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A quick review of the iStar Phantom FCL 140-6.5

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#1 Stonemeister

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 05:07 AM

I think Ales went the extra mile to make a telescope that can please many amateur astronomers. Affordable, excellent glass, and a well thought out ring, plate, and handle system. Mine came fully assembled and ready to go from Starizona.

Click here to view the article
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#2 ABQJeff

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 02:06 PM

Great review!! I agree with all your findings (except my original stickers have stayed on.) Alas, I have the first edition of this scope without the built-in removable extension so I would not be able to do the FT focuser upgrade you did.

Jeff
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#3 Stonemeister

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 02:12 PM

I disagree ABQJeff, with a really good hacksaw and a  really big tap I think we can get a FT on yours  


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#4 ABQJeff

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Posted 01 July 2023 - 02:22 PM

I disagree ABQJeff, with a really good hacksaw and a  really big tap I think we can get a FT on yours  

You better be able to saw straight! ;->


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#5 Qqbin

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 11:37 AM

I bought the lens and build a DIY scope out of it, it is currently hosted in Heaven's Mirror Observatory in Australia.

I am extremely happy with the result I got so far, the optics is great and paired with Wiliam Optics Flat68III, I got a perfect round stars across the full frame sensor. One of the photos taken using this lens can be seen here: https://www.astrobin.../full/uuk2tp/0/

 

This is the scope:

 

istar-140mm-2.JPG

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#6 Jon_Doh

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 12:27 PM

Congratulations and thanks for the review.  A 140mm refractor is the Goldilocks in size.  It shows almost as much as a six inch, but with less size and weight.


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#7 Supernova74

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Posted 02 July 2023 - 01:34 PM

Maybe just me but does seem to have an Astrophysics look about it.


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#8 Pjmjrastro

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Posted 03 July 2023 - 04:24 PM

Absolutely gorgeous instrument! 


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#9 Jeffmar

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Posted 03 July 2023 - 10:08 PM

When I first got my 140mm Phantom I was impressed with the optics, but the focuser was kind of rough. I also found one of the small bolts rolling around inside the tube. I guess whoever assembled it didn’t check everything. Fortunately I got the bolt out of the tube and put it where it was supposed to go. I also lubed the focuser gears and worked them back and forth until they became pretty smooth. The tightener for the focuser seemed to stick every 360 degrees and I couldn’t tighten the focuser without pliers. It was either bent a little or the threads were a little off. I lubed that also and worked it until I could move it pretty well. It now works well with just my fingers. Starizona sent the scope without decals. I had to contact them a couple of time before they sent them. They are starting to peel off a bit. I suppose it isn’t a big deal if they don’t stay on. It won’t change the performance of the scope. 

 

I know I have said a bunch of nit picky things about my Phantom 140. The important part is that the scope works really well. I have taken some of my best images with it, and it has become my goto scope for doing astrophotography. It can do galaxies, planetary nebulae and other nebulae that aren’t really large. I even squeezed M31 into the frame with an APS-C sensor. If the quality control had been a bit better I would’ve been totally happy with the scope. It’s all fixed now and I have a really good refractor, so no worries.

 

I need to amend part of what I said. I used a full frame Sony A7III on my M31 image. It’s been a while since I did that image.

 
m45
M13 2
NGC6960B RGB session 1 St 2
 
Images using my Phantom 140

Edited by Jeffmar, 10 July 2023 - 06:17 PM.

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#10 Stonemeister

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Posted 03 July 2023 - 10:18 PM

Thanks for sharing Jeffmar!! Outstanding photos!!! I agree with everything you said. It's a premium product that needs a bit more attention to detail. Please share the M31 photo!!! I'm just starting out and the 140mm makes it feel easy!!

 

Cheers


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#11 Jeffmar

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Posted 04 July 2023 - 02:46 PM

M31 again3
 
I believe I took this with my Sony A7III before I had a field flattener. I now use a Starizona .65 focal reducer/flattener and the stars are pretty good to the edge. 

Edited by Jeffmar, 04 July 2023 - 02:50 PM.

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#12 starfinder123123

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Posted 05 July 2023 - 10:10 PM

I think the price of $4,900 should be included since there is a mention that the telescope does not come into focus with some eyepieces. Otherwise, great review!


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#13 Oddyse

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Posted 07 July 2023 - 12:44 PM

Gourmet photos Jeffmar!


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#14 Jeffmar

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Posted 07 July 2023 - 05:42 PM

Gourmet photos Jeffmar!

Thanks, Oddyse!



#15 Jeffmar

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Posted 11 July 2023 - 05:48 PM

I did this image last night using my Phantom 140. 

 

M20

 

This telescope is good enough that the weak link is never the optics. 


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#16 Stonemeister

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Posted 11 July 2023 - 07:12 PM

Outstanding photo!!!!


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#17 Jeffmar

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Posted 11 July 2023 - 08:46 PM

Outstanding photo!!!!

Thanks!!



#18 Stonemeister

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Posted 07 August 2023 - 10:11 PM

Thanks for your input. I have had 1 other comment asking for the price to be added. I will message the editor.

