Zhumell Z8/Apertura AD8 is unrivaled.
Before the review, I have to remind you that Zhumell Z8 and Apertura AD8 are the same telescopes. They are just marketed under different brands. For the sake of simplicity, I will use the name “Zhumell Z8” for the rest of the review, but everything I say applies to Apertura AD8, as well.
The reason Zhumell Z8 is a “perfect” model is not that it has better optics. It is the quality of its accessories and tiny features that make your life a lot easier. You can get the same optical quality from a SkyWatcher 8″, Orion SkyQuest XT8, or any other 8″ Dobsonian. But they look incomplete next to the Zhumell Z8.
I understand if you can’t stretch your budget for the Z8, but if you can, you can be sure that you will have something amazing in your hands that you will use for years.
The optics of Z8 are a combination of an 8″ (203mm) aperture and a (47.2″)1200mm optical tube. These optics will provide all-round performance. You will have a mid-range field-view with a significant amount of detail and brightness with both deep space objects and planets.
Z8 has an all-round optical performance.
Planetary and Lunar Performance
As long as you are not using a specialized refractor for planetary detail, Z8 is among the bests you can get.
The amount of detail you can gather from Jupiter and Saturn is impressive. On ideal conditions, Jupiter’s stripes, 4 Galilean Moon’s and The Great Red Spot is visible. Saturn’s largest moon Titan is also visible, with its rings easily distinguishable from the planet. You can observe the Cassini Division, the space between the Rings of Saturn.
You can get a view of Polar Ice Caps on Mars and observe the phases of Venus. But these objects are harder to see. Surface detail on Mars is easy to observe with the 9mm eyepiece, though.
Uranus and Neptune will appear as blueish dots. It is impressive to be able to get some color from these planets. They are incredibly difficult to observe with any scope.
The Lunar surface looks gorgeous with the Z8. Viewing the Moon is an easy task, and Z8 performs excellently in this area with on-point color accuracy.
Deep Space Performance
The deep-space performance of Z8 is around the same level as its planetary performance. As long as you don’t get a specialized scope for deep space performance(an f/4, for example), Z8 is among the bests.
Brighter objects in the Messier Catalog, such as the Pleiades, Hercules, Orion, and Andromeda look detailed and vivid. You can get a sense of how these objects will look with our simulator.
The f/6 focal ratio is the most important factor for deep space performance. With a 2″, high-quality, wide-field view eyepiece Z8 becomes a great instrument for casual sky scanning and observing unusually large deep space objects. I will talk about the eyepieces that come with the Z8 in the accessories section.
Overall the optics of Z8 is what is expected from an 8” Dob, above-average all-round performance. If you are able to go higher in aperture, a 10” or 12” for example, by all means, go higher. The scopes will get chunkier, but the performance difference is worth it.
The mount of Z8 is different than any other 8″ Dobsonian in the market and one of the reasons why Z8 is a cut above.
The first and most noticeable difference is the roller bearings as opposed to the Teflon bearings. While the difference is not huge, it is a slight improvement in terms of smoothness and durability.
Roller bearings are an improvement.
The tensioners are a treat.
The second difference is the tensioners implemented on the side of the optical tube. They are much, much better than friction adjusters that come with other 8″ Dobsonians. They can slide down and up the optical tube, and thus brings the ability to balance the optical tube with any accessory.
I would expect the base of Z8 to be different as well, but it is not. It is the usual particle board base that comes with any other Dob. If the coverings get eroded, it will easily get damaged by moisture and scratches.
The base is the usual particle board.
Overall the base of Zhumell Z8 is the usual Dobsonian with a few improvements. A Dobsonian base is already great in terms of stability and smoothness, and Zhumell managed to improve the functionality.
Z8 is hard to carry and transport.
The only problem with the base is the weight. It is 16 lbs(7 kg), which is not an easy load to carry. The optical tube is even heavier, with 38 lbs(17 kg) of weight. Combined, the whole telescope weighs 54 lbs(24 kg). Carrying this telescope is not easy. Getting it to mountainsides and national parks is even harder, so you should keep that in mind before getting the Z8.
The accessories are what make Zhumell Z8 unrivaled. The improvements in the mount are not that important and can be overseen. But the focuser, the finder, and the 30mm eyepiece make the other 8″ Dob’s look unattractive. Zhumell Z8 is much better out of the box.
The 30mm eyepiece that comes with the package has a wide field view. It provides better performance than the usual Plössl. The same can’t be said for the 9mm eyepiece; it actually is the usual Plössl. I recommend getting a 6mm Goldline for planetary detail since the 9mm eyepiece is slightly disappointing.
The Focuser with the 30mm eyepiece
The dual-focuser that comes with Zhumell Z8 is an improvement you can’t live without once you get used to it. The fine-tuning ability is incredibly helpful at high magnifications. You can squeeze a little more detail, and you get less anxious about the focus.
The Dual-Speed Crayford Focuser is in a league of its own.
The 8×50 finder is not the best choice for the Z8 as a Telrad would have been easier to use. But, it is much better than the usual red dot finder due to its 90-degree angle and magnification ability. It is also correct-image, which makes things a lot easier. (Attaching a red dot finder to an 8″ Dob is just plain poor design, and I recommend avoiding any telescope that comes with it.)
The included laser collimator is appreciated. It is 60$ at the moment and comes free with the Z8. Collimating the telescope is an essential part of observations, and you have to do it frequently. Usually, a collimation cap comes with the package, which is useful, but a laser collimator will make the process much faster and easier.
The moon filter is not bad and can be used at first. But we recommend getting a better one in the future since an 8″ Dobsonian definitely deserves a better one.
The cooling fan is a little extra, but it is useful at times. The purpose of it is to remove thermal air dynamics inside the optical tube and provide a sharper focus. Again, none of the other 8″ Dob’s I’ve seen come with a cooling fan.
Overall the accessories of Zhumell Z8 is what make this package a no-brainer. The dual-speed focuser by itself is a vast improvement, and the other accessories are cherry on top.
The portability and convenience factor is the main problem you will have with the Z8. The base and the optical tube are both heavy, and it is somewhat of a delicate device to carry around.
The 9mm eyepiece is disappointing compared to the other accessories.
Zhumell Z8(Apertura AD8), out of the box, is a mesmerizing tool for observing the Universe. The optical quality is the same as any other 8″ Dob, but the whole package is so much better than the other 8″ models they are not even close to the Z8.
These are the scopes that get my excitement for astronomy fired up, and feel the enlightenment that comes with it. I hope more companies apply the same amount of attention and care to their own scopes.