Scope review: Vista 508 
Author Message
 Scope review: Vista 508

Review of Vista 508 80mm refractor

(format for review based on Chuck Gulker's Starmaster Oak Classic review of
a few weeks ago)

June 13, 1998 (Roderick Darroch Elliott, Montreal, Quebec)

Scope name: Vista 508

Cost:  CDN$ 290.  Shipping extra.  Includes 6X30 finderscope, 20 mm Omcon
Plossl (made in Taiwan), tube rings, focuser extension, choice of 45 or 90
degree prism diagonal, or 90 degree mirror diagonal.

Puchased from: O'Neil Photo & Optical, London, Ontario,
http://www.***.com/ ~joneil

This scope is yet another version of the Chinese-made 80mm f/5 achromat
imported under various names, including the Orion ShortTube 80, the
Celestron FS80wa, and several others.  Hopefully, this review will be of
use to owners and prospective purchasers of this scope.

SPECIFICATIONS/DIMENSIONS/COMPONENTS

General configuration:  Refractor.

Optical Tube: 18 inches with diagonal installed.  Tube OD = 3.5inches.  OTA
weighs approximately 3 lbs.  The tube and dew shield are aluminum, painted
dark blue, rather like Meade's blue.  Focuser, finder bracket, and tube
rings are cast metal of some sort, with a dark gray pebbled finish.

Something that I plan on doing eventually is removing the focuser, lining
the tube with flocking paper or felt, and painting the focuser drawtube
black.  Shining a flashlight through the objective, I can see some
reflection off the end of the drawtube.  However, I've yet to notice any
annoying glare from this.

Objective:  80mm airspaced achromatic doublet.  It appears to be coated; it
gives off a greenish reflection.

Focuser:  1.25" rack & pinion.  Only plastic components are the knobs.  It
has a focuser lock screw.  Action is smooth.

Tube rings: Cast metal of some sort, with the same dark gray pebbled finish
as the other metal components.  The hinge pins are solid, not rolled.  The
nuts are chromeplated.  The rings bolt onto a plastic bar with three
1/4"-20 sockets, to help balance the scope.  As the rings only have about
1/2" an inch of play between the focuser and the dew shield (this is one
stubby scope!), the rings don't add that much in terms of balancing
potential.  

Finder: 6X30 fixed focus.  The finder does not have the focus problem noted
in the March '97 Sky & Telescope review of the Orion version of this scope.
The bracket is the same material and finish as the other metal components.
The bracket stands the finder 4" off the OTA, providing plenty of head
room, and is detachable, permitting you to retain alignment, more-or-less,
between sessions.  The bracket is a three-screw and O-ring type; the screws
have little lock nuts, which is a nice feature.

Included Accessories:

Manual: The scope did not come with documentation.  Given that it isn't
exactly a CG-11, this is not a problem.

Black plastic end caps; objective cap uncaps to serve as 43 mm stop.

1.25" 90 degree mirror diagonal.  Although the scope came with a 45 degree
prism diagonal, Joe switched it for a mirror for me at no extra charge; he
also offered me a 90 degree prism diagonal as another option.

20 mm Omcon Plossl eyepiece.  The eyepiece appears to be quite nice.
Again, since I haven't had enough good weather to properly evaluate the
scope, I can't provide an in-depth opinion, but I have yet to notice any
flaws.

Focuser tube extension (apparently for use with a camera).

ORDERING

Order Date:  June 8th 1998, via Canada Post Priority Courier (next-morning
service, with confirmation, from Montreal, P.Q. to London, Ont.)

Actual Delivery Date: June 10th, via Canada Post XpressPost.

INVOICE AND PAPERWORK

The invoice came in an envelope taped to the outside of the box.  All was
in order.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

The order was preceded by a great deal of email between the 8th of May 1998
to the order date.  Mr. O'Neil answered each of my many questions promptly,
courteously, and at length.  He was extremely helpful and friendly and was
very willing to take the time with me.  His advice was very helpful.  It
was a real pleasure dealing with him.

RECEIVING/PACKAGING

It arrived in a single box, packed with styrofoam peanuts and beads.  The
telescope came in an inner box, packed with lots of bubble wrap.
Everything survived the trip intact.

FINISHING/APPEARANCE

A nice-looking little scope.  The fit and finish was much nicer than I had
expected.  The only reason it is not sitting in the living room right now
is that I'm afraid of leaving it alone for extended periods on my cheapo
photo tripod.

