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Are Unitron objectives lenses bad?

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#1 godelescher

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 06:59 PM

I know a lot of people absolutely love unitron mounts and mechanicals, but how are the views? I've never looked through a unitron, but I've heard mixed reviews
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#2 J A VOLK

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 07:33 PM

They vary - kind of like commercial SCTs.  Some are great, some not so much - the individual lens needs to be considered.  They are not like high end refractors (TAK, AP, TEC etc.) where you can be pretty much assured to get a great sample.


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#3 bierbelly

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 07:34 PM

Since I dont have one, yes they are terrible. Please sell me one cheap.
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#4 GoodAsh

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 07:36 PM

My 1954 62mm model 128 has an outstanding lens. It does have a few chips around the edge of the crown, but nonetheless produces fantastic views! Out of the three 100mm Unitrons I’ve owned, two were outstanding and one was just ok. Overall, I’ve had about 20 Unis pass through my hands and most (75% or so) were very good or great. Just a few were below standard.

Al
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#5 CHASLX200

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 07:37 PM

All of mine batted great.  One real old M-160 made around 1955 was in so bad of shape it could not be saved so can't judge that one.



#6 GreyDay

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 07:49 PM

I've looked through two 114's, one was good the other (OTA only) was okay but not sharp, neither were mine so i couldn't say if the "okay" one had been messed with. I personally would say the good one was Carton/Vixen in quality the okay one was Towa/Kenko quality, it wasn't bad just the good one just had better contrast. I tried them within a week of each other and the difference in the "okay" scope was noticeable straight away, i tried the supplied accessories and some ep's and diagonal from a Carton kit but it made no difference.

 

The reputation i feel comes not just from the objective but the mount and accessories and the overall feel of the telescope. Both the scopes i tried were 62mm's so i cant speak for the quality of the larger models. The good 62mm that i tried would have been worth keeping if it were mine, I was offered the scope but the price was beyond what i was willing to pay for it.

 

It was a joy to use, the views were good, not quite as good as my Asahi Pentax but close, without doing a side by side i couldn't qualify that but that's what i felt at the time.



#7 starman876

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 10:26 PM

I have tested a bunch of Unitrons and found a mixed bag of  excellent, good and a few just down right bad.  One 4" lens was so bad I could not believe it.  I could not get straight DPAC lines out of that lens no matter what I did.   The old straight letter lenses are the best.


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#8 Terra Nova

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 11:20 PM

My ~1956 62mm Model 114 is excellent optically and I had a 60mm 114 from the late1060sthat was quite sharp tho not quite as good as the older one- an A- compared to an A+. I had a 3” 140 from the late 1950s that was excellent and a 4” of around the same age that was very good. Actually, the only mediocre Unitron I’ve ever had was the 80mm spotter.


Edited by Terra Nova, 20 April 2021 - 11:22 PM.

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#9 godelescher

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 04:33 AM

Did Unitron make its own optics?



#10 DAVIDG

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 08:45 AM

  I have bench testes many as well and like Starman876 and I found that they very greatly in quality. I have  3 complete model 114, 60mm units and 5 additional objectives. Only two tested well but a word of caution since if you  viewed through the ones that bench tested badly  at the Moon or other objects at low to medium power I bet you say the views are very good. It is only when you go to high magnification that images of stars would show astigmatism and the planets wouldn't be a sharp as they should be. Most would blame it on the seeing of other factors and not the quality of the optics. So you really need to bench test optics to understand their true quality.

   From the errors I see when bench testing the optics it looks too me that the lens were hand polished vs machine since many times the optics have astigmatism. So one usually doesn't  get that when they are machined polished. I wonder if the lens , especially the smaller ones were made in similar fashion as what was done in Japanese binocular industry in which  unassembled pieces were picked up by a person and then assembled  at home into  sub assemblies and returned for more parts. The sub assemblies were they passed to another another person who continued to assemble them into a finished pair of binoculars.

  So I can see the smaller objective being made in a similar way will a number of ground blanks picked up and then hand polished at home then return. 

 

                     - Dave 


Edited by DAVIDG, 21 April 2021 - 02:37 PM.

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#11 rcwolpert

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 09:29 AM

David is right that you really don’t know until you test them. My 114 gave good views, but testing demonstrated that it wasn’t as good as my other 60mm refractors.

