Friday, May 29, 2009

A users opinion (review): Tele Vue Pronto, Part One

“User review”. Sort of an oxymoron. A user may or may not be an authority on the subject they are reviewing, but nevertheless, user reviews seem to be the thing to do on the internet. Thankfully, I am no authority but I am a user (salt anyone?). So whatever you do with this so-called review, should it be called that, just remember, it’s just an opinion. You can disagree, agree or simply not care.

Tele Vue Pronto History:
This is not my first Pronto. This is my second. Most people associate me with my old Celestron 102mm, not a Tele Vue Pronto, but it’s actually true, I used to own a Pronto. My first Pronto was excellent, bought brand new from EfstonScience sometime in the late 90’s. It was my great little “do everything” scope. I sold it. Why? A moment of being a total moron I suppose. Oh well, I was young and stupid with telescopes then. But I am not going to review that Pronto, I am going to review my current one.

Pronto’s burst on the scene in 1992. Pronto’s are built like little tanks, slightly hefty in it’s diminutive 70mm aperture. The bad thing about the Pronto is that it costs more than a thousand dollars in 1992. It was retired with the release of Tele Vue’s newer doublet APO’s, the TV76 and TV85. I came across Pronto #2 while looking for a high quality, portable rig that would not set me back too much dollar wise and lucky me, I remembered what fond memories I had of Pronto #1 (and then proceeded to kick myself for selling it). I was recently dissatisfied with the erratic quality control of the Chinese imported refractors although I do know there are superb samples out there, but anyway. So looking through Astro Buy and Sell I stumbled upon a used one from a gentleman in Montreal who’s identity I will not say because I didn’t ask if I should publish his name. But the experience was top notch and Pronto #2 showed up in excellent condition with a balance plate, soft bag and red dot finder as promised and for an excellent price.

It came with a Stellarvue red dot finder, but I dropped it and broke it slightly so I was fortunate that my friend Robin gave me a virtually unused Quikpoint. They are okay, but my first Pronto had a Starbeam, that's a red dot finder! Too bad they are expensive. First problem was trying to mount it. Tele Vue with it’s clamshell adapter is not something that is easy to work with if you don’t know how to drill things and you don’t want me to do any drilling. At first I mounted it to a Manfrotto 050 tripod and 128 head. This combo is okay for day usage but is terrible for astronomy as working at the zenith is almost impossible. It was a yucky experience to say the least. So I gathered an adapter to mount it to the AZ3 from SkyWatcher, a simple camera mount adapter. This improved things for the most part but the best set up, to put it on the Super Polaris Mount, well, that’s a different story. Again, luck would have it, I came across the SP mounting plate and was able to mount the Pronto to the saddle (or lack of a saddle). Here you will see the three different configurations.

Observing with the Pronto:
That's another story, wait for part II.

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