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


John
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1 hour ago, neil phillips said:

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.

The SW Capricorn is an entry level, beginners type of scope and I'm sure there are thousands of them put away in sheds, garages and attics, unused once the thrill of viewing the Moon a couple of times has subsided. 

The fact that you Neil, are able to produce such fine planetary/solar/lunar images with such modest equipment is testament to your skill and not the quality of the equipment.

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5 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:

 

I don't feel it is a bad thing to want to share your love of something that is in effect a work of genius.  When I read / examine details of innovations, for example the Nagler 82 degree eyepieces which were world leading when first released, you have to feel that boundaries were being pushed at that time to extremes and most of us were curious enough to want to at least see one.

Owners of these eyepieces at that time was something to show off without being smarmy.  I mean, we have on this forum "show us your eyepiece case" & "show us your frac". What is this if not a little showing off. However being the level headed people we are, we tend to just drool a little at certain pictures and plan future potential purchases. 🤩

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1 hour ago, Franklin said:

The SW Capricorn is an entry level, beginners type of scope and I'm sure there are thousands of them put away in sheds, garages and attics, unused once the thrill of viewing the Moon a couple of times has subsided. 

The fact that you Neil, are able to produce such fine planetary/solar/lunar images with such modest equipment is testament to your skill and not the quality of the equipment.

Appreciate that Franklin Your a gentleman. And yes your correct they are seen as beginner entry level scopes. But i have to disagree somewhat. Not sure if i got lucky with the figure or something ? its always possible i guess, but i doubt it.

I know sharp optics when i see them. I loosened the cell a touch, collimated the focuser with the lens on axis. If this is not a fluke specimen. There really is nothing to stop it performing quite well.

Apart from a poor figure of the lens. But We have a Synta produced doublet here. At F12.8 very low chromatic and spherical aberration. It even has baffles in the tube. Yes the dew sheild and cell is plastic. The focusser is also rubbish. None of this stops the excellent lens performing well though. You can not get razor sharp images from blurry lenses  it really doesnt work that way. As much as i appreciate your kind words. This scope is a cracker. With a flavor on the cheap some are trying to achieve with the likes of long focus doublets from a company i wont mention. Is it as good as those small specialist scopes ? no i dont believe it could be. Would it give you the flavour of one of those higher end long focus achromatic doublets ? Hell yeah. I truely believe it does. 

I know sharp optics when i focus on lunar, or solar on my laptop. And this little monster snaps into focus. 

I revert you to a test done of some cheap scopes by a great bloke called astrobiscuit. It was no surprise to me to find the one scope that actually showed some detail on jupiter was a 60mm F10 Celestron achromatic doublet. All i can say is this SW capricorn 70mm F12.8 will do better with a bigger lens. And longer focal ratio.

Here is another i would like to try that on paper looks like it could perform very well indeed. And the price is really rather good. specs here

Bresser Refractor Messier AR-102L/1350 Telescope with Hexafoc Focuser - white: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo

 

 

Edited by neil phillips
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It's like watches and straps that fit well on your wrist, or a car that you just enjoy driving. Telescopes and mounts can give joy through ergonomics,feel, fit and finish, or just long use and reliability. The optics can please you but the sky can defeat you. Some want to see, some to image. There are hundreds of reasons to pay more for things astronomers enjoy using or 'appreciate'. Trying to justify the necessity, or prove the worth of them, defies logic. If you think you have what you need you are fortunate.

I have enjoyed reading this thread for the varied views. A brilliant question with so many good answers. You may think your kit is pretty good, tbut then there is the James Webb.

 

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40 minutes ago, neil phillips said:

I revert you to a test done of some cheap scopes by a great bloke called astrobiscuit.

That's a great video and I recognise the Pronto tripod and extension, which I donated to Rory's cause. Was it the 60mm refractor that won? Or the stable mount? 😀

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22 minutes ago, Franklin said:

That's a great video and I recognise the Pronto tripod and extension, which I donated to Rory's cause. Was it the 60mm refractor that won? Or the stable mount? 😀

personally i would say the refractor, and i could prove it by putting each and everyone on a decent mount and imaging with them. to see which optics were coming into sharp relief.

Wobble will die down. Blurry optics will never focus. 😄

You could even see on the test he did how all the optics were struggling to bring jupiters gas bands into any kind of focus.

The refractor would still have been sharper. Even if he had kept it on the wobbly mount and waited for it to stop shaking. That was my impression. And i think the capricorn 70

backs up this assertion quite nicely. The long focus refractors appear to be suffering less from poor optics. Than those other shorter focus scopes he tested. 

