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kerrylewis

Which Takahashi refractor?

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I've wanted a Takahashi refractor for more than 10 years. This year I reach my three score and ten and I've almost convinced myself that, on the basis that you can't take it with you, I deserve a special treat. 

 

But which one? What a beautiful question! 

 

I am only interested in visual and I would mainly use it for the planets and double stars. I have a Dob for DSO observing.

My other criterion is that it must be light enough to use with my Ioptron mount and be easy to handle as I go to three score and eleven and beyond. The Ioptron can handle up to 10kg with one counterweight.

 

The 100mm versions seem to be universally praised here on SGL and elsewhere and seem to perform magnificently, as you would expect, for visual. There are a few variants but the longer focal length FC100DL (f9 instead of f7.4) gets some good reviews. However, they do seem to be harder to obtain - no details come up on the Ian King Takahashi website which implies that they are not in stock. I'm sure that I would appreciate the longer focal length for planetary observing but is it essential? 

 

Then - do I go bigger than 100mm? The costs of the 120 and especially the 130 go up enormously and they all seem to be triplets  (the 100mm versions are all doublets I think). Cool down time is longer for a triplet but is this really an issue? It may be if I want a quick grab n go I would be reluctant to leave such an expensive scope out for long beforehand! 

I also have my 150mm Vixen which I would still set up for serious planetary viewing as long and  the weather and my strength allowed!

 

So, given that, would the extra 20 or 30mm be worth the significant extra cost just to achieve a quicker set up than the big Vixen? The speed of set up may in any case be compromised by the cooling time factor? They are heavier, of course, but still seem manageable, indeed, the website emphasises their lightness.

 

After all that, my current thinking is that 100mm would be ideal, and I like the sound of the longer focal length version but would it be difficult to obtain? The 130mm is definitely out and the 120mm does seem to be too much money for another 20mm. Am I right?

 

All thoughts and suggestions welcome especially from those lucky enough to own one of these desirable scopes. 

Edited by kerrylewis
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I should think the 100mm doublet would be ideal for you, it's light enough and portable enough for your age, as is mine (after a stroke as well).  I find the larger one just tips the scales unfavourably, and a trplet will not be light.  The 100mm doublet will make a perfect all-rounder for those pleasurable nights that are not too demanding.  Good luck with your choice, the Tak has got to be the ultimate viewing experience!

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Congratulations on the upcoming milestone Kerry :hello2:  Sounds an excellent excuse  reason to get a high quality scope of your dreams!

I love my Tak FC100DC.  I've not had too many outings with it yet due to the awful weather, but the lightness and portability mean that I have been able to grab a few opportunities between clouds.  It is very easy to carry and mount, and works well even on a lightweight alt-az mount (giro wr for example) - I can pick up and move the whole set up easily (and you know I'm only little!).  The views I've grabbed of Venus, even low in the sky, have been my best ever (although to be clear I'm not a seasoned Venus observer!), with lovely sharp views.  I found the original focus set up a little 'unusual' (adapter hell) and so have put a feathertouch focuser on it instead.  It is a lovely combination :biggrin:

Mine's a keeper.  

I think the DL version was a limited run, so you may struggle to get one new.

Helen

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Takahashi only made 100 of the FC-100DL's in total. I managed to buy the last one available in the UK from Ian King last year. Just 6 or 7 were available in the UK so I count myself as being lucky to have been able to get one. A couple have cropped up on the used market since they sold out but thats all.

The F/7.4 version is really excellent as well from what I've heard. More portable and a bit easier to mount probably.

I would have been interested in a TSA102 triplet if the 100 DL had not cropped up. I also thought seriously about the TSA120 but I already have the Skywatcher ED120 which although not in the same build league as the Tak's is a very good performer indeed. Above 120mm I think the weight of the Tak's increases quickly although they are very fine scopes. If you can find a used FS128 doublet then jump at it !

