It might be small, but the Orion ED80T CF Triplet Apochromatic refractor telescope offers big performance.
It has a triple element objective lens optical system that works to correct aberrations that would otherwise destroy the quality of any photos you may capture.
With that in mind, yes, you can do astrophotography with this telescope, but there’s a catch.
It’s a tube-only purchase with very little to offer in accessories. You’ll be forced to fork out more for eyepieces and a mount and tripod.
While the ED80T is an expensive buy, this is the price range that allows you to dip your toes into the APO world of optics.
Is it worth the price?
Let’s find out.
Orion ED80T CF Triplet APO Refractor Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: Triple APO optics
❌ Worst Feature: Requires field flattener
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Astrophotography, Beginners, Intermediates
- Optical Design: Refractor
- Aperture: 80 mm
- Focal Length: 480 mm
- Focal Ratio: f/6
- Eyepieces Included: None
My Verdict: In my opinion the Orion ED80T CF Triplet APO telescope is a buy for those who need that little bit more aberration-free quality for imaging. Astro imaging gear is expensive enough as it is, so if you’re just starting out, the ED80T should be your new best friend.
Who is the Orion ED80T CF Triplet APO Best Suited to?
I think this under $1000 telescope is best suited towards those who are taking the next step towards their astrophotography goals up from a smartphone. It’s not a premium APO telescope as you would consider this one in the entry-level range for this type. But, it does provide outstanding imaging performance for deep-sky targets.
Since it’s what you would consider your next step up from a beginner’s model or it may even be your first-time buy, it’s mainly geared towards beginners or intermediate users looking for a lightweight platform. A telescope that’s easier to haul around is a scope that I believe is likely to be used more often than not.
How Does the Orion ED80T CF Triplet APO Perform?
I think the Triple APO Orion telescope delivers great performance with good mechanical quality, but there are some odd compromises. One such compromise is that the dew shield can’t be retracted if you were to use tube rings, and there’s some coma going on that will require you to purchase a field flattener.
From the get-go, the optics aren’t perfect, but I think they’re much better than cheaper refractor scopes. With it, you can eliminate aberrations, capture deep space objects on your camera, and of course, you can top it on the mount of your choice.
In the end, you may have one expensive setup, but with the right choices, you’ll be good to go for a long time to come.
Features & Benefits
Triple APO Optics
You’ll often find that the best telescopes for astrophotography will almost always be APO scopes. APO is what we call apochromatic for short. It consists of three lenses that help to correct for both chromatic and spherical aberrations by bringing wavelengths onto the same focal plane.
In short, it means that you should not need see, or at minimal, color bleeding or fringing. CA (Chromatic Aberration) is the false color that you would see around a high-contrast target like the moon. While most people find it acceptable for visual purposes, it is unacceptable for imaging.
You’ll also notice that APO triplet scopes are far more expensive than achromat doublets – a series of two lenses. This is because APO lenses, like this model, require more precision, labor, extra materials to produce such as ED (Extra-low dispersion) glass which the ED80T has!
The benefits include improved color fidelity, increased sharpness and contrast, and it works far better with camera lenses. The downsides are that they cost more to make, so it’s more expensive to buy, triplets take longer to cool down than doublets, and depending on quality, the differences can be marginal.
So, if you only have visual goals, a good doublet may be better for you. However, if you plan on doing any imaging, an APO may be the better choice in my opinion.
Good for Astrophotography
An APO is a good optical system for astrophotography, so let’s talk about specs. The ED80T is an 80 mm telescope with a 480 mm focal length and f/6 ratio. F/6 is on the low-medium speed end of the spectrum and so is good for wide fields at low magnification but can also provide good planetary photography with high magnification. I think it works well for most astro imaging purposes.
One thing you notice is the 80 mm aperture. For visual purposes, this is puny, but with imaging, the focal ratio (speed) is more important than aperture. Remember, you also have ED glass with a three element APO optical system. This provides better imaging quality.
