Is the William Optics RedCat 51 worth buying?

Started 4 months ago | Questions thread
mikeyL
mikeyL Contributing Member • Posts: 977
Re: Is the William Optics RedCat 51 worth buying?

So firstly, I am a Canon shooter, so my advice on Nikon is based on reading and one Nikon friend who owns the 180mm prime I refer to below:

I have heard and seen some good things from the Redcat scopes. They seemingly fill a niche for a small refractor with decent performance. If you are not familiar with Astrobin, you can head over there (www.astrobin.com ) and type "Redcat Nikon" in the search window, and bring up a number of images captured using that scope on a Nikon DSLR. Some good stuff there.

Conversely, if you then type in "Nikon 180mm" you will get some very nice images shot using that lens on Nikon DSLRs too.

I would guess that the Redcat is likely maybe a little bit better in the corners for star aberrations (coma, etc.) than the camera lens, as the telescope is optimized for infinity focus, and has a simpler lens design than the camera lens. On the other hand the lens is ~3x faster optically, meaning you will get the same signal with the lens and a 1 minute subframe as you would get taking 3 minutes on the Redcat. That is not a small delta, and depending on how well your mount tracks, that could be the difference between a good final image and one with trailed stars. The 180mm is available refurbished for about the same money as the telescope it seems:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/731050-REG/Nikon_1940B_Refurbished_Telephoto_AF_Nikkor.html

The lens of course is additionally useful for terrestrial photography and has autofocus. If you add a 1.4x teleconverter to the 180mm, you are at 252mm (identical focal length) and still faster by ~1.5x too.

So from my perspective, while I think the Redcat would give you great results, I think you could get basically as good results optically with easier tracking requirements using the lens. Eventually if you added the teleconverter you would have the best of everything.

Good luck, hope that helps.

ML

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