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Any APOs you would avoid?

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#26 Kevin_A

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 02:19 PM

I think that itis good to know what scopes have issues and what scopes are suprises. My WO Z61 seems to have issues with quite a few others and as mentioned, also a few others in the same size having CA issues. But i also have a Meade 6000 Series 115mm triplet that is a pure gem of a scope as far as constant focus, beautiful colors and no aberrations whatsoever... a wonderful suprise. We can all expect duds in any manufacturer just like buying a car.... just as long as its not a constant and widely experienced issue!


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#27 BillP

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 03:08 PM

Not really a telescope or brand to avoid, but more of things to be cognizant of IMO...

 

  1. Value added resellers often have more generous return policies than the manufacturers. So do your homework on whom you buy from so you have the least hassles in case you do want to return for "any" reason, so not necessarily it was bad in any way but even because it just did not meet your expectations.  I.e., no-fault no-reason 30 day return policy is what I look for and have never been dissatisfied over the years with any of my purchases as a result.
     
  2. Spend some time talking to the same sales person at the vendor you think you are going to buy a scope from before you do.  Let them get to know you and your sensitivities relative to any telescope.  Then when you finally make the purchase IMO you will less likely be dissatisfied because once they know you a little, and what your hot points are, they will go the extra mile checking the product a little bit better before sending to you because the absolute last thing they want is a return. 
     
  3. Triplets are IMO hi-risk user serviceable.  The spacing and centering of the elements are highly critical so not really an objective you would want to take apart yourself to clean the elements.  So when buying a triplet make sure there is a service center in the country where you live that can service them or is willing to service them if need be.  Alternatively, if the branding has no country-local servicing then make sure the price you are paying for it reflect that and is not up there with the premium brandings like Tak, TEC, TV, AP which all do have U.S.-local service centers.
     
  4. If the intent is visual-only, then think hard before getting a triplet as doublets with excellent designs and comfortable focal ratios will be CA-free visually on 99.99% of the targets.  So advantage with a doublet is less cost, lighter weight, potentially quicker cool down, more easily user serviceable.  My caveat on the user serviceability of a doublet is probably for 4" and smaller objectives.  I have a 6" doublet and that glass is HEAVY so even though straight forward to take apart, the elements are so very heavy that would not feel "comfortable" doing it. However, on the plus side is that most any telescope servicing place can easily clean a doublet so less worries in that respect that no one "special" is really needed.
     
  5. The Focuser is as important as the Objective!  I can't say this enough.  While of course the objective is important for optical performance, no matter how good the objective is if the focuser brings you a poor experience then the overall experience of using the scope will be poor as well.  So while your eye spends all its time with the objective, your hands spend all their time with the focuser, and when it is being imprecise or annoying in operation, then you will dislike the experience you are getting every single time you need to focus, even the littlest bit.  So do your research to make sure the focuser performs well and has a instructions on how to adjust it so it has a "feel" that suits your likes.  And the focuser does not need to be world class to perform excellently and precisely.  IME R&Ps are the best, especially for non-slip functioning and longevity.  I personally would not take a Crayford on a refractor unless my intention was to replace it.
     
  6. Not all scopes come with rotating focusers. If you use a GEM mount or you image, a rotating focuser is probably a necessity.  However, realize that many rotating focusers will lose collimation at the different rotation positions.  I have tested this on some rotating focusers I have and indeed the collimation changes.  Since I am an avid planetary observer having precise collimation is critical for me, and since I use alt-az mounts I do not need the rotation feature so I have locked all the focusers in their position and collimated optimally there.
     
  7. Not all refractors are collimatable by the consumer.  This is not a bad thing, as long as you have country-local service support should it ever need it.  Often, when a refractor has no way for consumer collimation, they have typically anchored the optics in the cell with the intent for it to not need collimation even with hard bumps.  So advice is to always check the collimation capability, and if not, then have some detailed talks with the manufacturer or reseller on what the recourse is, and cost, if somehting happens in the future and it needs it.
     