I do feel that the focuser issues are addressed adequately, and I did not wish for that one issue to take over the review. There are other owners out there that I have spoken with extensively. Some of which state that they do not have the same issues my iStar and a few other iStar owners have had with 2" eyepieces. There are a few things you could do to attempt to "make it work" like using a diagonal with a shorter light path, or use a shorter adapter after the draw tube. Those fixes have worked for some. I prefer what I prefer so I bought a focuser that would give me specifically what I want. I want all of my eyepieces, 3.7mm Ethos to 31mm T5, to come to focus in their 2" configuration. It is possible that taking the skirt off of my 3.7 & 4.7mm Ethos could have achieved focus, BUT screwing and unscrewing eyepieces in the dark in the feild is the last thing I want to do. 

I wrote this quick review by request of the owner and sent it to the owner hoping that he would make adjustments so that future buyers would get a better product.

Best wishes and clear sky's


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#19 stacaz

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Posted 26 August 2023 - 04:59 PM

What is an "eyepiece?"



#20 Avgvstvs

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Posted 13 September 2023 - 05:58 PM

The label on the lens is wrong/poor. It's Fluorite not Fluoride.  Secondly 'crown' applies to any form of ordinary glass and is meaningless. it's no different to saying a 'glass' lens. Surely after this much money and effort, a little more might be expected. I guess things like loose screws and the tubes not being short enough for quality eyepieces says a lot about this production run. A good telescope is more than just optics.


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#21 Jeffmar

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Posted 13 September 2023 - 06:25 PM

The label on the lens is wrong/poor. It's Fluorite not Fluoride.  Secondly 'crown' applies to any form of ordinary glass and is meaningless. it's no different to saying a 'glass' lens. Surely after this much money and effort, a little more might be expected. I guess things like loose screws and the tubes not being short enough for quality eyepieces says a lot about this production run. A good telescope is more than just optics.

I have to agree with you. Even my Explore Scientific ED127, which doesn’t have the absolutely best optics, had much better fit and finish than my Phantom did. I really like my ES 127 because it is well put together. I didn’t have to fix anything for it to work well.



#22 DropsOfJupiter

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Posted 19 September 2023 - 06:03 PM

@stonemeister

did you measure the Strehl Ratio or quoting from the manufacturer spec ?

If you measured can you say how did you measure it ? Thanks.


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#23 Stonemeister

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Posted 20 September 2023 - 12:09 AM

@stonemeister

did you measure the Strehl Ratio or quoting from the manufacturer spec ?

If you measured can you say how did you measure it ? Thanks.

Strehl was determined by 3rd party (Starizona) not by iStar. I purchased the scope from Starizona. Give Starizona a call they are great, and would gladly explain the process to you.

Cheers



#24 ISTAR Optical

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Posted 13 October 2023 - 11:22 AM

The label on the lens is wrong/poor. It's Fluorite not Fluoride. Secondly 'crown' applies to any form of ordinary glass and is meaningless. it's no different to saying a 'glass' lens. Surely after this much money and effort, a little more might be expected. I guess things like loose screws and the tubes no BBQ 🍗 one t being short enough for quality eyepieces says a lot about this production run. A good telescope is more than just optics.

Hello, you are actually wrong in both instances. Please google “fluoride crown glass”. “FLUORITE” as per your suggestion is actually a mineral found in abundant quantities throughout the world. Not to be mixed with pure Calcium Fluoride (CaF2) which is a lab grown crystalline material used in optics. Our original Phantom 152-8 APO refractor produced until 2012 actually used CaF2 element. Our current Super APO using fluoride crown (fluoro crown) glass is not only considerably faster at F/6.5 but offers similar results in terms of CA reduction and sharpness.
Please, learn about the correct terminology used in the optics industry, and update/correct your post. Thank you.
Ales

Edited by ISTAR Optical, 14 October 2023 - 12:53 AM.

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#25 Dr. Wm

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 10:57 AM

""even my Explore Scientific ED127, which doesn’t have the absolutely best optics" Hmmm???  That makes me wonder what ES might have gotten wrong on their scopes.  Why would a reputable company attempt to market a true high-end refractor that has optics noticeably inferior to other brands on the market.  .... Oh, I just noticed that the ES scope mentioned uses the now already almost obsolete "ED" glass!  As I commented on another post here on CN just yesterday, it seems like it is simply not possible to build a truly "state-of-the-art" APO scope around an objective doublet or triplet which still relies upon ED glass to obtain its highest resolution and color correction. Or do I have that wrong?   Also, is it true or false that the finest refractors today are based around "Calcium Fluoride (CaF2)"objectives?  Or are there still newer and better types of glass that can also be used to take performance that final mile? If so, what are those alternatives?  And what kind of glass, btw, do Astrophysics, Televue, Takahashi, Swarovski, and less well known smaller companies currently use to achieve their already legendary high performance optics, something which also gives them the ability to price, -- and actually also sell!, --  their scopes, and binocs, for roughly DOUBLE the prices of products from more traditionally lauded optics manufacturers, including, say, even those from the erstwhile "top drawer" considered firms, like Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, Canon, Vixen, and Pentax etc.?  I really don't get the vast price differences between, say, very similar items currently offered by Swarovski and Zeiss on the market today!!  I realize that I have rambled into a rather different topic here at the end, but although I have used, sold and traded binocs and telescopes for decades now, I am sure that many of you who read this post will be able to set me straight about some of these bothersome queries!


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