Going smaller might be better if you’re into astrophotography, and if weight and cost are primary factors in your decision, I think you should consider the SkyWatcher Evostar 72 APO Refractor.
This OTA is easily one of the best beginner telescopes you can buy. Although it lacks accessories and a mount/tripod system, you gain in optical quality, and this is vital for imaging.
You know what they say – there is no substitute for optical quality.
So, what are the astro imaging realities of this telescope? Let’s dig in.
SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED Refractor Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: APO doublet
❌ Worst Feature: Lack of optical transparency
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Astrophotography, Beginners, Intermediates
- Optical Design: Refractor
- Aperture: 72 mm
- Focal Length: 420 mm
- Focal Ratio: f/5.8
- Eyepieces Included: None
My Verdict: Four words – a pleasure to use. In my opinion the SkyWatcher Evostar 72 APO telescope may be an underdog overcrowded by the competition, but its good optics and fast focal specs make it a viable imaging telescope. Short and compact, I believe the Evostar will be a default telescope for the road.
Who is the SkyWatcher Evostar 72 APO Best Suited to?
I believe the Evostar would make an excellent first-time telescope for any beginner. Even though the OTA is likely what you’d want to pay for a complete telescope package, you’re gaining in optical quality. I think beginners should be aware of the fact that additional spending is imminent for a quality mount, eyepieces, and additional accessories.
Intermediates may wander on over to the smaller end of the aperture spectrum purely because it’s a refractor, it has a low price point, and of course, its APO optics. This adds up to a scope that I think is pretty powerful in terms of image quality but is also lightweight and easier to transport. As one of our favorite portable travel telescopes, I love that it is convenient to haul and therefore is a telescope that will most likely be used more often.
How Does the SkyWatcher Evostar 72 APO Perform?
One word – excellently. For the price, I think it performs better than expected and even though it has a rather small aperture, a refractor with an ED glass doublet makes up for what a larger aperture can achieve but cannot match the resolving, contrast, and color fidelity benefits the Evostar can offer.
The only “accessory” that comes with the Evostar is a 2” Crayford dual-speed focuser. It works exactly as expected with its smooth course and fine adjustments. Yes, you can use 1.25” accessories if you so desire.
If you wanted to leave the house with the Evostar, it couldn’t be easier. The OTA is unbelievably compact and lightweight. There will be no issues transporting this telescope to whichever location you desire – backyard, hilltop, cemetery…?
Features & Benefits
It’s kind of a misnomer to say this is an APO optic because technically, it only has two lenses. Therefore, it’s an achromatic doublet. An APO brings three wavelengths of light to the same focal point and usually means there is a third lens involved. If SkyWatcher has discovered a new way to do this with a doublet, they’re staying quiet about it, but I don’t think that’s the case.
Based on the fact that they disclose the Evostar as an ED doublet makes more sense for its price point. While ED elements in an achromat doublet sure do help to correct for aberrations, there still may be minimal but visible color fringing, spherical aberration, and coma. A corrector lens, like a field flattener, is not included but is optional and can be used to improve wide-field imaging.
Good Focal Specs
This telescope is often used for astrophotography and helps to get amateur users in the door with the right kind of optics needed to improve their imaging skills. Why such a small aperture though? Too often a larger aperture is pushed on the buyer like it’s the make-or-break factor of a successful telescope.
While larger light buckets are desirable for visual viewing and even for higher magnification, a smaller aperture on a refractor can do wonders for imaging. One such example is that it’s suitable for wide-field, low power photography. You can capture more in your field of view and optical issues won’t be magnified as much.
The Evostar OTA is a 72 mm, f/5.8 fast telescope. With fast optics, you can expect better resolution thanks to the increase in the SNR (signal-to-noise-ratio). This means that photons can move faster within the system which improves resolution.
Lastly, there’s no getting around the fact that the scope has a short focal length. This may prove to be limiting to go after small targets, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. It just means the photo will be smaller. For example, an f/6 may capture an image of a faint, deep-sky target with a shorter exposure compared to an f/12, but the image will only be, say, half the size. If your DSLR camera is unable to reach focus due to the focal length, an extension tube added to your imaging chain may be able to help with this.
