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Astrotrac or Starlapse

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#1 daniel_h

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 06:02 AM

I am looking for a portable quick to setup mount to take pics with a 135mm & old zeiss 300/5.6 I have made into a small frac.
Which of e two would you choose for imaging
I like the astrotrac, it prob tracks real well, I like the extra length polar finder arm than the short one of the first model
One thing in the stalapse favour is I think I could fashion something to make it into an alt/az mount which adds to its versatility.

I want to be able to setup quick , take pics & pack up.
I have a manfrotto 410 jnr to use as a wedge for either, cost is roughly the same , which would you choose?

#2 Joerg Kuehnel

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 10:00 AM

Hi Daniel,

maybe this test report might help:

http://www.teleskop-...-Astrotrack.pdf

Clear skies to Down Under!

Joerg

#3 Charlie B

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 11:25 AM

I suggest that you look at the Vixen Polarie, if your total weight is under 3.5 lbs.

Charlie B.

#4 daniel_h

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 01:08 AM

The polarie is not much cheaper than either, yet can not take nearly as much load-I had crossed it off my list, thanks for the suggest ion though, & for the link

#5 Patrick

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 01:26 PM

Daniel,

An often overlooked camera imaging platform is the Standard Vixen GP2 Mount with HAL130 Tripod. Right now they're on sale here in the US for $600 through the end of July (not sure about Australia). You'd have to add a polar scope, RA drive motor, and hand controller to round it out, pushing the price up to a little over $1000.

What are the advantages? Well, the GP2 tracks very, very well, is quite portable, and is capable of carrying a scope the size of a C8. My GP2 has a measured PE of about +/- 6 arc seconds.

The HAL130 tripod is sturdy, lightweight, and compact. Of all my mount tripods, the HAL130 is by far the most compact and easily carried. It's probably easier to carry than my Bogen 475B. The height of the HAL130 makes it convenient when imaging. My aging back and knees don't do well when I have to lay on the ground to use my gear. :smirk:

If all you're going to mount is a camera and lense, you might not even need a counterweight. I carry the entire mount and accessories in a standard padded aluminum case (sans tripod of course). Setup and tear down time is very short.

Something to think about, anyway.

Patrick

#6 daniel_h

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:12 PM

Thanks Patrick I had considered the gp2 photo guider

#7 Patrick

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:03 PM

Thanks Patrick I had considered the gp2 photo guider



Okay...your objections?? :smirk:

Patrick

#8 daniel_h

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:39 AM

No objections, not being able to put it on a photo tripod I see as slightly less portable

#9 Patrick

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:19 PM

No objections, not being able to put it on a photo tripod I see as slightly less portable



Okay...

But consider the size and weight of the photo tripod you're going to need to hold a 300mm f/l camera lens steady while tracking for 5 minutes. For instance, the Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod that Astrotrac sells in their Vacation Special package weighs in at 5.3 lbs. Tha HAL130 is only slightly heavier at 7 lbs and it folds down very compactly...I'd estimate about 5-6" in diameter x 26.5" long. The closed length on the Manfrotto is 25.8".

On the other hand, you already have the geared head, so you could go either way. Go with your gut...it sounds like you know what you're doing. I just know I use my Vixen GP2 for a lot of very different things including astrophotography and visual telescopic viewing. I have a Bogen 475B with a Bogen 501HDV video head also, which sees a lot of use because of it's versatility, but mainly for quick look visual use with binoculars or a small refractor. But it doesn't track of course. Do you think you might ever want to mount a scope on the mount for visual use? If you do, weight and vibration will become a big issue.

BTW...just to clarify, I was NOT talking about the GP2 Photo Guider and would not recommend it. I was talking about the STANDARD Vixen GP2. In the end, the Photo Guider version of the GP2 has not served me well, except it is very portable. The tripod is too short for me, and the camera attachment and counterweighting setup is not well designed.

On the other hand, the standard Vixen GP2 is a real telescope mount capable of being used as a photo guider or a telescope mount.

