The astrophotos I have been able to capture with this telescope have opened my eyes to a higher level of image quality. All of my favorite images online had something in common, they were imaged using an Apochromatic Refractor. I am certain that they feel the same way. At the time of purchase, my budget restricted me to smaller refractors in the 80mm range, but I had no idea of the wide-field astrophotography capabilities of the telescopes in this range. After a couple of initial uses, I found that the hex bolts that hold the dovetail plate on the scope started coming loose. I have not been able to achieve images of this quality using a Newtonian telescope. These things just could have been done better. Even the slightest breeze would jiggle my bulky Schmidt-Newtonian, thereby ruining my current 3-minute exposure. M78 – Reflection Nebula in Orion using the ED80. It has a few shortcomings and compromises that keep its price affordable, but overall, this fine instrument will fulfil the needs of the most demanding photographer without breaking the bank in the process. After many hours of research reading reviews, testimonials, and technical specs, I decided to upgrade to the Explore Scientific ED102 Carbon Fiber F/7 Triplet Apochromatic Refractor. This is a rather sweet deal! I would later swap out the finder scope for an autoguiding system, an easy switch into the bracket on the ED80. Shipping is at the owner’s expense, but they’ll do the work for free. Its specs are quite impressive. The high-quality glass design of an apochromatic refractor reminds me of a high-end telephoto camera lens. At that time, I had no idea that this telescope would be my ticket to a lifelong ride in the world of astrophotography. While there are several small aperture apochromatic telescopes available at comparable prices, they often significantly fall short in one department or another. If you’re into astrophotography, chances are that a short focal length apochromatic refractor is on your “to buy” list if you don’t already own one. There are prized instruments for their elimination of chromatic aberration and high contrast, true colour images and the tool of choice for many astrophotographers. It’s been a joy to use in every sense, despite it’s few minor shortcomings. For my most up to date DSLR astrophotography images and information, please follow AstroBackyard on Facebook. However, the views I have experienced with the ED80 have noticeably more contrast than my 8″ Orion Newtonian Reflector. Not all refractors are the same though, and it’s the quality and design of the main objective lens that is key to their success or failure. The fine-tuning knob was something I had never used before, and at this point, I could tell that this telescope was made for astrophotography. Astro Publishing Ltd, registered as a limited company in England and Wales under company number: 12023963. The Explore Scientific Essential Series ED80 (model # ES-ED0806-01) delivers the goods with solid construction and great optics. While the image is cropped, you can see some comatic aberration in the corners and the focus isn’t as sharp at the edge of the field of view as the center compared to my other images that have a perfectly flat field and are free of all coma. The scope comes extremely well packaged in an attractive box. This scope has also become a favourite for shooting the moon. The problem the “common folk” face with apo refractors is they tend to be quite pricey for even small apertures. The Explore Scientific ED80 was recommended to me by a friend I met on an online astrophotography forum. The metal objective lens cover fits snugly without slipping off. You may be able to get by for visual use without one, but if you intend to use this scope for photography, then expect to shell out another 150 USD for the flattener. Fortunately, I have a lightweight camera (Nikon D5100), so declination balance isn’t a big issue. I just set up on my Celestron AVX, attach my camera with an intervalometer, and after alignment, I can pull off 2-3 minute exposures without trailing. More short exposures or fewer long exposures – Which is better? The “foot” Vixen dovetail mount is attached to the scope via a pair of hex bolts and a small riser block. If you want a second opinion on the ED80, talk to anyone that owns one! While I’ve never had any real issues focusing, this spongy feel results in it taking more time to focus than is necessary. Reveal celestial wonders like the desolate beauty of the lunar terrain, the serene structure of Saturn’s rings or the brightest deep sky treasures of the Messier catalog with Explore Scientific’s 80mm FCD100 Apochromatic Refractor. Collimation of such an instrument is a delicate task that’s not easily achieved. At higher powers, the rings of Saturn pop out. It could easily resolve dust lanes, M32 and M101. The machining for these parts doesn’t seem to be of very high precision compared to the rest of the telescope’s build. Even without a field-flattener, the stars remained sharp pinpoints almost to the very edges of my image. The diffraction-limited optics are appreciated when exploring the lunar terrain or using a high-powered eyepiece to view Saturn’s rings. You’d be hard pressed to find anything better for this price. Most telescopes will have a curved focal plane and comatic aberration, particularly short focal length refractors. I tightened them up, only to have them loosen up again after a couple more uses. This refractor is incredibly portable. It suffers from a few non-critical shortcomings, but where it truly counts- the optics – this scope is as good as it gets for any 80mm apo refractor under $1000.


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