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Are Unitron objectives lenses bad?

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#126 Terra Nova

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 07:59 PM

Not all lenses were bad.   The majority of the lenses I have tested were excellent.  There were a few that were not the best I have seen.    I sense it is like any other scope.  The good ones people hang onto.  The bad ones get passed around on a regular basis.  People buy them realize the lens is not that great and quickly sell it.  I bet that happens with a lot of scopes.  If the same bad scope gets into enough hands then slowly that brand or model will get a bad name.  I have had dozens and dozens of Unitrons and I have only found a handful so far with bad lenses.  The bad lenses stay with me.  I do not pass them on.  

My more limited experience with the half dozen of so that I’ve head is consistent with your statement. The old 114 that I still have, and the 140 that I bought from you both had superb optics. The others ranged from good to so-so. I’ve never seen one that was terrible. I have seen terrible Towas and a pretty bad Jaegers (yes, even Jaegers sold some stinkers!).


Edited by Terra Nova, 29 April 2021 - 08:03 PM.

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#127 MtnGoat

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 09:03 PM

Judging from your mount and the way it’s bolted to your tube, I would place it around 1954 to 1955. The red label and Milk Street address is consistent with that date.

Thanks Terra! 

 

I'll also take the earlier advice and snoop around at the two sites mentioned prior. 


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#128 photiost

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 09:55 PM

Really like the metal slo-mo knobs on the older models - gives a really nice look !!


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#129 Bomber Bob

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 10:53 PM

Not all lenses were bad.   The majority of the lenses I have tested were excellent.  There were a few that were not the best I have seen.    I sense it is like any other scope.  The good ones people hang onto.  The bad ones get passed around on a regular basis.  People buy them realize the lens is not that great and quickly sell it.  I bet that happens with a lot of scopes.  If the same bad scope gets into enough hands then slowly that brand or model will get a bad name.  I have had dozens and dozens of Unitrons and I have only found a handful so far with bad lenses.  The bad lenses stay with me.  I do not pass them on.  

My Unitron experience is limited.  But again, Uni was sourcing lenses from some of the same makers as other brands (including TOWA), and almost all of the 1950s to mid-1960s lenses that I've tested (and that's a lot of glass!) were Excellent to Outstanding.  Wish now I'd had my DPAC rig built earlier.  That 1955 Model 142 was a Definite Keeper.  I had no trouble selling it, and the new owner is very happy with it.


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#130 DAVIDG

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 08:28 AM

    I agree that not all Unitron lens are bad. Here is the point thou, people stated "with limited" experience they are finding goods one but also finding bad ones. So from a statically sampling from a limited amount that shows that it isn't rare to find a bad one. 

 One also has to consider the people  that read and post in this forum were not the targeted customer for most of the models of these telescopes. They were sold to someone who had a interest in astronomy and/or general use of a telescope.  We, in this forum know telescopes and optics better then most so we can have a higher standards then most. So customers at the time these were made were very pleased with them  and today most are very pleased with them. 

  So my advice is that if your purchasing an Unitron with the assumption your going to get great mechanic and great optics, I agree you will get great mechanics but take the time to learn a couple of simple optical tests to be sure your getting the optics you believe as well. 

 

 

                  - Dave 


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#131 LukaszLu

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 08:50 AM

It would be very helpful to create a simple manual explaining the principles and methods of conducting such basic, accessible tests.


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#132 SandyHouTex

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 10:19 AM

Not all lenses were bad.   The majority of the lenses I have tested were excellent.  There were a few that were not the best I have seen.    I sense it is like any other scope.  The good ones people hang onto.  The bad ones get passed around on a regular basis.  People buy them realize the lens is not that great and quickly sell it.  I bet that happens with a lot of scopes.  If the same bad scope gets into enough hands then slowly that brand or model will get a bad name.  I have had dozens and dozens of Unitrons and I have only found a handful so far with bad lenses.  The bad lenses stay with me.  I do not pass them on.  

My point is that I had assumed that Unitron made fine telescopes, like Questar, but this thread has let me know that most were mediocre, and they didn’t even test the optics before selling them.

 

I was also lured into that belief by the exorbitant prices they command now.  I won’t pay a higher price for mediocre.


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#133 Terra Nova

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 10:37 AM

My point is that I had assumed that Unitron made fine telescopes, like Questar, but this thread has let me know that most were mediocre, and they didn’t even test the optics before selling them.

 

I was also lured into that belief by the exorbitant prices they command now.  I won’t pay a higher price for mediocre.

