The Televue 60mm APO
I’ve been using mine for 7 months now very extensively, and I continue to be impressed by its tremendous versatility. I’ve used it as a birding scope, a telephoto lens and a guidescope and as a grab-and-go scope and finally as a super finder.
As a Birding Scope
This spring, I used the TV-60 and MicroStar setup and traveled far and wide along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is easy to park the car, jump out and be observing within a minute if you keep the TV-60/MicroStar assembled by the front passenger seat.
As a Telephoto Lens
I have a Canon 20D DSLR and purchased the appropriate adapters for the TV-60. On sunny days, with some practice, I frequently handhold the TV-60 with the camera attached (although for the sharpest images, I will still recommend a tripod). The helical focuser is a little awkward initially to adjust on the same hand as you use to handhold the scope and camera but I am used to it. The photo of the mockingbird is a handheld photo at ISO400. I find that when shooting in dense vegetation, the autofocus of my Canon zoom lenses frequently gets confused and I have gravitated to using my TV-60 hand held. The sharpness of the TV-60 lens allows a discernable “focus snap” and makes focusing easy- and certainly much easier than manual focusing a Canon zoom/telephoto lens (even an “L” model). Considering that high-end Canon zoom lenses cost thousands of dollars in the 300-400mm range, the TV-60 is certainly not a bad cost conscious alternative for ED quality. For dim lighting, you would of course need to use a tripod but that cuts down on portability. If you want to hand hold and shoot with the scope, a useful hint from my army days is to relax your shoulders and always shoot when you breathe out gently and not when you breathe it (and remember to use the highest ISO setting).
On the other hand, I could not use the TV-60 for astrophotography with my APS-sized imaging chip in the Canon DSLR. The field distortion was severe and rendered 60-70% of the image area unacceptable. Of course, if you are using a smaller CCD chip you might not have an issue, but the soon-to-be-released TV-60 imaging system should take care of this with a built in field flattener, and, coupled with a larger focuser, the system should be eminently suitable for this use. It should be remarked that the distortion I mentioned is expected in these fast APO systems, and in no way an intrinsic design flaw or quality fault of the optics. You will see the same exact thing with a Takahashi FS-60 without a field flattener.
As a Grab and Go Scope
Under severe light polluted skies, I find the scope to be limited to the half-an-hour before bedtime kind of viewing. Messier objects are very faint and double stars frequently challenging. However, the TV-60 is surprisingly enjoyable under dark skies. With an old-style 24mm TV WF, I enjoy touring the sky and seeing all kinds of DSO’s. Of course, you will want something bigger to truly enjoy something like M13 but this scope gives you a positional perspective of DSO’s among the heavens that is hard to get in bigger scopes. Once again, even with a 3mm Radian, the optics does not give up any quality. Lunar viewing becomes quite a treat! Jupiter easily shows two equatorial cloud belts and delicate color gradations.
I have an old style TV-60 so the retractable lens hood has no predrilled holes for a TV zero-powered finder. However, I stuck a Rigel finder base to the lens hood and I actually like the fact that I can rotate the Rigel finder to wherever I want.
As a Super Finder
When piggybacked onto my Traveler or C9.25, the TV-60mm makes a great rich field finder. The ability to change eyepieces, the wide field of view and the sharpness and contrast of the optics puts it a league above many commercially available finderscopes. I do not own an adjustable stage so the TV-60mm is never quite pointing exactly where the main scope is, but that is not a big deal for me.
As a Guide Scope
While the small TV-60 is clearly not for everyone’s taste, I hope to have highlighted its superb versatility, portability and optical quality. These wonderful scopes rarely ever show up for sale in the used market, and that portends to many happy owners. This scope is ruggedly built for extensive field use. My only beef with the TV-60mm APO is that the lens cap is cheap for this class of scope and one of the plastic spring grips has snapped off within 4 months of use. How about a nice metal slip on cap? Other than that, I am very happy with my TV-60mm APO and will be using it for many years to come.
Click here for more about this subject. -Ed.
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