Posted 04 May 2013 - 10:27 AM
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Posted 11 May 2013 - 06:13 PM
and all that...
Posted 18 May 2015 - 04:54 PM
Well let me say up front, I feel in some ways the GEM vs. Fork debate is partly religious, lol. Many are the one or the other it seems. I did spend a lot of time researching this item to come to my decision, however I am comfy with it now. When the LX800 was announced that was my target scope, however when Meade announced the LX600 I moved to that one. But....
I then decided to learn more on the topic. LOTS of opinions either way. My issues were relative portability, versatility, and support for astrophotography. Though I have pretty good seeing conditions here in Rio Rancho, New Mexico I do go out for public events or really good remote locations in the New Mexico high desert (skies are amazing here at 7,500' and up). I will have an observatory in a year, but I still want mobility. This is where the rub comes in. The 14" LX850 comes in just over 250 lbs, However the parts of the scope are much lighter with the heaviest being 63 lb. This becomes more manageable. For the LX600, judging from the specs and shipping weight, my guess is the OTA/Fork mount will come in around 100 lbs - yikes! And if doing Astrophotography you will need the Wedge - more weight. I do have the "Super Wedge" on my LX200 Classic which is a must have for astrophotography, but it is a heavy deal with the tripod.
BTW - portability is a relative term here, but it is manageable.
Next item is versatility. With the LX850 mount I can put other telescopes on it. Right now I am eyeing the Coronado 90mm scope. I might even get the APO refractor for quick travel (yeah, Meade will love me). And that is the point - I can do this with the LX850. I cannot with the LX600 - the OTA is integrated with the fork mount. No quick switches there, nor would I do it. Can I mount stuff all over the LX600? Yes, but it soon gets unmanageable and the quick grab and go goes out the window. Why use the entire OTA/fork to just use a 90mm scope? Hence with the LX850 I get more bang for the buck - I won't need a different mount for each telescope.
Last is astrophotography, which the LX850 is made for. With a GEM, the OTA is closer to the main axis than the fork mount hence your problem with flexure is much lower (note, for the 14" to mitigate the flexure problem Meade moved the Starlock to the top of the telescope to further manage this problem). The GEM is rock solid and will provide for very stable images. Meridian flip can be a problem for long exposures, but the LX850 will let you go up to 20 deg past the meridian before flipping (I wouldn't push it though). To further mitigate this problem just plan accordingly. Also, with much of today's cameras and software tools, you will not be taking the multi-hour pictures of the past. You will take shorter ones and stack them. So unless you are doing very long exposures tracking asteroids or such, you should be fine for nebula, star clusters, galaxies and our solar system.
The main problem with the LX850 is EVERY TIME you will have to not only polar align your telescope, you will also have to balance it properly. You should not have to do this with a fork mount. However, if you keep your scope in an observatory or outside for a few days, the LX850 has a "park" position - when done just park it and leave it (nicely protected of course). When ready to observe, turn it back on and it goes into action - already balanced and aligned. Pretty nifty! So, you may not have to balance the LX850 every time once set up, though if you change cameras or add/remove equipment you will have to rebalance.
Last item - I have the Canon 60Da. WONDERFUL DSLR! Nice for both Astro picts AND regular picts. I got mine 2 days before the Annular Eclipse over New Mexico last May. Literally one of the first ones out of production and just in time. It worked perfectly out of the box! I got some great photos of the eclipse! 2 weeks or so later I was in Michigan to catch the Transit of Venus with the Sun setting over Lake Michigan. Great picts AND video from the Canon 60Da. I also got my first really good picts of the Ring Nebula and Orion Nebula. Not "Pro" level, but quite good (I need to learn all the tools out there). You will do a lot with that camera. My next camera is the MallinCam for video astronomy.
Well that is my quick insight on the LX850. Well, sort of quick!
thanks for the wonderful insight, I was a little afraid I made the wrong choice maybe not, thanks for the write up. and there is a lx 600 owner close so help isn't far
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