Orion 8" f 3.9 Newtonian Reflector
Orion 8" f 3.9 Newtonian Reflector Unboxing Video:
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An avid photographer for many years, I began my astrophotography journey 3 years ago.
My first telescope of note was an old Tasco 80mm Refractor that my good friend and I purchased in 1987… the journey continues.
My full-time job is in the technology space and my hobbies range from designing, building and flying experimental aircraft, photography, radio control aviation, astronomy, multi-media production and boating.
The Orion 8" Newtonian has finally arrived – be sure to check out my unboxing video that is included on the blog. Make sure you subscribe to my channel of course give the video a Like.
This is not a paid review. All thoughts opinions, bad grammar and unclear points are mine.
As I learn more about the features, benefits and shortcomings of the Orion 8" Newtonian Reflector, I will offer updates to this blog. But I wanted to make sure to share my initial experience with it now.
So why did I choose this scope in the first place? I have been involved with photography for many years and shoot currently with a Nikon D810 – as my primary camera. I focus on landscape, nightscape and aviation as my primary subjects.
My first real astrophotography setup was purchased in 2014 and consisted of a Celestron CGEM with an Edge HD 8” scope with Hyperstar and a focal reducer to provide flexibility - depending upon the subject I was imaging - with this setup, I worked my way up to better cameras.
I have always taken one-shot color with all its inherent limitations… as a side note, I live in Northwest Ohio in the United States and we get very few days to image so I want to have usable data in the event of clouds or weather changes. After hyper-tuning my CGEM I have been satisfied with it and it certainly helped me determine if this would be a passing fad or a long-term hobby.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the opportunity to upgrade my OTA from the 8” Edge HD to an 11” Edge HD along with Hyperstar – minus the focal reducer. The downside is the added weight of this setup was pushing the mount to its limits and I started running into guiding issues. I would occasionally remove some of the accessories from the OTA (guide camera and auto align) that allowed me to calm the mount down. This technique gave me useable data with the fast setup that Hyperstar provides in 30” or less exposures so it has not been as big of an issue – especially with the addition of the PoleMaster camera for better polar alignment.
Why Choose the Orion 8" Newtonian Reflector
Simply stated, I wanted a lightweight and fast scope that I could easily transport over the size and weight of the 11" Edge HD – moving to this scope offers easier setup with the added bonus of adding a filter wheel/mono imaging system that I always felt was a potential barrier with my existing setup. I also like the focal length at 800 mm and the ability to add a 2X Barlow and still keep the scope relatively fast compared to my 11" Edge HD - at prime it is f 10 vs. this scope at f 3.9. I am hopeful that I can get some good planetary images with this setup.
Enter the Orion 8" Reflector – I considered other scopes, I looked at the budget, I looked at features and I read what reviews I could find… and I landed on this scope. I am certain that other well-known scopes would fit the bill… in fact it was never in question… so it came down to a price vs. features vs. payload – and did I mention price…
Before you stop reading and flame me with that statement – let me be very clear – price is NEVER the final consideration – even though it factors significantly. It’s analogous to a three-legged chair – price being one of them.
Take out a leg (cost) as in long-term cost of lost time due to mechanical reliability, repairs, replacement part cost, and time spent not collecting data on precious few nights and you end up with the all-important true cost of ownership. I decided this product could deliver without a SIGNIFICANT risk with a modest price point.
There is another critical factor – I have been impressed with my experience with my a friend of mine's Orion 16" Dobsonian. It is a solid piece of engineering and well built, and the Orion customer service is fantastic.
So moving onto the next steps for me: I will do a follow up video on how to setup and use the telescope.
The scope is a modest size and weight at 17.5 lbs vs. the 35 lbs weight of my 11" Edge HD and the overall length of 30" makes the scope very manageable to carry around.
The 2" dual speed focuser seems robust and capable of handling a DSLR with no trouble. I do plan on adding a motorized focuser at some point but for now the fine control for focus should be sufficient.
It comes with a 9x50 mm finder scope but I replaced it with the Orion 60 mm guide scope with StarShoot auto guider as you can see from my pictures.
The quality is instantly evident (aside from the box quality that I am sharing with Orion and can be seen in the video - fortunately there was no noticeable damage anywhere) – the scope is sturdy, no rough edges or sloppy finish anywhere. The overall quality is clearly well done and the fittings and presentation is very nice… nothing seems cheap or put on as an afterthought. I don’t see any evidence at this point of Orion taking any shortcuts to replace some of the parts with cheap materials for the price point of the scope.
Compared to my 11" Edge HD, there is really no comparison and these scopes are not in the same class – in my opinion. If I have the opportunity to do a head-to-head comparison with some of the competitors I will note that going forward.
There are some direct feature comparisons that are worth mentioning.
The included cooling fan and battery pack for the main mirror is a nice touch.
The Dual Speed Focuser at 2" should eliminate most of the edge vignetting and I will be using a coma corrector when imaging.
The scope rings are nice and come with a felt lining that will protect the scope but over time and with use this will inevitably need to be replace if dew is a factor during the imaging sessions.
The included collimation eyepiece and accessories are a nice touch.
The manual is clear and complete including instructions on how to collimate the scope are included.
Pros and Cons
Well built and a good value for the price
Nice Size and Weight
Good optics and reflectivity
Internal baffling to help with image contrast
Generous accessories for the price
Easy to collimate
No real negatives for me at this point.
This scope does not try be more than it is being offered as - a really good scope for the value
In conclusion at this point in time (early days indeed) I am satisfied with the scope and feel that there will be many great opportunities to image with this scope over my heavier and less user friendly/portable Edge HD. Far more pros than cons at this point. To be fair, the proof will be in how it performs in the field and over time… and that of course will take some time. As I gain more experience, I will continue to update my notes.
I believe that this scope offers a great value and quality/capability level for how I intend to use it… as an advanced amateur astrophotographer and occasional visual user.
Let me know what you think about this review and any observations you have of your Orion 8" f 3.9 Newtonian Reflector or similar scope.