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Tal 100R


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Has anybody got one of these Tal OTA's that can give me some feedback please. They are obviously 100mm and F10 so I would have thought pretty good with CA. I also believe the strehl ratio is superb on them and they are well made. But how does this pan out to the following:

  • What is the weight like
  • How is the Colour correction 
  • Overall construction and aesthetics
  • has anyone run a side by side with a 100ED scope or similar modern OTA

For anyone wondering I am just thinking about another OTA to use in conjunction with my own 100ED on the Skytee setup which has a spare clamp since the 127 mak went.

Cheers all.

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Hi Steve,

 I've used both the early Tal and the later, smarter looking Tal 100R. They are very good with the first version being very industrial and rough around the edges. Optically very good with good colour correction.  The 100ED though is better colour corrected and in my view a better choice out of the two because of its cleaner, better defined image. Having said that, I certainly wouldn't turn my nose up at the Tal, as it is a nice refractor.  

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I’ve had three TALs now, and although nice they never quite lived up to the hype for me. CA varied between them, and I reckon the 100ED would show one a colour free pair of heels as it were.

I’m interested to know why you are thinking of pairing them up, as they are similar focal lengths, would a wider field scope such as an 80ED or f7 100mm not add something different?

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I started to do a comparison between my Tal 100RS and my 102ED-R a couple of years ago - you can see it below. I only compared Mars, and the ED scope served up much better views (I don’t think the diagonal in the Tal made a difference as I may have suspected in the test). I didn’t continue the test because I was so impressed with the performance of the 102ED-R I just wanted to use it and not waste any more time on comparisons! I haven’t used the Tal since, not because it’s bad, there’s just no reason to when I have the ED which gives better views. Prior to getting the ED I did sometimes use the Tal side by side with the C8 and it was a very good double splitter and served up decent views of the moon, Jupiter and Saturn. If the Tal was your only refractor I think you would be happy, but side by side with an ED of similar size, I think you’d always be looking through the ED. 

As for build quality, it’s very solid, the focuser is an ok single speed Crayford, it has a rotatable focuser tube and a removable dew shield. It doesn’t feel cheap but also doesn’t feel special or refined. One point is that with a 2” diagonal there is insufficient in focus, so I have to use a 1.25” diagonal and cannot accommodate 2” eyepieces as a result. 

 

 

 

Edited by RobertI
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I always wanted to get my hands on one but in Canada there are virtually none. I passed up a chance about 15-20 yrs ago on one of the 70mm models for a fantastic price and I still kick my *ss, lol !  I had to settle for a 2002 Televue NP101 instead, years later. You are a lucky astronomer, if you get it ! PS:  I am now 75 and I would still love to have one, i have never heard a negative review.

Edited by LDW1
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I've owned both the 100R and the 100RS. They are both good achros, but as others have said, an ED scope will be better.

They're not too heavy, around 4.5-5kg with rings and finder iirc. Everything is basic but adequate and functional. The finder is very good, as is the bracket. Once aligned, you'll likely never have to adjust it. The dewshield on later RS's is plastic, it fits and works fine, it's just a bit of a shame that they didn't make it out metal, like the R's.

Out of the two samples I had, the RS was definitely better, which seems to be contradictory to most reports. On a night of good seeing, it could take x375 mag on the moon while still being very sharp. As I was using a barlow at the time the f ratio = 22.5! So, very, very little CA.

I would probably have another if it were cheap enough, I guess I shouldn't have sold my example as it was a good scope.

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No personal experience of the 100R but own a (2011) 100RS since 2016, unfortunately my second hand example arrived a bit roughed up due to clumsy couriers!!

I haven't used it since I bought my Tak FC-100DL but from memory the views through it were pretty good, although the star test wasn't that great. Quality wise not nearly as good as the Tal-1 I owned in the mid 90's, the crayford focuser would slacken off when racking out seems the machining tolerances were out from one end to the other, a fellow SGL'er had the same issue on his and I've sorted that now. 

