodised coloured nuts,bolt,screws and slighty different focuser!?as the ways things are going that will be the case lack of originality there just different brand name.in most part it mainly depends on your observing style really,moon,planets deep sky or bit of both 

however if you did consider AP,imaging down the line it’s more essential you choose the right scope for the right job now rather than later some thing faster enough for nice wide feild low,medium and high power views on occasions also something that is also suitable for imaging of some discription,and of course if that’s the more preferred route you want to take don,t put the cart before the horse so to speak in also finding a suitable mount.

 

ive got nothing against Chinese of origin refractors whatsoever as thay really do make some exceptional scopes with APO,s

ED refractors being no exception and let’s face it,if it wasn’t for the Chinese brand names like skywatcher,Astro-tech,

and one of the latest contenders sharpstar!? Most of us couldn’t simperly afford one in the first place,however for a very Big Bang for your buck however not the best for AP,imaging the skywatcher 150ED pro is an excellent choice for around $1600 and no other brand name comes close for value.the other brand that springs to mind is the APM 150 doublet similer focal length to the skywatcher however a more premium brand at around $2800.however if you definitely considering going down the imaging path a triplet APO around F5.5-F7 might be the better weapon of choice which offers very limited False colour and generally a flatter feild with additional accessories.and lastly I found mainly when I owned the skywatcher 100ED pro refractor and also owning a Meade 12”ACF my eyepiece collection was catered around the scopes long focal length not necessarily with the 100ED pro tho as most of the increments of magnification range where very low,so it’s important to 

reckonise that you might need the added exspense of puchasing additional eyepieces to achieve the magnification ranges you require or an apochromatic X2 Barlow lens for visual.


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#13 Linwood

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 10:25 AM

Televue NP101is is an obvious option.

I got one a few months ago, and love it.  It fills a full frame (a bit of fall off in the corners but with the large field adapter nicely shaped stars in the corners). Added the self contained optec focuser and really a solid performer.



#14 teashea

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 11:04 AM

A Takahashi TSA120 is about $4400.  

 

A Takahashi FC100DZ is about $3000.

 

Taks.jpg


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#15 Supernova74

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 11:08 AM

A Takahashi TSA120 is about $4400.  

 

A Takahashi FC100DZ is about $3000.

 

attachicon.gifTaks.jpg

Lol or you could turn your living room into a telescope dealership!?


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#16 doctordub

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 11:17 AM

A used standard TeleVue NP-101 about $2000.00.

A TeleVue TV-102 with focal reducer and field flattener $1600.00

CS

Jonathan

Attached Thumbnails

  • TV-NP101.jpg
  • TV102.jpg

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#17 Traveler

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 02:48 PM

Hello there.

I prepare my overdue return to astronomy. Already own an old 8" SCT and looking forward to buying a scope for visual and AP with DSLR. What are the options for this budget? I'll definitely buy a good mount for this scope. Moon, planets, deep-sky objects...everything is an interesting subject.

 

I bought a piece of land in the mountains and I live there 100% of my time to enjoy every clear sky that will show up. 

 

Thanks in advance and clear skies to you all.

Regards.

Jeff

Another point of view can be the following:

 

Use the C8 as your visual instrument..

 

Buy a 80mm ED and practice and teach yourself doing astrophotography.and buy a good gem. mount and a good tripod with a larger refractor in mind. The mount will be the (most) important part of your astrophotography setup. 

The 80mm also will provide you wide views of the bigger/larger DSO's.

 

Good luck with your decision.


Edited by Traveler, 27 March 2021 - 02:50 PM.

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#18 Spikey131

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 07:40 PM

Indeed. One of the three serious options I look at. You have one?

I have one.  I don’t do astrophotography, visual only.

 

Visual only, at a dark site, with a wide field eyepiece like the 31mm Nagler, one can discover a whole new understanding of large DSOs like the Veil Nebula and Barnard’s loop.  The short focal length and flat field is unique for this type of astronomy, which, as you might have guessed, is something I really enjoy.  So did Jim O’Meara, who wrote the Deep Sky Companion series based upon observations made with a similar Tele Vue refractor.  https://www.amazon.c...53326/ref=nodl_
 

I often observe with the NP101 mounted in tandem with a C8.  These scopes complement one another well, each excelling in areas where the other is weak.


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#19 weis14

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 08:04 PM

If you can find someone who will sell at sticker price (I think I paid $3499 new) or close to it, get an Astro-Physics Stowaway.  Mine is absolutely flawless for visual and has given me some of the most impressive views of any scope I've owned in 20+ years of observing.  I don't do serious AP, but it will be easy to find examples of many others who do.  

 

Not only will you have a great scope for imaging, but you will not need to upgrade in the size/focal length ever again.  It will also probably hold its value at 100% or more given that very few additional copies, if any, are likely to be made by Roland.



#20 Codbear

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 12:14 AM

A Takahashi TSA120 is about $4400.  

 

A Takahashi FC100DZ is about $3000.

 

attachicon.gifTaks.jpg

 

Teashea...I'm pretty sure the mods are going to reclassify you as a Tak vendor!!! lol.gif

 

Great looking flock.

 

Norther Jeff...I have a TV101is and a TV127is. The 101is is extremely portable and puts up incredibly sharp views of DSOs and lunar/planetary. Used 101is scopes seem to go in the very high $2k to mid $3k range.

