View Full Version here: : Refractor's / Mounts: which is best?

15-07-2012, 06:12 PM
Hi Everyone:hi:

I need some help.

I am considering the purchase of an APO 127mm or above.

Initially, I have been considering the purchase of a 150mm APO (WO FLT 151mm @ $7000) or the new, yet to be released Explore Scientific 152mm CF APO (price unknown, at this time). Actually, I would like a Tak, but at $16,000 for an OTA plus mount, it is a little beyond my budget, actually, a lot beyond my budget. :P

However, it has become apparent that a 6" OTA isn't going to be that portable (portability is an issue) so I am now considering either a 127mm North Group, 127mm Explore Scientific or a Williams Optics FLT 132mm. I am currently leaning towards the WO 132mm FLT ($4000) due to its slightly larger aperture, FLT-53 lens element and 4" rotatable focuser.

Has anyone used and compared these scopes and what recommendations can you make, regarding performance, focusers etc?

Also, I will require a mount (suitable for astrophotography), so any recommendations for an excellent equatorial mount, for the above scopes, would also be useful, as I haven't had much experience or exposure to "modern" EQ mounts. The only mount I have been considering at this time is the Astrophysics Mach 1, but adding another $7,000 to the above scope puts it beyond budget.

Any suggestions would be gratefully received, as this will definitely be my last telescope purchase.

Thanks and regards Peter :)

15-07-2012, 06:29 PM
Hi Peter

I have a William Optics 110mm FLT TMB. I love it. It is my intention however to upgrade the focuser to a Moonlite. They are superior to the WO ones.

I used it for quite a while on an NEQ6Pro and it managd the weight with ease, 7kg. They are good value for money new, $1600 - $1800?

I have never even seen a Mach1 but they seem to be extemely well respected as do all AP products.

I think you would move on from an EQ6 much sooner than a Mach1. If this is going to be your last purchase and you're not considering more than 20kg of instruments, get the Mach1. We all end up a long time dead!


15-07-2012, 07:33 PM
Peter what is the wieght of a 6"?? Portable to me is any thing under 15-18kgs and thats the weight of the OTA.

15-07-2012, 07:56 PM
Hi Matt,

The 6" weighs 15kg (132mm is 13Kg whilst the 127mm CF is only 8.5kgs) is however, it is not so much an issue with weight but cost, the 132mm is approximately half the cost, particularly considering I also need to get a good portable EQ mount. The AP Mach 1 mount with tripod is approx $10,000 landed in oz, which when added to the scope is well beyond my budget. It is all a trade off, which is why I am seeking advice on this.

Cheers Peter :)

15-07-2012, 08:10 PM
For what it's worth - I saw a TMB 6" refractor in the flesh in the Optcorp shop in California. second hand, they had it marked at $20K. That thing completely dominated the store, but it was still 'only' a 6"!
I borrowed a WO 5" that was for sale here in Perth and had a fiddle with it. Lovely bit of gear, and I couldn't fault the scope image wise, but ended up not buying it because it did nothing that my old f4.5 10" meade newt didn't do better and quicker at about the same fl...
You'll still need field flatteners for photo work whether its coma or field curvature - why the determination to have a refractor when there are so many fast newts around for substantially less? Unfortunately large APO refractors and the word 'budget' seem to be mutually exclusive!
As for mounts - the venerable G11 has still got to represent some of the best bang for your buck in that weight class.
cheers, and happy shopping!

15-07-2012, 08:57 PM
hello pete i know that we have talked about "rationalising" your wealth of scopes on numerous times, but until you are sure of your direction your always going to be in limbo!
sort it out mate! you are mad on good refractors...... so get one!
you have given us the hint of a future in an AP direction, so there seems no point keeping the meade LB16?
i think there has been numerous threads on the various merits of the modern APO refractor, and really there does not seem much difference between them (synta wise) just add your own focuser and voila!
make the decision sooner rather than later and i think you will be much happier and the sooner we can get out to dark skies and record it

16-07-2012, 09:30 AM
The often repeated question - what is the best combo?

I think you work it out back from what your interests are.

If you are primarily visual then that is a different setup to primarily imaging.

If you are primarily interested in imaging then the next question is what types of images are you interested in producing - widefield, galaxies, brighter nebulas? Different types of images require different setups.