  8. If you think you will want to use a binoviewer, then make sure you know what the back-focus is of the telescope you purchase.  If you would want to binoview without a Barlow or Optical Corrector (OCA or GPC) so you can get the lowest magnification and widest TFOV possible from the eyepiece you are using, then IME 180mm of back-focus is about the minimum you will need.  And even with 180mm it means you still might need to get special 1.25" diagonals with T2 connections so you can directly connect the binoviewer housing to the diagonal housing to save light path.  if the scope has less than 180mm of back-focus, then likely you will always need a Barlow or Amplifier with the binoviewer so will always have an effective focal length for the eyepiece that is shorter than what it is marked with (e.g., if you have a 24 Pan then likely the Barlow/OCA/GPC will mean it will operate probably in the 12-19mm range instead).
     
  9. Make sure that the scope either has a fixed dew shield or a locking one.  If the dew shield is adjustable, and it has no locking screw, then it relies on friction to stay in place.  Over time, the felt they use for friction will compress and the dew shield may retract on its own when pointed near the zenith.  I have one scope like this and it is a p.i.t.a. and frustrating.  And yes, it may be an easy fix, but I did not get the scope to be fixing all the shortcomings.  Buyer beware.
     
  10. While the objective caters to your eye and the focuser caters to your hand, the entire scope's ultimate operating experience is then totally dependent on the mount!!  Therefore, do not skimp on the mounting and do not forget to account for the cost of a good mount BEFORE you buy any OTA.  Nothing worse than getting a world-class OTA and then only having enough money to put it on a shaky mount that will deliver a frustratingly poor experience.  So make sure your budget can support the cost of both before you get either one.  So once you have decided on an aperture class and optical design, before you go any deeper on researching OTAs of that class, instead start asking what mounts will steadily hold a scope of that aperture class and optical design first so you know how much an appropriate mounting will cost.  Then you will have a better idea of the money left for the OTA.
     
  11. Once you have your scope and mount, it has now become a fixed part of your observing equation.  This is where the eyepiece now comes into play.  It is the flexible component of the optical chain and allows you to customize the user interface into the celestial sphere that the telescope is facilitating.  So basically have fun here and try lots of different eyepieces with different presentation parameters.  And remember, eyepieces are like ice cream, so you have lots of flavors to enjoy so don't just limit yourself to one flavor but have fun...this is a hobby!

Edited by BillP, 04 April 2021 - 09:18 PM.

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#28 Supernova74

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 03:14 PM

We’ll ive even heard forum members physically cutting down there Telescope OTA,s so thay can use bino viewers!? Barbaric in my opinion and should of chose the right tool for the right job in the first place.


Edited by Supernova74, 04 April 2021 - 03:14 PM.


#29 mikeDnight

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 03:34 PM

Many of the early Meade apo's were pretty poor and were far from colour free. So if it was an early Meade, id say approach with caution.


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#30 peleuba

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 03:51 PM

What APOs in the 80mm - 120mm range do you NOT recommend and why?

 

Years ago D&G Optical manufactured an APO based on ED glass.  It was not very good and they stopped production. 

 

 

===

Your question is a good one, philosophical in nature and more complex then it first appears.  I think you'll find the answer to be that it all boils down to sample to sample variability especially when discussing the Asian imports (Synta, Kun Ming et al.)   The other manufacturers with offerings in this focal length - CFF, LZOS and Takahashi, Stellarvue and TeleVue - have quality assurance controls in place and the ample to sample differences between lenses is comparatively narrow (more on TeleVue below).   

 

You'l lnotice that the widely availkble scopes in the size range will, practically, be clones of each other.  They will be rebranded by whichever reseller imported them from China.  

 

Historically, StellarVue has been a rebrander/VAR of imported optics.  This is starting to change and in the last couple of years SV has started to make their own - the SVX series - and is reportedly quite good.