 

The 127is is also a fantastic scope for viewing and AP.  Both scopes are known for their wide field views - the 101is up 4.8 degrees, while the 127is tops out at 4 degrees. The 127is usually seems to go in the $4,000-$4,500 range used.


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#21 DeanD

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 01:47 AM

Hi Jeff,

 

I am not at all jealous of your "piece of land in the mountains"... ;)

 

If I were you I would have a chat to the folk at Stellarvue about the soon-to-arrive SVX127D. Around $3,500...

 

Happy choosing!

 

- Dean


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#22 213Cobra

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 03:03 AM

For $3000 - $4000 you can buy either a used Takahashi FSQ-85ED or an FSQ-106 EDxxx, plus the appropriate Takahashi extender 1.5X or 1.6X, which will cover everything from wide field to planets. The FSQs will obviate the need for an external and complicating flattener for DSLR photography, and either native or + extender will deliver sensational no-field-curvature-visual views. I have used triplets with flatteners. Believe me, the intrinsic flattener of a Takahashi quad is better, and the visual possibilities are equally enhanced. You have the cash; go with one of those.

 

Phil


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#23 Northern Jeff

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 06:05 AM

Hi Jeff,

 

I am not at all jealous of your "piece of land in the mountains"... wink.gif

 

If I were you I would have a chat to the folk at Stellarvue about the soon-to-arrive SVX127D. Around $3,500...

 

Happy choosing!

 

- Dean

Good advice DeanD. Stellarvue is in the brands line-up I investigate. Surely will take a look at this model.

 

Just to make you not that much jealous, here's a picture of my freshly logged site for the sessions to come. So thrilled ...and I still have 45 acres to play with and preserve me from annoying neighbors with night lighting. 

 

Thanks again.

IMG_0613.JPG


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#24 Northern Jeff

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 06:16 AM

I have one.  I don’t do astrophotography, visual only.

 

Visual only, at a dark site, with a wide field eyepiece like the 31mm Nagler, one can discover a whole new understanding of large DSOs like the Veil Nebula and Barnard’s loop.  The short focal length and flat field is unique for this type of astronomy, which, as you might have guessed, is something I really enjoy.  So did Jim O’Meara, who wrote the Deep Sky Companion series based upon observations made with a similar Tele Vue refractor.  https://www.amazon.c...53326/ref=nodl_
 

I often observe with the NP101 mounted in tandem with a C8.  These scopes complement one another well, each excelling in areas where the other is weak.

Thanks Spikey. Takahashi, Stellarvue, Televue and even Astro-Physics are my final four sources of pleasure from which I'll pick one.Like yourself, I'm more interested in visual but I know I'll definitely start AP next year of maybe this fall. The guiding and the camera body will follow soon enough.

My plan is to get an excellent refractor with quality optics and versatile without being out of reach price wise. Televue seems to be a good choice.

Takahashi is my type but pricier 

Astro-Physic is rare item : people who waited 2-3 years to grab one are not eager to let the mgo on the used market.

Stellavue is one I need to dig a little.

 

Well, the process is fun and I really appreciate the comments this community took the time to share with me. Glad I did join.

Regards.


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#25 Erik Bakker

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Posted 28 March 2021 - 07:36 AM

Jeff,

 

Welcome to CloudyNights!

 

At dark skies, in the pricerange you defined, any OTA mentioned will do a great job.

 

You need to include a mount, around 3 eyepieces and some adapters in the package to get you ready to observe and take pictures with your DSLR.

 

Visual astronomy leads to a different set of important do’s and don’ts than astrophotography.

 

I consider myself a visual astronomer. 

Visual astronomy also comes in a range of most observed and/or enjoyed objects to observe. Sun, moon, planets, double stars, open clusters, Milky Way, bright nebulae, diffuse nebulae, galaxies or comets to name a few. And we all have our personal favorites.

 

But of course I take pictures of a lunar or solar eclipse and the occasional deep sky or comet shot. I guess a few hundred every year.

 

In the aperture class you are considering, I use refractors, both on a driven german equatorial mount and on an alt-az mount. All of high quality. I’ve founf The best is always a bargain (in the end).

 

Wide field starfields or large elusive nebulae do better with a flat-field short f.l. scope. Moon, planets, tight doubles and small deep sky objects are better ton study with a long f.l. scope. A bit of everything? A medium f.l. will do it all quite well. A similar anolgy can be made for photographic uses, although for high power images of the planets, big (8”+) aperture and long f.l. on a superb mount works best in this digital age.

 

Similarly, 3” provides top portability and widest fields in the case of an FSQ-85, 4” offers a wide choice of different scopes, both widefield and highest-power optimized. A good 5” shows the most, but can be much more of a burden to cary and mount.  

 

Same for a mount. Some types of observing work well with a stable, yet relatively lightweight alt-az mount. But hours of very high power observing or astro-photography require a good driven mount, bringing the package in a whole new weight and bulk class. Thus requiring much more time and effort to set-up, unless you mount it permanently in an observatory.

 

So get your personal observing priorities straight. Then zoom in on which compromises create the best observing/imaging package for your use. Given the budget and scopes already mentioned, it is much easier to choose right than wrong.


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