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The Tal 2 M Newtownian Reflector


part timer
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This is my review of the Tal 2 M 6” Newtonian Reflector. Now, I’m not keen on reviews which take place over a short period as I believe there are too many factors which can affect judgement. The only way to overcome this is to spend as many nights out with the scope as possible, in all conditions and with as many different eyepieces and so on, as you can. This gives a much more balanced view of the scope and its real performance. The only remaining factor is personal viewing tastes (such as, for example, how much chromatic aberration you can accept or how much eye relief you need in an eyepiece). I usually try to state these during any review where I think they may have a bearing.

So, I have owned this telescope for around eight years now which, even with the British weather patterns being what they are, has given me a pretty reasonable number of observations on which to base a review.

On the day the scope was delivered I returned home a little bit early from work just in time to find an utterly exhausted delivery man packing up the delivery form which my wife had just signed. The reason for his exhaustion soon became clear! The Tal is packed in two absolutely wonderful ¾ inch thick, plywood boxes with metal supports and handles. One of these (about five feet long by one foot deep by 1 and half feet wide) contains the optical tube and pillar stand along with the accessories. This is all packed and bolted down into its proper place onto shaped wooden supports. The second box contains the mount and counterweight and is, if anything even heavier than the first! In his review Ed Ting states that this scope when packed actually weighs more than his 20” Dobsonian and I believe him!

The build quality of the scope is plainly the best you’ll encounter in any scope in this price range or in any up to several times more cost. It is just in a different league to any Chinese or British completion. Their just is nothing to compare with it in its mechanical construction. It is clearly intended to be a telescope you only need to buy once! The mount is fairly basic but to say the least solid and the pillar stand is absolutely solid and is much steadier than any tripod could be. It has plastic pads on the feet which are supposed to be vibration suppression pads. I don’t know if they work as you’d need to drive a car at this mount to get it to vibrate and I can’t see myself doing that any time soon!

The tube is constructed of thick metal and is utterly rigid. The inner surface of the tube is covered in rough grooves and then painted matt black. This does a very good job of removing stray light and I have never needed to improve on it. The focuser is solid aluminium and of marvellous construction. It did take some wearing in however and was a little stiff to begin with. Also it was too tight to accept standard eyepieces easily (even the Tal ones!) I solved this by sanding out the tube at the eyepiece end which took 5 minutes and has worked perfectly ever since. (I have since motorised it but that does not form part of this review). The eyepiece holder can unscrew and a (supplied) adapter converts this thread to M42 thread to attach some old SLR cameras such as Pentax and Zenit cameras. This feature is now a bit outdated but may still be useful if you can get suitable adapters for a DSLR, I don’t know because I don’t have one!

The included accessories were, in no uncertain terms, excellent. They consisted of, the Tal 2x Barlow (which is still commonly recommended by SGLers) and three very high quality plossls. The 40mm and 25mm were some of the best plossls eyepieces available and were directly comparable to the very high end plossls which cost £60 to £80 each. The 7.5 mm was very good indeed but was a bit dimmer than comparable brands and this made deep sky work such as globulars a bit more challenging. Also my eye relief limit for plossls is reached at about 10mm; anything shorter seems like a contact lens! A screw in reticule for polar alignment was provided and worked well .

There is a special screen which fastens to the counterweight shaft and allows you to perform solar projection with the provided off axis mask. I used this for several years and found it very effective with the 40mm eyepiece. I got some great observations of the 2004 transit of Venus this way.

There is a set of 4 colour (red, blue, green and yellow) filters of good quality which screw into the eyepiece barrels and I still use these today for planetary observations. Unfortunately there is also a black eyepiece ‘Solar’ filter. These are suicidal dangerous and MUST NOT BE USED. The final accessory is the finderscope. This is unbelievably good. It is a beautiful 8x50 achromatic refractor with a massive eye lens and super optical quality. There are no other finder scopes of this quality available today that I have seen. They just don’t make them this well. The finder would be very hard to say goodbye too if I sold this scope.

