SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED Review

by Paweł of https://astrophotons.com

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I just bought my first real telescope – the SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED! I have been looking for a beginner astrophotography telescope for a few months (upgrade from a telephoto lens), and the time to choose finally came. There were two deciding factors to determine to pick up a telescope for me: optical quality and weight. The glass quality is crucial for astrophotography, and the weight aspect is even more significant to me because I want to use a telescope on my portable equatorial mount (Fornax Lightrack II). Mobile mounts generally have low load capacity, so every pound matters. So how well the SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED telescope fits my needs? Let’s find out!

Specification

Type: apochromatic refractor (2-element ED lens with MHC Multi-Coating)
Aperture: 72mm
Focal length: 420mm
Focal ratio: f/5.8
Focuser: dual-speed (1:10) 2” Crayford
Tube weight: 4.3 pounds (1,96 kg)

What comes in the box

Aluminum case

The supplied case is solid. There are keys included, so you can safely secure your astrophotography gear.

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED with aluminum case

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED with aluminum case

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An interior of the case. There is space for some additional accessories (filters, cables, etc.).

An interior of the case. There is space for some additional accessories (filters, cables, etc.).

Refractor (OTA)

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED APO refractor telescope.

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED APO refractor telescope.

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Dovetail bar, support rings, and finderscope holder

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What comes not

There is no finderscope included, no eyepieces/diagonals, and no field flattener. This telescope is not straight-from-the-box-ready neither for stargazing nor astrophotography. You have to buy some additional accessories on your own (more on that later).

It’s tiny and lightweight

Look how small this refractor is. It’s more like a telephoto lens than a telescope. You can take it outside and photograph nature (birds, animals, etc.) with ease.

Skywatcher Evostar 72ED is SMALL. Great for trips, it easily fits in hand luggage.

Skywatcher Evostar 72ED is SMALL. Great for trips, it easily fits in hand luggage.

The focuser is ultra-smooth

Using a Bahintov mask, focusing this telescope is a breeze. Microfocuser works perfectly. I have never had such sharp pictures before using lenses without micro focusers.

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED 2″ Crayford-type dual-speed focuser. So smooth and precise.

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED 2″ Crayford-type dual-speed focuser. So smooth and precise.

Optical quality seems to be great

SkyWatcher company doesn’t give us a specification for the glass they use for this telescope, so I don’t know if it’s FPL-53 or not, yet I don’t see any signs of chromatic aberration or other color-correction imperfections on astro-pictures I take. There is little vignetting, easily correctable in post-processing (I always recommend to take flat frames anyway, check out my astrophotography post-processing routine).

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED optics

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED optics

Equipping SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED for astrophotography

As I wrote earlier, this telescope needs some additional accessories to be 100% ready for astrophotography. I paired this refractor with a William Optics 1:1 field flattener (a suggested flattener by my supplier, no focal length change), and an Orion SkyGlow Imaging filter (light pollution killer). This setup gives me a corrected field of view (not 100% flat, but close to it), and allows me to take longer exposures in my light-polluted location.

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First shots

All below pictures were tracked with Fornax Lightrack II on the dedicated wedge, unguided. The camera I used was Fuji X-T20. These photos are more like test shots rather than final images, but the current weather in Poland don’t allow me to spend a full night entirely on one object (as I recommend in my astrophotography for beginners guide), especially when I’m testing a new piece of hardware. Don’t judge this scope by those pictures finally; better ones are coming in the future. SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED is fully capable of this.

Orion Nebula (M42)

7 x 60s, ISO 3200, 24 dark frames.

7 x 60s, ISO 3200, 24 dark frames.

Pleiades Star Cluster (M45)

25 x 60s, ISO 3200, 24 dark frames

25 x 60s, ISO 3200, 24 dark frames

Horsehead (Barnard 33) and Flame (NGC 2024) Nebulae

4 x 60s, ISO 3200, 25 dark frames

4 x 60s, ISO 3200, 25 dark frames

Conclusions

SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED is a fantastic APO refractor telescope for beginners! The price is excellent, the build quality is fantastic, and the mobility of this instrument is unbeatable. As for the time of writing this (November 2018), I’m just starting to use this telescope. I will update this review in the future, so if you are interested in a long-term review of the SkyWatcher Evostar 72ED, subscribe to my astrophotography newsletter to get notified about the update (and grab a free eBook)! As for now, I consider this refractor as a fantastic beginner astrophotography telescope due to its lightweight, wide field of view (mount forgiving), and a very affordable price.