 

gallery_211497_4490_75182.jpg

 

gallery_211497_4490_146422.jpg


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#12 ccwemyss

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 10:07 AM

Comparing my very early 142 to an 80mm f15 Jaegers from the late 60s, I saw far less CA. On the moon, it showed more detail than the Jaegers, probably due to the better contrast. But it wasn't resolving faint stars as clearly, and I don't know if I can entirely chalk that up to the larger aperture and better coatings of the Jaegers. It's a different design from later 142 objectives, and has thinner elements, so not indicative of what you would get from even later 50's models -- Unitron changed sources of optics over time. I still seed to do some critical testing - I have the components for a DPAC setup, and just need to find the time to put it together. 

 

Chip W. 


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#13 clamchip

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 10:38 AM

I've owned 3 Unitrons over the years.

A 142 3 inch for a short time back in the seventies.

I bought it to compare against my Edmund 4 inch and I promptly sold it.

One inch makes a BIG difference.

A 150 4 inch green multi-coatings. Again the Edmund squashed it. I personally thought it

had something to do with the multi-coating. I know mutli-coatings are supposed to improve, my

Edmund was brighter and sharper. I traded it, a Sears 6345, and a 160 mounting for my C-14.

Fairly recent a 114 60mm. The lens was pinched from the factory, I unpinched it, it was 

a fine telescope but I traded it with a few other scopes for my Fecker 4 inch.

This small contribution is my experience.

Unitron has always been dreamscope material for me and they still are.

Mechanically I think they are fantastic.

 

Robert


Edited by clamchip, 21 April 2021 - 10:45 AM.

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#14 Terra Nova

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 12:25 PM

I still think the folding tripods on the 60mm and 75mm models suck! Both eq. and alt-az. They are a cheap, half-a$$ design. And don’t even get me started on the pointy feet! If you don’t loose an eye with that spike or wind up with a fencing scar on your cheek while swinging the lower leg member out to unfold it, you’re sure to tear up your floor if you attempt to set it up indoors without shielding the tips! I really hate Unitron tripods! Plus, with their fixed length and locking spreaders there is no way to make allowances for sloping uneven surfaces unless you set up on a freshly tilled field or recently watered lawn. It’s just cheap! That’s the only reasonable explanation of its adoption over sliding legs. angry.png


Edited by Terra Nova, 21 April 2021 - 12:31 PM.

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#15 CharlieB

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 12:54 PM

Here's a DPAC test from a terrific model 105. 

 

105 inside.jpg

 

Charlie

 


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#16 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 01:27 PM

Must learn how to DPAC test optics..........

 Should always buy from trusted knowledgeable people....

  I really like my 1959 Unitron 140....

   always seemed very good to me but now I want to get it back out under high power again.

 

 

 

What was that blurb Chuck had in his sig?

 

Edit:  Chuck said:

Test an optic for someone, and you've disappointed him for a day.  Teach him to test his own optics, and you've disappointed him for a lifetime.   

Optical testing has ruined more telescopes than any other cause.


Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 21 April 2021 - 01:38 PM.

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#17 oldmanastro

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 01:32 PM

I have only observed through one early 62mm f/15 Unitron objective and the views were tack sharp and impressive. The only other similar objective that I can compare it to is a 60mm f/17 Carton objective. 


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#18 oldmanastro

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 01:43 PM

 

Test an optic for someone, and you've disappointed him for a day.  Teach him to test his own optics, and you've disappointed him for a lifetime.   

Optical testing has ruined more telescopes than any other cause.

Words of Wisdom. Remember when we got our first telescopes as kids and didn't know anything about optical testing? We enjoyed the looks through those telescopes without paying attention to collimation, astigmatism, chromatic or spherical aberration. Then we read or someone told us about optical testing and burst the bubble.


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#19 Bomber Bob

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 02:31 PM

I've owned & tested 2 x Unitrons:  Model 152 (4" EQ) & Model 142 (3" EQ) on their original mounts.

 

U152 Restore S005 - Lens Cleaned.jpg Unitron 142 - Restore T01 (Lens Cleaning).jpg

 

In comparisons, the 4" was almost as good as the 1950s Edmund 4" F15 that I had at that time; and, the 3" was almost as good as my 1964 Sears (AO) 6336 3" F16.  However, the 4" had been neglected, and left in a barn for years, such that one of the wood cabinets was mostly rotten.  The 3" hadn't been abused, it had been used - a lot! - by previous owners -- and for good reason:

 

Unitron 142 - Jupiter (GRS) 20180607V01A64R51.jpg Unitron 142 - Jupiter (GRS) 20180607V02A64S51.jpg Unitron 142 - Jupiter (GRS) 20180607V05A64R51.jpg

 

Yes, my Sears (Astro Optical) 3" is an Outstanding achro, but it spent more decades stored in its case, so the lens was mint when I got it.  Had the Unitron been in the same physical & cosmetic condition...