Like Roy Challen I found the finder very good, also the adjustable diagonal & 25mm Plossl that it came with, the OTA itself can be described as agricultural and rough round the edges. 

From what I've read the early 100R's were really nice with the purple optics, nice wooden tripod, EQ mount and big wooden box, limiting factor being the short range of the focuser. There was a bloke on UK ABS last year who already had a 100R but was after a 100RS with damaged optics so he could swap the lenses over, be interesting to see if he found one to try it out 🤔

Anyway I've just weighed it and it comes in as 3.5kg with tube clamps etc, no finder though and its more or less same weight as my Tak. I'm sure the Skytee 2 would cope with a 100R & 100ED mounted side by side though it would be too much for an oldie like myself with a dodgy back.

Few pics below for comparison with my Tak and with Tal focuser fully racked out, shiny bit is where I flatted it out to sort machining inaccuracies.

 

IMG_4373.jpeg

IMG_4372.jpeg

IMG_4374.jpeg

Edited by jock1958
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12 hours ago, Stu said:

I’m interested to know why you are thinking of pairing them up, as they are similar focal lengths, would a wider field scope such as an 80ED or f7 100mm not add something different?

I was toying with the idea of using a pair of long focal length for outreach although not done much of that recently tbh, then maybe slapping a reducer in the TAL to bring down the FL for a wider field option in the field. However @RobertI comment below seems to kibosh that idea. 

However the main reason is I am missing a shorter FL scope. I used to use a reduced mak but that got sold and wish now I hadn't done so.

12 hours ago, RobertI said:

As for build quality, it’s very solid, the focuser is an ok single speed Crayford, it has a rotatable focuser tube and a removable dew shield. It doesn’t feel cheap but also doesn’t feel special or refined. One point is that with a 2” diagonal there is insufficient in focus, so I have to use a 1.25” diagonal and cannot accommodate 2” eyepieces as a result. 

So I could still put a SW 0.85 reducer on the 100ED which would leave me with a TAL @F10 and the 100ED reduced to F7.65 but a quick view of a eyepiece spreadsheet shows the differences between the F10 tal & F7.65 100ED is pretty small.

Maybe I should be looking at a richfield refractor . The stellamira F6 110mmED or even the Bresser 102 F5.9 are both reasonable options.

Either would barlow up to give me the longer FL frac if/when needed. The former is a far better bit of kit although quite a bit heavier and the latter comes it much less expensive. Given it is for richfield viewing and not planetary, would taking the lower cost option be that big a deal?

As always I end up thinking myself into a corner!

Cheers all for your responses so far.

Steve

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5 hours ago, jock1958 said:

There was a bloke on UK ABS last year who already had a 100R but was after a 100RS with damaged optics so he could swap the lenses over, be interesting to see if he found one to try it out 

Anyway I've just weighed it and it comes in as 3.5kg with tube clamps etc, no finder though and its more or less same weight as my Tak. I'm sure the Skytee 2 would cope with a 100R & 100ED mounted side by side though it would be too much for an oldie like myself with a dodgy back.

 

 

Interesting, I'm not that bloke, but I did own both R and RS at the same time and thought of swapping the lenses over. However the R tube is about 50mm longer than the RS. It might not have been an issue with the RS's better focuser, but I didn't want to have to chop anything. Either way, I'm glad I didn't, the RS was simply the better telescope.

The Skytee 2 easily copes with two Tals, I doubt an ED instead of one of them would make any difference.

 

WP_000135.thumb.jpg.9a13e11a25db2b55f100fd7e66d2b5c0.jpg

Edited by Roy Challen
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I had one and found the quality to be a little 'off'....the focuser drawtube was hugely off centre (read that as pointing at the very edge of the lens, rather than anywhere near the centre) and this caused many issues with image quality.   In the end I sent it off to Steve Collingwood who kindly straightened it out...after that it was fine.   It's an F10 achro and yes, CA is there...

 

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22 hours ago, Roy Challen said:

Interesting, I'm not that bloke, but I did own both R and RS at the same time and thought of swapping the lenses over. However the R tube is about 50mm longer than the RS. It might not have been an issue with the RS's better focuser, but I didn't want to have to chop anything. Either way, I'm glad I didn't, the RS was simply the better telescope.

