||Bausch & Lomb Professional 200
||114mm f/7.9 Newtonian reflector, 6x30mm finder, 25mm & 9mm Kellner eyepieces, $549 CAD.
||If you are in to portable Newtonians on an EQ mount, this scope might be for you! I got to compare this unit directly with Meade's ubiquitous 4500, and I must say in every area, the Pro 200 was better. The scope is a long tube (900mm focal length) Newt with a 114mm parabolic mirror mounted on an EQ-1 style mount. The entire rig weighs just 42 pounds and is very easy to transport in even the smallest car. It includes a decent 6x30mm finder scope and a 1.25 inch metal rack and pinion focuser. The adjustable aluminum tripod has a handy accessory tray built into it. The scope comes with two decent quality Kellner eyepieces - a 25mm and a 9mm. It also comes with a 2x Barlow lens and a neutral gray Moon filter.
|| The tube of the scope is aluminum and it is seamless. This allows for easy turning in the mount rings to get the focuser at a comfortable position. The all metal tripod is sturdy and holds this OTA well - MUCH more stable than the Meade 4500 mount that I compared it to. The quality rack and pinion focuser has a very smooth movement and holds it's focus very well. The 6x30 finder is an achromat, and presents a fairly bright image of the sky. M13 was visible in the finder as a non-stellar patch of light. The four vein spider holds the secondary firmly in place and has easily accessable adjustment screws. The rear cell of the primary also has three hex bolts for doing collimation. The system is slow enough that collimation is fairly easy to achieve and the scope holds it quite well, even after frequent transporting. Overall the quality of the construction is very good, and the appearance is alos very good - the paint job on the OTA is quite superb!
||I found the optics on my B&L Pro 200 to be a tad sharper than the Meade 4500 I compared it to. The addition of a Telrad made pointing this scope a little easier, as the EQ mount combined with the long tube resulted in some akward pointing positions. The mount itself is sturdy and the slow motion controls on both axis are reasonably smooth. Oddly, this mount includes worm gears on both axis, unlike other cheaper EQ-1 knock-offs that use a spring loaded mechanism on the Declination axis. As I said, the optics on this unit were very sharp, and it performed very well for a 4.5 inch scope. M13 showed itself as a big granular sphere, with some of the edge stars just starting to resolve. Double stars loooked particularly nice in this scope - showing good separation on tight ones and excellent colour contrast on examples like Gamma Andromedae. Planetary performance was as good or better than any 4.5 inch scope I've used - Jupiter routinely showed two equatorial belts, some mottling was also evident. I owned this scope during a period where the GRS was very badly faded, so I never got to see it through this scope. Saturn showed a nice sandy colour at the eyepiece, with the colour contrast of the two main rings plainly evident. The Cassini division was also visible on nights of good seeing. I found both Kellners to be quite good, and the 2x Barlow did a decent job of boosting the power. For casual observing, this scope has everything required to provide years of enjoyment. For serious observation, upgrading the eyepieces to Plössls or better would be recommended.
- Sharp optics
- Reasonably portable package
- Good value - includes many extras
- EQ mount can be motorized
- EQ mount and tripod are good and stable
- High quality construction and professional appearance
- EQ mount can be a bit tough to use for a newbie - and that is this scope's target market
- Stigma attached as "trash department store scope" - but this scope is not in that vein
- Kellner eyepieces are find for casual use, but need to be replaced if serious study is to be performed
||Overall, this scope is a suprisingly good performer. It's priced a little higher than other scopes in it's class, and it's certainly much better overall than the department store competition with which it is lumped in with. The good array of eyepieces, Barlow and filter give the beginner plenty of tools to start out with. This scope is a portable and very capable astro companion.
The Bottom Line? Recommended (Sharp optics, portable package, well built, great price).