Edited by John
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Thanks for the comments so far everybody. I didn't realise that the DL was so rare - perhaps best to exclude that from the reckoning! :happy11:

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4 minutes ago, kerrylewis said:

Thanks for the comments so far everybody. I didn't realise that the DL was so rare - perhaps best to exclude that from the reckoning! :happy11:

The Aussies fared worse than we did - only 3 DL's made it down there :rolleyes2:

 

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I too would go for a 100mm doublet. It would offer the ergonomic difference that you anticipate in the future. I would think that, whilst still manageable, the extra aperture of the Vixen would offset any optical quality difference for planetary observation.  :icon_biggrin:

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Hi Kerry,

I bought my FC100DC about two years ago, before the DL version had been released. The very first thing I saw through it was Jupiter through the clouds and it took my breath away. If the DL had been on offer at the time I would have undoubtebly gone for that instead. Last spring I had the offer of a brand new DL from True Technology and decided I was going to go for it. Nick at True Tech' put my name on it, but after some very careful consideration, I phoned Nick to tell him to sell it to someone else. After a year of use I'd grown so in love my little telescope that I couldn't bring myself to part with it. It's images are razor sharp and colour free, and on a good night it takes seemingly endless magnification without image breakdown. We'd become best friends!  Silly I know!

I did for some time use a Takahashi 1.6X Extender Q, which is the most transparent image amplifier imaginable. It increased the F ratio from F7.4 to F11.8. Lunar and planetary is stunning in the FC with or without the extender Q. With the Q attached, my top power was X474, at which Venus was razor sharp and utterly free of CA. The Q is a fiddly item to attach and detach in the dark and eventually I decided to use the FC at its native F7.4. The scope is just as sharp and free of CA without the Q, so you've no need to worry about its planetary or stellar performance. Even on fuzzies the little scope gives pleasingly bright views. The FC100DC or DF versions are very light and easily manageable. I've had some big Tak refractors in the past but the FC is my all time favourite. 

Being critical, the focusers from Tak are often a bit on the stiff side. A Tak micro focuser is a truly wonderful accessory if you can afford to get one along with your scope! Also, if you buy the FC100DC version, you may also wish to buy the optional 2" adapter.

Whichever FC100D you choose I'm sure you'll love it!

Mike

 

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Hello Kerry,

I see you have a SW 100ED.

I used to have one too and then upgraded to a Tak TSA102.

Comparing the two - the Tak was slightly brighter, sharper and had slightly more contrast - but the price difference was huge.

IMHO either stay with the SW 100ED or get a 120mm scope.

 

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2 hours ago, dweller25 said:

Hello Kerry,

I see you have a SW 100ED.

I used to have one too and then upgraded to a Tak TSA102.

Comparing the two - the Tak was slightly brighter, sharper and had slightly more contrast - but the price difference was huge.

IMHO either stay with the SW 100ED or get a 120mm scope.

 

I have some sympathy with your view David. I'm thinking that if I get a 100mm it is the same aperture as my 100ED. I know that the quality would be superior but it is still basically the same. So should I go for more? Oh, decisions decisions......

It's good to get all these views but I'm still torn 

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5 hours ago, kerrylewis said:

I've wanted a Takahashi refractor for more than 10 years. This year I reach my three score and ten and I've almost convinced myself that, on the basis that you can't take it with you, I deserve a special treat. 

 

But which one? What a beautiful question! 

 

I am only interested in visual and I would mainly use it for the planets and double stars. I have a Dob for DSO observing.

My other criterion is that it must be light enough to use with my Ioptron mount and be easy to handle as I go to three score and eleven and beyond. The Ioptron can handle up to 10kg with one counterweight.

 

The 100mm versions seem to be universally praised here on SGL and elsewhere and seem to perform magnificently, as you would expect, for visual. There are a few variants but the longer focal length FC100DL (f9 instead of f7.4) gets some good reviews. However, they do seem to be harder to obtain - no details come up on the Ian King Takahashi website which implies that they are not in stock. I'm sure that I would appreciate the longer focal length for planetary observing but is it essential? 

 

Then - do I go bigger than 100mm? The costs of the 120 and especially the 130 go up enormously and they all seem to be triplets  (the 100mm versions are all doublets I think). Cool down time is longer for a triplet but is this really an issue? It may be if I want a quick grab n go I would be reluctant to leave such an expensive scope out for long beforehand! 

I also have my 150mm Vixen which I would still set up for serious planetary viewing as long and  the weather and my strength allowed!

