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883

Astro Physics Stowaway opinions

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Hello everybody,

I would like to know if there is any owner of the Astro Physics Stowaway 92 mm (new edition) and ask him/her some opinion on it (overall impressions, optics, etc). 

I’m interested in visual only astronomy and I’m asking this because I have the possibility to purchase one of this new Stowaway. I read other opinions about it from overseas fora but I think all these reports are a bit biased by excessive adoration of Astro Physics. Maybe people in Europe are a bit more objective....😄

Thank you very much

883

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I had the loan of one of the original Stowaways, probably the best optics I've had the chance to try, it ran out of light before image breakdown and no discernible CA. I would expect the latest edition to be as good.    😃 

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2 hours ago, plyscope said:

You may like to read Ed Tings review. 

https://www.scopereviews.com/page1ar.html

If you can get hold of one then I doubt you will be disappointed. It will certainly be easy to sell it on if you don't like it.

Interesting review that one. I note that the folks using the AP Stowaways (old and new models) spent over an hour simply observing one binary star (Iota Cassiopeiae). This might seem odd to some but having had the pleasure of owning a couple of top end refractors (not a Stowaway alas) for a few years now I can understand this. The images of such targets that these scopes put up are simply textbook in quality and really quite breathtaking :icon_biggrin:

 

 

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Posted (edited)
I admit I always wanted to own an astro physics telescope but to be honest this new 92 mm doesn't fully convince me. it seems to me a little too big and heavy to be truly transportable, the focuser is too big and full of screws, certainly useless for visual use (the previous one was much more compact), I even read opinions about the possible outsoucing of the lenses (china made?). obviously they are just speculations. I don't know, maybe a good Takahashi fc 100 at the end is better, dimensions just a little bigger, similar weight, optical without doubt top.
Edited by 883
Typing error

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I think your reservations about the weight and mechanical design of the Stowaway would have far more impact on your decision than any optical shortcomings so might not be the best telescope for you.     😐

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I'm afraid so. However I'd like to hear the opinion of those who own it before deciding ... You never know ...😀

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Posted (edited)

Ok, as a European owner of one of the new AP Stowaways I’ll give you some thoughts on it. @nicoscy also owns one so he may also have some useful info for you. Please note I am visual only, no imaging done.

First of all regarding portability here’s a shot of mine against my televue tv85 and baader travel companion 95mm.

88114CDF-45FB-4B04-B953-6B5023CA8399.thumb.jpeg.67505f6180732fdaa02e01bf8fed354f.jpeg

Dimensions wise it’s just a tiny bit longer than the tv85 (not obvious from photo) but it’s about the same weight as the tv85 and in hand seems just as portable. I also have a Tak fc100df and that is a significantly bigger scope and definitely feels in a different category size wise. In summary the Stowaway is a very portable and light scope. My az gti mount works beautifully with it.

It’s also superbly made. I have several top class refractors (another Ap, a 160mm tec, the Tak and tv85) and I would say this is the best made of them all (even beating my tec!).

I love the feather touch focuser that comes with it and not heavy at all for my visual use. The screws don’t worry me at all - I just ignore them 😀.

I notice you are from Italy - I got mine from Skypoint in Italy and Mauro gave me fantastic service. I had a small issue with the felt on the tube rings and Mauro sorted it out AP very quickly and efficiently.

So any downsides? 

Well I think it’s 99% certain that the lenses are made and coated in China unlike virtually any other AP scope. There is a reasonable amount of evidence for this (obvious green coating on the lenses, font and wording on lens ring being the same as many Chinese scopes and different to previous AP scopes etc) Roland was asked the question directly on the AP yahoo group and was evasive and didn’t answer the question. Since this scope is fully air spaced the likely situation is that Roland manually tuned the lenses by adjusting the positions to give the excellent characteristics he was after. He did give lots of detail on the yahoo group about how this was done - seems quite a complex process!

But if the results are great, does it matter where the lenses are made and coated??

Also I have done a side by side test against both my tv85 and baader as described towards the end of this thread.

https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/633270-baader-travel-companion-or-ap-stowaway/

In summary the AP beat the tv85 noticeably (as it should given the extra aperture) but came second in contrast to the Baader at high mag on things like the Plato craterlets. However, as you can imagine the differences are marginal and I’m very impressed with the optics of my Stowaway. I intend to test my Stowaway and Baader against the Tak fc100df in the next few months. I’m expecting all three scopes to have very similar (excellent) views.

If I was given a choice between the Stowaway and the Tak, I would choose the Stowaway since it’s noticeably more portable and can be taken on an aeroplane more easily. (But I’d take my Baader above both!!)

