Astrophotography is one of those photographic subjects that can get very expensive, very quickly, especially if you’re planning to look into deep space! So it’s no surprise that many beginners will start off with cheaper equipment. And many of them stick with it for far too long, even if they really enjoy it, simply because they don’t know how much better they’re going to get by throwing more money at it.
In this video, Nico at Nebula Photos walks us through some of the real-world differences between three telescopes at very different price points. All three telescopes are 80mm refractors, but at $130, $600 and $1,750, their quality and benefits are very different from one another, as Nico’s demonstrations show. He puts them through a battery of photographic tests to find the pitfalls and advantages of each.
- Orion ShortTube 80 Refractor Telescope – $130
- SVBONY SV502 80ED F7 80mm Telescope – $600 (although it appears to be available for around $500 right now)
- Askar 80PHQ 80mm f/7.5 80mm Telescope – $1500 – and 0.76x Reducer – $250
It’s a common thread amongst all types of photography, not just astrophotography, that we often stick with (and recommend!) those cheap beginner pieces of kit because we’ve never tried anything better. It’s why I still see people recommending 18-55mm f/slow-slower kit lenses to people who post that they’ve “been asked to shoot an indoor wedding, what lenses should I get?” on social media.
It’s often the case with telescopes, too. Even the cheapest of cheap telescopes can, as illustrated with the $130 example in this video, see far more than we can with our eyes (and regular photography lenses) and even if the quality’s not perfect, a lot of us might be quite happy with the results it provides. And just like with that 18-55mm kit lens, the moment we try something that costs 10x the price (or more) and we really get to see the differences and benefits, a light goes off in our heads and we finally understand (and want it).
Without that personal experience and getting to try things out for ourselves, all we can really do is rely on people like Nico to help show us what we might be missing out on. And hey, if after seeing comparisons like these you still feel that the $130 telescope satisfies your needs just fine then there’s nothing wrong with that, either!
What telescope do you use for astrophotography?