In use, the scope is great. It is rock solid and has nice slow motion controls. The right ascension knob is difficult to turn due to passing through two motor clutches. If you intend on not using the motor on a particular evening the just disconnect the small clutch (accessible through a small metal window) and the motions will be as smooth as butter. The great thing about this two clutch system is that there is no locking system. You just swing the tube in RA as if it is a dob and the use the fine controls for fine positioning. Both clutches are easily adjusted with a flat point screw driver. The Dec axis has a locking screw and can be swung around and then this must be tightened before the fine positioning screw will work. The knobs for this are easy to access and work perfectly.

The mount however is the home of the only real negative aspect of this telescope. It has an accurate 12v motor which tracks the sky perfectly for well over an hour in visual use. Unfortunately this is AC only and so you will either have to run from a mains power point or buy a power pack PLUS an inverter. This will convert 12v DC into 240v AC and your Tal power supply will plug into this. I am not really keen on 240v on due laden nights! Also the Tal power supply has a very unnerving supply cable plug which is easy to pullout by accident in the dark. The big problem however is the reliability of the motor and little gearbox attached to it. Many of these seem to fail which is totally not in keeping with the rest of the scope. Replacement motors were unavailable for much of the time this scope was widely sold and are now a bit like rocking horse plop. Some users have found alternatives but I ended up buying whole mount second hand as it was cheaper (and easier)than getting a replacement motor! If you have problems then I have since seen that AWR can fix it for you although I do not know what they would charge.

Collimation is easy due to the well designed and constructed mirror cell. I have struggled with other telescopes (blasted Europa!) but the Tal is far better designed and made. Collimation is completed by using a 10mm nut to lock each screw. To give some idea of the advantages of this system I’ll tell you a story. Once, when I had just set up the clutches and balanced the scope after servicing the mount, my then 2 year old daughter decided to help. Whilst I popped to the kitchen she managed to open my tool box and proceed to bash the mirror end of the OTA with a 1 and ½ pound hammer. She did this for a few minutes until I came back and did not even manage to disturb the collimation!

As for the optics, well they are as perfect as a 6” F8 can be. This is probably due to them being spherical. Now all these tin pot telescopes will spout on about parabolic mirrors but at 6” aperture and 1200mm FL it is meaningless. If you don’t believe me find a Tal at a star party or observing meet and try it out. The image is sharper and better corrected than many mass produced scopes of the same design. I fact I’ll go further than that and say that the only way you will get superior optics in a six inch newt is to special order them and pay a LOT of money.

So to sum up, negatives are as follows:

1)Sometimes dodgy motor

2)AC powered

3)No real upgrade path or add-on’s

4)Really heavy so not everyone can move it around

5)No longer sold new in the UK

And Positives are:

1)The best mechanics, optics and accessories in this price range

2)Often available new for really small sums

3)No accessories needed (well maybe an eyepiece of around 10mm but you could live without this)

4)It’s heavy (this means it’s solid and this makes it MUCH easier to observe with)

5)You’ll never want to part with that finder

6)Will outlive you and probably survive until the Earth is incinerated in about 5 billion years!

The only reason you could ever want to replace this telescope is move to a bigger aperture and I not suggest doing so for less than 10” as the return will be minimal.

If you see one second hand I recommend it (and no I’m not selling!)

Thanks

Luke

Edited by part timer
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A great write-up Luke.

I had a Tal-2M for 6 years. It was a fantastic scope, that gave me outstanding

planetary views. I've often seen it said by people on the net that the Takahashi

finder scopes are the best you can get, well, I've got a Tak 7x50 finder and for me

the Tal one is better.

When I bought mine I had to pick it up from the shop with my old Vauxhall Nova.

On the way back up the A1, I was getting double-takes from passengers in the cars overtaking me,

I think they must have thought I had a coffin in the back.

In the end I sold it because I developed a lung condition and lugging the scope around was literally killing me.

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A great write up Luke.

Still have my Tal-2M and agree with all your observations (good and bad), I just replaced the mount as my main requirement was for astroimaging (not so much a visible observer due to LP). Superb optics for a 6" scope, it's no surprise the OTA's are usually snapped up, only issue being their weight / not quality, almost worth buying just for the finderscope alone, a superb optic and way ahead of the substandard one supplied with most new scopes, I have observed M51 through it from a dark site.

Brendan

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Excellent review Luke.

Like you, I especially like the fact there are no locking levers. I like the annalogy(sp?) of the mount movement being like a dob.

And yes, those supplied sun filters should be immediately 'got rid of'.