Edited by neil phillips
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For me I do buy the “best” scope I can afford, but I am specifically drawn to Takahashi and Tele Vue for a reason.

See, when I started the hobby it was in a school. And we used cheap scopes; by that, I mean *really* cheap scopes like the plastic 60-80mm refractors. A long 80mm refractor and an EQ-2 was considered good. The best we had was an 150mm newt with a CG-4 which was a bit too wobbly. We technically had a Nexstar 8SE, but the electronics were broken and we were never allowed to use the OTA on other mounts.

As you might’ve imagined, those scopes sucked mechanically if not optically. The Synta 6” Newt was perfectly fine optically but the focuser slip was horrible. The EQ-2s and EQ-1s were often too loose and sometimes the clutches would fail. The cheaper plastic refractors we had… well, it’s bad. My experience with cheaper scopes was horrible, probably made worse by the fact that I was the person who setup all the equipment, but I digress.

Back then I read about APOs, specifically Taks and TVs with great envy, but I had no ways to afford them. Now that I can afford those scopes, of course I would go for them.

It should be noted however that back then there was a big gap between premium optics and mass produced ones. The sharpness and contrast between Synta APOs and Taks (I looked through some at a star party) was quite obvious, not to mention the mechanical quality of the scopes. Now, the gap has narrowed significantly, and some of the Chinese scopes (like the StellaMira/TS 90, the Meade Quad, or the Esprits) are serious contenders for best optics in their aperture class. The difference in mechanical quality also decreased, but not as much as the optics imo. The catch, of course, is that the great Chinese made optics are more expensive than before, even if they might still be cheaper than some of the more prestigious brands (sometimes they can actually be more expensive).

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It would be interesting to come back to this thread in 25 years because, if we look back 25 years, I don't think the premium scopes would have such a hard time distinguishing themselves. That's because the budget scopes have improved so spectacularly.  Digital imaging has raised the bar in terms of expectation, imagers wanting faster F ratios, wider corrected fields, better and more extended colour correction and load-bearing focusers. But, for a visual observer, how much better than a Skywatcher ED100 is it possible for any 4 inch refractor to be? There is, quite simply, not much room for improvement. A little, yes.

Similarly, by how much can a Takahashi six inch be better than an Esprit 6 inch? £5K versus £13K.  

25 years from now, will the Tak-equivalent products be reduced to the product-for-product's-sake end of the market now occupied by Questar?  Questar don't make telescopes, they make 'collectibles.'

Olly

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I hope that in 25 years we will be using something more sensible than glass for our objectives.
Your local 5D print shop, driven by AI, will whip up anything you like in minutes from wonder materials.
Or, you'll be trading your antique Tak for a half rotten potato to take down to your bunker. :wink2:

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I prefer reflectors, but find the solidity of refractors 'comforting' for many reasons. A 420 mm refractor with 80 mm aperture is not as fast as my 420 mm reflector with 150 mm aperture with the same camera, but the solidity of the frac has something some reflectors lack, but it can be overcome with careful and regular collimation. The Tak FOA 60Q is wonderful because of what it can do in principle (and also on a clear night).  Lots of parallels to high end watches, and a plethora of other tech or products. Not having to 'worry' as much about a frac once tuned up is an understandable trait to me. If the premium provides better regularity, trust, mechanicals, durability and repeatability than a cheaper scope while having at least the same or likely better optics, then it is worth considering as a long term purchase for a regular use or 'only' scope (price differential is not always fairly linked to the cost increase in providing that improvement, TEC being a good example from years ago - it was very good, priced really well).  Many reflectors with new CNC milling and additive manufacturing are allowing long term collimation stability, and fast reflectors are fairly robust for use with permanent observatory installation.

25 years from now is a curious thought.

Auto digital imaging with next-generation sensors, adaptive optics inbuilt as standard, all automated like the Stellinas and similar, but advanced beyond these. Deformable mirrors as AO are used often in optics labs (you can see them on Thorlabs website) and are very interesting. 

A bold prediction is that lens-based optics will be still available for purchase and use, but not dominant mainstream for astrographs- maybe more than 25 years in this case. Mirror evolution for the masses is something I predict will happen, brining the tech from the large scopes in the Atacama to personal scopes that can better tackle seeing for a given aperture. The atmosphere might get worse for sky viewing (light pollution really, maybe other forms too).

What else could happen? I think robotic scopes and large amateur arrays will become more common. Advances in networking and connectivity are going to take a leap, AI involvement in post processing of images in real time beyond just star alignment...mounts will likely evolve.  