 

So, given that, would the extra 20 or 30mm be worth the significant extra cost just to achieve a quicker set up than the big Vixen? The speed of set up may in any case be compromised by the cooling time factor? They are heavier, of course, but still seem manageable, indeed, the website emphasises their lightness.

 

After all that, my current thinking is that 100mm would be ideal, and I like the sound of the longer focal length version but would it be difficult to obtain? The 130mm is definitely out and the 120mm does seem to be too much money for another 20mm. Am I right?

 

All thoughts and suggestions welcome especially from those lucky enough to own one of these desirable scopes. 

2nd question - which Bank to rob :)

For a decade anniversary tho' please do share.

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I'm facing a similar quandary-  approaching 50. My shortlist is somewhat different- TV NP101 (I spent many years being brainwashed by the ads is S&T), Tak FC100 or Questar 90. The sensible option says the Tak is the best all rounder, easier to use, sharpest image and it's also likely to be the cheapest.

But....I suspect this sort of purchase is not all about the sensible option, it's about the thing that you'll treasure for many years, that you'll have a sometimes irrational affection for...and you just need to use it enough so that your money isn't wasted...Your ED100 will never be a Tak- so replace it. The tak 100 will be so quick tand easy to set up it could become your most used scope, and you'd know that there's nothing to match it in it's aperture range.

Edited by catburglar
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I found a few extensive reviews helped my decision along. This one from Daniel Mounsey:

http://www.doctordreviews.com/4inch-shootout.html

This from William Castleman:

http://www.wlcastleman.com/equip/reviews/100mm_refractors/index.htm

And these from Roger Vine:

http://scopeviews.co.uk/FourInchBG2017.htm

Happy reading :icon_biggrin:

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Hi - lots of good advice above - I have a Tak Mewlon 210 not a refractor but I can't fault it. Takahashi quality is second to none so performance is not an issue . For planets you want a fairly large aperture but portability and finance are real concerns here . 100 to 120 mm are still a manageable but focul length for planets should be long . I bought my Mewlon for photography and while its FL is enormous at 2.2 m the folded optics make it more manageable as the tube length is small as is the central obstruction so you get refractor-like performance(still not sure stars are so good with refractors with photography) Anyway I would go with a Takahashi and a moderately large aperture and longish focul length - you will never be dissappointed - best wishes Tony.

Edited by tony210
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5 minutes ago, tony210 said:

Hi - lots of good advice above - I have a Tak Mewlon 210 not a refractor but I can't fault it. Takahashi QE is second to none so performance is not an issue . For planets you want a fairly large aperture but portability and finance are real concerns here . 100 to 120 mm are still a manageable but focul length for planets should be long . I bought my Mewlon for photography and while its FL is enormous at 2.2 m the folded optics make it more manageable as the tube length is small as is the central obstruction so you get refractor-like performance(still not sure stars are so good with refractors with photography) Anyway I would go with a Takahashi and a moderately large aperture and longish focul length - you will never be dissappointed - best wishes Tony.

QE? Did you mean QA? Quality Assurance? If so I'm sorry to say that I don't agree. Tak have had a lot - an awful lot - of QA issues recently, most notably with their FSQ range. Let's not get drawn into mythology on Tak threads. The reality is that they made intenable claims regarding the flat field circumference of the FSQ85 and plenty of people on here have had issues with collimation and focuser tilt with Taks. Yes, imagers are demanding but Tak prices are high.

I like Taks. I've owned two and currently work with two. I loved my FSQ85 but have stopped endorsing it because of so many QA issues affecting other ones. Perhaps the less demanding visual Taks are more reliable but, though I'm a fan, I'm not a worshipper.

Olly

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4 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

QE? Did you mean QA? Quality Assurance? If so I'm sorry to say that I don't agree. Tak have had a lot - an awful lot - of QA issues recently, most notably with their FSQ range. Let's not get drawn into mythology on Tak threads. The reality is that they made intenable claims regarding the flat field circumference of the FSQ85 and plenty of people on here have had issues with collimation and focuser tilt with Taks. Yes, imagers are demanding but Tak prices are high.

