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Mount for DSLR and 200mm lens or shorter

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#1 hoa101

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

I'm hoping for some good advice on mounts for DSLR with camera lenses 200mm (f2.8) or less only.

In the future, I plan to work my way up to narrow-band imaging with a 6nm clip-in Ha filter. That would allow me to do some serious imaging right from my heavily LP'ed backyard. Right now I am experimenting with a 50mm lens on my CG-4 and fixed tripods. This lens is both fast and wide enough that accurate tracking is not a concern.

However, I want advice on a mount that will handle longer exposures required when using up to 200mm and a very narrow-band filter. Money is not the object within reason. My goal here is "measure twice, cut once."

Edit: Seems that the longer Ha exposures I want to eventually tackle would almost certainly require guiding. I guess I will have to tailor my choices.

Right now I'm considering: Sirius/HEQ5, IEQ30, Losmandy G8, CG-5 (this one is iffy)

#2 mmalik

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 06:16 AM

If I may; I would suggest 'think different'. Try getting a standard (may be low capacity) premium mount (AP, TAK, PM) regardless of the goal. If you are/will be a serious astro-photographer, you'll grow out of your 'just for 200mm' stage quickly. Same goes for your lenses; think a small APO and guided setup instead. Note: You can always piggy your 200mm. Some relevant discussion links below. Sorry, not the exact answer. Thx

Link1...
Link2...
Link3...
Link4...
Link5... [Image: Courtesy of Hiro]


On a side note, some image processing instructions here...; some narrow-angle DSLR image samples here...

#3 hoa101

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:14 AM

Hmmm, not so sure about that. I would have trouble convincing the CEO, CFO, and COO that I need a [large] mount, another telescope, CCD, filters, laptop, battery, etc etc.

However it is pretty easy easy to use the camera, since we've already got more than one.

#4 mmalik

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:21 AM

Understood. Here... is another discussion; stuff you seem to know already. Thx

#5 andysea

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:35 AM

I love my 200mm f2.8. It's an exceptional lens for AP and I use it wide open.
Here is a recent picture.
http://www.flickr.co...in/photostream/
I used the Skymemo, unguided. I've used the it with 300 and 400mm lenses unguided. It can however be guided with an adapter by Shoestring astronomy. I have it but I haven't bothered using it yet.
The polar scope is very accurate.

#6 hoa101

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 12:26 PM

If you don't mind me asking, there is one question on my mind after reading lots of threads on the Astrotrac and Skymemo.

Specifically, what makes the Skymemo more effective than an Astrotrac in your mind. Removing relative cost from the equation, why is the Skymemo superior?

Thanks, this kind of discussion helps me alot!

I love my 200mm f2.8. It's an exceptional lens for AP and I use it wide open.
Here is a recent picture.
http://www.flickr.co...in/photostream/
I used the Skymemo, unguided. I've used the it with 300 and 400mm lenses unguided. It can however be guided with an adapter by Shoestring astronomy. I have it but I haven't bothered using it yet.
The polar scope is very accurate.



#7 btb

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 12:36 PM

Have you looked at these?
Sky Watcher
Coronado DS

#8 bilgebay

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 01:13 PM

Vixen Polarie is the name of the game

#9 andysea

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 03:38 PM

Well I don't know if the skymemo is superior to the astrotrac. All I can say is that I really like mine. The astrotrac and all other trackers might be better. I just don't know as I havent used any of them.

I just wanted to give an example of a Photo taken with the canon 200 f2.8 and the skymemo:)

Andy

#10 hoa101

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:13 PM

I've been looking alot at the IEQ30, that also seems small enough to be reasonable and an excellent performer. Some of the PE claims are almost too good to be true...

Also, guiding would be an option if that "someday" came around. Alot bigger than a Photoguider, Astrotrac, etc. though.

