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ED80

I have owned two of these scopes in the last couple of years and I wanted to do an updated review of my thoughts on these scopes. I have owned a Orion ED80 and now a Skywatcher ED80 Pro. As I understand it both scopes are made by Synta in China. The pro version has the FPL53 glass which is the better version. The pricing was comparable, although when I bought the Pro version the Australian dollar was higher and it made the unit more affordable.
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Packaging

The first thing that comes to mind is the way these scopes arrive in their packaging. Both scopes were well packaged with double boxing. Added to this was that each scope was housed in Styro foam mounts that had great clearance between all the way around and this means the boxes could sustain rougher than normal handling. In the pro version there was the added little packing foam pillows.

Despite the image to the right, this scope does not come with a diagonal. It does come with a finder and the rings/dove tail assembly.

Build Quality

Both scopes appeared to have very good build quality. The lens cells are very solid and show no signs of poor workmanship. The muliticoating is even and I have never seen any reflections while viewing with them that would result from poor coatings. That said; a couple of things have generally been a little disappointing. The Orion ED80 had a solid feel to it and all the parts worked perfectly. I had heard that some people were having trouble with the rubber on the focuser knobs. With the Skywatcher pro version the tube feels tinny, the lens shade is hard to get off (in fact I have given up trying to take it off) and the original focuser is quite frankly crap (well the one I had was crap). I'll explain. When using the focuser I would try to tighten the locking knob and the focuser would move nearly 1mm. This as you could imagine is not acceptable for either using the scope to image with or as a guide scope with autoguiding.

To relieve the issue I bought a graduated Crayford focuser with 10:1 from Bintel (labeled under their name). It fit perfectly and the collimation was just as good as before. This focuser has now made the ED80 pro a superb scope and I have never had trouble locking off focus since installation.

Use

On all the occasions of use, these scopes have produced very tight stars when viewing and the collimation of in focus and out of focus stars looked solid and superb. Imaging wise these scopes have continued to surprise quite a few imagers including me. The field curvature can be a little annoying near the edge of the field but this can be cropped out with a tiny crop. Or if you have more funds a flattener or reducer/flattener will remove this problem.

This scope is really best suited for wide field photography of nebula or star clusters. It really does not have the focal length or the diameter for use as a planetary scope or galaxy imaging scope. Large clusters of galaxies is another matter of course, but just the single images of single galaxies tends to require too much cropping to bring the galaxy up to a scale where detail can be seen. This is purely my opinion but I feel it needed to be said. So for an idea of how this scope works with a DSLR you can fit the Trifid and the Lagoon easily onto the frame.

Final Comments

Like any scope these little champs have their uses. I like mine as a nice wide field and as a guide scope. Solid and dependable and that is what I like.

 

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