The Skytee 2 easily copes with two Tals, I doubt an ED instead of one of them would make any difference.

 

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Nice setup Roy and goes to show how capable the Skytee 2 plus a good tripod is! 

Think I was a bit unlucky with my RS, being one of the later ones it seems the quality of mine is borderline ok...ish! 

Fellow SGL'er AndyH found an excellent piece on the history of Tal telescopes some years ago which says the factory in Novosibirsk was concentrating its efforts on state defence orders (after 2010?) if that's correct probably explains how the quality is a bit mixed on later examples of the RS?

 

Edited by jock1958
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On 01/02/2023 at 18:00, Roy Challen said:

Interesting, I'm not that bloke, but I did own both R and RS at the same time and thought of swapping the lenses over. However the R tube is about 50mm longer than the RS. It might not have been an issue with the RS's better focuser, but I didn't want to have to chop anything. Either way, I'm glad I didn't, the RS was simply the better telescope.

The Skytee 2 easily copes with two Tals, I doubt an ED instead of one of them would make any difference.

 

WP_000135.thumb.jpg.9a13e11a25db2b55f100fd7e66d2b5c0.jpg

 Lovely scopes Roy!  I have to confess that I have a soft spot for the R, which I think stands for Rough, as it had a bit of a thistle finish.  There was quite a buzz at the time because of the excellent Russian optics and the insanely low price, bringing a good 4" refractor within the grasp of many more people. Sky & Telescope liked them too, while at the same time having a downer on the Chinese achromatic refractors. Personally I liked the Chinese scopes too, and bought a lovely Helios 120 achromat in 1999 which came with three really nice plossl's, Barlow and diagonal, and a very nice EQ mount and tripod. All that for only £245. Happy days!

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I will willingly confess to having owned at least 7 Tal 100's in my time..the fact that I don't now own one may suggest its own conclusion - ie that they weren't very good..but the truth is more complicated than that..

You have to go back in time to understand the context of those scopes. In the late 1980s and early 90s the two most common (and aspirational) scopes were a 4" refractor and a 6" reflector: indeed the late, great Sir Patrick Moore extolled the virtues of both as being "serious amateur telescopes" and he compared the performance of a good 4" frac and 6" reflector being broadly comparable (I think we would nowadays see this as a bit of a simplistic comparison).

However, he rightly pointed out that a good 6" Newtonian was MUCH more affordable than a decent 4" refractor..and, bear in mind that at that time, a decent 4" refractor meant an achromat of F10 focal length. The aspirational such scope was a Vixen Japan SP102 on SP or GP mount, and in those days you'd have to pay c£700 for a complete outfit, whereas you could probably get a good 6 " newt and mount for half that or less.

So, when, in the mid-late 1990s a new, smart looking 4" (100mm) F10 achromat from Russia's TAL brand appeared, with a decent optical system, good manual equatorial mount, good diagonal and finder, and 2 or 3 decent plossls, and all stored in a massive Siberian Pine crate (fondly known by buyers as The Coffin), and all for £249, people including me sat up and took notice.

I bought my first 100R in 1999, from an early online seller, Warehouse Express, for that price, and had it delivered to my work office. The Coffin was a two man lift, and when I got it home my wife thought I'd put a body in it!!

That scope was not "perfect", but it was solid, had a beautiful objective with gorgeous 💜 coloured coatings, and performed very well. Colour correction on mine at least matched the SP102, as did contrast and sharpness. The TAL certainly had it's quirks, like a ridiculously short focus travel, no more than 40-50 mm if that, but it looked great, worked well, and was affordable.

The later RS version introduced in the early 2000s brought some worthwhile improvements, including a rotatable, 2" capable crayford focuser with MUCH more travel. The lens had different (to me, less attractive) coatings with similar performance (I always felt that the earlier 100R objective was better than the RS), and the dewshield changed from a short, metal one to a longer plastic one (in fact some later 100R's came with the new plastic dewshield).