On the other, other hand, an Astrotrac has always appealed to me because of it's seeming simplicity. If they weren't so expensive, I wouldn't mind having one in my bag. :smirk:

Patrick

#10 mtbdudex

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 03:36 PM

Timely thread, as I'm in same boat.

My usage:
Vacation/travel, widefield with Canon T1i & 15-85mm or at times using the f2.8 70-200 zoom with 2x TC.

Have:
Carbon Fiber tripod, FEISOL + ballhead.

To buy:
either Astrotrac or Starlapse

I called and spoke with "Kevin" for 5-10 minutes on both, still can't decide.

I like the compactness of the astrotrac, yet the "Losmandy -StarLapse System - Includes Gear Drive, Camera Mount, 12" Beam" seems just slightly bigger but much more capable.

Posted Image
vs
Posted Image

#11 mtbdudex

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 04:03 PM

Ok;
this thread has me 100% buying the Astrotrac
Astrotrac for AP? Any users care to chime in?

#12 kbastro

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 04:19 PM

I wouldn't totally right off the starlapse,, it can do things that the astrotrac can not,,, and the control panel on the starlapse gives more options,,, as well the starlapse can be turned into a full fledged telescope mount with dual axis guiding ability...

I have an astrotrac 320x ag and from time to time I keep on thinking to buy the starlapse for its "abilities beyond just 2 hour sky tracking"

kevin

#13 mtbdudex

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 05:49 PM

I wouldn't totally right off the starlapse,, it can do things that the astrotrac can not,,, and the control panel on the starlapse gives more options,,, as well the starlapse can be turned into a full fledged telescope mount with dual axis guiding ability...

I have an astrotrac 320x ag and from time to time I keep on thinking to buy the starlapse for its "abilities beyond just 2 hour sky tracking"

kevin


I understand your points, however I have a Celestron EdgeHD 800 CGEM SCT for home usage, so for my portable/travel situation the Astrotrac is the "best" for me - based on what I've outlined as usage desires, correct?

#14 gdd

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 08:28 PM

The AstroTrac should do much better with your 300mm Zeiss lens.

Gale

#15 kbastro

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 09:12 PM

I understand your points, however I have a Celestron EdgeHD 800 CGEM SCT for home usage, so for my portable/travel situation the Astrotrac is the "best" for me - based on what I've outlined as usage desires, correct?


I like my astrotrac!, but it all depends what you want from it,,
to take a nice milkyway shot rising to setting while slow panning across a mountain range or whatever the astrotrac can not do that,, BUT slapping a camera on and taking nice milkyway shots for and 1.5 hrs+ before resetting the unit is what the astrotrac was made for as much as it is lightweight and nice to use unit...
as for build quality, I have to give that to the starlapse and it's ability to withstand some non-gentle useages in the field.

BUT if the astrotrac is what you want, then it is a great fun device and easy to use!

One of my mounts is the gm8 mount with the gemini system so I have a good understanding of what the starlapse would run like even though I don't own one (yet) ;)

I use my astrotrac almost everytime I head out into the field when using my big mount... i use a timer control and set it and forget it.. mostly to capture meteors or aurora blowing up when I am imaging with my main setup,, usually on top of my astrotrac is a 5Dmk2 and a 16mm lens... the only trouble I see is having to reset the unit every 1.5hrs+...

Kevin

#16 mtbdudex

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 07:06 AM

daniel_h ; what did you end up buying?
Have you used it yet and first impressions?

#17 mtbdudex

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 07:09 AM

Kevin - thx for feedback
I see myself using this for portable/lightweight "short" up to the 2 hr limit sessions in the field. Camping with family, etc.
So, I'm leaning towards the Astrotrac over the Starlapse solely for "fit it all in a backpack" ability.

#18 daniel_h

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 12:31 AM

I havnt bought yet, 2 on e Australian astro forums have just bought polarie, I didn't want to go that way but the results look good, bhphoto have me on special too, I am also checking on a secondhand gp2 photo guider
Astrotrac is prob my preferred but if I can get something secondhand I prob won't be too fussy

#19 Vid Nikolic

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 08:29 PM

Astrotrac ! Last night images


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