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Vixen Polarie vs Ioptron Sky Tracker, conclusions

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#26 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 11:47 PM

Cool! Thank you I appreciate it! I already have the Canon 60Da and the remote. Can I ask why you chose the SkyTracker over the Polarie?


First off, near as I can tell both are excellent units. So it boiled down to the Polar Scope. For the Polarie it goes through where the camera mounting point is. I can see some slight errors when taking it on and off. With the SkyTracker you can have both the camera mount and polar scope on at the same time.

And the Polar scope is bundled with the Skytracker for $399.

Lastly, Sky & Telescope also gave it excellent marks.

#27 alliumfamily

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 12:42 AM

Awesome. Great information. That seems ridiculous to have to remove the camera. I really appreciate your insight. I'm going to read the S&T review.

I'd love to hear from people that have tried both or at least one with your thoughts! See my post above for specific questions!

#28 munchmeister

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 03:21 PM

Will someone give who has tried both give me there opinion? Can we quantify this a little better.
I do not have both, only the SkyTracker so take this for what it is worth to you.
From what I gather: Both units seem to track well. However, some people have had better luck with long exposures using the Polarie (referencing
luigis).

In addition, the Polarie has both azimuth and altitude controls, while the SkyTracker only has an altitude control.?
Yes, ST only has altitude control but if your tripod has a column that rotates in azimuth, you don't need the Feisol base. If your tripod has no rotation, yes, you need a Feisol, which is the cheapest. Many, many tripods have a column which rotates, so it is not needed on the ST
The SkyTracker requires a Feisol panning base? Does this allow it to be controlled in azimuth? If not, then why does it need this?

Do they both have the same speed options (sidereal, 1/2x, whatever, etc)?
No. They do not have the same speed options. The ST has sideral and 1/2 sideral. It has a north/south switch.
The final question: If you were starting from scratch, (i.e. owned a nice astro DSLR, but no tripod or other small mount gear), which one would you buy? Which tripod would you buy? Which type of base(s)?
I started from scratch more or less, as I looked at the AstroTrack, found it too expensive but a great piece of equipment. Bulkier as well. I looked at the Polarie and, by the time you bought the polar alignment scope (PAS), it was adding up, in cost. Then the iOptron SkyTracker came on the scene, with an intro price that included the PAS. In addition the ST PAS has a red LED lighting feature, so you don't have to fuss with this in the dark. Finally, the ST PAS has the concentric circle method of placing Polaris, which differs, I think, from the Polarie and the ST has a companion polar alignment app for an iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch. I have a Touch so could make use of this. And the setup, with tripod (which I had for general photography) makes for a PORTABLE setup, which is really one of it's main features, in my view. I can put it in with my camera gear for wide field shots where ever I go, when I don't happen to be taking telescope gear. For me, it was the answer
I know people said its about options, could someone clarify what those options are, perhaps pros/cons of each (not really looking at the astrotrack due to its price.

Thanks! I really appreciate it! This is my first post.


Does that help?

#29 alliumfamily

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 04:03 PM

Awesome, yes. I appreciate the more specific answers. It seems like previously this threads comments were very general and not quantifiable.
Thank you!

#30 mshedden

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Posted 27 May 2013 - 06:23 PM

In addition, the Polarie has both azimuth and altitude controls, while the SkyTracker only has an altitude control.?

The SkyTracker requires a Feisol panning base? Does this allow it to be controlled in azimuth? If not, then why does it need this?


The panning base is for ease of polar alignment only - without it you'd have to rotate the whole tripod left or right when dialing in on the pole star, which is inaccurate and upsets the altitude setting on non level ground.

#31 Hikari

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 09:32 AM

Will someone give who has tried both give me there opinion? Can we quantify this a little better.

From what I gather: Both units seem to track well. However, some people have had better luck with long exposures using the Polarie (referencing
luigis).

In addition, the Polarie has both azimuth and altitude controls, while the SkyTracker only has an altitude control.?


I am a Polarie owner. The Polarie itself is just a box. You need to mount it on something. You can put it on a geared head or something much simpler--I have mine on a pan head, and only pan--no tilt.

The SkyTracker requires a Feisol panning base? Does this allow it to be controlled in azimuth? If not, then why does it need this?


If your tripod center column rotates, then you don't need a panning base--I rotate the center column of my tripod with the Polarie.

Do they both have the same speed options (sidereal, 1/2x, whatever, etc)?


