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Beginner looking to invest into a Tak setup (hear me out)..


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Hi all,

Complete 38yo Aussie novice / professional pianist living here in Berlin that has just started reading 'Turn Left at Orion'. I just found out about this forum last night through @badhex at a star party and thought I'd introduce myself and get some advice from some passionate and experienced folks like your good selves.

Now, before you call me crazy and tell me I'm mad for diving into the deep end before even getting my hands dirty, I thought I might explain my situation a little more.

I've had multiple run-ups doing research into this hobby, but this most recent attempt is by far the biggest deep dive I've done to date. I've been passionate about astronomy for a long time now and used to play around with some long exposure photography on my Canon 6D before moving on to a Sony A7iii. (I've included a couple snaps below taken in regional Victoria, Australia.)

––

My grandfather in New Zealand, who was a very dear and close friend of mine, passed away on my birthday in July, 2020. Unable to attend the funeral due to travel restrictions, I later found out that he had left a small amount of money to each of his grandchildren, around the $5K mark in Aussie dollars (~$3.5K USD, same ~ in EUR or ~ £3K). I've been racking my brain trying to think of something suitable to buy as an ode to him and I've decided that I'd like to see what's going on outside of this pale blue dot and invest into a scope. My grandfather was a perfectionist and always appreciated good quality design. He'd always gravitate to German or Japanese engineering and well, you can see where I'm going..

I am fully aware that like a lot of beginners, it's very easy to go too hard, too quickly, but given that I share similar traits as my grandfather that I cannot shake, I have been drawn in hook, line and sinker to the Takahashi brand.

About my requirements, I'm looking to start out with visual observation only on an alt-az manual mount (my local shop was strongly encouraging me to opt for a Celestron C8, but I'd like to start off with the basics and learn the night sky manually). I want something for a quick setup without needing to align to Polaris and a long cool down time. Assuming I get my hooks in properly to this hobby, I'd like something that will last me a lifetime but should this all not work out, resale value is important to me so that I can invest the money into something else. I'm also happy to throw in a few thousand of my own to complete the setup.

In regards to the Tak, I've been drawn to the FC-100 series, but unsure which model to go for. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts if it would be worth investing into the DZ or if the DC/DF would be sufficient. I adore the wooden tripods I've seen floating around too, just because I think they look beautiful and wholesome.

One other thing that I'm struggling with is that I don't want to get too overwhelmed and bogged down by all of the intricacies of the varying accessories. It looks like a complete rabbit hole out there with a plethora of opinions, so I'd love to hear your recommendations for your dream setup within my budget assuming I'm going down the Tak FC-100 route with a wooden tripod in Germany. I just want an easy setup that I can use without too much hassle with a few different eyepieces to match.

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this. Super interested to see your shopping lists! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Would love to meet up with any Berliners too!

Thanks again,
Josh

 

 

Milky Way.jpg

IMG_6836.jpg

Edited by moonsafari
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Hello and welcome to the forum! It’s a very friendly place and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the conversations and advice from members.

I wouldn’t claim to be an expert by any means but I’m also pretty obsessed with the Takahashi brand and have done a fair bit of research on the various options for accessories. I have an FC76-DCU so will leave it to others to comment on the FC100 options. However, like you, I was also daunted by the variety of diagonals, eyepieces etc etc. Following some great advice from this forum, I ended up going for a Takahashi finder, Takahashi 1.25” prism diagonal and Televue eyepieces (24mm Panoptic, 13mm Nagler and a Nagler 3-6mm zoom), for a simple yet portable setup which was my objective when choosing the FC-76. You may not need such portability and might prefer a 2” diagonal and/or binoviewers which I have yet to try but would like to at some stage on my 4” refractor. I’m delighted with my setup which I also use on alt-az mounts, both manual and go-to (personally I use a Giro Ercole mini and a SkyWatcher AZ-EQ5 which can also carry my 4” refractor as well as the Tak).

Best of luck with your selection and I certainly think it will be a fitting tribute to your grandfather and a telescope that will give you many years of enjoyment. I hope you find my experiences helpful.

Edited by Nicola Fletcher
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7 hours ago, moonsafari said:

Aussie

Cooo-eee, ohh another Ozzie (or is it a Kiwi) here within SGL 🙂 .