Another very important feature for astro imaging I believe is the type of mount you get. I think tracking is very important as you follow a target because after, say, a 30-second exposure that star is going move out of frame. This calls for a computerized GoTo system that provides automatic tracking and allows for prime focus astrophotography or auto-guided imaging.
The ED80T telescope comes with a ¼”-20 built-in mounting block to mount to any camera tripod. The tube also comes with preinstalled tube rings and a dovetail mounting plate to top most modern telescope mounts.
To make the most of achieving a comfortable position for using the focuser with heavy 2” eyepieces or DLSR cameras, reverse the orientation of the mounting block – yes, you can do that.
2” Dual-Speed Crayford Focuser
Even though the ED80T telescope is lacking in accessories, it does come with a quality 2” Crayford focuser. It’s a dual-speed 11:1 precision focuser, so you can make both course and fine adjustments. If things start creeping with heavy loads for imaging or with heavier eyepieces, you may need to adjust the focuser tension until you achieve focus and smooth adjustments that holds your equipment dependably. Note that the focuser payload capacity is 6 lbs.
If you didn’t know, there is a 1.25” eyepiece adapter, so you can use both 2” and 1.25” accessories with this focuser.
Lightweight & Portable
Obviously, with its shorter tube length and smaller aperture, the ED80T CF telescope is going to be extremely lightweight and portable, even with its additional lenses. This Orion telescope weighs only 5.5 lbs. Most of the additional weight will come from the mount and tripod of your choice.
One thing you must note is that the telescope comes with a foam-lined hard carry case – woo-hoo! But, you must remove all accessories because the case only fits the tube – naked!
Requires Field Flattener
Unfortunately, while the APO optics does correct for some spherical aberration, there is some visible coma especially for longer exposures. This may be a deal breaker for you, but it’s solvable with a field flattener, so I think it should probably be on your list of must-have accessories.
No eyepieces. The only “extras” that come with the Orion ED80T CF is the Crayford focuser (which is always an included “accessory”), a hard carry case, and a Starry Night astronomy software download. Yes, a dovetail mounting plate is also included, but that is to be expected with an optical tube. Everything else, you’ve gotta purchase with more of your precious dimes.
Other Telescopes to Consider
While I think this is a great telescope for astrophotography, there are a couple of others worth taking a look at as well. They are the Celestron Advanced VX6 SCT and the SkyWatcher Evostar ED80 Pro and both offer value when it comes to astrophotography.
Yes! As a refractor telescope, you can purchase an erect image diagonal to achieve correct orientation observation for use on short-range objects, i.e. wildlife, birds, etc. With an APO system, you’ll also appreciate the incredible resolution and color fidelity for birdwatching, and perhaps, even digiscoping.
It is an 80 mm refractor telescope which is plenty for terrestrial observation, and you can change out eyepieces to achieve the “right” amount of magnification for this type of viewing. This would typically be lower between the 20-60x range.
You can view planetary features on Jupiter and Saturn, but they will still be somewhat small as this is more of a wide-field and DSO telescope. You may want to add a Barlow lens for additional magnification. The highest useful magnification this telescope can achieve is 160x. Pushing magnification beyond that will compromise in visual and imaging quality.
Yes! The focuser can rotate on its mount regardless of optical tube orientation for easy use of the focuser and knobs. You can also remove the shoe and opt to use mounting rings if that is your preference.
It will fit most Orion mounts and non-brand mounts with a Vixen dovetail system. For example, it will fit a Celestron Advanced VX mount or Orion EQ series mounts. You can opt for Alt-azimuth, computerized tracking mount systems, or you can even mount it to a camera tripod with the integrated ¼”-20 acceptor.
In my opinion the Orion ED80T CF Apochromatic Refractor telescope is a very versatile telescope. It has the potential to pump out fantastic astro images while also performing well as an excellent visual telescope. It can be mounted to most modern mounts to truly be setup on a platform that you desire. Lightweight and portable, the Orion telescope is practically a do-it-all optic.