Updated: Dec 10, 2020
The Meade 70mm APO refractor telescope was our very first refractor telescope. We have gotten some incredible images of the night sky with this small yet powerful instrument, and we'll show you a few of them in this review!
Is this telescope worth the price and is it a good choice for beginners? What are the pros and cons of owning such a wide field instrument?
We have been using this telescope for about 2 years now, and we felt it was time to finally share our thoughts about it. Here is our honest, straight to the point review about the Meade 70mm APO refractor.
Table of Contents:
What's in the Box?
Specs & Price
A Flat Field no matter the camera
Pros & Cons
Gallery of images taken with the Meade 70mm APO
What's in the box?
Here is what comes in the box with the telescope:
The Meade 70mm APO Refractor Telescope
A front dust cover
A Vixen Style Dovetail bar
An M48-M42 adapter
An aluminum carrying case
If using a DSLR camera, you will still need to get a T-Ring first in order to attach it to the M48-M42 adapter. Remember to get the correct T-Ring for your brand of camera, for example, here is a T-Ring for Canon DSLR Cameras and here is a T-Ring for Nikon cameras. Note that the M48-M42 adapter is not needed if using a full frame DSLR camera.
To attach your camera to the telescope, simply do:
DSLR Camera (APS-C) > T-Ring > M48-M42 adapter > Telescope
If using an astrophotography dedicated camera, it should come with an adapter to attach it directly to the telescope. In our case, we do:
ZWO ASI1600MM > Electronic Filter Wheel > 11mm ring with adapter > 16.5mm extender > Telescope
The 16.5mm adapter is included with the camera.
The telescope also has a built-in retractable dew shield, useful when it is a little bit humid outside or, in our case, to protect the lens from any street light on the sides of our setup.
Weight: 4.5 lb
Dimensions: 12.25" x 4.5" x 5.5" in
The Meade 70mm APO refractor telescope has a weight of 4.5 pounds. This is extremely light for a telescope and yes, there are several other refractors on the market that are even lighter, like the Sky-Watcher Evostar 72 ED (4.3 lb), the William Optics ZenithStar 61 or the William Optics Redcat 51 (both 3.2 lb), but 4.5 lb is already light enough for us!
We got this telescope after about 2 and a half years of using our 17.5-pound Orion 8" Astrograph religiously. Lifting the 4.5-pound Meade 70mm Astrograph for the first time was a shock for us, especially since we never even touched another instrument than our reflector before then.
If you haven't already, make sure to read our full review about our Orion 8" Astrograph! Being a refractor, you also do not need to collimate it every night or worry about the mirrors.
The Meade 70mm APO refractor is an excellent telescope for someone who is looking for a portable instrument. It is light, very small, and the included aluminum case is a fantastic added bonus! Because of its weight and size, this telescope can be attached to a small mount like the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro or the iOptron SkyGuider Pro, making your entire Astrophotography setup very portable!
Specs & Price
Aperture: 70mm (2.75")
Focal Length: 350mm
Focal Ratio: f/5
Optical Design: Apochromatic Refractor
Number of refractor elements: 4
The Meade 6000 series 70mm Petzval Apochromatic Astrograph refractor telescope has a fully multi-coated quadruplet lens made of FPL53 ED glass and is built with Astrophotography in mind. The quadruplet apochromatic design with the low dispersion ED glass ensure true colors in the stars (where cheaper refractors usually have stars with a magenta hue) and offer crisp images with a flat field of view.
It has a an aperture of 70mm (2.75"), a focal length of 350mm and a fast focal ratio of f/5.
The telescope comes with a dual speed 2.5" Rack & Pinion focuser with a high precision knob on the side for setting the perfect focus.
This is a very similar focuser as the ones on our Orion 8" Astrograph and we love the ease of use and precision of this focuser.
The screw visible in the middle is used to lock and unlock the focus.
The telescope's camera holder also includes a manual rotator, a much needed feature to be able to achieve the desired field of view angle when imaging any deep sky object.
The cost of the Meade 70mm APO refractor is $1,199. This might seem a bit much for a telescope this size, but the question is: Is it worth it?
There is no doubt in our mind that this telescope is worth its price. We believe this is the best refractor telescope you can get for the buck. Not only do you get a fast apochromatic quadruplet telescope, you also get a padded aluminum case, a rotator, a great focuser, and an included adapter for your camera! There is also another huge feature that comes with this telescope, one that completely sold us on it, and it is...
A Flat Field no matter the camera
Our favorite feature about this telescope is the fact that it is a Petzval refractor, in other words, it has a built-in field flattener.
Most refractor telescopes require an extra field flattener that attaches between the camera and the telescope in order to avoid having distorted stars on the edges of the field. This refractor has a Petzval design, it has a 4-lens system that is built to ensure the field of view is perfectly flat by default. Back focus should also not be a problem, you can expect your stars to be pinpoint no matter the adapter you use as long as you are able to reach focus.
This high-end feature of course means that the cost of the instrument is a little higher than doublets or triplets, but not having to purchase a separate field flattener and worry about back-focus makes the price entirely worth it to us.
The Meade 70mm APO refractor telescope also has a 42mm image circle, meaning you can image with either an APS-C (cropped sensor) camera or a full frame camera without having any vignetting.