Polarie has four tracking rates--sidereal, 1/2 sidereal, lunar, and solar.

The final question: If you were starting from scratch, (i.e. owned a nice astro DSLR, but no tripod or other small mount gear), which one would you buy? Which tripod would you buy? Which type of base(s)?


I would get a good quality carbon fiber photo tripod with a center column I can rotate. I would get an Arca Swiss P0 tripod head and a simple Manfrotto pan head. The arcs Swiss head would double for photography and to mount on the Polarie.

But then I am a photographer and I invest in my gear. You could do the same for less.

I know people said its about options, could someone clarify what those options are, perhaps pros/cons of each (not really looking at the astrotrack due to its price.

Thanks! I really appreciate it! This is my first post.


I had the choice and went with the Polarie--I sold an Astrotrac for it. For me, a light, compact system was very important. The Polarie is lighter and smaller and only requires two batteries. The Polar scope is great, although missing an illuminator, but my red flash light works. I love the fact you can just dial in the date and time and the Polar scope can find the right position for Polaris. I can also use the sight hole if I don't want to be bothered with the Polar scope. I have the Polar meter, but I am not sure how useful that is.

Personally, I prefer Japanese engineering over Chinese engineering. After doing some research, Vixen mounts seem to have less trouble then iOptron units. Now, the SkyTracker is not the most complicated piece of hardware in the world, but it can have problems.

I am sure whichever you get, it will work fine. The Polarie will be the more expensive route.

#32 Ed Wiley

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 11:54 AM

Alternative to both: Kenko Skymemo. I love mine in spite of the fact that it is bigger, more expensive, requires a better tripod and etc. Mine carries (on a Vixen dovetail mounted at right angles) a 300mm telephoto, 7x50mm finder and red-spot finder and tracks for 3 minutes with this particular rig (and forever with a 50mm lens). But if I was traveling to Australia I might buy a smaller camera platform.

Ed

#33 alliumfamily

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 03:19 PM

Thank you everyone! It seems to me as long as you have a tripod that moves in azimuth or a base that does, the only quantifiable difference is that the Polarie has solar and lunar speeds which the ST does not.

This is a bit of a bummer. I was heavily leaning towards the StarTracker, but if I can't do lunar or solar photography with it, that is a big mark in the con list.

Anyone have thoughts on this?

#34 alliumfamily

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 03:22 PM

Those looks awesome, but way out of the price range we're looking at.

"Alternative to both: Kenko Skymemo. I love mine in spite of the fact that it is bigger, more expensive, requires a better tripod and etc. Mine carries (on a Vixen dovetail mounted at right angles) a 300mm telephoto, 7x50mm finder and red-spot finder and tracks for 3 minutes with this particular rig (and forever with a 50mm lens). But if I was traveling to Australia I might buy a smaller camera platform.

Ed"


#35 alliumfamily

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 03:24 PM

Has anyone checked out the Sightron Nano Tracker? It was a a Sky & Telescope Hot Product for 2013. I want to order my tracker, but I'm torn between the Sightron Nano Tracker, StarTracker, and Polarie.... :(

#36 munchmeister

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 12:42 PM

For what it is worth, Lunar and Solar tracking modes are not likely to add much to the Polarie, as compared to the SkyTracker. Neither the moon nor the sun move enough compared to the night time star field to make any noticeable difference for astrophotography tracking. So that should not be a big "con" for your comparison. Additionally, since both are super bright, your shutter speeds on your camera are going to be very small (i.e. fast). Tracking is really only important for long exposures of from, say 30 seconds to a couple of minutes (or more). So for lunar and solar the SkyTrackers sidereal rate should be just fine. See Tracking rates thread

The Nano Tracker looks to be smaller and might therefore need to stick with a lighter payload. But, depending on what you are going to put on it, might work just fine. There sure seems to be a tendency to push the limits of these small mounts, with bigger and bigger lenses. To me, they are for portability. If a big 300mm lens is the weapon of choice on a big DSLR, it seems to me it would be both cheaper and sturdier to buy a low cost German Equatorial like a CG-4 and just mount the DSLR on that. Not quite as portable but gets the job done.

#37 Bluejay08

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:13 PM

Agree. Sun and moon are so bright. There is no need for long exposure.

Jay

#38 Dale J Martin

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:10 PM

Hi folks,

I recieved a Skytracker today and was rather surprised to see that this unit has a azimuth control built in! Must have been just added....:-) Though a bit dismayed since I already ordered a panning head....

