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Why do really expensive scopes sell and what attracts us to them ?


John
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I think curiosity of the limits is a big factor as you say. “Seeing what all the fuss is about.” I’ve not been into astronomy long enough to know really but guitars I’ve had some absolutely eye wateringly expensive guitars over the years. That’s another hobby with extremely diminishing returns at the top end haha. Bang for buck? Hell no. But it’s nice to have had them anyway. 
 

Also it’s nice to own and thus support something that’s been loved and made with passion rather than something that’s been knocked off a Far Eastern production line. Even if said production line does a sterling job these days. 

Edited by Sargares
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While the focus is on optical performance, what's often forgotten is that higher end gear will often have better mechanicals, nicer fit and finish, and be built with a higher standard of quality control (although that doesn't mean the odd lemon never gets produced). The latter, in particular costs a lot more to implement than many people realise and is a major part of where the higher manufacturing cost of premium optics comes from. While high-end telescopes for the amateur market might seem expensive, they're dirt cheap compared to specialist optics for the aerospace and defence sectors and much of their high price tag comes from the stringent testing they have to go through to ensure they work perfectly - I bet if you got L3Harris to build you a telescope it would make the likes of Tak and A-P seem like the bargains of the century!

I've got a small refractor which is very much an indulgence with its superb optics and addition of a Feather Touch focuser. The latter seemed like a crazily expensive upgrade but I'e found it to be worth the money to have such an incredibly precise and solid piece of engineering performing the vital task of finding and keeping objects in perfect focus. I ended up with a scope that works exactly as I want so while it's undoubtedly expensive for what it is and I could have got something far bigger and more capable for the money, I should get years of enjoyment from it for less than the price of a cup of coffee per week. The huge Dob that I could have bought instead would actually have been a poor investment since I have nowhere to keep it, don't want that type of telescope and the practicalities of transporting, setting up, and observing with such an instrument mean that even if I did want one it would never get used.

Value for money is always an interesting argument. Small to mid-sized refractors are probably the best example due to the huge range of models at every level of price and performance and it can be hard to see the value in buying a top end scope instead of a midrange Chinese apo that would be almost as good for half the money or less. Equally though, does that Chinese apo really offer good value when compared to a cheap achromat? Many people would say no but if you like high magnification views and you're bothered by false colour then you won't be satisfied with the achro even if you do get a lot more scope for the money.

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I remember having this discussion a while back but about eyepieces. A similar thread in many respects in that a mid range eyepiece such as the explore scientifics can give you 95% of the the top range glass such as televue.

However I remember one respondent saying how it was just nice to hold a well engineered, designed piece of glass carefully wrapped in precision machined metal in ones hand and know that you have something of true quality workmanship.

I think this is the case with a great telescope. The difference between performance between mid and top range scopes is similarly very little but there is that feeling you get when it isn't a mass produced item built to a price but an item that is built to a standard, a high one at that.

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11 minutes ago, bomberbaz said:

However I remember one respondent saying how it was just nice to hold a well engineered, designed piece of glass carefully wrapped in precision machined metal in ones hand and know that you have something of true quality workmanship.

I think this is the case with a great telescope. The difference between performance between mid and top range scopes is similarly very little but there is that feeling you get when it isn't a mass produced item built to a price but an item that is built to a standard, a high one at that.

That is a very good point and does chime with me. I suppose pride of ownership also comes into the equation as well :icon_scratch:

 

 

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35 minutes ago, bomberbaz said:

I remember having this discussion a while back but about eyepieces. A similar thread in many respects in that a mid range eyepiece such as the explore scientifics can give you 95% of the the top range glass such as televue.

However I remember one respondent saying how it was just nice to hold a well engineered, designed piece of glass carefully wrapped in precision machined metal in ones hand and know that you have something of true quality workmanship.

I think this is the case with a great telescope. The difference between performance between mid and top range scopes is similarly very little but there is that feeling you get when it isn't a mass produced item built to a price but an item that is built to a standard, a high one at that.

