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Celestron Regal F-ED65

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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2009, 02:27   #1
FrankD
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Celestron Regal F-ED65

I had heard a few comments earlier in the year about this scope and the recent mention of it on this forum plus the thread over on OT about it finally pushed me into pulling the trigger on one. It arrived today and I wasted no time setting it up on one of my tripods to compare it directly to my Pentax 65 ED A and my Promaster Infinity Elite ED 65 spotting scopes. For those of you not familiar with any of these scopes they are rather unique in that they accept any standard 1.25 astro eyepieces. This makes them exceptionally versatile as the options are practically endless.

I have been using the Pentax 65 for about three years now with a variety of eyepieces. There are several that I would recommend but I eventually settled on using an inexpensive Orion zoom eyepiece coupled with the Pentax XW 20 mm eyepiece as my "combination" for this scope. With this combination I feel as if I have all my bases covered. I use the scope primarily with the XW 20 particularly for my hawkwatching excursions. The superb optical performance of this combination rivals anything I have had the pleasure to look through. I have a hard time imagining anything better optically that is, until now.

The Promaster ED 65 is a scope I picked up about a month ago to serve as a backup to the Pentax. It comes with an unusually wide zoom eyepiece that is possibly a clone to the highly regarded Baader Hyperion zoom. Optical performance for this scope is in many ways comparable with the Pentax in terms of its color fringing control, brightness, apparent sharpness and overall compact nature. Actually, it is a bit more compact than the Pentax if you can believe it. I have been using it with the zoom quite a bit over the last few weeks.

The Celestron enters the picture because of the recent discussion on whether or not this scope actually has an APO objective that utilizes Fluorite crystal in the design. From what I have read here and elsewhere on the net this is only found on a few scopes currently on the market and nothing close to the price range that the Celestron falls into. So, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and ordered one.

Hmm, I am not sure where to start....

Physically the scope is larger and heavier than either the Promaster or the Pentax. You can look up the exact numbers if you like but I will try to take a picture of the three scopes side by side so you can at least see the physical size difference.

Overall fit and finish of the Celestron is excellent. The dual focusing knob is extremely precise and has a very solid feel to it. The zoom collar on the eyepiece is arguably the smoothest I have ever had the privelege of using. Everything about the scope seems to reflect alot of thought and effort went into the design.

Optically the scope is brilliant. The image is extremely sharp, bright and has, arguably, the best contrast of any binocular or spotting scope I have looked through or used. Chromatic Aberration is very well controlled. In fact I have yet to detect any in the variety of situations I have placed the scope in...and at any of the magnifications within the zoom range. Speaking of which, even at maximum zoom the image is still very clear, very sharp and filled with color. I get very little of the "dim, high magnification image" that I have found on just about any other scope. This image very much rivals the lower magnification setting. Impressive indeed! There were actually one or two occasions when I left the scope on maximum zoom and walked away from it. When I came back and went to find something in the eyepiece I actually forget that I had it at the highest setting!

Comparing the three scopes at their lowest power setting reveals very similar images. The Pentax with the XW 20 mm eyepiece provides a very color neutral image. The Promaster ED has a slightly warm color bias that I am finding quite often on the lower-priced ED glass. The Celestron has something between a neutral bias to an almost "blue-green" much like that of the Zeiss FL series of binoculars. At the higher magnification setting there is no comparison between either of the other two scopes and the Celestron.

The Celestron's brightness seems to be about at the same level as the Pentax and better than the Promaster. Apparent sharpness seems to be equal between the Pentax and the Celestron with maybe a slight nod going to the Celestron. The contrast level though is where the Celestron really seems to have it together. In my humble opinion the Celestron beats the Pentax 65 ED even with the XW 20 mm eyepiece. The contrast difference in noticeable in just about any application I put it into. I really don't have the words for it as I thought the Pentax with the XW 20 was just about as good as it gets. The fact that the Celestron betters it speaks volumnes for the optical performance of this scope.

Some other comments....

