Jump to content

Altair 72EDF


Recommended Posts

I've had some some time with the 72EDF so thought I would post my thoughts.

I a long history with Reflectors, although I have a preference for refractors.

I started imaging properly this year. My main scope since April has been a Skywatcher 200P-DS.  It became apparent I shooting targets that were bigger than the focal length would accommodate.  So I considered a wider field refractor.  I was considering a Skywatcher ED80 - it's good scope and I'm super familiar with Skywatcher stuff. I also considered the Redcat 51 - and nearly bought one on eBay.

I found myself looking at the 72EDF from Altair. It had certain features that really appealed to me. Notably a rotating focuser and a camera rotator. FPL-53 glass and an optical report pretty much sealed it for me.

First impressions - it's heavy for its size.  This gives it a quality feel.  Secondly everything is precise and well machined.  Then there's all the fine detail like the well fitted metal lens cap, the red ring risers and the red fine focuser knob.  It looks really cool.

The deluxe model comes with a flattener. In my case this was a 0.8x reducer.  I was secretly pleased by this as the scope is a bit wider and a bit faster.  It also threw me slightly. I couldn't work out how to fit it. In the end I (with some help) learned that the reducer had it's own rotator and all I had to do was swap out the stock one. (The new one is black, the old one was red... I'd have preferred red... but function is more important).  The focuser  assembly is very sturdy and I suspect it will have no problem supporting cameras, filter wheels and so on.

I swapped the standard Dovetail with a longer one. The short one will be fine for visual, but with a camera mounted at near enough full extension, the longer bar makes for better balancing. Just to add the rotating focuser was useful in this process as the locking knob could be moved clear of the dovetail bar.

Compared to my reflector, mounting this on my EQ6 iseasy.  The scope is really easy to handle, even with camera and guide scope fitted. As I set up for every session it saves me time to mount a fully prepped scope.

Image wise.  All of the above would be pointless if the scope did not deliver.  My first target was the California nebula.  Focusing was precise and easy with a bahtinov mask. The course focuser is very smooth and the fine focuser is awesome.  I captured very nice image with round stars and well controlled colour.  On processing I did notice the stars stretching in the corners.  I used 5mm spacer to reduce this, then added 3mm of shims and this seems to have contained this issue.

Subsequent images have been solid. I have the stretched stars all but eliminated.

One small but important detail I want to add is how everything in the image train screws together.  There are no grub screws holding heavy, expensive equipment to the scope.  I always worry when the scope goes vertical. The secure connections inspire a level of confidence. The downside? You'll want a filter draw, otherwise you'll need to unscrew the flatenner to swap them out.

Are there any downsides? I've not encountered any. It's a refractor so you'll need to be on top of your dew control. It's a well thought out, well made scope.  I really enjoy using it.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Interesting review Paul. I took possession of an Esprit 80ED during lockdown, and while it's optically excellent for visual or photo, it is quite annoying that balancing the scope is by design very difficult. The guidescope mount is off-centred to the left over the focuser and pulls the scope constantly counter-clockwise; and the non-standard dovetail 'foot' is way too far forward to balance front-to-back when you have a filter wheel and camera mounted out the back. Having invested a lot in the scope and flattener, I now have to save up for a new dovetail bar, scope rings, spacers and guidescope rings, and hack the existing dovetail to get anything close to a properly balanced scope. My current choice is Primalucelab (heading towards €500 for the full selection) or stock SW or ADM (reasonably priced but out of stock everywhere).

If I'd seen your review earlier, I might have considered something like this - obvious differences in doublet vs triplet; wider fov; etc. but food for thought nonetheless.

Do you focus manually or electronically?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@padraic-m I focus manually, using a bahtinov mask.  The precision focuser is a real pleasure to use. That said, I am considering a move to electronic next year.  I suspect if I do I will need to consider balance.

With the standard dovetail I did have issues with balance. I bought a longer dovetail to overcome this and use the supplied dovetail to mount my guidescope.  The only downside I have encountered is the focus lock grub screw interferes with the longer dovetail.  The rotatable focuser overcomes this problem.  The only additional cost I had was around 30GBP for the extended dovetail and some bolts.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...