Tbh having a telescope with its production number stamped on the objective lens housing is quite nice... even it isn't top end. 🙄

 

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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56 minutes ago, John said:

That is a very good point and does chime with me. I suppose pride of ownership also comes into the equation as well :icon_scratch:

 

 

Confession: I've always struggled with the word pride. I never use it and would not admit to it even if I felt it!

Well, there is one exception to 'never.'  I had a student once who overcame difficulties, not of their own making, and I feel an irrational pride in that student and always will.

I could empathize with 'Embarrassment of ownership' for sure, but certainly not with 'Pride of ownership.' The very idea makes me want to hide under the sink! :D

Olly

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I was interested in watchmaking for a few years, but ended up revolted by the utter snobbery, elitism and ego projection that tends to surround the higher end of the horology world. Pitiful in all its forms. I kept a couple though, and they have turned out to be a good investment. My 2006 green Sub LV16610 and a Zenith 146. 

Now I'm interested in astronomy.  Crazy to think I could sell the LV and get a Mach 2, and have enough left for a nice refractor

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50 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

Confession: I've always struggled with the word pride. I never use it and would not admit to it even if I felt it!

Well, there is one exception to 'never.'  I had a student once who overcame difficulties, not of their own making, and I feel an irrational pride in that student and always will.

I could empathize with 'Embarrassment of ownership' for sure, but certainly not with 'Pride of ownership.' The very idea makes me want to hide under the sink! :D

Olly

I was hesitant over using the word as well. Probably a mistake to use it in my last post :sad:

Why do you feel that embarrassment is a more acceptable word though ?

 

 

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1 hour ago, ollypenrice said:

Confession: I've always struggled with the word pride. I never use it and would not admit to it even if I felt it!

Well, there is one exception to 'never.'  I had a student once who overcame difficulties, not of their own making, and I feel an irrational pride in that student and always will.

I could empathize with 'Embarrassment of ownership' for sure, but certainly not with 'Pride of ownership.' The very idea makes me want to hide under the sink! :D

Olly

I can see why you might think like that about the word pride, Olly. On the other hand I used it a few times earlier today (in my head, anyway) as I was drafting my Father of the Bride speech about my eldest  😊

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16 minutes ago, JeremyS said:

I can see why you might think like that about the word pride, Olly. On the other hand I used it a few times earlier today (in my head, anyway) as I was drafting my Father of the Bride speech about my eldest  😊

Ah, now there you have the perfect excuse for pride! No question about that.

There's a big difference between a daughter and a telescope...

:Dlly

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1 minute ago, ollypenrice said:

There's a big difference between a daughter and a telescope...

One encourages you to spend more and more on it from the first day you have it, and the other ... is a telescope :D

James

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Ive been looking through telescopes since I was twelve and am fifty-five in Jan I worked my way up to this scope I have probably spent three times that much or more over those years so lets say £190 a year. Seems cheap to me for a hobby. Are they that much better.  Yes. But... Best view I had of Saturn was in my first scope 60mm tasco the view blew my mind. The moon was a 127Mak. 2am on Jan morning when it was -5 outside. I don't believe those scopes are better than my premium scope but I still loved those scopes in my mind at those times the views were spectacular and remain standout memories.

Premium scopes are about the people that make them. They are uncompromising have enormous pride in their work and products. Their passion for making fine telescopes is every bit as passionate as I am at looking at the universe through them. Knowing that brings a satisfaction from owning one and using one. Its a shared joy between the makers and owners its something you start to understand. 

Buying an eyepiece from Al Nagler at a stand at Astrofest made me realise this. 

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What attracted me to my refractor ? The 140 ?

Its reputation.  (And i'd dreamed of owning one for 10 years.)

A very well respected reputation gained over nearly 20 years of production.

It really shines in all departments. 

