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Posted by Lawrence Carlino 10/02/2008 12:00AM

Bargain-priced 5-inch APO shootout


  • John999R [John Shutz]
  • 12/27/2018 07:14AM
I've always enjoyed Larry's product evaluations. He did one on my first refractor, a used Orion by Vixen 102 achromat. To me and many others, this particular OTA was a standout, in fact, the series of OTAs produced by Vixen for Orion and Celestron were outstanding, especially the fluorite versions. Looking back, I wish I kept it because subsequent OTAs didn't quite measure up to its sharpness and contrast, in fact, it acted like an APO.

I wonder if Larry reviewed the later Astro Tech 106 APO triplet, the model with the white body and metal gray focuser? I learned the 106 was highly regarded in everything I read, but unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the lesser spec 111 APO that was designed by Thomas Back. The 106 was AT's version of the 111, they upgraded the objective lens to FPL-53 glass, a larger 2.7" focuser and I think there was another feature or two that made the 106 the better telescope. I've always contended this situation was a mistaken case of role reversal, the 111 should have been the upspec106, or the 106 should have been produced as a 115. To make matters more confusing, the advertising for the 106 and 111 were identical, leading people to believe they had identical performance and using identical materials. Since aperture has influence and the fact the 106 cost $500 more with less aperture, I'm sure the 111 outsold the 106 by a mile. Clearly, in my mind, there was a marketing error made when developing the 106, too bad because it was overshadowed by the Thomas Black designed 111 and consequently didn't get the attention it so richly deserved. Not that I have a lot of experience looking through other refractors, but I can't say enough good things about the AT106 I own.

I transitioned to imaging a few years ago, color correction on the 106 is perfect, there is nothing negative to report, except I wished it had a better focuser connector, the focuser is great, but the one thumbscrew connector isn't. I'll probably upgrade to a Feather Touch or Moonlite if I move up to narrowband. Lastly, I know the newer Astro Tech refractors have a lower price point now and that means to me shortcuts were made, they don't compare to the older white body/gray era OTAs, maybe competitive with the 111, but certainly not the 106. If Larry is listening, did you evaluate the AT106? If so, I would love to read it.