 

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AI could easily manage atmospherics and seeing.
It is already being used for making early films watchable at normal speeds.
Printing thin film optics without aberrations is already a reality.
Personal ownership of telescopes will likely wane.
Light pollution is unlikely to reduce as more efficient light sources arrive.
Shared access to pro quality instruments will become routine.

It will be a very different hobby. Just as it has changed since my youth.
Nobody could have predicted international, online forums and YouTube.
I met only one other telescope maker in 20 years and none since.

Instant international sharing of images and videos.
Narrow band filtration. Miniature electronic cameras. Home printers.
Widespread international sales and small ads.
The Japanese and then the Chinese industrial revolutions.
We haven't seen anything yet. If we survive. :wink2:

Edited by Rusted
typo
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4 hours ago, Concordia000 said:

....It should be noted however that back then there was a big gap between premium optics and mass produced ones. The sharpness and contrast between Synta APOs and Taks (I looked through some at a star party) was quite obvious, not to mention the mechanical quality of the scopes. Now, the gap has narrowed significantly, and some of the Chinese scopes (like the StellaMira/TS 90, the Meade Quad, or the Esprits) are serious contenders for best optics in their aperture class. The difference in mechanical quality also decreased, but not as much as the optics imo. The catch, of course, is that the great Chinese made optics are more expensive than before, even if they might still be cheaper than some of the more prestigious brands (sometimes they can actually be more expensive).

That's an interesting comment. I agree with you regarding the mechanical build and finish differences between the Synta refractors and the Taks but, having owned a Skywatcher ED120 ED doublet for a decade now and a Tak FC100-DL fluorite doublet and a TMB/LZOS 130 F/9.2 triplet for nearly 6 years now, I have not noticed the ED120 being outclassed in terms of optical performance. I had expected that I would move the ED120 on after I acquired the much more expensive refractors but that has not been the case and I'm very pleased to still have it. Maybe my ED120 is an outlier in performance ?. It does have a Moonlite focuser on it now which addresses one of the most common criticisms on the mechanical side of things.

 

 

 

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When I started this thread I did not intend it to be just about refractors of course. We hear more of the expensive brands of that design and that is where my personal experience lies but I'm aware that there are instruments of high excellence (and cost) available of many of the other scope designs as well.

My earliest experience of a really high quality scope was probably with an Intes (Moscow) 150mm F/5.9 Maksutov-Newtonian. The cost (pre-owned) was not that high but the scope, while looking a little drab externally, was mechanically and optically made to very high standards. That is one scope that I wish I still owned :rolleyes2:. I guess we all have a list of those though !

 

 

Edited by John
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There are many fine scopes that you never seem to hear much about in the UK. Has anybody actually used a Planewave? One of the unaffordable scopes I would like to own. 😢

https://astrograph.net/epages/www_astrograph_net.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/www_astrograph_net/Categories/Shop/"Telescopes %26 Binoculars"/Corrected_Dall_Kirkham

Edited by johninderby
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3 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

It would be interesting to come back to this thread in 25 years because, if we look back 25 years, I don't think the premium scopes would have such a hard time distinguishing themselves. That's because the budget scopes have improved so spectacularly.  Digital imaging has raised the bar in terms of expectation, imagers wanting faster F ratios, wider corrected fields, better and more extended colour correction and load-bearing focusers. But, for a visual observer, how much better than a Skywatcher ED100 is it possible for any 4 inch refractor to be? There is, quite simply, not much room for improvement. A little, yes.

Similarly, by how much can a Takahashi six inch be better than an Esprit 6 inch? £5K versus £13K.  

25 years from now, will the Tak-equivalent products be reduced to the product-for-product's-sake end of the market now occupied by Questar?  Questar don't make telescopes, they make 'collectibles.'

Olly

The expensive stuff has generally come down in price. A Tak is about half the cost it was in 1990 in real terms but standards across the board seem to have improved over thus time to give more consistently good optics and mechanicals. Quality control is still expensive though even if automated manufacturing reduces much of the variation so there's still likely to be a place for higher end products that are uniformly that bit better.

Visual observers don't drive the market very much these days so it probably doesn't matter whether the differences between mid and high-end scopes are minimal to the human eye. An extra £8K for the Tak is a lot of money but when you add the cost of cameras, filters, mounts, computers, and possibly an observatory, the difference in cost of the total setup might not be that large and it becomes far easier to spend extra on a better version of a component. I've got a few Baader filters and can't imaging paying 10x as much for the likes of Chroma but if I had a really fancy imaging rig, the cost of a filter upgrade wouldn't seem quite so bad when I'd already shelled out a fortune on the rest of the kit and wanted to get the best out of my investment.