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#20 DAVIDG

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 02:35 PM

Words of Wisdom. Remember when we got our first telescopes as kids and didn't know anything about optical testing? We enjoyed the looks through those telescopes without paying attention to collimation, astigmatism, chromatic or spherical aberration. Then we read or someone told us about optical testing and burst the bubble.

 That maybe true but many amateurs pay premium prices for certain brands with the expectation they are getting exceptional  quality optics. Then they  go years believing the image they are viewing  is as good as it gets. A little bit of education on how  to test optics and now you know what your getting vs assuming.  In this thread we have seen photographic proof of both a not so great lens and ones that is. 

   There is another thread going on right now about the whereabouts of 6" Unitron. It was mentioned that one in good condition might sell for $50,000. I'm sure a buyer won't be too pleased to find out after a purchase when the optics were tested that they had issues when  the talk in the thread,  most believe it would the 'Holy Grail' of telescopes to view with.

 

                - Dave 


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#21 Bonco2

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 03:45 PM

First purchase for me was a 3 inch Polarex (Unitron). Initially impressed with planetary and lunar views.  BUT, when I tested it on double stars I found it had a fat first diffraction ring. Made it difficult to get good views of tight doubles with a dim secondary.  Found a replacement lens in CN classifieds. Whala...Sharpest  small refractor lens I've ever owned. 

 

Second purchase was a very late end of the line model 128 Unitron. WOW I must say. Doubles like Izar, Delta Cyg, Pi Aqul and many more came thru with no difficulty. Of course the mechanics are very good on all models, just love their equitorial mounts. The spikey feet don't bother me. I just put a tiny felt pad under them when parked in the house. I never use the wood tray on the 142.  I replaced it with chains. This way it's easy to get our the door as the legs fold up. Out in the yard I can set the legs to vary the height and adapt to uneven ground. Once those spikes sink into the ground the tripod is ROCK steady, like no other even when the legs are close together. I really like the heavy, rigid Unitron legs.  On a hard surface the chains protect the legs from spreading too far and collapsing. As to the OP's question. Unitron optics are, "Like a box of chocolates"... you never know...

Bill   


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#22 rcwolpert

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 04:10 PM

For comparison, here's a DPAC of a Mayflower lens taken with the same setup,same day..

 

med_gallery_211497_4490_196552.jpg

 

 

David is right that you really don’t know until you test them. My 114 gave good views, but testing demonstrated that it wasn’t as good as my other 60mm refractors.

 

gallery_211497_4490_75182.jpg

 

 

 


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#23 starman876

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 04:12 PM

you got to love all the added toys you can put on these refractors.   You can add a 40mm finder to a 128, counter weights,  clock drive,  sun screens and you have a miniature 155.  Not many scopes from other makers will do that.   Now if you get a super objective with that scope you have a real keeper you can put in the living room.


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#24 clamchip

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 04:12 PM

I've owned 3 Unitrons over the years.

A 142 3 inch for a short time back in the seventies.

I bought it to compare against my Edmund 4 inch and I promptly sold it.

One inch makes a BIG difference.

A 150 4 inch green multi-coatings. Again the Edmund squashed it. I personally thought it

had something to do with the multi-coating. I know mutli-coatings are supposed to improve, my

Edmund was brighter and sharper. I traded it, a Sears 6345, and a 160 mounting for my C-14.

Fairly recent a 114 60mm. The lens was pinched from the factory, I unpinched it, it was 

a fine telescope but I traded it with a few other scopes for my Fecker 4 inch.

This small contribution is my experience.

Unitron has always been dreamscope material for me and they still are.

Mechanically I think they are fantastic.

 

Robert

I found a photo of the magnificent 160 mount I once owned and restored. I really should have kept it but it was

part of the trade for my orange C-14. The 150 went on that trade too. And now I no longer own the C-14 !

I wish I could have some of these scopes back, I wasn't thinking clearly I think.

Robert

 

post-50896-14074255405094_thumb.jpg


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#25 SandyHouTex

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 04:51 PM

I still think the folding tripods on the 60mm and 75mm models suck! Both eq. and alt-az. They are a cheap, half-a$$ design. And don’t even get me started on the pointy feet! If you don’t loose an eye with that spike or wind up with a fencing scar on your cheek while swinging the lower leg member out to unfold it, you’re sure to tear up your floor if you attempt to set it up indoors without shielding the tips! I really hate Unitron tripods! Plus, with their fixed length and locking spreaders there is no way to make allowances for sloping uneven surfaces unless you set up on a freshly tilled field or recently watered lawn. It’s just cheap! That’s the only reasonable explanation of its adoption over sliding legs. angry.png

C'mon Terra.  Tell us what you REALLY think.

 

kidding.


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