Good to see a person after top brand quality, Tak, Astro-Physics, Istar or TeleVue! Any diagonal or eye pieces from those manufacturers will be ok. I would suggest going after a used scope if it were not for the fact that few appear for sale within EU, there are far more on offer within OZ (plus they are cheaper down south of the equator). Maybe 3 EP's 10,20,40mm?

Mounts?  as you want aesthetics I have no contribution (you would probably love a Japanese Unitron from the 60's) as mounts to me are pure function, have used old Holden flywheels and tins full of cement as counterweights. I am sure Dave59 will chip in sooner or later with good advice 🙂

Cheers 'A Bruce' 🙂 

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This sounds like a nice problem to have :) 

Do you have a view on what sorts of targets you might be interested in? The DZ is likely to have a very slight advantage in terms of lunar and planetary performance, but the DC/DZ are a little more versatile with a slightly shorter focal length so giving a little wider field of view for large deep sky objects.

The DF has a better focuser than the DC  (as does the DZ) so is probably the better option unless you plan to change the focuser. I opted for a FeatherTouch FTF2025BCR on mine which I think improves it quite a bit, so went for the cheaper DC. FT availability is a bit flakey currently though, so worth considering this. They are lovely lightweight scopes for sure.

In terms of mounts, I would certainly consider a Rowan AZ75 on a Berlebach Uni-28 tripod, that would give you the wooden tripod you are after and a very smooth and easy to use mount. It has the added benefit of being fairly light too so more likely to get used. You could opt for the slow motion controls of the AZ100 but that’s a lot heavier and not really needed for the FC100s. You could either leave it totally manual, or add encoders to work with a phone as push to ie you still manually move the mount (no tracking) but the phone app (SkySafari) guides you to the target.

I would definitely opt for a decent 2” diagonal, perhaps a Baader click lock so that you can benefit from using 2” eyepieces to get those lovely widefield views.

It’s well worth totting it all up first, as accessories like eyepieces and finders etc all add up. Televue, Pentax or Baader Morpheus are among the eyepieces I would probably look into, but that’s a whole topic in itself.

A 6x30 or 9x50 RACI finder plus something like a Rigel Quikfinder or one of the gunsight type RDFs should sort you for finding.

How did I do spending all your money? 😉

I’ve yet to come across anyone who has been disappointed with their FC100, whichever flavour it was so I’m sure you will enjoy it. You could even add a Herschel Wedge layer and enjoy cracking views of the sun 👍

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I am a Tak fan too and own the FC-100DZ

I would second all what @Stu said and I would add a Baader MK V Binoviewer to the setup as they make for very comfortable viewing and allow for details to be seen easier.

Not a cheap setup but the best and will last a lifetime…..

BUT it may not be long before your thinking about the TSA120 with the feathertouch focuser 😈😈😈

 

.

Edited by dweller25
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1 hour ago, SthBohemia said:

I am sure Dave59 will chip in sooner or later with good advice 🙂

Cheers 'A Bruce' 🙂 

Not in this thread old chap, no experience of Tak other than what I've read here extolling their virtues. There's plenty like Stu and others who've had several in the range that can offer way better advice than I, so I'll sit in the back and take notes in case I ever get close to obtaining one 🙂 

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Hello mate, 

What they said 😅

One other mount to consider might be the Scopetech Mount Zero (the one I brought to the LNDA). I use it with my 100mm refractor, but not sure if the FC100 is a bit heavier and maybe pushing it a bit - @Stu @JeremyS @HollyHound I think you all use an FC100 with a Zero?  Anyway, the main benefits are that it gives you manual control so you can pan the scope using your hand, as well as slow motion controls i.e. manual tracking adjustment, and it's very lightweight and compact. 

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4 minutes ago, badhex said:

Hello mate, 

What they said 😅

One other mount to consider might be the Scopetech Mount Zero (the one I brought to the LNDA). I use it with my 100mm refractor, but not sure if the FC100 is a bit heavier and maybe pushing it a bit - @Stu @JeremyS @HollyHound I think you all use an FC100 with a Zero?  Anyway, the main benefits are that it gives you manual control so you can pan the scope using your hand, as well as slow motion controls i.e. manual tracking adjustment, and it's very lightweight and compact. 