I owned 2 100R's and at least 5 RS's over the first decade of the 2000's and all of them performed well. All of the RS's came as tube only with  accessories, butno mount or tripod.

I would buy one, use it for a while, sell it, and soon after miss it and buy another..I got 2 of my RS's from Astro Boot (remember them?) for a good price.

A couple were cosmetically damaged on receipt, and I always put this down to the tortuous 3000+ miles road trip they had to endure from the TAL factory in Novosibirsk, Siberia. It's actually only due to the coffins they used originally that the 100Rs seemed to weather the journey better than the later ones.

Of course, times moved on, the ED revolution came in in a big way in the second decade of the 2000s, and Synta made a huge mark on the European refractor market with their SW 100ED and also a Celestron branded version with different cosmetics but the same optics.. and WHAT optics!

They very wisely threw most of their investment into producing top class F9 100mm ED optics and slotting them into mediocre but workable OTA mechanics. The rest is history, and now there are huge numbers of 4" refractors both achro and apo, from F7-F10, all over the world. 

TAL did have their QC challenges, but fundamentally they were a small cog in a huge Russian Optics industry, and frankly, astronomical scopes couldn't earn anything like the return on investment that military and sport optics could..so they faded away..

I can't imagine why anyone who already has an ED100 of any brand would want to pair it up with an F10 achromat..it would be setting the achro up to fail..

HOWEVER..on it's own terms , and taken for what is is, a TAL 100RS (or for me, better still, a 100R with the liquid purple lens), at a sensible price on the used market, can still deliver many hours of most enjoyable observing sessions, on Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, doubles and clusters...for both seasoned amateurs and beginners alike..and, because it doesn't cost too much, you don't have to be precious about it, or worry that it might get damaged.

They were a major part of my own observing journey, and I will always recall them very fondly. 

If you're in the market for a no fuss, no frills, cheap but optically very good achromat, seek one out!🤗👍.

tal100rt.jpg.b5a09f4960f8c274acd255d4f35ec80d.jpg.46b96c00489ca631f86f099d3cf884f8.jpg

Earlier Tal 100R on TAL EQ mount (can also be used in altaz mode) and quality wooden tripod.

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Later 100RS objective (left) and earlier 100R objective (right)..now, which do YOU like the look of best??😁

Dave

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On 07/02/2023 at 20:34, mikeDnight said:

 Lovely scopes Roy!  I have to confess that I have a soft spot for the R, which I think stands for Rough

Yeah, very agricultural. The tubes weren’t even round and as for the baffling…

Still the optics were very good and I have very fond memories of mine, my second proper scope, my first was the rather wonderful Towa 339. 

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Very enjoyable read on the Tal 100's Dave @F15Rules also didn't realise you owned so many, I think you've just lined yourself up as the new Tal 100 SGL super guru 😉 

I bought my RS on the back of Astro Baby's review and was hoping it would have similar quality to the Tal 1 reflector I bought in the mid 90's, sadly it wasn't to be possibly due to what you have alluded to and others have said, never mind it is what it is and and when they were launched a big bang for your buck! 

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Hi Iain,

Don't know about being a guru, but thanks for your kind comments 😉.

I thought Astro Baby's review was very insightful. She was quite a perfectionist, so I was pleased that she rated the scope so highly. There were definitely variances in individual scopes, which is not really what you want if you're addressing the volume markets, but the lenses in my experience were consistently good to excellent.

Where there could be a problem was with the interior baffling of the tubes, especially with the earlier 100R.

It could be that glare and other perceived optical faults were caused by a mechanical issue such as baffling or focuser alignment, rather than with the optics per se?..🤔

Dave

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Just checked my 100rs had it for quite a few years after buying it off "Nightfisher" it seems to have the TAL R lens if the coloured coatings only appeared on the TAL R. 

I have a 2" diagonal but with a 1.25" adapter that gives me a extra 10mm in focus, 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/adapters/baader-low-profile-eyepiece-adapter-for-steeltrack.html

20230216_105602.jpg

20230216_105520.jpg

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