...the field of view with the included Celestron zoom is respectable. It is better than the average zoom eyepiece (by direct comparison) but a bit narrower at all magnification settings than the Baader Hyperion clone on the Promaster. The plus side though is that the edge sharpness is very good. Better than the Promaster and nearly as good as the XW 20 on the Pentax.

With the 1.25 inch eyepiece capability of the Celestron I decided to try the Pentax XW 20 mm eyepiece on it. The image is excellent and entirely comparable with the XW 20 in the Pentax 65 scope with one key exception. Something in the Celestron scope blocks the bottom 10% of the image. It is strange. The obstruction is a straight line, almost gray in color if I had to lay an impression on it, over the very bottom of the field of view. I don't run into this issue with other 1.25 inch eyepieces that I have on hand so I must assume it is something to do with the nature of the XW's design. Thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Now the real beauty of this scope is the price. This scope regularly retails between $420-$500 depending on where you purchase it. For this type of optical performance, quality level and adjustability I cannot think of a better bargain out there right now.

The 80 mm version, which I also just ordered, retails for right between $575-$650. I will report on it once it arrives.

Two big thumbs up on this scope gentlemen!

Last edited by FrankD : Wednesday 22nd July 2009 at 03:14.
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2009, 05:22   #2
mayoayo
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Frank,First of all thanks for the review..
..The XW is really about the Wider eyepiece out there,if you think about it..maybe the Xtra wide design of this eyepiece is too much for the prism size of the Celestron,and it catches one of the edges...I wonder if this is normal, or a problem with your unit.For what I have read,Including one review in this forum ,of the same scope you have,Celestron scopes can be good or bad,based in unit to unit differences...Somebody in the forum mentioned one scope not reaching focus and the second unit being OK..
I am happy to know that for a bit over 400$ you can get that kind of performance,But the Problem with the XW eyepiece,send a bit of a red flag .It would be good to see how the 80mm performs in that regard...
A simple Star test,can be a good way to further examine the optics of your new 65mm,and see if your unit is up to its potential..
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2009, 13:49   #3
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This speaks well to the Celestron offerings. Finally there is another high class scope series to offer 1.25" eyepiece capability. Celestron really seems to have got its act together, with the Regal F-ED scopes at the medium/high end, and the ultra-cheap mini-maks at the beginners end, both offering astro eyepiece capability.

Rmel66.
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2009, 14:23   #4
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mayoayo,

I star-tested it briefly last night and found no problems to speak of. I get perfectly round "discs" at both ends of the focus as I come to perfect focus, which is a nice sharp pinpoint of light.

I think you are correct about the prism size as I cannot see anything else that would be obstructing the view. I will try a similar "test" with the 80 mm once it arrives...hopefully tomorrow.

Rmel66,

I could not agree more. The performance vs. price is truly impressive and certainly puts Celestron ahead of many others in this regard.

Very nice scope indeed.
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2009, 15:29   #5
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FrankD, thanks for the excellent review. Is it angled or straight? Are both available? Thanks.
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2009, 18:25   #6
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jg,

I purchased the angled model and never checked on the straight version. I can do so and will post more shortly.
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2009, 23:06   #7
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jg,

I could only find the angled version so far but I will keep checking.

Further observation....

After other discussions focusing around certain eyepieces not reaching focus at infinity with various scopes I decided to try a few eyepieces with the Regal to see if there was an issue. The Pentax XW 20 mm just barely reaches focuses on mile+ objects. I have not star tested the scope with the XW 20 but will check later tonight if the weather cooperates.

On the other hand the scope would not focus at infinity with an inexpensive 25 mm Meade Plossl that I had on hand.

Also, in reference to my earlier comments with the Pentax XW 20's obstruction in the field of view, it seems that there is some "room" to move the eyepiece around a bit as you align it in the locking collar. With a little determination and patience I was about to position the eyepiece so that just about all of the obstruction was gone from the field of view. There still was a very small amount at the very bottom of the field but I did not find it as objectionable as before.

All for now.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2009, 00:28   #8
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Manuel, I searched this forum and didn't see any other reviews of the Celestron ED65 Regal spotter Frank just bought. I know with Celestron Ultima spotting scopes there are some bad reviews esp. the large sizes and there can be sample variations even in the top spotters.