I like Taks. I've owned two and currently work with two. I loved my FSQ85 but have stopped endorsing it because of so many QA issues affecting other ones. Perhaps the less demanding visual Taks are more reliable but, though I'm a fan, I'm not a worshipper.

Olly

Yes sorry QA - I suppose as always  it depends  on personal experience. I have used  several Tak scopes and the Mewlons and the FSQ 85 have been very good for visual astronomy - I know that there have been recent concerns about FSQs and I think  you have had concerns about the 106  - I have been tempted by the  Epsilon I must admit - still this thread is about Tak refractors and I would like Kerry be interested  in these for visual work-you may have a good point but there are a lot of Tak fans out there-Tony

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I would assume (perhaps wrongly), that QA on the quadruplets scopes is a different ball game to the more visually orientated doublets? I've not heard of any issues with the doublets but have read about problems with the FSQs.

Trouble with decisions like this is that everyone's expectations and requirements are different. The FC100DC is a slightly different beast to the ED100, faster and ultimately with more capability at the higher end of the scale I believe. I have not really missed my ED120 since buying mine, as a combination of performance and lightweight/easy to use for grab and go it is hard to beat.

I would tend to agreed that I would probably not go for a 100mm triplet, given the additional weight and cooldown, I would perhaps go for a 130mm triplet.

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3 hours ago, kerrylewis said:

I have some sympathy with your view David. I'm thinking that if I get a 100mm it is the same aperture as my 100ED. I know that the quality would be superior but it is still basically the same. So should I go for more? Oh, decisions decisions......

It's good to get all these views but I'm still torn 

A few weeks ago, a local astronomer and visual planetary observer called round to spend some time observing the Moon with my Tak. He has used it on occasion in the past, so it wasn't a new experience for him. Each time however, the telescope has left him with some powerful memories. This last observing session was no different. The night wasn't good as clouds were hindering the view, but never the less the sharpness of the Tak, even in less than favourable conditions, left a lasting impression on this seasoned and very experienced observer. He commented "Images just don't get any sharper than that!" Since that night observing together, he has managed to secure himself a secondhand FC100D.

Kerry, may be you could try to find someone near to you who has a FC that you could try for yourself, perhaps at a local astro club. 

I doubt you'd regret buying the FC100D as it is so lightweight and user friendly, as well as having top class optics. However, if you would rather have the larger aperture, the TSA 120 is excellent too, but much heavier. 

Mike

 

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1 hour ago, tony210 said:

Yes sorry QA - I suppose as always  it depends  on personal experience. I have used  several Tak scopes and the Mewlons and the FSQ 85 have been very good for visual astronomy - I know that there have been recent concerns about FSQs and I think  you have had concerns about the 106  - I have been tempted by the  Epsilon I must admit - still this thread is about Tak refractors and I would like Kerry be interested  in these for visual work-you may have a good point but there are a lot of Tak fans out there-Tony

Sure. My personal experience has been 100% positive. My own FSQ85 (now Sara's) was near perfect from my point of view, as are the two older fluorite FSQ106N scopes I now use, one mine and one Tom O'Donoghue's. I have no significant complaints about them and won't be selling mine any time soon! Literally perfect, no, but certainly not for sale. Do I think I could do better at that aperture and FL? No. Certainly no.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Tak fan but I don't regard Tak as a magic word.

Olly

 

Edited by ollypenrice
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I hope you don't think me rude Kerry as this is not my intention. My thoughts on this are that you have a wonderful,  sharp and HEAVY scope in the Vixen; why get another.  There will come a time that you decide it's (or a large scope bought now) simply too large and heavy to risk (from both your and the scope's perspective) lifting it onto a mount.

I'd go for a scope you will always be able to use like a new 100mm Tak doublet with the trimmings. This may mean you not using the Vixen again by all accounts unless you need the aperture.

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34 minutes ago, Moonshane said:

I hope you don't think me rude Kerry as this is not my intention. My thoughts on this are that you have a wonderful,  sharp and HEAVY scope in the Vixen; why get another.  There will come a time that you decide it's (or a large scope bought now) simply too large and heavy to risk (from both your and the scope's perspective) lifting it onto a mount.

