Is the William Optics RedCat 51 worth buying?

Started 4 months ago | Questions thread
OP starman1969 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,414
Re: Is the William Optics RedCat 51 worth buying?

little jim wrote:

starman1969 wrote:

I've been after a short focal length refractor for wide field deep space imaging and I have been looking at so many scopes. For a while I have been using standard camera telephoto lenses due to being without a scope for a while.

The RedCat would suit my style of astrophotography more than any other, but I'd like to know if it is worth buying over a similar focal length standard camera lens?

There's no doubt the Redcat51 (250mm/F4.9) would yield fantastic images, even with your full-frame Nikons (most refractors perform best with APSC cameras, FF image circles are hard).

But, given your heavy investment in premium Nikon FF cameras and lenses, I'd recommend seriously considering a premium quality new or used 300mm/F2.8 prime lens, which would complement your 70-200/F2.8 and 500mm/F4. This class of telephoto would give you >4 stops more light and (arguably) better resolution than the Redcat51 with its ~100mm aperture.

But you also don't mention what mount you're using. The saying "put your money where your mount is" applies here.

Committing to the 300/2.8 could put you on the following roadmap (in no particular order):

1) purchase FF mirrorless camera and adapters for best in class Nikkor lenses

2) modify your 800E to astro

3) invest in premium quality equatorial mount

4) think about the manual focus Samyang/Rokinon 135mm/F2 prime to fill out your astro lens collection

5) start saving for a premium quality 600mm/F4!

I've followed the above roadmap (purchased the Sony A7R3 for all-purpose photography, adapted my Sony A7 (Kolari) for AP, adapters for FD and EF Canon lenses, purchased the EF 300/F2.8L UXM (no IS) and FDn 500mm/F4.5L legacy lenses (30 and 40 yrs old respectively) while upgrading my mount from SkyWatcher HEQ5 to iOptron CEM40.

I went through the GAS of considering purchase of a premium quality 5" refractor--purchasing the FD500 and CEM40 cured me temporarily LOL. I'm having a blast with the adapted lens strategy.

Good luck with your choice, you can't go wrong with the Redcat (or its larger aperture siblings).


Thanks for that Jim. Much to ponder here although I used to own a 300mm AF-S f2.8 and it was an absolute beast. Shame I had to sell it as I wasn't using it as much. I'm really after something small & light, otherwise I would have to upgrade my tracking mount. I am using a Fornax LighTrack II tracker.

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 starman1969's gear list:starman1969's gear list
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.8G Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Epson Stylus Pro 3880 +1 more
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