Frank, Thanks for buying this scope and giving us your thoughts and comparison with your other scopes. You just don't know how much it is appreciated!!! Really!
Regards,Steve


Quote:
Originally Posted by mayoayo View Post
Frank,First of all thanks for the review..
..The XW is really about the Wider eyepiece out there,if you think about it..maybe the Xtra wide design of this eyepiece is too much for the prism size of the Celestron,and it catches one of the edges...I wonder if this is normal, or a problem with your unit.For what I have read,Including one review in this forum ,of the same scope you have,Celestron scopes can be good or bad,based in unit to unit differences...Somebody in the forum mentioned one scope not reaching focus and the second unit being OK..
I am happy to know that for a bit over 400$ you can get that kind of performance,But the Problem with the XW eyepiece,send a bit of a red flag .It would be good to see how the 80mm performs in that regard...
A simple Star test,can be a good way to further examine the optics of your new 65mm,and see if your unit is up to its potential..
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2009, 01:08   #9
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Steve,

I would like to say "your welcome" as if it was some selfless act but we both know I have a bit of an addiction.



...but thank you for the compliments.

In reference to Manuel's comments I read the reviews he is referring to. I am not sure but I believe they were over on opticstalk in their spotting scope forum. I posted this "review" there as well in a previously started thread.

I anticipate the 80 mm arriving tomorrow or Friday at the latest. I will post more once it arrives.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2009, 16:41   #10
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Frank,

Thanks for the tests you've done so far. These look like interesting scopes. There are a few other things I would like to know about them. Here's my list of questions.

1) Is there really a Fluorite element? This can be answered by shining a green laser through the objective elements. All glass (including fluor-crown ED glasses) will show a dim line of scattered laser light inside the glass. Non-glass CaFL crystal will show no internal scattered light at all.

2) What is the prism configuration and focusing system? It looks like a Porro followed by a semi-pentaprism with focusing done by moving a prism, but it could be Schmidt roof prism and moving focusing lens.

3) Is there an aperture stopdown? If so, how much at different focusing distances?

4) Does the zoom eyepiece from your Promaster screw onto the Celestron? If so, the Baader zoom will probably screw on as well.

5) What's the resolution in arc seconds?

5) What aberrations are present and how bad are they? Answering this is will require more of a star test than you've done so far. From your description of out of focus "discs" and a star point at best focus it sounds like you're not using enough magnification. 48X would be close to the minimum for a 65mm scope, 80x would be better. Magnification needs to be high enough to show the Airy disc at best focus and the first few diffraction rings that form on either side of focus.

I know the last two questions involve more testing than most reviewers are inclined to do, but they're necessary for determining the true quality of the optics. That can't be done by simply comparing these scopes to other spotting scopes that haven't had their own absolute optical quality established.

Thanks,
Henry
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2009, 16:54   #11
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The straight line sounds like a porro prism with not enough clear aperature problem. I once ordered a pair of QModed binoculars from Siebert where the base pair had a partially obstructed porro prism. This resulted in a dimmed-grey straight line defined area in a section of the image. Such issues are usually seen in cheaper porro prism binos.

I would take the eyepiece off and look into the optical path, tilting my head side to side to see where the prism cuts off the light path.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2009, 17:15   #12
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I agree that the shaded line is a prism edge. Really only a problem with a low power, wide field field eyepiece. The Pentax 20mm in this scope is 19.3X with a 3.6 degree field, so a prism cut-off at the field edge is not too surprising. From Frank's description of a 10% cut-off it sounds like you wouldn't want to use an eyepiece in this scope that covers much more than a 3 degree field. An internal aperture stop-down is a much more serious defect and you can't see that in normal use.

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Old Thursday 23rd July 2009, 20:49   #13
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I am very glad to see both of you chiming in on this scope. Before I try to answer/discuss some of your questions Henry I wanted to say that the 80 mm arrived today as well. All of the positive comments that I have lavished on the 65 mm apply to the 80 mm as well. The image is bright, very sharp with excellent edge sharpness and no noticeable color fringing in the image that I can see at this point.

