- What is the Dwarf II Smart Telescope?
- Dwarf II Smart Telescope Review
- Taking Photos with the DWARF II
- Dwarf II Pros and Cons
- Dwarf II Alternatives
- Dwarf II Smart Telescope FAQs
- Our Verdict
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This is our review of the DWARF II Smart Telescope.
I got my hands on one of these from DWARFLAB in March 2023 and have been putting it through its paces since then.
I found that the DWARF II makes deep sky astrophotography ridiculously easy.
For the price, it is exceptionally good value. It is easy to operate and a lot of fun.
In this article, I am going to show you how it works and compare it to the other smart telescopes on the market.
Let’s get started!
What is the Dwarf II Smart Telescope?
The DWARF II is a smart telescope from the Hong Kong-based company DWARFLAB.
Smart telescopes are different from regular telescopes in that they:
- Have an in-built camera
- Are controlled by smartphone
- Do everything for you in an all-in-one package
Controlled by your smartphone, they scan the skies, ask you what you want to look at, take you to it, and send the image straight to your phone.
This is different from a regular GOTO telescope where you need to build an astrophotography setup consisting of telescope OTA, GOTO mount, dedicated astronomy camera, plus other accessories, and then work out how to make it all work together and take images that you then work on in post-processing.
With smart telescopes, everything is simplified, quicker and easier.
One other key difference is that smart telescopes usually have no eyepiece for you to look through (except for the Unistellar eVscope 2), but rather you view images on your phone (or laptop).
There are now six different smart telescopes on the market, including the Dwarf II. You can read a detailed comparison here of the Best Smart Telescopes.
Dwarf II Smart Telescope Review
The first thing I noticed when receiving the telescope package was how light it was.
I put it on some scales packed in the travel case including accessories and it weighed just 1.8kg (4lbs):
It is ultra-light weight and small, standing at about 30cm tall when standing on the included tripod:
When unboxing you see that it comes in a perfectly sized carry bag that holds it tight. I knew then that it would be perfect for travel with no obstacle to throwing it in your pack to take on trips.
As a bonus, I was unsure if it would need to be plugged into an AC power source, but no, it operates cable free – you just charge the battery with the included cable and take it outside with no need to attach anything.
To get it up and going you simply need to:
- Turn it on with the press of a button (it comes pre-charged so you can get going right away)
- Download the dwarflab app from the Android Play Store or iOS App Store, depending on what phone you have
- Connect the app and telescope via wifi or bluetooth – the app takes you through this process
You then may need to update the firmware of the telescope.
I found this easier than anticipated having watched the quick start video on Dwarflab’s YouTube channel, but some less tech-savvy may get a little stuck here and need a little help.
I always think, would my mom be able to do this? and, for this, the answer would be no!
However, you only need to do it once and the instructions were clear and so not a problem if you take your time to follow them or get help from someone more confident with technology.
Overall, this setup process was extremely easy and the instructions were clear and easy to follow.
Was it as easy as it could be? No, the app is a little clunky and ideally you just want to turn it on, connect it to your phone and then have it do all the updating automatically itself, but this is a minor quibble and I’m trying to find things that may trip some people up.
Once you have done this you are good to go and start taking pictures with the telescope.
As an astrophotography website, we are going to focus on its capacity for taking photos of astronomical objects in the night sky, but it can be used in the daytime for terrestrial pursuits like bird-watching and nature photography.
Dwarf 2 Specifications
The key specifications of the Dwarf II are:
- Aperture: 24mm (1-inch)
- Focal length: 100mm (4-inch)
- Focal ratio: F/4.2
- Resolution: 8 megapixels
- Weight: 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs)
Note the telescope comes with two cameras/lenses – one wide-angle and one telephoto.
The telephoto camera is what is used for astrophotography, whilst the wide-angle one is for regular photography.
You can watch a quick video overview of the DWARF II here:
Taking Photos with the DWARF II
Now, the big question – how good are the images it produces?
In preparation for using the Dwarf II for astrophotography you have to go through a ten-minute process that may seem a bit strange at first – you have to shut it way in a dark cupboard like it’s been naughty!
What it is doing is taking what are called dark frames, and are necessary for astrophotography.
Once you have done this you can take your telescope outside and go through a calibration process whereby it looks at the sky works out where it is in the world so it can tell you what is above you to view.
This process is mostly automated and guides you through step-by-step.