If this thread has lead you to believe that most Unitrons were mediocre, then I believe that you have been mislead. I’ve never seen a Unitron yet that was mechanically mediocre. I would say that mechanically (save for a problem that I personally have with the folding legs) they were superior to most, if not all their peers. The mounts especially, were uniformly excellent. As to the optics, Towa were hit or miss, Royal (or Astro Optical) were uniformly excellent, and Unitron was somewhere in between, but I think much farther toward uniformly excellent than hit or miss. As has been stated elsewhere, even Alvan Clark and Sons occasionally had a bad day. Even vaunted Goto Kogaku refractors have their problems, I’ve seen that personally and it has been reported by other owners elsewhere in this forum.

 

There are some lemon Unitron objectives out there. Some of them are lemons because they’ve been messed with earlier, some are reported as lemons because the owner didn’t know how to use them or know what to expect out of a long focus achromatic refractor, and a few were lemons right out of the gate. But to make a blanket statement that they are all mediocre is, in my view, a gross mischaracterization. But again, as in another currently running thread in this forum, the title of the thread in itself invites negative commentary. A more objective title would have been “What is your experience with Unitron objectives?” But then again, and most unfortunately, we live in very negative times. That’s a big reason why I no longer regularly watch the evening news.


Edited by Terra Nova, 30 April 2021 - 10:42 AM.

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#134 GreyDay

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 02:20 PM

But to make a blanket statement that they are all mediocre is, in my view, a gross mischaracterization. 

 

A more objective title would have been “What is your experience with Unitron objectives?” But then again, and most unfortunately, we live in very negative times. That’s a big reason why I no longer regularly watch the evening news.

Mediocre is a mischaracterization, i class Tanzutsu along with nearly all post Japan Tasco refractors as mediocre compared to a good Towa. The "okay" Unitron i used wasn't a stinker it was a good Towa/Kenko experience. The "good" Unitron i should have bought.

 

You're right Terra that sometimes thread titles can lead a discussion in a negative direction, much the same way as the evening news can be steered. Even documentaries are biased these days depending on who sponsors them. i rarely watch television now, prefer movies or a night under the stars. :)


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#135 Bomber Bob

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 03:44 PM

My point is that I had assumed that Unitron made fine telescopes, like Questar, but this thread has let me know that most were mediocre, and they didn’t even test the optics before selling them.

 

I was also lured into that belief by the exorbitant prices they command now.  I won’t pay a higher price for mediocre.

I'm by no means a Unitron Cult Member, but I don't consider them mediocre by any measure compared with their peers at the time of manufacture.  As for pricing:  Like other vintage scopes, it depends on THAT particular Unitron - age, condition, completeness, etc.  I paid less for the 1955 142 than some mint & complete Towa 339s have sold for.  But, that 142 was cruder than later versions; and, it needed work.  If it had been my only 3" F15 Classic, I would've kept it.  And, restored & improved it.

 

Nothing says... If you buy a Unitron, and the lens is sub-par, you can't adapt a better vintage lens to it -- IF you want the Uni for more than a Display.  Same as shopping for any other Old Scope:  If the Seller is honest, and discloses known issues, that should result in a cheaper price.  OTOH, some sellers really don't know.  Keep that in mind, as DaveG says earlier.  They may think their mint & complete Model 128 has a perfect objective, and is worth $1500 for the well-maintained kit.  Buyer may find the lens is merely average or worse.  

 

When you get started in this Classic Scope Insanity, you have to make those type buying decisions often.  I really wanted that Lafayette 99-7213 on the GW, even though I had one that I'd restored, as it was minty & complete -- not the train wreck I rebuilt.  But...  I didn't want it for $300 + shipping!

 

Your odds are pretty good with Unitron.  Maybe not as good as with a same age Goto, Nippon-Kogaku, or Takahashi -- but the Uni's are generally cheaper, too.  Keep In Mind:  Mechanically, the Unitrons compete at that level -- that's worth something.


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#136 rcwolpert

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 04:44 PM

Even though my Unitron didn’t have a great DPAC, it still had a pretty good image and I enjoyed using it. If I was still in the collecting mode, I’d purchase another.


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#137 oldmanastro

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 05:08 PM

I have never seen a Unitron "in person" but the 62mm f/15 lenses that I recently received came out very well. I star tested them with and without the green filter. Nearly equal images on both sides of focus. Only my Carton f/17 comes that close. This is an early lens too so it may be a better quality one. I always thought that all Unitron lenses were excellent so, this thread has been enlightening. It doesn't mean that I wouldn't grab a  Unitron given a good opportunity. It's still a legendary scope.