Another plus for the 2M mount is it's carrying capacity. I use the heavy 200K Klevstov on mine with ease.

To make the 2M more portable I usually leave the pedestal at home(I made an extended tube for the 200K) and use the Tal wooden Tripod for astro trips.

Points of note for anyone considering buying one of these mounts 2nd hand and are perhaps put off by a trailing 240V lead from the house.......

A Motor corrector that lets the 2M be run off a battery source is available from APM Telescopes in Germany.

Teleskop online Shop , TMB, APO , Dobson , Professionelle Teleskope, Kuppeln , Teleskopabdeckungen , Teleskope , Ferngläser , Teleskope online kaufen , APM Telescopes - Verkauf Beratung Herstellung 12 Volt RA Motorsteuerung

Here is a review(old) of the quartzdrive and others for the 2M.

Three Motor Drive Correctors: A review of the Vega, QuartzDrive and the MotoTrak V - Review

I use the Vega version in the above review(no longer available).

As well as the convenience of using a battery, they also run the motor at the 'correct' speeds.

Replacement motors/gearboxes are readily available from Tal themselves in Novosibirsk. Myself and one other have bought from there recently. So no worries if you get a knackered one or if one should break down the line.

Cheers,

Andy.

Edited by AndyH
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Oh yes, another thing.

I wasn't in when the monster wooden boxes were delivered years ago. Allison got the poor bloke to lug them up the stairs. She said the bloke was knackered and a bit miffed.

When I got in later and after the standard, 'what the hell have you bought now' spiel, she gleefully commented 'No need to buy you a coffin, that'll do nicely'.

Sigh,

Andy.

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Hi Luke,

I enjoyed reading your review. I had a Tal 100r and miss it. Built like a tank and I got some wonderful views with it. You got the impression it was a true instrument. Still have the x2 Barlow though and the brilliant 25mm plossl - my favourite.

Kind regards,

Ralph

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Great review, Luke.. I love your obvious enthusiasm for Tals' rugged quality. They really are robustly built bits of kit.

Until last week I had 4 Tal refractors, now its' three and it has to come down to one, sadly. My Tal 125R is my pride and joy and has pride of place in my garage, it sits on my CG-5 and it's a marriage made in heaven. But I've just bought my first Apo 4", so the others have to go to help fund it!

The Tal 100R and RS refractors are amazing achromats for the money - and every bit as sharp in image quality as many apos costing far more.

One of my Tal 100R's came in the Baltic Pine coffin you described..the whole scope cost me £135 second hand and I reckon the coffin was worth that alone.

I also agree about the accessories, why don't Tal sell these as retro fit add ons? I have several 6x30s and they are brilliant, just so sharp.

Finally, the Tal 25mm Plossl. Warehouse express are still offering these at £20 NEW, and if there's a better EP on the market for that money, I ain't seen it!

thanks again Luke..

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Hello all,

Yes, Tal did used to sell some accessory's here such as the finders, eyepieces and even 4" and 6" mirror sets. Typically though, the finder brackets were almost never imported and so it was difficult to mount them. Also Tal's tend to be sold as full kits which require very little or no additions so I think the logic was 'why sell accesories! we give you everthing you need in the first place!'

On the eyepieces I think the 40mm is just as good as the 25mm TBH.

They are both pretty well as good as it gets in the plossl design at those focal lengths. As you say, for £20 the Tal eyepieces are just unbelivable.

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My first "grown-up" scope was a TAL 150P, which I still have and won't part with for love nor money. Shorter in focal length than the 2m (and a manual GEM without any motors) it nevertheless has given me many memorabe images of lunar and the planets as well as as deep sky and wide field subjects. The pedastal mount is pretty solid: not on a par with the EQ6 Pro, but still good! It comes with the same 8X50 finder scope as the 2M and, as has been said, that finder is simply brilliant; a worthwhile scope in its own right and far better than the "toy" finders that seem to come on most scopes.

I 've had my TAL over 10 years now and can attest to its solid robust construction even if one of the collimation nuts is a different spanner size to the other two - I put that down to Russian eccentricity!

Brinders

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Out of interest.

Does everyone elses 4" mount base come off to reveal a 3" one(this lets it fit onto the Tal tripod)?

