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VIXEN A105M Achromatic Refractor - AstroShop

A great Japanese made achromat refractor - A105M

a scope for true refractorholics & long focal length achromat romantics

As a kid starting out in astronomy I recall how I used to browse wishfully over the ads for long focal length Unitron refractors but, which were way out of my pocket money range. Before the rise of low-cost Chinese manufacturing, all affordable telescopes then came largely out of Japan and mostly all from the Vixen factory and often under other brand names. Like the old cars of the 60's and 70's, they were built to last and more often than not, boasted very good optics. If you started out your journey with a good refractor then expectations of how one should optically perform are set. Despite the many fine low-cost designs coming out of China today, the old adage "you get what you pay for" certainly rings true when comparing to the excellent achromat refractors still manufactured out of Japan today.

Having owned, reviewed, and sold countless telescopes over the years, I was deeply impressed during  my first "hands-on" (somewhat overdue) opportunity to check out Vixen's A105M f/9.5 refractor.
I certainly wasn't disappointed... If I had, then I guess you wouldn't be reading this brief review.

 

SPECIFICATIONS
Aperture: 105mm (f/9.5)
Focal Length: 1000mm
Optical coating Fully Multi-coated
Resolving: 1.1 arc seconds Limit mag 11.9
Focuser:: 2 inch Vixen classic smooth R&P
Finder: Vixen Red Dot variable brightness
Weight: 4.3 kg (body only 3.4Kg)
Diagonal: Vixen Flip Mirror 2-inch with T2 adaption
Portability: Carry handle
Mounting: Standard Vixen dovetail
Colour: Vixen white

Above: Vixen's classic A105M achromat refractor optical tube with flip mirror and red dot finder.

Out of the box

Nice and securely boxed within other boxes the optical tube is well packaged for safe transport from factory. It includes a red dot adjustable and variable brightness finder plus a 2 inch Vixen flip mirror assembly that has T-thread camera output and 2 x 1.25 inch eyepiece visual adaptors. Can also take 2-inch eyepieces with optional T2 to 2-inch adaptor. It features the classic non-slip super safe non-hinged Vixen tube rings which I feel all telescopes should have. They're easy to loosen with confidence allowing you to slide the optical tube back or forward for balancing without being concerned that the entire tube may fall off the mount.
The focuser knobs are nice solid metal black anodised and an optional dual speed version can be fitted.

Although I've not heard of one failing, I'm not much of a fan for Vixen's flexi carry handles but one is supplied attached across the top of the tube rings for easy lifting and carrying. A better optional upgrade is the metal version #3870.
Looking down the tube there are three nicely spaced and well matt blackened baffles to minimise stray light internal reflections. The focuser is a classic Vixen helical cut rack & pinion 2 inch which is smooth to turn and rock steady. I certainly couldn't detect any shifting while observing Jupiter with a 7mm eyepiece. Vixen do certainly make nice R&P focusers.
 

The OTA comes with standard Vixen style finder scope shoe with chunky knurled chrome tightening knob plus an additional machined section for an easy to fit  additional finder mounting shoe  so you can attach a second finder scope if you wish. I prefer optical finders so used a basic Sky-Watcher 6X30 instead of the red dot.

Above: Vixen A105M achromat refractor with GP2 German equatorial mount. Beautifully gloss finished in white like a classic telescope should be (my opinion of course).
With the fine smooth operation of the GP2 or GPD2 mount or a EQ5 pr HEQ5 mount this telescope is indeed a classic for those who love observing the Moon, the planets, splitting double stars with high contrast. With low power eyepieces it yields awesome deep sky vistas of nebulae and star clusters alike and will satisfy anyone looking for the ultimate 4 inch achromat refractor.

So down to the business end of things. Having recently reviewed a Bresser Messier achromat of similar focal length and very good value for the price in this type of telescope, I was quickly reminded about the superiority of Japanese made optics over these and others like Sky-Watcher when testing the Vixen A105M refractor. The in and out of focus star images are text book perfect with nice evenly illuminated diffraction rings from the centre all the way out. The amount of chromatic aberration (CA) seen along the limb of the Moon and around the disk of Jupiter (when in focus ) was significantly less than any other refractor in it's class I've played with in the past. This says much for the excellent lens figuring process and fully multi-coated optical surfaces.  
To a true appreciator of long focal length achromat refractors and seasoned visual planetary observers in particular, a little CA ain't so bad if the refractor itself yields excellent high contrast views. I was so pleased to see this was the case with the A105M. Lunar craters were revealed with razor sharp clarity having strong definition between direct sunlit areas to regions in shadow. It was a joy to make out the tiny disks of the Jovian moons and the subtle baby poo brown hues of Jupiter's main equatorial belts. But, I wanted to try the excellent Baader contrast boosting filter which I have grown to really love in the last few months to mask / filter what little CA I could see when using higher powers of the Vixen NLV9 and later, the William Optics 7mm eyepieces. This filter really does make a nice difference to any achromat or even apochromatic refractor for those who love observing the Moon and planets. However, like anything, when you start with really superb optics, enhancement filters like these can only make the views even better.

In summary, if you truly want a very fine achromatic refractor that delivers distinctly sharper views over low-priced Chinese made alternatives, something that looks sleek and you will be very proud to own then the Vixen A105M refractor is by far the best choice.

  


BUY IT NOW from AstroShop Australia  and ensure full protected authorised distributor warranty & support.

Note: AstroShop reviews are only intended to provide prospective purchasers our own first hand impressions of performance and build as has been our long time policy.

 

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