PRODUCT STAR TEST
Following our most recent star test, in this brief review we are going to look at the TS 61EDPH APO Refractor Telescope. TS (Teleskop Service) is a German company based in Ransburg Germany and offer a wide range of premium Astronomy and Astrophotography equipment including telescopes, binoculars and mount accessories.
The 61EDPH is a wide field, 6 element, APO Triplet Refractor which includes a reducer and flattener as part of the package and although it can also be used quite well for visual Astronomy, it certainly excels at Astrophotography.
One thing we noticed about this Telescope is its size, its really short (with the dew shield retracted), this means its going to be great for transporting to dark sky locations or even on Holidays, as you will have no problems fitting it into a small travel bag. At a weight of about 1.8kg its also light and so won't need a very large mount to use it either, even a good star tracker would probably work fine too, making it an ideal travel telescope.
Features & Build Quality:
Apart from its compact size, some of the features we really liked where its graduated focus tube, which is handy to help ensure the same focus during different viewing sessions (You'd be amazed how many high end telescopes don't have this basic feature). The carry handle is also really useful too, not just for carrying the scope (obviously!) but you can also use it to mount a DSLR camera, an ASIAir PRO, a Microcomputer or any other accessory you see fit (we used it to attach the controls for the dew heater.
The other feature which Astrophotographers will really appreciate is the rotating focuser ring which makes framing your target so much easier - Simply loosen the 3 brass screws and rotate the focus tube to the desired angle. There is also a dual speed focuser to help you make minute adjustments to reach perfect focus.
Inside the corrector there is a 2" thread for using a 2" mounted filter but if you use 1.25" filters you will need an adapter to use this feature. What's great about having the filter inside the corrector is that it doesn't affect the back focus to the camera, which in this refractor is 55mm from the last M48 thread on the corrector - the required distance for most cameras.
Overall on first impression the telescope seems extremely well built, you can tell quality was not sacrificed in anyway either in production or the materials used. Even the red anodised tube rings and carry handle looked very clean and well made and the whole setup feels rock solid.
However we did have two small issues with it, although to be fair, these were easily fixable. Firstly the dovetail bar was way too short to get perfect balance, especially with a heavy camera on the end. Perhaps with a lighter camera it would be fine however an extra 2 or 3 inches would give a lot more leeway for getting better balance for heavier cameras. To rectify this we just attached it to a slightly longer dovetail - problem solved.
The second issue we had was the dew shield. As its retractable, it seems to slide very easily and with the dew heater fitted and viewing/imaging close to the zenith, you get the feeling it might slide back under its own weight. A rubber band was a quick and easy fix for this and this seems to be an issue commonly found with many other similar brands using this type of sliding retractable dew shield - again, not a show stopper, but worth a mention.
What's it like for Astrophotography:
We haven't used this telescope for visual purposes because lets face it, due to the cost, you're unlikely to buy a Triplet refractor for viewing purposes as the benefits of having a triplet lens are most evident during long exposure astrophotography, particularly in bright stars.
This particular telescope has a 61mm Aperture and a focal length of 274mm (with the corrector/reducer fitted). This gives you a very wide field of view which makes it a really excellent choice for some of the most spectacular deep space targets in the night sky. Andromeda is one example, its one of the most photographed galaxies but also one of the hardest to frame up because its so big - The TS 61EDPH makes light work of this and even gives plenty of star fields around the galaxy itself for cropping in or just to have a better perspective of this galaxy in space. Other targets such as the North American Nebula, Heart and Soul and the Horse Head all frame up perfectly too and having so much background stars really adds a sense of depth to any astro-photo.
This refractor has a focal ratio of f/4.5, again with the corrector/reducer installed. This makes it a very fast scope and will really help reduce your imaging time considerably, or to look at it another way - collect much more data in longer imaging sessions. In our very short test on Andromeda we found the stars where sharp & round right to the edge of the frame and the image contrast was simply excellent.
We had a look at two popular targets with a total exposure time of just 45mins on each. It should be noted also that these photos were taken from city skies (Bortle 8) and we were using a 2" Optolong L-Pro filter. We have full details and links to the equipment below. So lets get to the results because at the end of the day, the proof is in the photos!
(IMAGE 1) M31 Andromeda Galaxy - Cropped to 90%.
In this very short 45min image of Andromeda we could see some real structure to the galaxy and some of the fine details including dark dust lanes and even some hints of nebulosity in the Galaxy itself.
(IMAGE 2) Flame & Horsehead Nebula in Orion - Cropped to 70%
As there was a layer of high altitude cloud during imaging, this resulted in a large haze visible around the bright star 'Alnitak' however despite this, we were very impressed with the overall image clarity and sharpness at such a short exposure time, particularly for a nebula region as faint as this one.
Equipment Details & Links:
Telescope: TS 61EDPH APO Triplet
Camera: Explore Scientific 16MP Astrocamera
Filter: 2" Optolong L-Pro Filter
Mount: Vixen SXD2
Acquisition details for both targets:
- Total time: 45mins each
- Sub exposure length: 180secs (unguided)
- Location: Dublin City, Ireland (Bortle 8)
So overall we were extremely impressed with this widefield refractor from Teleskop Service both in terms of quality and actual performance under the stars. Its fast focal ratio and wide field of view make it a very good contender for serious astrophotographers looking for an optical systems that guarantees exceptional performance in a very tidy and solidly built telescope.
However if you are looking for something with a smaller field of view and a little more reach, another consideration the very similar but larger TS 94EDPH which offers a longer 517mm focal length at f/5.5, making it ideal for those intermediate sized galaxies and deep space nebula regions.