The 70ED Refractor telescope from Stellarvue has many things to recommend it. Okay, it has mainly one thing – price. There is something to be said for an entry level astrophotography telescope that actually has an entry level price. At under $400, the 70ED packs a pretty good punch in terms of optical quality compared to other astrophotography beginner telescopes.
A lot of care goes into the optical elements on this telescope. The lens features the same extra-low dispersion glass that is used in the higher-priced Stellarvue models and the lens undergoes a final figuring by hand in an effort to ensure good performance. The dual-speed Crayford focuser has a micrometer scale to help you make tiny adjustments until you find your perfect view. The price includes a foam-lined storage case and there is a mini Vixen-style dovetail rail that should work with most mounts and tripods. The included dew shield is a nice extra.
The viewing experience is likely to leave you a little flat. If only the field of view were flat too. You will likely need a field flattener because this scope will produce images that leave stars out of focus as you get away from the center of the photograph. You will also want a filter to eliminate color fringes around the edges of some stars as they are photographed. By the time you add the filter and flattener you’re almost to the price of scopes that are really better at all of this stuff right out of the box. The 70ED will give you more control of your image, though. That might be more fun for some budding astrophotographers. You may enjoy finding just the right equipment to make this little telescope find you your image.
This scope is petite and portable. Astrophotography involves many other tools besides the actual telescope by the time you figure in the mount, camera and more, but you won’t find a more portable telescope for the hobby than the Stellarvue 70ED. It even comes with a hard-sided mini travel case. Just grab it and go!
Stellarvue has some pretty stellar backup for their products. Optical and mechanical parts are under warranty. Stellarvue president Vic Maris personally tests each telescope before it can be experienced by the public. Such a personal interest inspires confidence in this product.
Stellarvue’s 70ED Refractor telescope is not a bad bet compared to other telescopes for beginners. You would not need any extra equipment to use this just for astronomy and it is probably the most portable of the scopes we looked at. However, in terms of astrophotography telescopes for beginners we think there are better products out there. There are some truly great optics in this little scope, but by the time you add equipment for fringing and flattening we think most astrophotographers would be better served by starting at a higher price point.