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PRODUCT REVIEW

SAXON  FCD102 

TRIPLET APOCHROMAT REFRACTOR

SAXON  FCD102

Affordable High Grade Colour free views

Asked to check out the latest addition to Saxon's range of high end refractor telescopes which have been growing in popularity, their latest fleet of optical tubes are a deluxe grade air-spaced apochromatic refractor in apertures 80mm, a 102mm and 127mm offerings.
Relying on technological innovations, the manufacturers have successfully launched the high-performance optical glass at the apex of the FCD family and these lovely telescopes feature extremely high-grade Japanese Hoya FCD100 optics and thus combining it with optical glass of high refractive index allows them to achieve unprecedented advanced chromatic aberration correction. Hoya FCD100 is considered the best glass ever produced by Hoya and we can attest that the 102mm f/7 model we tested yielded beautiful colour free, super contrasty images at the eyepiece and is particularly well geared towards serious portrait astrophotography. 

SPECIFICATIONS

Aperture: 102mm (triplet air-spaced apochromat)
Focal length: 714mm
Focal Ratio: f/7
Optical design: Japanese made FCD100 EMD refractor
Focuser: 2 inch rotatable dual speed focuser
Eyepiece: 2" 28mm LET
Finderscope: 9x50 erect image (90 degree)
Finder mounting: Vixen style dovetail shoe
Diagonal: 2 inch dielectric diagonal with 1.25" adapter and
M42 x 0.75 male camera thread.

Mounting plate: Vixen style with non marring rail OTA Weight: 4.9 Kg (without accessories) with finder and diagonal 5.95Kg
Tube length: with extended dew shield: 630mm
and with retracted dew shield: 558mm
Dew Shield: Retractable 145mm diameter
Other: 2 x 54mm threaded 37mm length extension / spacer rings are supplied for visual and other spacing requirements.

Includes slotted carry handle between the tube rings to allow for a piggyback camera or guide scope to be attached and also balanced within the system.

SAXON  FCD102
Saxon FCD102 focuser

Straight out of the box, the optical tube unit is ready to fit directly to any Vixen, Sky-Watcher / Saxon and other Vixen style mount receiver head. Add the supplied and very handy 9 x 50 erect image right angle finderscope and 2 inch 90 degree dielectric mirror diagonal with carbon fibre sides and you're ready to go. Lovely white finish with solid black CNC machined component and non-marring compression ring interfaces at visual back and in the diagonal.
One interesting point to note is that the scope is optimised for astrophotography and thus requires use of one of the supplied thread on extension tubes to achieve focus when using the instrument visually with the 2 inch diagonal. The entire focuser can be rotated through 360 degrees if need be by simply loosening a knurled, chrome focus rotation locking screw. 


For astrophotography, the two inch draw tube is metrically engraved for easy user reference of camera focus positions... most important and time saving if setting up your camera each session and alternating between visual and photographic use. I was pleasantly surprised at the gripping strength of the focuser when the telescope is pointed overhead and the buttery smooth action of the dual speed focuser is a pleasure to use.
I found the front end dust cap a little disappointing in that it does not fit over the dew shield but rather the primary lens cell inside. To fit or remove it the dew shield must be retracted. While this is not in itself much of an issue, it was more the astro-photographer in me thinking about taking those dark frames if you don't use a filter wheel with dark frame light blocker fitted. So if you normally cover the front of the scope you'll have to either retract the dew shield to fit the existing dust cover (after removing dew heater strap) and take your darks then or construct your own dark frame cover. For all it's good points, it's a minor issue in my opinion.
Nothing makes ones heart drop to the floor like a diagonal that slips in its holder resulting in a nice eyepiece landing on the ground. So what really drew my attention is the 3 large chrome plated thumb screws for tightening the 2 inch visual back adaptor securely via an internal compression ring. In fact the same set up can be found at the eyepiece end on the supplied 2 inch dielectric diagonal. Its a good method for both securing the diagonal and valuable eyepieces as well as maintaining optical collimation. As can be seen in the diagram below, the 2 inch to 1.25 inch eyepiece adaptor has internal compression ring but only 1 chrome thumb screw for securing an eyepiece.


SAXON  FCD102 focuser visual back

First Light

Aligning the finder and fitting my trusted Vixen LVW22 eyepiece, bringing a nice rich bright star field into sharp focus was a joy to behold. Pinpoint stars and excellent spherical correction across the field told me that this instrument has been figured and assembled with great care. Switching to the high power of a Vixen LV7 eyepiece I moved the scope to the nice bright star star Achernar in the constellation Eridanus. No slight purple or bluish halo or fringing was detectable ... just a nice airy disc that came and went with changes in the seeing. Moving just inside and outside of focus revealed perfect whitish concentric diffraction rings.
In summary, I was very impressed with this instrument to say the least and my curiosity about FCD100 Hoya optics is now fulfilled and without disappointment. 

Value for money and optical performance, it cuts equally or above many other higher priced apochromatic grade refractors in its class.
Although realities of keeping prices low find it supplied in a cardboard box like most things, I believe such a fine optical instrument truly deserves a sturdy padded carry case for storage and taking into the field. The supplied 28mm 2 inch LET eyepiece is nice enough to complete the unit as a ready to go item however you will no doubt want to use more deserving oculars with this scope.
With its true diffraction-limited optical design and sized to encourage spontaneous stargazing sessions, this high-quality telescope is a perfect grab-and-go instrument for exploring the the night sky.


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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