#11 Tim C

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:45 PM

I've owned a fair number of mounts when I was imaging (kind of embarrassing to list them but I had fun: meade LX75, CGEM, EM200, Atlas, CG-5, and 2 astrotracs). As evidenced by my two astrotracs, I was also looking for the simple portable solution for imaging with lenses or small refractors on trips and didn't learn my lesson the first time. Believe or not, an astrotrac is more expensive and harder to use than a small GEM mount for anything but the wide angle lenses. The necessary accessories are expensive (you'll get flex even with a Bogen geared head that throws off your polar alignment). plus I just found it hard to point at things and frame, etc. Having go to with a hand controller is MUCH better and YOU WILL WANT AUTOGUIDING especially if doing narrowband. An astrotrac will need perfect polar alignment for long exposures even at 200mm and perfect polar alignment is hard with the astrotrac.

I highly recommend the little CG-5 for what you are trying to do. Get one of the litle orion autoguider 50mm finder guiders and one of the autoguider cameras that don't need a laptop and you will have a simple portable set up with go to and no flex. The new little ioptron mounts look good too.

Here are some shots with the CG5:

California with a 70mm refractor:
http://tcardin.zenfo...402731#h2402731

Some shots with a 200mm lens:
http://tcardin.zenfo...880d84#h4880d84
http://tcardin.zenfo...3cc6d#h11c3cc6d
http://tcardin.zenfo...b8822#h197b8822

Here is a 200mm shot with an astrotrac (I used pempro to fine tune polar alignment):

http://tcardin.zenfo...1d30e#h23d1d30e


I'm telling ya - small GEM with autoguiding way more effective, easier, and more fun!

Tim


I'm hoping for some good advice on mounts for DSLR with camera lenses 200mm (f2.8) or less only.

In the future, I plan to work my way up to narrow-band imaging with a 6nm clip-in Ha filter. That would allow me to do some serious imaging right from my heavily LP'ed backyard. Right now I am experimenting with a 50mm lens on my CG-4 and fixed tripods. This lens is both fast and wide enough that accurate tracking is not a concern.

However, I want advice on a mount that will handle longer exposures required when using up to 200mm and a very narrow-band filter. Money is not the object within reason. My goal here is "measure twice, cut once."

From my research, I have gleaned that I probably do not need auto-guiding, but require a mount that is extremely accurate out-of-the-box. So far the Astrotrac seems to be the strongest contender. However, there is quite a bit of whinging about polar alignment and polar finder that comes with it. Samir really likes his Kenko Skymemo. Then there is the Starlapse which is capable of auto-guiding. Also the ultra-portable mounts like Polarie and Skytracker.

I want to do it right the first time to avoid disappointment later. I'm open to suggestions!



#12 Hikari

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:22 PM

My experience is the opposite of Tim's, although I only when up to 120mm with the AstroTrac. I found the GEM just big and a pain--I never really used it. I had an AstroTrac on a geared head and found it easy enough to align. The scope is not as nice as my Takahashi polar scope, but it works. I think if you go to a GEM, it would be better to wait until you start thinking about scopes--the AstroTrac will still be a useful second mount.

However, the Astrotrac was still too big for what I want to do and have just replaced it with a Polarie. The AstroTrac is a more stable mount and can take a larger load. The Vixen polar scope is much nicer through.

#13 hoa101

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:21 PM

People seem to have issues with the CG-5, including some I know personally. That makes me a little leery - I do not think of it as a long-term solution. Right now I'm leaning towards something more like an IEQ30 or GP2 Photo Guider.

#14 gezak22

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 12:28 AM

... I want to do it right the first time ...


... then you should read my mount history.

I used a CG-5 ASGT for 50mm and 200mm lenses (100mm too, but I found Canon's 100mm f/2 to be a pain for AP). At 200mm (f2.8) things had gotten sketchy even though I was guiding. Broadband work was no problem as long as I kept my exposures to 4min (a good limit for my skies anyway). For narrowband work however (8min subs), I would get slightly elongated stars.