Zooming in by an enormous amount on a corner might show some stars with triangular shapes, as if they were out of collimation. But in the end, nobody is going to zoom in that much especially on a corner and so to us, this is not a problem at all. This issue can also happen on any other refractor using a separate field flattener.
The perfect telescope for imaging large nebulae
As you may know, our first telescope was the Orion 8" Astrograph, an affordable fantastic and fast reflector which we love and still use to this day... so what is the point of owning a second telescope?
Here is the main reason.
The focal length between the two telescopes is completely different. Our Orion 8" Astrograph has a focal length of 800mm and is great for galaxies, small to medium size nebulae, clusters and even planets. The Meade 70mm APO has a focal length of 350mm, giving us a completely different field of view if we compare the two! What this small refractor really excels at is large deep sky objects, like the Andromeda galaxy or many huge nebulae.
The first target we imaged after owning this telescope was the Heart Nebula. A gigantic emission nebula that we always wanted to image but could not with our reflector telescope due to its size.
You can click on the image on the left to learn a ton more about how we photographed this object and see it in higher definition.
If we were to try imaging it with our reflector telescope, we would only be able to capture a small part of it, like Melotte 15 (the core of the Heart Nebula) unless we spent many night making a mosaic.
Since then, we've always tried to use this telescope to image large nebulae that are just too annoying or impossible to get with our 8" Astrograph. Below are a few examples of nebulae photographed with this small refractor. Make sure to click on each image to open the full blog entry about it!
You may have seen our video about imaging the Sadr region for 41 hours. In this video, we show you how easy it is to carry an entire telescope setup in and out of the house without having to unplug anything. This is only possible when using this lightweight Meade 70mm APO as our imaging system. This made imaging the same region of the sky for several weeks a breeze!
Although we said the Meade 70mm APO Astrograph excels at imaging large nebulae, it is also great to capture smaller deep sky objects! If this is going to be your only telescope for a while, you'll be happy to know that you are not limited to these huge clouds of gas, and can also get fantastic images of clusters and galaxies.
Here is our image of M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy. This was captured with this small refractor with just 3 and a half hours of total integration time. We have photographed this image with both telescopes and you can see a comparison in the full blog post.
Pros & Cons
To summarize, what are the pros and cons about the Meade 70mm APO refractor telescope? Where does it excel and what does it lack? Let's go over what we love about this telescope, followed by what we feel could be better.
The quadruplet and Petzval design
This is what makes up most of the cost of this telescope. The fully multi-coated quadruplet lens corrects for the weird colors you might get on stars using a cheaper instrument. The Petzval design is also a fantastic feature that lets you attach any camera to the telescope without needing any additional adapter or corrector. You also don't have to worry about back-focus.
The Meade 70mm APO comes with a great dual speed 2.5" Rack & Pinion precision focuser that is very easy to use and locks into place without any issue. We use a bahtinov mask when focusing on a bright star and this focuser makes the process very smooth!
The padded aluminum case & retractable dew shield
Meade is nice enough to include a protective case to carry the telescope around, and we're very happy with that! The refractor fits nicely in the aluminum case as well as the bahtinov mask we use. We're also glad that the telescope tube has a dew shield that can be extended when imaging.
The Dovetail could be a bit longer
The dovetail that comes with the Meade 70mm APO telescope is a bit short, especially if you have a heavy camera, filter wheel and guide scope. We actually could not manage to properly balance our setup when filming Episode 13 and had to purchase a longer dovetail. Over time, we realized that it was actually possible to balance it nicely with the dovetail it came with, it just might fit tight on the mount.
Not a prime choice for planetary or small DSO's
The Meade 70mm APO refractor is a wide field telescope. It was built to capture large deep sky objects and so it is not the best when it comes to very small targets. You also should not expect to get incredible images of planets with this instrument, as the planetary bodies will appear extremely small in the field of view.
An Astrophotography-only telescope
This is an Astrograph telescope, meaning it was built with the primary intent of doing astrophotography. Unlike our other astrograph, our 8" Newtonian, this one cannot be used for visual observing. You can not insert an eyepiece in this telescope (well, you could if you really try hard enough and get an adapter that fits) and you shouldn't purchase it if you are looking for a telescope to observe the stars.
It's simple. We are in love with the Meade 6000 series 70mm refractor.
Owning a small wide field refractor and a larger Newtonian reflector is the perfect combo! We try to use our reflector any time we image a galaxy, a cluster or a small nebula, but we have been picking the Meade 70mm APO over the Orion 8" Astrograph much more often since adding it to our setup because it is extremely portable and so easy to use!
We've also been revisiting previous targets with this wider field of view which allows us to capture so much more of the faint gas all around the actual object (M16 for example!).
We do not see ourselves ever getting tired of this telescope or needing to upgrade from it. This is a perfect small refractor for both beginner and advanced amateur astrophotographers, and one we often recommend if your budget allows it!
Interested in owning this telescope? You can get it from our partners at Oceanside Photo & Telescopes 😃🔭
Watch our review of this telescope on our YouTube channel below! We also have several other videos where we go out to the desert and image with this refractor.
Antoine & Dalia Grelin
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