I do indeed have the ScopeTech Zero, and in two years of ownership it’s been my most used mount and superb for “grab and go” visual. 
 

I’ve not used either my FC-100DZ or (now sold) FC-100DC on this mount actively, but did try them and I think it’s “just” usable with these. Far better is the FC-76DCU, which is left permanently mounted on mine now.

However, as a “one scope” for visual, then any of the FC-100 Taks, would be perfect and shouldn’t leave you wanting for. I would recommend a slightly heavier duty mount for it though… I use the AZ100, but from what @Stu has said (and others), the AZ75 would be ideal 👍

Berlebach tripods are lovely… solid, reliable and they feel nice too on cold nights (wood not steel 😃).

Don’t forget (as @Nicola Fletcher has said) to allow for eyepieces, diagonals, finders etc. There are eyepieces for all budgets, but you may find yourself gravitating to certain recommend brands. I mostly use Pentax XW with my Taks, but there are loads of other excellent makes.

Enjoy, and of course feel free to continue to ask for guidance on here 😃

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2 hours ago, badhex said:

Hello mate, 

What they said 😅

One other mount to consider might be the Scopetech Mount Zero (the one I brought to the LNDA). I use it with my 100mm refractor, but not sure if the FC100 is a bit heavier and maybe pushing it a bit - @Stu @JeremyS @HollyHound I think you all use an FC100 with a Zero?  Anyway, the main benefits are that it gives you manual control so you can pan the scope using your hand, as well as slow motion controls i.e. manual tracking adjustment, and it's very lightweight and compact. 

I regularly use my FC100DC on my Scopetech Zero/Gitzo combination because it is so easy to setup and put away; an easy single handed carry. That is often with Baader CoolWedge and binoviewers.

There is definitely some vibration but it damps down well enough to the degree that I’m happy with the compromise ie I use the scope more than I may do with a bigger mount.

D280A0FC-3096-4443-AD21-ABCA47026D01.jpeg

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5 hours ago, Stu said:

This sounds like a nice problem to have :) 

Do you have a view on what sorts of targets you might be interested in? The DZ is likely to have a very slight advantage in terms of lunar and planetary performance, but the DC/DZ are a little more versatile with a slightly shorter focal length so giving a little wider field of view for large deep sky objects.

The DF has a better focuser than the DC  (as does the DZ) so is probably the better option unless you plan to change the focuser. I opted for a FeatherTouch FTF2025BCR on mine which I think improves it quite a bit, so went for the cheaper DC. FT availability is a bit flakey currently though, so worth considering this. They are lovely lightweight scopes for sure.

In terms of mounts, I would certainly consider a Rowan AZ75 on a Berlebach Uni-28 tripod, that would give you the wooden tripod you are after and a very smooth and easy to use mount. It has the added benefit of being fairly light too so more likely to get used. You could opt for the slow motion controls of the AZ100 but that’s a lot heavier and not really needed for the FC100s. You could either leave it totally manual, or add encoders to work with a phone as push to ie you still manually move the mount (no tracking) but the phone app (SkySafari) guides you to the target.

I would definitely opt for a decent 2” diagonal, perhaps a Baader click lock so that you can benefit from using 2” eyepieces to get those lovely widefield views.

It’s well worth totting it all up first, as accessories like eyepieces and finders etc all add up. Televue, Pentax or Baader Morpheus are among the eyepieces I would probably look into, but that’s a whole topic in itself.

A 6x30 or 9x50 RACI finder plus something like a Rigel Quikfinder or one of the gunsight type RDFs should sort you for finding.

How did I do spending all your money? 😉

I’ve yet to come across anyone who has been disappointed with their FC100, whichever flavour it was so I’m sure you will enjoy it. You could even add a Herschel Wedge layer and enjoy cracking views of the sun 👍

Thanks for all the advice here, this is gold.

I think I'd like to start out with the solar system before moving into anything deep sky related.

There is a DF currently available from a local shop here in Berlin, but I think the lead times on a DZ might be around December. I don't mind waiting until the end of the year, but if the DF is a great option and I won't notice that much difference, I might jump on that before supply issues catch up.

Mount and tripod sound perfect. Those encoders sound super interesting as well and might be the perfect compromise, can you point me in the right direction here?

