Many people have asked me for my thoughts on the William Optics Megrez 80. I have tried to answer some of the commonly asked questions here.
I purchase the Megrez wanting a high quality (within price limits) small refractor and to suit a combination of requirements:
- Travel Telescope (light, compact, easily transported and easily set up)
- Guide Scope (to use for guiding my LX200 during long exposure photography)
- Photography Scope (to take photo’s through while guiding with my LX200)
- Wide Field Scope (to complement the very long focal length of my 12″ LX200)
As a travel telescope the Megrez is perfect. The standard package includes a soft carry case which has been more than ample for my travel requirements. The whole telescope, 2″ right angle mirror, eyepieces, camera adapter and minus-violet filter fit perfect within the case. The whole package is light weight and well protected.
As a guide scope the Megrez is not perfect but is useable. The short focal length (wide field of view) of the Megrez does not make it the perfect guide scope. However I am able to successfully guide a film exposure through my LX200 (fl= 3084mm) with a meade illuminated eyepiece and 2x barlow in the Megrez. I expect with a CCD auto guider and 2x barlow on the Megrez it would be able to guide a CCD exposure in the LX200.
As a photography scope the Megrez is great. I have taken many film photo’s through the Megrez, piggybacked on the back of my LX200. The most pleasing shots I have taken have been wide field views including multiple objects such as M45 and M46. Eta Carinae is also perfectly suited to the photographic field of view of the Megrez. You can see many examples in my photography gallery. The problems I have experienced have been the distortion of stars towards the edge of the FOV (about the edge 1/8th) and violet colour around bright stars. The first I am not surprised at, due to the very wide FOV I receive when shooting a photo through the Megrez and can be fixed with a field flattener. If you were using a CCD for astro photography this would not be a problem at all because of the small chip size compared to 35mm. However it is still some what annoying to not receive pin point sharp stars right to the edge of the 35mm frame. The violet colour can be reduced by a minus-violet filter. I have one of these but have not used it extensively for film photography, preferring the slight blue colour and not having had enough time to experiment fully (it takes so long to get through a 36 exposure roll of 35mm film.
As a wide field scope the Megrez is great. This aspect is a great compliment to the travel scope requirement. I would highly recommend anyone purchasing a travel scope to get a wide field of view telescope. This has made finding objects and viewing objects very easy.
The William Optics Megrez and the Televue 22mm Panoptic are a perfect combination providing very sharp very wide field images that you can “look into and around” with your eye without moving the telescope. Much detail is revealed even though the field of view is so large. With the combination of the Megerz and Panoptic I rarely need any other eyepiece.
My most common use of the Megrez is for photography (35mm film based) and visual with a 22mm Televue Panoptic eyepiece.
The Megrez is not a planetary telescope. While viewing the planets with it is of course possible, and I have tried webcam photography of mars through the Megrez, this is not what the Megrez is good at or suited to. You will find the colour of planets somewhat muddy when using the minus-violet filter. Having said that, good (relatively speaking) detail was visible on Mars around the August 2003 Mars opposition.
Optically I would rate the Megrez as 8/10. Wide field views are great with pin point sharp stars edge to edge (the I assume because of the 22mm FOV compared to 35mm film FOV there is no distortion of stars at the edge when used visually). Colour is great but not perfect (you notice a small amount of false colour around excessively bright objects). Compared to the false colour visible in a telescope such as the SkyWatcher 70×700 the Megrez has significantly less. The use of the minus-violet filter is recommended for higher magnification visual work, this tends to improve the view significantly on objects such as the moon, sun, planets and the like. Wide field I prefer not to use the minus-violet filter as I quite like the slightly more blue look and there is no false colour visible on stars at wide field magnification.
Above is a photo of the Megrez mounted on the 12″ LX200 with H-Alpha filter and ST7 for solar viewing. Note how the Megrez is mounted using it’s supplied “L bracket”. This is how I had the Megrez mounted on the LX for over a year before purchasing rings. This worked sufficiently well to save the money.
Above you can see the extremely technical and intricate approach I have taken to mounting the Megrez on the LX200. One aluminium bar, 4 bolts, 1 piece of wood and 2 cheap clamp style 90mm rings. Works well enough for me to save the $$$ cost of dovetail rings. Total cost of the above is about AU$45
Mechanically I would rate the Megrez as 10/10. The machining and manufacturing appears to be perfect. The focusser is perfectly smooth with many adjustment points for fine tuning. Focussing is a dream with the Megrez. The standard tripod bracket provided with the Megrez is very strong and has been ample for me to mount the telescope piggyback on my LX200 (having made an adapter from an aluminum bar). This tripod bracket also helps make the Megrez good for travel, as standard camera tripods are easily taken travelling. The built in dew tube is very useful and as well made as the rest.
In summary: The William Optics Megrez is not without flaws. However as a wide field travel scope or photography scope I rate it very highly and well worth the AU$1599 I paid for it. (Note: Now, over a year after I purchased my Megrez the Megrez II will only cost AU$1200, bargain!)
Feel free to email me if you would like more specific information on my experience with the William Optics Megrez 80.