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To remove owner subjectivity, I once pondered some *telescope simulator*
images of planets .vs. varying scope designs. Whereas I liked the conclusion
drawn (it agreed with theory!) many images looked very similar to me? lol
But then, I totally repect the notion, "practiced" observers SEE stuff, I can't -
Especially "live" (in freezing cold) field situation? Simply "better eyes"?!? 🤓

For me, the biggest doubt I had e.g. with my Newtonian Reflector: "Have I
set up the collimation properly". I suspect that would dominate any "quality
of optics" effect. As with "errors" in general, there's no point worrying over
some minor issue, while ignoring the "great big uncertainty" elsewhere? 🤔

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2 hours ago, John said:

That's an interesting comment. I agree with you regarding the mechanical build and finish differences between the Synta refractors and the Taks but, having owned a Skywatcher ED120 ED doublet for a decade now and a Tak FC100-DL fluorite doublet and a TMB/LZOS 130 F/9.2 triplet for nearly 6 years now, I have not noticed the ED120 being outclassed in terms of optical performance. I had expected that I would move the ED120 on after I acquired the much more expensive refractors but that has not been the case and I'm very pleased to still have it. Maybe my ED120 is an outlier in performance ?. It does have a Moonlite focuser on it now which addresses one of the most common criticisms on the mechanical side of things.

 

 

 

It might be two things; one is that I looked through the an 80/100ED and a Tak 4” (I remember it’s a 4” for Tak very clearly for some reason). There might have been a discrepancy in aperture but I do remember the Tak showed less false colour and was more sharp. Both of course were leagues better than the achros we brought, but since my personal scope was a SCT, I was very sensitive to CA.

The second might be because who owned those scopes. The Synta was owned by another high school and had taken a bit of abuse — but it was still fairly well maintained. The Tak however belonged to a guest personally and was in an immaculate condition.

The difference was not *that* big, but fairly obvious is what I am saying. For the price difference the biggest improvement would be mechanical imo because that stock focuser — as you might have imagined — was terrible after being abused by high school students.

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1 hour ago, johninderby said:

There are many fine scopes that you never seem to hear much about in the UK. Has anybody actually used a Planewave? One of the unaffordable scopes I would like to own. 😢

https://astrograph.net/epages/www_astrograph_net.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/www_astrograph_net/Categories/Shop/"Telescopes %26 Binoculars"/Corrected_Dall_Kirkham

Do you think my ScopeTech Zero would be OK?

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2 hours ago, John said:

That's an interesting comment. I agree with you regarding the mechanical build and finish differences between the Synta refractors and the Taks but, having owned a Skywatcher ED120 ED doublet for a decade now and a Tak FC100-DL fluorite doublet and a TMB/LZOS 130 F/9.2 triplet for nearly 6 years now, I have not noticed the ED120 being outclassed in terms of optical performance. I had expected that I would move the ED120 on after I acquired the much more expensive refractors but that has not been the case and I'm very pleased to still have it. Maybe my ED120 is an outlier in performance ?. It does have a Moonlite focuser on it now which addresses one of the most common criticisms on the mechanical side of things.

 

 

 

One interesting thing to note is that my old school did the sensible thing and upgraded their equipment. The EQ1s and EQ2s are gone and replaced by EQ3-2s, and it seems they even got an HEQ-5 and some Skywatcher ED scopes. They’ve even got a Dob now. 
I suppose those who joined the hobby after me at the school would be pretty happy with the equipment they have.

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2 hours ago, johninderby said:

There are many fine scopes that you never seem to hear much about in the UK. Has anybody actually used a Planewave? One of the unaffordable scopes I would like to own. 😢

https://astrograph.net/epages/www_astrograph_net.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/www_astrograph_net/Categories/Shop/"Telescopes %26 Binoculars"/Corrected_Dall_Kirkham

Heh, I'm more of an ASA bloke myself :grin:.

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(Another!) "Random" thought: Despite my odd "provocations" (lol)
it is a subject that genuinely interests me! I spent FAR too much on
"appraising" indifferent scopes, rather than "saving my money"!?! 🥳

Looking beyond standard forums, I was deeply inpressed by the
science (effort) involved setting up a high-end Refractor Triplet! 🙀
(It's not a "linear progression" from "yer typical" ED doublet?!? lol)

Personally, I quite like to "drill holes" in my *budget* telescopes!
To get "the best" out of them - Maybe? lol. But if I owned a truly
"work of art" scope... Would I dare use it? I'd need to *collect* it
rather than trust UPS/DPD delivery? Just "messing about", but... 😉

P.S. "Heartbroken" to put minor "ding" in my £250 Ukulele. 😑

Edited by Macavity
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