These accessories really wig me out as everyone has different opinions, which make my head explode. Let me sit with this and see if I can find some common ground with all of the feedback.

Loving the Herschel Wedge layer too, definitely keen on that for sure.

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5 hours ago, dweller25 said:

I am a Tak fan too and own the FC-100DZ

I would second all what @Stu said and I would add a Baader MK V Binoviewer to the setup as they make for very comfortable viewing and allow for details to be seen easier.

Not a cheap setup but the best and will last a lifetime…..

BUT it may not be long before your thinking about the TSA120 with the feathertouch focuser 😈😈😈

 

.

Definitely something to think about once my hooks are in. Thanks for this.

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3 hours ago, HollyHound said:

I do indeed have the ScopeTech Zero, and in two years of ownership it’s been my most used mount and superb for “grab and go” visual. 
 

I’ve not used either my FC-100DZ or (now sold) FC-100DC on this mount actively, but did try them and I think it’s “just” usable with these. Far better is the FC-76DCU, which is left permanently mounted on mine now.

However, as a “one scope” for visual, then any of the FC-100 Taks, would be perfect and shouldn’t leave you wanting for. I would recommend a slightly heavier duty mount for it though… I use the AZ100, but from what @Stu has said (and others), the AZ75 would be ideal 👍

Berlebach tripods are lovely… solid, reliable and they feel nice too on cold nights (wood not steel 😃).

Don’t forget (as @Nicola Fletcher has said) to allow for eyepieces, diagonals, finders etc. There are eyepieces for all budgets, but you may find yourself gravitating to certain recommend brands. I mostly use Pentax XW with my Taks, but there are loads of other excellent makes.

Enjoy, and of course feel free to continue to ask for guidance on here 😃

I've been hearing a lot about the Pentax XW EPs with the Taks, so this is probably the direction I'll head here. If I was to buy three, what would you recommend?

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

I regularly use my FC100DC on my Scopetech Zero/Gitzo combination because it is so easy to setup and put away; an easy single handed carry. That is often with Baader CoolWedge and binoviewers.

There is definitely some vibration but it damps down well enough to the degree that I’m happy with the compromise ie I use the scope more than I may do with a bigger mount.

D280A0FC-3096-4443-AD21-ABCA47026D01.jpeg

Love this. Thanks for sharing.

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3 minutes ago, moonsafari said:

Love this. Thanks for sharing.

If I get the chance I’ll pop the AZ75/Uni-28 out this evening to show the differences.

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7 minutes ago, moonsafari said:

I've been hearing a lot about the Pentax XW EPs with the Taks, so this is probably the direction I'll head here. If I was to buy three, what would you recommend?

I've got the whole set (3.5, 5, 7, 10, 14, 20, 30 & 40), but there is a (little) field curvature on the 14, 20 & 30 on refractors of this class, so I tend to only use the longer focal lengths on my Mewlon.

If you can, I would get the 10, 7 and 5, and if you can stretch to the 3.5 that's great too... they all work brilliantly in Takahashi (or indeed any) refractor 👍

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14 minutes ago, moonsafari said:

Thanks for all the advice here, this is gold.

I think I'd like to start out with the solar system before moving into anything deep sky related.

There is a DF currently available from a local shop here in Berlin, but I think the lead times on a DZ might be around December. I don't mind waiting until the end of the year, but if the DF is a great option and I won't notice that much difference, I might jump on that before supply issues catch up.

Mount and tripod sound perfect. Those encoders sound super interesting as well and might be the perfect compromise, can you point me in the right direction here?

These accessories really wig me out as everyone has different opinions, which make my head explode. Let me sit with this and see if I can find some common ground with all of the feedback.

Loving the Herschel Wedge layer too, definitely keen on that for sure.

This is the link for the Rowan AZ75. Personally I think the Nexus II option is enough, but you rely totally on your phone for finding objects. With the DSC option the controller itself has a display so you can use it standalone without a phone connected (or with if you prefer).

The mounts are not cheap, but the engineering is second to none. You will need a saddle aswell, likely Vixen but it depends what comes with the scope.

I’ve not used a DZ, but @mikeDnighthas had both (currently has a DZ) so may be able to advise whether the difference in performance is worth the cost. I think I may be tempted by the shorter wait for the DF and the extra cash to go towards some of these other goodies.

