The SVBONY SV503 102ED is a well-made telescope and certainly one of the better telescopes being manufactured in China today. The cosmetic look of the scope is excellent, and everything fits well and is tight. The mounting rings and dovetail bar are nicely finished. I was impressed with the quality of the design and manufacture of the focuser. The Crayford style dual-speed (1:10) worked smoothly and allowed for fine focusing. The sliding dew shield is a good fit allowing it to stay securely positioned either extended or pushed back.
SV503 102ED+ SV305 PRO + Baader film filter
I set up the 102ED on my EQ5-Pro Synscan mount, at a little over 6kg including an extension piece and SVBONY 305pro camera, next to my Celestron 8SE Catadioptric on an Alt-Az mount, and targeted Jupiter and Saturn. Obviously, the 204mm F10 had a much higher magnification, but the images through this compact F7 refractor were much clearer. Adding a Televue 2.5x Powermate to the 102ED, pushing it beyond its maximum useable magnification, produced excellent detail on both targets, easily better than the larger scope. Splitting tight double stars pushes almost any scope to the limit, but the 102ED provided a clean split in most cases with good colour rendition, certainly beyond what I had been expecting.
The 102ED performed admirably when looking at DSO, giving good detail and much less chromatic aberration than I had expected from a doublet achromat, with FPL-51 glass rather than the more expensive FPL-53 Apo’s. The addition of the optional reducer/field flattener makes this a much faster scope and only improves the views. Views of the moon with this scope were excellent, and again with the aid of my powermate, extremely clear detail of surface features was impressive. I had expected CA to be visible around the edges of craters etc but none were evident. This is not to say I did not find chromatic aberration, it was certainly visible around Venus, but just not at a level that spoiled my enjoyment.
Overall, this scope is a bargain at the price, and easily comparable with scopes twice the cost. Is it perfect? No, but it is close, and certainly the best value scope at this size.
William Bonar MinstP
Member of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh.