The ED80 ED-G is a real hidden gem from Orion; this 80mm refractor is a rich field scope that performs well for tons of stargazing applications but is one of the best-optimized astrophotography scopes available.
This scope is a doublet, which means the lens is comprised of two pieces of glass to reduce chromatic aberrations. It’s not quite as accomplished as a triplet but, since it uses less glass, it’s significantly cheaper than Orion’s newer triplets.
This apochromatic doublet features an FPL-53 lens element, which is considered the industry standard. It produces incredibly accurate color and aberration control without any extra bells and whistles. For this reason, it’s remained a firm favorite astrophotography scope for many years.
This refractor belongs to the Sirius range from Orion, which also features an 8″ reflector. The crown jewel of this range is the 7″ (180mm) Sirius EQ-G Maksutov-Cassegrain scope. Still, this scope sits north of the $2,000 mark, making it a bit pricey for many astronomers looking to dip their toes into the astrophotography pond.
The ED80 ED-G is several hundred dollars cheaper than the pricey Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope in the range. At around $1600, the ED80 has become one of the most trusted setups for bright deep-sky viewing and astrophotography.
In the rest of this review, we’ll look at whether it’s worth that money.
Things to Consider Before Buying
This scope is ideal for astronomers with some experience under their belts who are looking to try their hand at astrophotography. The most critical inclusion with this scope is its high-quality computerized equatorial mount with plenty of capacity to spare for mounting cameras and accessories.
The ED80 provides incredibly sharp high-power images without the need for a Barlow or short focal length eyepiece.
This scope handles chromatic aberration very well, which will save you tons of time in post-production if you’re buying this scope for astrophotography.
(If you aren’t interested in astrophotography, investing in a telescope with such a limited aperture isn’t wise, instead, check out our pick of this year’s best telescopes for a larger alternative.)
The ED80’s focal ratio of f/7.5 is ‘middle of the road’ in terms of speed. It’s a slow-fast scope, or fast-slow scope, depending on how you want to view it.
In practice, what this means is you don’t get super-wide fields of view – you’ll need a faster model for that – but it does nevertheless deliver on large deep sky objects almost (but not quite) as well as it does for smaller clusters and planets.
Features and Benefits
Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a relative newbie, the ED80 from Orion is packed with features that make this one of the most compelling refractors in the sub-$2000 price range (today’s price, opens in new tab).
Let’s take a closer look at the features that set this impressive scope apart.
When it comes to telescopes, five critical attributes affect the quality and performance of a telescope, they are:
- Optical Performance
- Mount Performance
- Included Equipment
- Set-up & Use
- What You Can See
Standard Magnification Table
The table below shows the magnification levels you’ll achieve with this scope using a 25mm, 18mm, and 10mm eyepiece. The bottom row shows what this would be with a 2x Barlow Lens.
|With 2x Barlow:||48x||66x||120x|
If there’s one aspect of this scope that’s tough to beat, it’s the optical performance.
This telescope offers incredibly sharp image clarity thanks to it’s fully coated 80mm apochromatic air-spaced doublet lens. The extra-low dispersion glass allows for superior light transmission, revealing more detail in fainter deep sky objects.
Users report that there is no chromatic aberration when used visually, but the brightest objects can display it, e.g. stars under high contrast.
The f/7.5 focal ratio allows this scope to produce incredibly sharp high-power images without the need for a Barlow lens or similar eyepiece, while the 600mm focal length helps you enjoy detailed views of small objects.
Ideally, you’ll combine this scope with a field flattener for best astrophotography results. More on that below.
Surprisingly, the ED80 only ships with a single-speed 2” Crayford focuser. The all-metal design is durable, works well for visual and imaging work, and can be upgraded to a dual-speed model, but it’s disappointing that dual-speed is not supplied as standard.
To buy the OTA alone, i.e. without a mount, click here.
For viewing the skies from your backyard, a top-quality mount may not be necessary. But if you’re interested in astrophotography, a high-quality mount is as crucial a part of your setup as the telescope.
Fortunately for the photogs among us, the ED80 comes with Orion’s high-quality EQ-G computerized mount. This mount offers a computerized hand control with motorized tracking and a vast database of nearly 43,000 different celestial objects.