I've been looking at various pics and it made me wonder if this is the norm. Mine was made in 2000.

Andy.

**** ps: A point of interest regarding the Tal focusers(old style. Not the new crayfords). To adjust the tension of the rack & pinion drawtube, grip the left knob tightly and twist the right one back/ towards you. It'll loosen off. This will make the focuser pretty loose. Adjust to your taste. This works for my Tal 1, 2M, alcor and Klevtsov ****

Andy.

Edited by AndyH
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Andy,

I think I know what you mean.

All the ones made later on are like this. The earlier mount heads did not have a smooth sided barrel to make up the difference between the mount and pier. Instead they had a massive screw thread and screwed on.

I recently bought a replacement mount and could not get it on my pier.

I had to swap the base parts over. If you look on the inside of your pier at the top there is a thin insert. This is the difference in size between the old screw mounts and newer smooth mounts.

I still have all the parts of the old mount so if I'm not making sense I'll try to take pics some time.

Maybe for the mount section in the TAL group?

Luke

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Mmmm.

I basicaly had a 3" O/D diameter 2M mount head base which was smooth. A 4" sleeve, again smooth, fitted over this and was held on with grub screws. This then fitted into the 2M 4" I/D pier. So this means I can also use the 2M mount on the tripod(which only fits 3" O/D), by removing the sleeve.

Handily I can also use this sleeve to mount my MT-3S stepper on the pier too.

Hope that makes sense. I'll try taking pics asap and post in the Tal Groups here, Stargazers Lounge - Tal Users Group

Cheers,

Andy.

Edited by AndyH
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Yep, we are on about the same thing.

The older ones screw on and are fasted by grub screws in the same way. They do not fit on the tripod or on a newer model of 4" pier.

I think the pier is actually the same but just has the thin insert at the top. I tried for a while to get it out but it was easier in the end to just swap over the mount bases.

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Mmmm.

I basicaly had a 3" O/D diameter 2M mount head base which was smooth. A 4" sleeve, again smooth, fitted over this and was held on with grub screws. This then fitted into the 2M 4" I/D pier. So this means I can also use the 2M mount on the tripod(which only fits 3" O/D), by removing the sleeve.

Handily I can also use this sleeve to mount my MT-3S stepper on the pier too.

Hope that makes sense. I'll try taking pics asap and post in the Tal Groups here, Stargazers Lounge - Tal Users Group

Cheers,

Andy.

Andy

My 2m was made in 2001 and was the same fitting as in your photo.

It was held on with some tiny grub screws, which were a pain in the backside, the whole mount head would spin round on the pier.

I stuck 3 bolts in mine.

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Yeah. Me too. Two M5(?) ones.They were only 120 degrees apart which was insane. I tapped out and fitted a few more with allen headed grub screws, instead of the slot headed ones, which were nigh on impossible to get really tight.

Andy.

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  • 1 month later...

I use the Vega version in the above review(no longer available).

As well as the convenience of using a battery, they also run the motor at the 'correct' speeds.

.

Andy, would I be correct in thinking that without this adapter the motor, when powered from the mains will not allow the telescope to track in RA at the required speed ? :)

Having just about made a suicidal move ( as far as my marriage is concerned :() buying a motorised TAL 150, the prospect of forking out even more on an adapter of some kind (which at 99 Euros aint too cheap) , is none too thrilling :eek:.

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Hi Creptis.

I mourn your impending doom. Keep the long case/coffin away from your better half and make sure your kitchen knives are blunt.

The motor works at sun time/speed. The motor corrector adds the moon and star speed options. The standard synchro, clock motor, works and tracks perfectly well for visual. It can only be run off the mains with the included transformer and long extension lead.

The corrector is an added luxury, I guess(and for folks that want to do piccies). The reason I got mine, a looong time back, was to be able to use the mount far from home, off a 12V battery.

Cheers,

Andy.

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Hi Andy, thanks for your swift response.

So basically for use in the garden from the house mains it will track things fine for visual use ? :(

Im a bit wary about using something plugged into the mains in damp/dewy conditions though.:)

Ive been looking at all the usual sites to try and find a user manual or list of parts to make sure there is nothing missing when I go to pick it up.

But even the main TAL site has nothing, as I think they have stopped making this particular model of scope ?

Edited by crepitis
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