Once you have done this, it is simply a matter of scrolling through the options of what you want to view, selecting one, and then letting the camera move to the target and track it and gather the light it needs to create the image.
Dwarf 2 Images
Here are some photos taken with the DWARF II that have been shared on Instagram:
You can also choose to extract the data of the images in RAW files and then process them using separate astrophotography software like PixInsight, rather than just editing within the app on your phone.
Cuiv the Lazy Geek has an excellent video on YouTube that details his exact process for capturing and processing an image of the Orion Nebula with great results:
Dwarf II Pros and Cons
I hope it’s obvious that I am pretty excited about this telescope, but given the price there are inevitably going to be some downsides.
Dwarf II Advantages
The pros of the Dwarf II are:
- Unrivaled value: This is a fully automated smart telescope that pretty much anyone could get to grips with and take deep sky astrophotography images and costs less than $500
- Easy of use: Everything you need to do to get it up and running is either self-explanatory or there is a good guide/video from Dwarflab to tell you what to do
- Cheap: Up to now the cheapest smart telescope available was either the Vaonis Vespera or the Unistellar eQuinox, both retailing for around $2550-$3000 (but occasionally available for around $2000). These prices are too high for most people and the price of the Dwarf II makes it so much more accessible for so many more people.
Dwarf II Disadvantages
In terms of the downsides:
- Image quality: As you can see, the photos you get out of the telescopes are good but not amazing. You will not be winning awards for DSO images with a Dwarf II but it would be naive to expect otherwise for this price and size.
- Not good for planetary imaging: The short focal length does not lend itself to planetary photography. Deep sky astrophotography is its specialist field.
- Slightly fiddly processes: The setup and calibration processes are pretty easy to follow but they are not seamless.
You won’t be winning NASA APODs or Astronomy Photographer of the Year with the images, but neither would you with any of the more expensive smart telescopes.
If you are looking for a traditional astronomical observing experience, a regular telescope like a large dobsonian would be best for you.
But for astrophotography, smart telescopes are really disrupting a pursuit that had a relatively high barrier to entry in terms of the money you needed to spend and the amount you had to learn.
Even as a beginner for astronomy though, the process of being able to locate and view images of galaxies like Andromeda quickly and easily is so rewarding, even if you have no intention of sharing or doing anything with the images.
This bypasses one of the common frustrations of people new to telescopes – it takes to long to get the hang of and then what you see is underwhelming.
Dwarf II Alternatives
The alternatives to the DWARF II are:
- ZWO Seestar S50
- Vaonis Vespera
- Vaonis Stellina
- Unistellar eQuinox
- Unistellar eVscope 2
- Unistellar eQuinox 2
See our overview of the Dwarf II vs ZWO Seestar S50 to see how these budget models compare.
You also can read a detailed overview of all the best smart telescopes.
Dwarf II Smart Telescope FAQs
How much does the DWARF 2 telescope cost?
At the time of writing, the Dwarf II costs $459 (USD).
Check out DWARFLAB for the current price.
Can I buy the Dwarf 2 on Amazon?
You cannot buy the Dwarf II on Amazon, you can only get it directly from the manufacturer DWARFLAB, who can ship worldwide.
What was the Tinyscope Dwarf telescope?
The Dwarf 2 is the successor to the Tinyscope Dwarf Telescope (also known as the DWARF I) which can no longer be bought.
This Dwarflabs video explains the evolution of the Dwarf I to the Dwarf II:
Are smart telescopes worth it?
Smart telescopes are amazing at making astronomy and astrophotography much more accessible.
The introduction of the Dwarf 2 makes this even more the case given its much greater affordability puts it within the reach of many more people.
What is the most powerful smart telescope?
The most powerful smart telescope is the Unistellar eVscope 2. It has the highest telescope aperture and highest camera resolution.
Read more about this and all the other available models in our overview of the best smart telescopes.
Overall, the DWARF II is great value and perfect as an introduction to astronomy and astrophotography.
A budget smart telescope like this is a great first step for a beginner to get into astrophotography. Once you know the limits you may choose to start building a more advanced telescope and mount setup, but you may also choose to just keep having fun with a small and easy scope like this.
If you are interested in buying one, click the links below to check the up-to-date price and availability:
Budget Smart Telescope from DWARFLAB - new in 2023
- Shoot deep space objects in minutes with no expertise or experience necessary
- Great value and currently available for pre-order discount
- Light and portable - easy to store and travel with