From rich field to high power lunar and planetary, DSO's, double stars, beautiful star shapes and colours,

rapid cooldown, easily manageable size and weight (less than 9kg) a lovely focuser, and enough aperture to show me 

pretty much everything i can see considering my local conditions. And a stellar imager, it ticks all the boxes.

Expensive  ? Yes, it was. But maybe not crazy expensive like say, the Tak Toa 150 which is over double the outlay.

Its hopefully a telescope i will have till the end. No regrets. Life is way too short.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, John said:

That is a very good point and does chime with me. I suppose pride of ownership also comes into the equation as well :icon_scratch:

 

 

But its not astronomy its just appreciating objects. Nothing wrong in that, i do it myself. Belive it or not i appreciate things for different reasons some that cost peanuts. I have two scopes that would cost a grand each to buy new. But i really love and appreciate my 70mm sw achro F12.8 especially its performance. A different sort of appreciation. But appreciation none the less. Cost me £39. Best ever £39 i have ever spent. That itself is something worth appreciating i feel. Crazy i know. 

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35 minutes ago, Sunshine said:

Came back to this entertaining thread a few times to read responses, bet you didn't expect 4 pages in under a day, great question.

I'm pleased if people have been interested in the thread, for whatever reason :icon_biggrin:

The responses have been diverse and thoughtful - but I would expect that here :thumbright:

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You can go to the charity shop and get yourself a set of golf clubs for £20 and you will be able to play golf with them. I personally don't play golf but I have friends who do and some of them would be quite happy spending £600 on one club if they thought it may improve their game. I think they're mad for doing that, but on the other hand, ever since reading the advice from Sir Patrick Moore about a 3" refractor being the minimum useful sized telescope for the amateur astronomer over 40 years ago, i've been hunting for that perfect 3" refractor all my life. Many 3" refractors have come and gone, some good, some not so good but I have just managed to find a Tak FS-78 so hopefully after all these years, I will be able to just use and enjoy my 3" refractor instead of worrying all the time that I'm not getting quite the best views that I could. 

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It may be a bit off topic @John but as you have several top notch refractors and a quality 12 inch reflector I am keen to know your thoughts on the comparison of the quality of planetary/lunar views through both types. I only use my 12 inch Dob and have wonderful views through that, but have never looked through a quality ED refractor for comparison. May need a different thread for this?

Edited by Geoff Barnes
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13 minutes ago, Geoff Barnes said:

It may be a bit off topic @John but as you have several top notch refractors and a quality 12 inch reflector I am keen to know your thoughts on the comparison of the quality of planetary/lunar views through both types. I only use my 12 inch Dob and have wonderful views through that, but have never looked through a quality ED refractor for comparison. May need a different thread for this?

I think that will need a different thread Geoff but its a good question :icon_biggrin:

 

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16 minutes ago, IB20 said:

Low weight is something that I have really been looking for in an OTA recently

Ditto.

Down to 1.25" only and a 6x30 RACI and that's it. Have a Vixen AP mount which is rated only 6kg but no way would I put 6kg on it, 4kg tops. I've learnt the hard, expensive way, that to maximise the quality of your observing experience you must OVER mount your scope. Can't believe how light the Tak FC100DC is, absolutely amazing for a 4" refractor. These are all factors inherent in the design which you inevitably must pay for in the end.

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33 minutes ago, IB20 said:

Low weight is something that I have really been looking for in an OTA recently, especially to make a grab n go set-up. Sometimes it isn’t purely the optics that can aid a sale. 

Low weight and low complexity have long been high priorities for me. I need to be able to move the scope around my observing area quickly and relatively easily to make the most of the observing opportunities. I like to be able to setup and tear down quickly as well without the need for power supplies, alignment procedures etc.

I enjoy hunting down new and familiar targets so I don't need a GOTO or Push To system on my mount which saves cost, setup time and a little weight.

 

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2 minutes ago, John said:

Low weight and low complexity have long been high priorities for me.

Considering the so few opportunities our British weather provides, this is an optimum approach to take. Just get out there under the stars with the best glass you can get your hands on.👍

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