No one scope is ideal for all things but some are more flexible than others.

A medium APO with a reducer, flattener, extender can capture many many objects.

Winning images are often widefield not narrow high magnification images. Widefield images are often more popular.

In my opinion a modern satisfying imaging setup which is a good all rounder would be around 130 to 160mm triplet APO from a good source (AP, Tak,TEC, APM/TMB). Mounted on a good mount like AP Mach 1, Tak NJP/EM400, Losmandy G11 with upgraded worm etc).

Then of course there is the camera which are a lot cheaper now than they used to be. There are numerous KAF8300 chipped cameras out there. QSI is popular as it includes a guiding solution.

But the order of importance is:

1. A good mount that is reliable and will achieve round stars in 10 minute exposures. If you can't achieve that you will not be able to produce high end images. That is the first target. Less exotic I know to have a high end mount instead of a high end scope but a high end mount with an Ok scope will still produce good images. A high end scope with a low grade mount will not.

2. Scope. Many scopes are good for imaging. APOs are the most expensive/aperture there is. GSO 8 inch RCs are cheap and plentiful and produce excellent images. APO may not be the best or ideal scope.
150mm APO requires a beefy mount. Mach 1 GTO probably could handle it but I doubt Roland would recommend that. He would say AP900 or more would be the go. Over mount your scopes not undermount them if you want good results.

With APOs you also want accessories like flatteners, reducers, extenders.

AP, Tak have the widest range of accessories. APM/TMB perhaps but not 100% sure. $20,000 for a 6 inch TMB is ridiculous, they are worth $6500 2nd hand tops.

Tak TOA130 2nd hand are around the US$4000 band.
TEC140 a very popular APO are around US$4750 2nd hand. Yuri dos not make a reducer though. APM make one now and I don't know if it works or not. My experience with TEC scopes is that reducers don't work well but I am aware of someone who matched an AP 155TCC (US$1500) to a TEC180. That would be hot.

3. If budget is a limit (and who doesn't face that problem) I suggest trying out Astromart.com to get 25% or more off new price. There are many good scopes/mounts/cameras for sale there at usually about 25% off new price.

As a guideL

Mount - Mach 1 GTO about AUD$7000 landed 2nd hand (there are 2 for sale on Astromart now).

G11 may be more like US$2800= AUD$4000 landed. Better still get one from someone in Oz. They come up from time to time.

Scope: TEC140 - About US$4750 = AUD$6000 landed.
FLT 110 F 1 AUD$2200 landed 2nd hand
FSQ106ED about $4,900 landed. FSQ106ED is the most popular and productive astroimaging widefield scope and you have no doubt seen many many outstanding images from them. This is the best buy in my opinion for APO imaging.

Camera: SBIG ST8300 about US$2000 including filters 2nd hand = $2750 landed roughly.

My suggestion is FSQ106ED 2nd hand, an upgraded G11 or the NEQ6 or similar that seem to perform well, SBIG ST8300 camera and filters.

I think you could put FSQ106/NEQ6/ST8300 with filters/Orion autoguiding kit + Photoshop for close to $10K.

Also your Tak FSQ106ED will not depreciate much over time, a William Optics will. They are probably good scopes but not considered highend like Tak, TEC, AP, APM/TMB.

If you want galaxy shots you can always get an 8 or 10 inch GSO RC 2nd hand for $2000 -3000 or so later, perhaps less.

Having had lots of scopes myself, my advice is you will pay more over the long term if you get 2nd rate equipment that you only end up selling at a considerable loss in order to get the better gear you wanted in the first place. Its cheaper long term but requires the $ at the start - a difficult conundrum.


16-07-2012, 09:48 AM
Hi all :hi:

Thank you for your replies, either through the thread or PM's. All the detailed information supplied is very much appreciated indeed.

All your information has been excellent and has given me a lot to think about. Portability vs aperture is important, as I need to maintain a portable set up as I do have a disability, so weight is a factor. It appears I have been a bit too ambitious in wanting large aperture and portability.

Given the excellent advice, I will now wait longer and save some more money, as it appears that I cannot get both a high quality mount and a high quality scope within my budget of $10,000, it's either one or the other.

Greg, you have made a very valid point about mounts vs scopes.

I am very grateful for all the info received.