About a year ago, I sold the CG for scrap (multiple parts had failed/died, and I didn't want to deal with Celestron's 'return policy') and I bought a used (~10 years old!!!) GM-8. On the first night out, it worked like a charm, and after upgrading to high precision worms and one part worm blocks, the mount felt like a tank - a MAJOR leap up from the CG5. I then upgraded to a 90mm Tak (12 pounds to total load), and I still get 1" rms guiding error - even in some wind.

1. If you get a CG5, you will need to perform some work to get it performing well. If you can change spark plugs, you are qualified to work on a GEM (but do follow a guide of some sort).
1a. The CG5 is a cheap mount where every corner has been cut to bring down the cost. I found the CG5 frustrating to work on when compared to the GM-8.
2. The GM-8 will need some work to perform really really well.
2a. For worry free AP, the one part worm block (OPWB) is a must on the RA axis. During that upgrade you might as well upgrade to a high precision worm. These upgrades are not mandatory on DEC, though I did them and I recommend it.
2b. With OPWB installed, the GM-8 is put together so well, that adjusting RA and DEC (worm mesh, backlash, ...) is faster than adjusting only one axis on the CG5. Once adjusted, things stay in place and will likely not need any fine tuning for a while.
3. Buy used to save money. My used GM-8 cost me $900 and a 4 hour car trip through LA in Thanksgiving traffic. The CG5 had gotten so frustrating that I remember this car trip as a pleasant experience.
3a. If you go that route, make sure the seller provides you with a representative curve from PHD or some guiding program along with a 100% raw image so you clearly see star shapes.

Having said all that, I have seen some very nice images at 600mm fl from CG5 users. But I find that a lot of CG5 imagers don't post 100% images. I suspect that if they did, you would see elongated stars.

Long story short: I recommend buying a used GM-8 either with a OPWB on the RA axis or doing the upgrade yourself.

#15 Tim C

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 07:58 AM

That's the thing about the low end chinese mounts... some will have problems with them. My CG5 was pretty decent and no problem at 200mm when guiding. My CGEM (an early one) was very difficult to guide but I was using longer focal lengths so not a fair comparison. Chances are you will be fine at 200mm guiding. Maybe the ioptron would be better unguided but who knows for sure.

Astrotrac is good but expensive option if you're flying. I think you'll be able to do more with a small GEM though including using up to a 80mm refractor. Pretty difficult to get 5 min+ subs on an astrotrac you'll likely need for narrowband.

Don't underestimate the value of go-to when framing objects you can't see.

People seem to have issues with the CG-5, including some I know personally. That makes me a little leery - I do not think of it as a long-term solution. Right now I'm leaning towards something more like an IEQ30 or GP2 Photo Guider.



#16 hoa101

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 08:16 AM

Yeah, the goto issue is something else that I've been thinking about. There is so much stuff to consider. Ugh.

I would feel a little silly buying a Sirius/HEQ5 Pro, GM8, Tak or ieq30-type mount for just camera... but that may be the route I have to go. There is the new SmartEQ Pro, but I do not think there's enough info on it to know if it would suffice (with guiding).

I guess one option I have not thought about is the Losmandy starlapse which can be adapted for guiding. But then I probably may as well have bought a GM8 in the first place.

That's the thing about the low end chinese mounts... some will have problems with them. My CG5 was pretty decent and no problem at 200mm when guiding. My CGEM (an early one) was very difficult to guide but I was using longer focal lengths so not a fair comparison. Chances are you will be fine at 200mm guiding. Maybe the ioptron would be better unguided but who knows for sure.

Astrotrac is good but expensive option if you're flying. I think you'll be able to do more with a small GEM though including using up to a 80mm refractor. Pretty difficult to get 5 min+ subs on an astrotrac you'll likely need for narrowband.

Don't underestimate the value of go-to when framing objects you can't see.

People seem to have issues with the CG-5, including some I know personally. That makes me a little leery - I do not think of it as a long-term solution. Right now I'm leaning towards something more like an IEQ30 or GP2 Photo Guider.