Dale

#39 JMW

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:51 PM

Dale, put up a picture showing the azimuth control. I am curious about the new version. I already have the panning base so it doesn't affect me but others will want to know.

#40 Patrick

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 08:17 AM

I recieved a Skytracker today and was rather surprised to see that this unit has a azimuth control built in! Must have been just added....:-)



PICTURES??!!!

Patrick

#41 TONGKW

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 09:15 AM

I have found pictures of the new iOptron Skytracker in a website in China.

http://www.astronomy...269387-1-2.html

herewith is a rough translation of the posting :-
iOptron introduced the skytracker which received good recognition both at home and abroad.
The original version has built-in elevation adjustment which brought about convenience. But with no horizontal adjustment, it has become somewhat inconvenient in actual use.
After receiving feedback from many users, iOptron finally reacted by launching a new version of the Skytracker with both vertical and horizontal adjustments built in. The polar scope is also new.

#42 munchmeister

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 10:40 AM

Looks like they beefed up the threaded screw knobs that hold the ball head on. All good additions. Wonder if the price will still be low?

#43 Darren Bly

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 06:19 PM

Take a look at the ioptron web site

http://www.ioptron.c...1a70749-1897...

The new version has a new polar scope and increased payload. They also offer the new base for sale as a upgrade.

#44 Patrick

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 11:44 PM

It looks like you can purchase the azimuth base separately.

Patrick

#45 Hikari

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 09:45 AM

Take a look at the ioptron web site

http://www.ioptron.c...1a70749-1897...

The new version has a new polar scope and increased payload.


Well, they changed the load value. Whether the mount actually can have a larger load is not clear. :lol:

#46 Darren Bly

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 11:24 AM

[/quote] Well, they changed the load value. Whether the mount actually can have a larger load is not clear. :lol: [/quote]

Given the fact that iOptron has introduced a fairly major upgrade to a product that's only about six months old, I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt and more than a little praise. We have companies that have had products on the market for years with issues and without repairs. <cough LX80 cough> :grin:

#47 Mariner@sg

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:59 AM

Sorry for diverting the topic. The Polarie's tripod assembly comes with the QHD-43 ball head on the tripod and the QHD-33 is suppose to fix on the polarie. Has anyone tried using other ball heads instead of the 33?

#48 Doug D.

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:01 AM

Sorry for diverting the topic. The Polarie's tripod assembly comes with the QHD-43 ball head on the tripod and the QHD-33 is suppose to fix on the polarie. Has anyone tried using other ball heads instead of the 33?


I grant you, I'm using some "non-typical" gear for my Polarie and cameras but given that photography is my other long-standing interest I've obtained some specialized gear over the years that can often do double duty for astro

The ballhead I like to use with my Polarie is the tiny Really Right Stuff BH-25 with a quick release clamp. The Polarie mounting bolt is 1/4" and the BH-25 (like most decent bullheads) uses a 3/8" hole so you have to add a reducer bushing (3/8" to 1/4") that can be gotten from many sources including RRS.

The BH-25 works really well with one slight exception - the knob doesn't completely clear the Polarie base when fully rotated by 360 degrees but it isn't much of a problem because the knob can be repositioned by pulling and releasing. The other nice thing about the BH-25 is that loosening the knob (single knob) frees both axes of movement and can be set so that the slightest twist of knob tightens firmly after re-positioning. The BH-25 is tiny and lightweight but can easily handle a small-medium dSLR (or mirrorless like the GXR). I wouldn't trust a full-size dSLR with heavy glass though. For that I use an Arcatech ballhead, usually with an Astrotrac.

Pretty much any small to midsize ballhead will work on the Polarie to reposition your camera but a good quality one (and the BH-25 qualifies here without being ridiculously expensive) is a pleasure to use. I'm not a fan of using a ballhead to position the Polarie, however. A geared head is a lot less frustrating.

In case anyone is wondering, the thing supporting the Polarie is an Arca Swiss Cube (the Cube is a dream to use for this purpose but WAY overkill).

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#49 munchmeister

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:17 AM

Wow. That ^^ is quite the setup!

I use a small Manfrotto ballhead. I think it is their 'micro' ballhead.

http://f-rider.smugm...y/i-tV8WB5z/...

#50 Mariner@sg

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:31 AM

Cool. Thanks for the feedback guys!






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