I'd go for a scope you will always be able to use like a new 100mm Tak doublet with the trimmings. This may mean you not using the Vixen again by all accounts unless you need the aperture.

I agree with this and I think Kerry's initial post hinted at something that would remain useable for some time to come. My knees and back are starting to suffer a bit now and I strongly suspect that my TMB / LZOS 130 triplet, amazing though it is, will not stay with me for quite as long as the Tak FC100 will. 

 

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A big thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions - very helpful as usual from the SGL team.:happy11:

My dilemma is a result of trying to think about the optimum arrangement for 1. the present and 2. the future. I really hope that this would be the last telescope that I buy (Ha!) and I want to get it right. I may then even sell a couple!

1. For the present I find that I am doing grab ’n go sessions more and more especially since I bought the Ioptron mount. With our fickle weather I find that it can be rewarding to grab the opportunities when they arise. Being retired I can get up at any time to do this. The other night, for example, I noticed on my nocturnal bathroom visit that the skies were unexpectedly clear, and I was out observing Jupiter in a very short while.

At present I can still manage the big Vixen and the AZEQ6 mount but it is quite a commitment to set it up, and I find that I only tend to do this if a good clear period, or periods, are forecast, and that there is perhaps something special to see.

2. For the future I am thinking that the lighter the scope and the easier it is to set up the more likely I am to use it and there may come a time when I will not want to, or perhaps not be able to, set up the big stuff.

So any purchase needs to try to meet the demands of both these circumstances.

The 100mm Taks are obviously very suitable for grab n’ go situation both now and in the future but I was wondering if they would satisfy me given that I already have a 100mm scope and if this arrangement became the only viable one, would I hanker for a larger version? 

The suggestions so far are about 7 people for the 100mm and 3 for a larger option. 

The 100mm scopes obviously win on weight and ease of set up with the larger ones being heavier. My main criteria on weight at the moment is that the scope  plus eyepiece etc would be usable with the Ioptron and just one counterweight. I tried mounting my 9.25 SCT on it with two counterweights and found the whole procedure awkward and cumbersome - it would have been preferable to set up the AZEQ6. The Ioptron’s limit with one counterweight is 10kg and I calculate that the Tak 120  plus diagonal and a heavy eyepiece would be around 8.8kg . This is obviously heavier than the Tak 100mm range but still quite manageable now and in the future (I hope). The SCT plus eyepiece etc weighs in at 11.8kg.

Some specific points: 

Iapa - I am not sure what you mean by ‘do share’. Do you mean the proceeds of the bank robbery or why I have wanted a Tak for 10 years? If the former - no chance. If the latter I can tell the story but perhaps in another thread!

John - thanks for taking the trouble to forward those links. Very interesting but I note that most refer to the 102mm range. Again there are no details of those on the Ian King website so I’m not sure of the details of cost and availability. 

Olly - it seems that the quality issues that you raise don't seem to be a problem with those that I am interested in.

Stu - you seem to favour the larger aperture - and I agree that any Tak would be a different beast to the SW 100ED

Mike - I agree with the suggestion that I handle the scopes. For example, my theoretical weights of the larger Taks are OK for comparisons but the reality would only be apparent if I could handle one 

Shane - you are not being rude at all! I definitely do not intend to get another heavy scope - as you say, why have two? But there is ‘heavy’ and ‘not quite so heavy’!

So - I still haven’t decided but I’m in no hurry to make the right decision. Thanks again for everyone’s  input and apologies for more ramblings. 

Kerry 

 

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Just a thought... But perhaps one thing to take into consideration is your visual acuity (no offence intended!) .  The FC 100mm doublet is perhaps the sharpest tool in the box, but are your eyes good enough to pick at that fine detail at the image scale it will provide? 

The more I let other people look through my scopes the more I realise my eyes are rubbish! My wife in particular is blessed with the kind of vision that hawks would be jealous of. It takes her seconds to pick out things at the eyepiece that I've been trying to 'see' for hours.  My dodgy sight is the reason that when I see a clear sky these days, my first instinct is to grab a camera rather than an eyepiece.

Maybe, if like me, you have the eyes of the mole rather than the eagle you would do better with a larger arpeture/fl for that extra bit of brightness and image scale? 

 

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