Very impressive!

The 80 mm suffers from the same issue as the 65 mm when it comes to the Pentax XW 20 mm eyepiece. Part of the image is cut off....a similar amount to the 65 mm when using the eyepiece. I was, again, able to readjust the eyepiece slightly so that only a very small percentage of the obstruction is noticeable....less than 5% of the image if I had to guess.

Ok, here we go.....

1. I do not have a green laser. Would a green LED light work as well? If not then where could I get a green laser from? A hardware store?

2. From what I can see from removing the eyepiece and by looking down the objective it appears to be a porro prism. I did see a "cutaway" image of it online somewhere when I was first researching it. I will see if I can find it again as I am sure it will help to answer some of your questions.

3. Based on that little "clear ruler" method you had me employ previously I can see no aperture stop down on either model. They both appear to be true 65 and 80 mm scopes.

4. Yes, the Plano Zoom from the Promaster does fit into the Celestrons but it does not screw onto them. There are not exterior threads just the "clamp down" collar. The Plano zoom does not reach focus at infinity with either of these scopes.

5. I will have to dig out the USAF resolution chart that Steve sent me. That make take some time as I am painting the house at the moment. When I find it I will post the results.

5b. You are correct. I star-tested the 65 mm at its lowest magnification setting not the highest. I will do so when the weather cooperates...it has been raining here off and on for the last 48 hours. I will do the same at 60x with the 80 mm and report what I see.

Hope this answers some of your questions Henry. I was really hoping you would notice this scope as I think you would enjoy not only the entire scope but the zoom eyepiece as well.

CP,

I look forward to trying more eyepieces with the scope as time and finances allow. I believe Henry is correct. As long the width of the field of view is restricted to within a certain range I see no reason why this scope would not compare very favorably, in terms of adjustability, with the Pentax ED series.

Speaking of which, the 80 mm Celestron is the size of the 80 mm Pentax. I wonder if an 80 mm comparison between the two would prove similar findings to the 65s? I know the Pentaxs operate under two different designs so it would prove interesting.
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 00:53   #14
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Frank,

I think I found the answer to question one in Celestron's "Knowledge Base" for spotting scopes. They say:

"EDF scopes have an ED glass element using fluorite, giving it even better performance [compared to their Ultima ED scopes], color fringe free across the visible spectrum."

So, if I'm reading this sentence correctly, the Regal F-ED scopes use a fluor-crown ED glass element containing fluoride, not a pure CaF2 element (which is the only thing that should be called "Fluorite"). For some reason marketeers like to fudge about this. They seem to love the word "Fluorite" and use it in all sorts of misleading ways. Nowadays there are fluoride containing glass equivalents to CaF2, like FPL-53, that work just as well at lower cost. It wouldn't make much sense to squander money on a true Fluorite element for a doublet objective when the same money or less could make an FPL-53 triplet that would be superior.

Happy to hear the aperture is not stopped down. Is this true at close focus as well as infinity focus?

The threads on the scope I'm thinking of are the ones at the base of the 1.25" locking collar. The 1.25" collar might have to be removed to access them. The Baader Zoom has a locking collar that screws down on threads like those on the other Ultima scope bodies.

As for the other optical tests, take your time. Accuracy is better than speed.

Henry

Last edited by henry link : Friday 24th July 2009 at 01:57.
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 02:08   #15
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That is a good catch Henry. Maybe that is indeed what they are referring to. Maybe that is what the Kruger Malheur scope is also utilizing. So if they are using FPL-53 then would it matter in the grand scheme of things if it wasn not a true Fluorite objective?

I will take a look at the collar on each model and see how difficult it is to remove. If I can do it then I will and try the Plano zoom on it.

On a related but unrelated note I forget to mention two key optical characteristics that are certainly worth mentioning.

