Zwo is well known in the astrophotography world for producing excellent astronomy gear at reasonable prices. Well, now the company has ramped up the competition for quality refractor telescopes designed specifically for astrophotography, also called astrographs.
The ZWO FF130 Apo 130mm f/7.7 Petzval Refractor Telescope is a high-end telescope that is designed for astrophotography. Similar in design to the Askar FRA500, the Petzval design arranges lenses in such a way as to produce a flat field (pinpoint stars across the field) that covers a full frame camera sensor without the need for an optional add-on field flattener. The image circle measures the illuminated field’s diameter, and this scope has a whopping 60mm diameter image circle, compared to the 43mm diameter required to fully illuminate a full-frame camera sensor. Although this design is usually a bit more expensive, the cost savings of not needing an optional accessory more than makes up for this. It also saves the user from having to get the back focus just right to optimally use the separate field flattener. This can sometimes be difficult to get just right.
The Petzval design is a quadruplet lens configuration resulting in clear, round star images across the entire image circle. The focal length is 1000mm. This is suitable for smaller galaxies, star clusters, nebula, and planets (a Barlow lens may be required to increase the effective focal length). Larger objects would benefit from the wider field of view generated by a shorter focal length, however, modern software allows the creation of mosaics that can be assembled into one large image. The focal ratio of 7.7 would not be considered fast, but longer exposures would help compensate for this. Like many high-quality refractors, a dual-speed focuser makes very fine focusing adjustments possible, as well as being compatible with autofocusers, like the ZWO EAF.
Here are some of the key features of the ZWO FF130 Apo:
- Quadruplet air-spaced apochromatic optical design
- Self-flattening Petzval optical design
- Focal length: 1000mm
- Focal ratio: f/7.7
- Dual-speed focuser
- Weight: 11kg
ZWO FF130 Apo 130mm f/7.7 Petzval Refractor Telescope specs
|ZWO FF130 Apo Specs
|10.5 kg (23 lb)
|12.5 kg (27.5 lb)
|Quadruplet air-spaced APO (including two ED glass)
|Rear-end thread type
|o (M48x0.75 filter thread inside)
|Rear end of the 4-piece photographic adapters
|o 842.5mm (including 1.25" eyepiece holder as dew shield contracted)
|o 1011.5mm (including the 4-piece adapter as dew shield contracted)
|o 889.5mm (including 1.25" eyepiece holder as dew shield fully stretched)
|o 1061.5mm (including the 4-piece adapter as dew shield fully stretched)
Here are some of the pros and cons of the ZWO FF130 Apochromatic refractor:
- Excellent optics, suitable for visual and photographic use
- Easy to use and set up, especially since you don’t need a separate field flattener.
- The self-flattening design gives it an advantage over a similar scope, the William Optics FLT 120.
- Versatile for a wide range of astronomical objects
- This is a large scope and thus it is heavy and likely requires a permanent or semi-permanent setup
- Not as portable as some other astrographs due to its length and weight
- Focal ratio is not particularly fast
- Longer focal length makes in generally unsuitable for large nebula without using mosaic techniques
Overall, the ZWO FF130 Apo is a solid choice for astrophotographers. If you want high quality for a reasonable price, ZWO usually comes through. It is suitable for a variety of objects, mostly at a fixed observatory location. I can’t say enough good about this telescope. If you want the best optics on par with more expensive competitors, then look no further. If portability is more of an issue, the sister versions are less weighty and long.