Skywatcher Evostar 80ED Review
The Skywatcher Evostar 80ED Doublet Refracting Telescope. A solid entry in the range from Skywatcher, and I’ve had the pleasure of using this telescope for over half a year now.
80mm aperture, 600mm focal length. Natively f/7.5, not slow by any measure but a little slow for deep sky work. If you buy the dedicated matched reducer flattener which is 0.85x, you’ll get f/6.3 – almost half a stop faster. I use a 0.8x F/R which gives me f/6 bang on (that’s 420mm focal length) – exactly half a stop faster.
1.5x faster. What that means is at f/6, this telescope collects half as much light more than it does without a reducer. What that means is being able to use a 3 minute exposure instead of a 4 minute exposure to get the same result. That’s an advantage even before you consider the flat field it gives you and being able to control your focal length.
What’s more impressive is at this price point the glass used is FPL-53 glass. That’s some of the best quality glass used in amateur telescopes. They originally didn’t boast about this when I first wrote my review. Then when I came back to fact check it again, they had begun disclosing it. The Evostar 72ED has different glass though.
- As mentioned; it’s a refracting telescope. Which means it uses glass lenses at the front. It’s a doublet, so there’s two of them working together. The ED stands for ‘Extra Low Dispersion’. It’s what you want to look for in a refractor telescope. It means it has better colour correction and helps eliminate chromatic abberation.
- At the back is an 11:1 dual speed focuser that’s silky smooth yet firm at the same time. The focus rack feels like it has substance to it, each turn of the knobs gives you some nice kinetic feedback; it feels like you’re moving the rack yet it isn’t heavy. The focus lock screw holds it in place nicely and so far I’ve had no issue with focus slip even shooting straight up.
- The body has a nice diamond effect to it. The 80ED feels sturdy and solid. Nice build quality and weighs about 3kg. Most of the weight is up front of course with the lenses, which incidentally are stored in the dew shield and not the tube body. So no retracting dew shield for storage unfortunately. The dew shield is a hefty chunk of metal as well as a matter of fact.
- 80mm Aperture
- 600mm Focal Length
- F/7.5 Focal Ratio
- FPL-53 Glass
- Air Spaced Doublet
- Apochromatic Design
Problems With The Evostar 80ED
The first issue I encountered immediately was the dovetail. Whilst it’s pretty, finished in green as standard – and is probably fine for visual – for photography it wasn’t suitable. By the time I hooked my camera to the rear and added the guide scope into the finder shoe, I couldn’t balance in declination at all. With the bar all the way forward, and the telescope as forward in the rings, it was still camera heavy. A new bar was required. I eventually settled on a 14″ ADM Vixen Dovetail from First Light Optics. However you could also opt for the StellaMira Universal Vixen Dovetail also and save a little money.
The screw for a camera in the tube ring; I couldn’t really get it working nicely attached directly to the camera, but I could fit a ball-head on it. However, if you’re not careful with it, it comes loose. Then whilst you’re manipulating the tube in the rings, you’ll scratch up your paint job…
The storage case that it comes with is all well and nice. But the foam inserts are held in place with the smallest bit of glue onto some corrugated cardboard. The outside of the case feels thin and flimsy but should survive an impact. It’s nice that its included in the price though. It also comes with these tiny keys that I wouldn’t dare to use since they just look like they’re waiting to break in the locks.
Since the finder scope is off centre (about 10pm), even if you can get good declination balance, it’ll always be heavy on one side since the centre of mass is off-centre. You’ll never get it perfectly balanced. Your choices would either be rotate the tube so the finder shoe is at 12 o’clock, or piggyback. With piggybacking – they use ¼ camera threaded UNC bolts for these tube rings. Good luck finding guide rings that accept that. What I eventually did was a 3D printed vixen bar and a few bolts from eBay.
However these days there are a lot more options available on the market for vixen dovetails that you’ll be able to use for piggybacking.
Skywatcher Evostar 80ED Suitability
I say there is no one telescope that can do it all. The 80ED is no exception to that rule. Yes, you can add a barlow and a small chipped planet camera to see Jupiter. But now you’re at f/22.5 – that’s even before the crop factor of the camera is taken into account, and a lack of resolution may give you lacklustre results.
I recommend the 80ED to be turned to mid to large nebula. Team this reduced telescope up with an APS-C Canon like the 450 or 600D and you can fit targets like the entire Rosette Nebula, M31 Andromeda Galaxy and even fit the Trifid and Lagoon Nebula in one field of view! Very versatile.
If you’re choosing a dedicated astronomy camera there are several options that sample well:
- 183 Sensors such as the ZWO ASI 183mc or the Altair 183c
- 294 Sensors such as the ZWO ASI 294mc Pro
- ZWO ASI 533mc Pro cameras. I’ve also reviewed both the ZWO ASI 533mc and the ZWO 533mm pro
All in all I think that Skywatcher has definitely made a very good and versatile telescope within the Evostar 80ED. If you’re using it for imaging then be sure to factor in the cost of a new dovetail and the reducer flattener. Pair it with a DSLR and you’ll be happy. Be sure to research the deeper FoV if you’re using a 183 sensor (I didn’t do this and was caught out). The 80ED is great for nebula and galaxies but not for planets and the case is serviceable and will work for moving it.
I feel comfortable recommending this telescope to beginners and veterans alike. It’s a forgiving field of view for imaging and versatile for multiple targets in the night sky. The colour correction is on point and I’ve not seen any fringing or chromatic aberration in my images. If you’re looking for a telescope ready for winter for your DSLR then definitely consider a Skywatcher Evostar Pro 80ED.