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#138 SandyHouTex

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 07:05 PM

If this thread has lead you to believe that most Unitrons were mediocre, then I believe that you have been mislead. I’ve never seen a Unitron yet that was mechanically mediocre. I would say that mechanically (save for a problem that I personally have with the folding legs) they were superior to most, if not all their peers. The mounts especially, were uniformly excellent. As to the optics, Towa were hit or miss, Royal (or Astro Optical) were uniformly excellent, and Unitron was somewhere in between, but I think much farther toward uniformly excellent than hit or miss. As has been stated elsewhere, even Alvan Clark and Sons occasionally had a bad day. Even vaunted Goto Kogaku refractors have their problems, I’ve seen that personally and it has been reported by other owners elsewhere in this forum.

 

There are some lemon Unitron objectives out there. Some of them are lemons because they’ve been messed with earlier, some are reported as lemons because the owner didn’t know how to use them or know what to expect out of a long focus achromatic refractor, and a few were lemons right out of the gate. But to make a blanket statement that they are all mediocre is, in my view, a gross mischaracterization. But again, as in another currently running thread in this forum, the title of the thread in itself invites negative commentary. A more objective title would have been “What is your experience with Unitron objectives?” But then again, and most unfortunately, we live in very negative times. That’s a big reason why I no longer regularly watch the evening news.

Let me rephrase then.  I would not buy a Unitron at the premium prices they command, without being able to determine that the optics are premium as well.

 

I’m aware that mechanically they’re pretty good, but I don’t buy telescopes to play with the mount.


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#139 luxo II

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 01:34 AM

I’m beginning to think there’s a missed opportunity here for someone to create a “Lego set” of parts which follow the Unitron aesthetic, but marrying the current breed of modern refractors with a half decent mount, with the ability to accessorise them:

- start with a smart black mount, say a Losmandy on a decent wooden tripod from Berlebach;
- needs dovetail with a smart CNC machined cradle, in sizes to fit current APO refractors from 50…150mm such as those from TS or SV, or in 5mm increments;
- then an assortment of rings a-la Unitron to add finderscopes, imaging scope and guidescopes, say 50…80mm (total 4 tubes, just to make sure we have all the bases covered);
- rings to carry sliding weights for those determined to load up the backend with handgrenade eyepieces; and
- a solar projection screen.

The classic aesthetic of white OTA with black rings is timeless, and IMHO with CNC machining it should be possible to do this, and sell the hardware to match a good selection of scopes.

And yup I’d be one keen to do this to my 10” (just need to buy a G11).

And I’d expect wife would accept my 70mm on its M2C mount in the lounge, looking suitably smart.

Edited by luxo II, 01 May 2021 - 01:45 AM.

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#140 CHASLX200

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 06:02 AM

Let me rephrase then.  I would not buy a Unitron at the premium prices they command, without being able to determine that the optics are premium as well.

 

I’m aware that mechanically they’re pretty good, but I don’t buy telescopes to play with the mount.

If you ever find a 3" or 4" local give it a try.  I never had a bad Unitron.  I was lucky and got a mint 1960 M152 for only $300 smackers in 1986 and that was a steal back then. Scope looked like it was never used as it had sat in the boxes for around 25 years when i bought it in 1986. The lens was kinda fogged up and i sent it to Unitron for a cleaning for $150.  Very good scope even at 400x. In 2005 i picked up a pre 1955 M-160 with a missing weight drive.  It sat on a porch for around 40 years and the lens was toast and the finish was shot on the tube and mount. But still flipped it and made $1500. I had a body shop paint the OTA and finder and Guide scope.  It was a brass tube under the paint that was turning green.


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#141 Bomber Bob

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 08:35 AM

I’m beginning to think there’s a missed opportunity here for someone to create a “Lego set” of parts which follow the Unitron aesthetic, but marrying the current breed of modern refractors with a half decent mount, with the ability to accessorise them:

- start with a smart black mount, say a Losmandy on a decent wooden tripod from Berlebach;
- needs dovetail with a smart CNC machined cradle, in sizes to fit current APO refractors from 50…150mm such as those from TS or SV, or in 5mm increments;
- then an assortment of rings a-la Unitron to add finderscopes, imaging scope and guidescopes, say 50…80mm (total 4 tubes, just to make sure we have all the bases covered);
- rings to carry sliding weights for those determined to load up the backend with handgrenade eyepieces; and
- a solar projection screen.