FIELD USE

It's a 80mm f/5 refractor; 'nuff said :).  It should fit quite nicely into
a backpack.  Although the Dreaded New Gear Curse is in full swing (I've
only had one clear night since I got it), setup time based on the two
occasions I've had it out is minimal; lock it on to the tripod, head
outside, open tripod, plunk down.

OPTICS

It's too early for me to provide a full evaluation of the optics, but based
on a couple of hours use in marginal conditions, I have yet to see any
noticeable flaws.  The chromatic aberration was much less than I had
expected; I only noticed it on the Moon.  The stop on the cap reduced this.
My girlfriend didn't notice any false colour at all.  In fact, I get worse
false colour in my 10X50 Bushnells.  Stars were nice sharp little
pin{*filter*}s; for lunar views both viewing sessions were hampered by haze and
clouds and the fact that it was just after full moon.  However, given the
marginal conditions, I suspect that the scope will do just fine once this
expletive deleted rain goes away.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I am very pleased with the scope so far.  It is a great deal for $290
Canadian (this puts it at about $210 US).  The appearance, mechanics, and
optics are all much better than I had expected.  It is light, compact, and
portable, and should serve me very well as a grab-and-go scope.  It was a
pleasure dealing with Joe O'Neil; the level of service he provided was way
above and beyond the call of duty.  I would recommend the Vista 508 to
anyone looking for a compact, portable scope.  

Submitted by R.D. Elliott  June 13, 1998.

R.D. Elliott



Wed, 29 Nov 2000 03:00:00 GMT
 Scope review: Vista 508

New Gear Curse? So _that's_ what NGC
stands for!

Bob

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Because of the "Uncertainty Principal", any
ideas or opinions expressed by me may be
either wrong or right...but not both!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Wed, 29 Nov 2000 03:00:00 GMT
 Scope review: Vista 508

Quote:

>Finder: 6X30 fixed focus.

If it's the same as the finder on my Orion ShortTube, it is NOT fixed focus. As
with a number of finders, it is focused by screwing the objective in and out.
There is a lock ring to lock the objective in place once focus is achieved.
Look closely at the objective cell and you'll see its in two parts: the cell
itself (integral with lens hood) and the locking ring. In a really good finder,
both the objective and the eyepiece focus, and the crosshairs are fixed in the
tube. In my finder, the crosshairs are fixed in the field stop of the eyepiece
and the objective, as I said, can be focused on them.  They also have put a
stop in the tube, which reduces the finder to 6x24 rather than the advertised
6x30.

I've now used my ShortTube very extensively under very dark skies, and consider
it excellent value for the money.

Geoff Gaherty
Toronto



Tue, 05 Dec 2000 03:00:00 GMT
 Scope review: Vista 508


- >Finder: 6X30 fixed focus.
-
- If it's the same as the finder on my Orion ShortTube, it is NOT fixed
focus. As
- with a number of finders, it is focused by screwing the objective in and out.
[snip]
- and the objective, as I said, can be focused on them.  They also have put a
- stop in the tube, which reduces the finder to 6x24 rather than the advertised
- 6x30.
-

   Hang on... lemme reach over and pop the finder off... hang on a sec
<sfx: objective unscrewing and stop checking noises>  Right you are on both
counts!

- I've now used my ShortTube very extensively under very dark skies, and
consider
- it excellent value for the money.

   Lucky you.  The weather down here has stunk out the joint ever since I
got the darn scope.  We had a brief clear patch last night at about 1:00 AM
that I wasn't able to take advantage of, and then clouded right over again.
And humid too.  Feh.

   I'm very impressed with my 508 too.  I just wish I had the chance to use
it a little bit more often.

R.D. Elliott



Tue, 05 Dec 2000 03:00:00 GMT
 Scope review: Vista 508


Quote:

>itself (integral with lens hood) and the locking ring. In a really good finder,
>both the objective and the eyepiece focus, and the crosshairs are fixed in the
>tube. In my finder, the crosshairs are fixed in the field stop of the eyepiece

i thought this was required for the crosshairs to be sharp?  

Quote:
>and the objective, as I said, can be focused on them.  They also have put a
>stop in the tube, which reduces the finder to 6x24 rather than the advertised
>6x30.

i don't think this is actually a stop in the sense that the ones are in
a 5x24 (immediately behind the objective), but is intended to be a
baffle.  i have not attempted to determine precisely, but i think it
does quality as a baffle in the Meade 6x30 (just eyeballing, with the ep
removed).

loren

Quote:

>I've now used my ShortTube very extensively under very dark skies, and consider
>it excellent value for the money.

>Geoff Gaherty
>Toronto



Fri, 08 Dec 2000 03:00:00 GMT
 
 [ 5 post ] 

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