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Alternative to SW 80ED for beginners AP?

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I have recently bought an HEQ5 Pro mount and was planning to get a SW Evostar 80ED to sit upon it so that I can learn the basics of astrophotography.  I've read here and elsewhere that this really requires the SW .85x reducer/flattener to get any decent results, and that all seems to make sense to me. Unfortunately there are none of these flatteners to be had in the UK, so I have postponed my purchase.

I do have a SW Explorer 150PL, which has been a lot of fun for the last few years and I plan to rest it on the HEQ5 as soon as those clouds move away, but I don't see it as a great tool for DSO AP (although I will be trying some lunar pictures). 

Is there and alternative to the 80ED that would be suitable for a beginner for DSO AP? I'm lucky that my budget can be reasonably flexible (in as much as I have considered the Equinox 80ED), but I don't want to throw money at something that would be wasted on a beginner.  But my impatience to get started means I'd rather not have to wait a couple of months for SW to send some more flatteners to these shores.

I have a Canon 550D DSLR and a Phillips ToUcam PRO II webcam.

[Hmmm. Impatience - yes, I know that is not a good trait for AP.]


Edited by Chiz

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Unless there is really good reason to believe that the x.85 reducer/flattener will not be available again (and I really can't believe that that is the case) then I would suggest that you buy the SW ED 80 and start to learn the imaging craft while you wait for the availability of the reducer/flattener. To be honest, there is little that comes close to the ED 80 for quality and consistency, not to mention value for money. Long-term, like ANY refractor (excluding a Petzval design) you will want a field flattener but you'll learn so much during that waiting period!

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Hi Chiz

As you're used to a newt you might consider a 130pds with a non-SW coma corrector. It has its foibles and pros and cons but it's a nice focal length (650mm) for DSOs as well as being fast at f5. No colour aberrations and easy to handle - not to mention relatively cheap :). See the 'imaging with the 130pds' thread.


Edited by Thalestris24
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ES do flat field refractors which are built to last. Not very portable, but would be OK on your mount I think. Excellent focuser too. There's also a UK outlet with not so good a  focuser.  HTH.

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I use an Altair Astro Lightwave flattener on my ED80 & never had any issues.

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Thank-you everyone for your help and advice.  Evostar 80 ED ordered. Looking forward to some clear skies.

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