The Svbony 501P 70 isn’t one of the best telescopes, but depending on what you want a telescope for it may appeal. Weighing less than 3 kg, it's extraordinarily light for a telescope. That makes it ideal for travel, though only in theory. In practice, it manages good views of the moon, very average images of the planets and almost no improvement over a pair of the best binoculars when viewing deep sky objects. Consequently, it's a telescope to set up and use in your backyard only, since dark skies make zero difference to the visibility of the moon and planets. However, since the Svbony 501P 70 is so affordable it will definitely attract some people looking for a beginner telescope or a bargain. Before you invest, however, read what we thought of that Svbony 501P 70 in action.
Svbony 501P 70 telescope review: specs
Optical design: refractor
Aperture: 2.75”/70 mm
Focal length: 15.74”/400 mm
Focal ratio: f/5.7
Eyepiece focal length: 0.78”/20 mm (20x)
Total kit weight: 6.5 lbs/2.95 kg
Mount type: Altazimuth
Svbony 501P 70 telescope review: price and release date
The Svbony 501P 70 originally went on sale in 2022 and costs about $85.99 / £99.99 / AU$127 (though online prices fluctuate). It’s not the only telescope made by Hong Kong-based Svbony, though it’s by far the most basic. The company also makes various astronomy accessories as well as spotting scopes and binoculars.
The major selling points of the Svbony 501P 70 are price and portability. One of the most affordable telescopes you'll ever find outside of lower rent tabletop telescopes, the Svbony 501P 70 weighs just 2.95 kg. That includes its small and very lightweight tripod, which is of the photographic kind. Both of these components fit easily into a backpack, which instantly makes the Svbony 501P 70 portable. In fact, the kind of travel telescopes that the big brands often sell are surely in its sights.
However, the backpack is not of the best quality. In fact, it's about as basic as it gets. There is no padding and only a couple of very simple dividers to keep the various components away from each other. Although the optical tube itself and the tripod can very easily be carried together, into the bag must also go a few fiddly components. They comprise a very simple finder scope, a single 20 mm eyepiece and an image diagonal. The latter is to make it more convenient to view images high up in the sky. After all, as a refractor telescope it uses a lens to form an image so it’s necessary to stand behind the optical tube to look through an eyepiece.
Svbony 501P 70 telescope review: set-up and use
There are fewer telescopes easier to set-up than the Svbony 501P 70, but even fewer that are as frustrating to use. The Svbony 501P 70 is a manual telescope. Most telescopes for beginners are manually controlled, but this one is incredibly hard to use. Unfortunately, the aluminium alloy tripod is at fault. It's fairly small, reaching only 105 cm in height, but it can be extended up by a further 22 cm by using the centre column.
I like that the tripod is fitted with a panhandle. It’s something often found on tripods and heads aimed at videographers and vloggers. It rotates through 360°. There's also another axis that tilts the telescope up and down. Unfortunately it's very difficult to use. For example, if you loosen the bearings and point the Svbony 501P 70 at, say, the Moon, then tighten the bearings, you’ll have in the eyepiece … nothing. I found during my tests that the bearings on this tripod badly dropped to the tune of around two lunar diameters. Excessively fiddly and lacking any precision, the Svbony 501P 70 is not at all easy to use.
Svbony 501P 70 telescope review: performance
Should you buy the Svbony 501P 70 and mount it instead on a better tripod? That’s an option, but you would still have to contend with its hugely underwhelming views. I took it on the roof of the building and used it to observe the full ‘Harvest Moon’ as it rose above the eastern horizon. That's about as easy a target as possible. After several tweaks to get the Svbony 501P 70 to settle with the Moon in its field of view I was able to get some good views of our natural satellites, lava seas and creators, though the edges of the field of view definitely like sharpness. Later that night I looked again at the moon much higher in the sky. I noticed that there was a purplish line around it, evidence of some chromatic aberration (a.ka.a ‘false colour’). Used a few weeks earlier in the dark, moonless sky I was able to get some views of deep sky objects, though the Svbony 501P 70 proved no more capable than a good pair of 10x50 binoculars I had nearby.
Svbony 501P 70 telescope telescope review: alternatives to consider
If you’re after something that’s as travel-friendly as the Svbony 501P 70 yet offers top-notch views then the Orion Starblast 62 Compact Telescope will impress. If you would rather keep a small, lightweight telescope at home for occasional use then consider the Sky-Watcher Heritage 100P Tabletop Dobsonian, which will let in a lot more light, though it can’t be used on a tripod.
There's nothing wrong with affordable, lightweight telescopes, but the SVBONY 501P 70 is very frustrating to use because of its poor quality mount and tripod. However if you’re prepared to use an existing, superior photographic triad and you’re happy to use low magnifications and study just the Moon, the Svbony 501P 70 will do a basic job. However, with such a limited use-case we’re not sure why the Svbony 501P 70 needs to come with a backpack.