 

TeleVue - I have a lot of experience with TeleVue up and down the aperture scale and currently own a TV76.  All of the TeleVue OTA's I have seen have been better then diffraction limited.  One particular NP101 was virtually perfect.  A second and third sample I later on, not so much.  This inconsistency drove me nuts and drove me away from the TV OTA's.  My current TV76 is decent, for what it is, but its no where near optical perfection.  The lens is VERY smooth, however.  I would love to know what "fails" a lens at TeleVue.  I think it smore of a subjective judgement by the technician who assembles the lenses/telescopes.  In full disclosure - I do own 5 complete sets of TeleVue eyepieces so I am not biased against TeleVue.  Its all I use in the focuser.  Its just that the inconsistency of the OTA's is confounding to me.

 

So moral of the story is that the best thing to do is to be able to identify problems with your telescopes as their is sample to sample variability in the market place.


Edited by peleuba, 04 April 2021 - 07:45 PM.


#31 25585

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 04:14 PM

Refractors are not immune to collimation issues. Triplets are much more susceptible than doublets and probably have to go back to the factory for collimation.

 

I have an NP-101. The previous owner had messed with the collimation. I was able to align it myself.

 

https://www.cloudyni...g-my-tv-np-101/

 

TeleVue customer support is telephone based and you just might get Al Nagler.  When I had a question about my Paracorr 2, David Nagler answered and turned me over to Paul Dellechiaie, Paul designed the Paracorr 2.

 

It doesn't get any better than that...

 

Jon

Fine if you live in the US maybe. Why no emails even?!

 

Anywhere...a re-collimated scope can lose its re-set collimation on the shipping journey back. Those known with more delicate set-ups, are always at more risk. One reason I bought a Takahashi TSA-120 triplet, rather than a S-W Esprit or ES, or any other make, was that the Taks had a solid reputation for keeping their collimation.

 

I have read of issues various refractors have, reported here in CN. Jon, your NP101 is an example. If previous owners have upset collimation, it could be that they were trying to fix some issue & could not. 

 

Research is the best first step to take, always.... 


Edited by 25585, 04 April 2021 - 04:16 PM.

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#32 Nippon

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 05:28 PM

I agree with Bill P in that if you are just visual a doublet will serve you as well as a triplet with less weight, faster cooldown and less or no worries about having collimation issues. I have both and I had to send my triplet back to be recollimated after what I thought was a minor bump to the objective end of the scope.


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#33 Mirzam

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 05:39 PM

The Moon is made of green cheese (or green appearing substance) if one uses a green filter and an achromatic doublet that is well-corrected for green light.  Performance will be equivalent to an APO.  So we shouldn’t make light of observers using the great achromatic refractors of yore.  They were perfectly capable of making very detailed and diffraction limited observations. 
 

JimC


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#34 teashea

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 05:57 PM

An excellent question - following.


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#35 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 12:18 AM

There's an inherent compulsion in all of us to make glowing recommendations about the telescopes we own. I do it, too. Unfortunately, that bias makes the recommendations maybe not so reliable.

 

I think it might be more objectively helpful to me to find out what people dislike about some APOs. So I'm asking this question:

 

What APOs in the 80mm - 120mm range do you NOT recommend and why?

 

In the last 4 years I have purchased new two (2) refractors, one 60mm the other 115mm. If you have a burning desire to know the brand you can data-mine my posts here and the the NV forum for the reseller. Suffice it to say they where both Chinese origin.

 

Perhaps I have been spoiled by high end glass, but what I buy a refractor for is to push the limits beyond the traditional 50x per inch of aperture "limit" on planets and double stars. Technically, there is no additional detail to be had at those magnifications. But in a fine objective the image will still look good. In a great refractor you may run out of short focal length eyepieces and barlows before the image quality diminishes.

 

The 60mm and 115mm scopes had good color correction and were certainly good quality, being fine at 30x per inch. And in all honesty, I would have recommended them to someone with a kid wanting a starter scope.

 

But these objectives really could not push the limits that I buy a refractor for.

 

Now before you accuse me of being anti-China (already had a Power That Be warn me on that), consider that they build what the reseller asks for. And they are asking for Low Cost.