Thank you :)

Cheers Peter

16-07-2012, 02:51 PM
I think that is a wise choice and most economical in the long run.
A good mount is the first thing to go for.


16-07-2012, 10:15 PM
Here's what appears to be a good deal on FSQ106ED and Tak EM200 mount:


It would land in Oz for about AUD$9K.


16-07-2012, 10:27 PM
If you'd like to see an FSQ in the flesh let me know. They are suprisingly substantial little scopes. Also, a new one from Claude in Adelaide and a G11 would still sneak under your 10K budget - oddly enough, the same setup I arrived at after considerable head scratching.

16-07-2012, 11:21 PM
The other thing one should consider is - do you want and need to own your gear - or is the most important factor using great gear?

Let's say you spend $15,000 over several years for excellent gear, then eventually sell it and get back inflation adjusted $5,000 (worse case) . So all up it cost you say $10,000 over ten years (not including travel costs to dark sites nor pricing any value on your time to set up and break down the gear with each use).

Your serious alternative would be to ask if I instead spend $1,000 a year instead of simply utilising the most high end gear available, gear which is permanently set up and managed , in pristine dark sites the world over - will I derive better outcomes (definitely yes) and get more satisfaction. The last point really comes down to asking what drives your pleasure. Is it building your own gear, is it purchasing and setting it up or simply operating it? If you are happy not to build your own gear - again I ask do you want to directly control a $10,000 kit you own, on the say 50 nights a year you may hope to get really good dark skies - or spend $1,000 a year for say ten years driving around a $250,000 kit in perfect dark skies practically any time you wish - with no set-up overheads for you?

High end, remote control observatories in some of the best locations in the world are worth a serious think. Jase got some stellar results with them on a very small budget - a few hundred dollars I recall (at something between $20 - $40 per hour).

Worth a think maybe?

17-07-2012, 07:51 PM
Thanks Greg, I appreciate the heads up, however, I did see that ad, but I am not really interested in the Tak mount.

I am planning a 6-8 week trip to the US next year, centred around going to Stellafane, which I have wanted to go to for years. If it wasn't for this trip, my budget wouldn't have been an issue. This is the problem with a limited bank account and conflicting priorities.:)

I have thought long and hard that if I cancelled this trip, I could easily afford that Tak 150, however, this trip just trumps a new scope, barely; it has been in the planning for a couple of years. It is my dream trip, as I will be visiting some observatories, particularly Lowell Observatory at Flagstaff, as I did some work for them through Perth Observatory, over a decade ago.

Since I have decided that a smaller aperture would be better anyway, and given my US trip, I am going to look out for some second hand gear, just prior to leaving. Who knows, I may even be able to pick something up at Stellafane, since it is one of the biggest star parties in the US. Also, I am intending to now go to Astrophysics, along with a few other astro stores, to have a look at the Mach 1 mount. I am also going to look at the Paramount MX, although I think this may be a bit beefy for my needs.

It's not like I don't have a telescope and need one desperately, so waiting a little bit longer won't matter in the grand scheme of things. I only work casual, so I just hope I can get enough work this year to add to my scope account. I only need a few more grand to put a good mount and scope into the realms of possibilities, particularly since I am aiming for a smaller size scope now.

I am very appreciative and thankful to IIS members for your help, as I have now got something clear in mind.

Cheers Peter :)

17-07-2012, 09:29 PM
Thanks Andrew, have sent you a PM.

Cheers Peter

17-07-2012, 09:32 PM
I noticed bintel has listed the new EQ8 mount for a list price of $4449, has a payload capacity of 50kg.......and the price $4449.00.Nearly double the load capacity of the G11G,for nearly the same money.Bintel has the arrival time for March 2013.


17-07-2012, 10:22 PM
Haven't seen the PM yet - are you still involved with the Perth Obs?

17-07-2012, 11:53 PM
Will send again.

No, I am no longer involved with the Perth Observatory. I worked there as a volunteer for seven years, until I had a serious MVA in 1999. After the accident I was not able to walk up the steps to the main dome, for over three years. I decided to return to doing my own thing.

However, it was a great experience though being involved in research and I got my name on several research papers. Dr Nikoloff, a past director, was the person who introduced me to astronomy when I was 12. I haven't stopped looking up since. :)

18-07-2012, 12:10 AM
Yes, it will be interesting to see the reviews on this mount, if the specs are anything to go by.