We have been down this road before. The last time around, people paid from $60 to $200 for a cheap Chinese lens they could have bought for $12. The lens was touted as a German product and the ads used fake quotes from a fake German engineer. They created fake test results and used fake testimonials. They grabbed professionally created photographs taken with professionally photo equipment and passed them off as iPhone photos created with the fake German lens.
I wrote a whole series of articles in 2018 about the rip-off back then as tens of thousands of people were duped into buying cheap Chinese lenses at hugely inflated prices. I bought two of the lenses (at cheap prices) to test them. The image quality was lousy.
If you want to go into business, you can buy these super zoom telescopes in quantities of 500 or more from Global Sources in China. The cost varies from $10-12, depending on how many you order. If you order a high enough quantity you can get any brand name you want put on the telescope, even your own. Decide on the price you want to charge, open up a website, and sell them. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with claiming they were “invented by Johns Hopkins University” when they come from China. And I have a problem with falsifying a NASA document to prove the telescope was invented by Johns Hopkins University. And I have a problem with charging outrageous prices. They will probably, like last time, make a small fortune selling these to gullible people.
This is a screen capture (above) from the Tomaob website, one of many online “companies” selling this Chinese telescope/lens. Note the claim the telescope was invented by Johns Hopkins University and check out the “Academic report of the telescope” in the ad.
This is a closeup of the academic report from the Tomaob website. If you look closely at the report, the first and last names do not have matching fonts, and the first and last names do not exactly line up. Someone with poor Photoshop skills has changed the first names, and they also changed the first address which is in a bolder font than the second address.
This is the top of the first page of the original NASA paper, which you can download from NASA’s archives here. This has the original names at the top. This paper is about optics used in NASA space science missions. It was written for the 28th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites which was in 2014. This paper, despite the ad, has nothing to do with a Chinese telescope being sold in 2020.
So the dishonest people who put together the ad changed Natalie Clark’s first name to Iris and her address from NASA Langley Research Center to Johns Hopkins University Institute of Optics to promote the lie that the telescope was invented by Johns Hopkins University. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is typical in these scams to grab professionally created photos and videos on the internet and pass them off as photos and videos created with the product they are selling. That is just as true for this scam. This screen capture from the ad at the Tomaob site is typical. They are clever. They give you the impression these photos were created with the zoom telescope, but they never come right out and actually say it. I went looking for these images on the internet.
This beautiful image of campers under the Milky Way was created by Anatoliy Gleb. I could tell immediately it was created with a very wide angle lens, not a telephoto lens and certainly not with the lens in the ad at Tomaob. It takes a super wide angle lens to capture the whole Milky Way across the sky. This image is sold as a stock image by iStock and you can see it here. I wrote to Anatoliy, who lives in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, and asked him what he used to create this image. He wrote back and told me he used a Nikon D-700 and a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.
You get the point. The photos in these ads have nothing to do with the kind of images this telescope/lens can actually create. There is a reason for that. If they could produce quality images with the product they are selling, they would use those images in the ad instead of grabbing images off the internet that were created with professional quality photo gear.
I found the same zoom telescope that is in the Tomaob ad at 15 other websites. Many of these sites use the same images in their ads. The prices were all over the place, usually in the $30 – $90 range. I found it for $29.99 at the Totrye website. Tomaob wants $129.56 but that is without the smart phone adapter.
I suggest you do not buy from any of these fly-by-night websites. Past history indicates that at many of these sites you can be overcharged well over the advertised price and hit with huge shipping and handling charges.
And it gets worse. Thanks to recent changes in federal consumer protection laws, you may not have a legal claim to get your money back. Since you are dealing with a company that is not based in the U.S., you increase the odds you won’t get your money back if you aren’t happy with your purchase. And thanks to the new vagaries of U.S. law, your credit card company may not be legally obligated to return your money. The moral of the story is to purchase lenses only from highly reputable dealers. And most of them, for obvious reasons, don’t carry these cheap, poorly made, poor quality Chinese items.
Besides, you don’t seriously believe a telescope/lens that sells for as little as $30 can give you good optical quality at 300X, do you? If you do, I hear there is a bridge for sale in Brooklyn.