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5 minutes ago, HollyHound said:

I've got the whole set (3.5, 5, 7, 10, 14, 20, 30 & 40), but there is a (little) field curvature on the 14, 20 & 30 on refractors of this class, so I tend to only use the longer focal lengths on my Mewlon.

If you can, I would get the 10, 7 and 5, and if you can stretch to the 3.5 that's great too... they all work brilliantly in Takahashi (or indeed any) refractor 👍

I’ve got the 10, 7, 5 and 3.5 and they are excellent. If planetary and lunar are the first targets then the 3.5 is definitely worthwhile for those higher powers.

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I would agree with everything that has so far been said. I have a 100DC and love it. Really love it :) Regarding mount and tripod, for me it would come down to portability. It's basically a trade off between the weight of the mount and tripod against how steady the scope is held. The 100DC is very light so does not need huge mounts and tripods, but it can take big magnifications easily so the more solid the mount and tripod, the steadier your view will be. Personally, I like light eyepieces so I use a Tak diagonal and Tak eyepieces (some of which are now unfortunately discontinued). The Pentax eyepieces get rave reviews by pretty well everyone but they are quite bulky and heavy I think (I have never actually seen one in real life though). Binoviewers are brilliant. I use them often, though they are quite heavy again and I find my light weight setup a little bit shaky for them at medium to high powers.

Hope this does not confuse you too much. I'm new into this too and the only certainty is 10 people will have 10 different views on what's best! That is except for the Tak100 :) It's simple the best :)

I have a Berlebach uni 8. Its light, very stable but possibly a little on the short side for a refractor. A compromise I was prepared to make for portability! Again, I don't think you can go wrong with a Berlebach. 

I have a Giro Ercole mount which I like very much. Very easy to use. The scopetec zero is much lighter I think (again never seen one) and I would guess is not quite as stable but I don't know, never having used one. 

Malcolm 

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

I’ve not used a DZ, but @mikeDnighthas had both (currently has a DZ) so may be able to advise whether the difference in performance is worth the cost. I think I may be tempted by the shorter wait for the DF and the extra cash to go towards some of these other goodies.

This is my thinking too. @mikeDnight thoughts?

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49 minutes ago, MalcolmM said:

I would agree with everything that has so far been said. I have a 100DC and love it. Really love it :) Regarding mount and tripod, for me it would come down to portability. It's basically a trade off between the weight of the mount and tripod against how steady the scope is held. The 100DC is very light so does not need huge mounts and tripods, but it can take big magnifications easily so the more solid the mount and tripod, the steadier your view will be. Personally, I like light eyepieces so I use a Tak diagonal and Tak eyepieces (some of which are now unfortunately discontinued). The Pentax eyepieces get rave reviews by pretty well everyone but they are quite bulky and heavy I think (I have never actually seen one in real life though). Binoviewers are brilliant. I use them often, though they are quite heavy again and I find my light weight setup a little bit shaky for them at medium to high powers.

Hope this does not confuse you too much. I'm new into this too and the only certainty is 10 people will have 10 different views on what's best! That is except for the Tak100 :) It's simple the best :)

I have a Berlebach uni 8. Its light, very stable but possibly a little on the short side for a refractor. A compromise I was prepared to make for portability! Again, I don't think you can go wrong with a Berlebach. 

I have a Giro Ercole mount which I like very much. Very easy to use. The scopetec zero is much lighter I think (again never seen one) and I would guess is not quite as stable but I don't know, never having used one. 

Malcolm 

This is all great info. Thanks, Malcolm. Sounds like the Berlebach is the way to go 😀

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+1 here for the Pentax XW 10mm. It's probably the 'best' EP (eyepiece) I own, and it's my second favourite behind the Baader Morpheus 17.5mm (which is also a fantastic eyepiece).

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@moonsafari another thing occurred to me regarding mounts. My Giro is great for DSOs with low power. When using high power on the Moon or planets I prefer a driven equatorial that keeps the target centered in the view. It's possible with a manual Alt/Az but it just means some of your attention is in keeping the target in view and not in actually observing it. The planets will whizz through the view pretty quick at x180.

Again - no universal correct answer. Just pros and cons for each solution!

Malcolm

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