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dSLR and EQ mount?

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#1 JayScope

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:39 PM

I have a barndoor tracker and would like to find out if it's worth trying to piggyback mount my dSLR on an EQ mount of an entry level refractor and guide manually using the refractor? My goal is to take longer exposure images with a longer focal length lens and not be limited to wide field images.

Would stepping up to a heavier EQ mount be better?

or what about just mounting the dSLR directly to an EQ mount and use a low power finder scope to manually guide?

I'd like to eventually like to add a motor to the mount, but to keep the rig minimal and light weight, I'd like to be able to track manually (something I've never done before). I'm a videographer by trade so I'm very used to tracking and looking through viewfinders for extended periods of time ...

#2 Dwight J

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 02:34 AM

Hey Jayscope: why track manually unless you enjoy torture. Check out these from a recent post in the Equipment forum. These compact tracking mounts are just what you are looking for:
c) iirc forum rules prevent posting pictures that do not belong to the poster (including mfg photos) - it would be nice if it were possible to include a quick snapshot of each mount imo.

So here goes:

1) Vixen Polarie US$430 - 4 track rates

2) Vixen GP2 Photo Guider US$1,100 - complete with wedge, tripod

3) Kenko Sky Memo US$800 - two versions, R and RS (adds 4 track rates)

4) AstroTrac US$580 - 3 track rates

5) Losmandy StarLapse US$700 - 9 track/pan rates

6) TOAST Pro US$1,100 - 2 track rates

7) unitec SWAT-200 US$1,000 - 6 track/pan rates

8) Sightron nano-tracker US$250 - 5 track/pan rates

9) MusicBox EQII US$250 - mechanical wind-up tracker!

10) eyeball CD-1 US$435

11) Pentax O-GPS1 (technically not a mount, but it tracks! ) US$200 - useable on some Pentax DSLR

12) PanHeadEQ US$550 - 6 track/pan rates

13) Takahashi Teegul Sky Patrol III US$1,300

14) Takahashi PM-1 US$3,200 - 5 or 7 track/pan rates, multi-configuration GEM, 2nd version PM-1XY

15) Orion Min-EQ Tabletop EQ manual drive US$70, drive motor +$80

16) iOptron SmartEQ GOTO GEM US$399, complete with tripod, US$60 polar scope optional

17) iOptron SmartEQ Pro US$499 - metal gears ,polar scope, guide port

#3 Hikari

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 10:19 AM

If portable is what you want, then the list Dwight posted is where you start. If you are using lenses up to 100mm, then the Vixen Polarie is a great choice. If longer, then the Astrotrac works very nicely.

#4 Ranger Tim

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:44 PM

Learning the techniques of manually tracking the sky while imaging is an admirable and honest way to understand the process from the ground up. It is also an excellent way to 1) get eye fatigue, 2) fall asleep, 3) get frustrated, 4) End up with stars that look like footballs. I went down this same road when I started and learned a tremendous amount, but I wish I had gone ahead and spent the time with a decent equatorial mount and guide camera from the beginning. I would recommend something in the Celestron CG-5 ASGT mount class to get started if you don't want to spend more than a thousand bucks.

#5 JayScope

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 10:10 AM

You all are awesome! Thanks so much for the list and advice. I've got some research (shopping) to do. But I'm having trouble finding some english language websites and a distributor for the Music Box and Sightron Nano trackers.

#6 Ranger Tim

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:11 AM

I know you stated that you are looking for light weight and portable, but there are CG-5's with the advanced go-to system for sale used at around $450 frequently on this forum. Wait for a good deal and go for it.

Many people figure they want an entry level mount and think they will keep the investment small, then after their first successful shot of M42 they are bitten hard to find the faint stuff and photograph it. This will most likely involve getting a more substantial mount than they first anticipated. Be sure you get what you need to keep yourself happy for at least a year or two.

#7 Hikari

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:32 AM

And just to add a counter point, I started with a large EQ like the CG-5, but it was such a pain to move around that I simply did not use it. Some of these small mounts like the Astrotrac can take fairly large scopes--check the Astrotrac site. If you are inspired by wide-field astrophotography and you want to move around to take picture, then the small mount is far better. If you are looking to do high-magnification work of DSOs or the planets, then a telescope and large mount is the way to go.

#8 JayScope

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 02:04 PM

This one isn't on the list:

the Ioptron Skytracker ...

https://www.ioptron....0193c9ab-b45...

This so far is tops on my list. Includes a polar scope and has a higher weight capacity than the Vixen Polarie.

Cost is probably more of a factor then portability, so a used CG-5 at $450 is attractive. I also like the Astrotrac but it would be close to $800 after adding the polar scope. The Vixen Polarie is $650 with it's scope but the capacity is a bit too light for me (4.5 lbs). But Ioptron's Sytracker, at $350 with a polarscope and a 6.6 lbs capacity seems like a no-brainer for my needs. I just wish there were some reviews or peoples' pix taken with this gear -- just about to pull the trigger ...

#9 Hikari

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 04:41 PM

Jay, if you get Ioptron, let us know how it works.

#10 JayScope

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 07:14 PM

regardless of size, would this be a good astrophoto platform?

http://www.cloudynig...ct=67855&sor...

#11 Dwight J

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 08:09 PM

It may be if you keep exposures short and use lenses 300mm or less, similar to the small cam track mounts. Additionally it could carry a scope too.

#12 Phil Sherman

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 12:16 AM

I just received an announcement from Ioptron describing their new lightweight GEM GOTO mount. It's intended as a grab-n-go mount and should be selling for less than $500. It's a new mount with no reviews or quality history bet it should be a better tracking mount than the Skytracker.

Phil

#13 JayScope

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 12:31 AM

Yep, they've got the SmartEQ Portable GOTO GEM that's coming out this month ...

https://www.ioptron....03c86716-b87...

or for a $100 more, the Pro with a guide port, metal gears and polar scope

https://www.ioptron....6650b0b6-976...

I know I'd be better off in the long run with a real GEM goto mount in regards to being able to mount an OTA in the future.

#14 JayScope

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:29 PM

Ordered iOptron's Startracker ... on sale on their website. But, then they say that they won't arrive until the end of November. I was hoping to have it for the Thanksgiving holidays in the dark skies of the western carolina mountains, dang.

#15 munchmeister

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:01 PM

Ordered iOptron's Startracker ... on sale on their website. But, then they say that they won't arrive until the end of November. I was hoping to have it for the Thanksgiving holidays in the dark skies of the western carolina mountains, dang.


Taken delivery yet? Have you tried it out? UPS tracking says the iOptron Skytracker that I ordered will be delivered today, so I am anxious to try it out. FWIW, I wanted something relatively portable to go with my DSLR gear, which I usually take on trips (avid photographer). Adding the tracking mount to my DSLR gear, which always includes a Manfrotto tripod and ball head (or two), will allow me to expand my day, so to speak, to include the night sky when I'm on a trip. Just as an example, a trip to southern Utah would have been even more fantastic if I'd been able to shoot wide field Milky Way shots with backgrounds of the Utah red rock country. Ditto for about anywhere, of course, but the portability of it can't be beat, IMHO.

Looking forward to trying it out and posting some shots.

#16 munchmeister

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

Posted a quick review of the Skytracker here:
http://www.cloudynig...rd=lxd55&amp...






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