 

Maybe a Chinese optical house could build an objective that would stack up to Astro-Physics, TEC, or LZOS. Or even Canon Optron.

 

But no one is seeing that yet, are they?


Edited by Jeff Morgan, 05 April 2021 - 12:21 AM.

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#36 Nippon

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 06:17 AM

I can't really agree with that. I have a Japanese made ED doublet that has a perfect star test and will go well beyond x50 per inch. And I have an apo triplet that has a Chinese sourced objective and it is just as good as far as sharpness and contrast with better color correction. They are both 4" scopes

I have seen excellent optical test results from Synta made ED doublets and TS branded triplet apos. 

I agree that the Chinese optical firms build to the specs required by the resellers but not all resellers are only concerned with low cost.

If you think that manufacturers in China lack the ability to match the quality of products from anywhere in the world I think your kidding yourself.


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#37 bobhen

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 06:22 AM

In the last 4 years I have purchased new two (2) refractors, one 60mm the other 115mm. If you have a burning desire to know the brand you can data-mine my posts here and the the NV forum for the reseller. Suffice it to say they where both Chinese origin.

 

Perhaps I have been spoiled by high end glass, but what I buy a refractor for is to push the limits beyond the traditional 50x per inch of aperture "limit" on planets and double stars. Technically, there is no additional detail to be had at those magnifications. But in a fine objective the image will still look good. In a great refractor you may run out of short focal length eyepieces and barlows before the image quality diminishes.

 

The 60mm and 115mm scopes had good color correction and were certainly good quality, being fine at 30x per inch. And in all honesty, I would have recommended them to someone with a kid wanting a starter scope.

 

But these objectives really could not push the limits that I buy a refractor for.

 

Now before you accuse me of being anti-China (already had a Power That Be warn me on that), consider that they build what the reseller asks for. And they are asking for Low Cost.

 

Maybe a Chinese optical house could build an objective that would stack up to Astro-Physics, TEC, or LZOS. Or even Canon Optron.

 

But no one is seeing that yet, are they?

Agree.

 

When purchasing a “general purpose” refractor, I want the best lens I can get. When purchasing a refractor, one has already sacrificed aperture so sacrificing high optical quality for low price means one now has a small telescope with a less than high quality optic. Not the best combination. One would certainly be better off purchasing a larger mirror scope of average quality for the same money rather than a low cost apo refractor with an average or even a good optic.

 

Bob


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#38 bobhen

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 06:40 AM

I can't really agree with that. I have a Japanese made ED doublet that has a perfect star test and will go well beyond x50 per inch. And I have an apo triplet that has a Chinese sourced objective and it is just as good as far as sharpness and contrast with better color correction. They are both 4" scopes

I have seen excellent optical test results from Synta made ED doublets and TS branded triplet apos. 

I agree that the Chinese optical firms build to the specs required by the resellers but not all resellers are only concerned with low cost.

If you think that manufacturers in China lack the ability to match the quality of products from anywhere in the world I think your kidding yourself.

That begs the question of why Stellarvue would bring production in-house (after offering Chinese optics for years) claiming that they can now offer something better.

 

Why not just order scopes form the Chinese optical houses with the higher .99 Strehl specs?

 

Bob



#39 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 06:50 AM

Agree.

 

When purchasing a “general purpose” refractor, I want the best lens I can get. When purchasing a refractor, one has already sacrificed aperture so sacrificing high optical quality for low price means one now has a small telescope with a less than high quality optic. Not the best combination. One would certainly be better off purchasing a larger mirror scope of average quality for the same money rather than a low cost apo refractor with an average or even a good optic.

 

Bob

Two things:

 

-  The fact that the lens is not perfect does not mean it cannot produce high quality images. Visually, can the eye distinguish between a Strehl of 0.95 and 0.98?  Peter Ceravolo's experiment at Stellafane suggests not. 

 

- In the pursuit of contrast and resolution, one is always better off spending the same money on a larger mirror scope with decent quality optics.  