One, the close focus on both units is excellent. I was about to get a close focus of approximately 12.5 feet on the 65 and 18 feet on the 80 mm model. It is like having a high powered microscope. I thoroughly enjoyed watching some of the backyard insects going in and out of some of beautiful purple flowers in the yard...and, oh, the color of those flowers in the scopes!

In addition it appears as though the eye relief across the entire zoom range is completely usable. Even at the highest magnification setting I cannot see how even the typical eyeglass wearer would have a problem. Very nice indeed!
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 03:12   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankD View Post
So if they are using FPL-53 then would it matter in the grand scheme of things if it wasn not a true Fluorite objective?
I didn't mean to say they were using FPL-53. That's just an example of a Fluorite equivalent glass. I don't know what kind of glass they're actually using.
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 05:39   #17
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Bosma,that makes the Nikon 82 clone,actually mentions FPL-53 as the glass of one of their APO Astronomy refractors,as a high end feature...
With all the New ED glass coming from China( For some reason I am assuming this Regal scope comes form China!!)It seems that there is really affordable ED glass available,(not necessarily FPL-53, which is probably more expensive than other low dispersion glass types..)

Steve..
There is a thread called "scopes that use 1 1/4 eyepieces",and i think is in that thread that there that mentions of one REGAL 65 not focusing with the included eyepiece,and being returned..I will look form that post later..

Frank..I thought that maybe you were not using enough power in your star test too..I have owned and tested two pairs of the Pentax PF65ED,and although nice scopes even up to 40X-45X ,they showed quite a share of optic problems...In a star test they showed ,although not horribly, some Coma,and a bit of astigmatism,besides quite a bit of color fringes around the outer rings ,Yet the image was entirely usable in the field,showing only moderate false color and not significantly different at low power of that of a Kowa 824 that I used to own(sigh!).the Kowa by the way showed an incredible star test,Round,Incredibly well aligned rings and free of all color
Besides this problem with the prism aperture,they seem to be a pretty good deal,for an ED scope that can use astronomy eyepieces..Too bad the best eyepieces dont seem to work !
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 06:52   #18
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Under "Details" for the Regal 65 F-ED, the Celestron website states:

"Celestron’s Regal F-ED spotting scopes feature an air-spaced doublet, one element of which is made from the exotic mineral fluorite. The extra low dispersion from the fluorite provides excellent color correction and razor sharp images while virtually eliminating chromatic aberration."

Is it marketing speak? "...one element of which is made from...", what's that actually mean? It seems to say to me that it's made from, not with, fluorite. Fluorite, fluoride, fluoro - the new meaningless term, like "ED". At $420 (Adorama), who cares, if it works. I assume this scope is made in China? FrankD, what does the scope say, regarding it's country of origin?

Also, the included zoom ep 16-48x, 24-8mm, pretty standard specs; however, it does not look like the Vixen or the WO or the inexpensive Celestron; is this a new ep? The specs say 20mm ER @ 16x (24mm), how much does the ER fall of with increased magnification? Could you please measure?

I know the ep can be replaced with something like a Televue Radian (60 degree AFOV, to eliminate the irksome grey line/cut-off across the bottom), but even at $420, I would like to know if the included ep will work with my eyeglasses. Per the specs, the body is 13" long and it's a hefty 61 oz. Bigish and heavy, good. Light weight and inexpensive optics seldom make nice together. Need a solid tripod, additional $$$, but necessary.

FrankD, thank you for your excellent review and sorry to ask for additional information. Your (Are you going to keep it?) Celestron Regal 65 F-ED looks very interesting.
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 16:24   #19
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Henry,

Sorry for coming across as implying you were saying they were using that paritcular glass. I was simply using it for an example. I guess a more appropriate way of asking the question would be... "Does it matter if they use true fluorite or a fluorite equivalent that obtains the same results?"

Manuel, BCO,

The box for the scope states "Made in China".

Eye relief, to the best of my measurements, at 60x on the 80 mm scope appears to be a shade below 14 mm from the edge of the eyecup. The lens is recessed about 2 mm into the eyecup making it between 15-16 mm from the lens to your eye or 13-14 mm from the edge of the eyecup to your eye. I will check the 65 mm later. It is outside being used at the moment.