The classic aesthetic of white OTA with black rings is timeless, and IMHO with CNC machining it should be possible to do this, and sell the hardware to match a good selection of scopes.

And yup I’d be one keen to do this to my 10” (just need to buy a G11).

And I’d expect wife would accept my 70mm on its M2C mount in the lounge, looking suitably smart.

The Starbase 80 meets a lot of these marks:   https://www.takahash...e-w-tripod.html

 

And, there's the Reincarnated Towa 339 OTA, the ScopeTech STL-80A Maxi 80mm F15:   https://www.firstlig...-refractor.html


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#142 rcwolpert

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 09:26 AM

I’m beginning to think there’s a missed opportunity here for someone to create a “Lego set” of parts which follow the Unitron aesthetic, but marrying the current breed of modern refractors with a half decent mount, with the ability to accessorise them:

- start with a smart black mount, say a Losmandy on a decent wooden tripod from Berlebach;
- needs dovetail with a smart CNC machined cradle, in sizes to fit current APO refractors from 50…150mm such as those from TS or SV, or in 5mm increments;
- then an assortment of rings a-la Unitron to add finderscopes, imaging scope and guidescopes, say 50…80mm (total 4 tubes, just to make sure we have all the bases covered);
- rings to carry sliding weights for those determined to load up the backend with handgrenade eyepieces; and
- a solar projection screen.

The classic aesthetic of white OTA with black rings is timeless, and IMHO with CNC machining it should be possible to do this, and sell the hardware to match a good selection of scopes.

And yup I’d be one keen to do this to my 10” (just need to buy a G11).

And I’d expect wife would accept my 70mm on its M2C mount in the lounge, looking suitably smart.

Something like the Swift 831 on a Losmandy GM8, or the Mayflower 816 in a black cradle. I just need to add some rings and sliding weights.

 

gallery_211497_4490_115419.jpg

 

med_gallery_211497_4490_27026.jpg


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#143 Terra Nova

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 09:35 AM

The Starbase 80 meets a lot of these marks:   https://www.takahash...e-w-tripod.html

 

And, there's the Reincarnated Towa 339 OTA, the ScopeTech STL-80A Maxi 80mm F15:   https://www.firstlig...-refractor.html

The newish 4” F11 ED scope that Kunming Optical makes on a Losmandy GM-8 and Berlebach Planet tripod would definitely come close.


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#144 starman876

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 10:32 AM

If this thread has lead you to believe that most Unitrons were mediocre, then I believe that you have been mislead. I’ve never seen a Unitron yet that was mechanically mediocre. I would say that mechanically (save for a problem that I personally have with the folding legs) they were superior to most, if not all their peers. The mounts especially, were uniformly excellent. As to the optics, Towa were hit or miss, Royal (or Astro Optical) were uniformly excellent, and Unitron was somewhere in between, but I think much farther toward uniformly excellent than hit or miss. As has been stated elsewhere, even Alvan Clark and Sons occasionally had a bad day. Even vaunted Goto Kogaku refractors have their problems, I’ve seen that personally and it has been reported by other owners elsewhere in this forum.

 

There are some lemon Unitron objectives out there. Some of them are lemons because they’ve been messed with earlier, some are reported as lemons because the owner didn’t know how to use them or know what to expect out of a long focus achromatic refractor, and a few were lemons right out of the gate. But to make a blanket statement that they are all mediocre is, in my view, a gross mischaracterization. But again, as in another currently running thread in this forum, the title of the thread in itself invites negative commentary. A more objective title would have been “What is your experience with Unitron objectives?” But then again, and most unfortunately, we live in very negative times. That’s a big reason why I no longer regularly watch the evening news.

I agree with Terra.  Do not give up hope of owning a Unitron because of some of the posts in this thread of people having lenses that are not the greatest.  These scopes range in date from the 50's to the early 90's.   during that time until now who knows what the lenses have gone through.  It is the same issue with many classic scopes.   If you can get a very nice Unitron and you find the lens is not that good ( does not happen that often)  there are thousands of Unitrons out there.  You have maybe heard about 10 people so far complaining about a mediocre lens. that is less than .06 percent of all the scopes sold if there were 3000 sold.  That is a pretty good record.   Like I stated before, bad scopes get sold a lot.  Really good scopes people hang on to.


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