 

Jon



#40 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 06:55 AM

That begs the question of why Stellarvue would bring production in-house (after offering Chinese optics for years) claiming that they can now offer something better.

 

Why not just order scopes form the Chinese optical houses with the higher .99 Strehl specs?

 

Bob

 

That begs the question of why Stellarvue would bring production in-house (after offering Chinese optics for years) claiming that they can now offer something better.

 

Why not just order scopes form the Chinese optical houses with the higher .99 Strehl specs?

 

Bob

 

Bob:

 

The obvious answer is StellarVue thinks they can make more money selling scopes that they say are made in house.  I would be interested to see Peter Ceravolo test a StellarVue with a 0.99 Strehl, I know a while back SV was only testing the inner 95% of the diameter.  

 

Jon


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#41 Nippon

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 07:21 AM

That begs the question of why Stellarvue would bring production in-house (after offering Chinese optics for years) claiming that they can now offer something better.

 

Why not just order scopes form the Chinese optical houses with the higher .99 Strehl specs?

 

Bob

I think Vic Marris has been working toward producing the optics in house for a long time. One reason is probably just the satisfaction of working the optics by him and his staff. Another is the control gained by doing it in house and a third is prestige. 


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#42 bobhen

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 07:29 AM

Two things:

 

-  The fact that the lens is not perfect does not mean it cannot produce high quality images. Visually, can the eye distinguish between a Strehl of 0.95 and 0.98?  Peter Ceravolo's experiment at Stellafane suggests not. 

 

- In the pursuit of contrast and resolution, one is always better off spending the same money on a larger mirror scope with decent quality optics.  

 

Jon

Below are a couple of links to Ed Ting’s group comparison between an AP 155 and a Tak FS Fluorite doublet and a Tak FCT 150 Triplet. I would imagine that the quality differences between the two Taks and the AP were even less. And yet the evaluation of the group in "both" comparisons was “unanimous”. And that was between two high-end optics and not between something of lesser quality.

 

What I can say is that I have compared Synta ED 120s and Explore Scientific 127s triplets (couldn’t tell you what the Shrel ratio was of those refractors) side-by-side with a Takahashi TSA 120. And when pushed, the differences were there. And actually rather easily seen in the ES 127 especially.

 

I used my own eyepieces and diagonal and made comparisons on different nights.

If I thought the others were as good, I would have sold the Tak and pocketed a couple thousand dollars. Heck, I’m not that brand loyal.

 

Purchasing a refractor is not always about chasing ultimate resolution.

 

LINK 

 

LINK

 

Bob



#43 bobhen

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 07:37 AM

I think Vic Marris has been working toward producing the optics in house for a long time. One reason is probably just the satisfaction of working the optics by him and his staff. Another is the control gained by doing it in house and a third is prestige. 

Satisfaction, Control and Prestige are all fine reasons but I would think there has to be serious profit involved for SV to make that move. SV is a business and has expenses and employees to pay and the employees can’t take prestige to the bank.

 

Bob



#44 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 07:38 AM

Below are a couple of links to Ed Ting’s group comparison between an AP 155 and a Tak FS Fluorite doublet and a Tak FCT 150 Triplet. I would imagine that the quality differences between the two Taks and the AP were even less. And yet the evaluation of the group in "both" comparisons was “unanimous”. And that was between two high-end optics and not between something of lesser quality.

 

What I can say is that I have compared Synta ED 120s and Explore Scientific 127s triplets (couldn’t tell you what the Shrel ratio was of those refractors) side-by-side with a Takahashi TSA 120. And when pushed, the differences were there. And actually rather easily seen in the ES 127 especially.

 

I used my own eyepieces and diagonal and made comparisons on different nights.

If I thought the others were as good, I would have sold the Tak and pocketed a couple thousand dollars. Heck, I’m not that brand loyal.

 

Purchasing a refractor is not always about chasing ultimate resolution.