I have limited experiences with the different zoom eyepieces currently on the market. This zoom does not appear to be any of the ones I am familiar with (inexpensive Celestron/Orion, either Pentax or the Baader Hyperion clone on the Promaster). The eyepiece itself is large...3/4 of an inch longer than the Pentax XW with an ocular diameter of 25 mm.

As for my keeping it or not.....

...I am wrestling with that issue at the moment. I am definitely keeping the 80 mm model. Its optical performance is simply fantastic. The increase in brightness and apparent resolution over the Regal 65 is noticeable but not drastic. Because of that I am going to be selling the Promaster ED 65. The tougher decision is between the Pentax 65 ED and the Regal 65. I don't need three scopes but I can rationalize two. The Pentax is more compact and noticeably lighter. Image quality is just a hair behind the Regal and predominantly in color representation and contrast.

I have to decide which is more important to me at this point...the compact, lightweight nature of the Pentax or the slightly superior image quality of the Celestron.
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 19:56   #20
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FrankD, thanks for the ER measurements.

Per Celestron's specs, both ep's (65 and 80) are 8-24mm zoom ep's and your measurements confirm standard ER for zooms with this design - unfortunately for me and my eyeglasses. From the Celestron website photos, the ep's for both the 65 and the 80mm Regal's look very similar (?), apparently differing only in magnification range. If they are the same eyepiece (?), then each model's ep has it's magnification range corrected to the scope's focal length (65/386 and 80/480mm) and the ep's should have the same ER. If that's the case, then that is incredible (fanatical) attention to detail??? They must be different eps? I wish the body only was available.

How easy are the zooms adjusted? Ideally, firm but not too stiff. Opps, sorry, more and more questions. Your mention of heightened contrast (compared to the Pentax PF65ED) with the Celestron Regals has very much grabbed my attention. I'll try to find one to look through.

FrankD: again, thanks for your time in answering questions and for your "addiction" for shedding light on the Celestron Regal F-ED scopes.
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 20:52   #21
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BCTD,

No problem at all answering the questions. This is actually one of my favorite parts to this hobby...finding a new product that performs way above expectations.



To answer some of your questions....they appear to be the same eyepiece...and, yes, with identical eye relief specifications...14 mm at 48x on the 65 mm. I can detect no difference physically between the two eyepieces. I finally found the digital camera and took some pictures. The first one I am going to include with this post is of the three eyepieces. The second picture will be of the three scopes and the last one was a handheld digiscoped shot (..have to find my large digiscoping adapter) through the 65 mm of an Indigo Bunting at approximately 20 yards. None of the pics were adjusted except to resize to fit in the forum. Some detail was lost because of this. Take note of the brightness, color representation and lack of CA in the Indigo bunting image (ignore the sharpness and "noise" as that is the fault of my digital camera and handheld "technique. )

To answer your question about the zoom tension....I would call it "perfect" on both scopes. It has that smooth "metallic" feel of precision parts moving together. It is firm enough not to move accidentally and yet moves freely enough when pressure is applied. Better mechanics than any of my previous zooms including the Baader clone.
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 20:59   #22
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Scope comparison pic...
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 21:08   #23
FrankD
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Indigo Bunting
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 21:54   #24
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Ok, I found my large universal digiscoping adapter and decided to play a little in the backyard. I wanted you folks to see what I see in terms of color, brightness and the lack of color fringing in the image. Here is a shot of some of those beautiful purple flowers I mentioned earlier. The shot was taken at about 15 yards with the 80 mm Regal F-ED and the camera set at 2x....ISO 200, F4.8 1/125 speed.
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Old Friday 24th July 2009, 23:30   #25
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FrankD: Flower's are fantastic. I'm not into digiscoping, but that's an excellent photo. I can not believe Celestron's attention to details. From printing correct magnification ranges on the ep to body color (preventing scope internal thermal issues) to course/fine focusing to image quality. Someone has certainly paid attention. Finally a spotting scope listing for $500, selling for $420 that's not a sham. I've got to find one to look through! Thanks again!
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