So my advice is get the Stowaway or give Baader a call/email direct to see if they can supply you with a travel companion 95mm.

Edited by GavStar
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Posted (edited)

Thank you very much gavstar for your kind answer and the richness of details.


I know Skypoint very well and in particular Mauro, I bought a lot of material from them. They have a super service, efficient and kind. Very professional. I recommend them to anyone.


You’re absolutely right, no matter who produced the optics, the important thing is the optical result. I didn't exclude the Baader but, also with them, the waiting list is  long. Moreover, aesthetically I don't like it very much, but also in this case what really counts is the optical result. Well, I am undecided about what to do.  Other problem is price, the Stowaway in Europe costs a lot, much more than in the U.S., the Tak and also the Baader (even if only a little) are less expensive.

 

I think I will follow your advice and call Baader for some news. The idea of the Travel Companion is attracting me more and more. Maybe more than the AP in this moment. But I have to choose quickly... 

 

Really thanks again for your contribution gavstar!

 

883

Edited by 883
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Hello again, just a little update.

Since I had little time to decide, I made my choice very quickly and I am now fully  satisfied.

In the end I bought a Takahashi FC100DF.


I decided to buy a product of sure quality, I already have a Tak so I know very well their refinement, optically and mechanically. And also I saved a lot of money...
Initially I have decided to order a Baader Travel Companion, but then I was discouraged by too long waiting times (really too long).
As for the Stowaway, consider me fool, but I really can't like it. I don't know why, it does not convince me completely and I simply prefer to invest my funds in something else. The Tak is longer and heavier (but with 8 mm more aperture), but not too much and I honestly don't think that I often move for observations in remote places. My backyard is more than enough for my needs in this moment of my life. For dark site trips, I have a beautiful spotting scope that has always given me excellent results. So, my Tak collection will increase... 😁 What can I say, I love Takahashi!
Thank you all

883

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On 20/06/2019 at 20:29, GavStar said:

Well I think it’s 99% certain that the lenses are made and coated in China unlike virtually any other AP scope. There is a reasonable amount of evidence for this (obvious green coating on the lenses, font and wording on lens ring being the same as many Chinese scopes and different to previous AP scopes etc) Roland was asked the question directly on the AP yahoo group and was evasive and didn’t answer the question. Since this scope is fully air spaced the likely situation is that Roland manually tuned the lenses by adjusting the positions to give the excellent characteristics he was after. He did give lots of detail on the yahoo group about how this was done - seems quite a complex process!

But if the results are great, does it matter where the lenses are made and coated??

 

Hi @GavStar, Slightly off topic. I was wondering if you had any info on the provenance of the Baader lenses? I too don't really care where lenses are made as long as they meet required specs, but i'm curious to know if Baader are actually grinding/polishing/rotating all at the German factory? They say "made in Germany" but i wonder what that really means these days! Given that i've currently got the Travel Companion on order, it's more of an intellectual curiosity...

 

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Hi happycamper,

I don’t know if the Travel Companion is truly all German made (but knowing usual German quality and reliability I think so, though it’s only my speculation). What I know for sure is that Baader Planetarium acquired all Zeiss optical projects some years ago, so they can use all the original Zeiss designs and lens technologies from Zeiss. I know that because I directly ask to Zeiss some questions about APQ telescopes last year and they told me to ask directly to Baader because they currently own all the data and the archives of the original telescope division from the former DDR company. 

I think that just this represents an absolute guarantee of quality for all Baader products. And also the Travel Companion is a triplet oil spaced fluorite refractor as all the APQ scopes are... So I think it’s the only available clone of APQ available nowadays. That’s great!

883

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18 hours ago, happycamper said:

Hi @GavStar, Slightly off topic. I was wondering if you had any info on the provenance of the Baader lenses? I too don't really care where lenses are made as long as they meet required specs, but i'm curious to know if Baader are actually grinding/polishing/rotating all at the German factory? They say "made in Germany" but i wonder what that really means these days! Given that i've currently got the Travel Companion on order, it's more of an intellectual curiosity...

 

Very, very few optical companies in the world make Fluorite objectives. The Takahashi and Vixen (now out of production) Fluorite objectives are/were made by Canon Optron. Perhaps the objective for the Baader 95 Travel Companion is made by Canon Optron as well ?

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, John said:

Very, very few optical companies in the world make Fluorite objectives. The Takahashi and Vixen (now out of production) Fluorite objectives are/were made by Canon Optron. Perhaps the objective for the Baader 95 Travel Companion is made by Canon Optron as well ?

I had always assumed that the Travel Companion objective was made by Canon as well John. I know that Gerry ( @jetstream ) asked Baader directly the source of the fluorite lenses and they declined to supply this.