 

LINK 

 

LINK

 

Bob

I think the beauty of Peter Ceravolo's test was that people did not know what they were looking through, a true blind test.

 

And yes, purchasing a refractor should not be about chasing ultimate resolution and contrast.

 

Jon



#45 Nippon

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 08:07 AM

Satisfaction, Control and Prestige are all fine reasons but I would think there has to be serious profit involved for SV to make that move. SV is a business and has expenses and employees to pay and the employees can’t take prestige to the bank.

 

Bob

I'm sure his costs went up so he had to increase his prices.



#46 NC Startrekker

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 08:14 AM

Bob:

 

The obvious answer is StellarVue thinks they can make more money selling scopes that they say are made in house.  I would be interested to see Peter Ceravolo test a StellarVue with a 0.99 Strehl, I know a while back SV was only testing the inner 95% of the diameter.  

 

Jon

Jon, not promoting Stellarvue necessarily, rather trying to prevent old history from clouding current fact. It is true that SV some years ago trimmed the outer 3-5 percent. At the time Vic explained it as a limitation of the Zygo and lens cell creating false readings. I do not know enough about Zygo testing to either support or deny that explanation. But, all Zygo tests from SV in recent history show tests of 100 percent of the lens surface. This has been true of all since they went to in house lens figuring vice buying already figured lenses from abroad. 



#47 peleuba

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 08:31 AM

Satisfaction, Control and Prestige are all fine reasons but I would think there has to be serious profit involved for SV to make that move. SV is a business and has expenses and employees to pay and the employees can’t take prestige to the bank.

 

 

As you say, and I agree:  I think it comes down to prestige, pride and profit.  For many years to his detriment, Vic has skirted around the subject of optical production and whether anything was done "in-house" at Stellarvue.  The things he would say and the manner in which he phrased and framed the discussion went right up the line but he never crossed it with something that was definitive.  He gave the impression of actually making the whole scope in-house without actually having to say it.  Of course, this was a false narrative, but it made him feel like one of the optical "big-boys" so-to-speak.  This puffery turned off many of the advanced folks in the hobby.  We simply saw through the nonsense and it became difficult to take Vic Marris seriously.  Instead of embracing and evangelizing the upside of a rebrander business model, he hid it insinuating there was more under the sheets then meets the eye.

 

Anyway, I have been a keen StellarVue watcher over the years.  To me, its obvious that SV yearns to be the next Astro-Physics - and maybe they will succeed.  He and Roland have become friends (was not always this way) in the last couple of years.  Stellarvue is now making lenses in-house and continues to turn out mounts and other accessories.  Perhaps as A-P's optical production wanes, SV will step in and fill a void.  I have to admit, the SVX line looks very good.  I hope it's successful.  


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#48 Jeff B

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 08:38 AM

Personally, I would avoid any APO that did not come with some kind of, even if limited, return privilege.  


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#49 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 08:57 AM

Personally, I would avoid any APO that did not come with some kind of, even if limited, return privilege.  

 

Personally, I recommend avoiding any APO that has belonged to Jon Isaacs.  

 

They have seen far too much starlight and as we all know, starlight really wears out the optics.  Each photon that travels through the glass damages it ever so slightly, moving around precious bits of Fluorine in the CAF2 whether crystalline or amorphous.  With enough use, the color correction and figure are affected and the objective is considered only suitable for recycling.  smile.gif

 

Jon 

 

(Sorry about this feeble attempt at internet humor but April Fools Day doesn't come around for 359 days so what could I do?)


  • stevew, George N, John Huntley and 9 others like this

#50 Jeff Morgan

Jeff Morgan

    Voyager 1

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  • Loc: Prescott, AZ

Posted 05 April 2021 - 10:16 AM

 

If you think that manufacturers in China lack the ability to match the quality of products from anywhere in the world I think your kidding yourself.

 

There are certainly examples ... the Orion 80mm ED doublets have a great reputation, and IIRC some great DPAC test results have been posted here.

 

What is actually out there in numbers ... probably not causing the high-end producers to lose any sleep.




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