Celestron Regal M2 80ED telescope
The Celestron Regal M2 80ED is a new telescope making its debut on the British market just in time for Birdfair. The manufacturer has incorporated into the scope’s design most of the recent upgrades associated with contemporary optics construction, but priced at a reasonably modest £750 the model doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not, and competing with ranges at three times the cost is clearly not what it’s about.
Slim but lengthy, it doesn’t fall into the compact bracket. It is, however, well balanced, which is undoubtedly what Celestron factored into the make-up of the tripod attachment foot. Three threaded ports give the user the ability to vary, to a degree, the scope’s position on the tripod head, serving to compensate for added weight at the eyepiece end if you are considering attaching a camera for digiscoping. With this in mind, Celestron has included a T-adapter ring as part of the package for use with a T-ring for DSLR photography. It’s worth noting that, to compensate further, a sliding balance plate is available; this is supplied with the 100 mm M2 model but not this one. The tripod attachment foot is also rotatable, click-locking in 10 positions around the full circumference of the scope body.
To minimise weight, the lightweight magnesium alloy body is rubber coated rather than armoured, with the thickest covering to be found around the rather chiselled-looking prism housing and on the objective lens hood. There is a broadly milled, very smoothly turning dual-focusing ring, offset and semi-recessed well to the right of centre, which may not be overly easy to operate if you are left handed.
The 20-60x zoom eyepiece is bayonet fitted, and is locked in place by turning a sturdy collar at the base of the eyepiece port. A number of other Celestron 1.25" eyepieces are compatible with the M2, and protection for any eyepiece you use comes in the form of a screw-over cover, which completely encases the eyepiece while it is mounted on the scope. I really do like this high level of protection, which every scope eyepiece should be afforded.
The twist-out eyecup is covered in soft rubber and comfortable against the eye, but when fully extended I found the full field of view visible only at the lowest magnification while operating the zoom.
At its best – 37 m at 1,000 m – the field of view is about average for a scope in the M2’s class. The image remains uniformly sharp to the edge, at least at low magnifications. I detected a deterioration in sharpness when zooming at 45x or higher which, even with the dual-focusing system, I was not able to fully resolve. Shape distortion at the field edge (curvature of field) is minimal, although chromatic aberration in this area is clearly visible, extending to the centre of the image at a level which I found a little on the high side and which the use of ED glass should have minimised. Aside from this, set against a generally warm colour rendition, the colours were bright and true to life, and the contrast was very good.
For anyone considering purchasing this scope I would suggest testing it with a range of fixed magnification eyepieces as well as the zoom, to assess potential changes in image sharpness.
The M2 comes with a nylon carry case that perhaps could also be used as a stay-on case, although its design really precludes this practicality which – with some forethought – reshaping and a little Velcro would have sorted out.
Price: £750 (inc zoom eyepiece)
Size: 480x175 mm (inc zoom eyepiece)
Weight: 1,607 g (inc zoom eyepiece)
Field of view: 37-17 m at 1,000 m
Close focus: 6.5 mm
Guarantee: limited lifetime