The GoTo system and hand controller are both intuitive and easy to use. Users can select from a 42,900 object database, or if you prefer, the GoTo system can take you on a tour of some of the most well-loved objects the night sky has to offer.
The dual-axis stepper motors inside this mount will slew your scope at up to 3.4° per second. Periodic error correction is also standard to help with near-perfect tracking of objects whilst you view or image them.
The mount has an impressive load capacity of 30 pounds, so there is ample room for mounting cameras and other accessories to your telescope. An illuminated polar-axis scope allows for quick and straightforward polar alignment and a large dovetail mounting bar with offset adjustment screws for the optical axis.
While the Sirius mount is lighter than most other high-quality EQ options, it’s still incredibly sturdy thanks to its 1.75” diameter legs. The spreader plate is made of cast-metal for added durability, and it features a variety of holes for storing your eyepieces.
If there’s one knock against this mount, it requires a separate power source to power the GoTo system. It seems like a no-brainer for Orion to include one in the box, but they don’t, and you’ll need to supply one separately (either 12V DC or an AC-DC adaptor) to take advantage of this scope’s most noteworthy features.
Inside the box, you’ll find everything you need to enjoy the night sky in incredible detail.
The 1.25″ 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece is multi-coated to provide exceptional contrast and clarity, and the 52° apparent field of view provides a more complete look at the sky around you.
Also included is a 2″-1.25” eyepiece adapter, and a prism star diagonal to allow for more comfortable viewing at compromising angles.
As we saw above, Orion also includes an 8×40 finderscope, which is significantly more useful than the 6×30 finderscopes that are typically included with Orion’s more affordable telescopes.
In addition to the fancy stuff, you’ll find more mundane-but-necessary equipment, including tube rings and a mounting plate for securing cameras and other accessories, an 11-pound counterweight, heavy-duty cast accessory tray, power cables, and a dust cap.
Orion also throws in a copy of the Starry Night SE computer software, a fun and informative trip throughout the solar system. This software can help educate you on different celestial objects, and it can also be used to control your scope on a guided tour of the most dynamic objects in the sky.
Set-Up & Use
While this scope is intended for seasoned stargazers, the setup process is as easy and intuitive as you’d expect from a scope designed for beginners.
Once you unpack everything in the box, all you’ll need to do is attach the OTA to the mount, plug in the hand controller, and enjoy an immersive trip through the solar system and beyond.
To set up the controller, just input your latitude and longitude coordinates and the time, follow a simple two-star alignment process, and your scope is perfectly calibrated and ready to enjoy.
The SynScan hand controller is incredibly easy to use, especially if you take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with how it works before you get going. Fortunately, Orion has a great video to walk you through the process which you can see below.
A USB port allows the controller to interface with a computer. There’s also an available WiFi adapter, which will enable you to control the scope through a mobile application on your phone or tablet.
This scope and mount are one of the lighter setups suitable for astrophotography on the market. Since the ED80 is a doublet, there’s less glass and fewer components inside the scope, it weighs in at a lean 5.7 pounds (2.6 kg).
The mount is substantially heavier at 32 lbs (14.5 kg), which it needs to be for stability and to handle the extra weight of astrophotography equipment.
You’ll appreciate this relatively lightweight setup, especially if you’re also carrying around accessories and astrophotography gear. Whether you’re carrying it by hand or traveling by plane, train, or automobile, the ED80 is a breeze to transport.
What You Can See with the ED80
This moderate-low powered refractor provides beautiful views of many of the most incredible objects in the night sky.
A few concessions were made in the design of this scope, but they certainly weren’t in the optics department. The color and contrast of this scope are excellent, and the ED80 achieves exceptionally sharp views of the moon, planets, and thousands of impressive double stars. Brighter deep sky objects also show incredibly well with this scope.
Photographers will be hard-pressed to find a more suitable setup in this price range. The ED80 has terrific optics, and the mount has ample capacity for elaborate astrophotography setups.
This scope has tons of potential for photos of objects and the solar system and incredible deep-sky objects and brighter galaxies, such as M51.
It’s worth noting that a field flattener is practically a requirement if you’ll use the ED80 for astrophotography. Orion makes several, and there are also other compatible models on the market.
Orion’s more affordable model will set you back just under $150, while the more expensive focal reducer-corrector for DSLR photography is around $300.