However, I decided to do a did more research this morning to see whether I could find out more.

Firstly I note that Roland Christen of Astro-Physics has confirmed that there are a number of suppliers of fluorite lens as per the following quote from the AP yahoo groups:

"A lens cannot use two of the same type glasses. I am quite familiar with the design of the Aries doublet. It is nothing especially difficult as far as design. It is very similar to the design of the original Takahashi doublet fluorites that were offered some 20 years ago in 4" and 5" sizes. Front element KzFSN2, rear element CaF2. Straight forward, all-spherical airspaced. The variable here will be how well the optical company fabricates the fluorite element. It can be notoriously difficult to make this without fine sleeks and scratches. CaF2 is ultra-soft and hard to polish to a high degree. Oiling it between tow outer glasses eliminates all this - the sleeks and even scratches disappear, and the lens becomes ultra-clear and of high contrast. Fluorite can be purchased today from a number of sources, and I have actually made a number of fluorite triplets in the past (the 90mm F5 Stowaway being the most famous example). I have made other sizes in experimental numbers, up to 6.8 inches.

Fluorite is used today in specialty optics, in stepper lenses and in UV transmitting windows in scientific instrumentation. It is mostly very expensive, and can be variable in quality if you happen to be unlucky in your choice of supplier and batch. It is a heavy risk for a small company like AP to make such a huge financial commitment without knowing how the material will work out."

Then I found this CN post from the late Per Frejvall (who was one of the first purchasers of the Baader Travel Companion back in 2014), who states that it has the same glass and basic design as the Zeiss APQ 100 and that the optics are made in Germany.

https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/477858-anyone-have-the-baader-apo-95560-caf2/?hl=%2Bbaader+%2B95mm#entry6240163

The Zeiss APQ fluorite lenses were made in house, Zeiss had a specialist subsidiary, schott lithotec who made the fluorite blanks.

https://www.laserfocusworld.com/optics/article/16558307/schott-lithotec-delivers-calcium-fluoride-lens-blanks

I found the glass list for Schott in an excel spreadsheet which shows caf2 (fluorite) being removed as an offering in 2010, and I thought that was it.

But then I found out that In April 2010, the Hellma Group took over Schott Lithotec´s calcium fluoride production. It continues its business, now called Hellma Materials, at its site in Jena.

Hellma states in its website that it does supply fluorite for astronomical instruments.

https://www.hellma.com/en/crystalline-materials/optical-materials/caf2/

So maybe, just maybe, the fluorite objective for the Baader Travel Companion is made in Germany with the fluorite supplied by Hellma.

I guess we won’t ever find out! 

Edited by GavStar
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That's quite some detective work Gavin!

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Interesting stuff Gavin - good sleuthing :smiley:

Such topics are the source of seemingly endless debate on another forum that I can think of - most of it guesswork I think but you seem to have uncovered some solid info.

 

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Fantastic job gavstar, thank you very much.

We all agree that such details are not important for our job, mostly if the instruments we use are of high quality, but I also think that sometimes even our curiosity has to be satisfied. And I think you has done it!

Thank you again

883

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Nice work there @gavstar! Great digging, and as you say, unless Baader verifies it, none of us will truly know.

I've never seen a bad review of the 95mm and we all know the quality is outstanding. For me, it's also nice to know the 'story' of a scope - it only adds to the joy of using it.

Maybe we're a bit closer to what that story is...

 

 

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I was able to store the Takahashi 100DF in a cabin bag and I have taken it to the US for the 2017 eclipse (https://www.astrobin.com/327922/?nc=user). I am sure the other two scopes are also fantastic but the 100DF is a great telescope too I am sure you will not regret your choice. It has a longer focal length compared to the other two so it is longer but you can also get a reducer if wide field photography is what you want to do. I looked to other options back in 2017 but this one was the only scope in that class readily available to buy. I am sure you will enjoy it!

 

 

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, pi_co100 said:

I was able to store the Takahashi 100DF in a cabin bag and I have taken it to the US for the 2017 eclipse (https://www.astrobin.com/327922/?nc=user). I am sure the other two scopes are also fantastic but the 100DF is a great telescope too I am sure you will not regret your choice. It has a longer focal length compared to the other two so it is longer but you can also get a reducer if wide field photography is what you want to do. I looked to other options back in 2017 but this one was the only scope in that class readily available to buy. I am sure you will enjoy it!

 

 

Thank you so much pi_co100, I'm sure it will be great! 

883

Edited by 883
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On 20/06/2019 at 05:29, GavStar said:

(But I’d take my Baader above both!!)

This intrigues me.... as a comment from an accomplished astronomer having experience using the best glass out there, of many brands, I take it seriously.

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