#17 psandelle

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:48 AM

Love my iEQ30 with a much bigger AP load than a camera and lenses. Light (I can one-hand the mount head), easy to set up, very good polar routine (and, unless you're doing hour-long subs, at the FL's you're talking about, probably all you'll need), and room to grow (I can do visual with an ES 152mm fractor...though that's the distant limit).

I'm, at some point in time, going to use lenses and my Borg guidescope to do some really HUGE FOVs (probably over summer) and the iEQ30'll be a breeze for me to do that with.

Oh, and I've had nothing but good customer service from the iOptron guys.

Paul

#18 hoa101

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 02:48 PM

Do you know specifically what separates the mount from a Sirius/HEQ5?

Alot of people say, "HEQ5 is proven, IEQ is a newcomer. Therefore, buy the HEQ5." That comment has some weight, but I've heard good things so far about iOptron's IEQ mounts.

Love my iEQ30 with a much bigger AP load than a camera and lenses. Light (I can one-hand the mount head), easy to set up, very good polar routine (and, unless you're doing hour-long subs, at the FL's you're talking about, probably all you'll need), and room to grow (I can do visual with an ES 152mm fractor...though that's the distant limit).

I'm, at some point in time, going to use lenses and my Borg guidescope to do some really HUGE FOVs (probably over summer) and the iEQ30'll be a breeze for me to do that with.

Oh, and I've had nothing but good customer service from the iOptron guys.

Paul



#19 psandelle

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 03:20 PM

Can't tell you the differences (as I don't have a Sirius/HEQ5), I can only tell you my experiences with the iEQ30...but I got one of the very first ones, and it's been a champ.

Other things I like about it: good HC, GPS, pretty good ASCOM drivers.

Paul

#20 terry59

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 07:44 PM

Do you know specifically what separates the mount from a Sirius/HEQ5?


I think your choice should be driven by what you want to do with it. Wideband imagng with a DSLR will seldom require subs over 5 minutes where narrowband require much longer subs.

A HEQ5/Sirius with EQMOD is something that will work for a long time to support both wideband and narrowband imaging as long as you don't go over 20-22 lbs of gear. There are plenty of images taken with it to support that position.

Take what you read with the appropriate grains of salt and buy what you can quantify via images as your guide. There is far too much soundbite advise around.

#21 Hikari

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 08:23 PM

I would feel a little silly buying a Sirius/HEQ5 Pro, GM8, Tak or ieq30-type mount for just camera...


Well, a telescope is just a lens. I started with buying a Takahashi mount with a side by side plate for a camera and guide scope. I hate to think of myself as silly...

#22 Patrick

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:37 PM

One mount not mentioned so far is the Vixen GP2. My sample has a PE of +/- 7 arc seconds. The mount and tripod are quite portable. I love mine and use it for scopes up to my c6 sct.

Patrick

#23 pfile

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 01:55 AM

i used an orion skyview pro for quite a while with a 200mm lens. but as others have pointed out, the chinese mounts can have problems and mine did - DEC stiction. i tried to solve it but failed.

also having gotos is pretty important for me. with the SVP it was very hard to center my targets, even using plate solving software. with just a hand controller everything has to be done using dead reckoning. 10m away from the target? hold down the button for 70 seconds at 8x tracking rate. wrong direction? oops. back for 140 seconds.

#24 Patrick

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 07:23 AM

Is goto a requirement? You may want to put the new Celestron VX on your list.

Patrick

#25 hoa101

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:51 AM

People have raised that point, and I tend to agree. With a 200mm lens all by itself on the mount, framing a dim object will be nearly impossible without goto. Or extremely frustrating at any rate.

I have to admit, I am leaning heavily toward the Orion Sirius mount at this point. It is a touch heavy for my purpose, but has all the features and is a well-proven system. A look on Astrobin proves that beyond any doubt.

I really think some of the new mounts look good, but I'm reluctant to spend that kind of money for them just yet.

Is goto a requirement? You may want to put the new Celestron VX on your list.

Patrick








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