Given its list of highlights and benefits, I think the Evostar is a great astrophotography scope for the beginner imager. You may want to opt for a longer focal length on an upgrade as you’ve developed some skills and necessary techniques. Regardless, many have taken excellent astro images with this very OTA.
With the right choice in quality accessories, astro imaging equipment, and a high-quality mount, you can achieve images of DSOs that include bright nebulae like the favorite Orion Nebula M42, Andromeda Galaxy M41, and NGC 1499. Even dark nebulae like Horsehead can be captured. But, this is not done without skill and the right gear.
Compact & Lightweight
It’s almost ridiculous how lightweight this OTA is. It weighs a mere 4.3 lbs. The tube length is 16.5” and is fixed because the dew shield is not retractable. The width of the tube is 3.5”. Beyond just the portable benefits of transporting this OTA, one of the biggest advantages of its lightweight and compact body is the fact that it can basically fit onto any mount.
The Vixen-style dovetail plate will fit any modern mount. Due to the small weight of the OTA, you don’t have to be so weight conscious when choosing the right one. I would suggest a mount with a 30 lb payload capacity at minimum to allow you to pack on an extra 15 lbs of astro imaging accessories including the camera. So, choosing the right mount with a motor will prove to be a very important and costly decision. Start off right and don’t skimp on the mount.
Lack of Optical Transparency
SkyWatcher is not releasing any information about the type of glass they use. The only thing I know is that they use a synthetic fluorite-like ED element in the refractor doublet – or at least, that’s the rumor. I would assume, based on the imaging quality, that it provides similar CA-free benefits of FL-51. Based on its price point, it’s likely not high-grade and premium glass, so there will be some visible CA, although minimal, field curvature around the very edges of the field of view, but contrast and resolution should be spot on.
Other Telescopes to Consider
If you are interested in the EvoStar 72ED for astrophotography, you might like to take a look at a couple of alternative options that are great for astrophotography. They are the Celestron Advanced VX6 SCT and the SkyWatcher Evostar ED80 Pro.
None. Okay, well a 2” Crayford focuser, mounting rings, and a Vixen-style dovetail mounting bar is included. But they’re always standard attachments with an OTA. An aluminum hard carry case is included but does not fit in the case with any accessories that you attach. Accessories must be removed. No eyepieces, diagonal, finder scope, or field flattener is included. It is not your ready-to-go telescope. You must purchase all the necessary equipment before you can start observing.
Yes, you can but there is a catch. The catch is it doesn’t come with a 1.25” adapter. Fortunately, you can get an adapter to use 1.25” eyepieces and a 1.25” diagonal, but the focuser is set up to use 2” accessories from the get-go.
The OTA has a V-style dovetail rail that will fit most modern Alt-azimuth and equatorial mounts. For imaging, your best bet is to opt for a computerized equatorial mount for tracking. A high payload capacity is recommended since you want to stay within half of the weight limits to avoid putting undue strain on the drive. Having more weight is better, especially if you plan to add autoguiding equipment and the like.
Absolutely! There is no hard and fast rule that this is only an astrophotography telescope. You’ll achieve excellent views of the night sky and as a refractor telescope you can also use it for terrestrial viewing. An erect image diagonal would be needed to reorient the view, but with it, you can use it for observing wildlife, identify bullet groupings at the range, or for birdwatching.
However, for visual-only purposes, you could spend less on a Newtonian reflector like a Dobsonian and get more “scope” (a larger aperture) for the money. This scope is also not ready to go out of the box as you still need to acquire a mount system, finder scope, eyepieces, and any other accessories you may need. If you plan on doing any imaging in the future, the Evostar would be worth the price.
Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of information available on the Evostar 72 telescope. No instructions are included that I’m aware of, and neither can they be found online. This would make it extremely difficult for the beginner to get started, but not impossible. Following a user manual for a similar and comparable telescope would prove to be helpful.
In my opinion the SkyWatcher Evostar 72 APO Refractor is a great, little imaging telescope.
For something so small, it has a lot of potential. With the right mounting system, you can go far and wide with it. Low price, great optics, and minimal weight.
It’s a winning telescope for the aspiring astro imager on a budget.