In it's current form, there is no way to be fair in the Imaging/Sketching Contest. It's not even about what's fair it's supposed to be about "the best image produced" by members of CN.. That's all there is. If you want it to be fair then it's a lot more complicated. When a guy with an OSC is trying to compete against someone with a monochrome camera with an 8 position filter wheel loaded with NB an LRGB filters...how is that fair? How is two or three people pooling their resources going to be fair when competing against somone with a $600 dollar mount that drives 300 miles to get to some place with decent sky?
Robert, there's no way to have a perfectly fair and level playing field unless we put everyone together on the same field with the same equipment on the same night shooting the same target and processing it with identical computers and software. That's just not possible.
When you look at the Winner's Gallery it is very true that you see plenty of high end gear in that list of winners - but there are also plenty of winners that have modest gear as well. On any given month those folks must have beat out others with high end gear, because that high end gear is always in the competition.
In fact I think there is an un-intended exclusion that causes me to agree with a change. What about the guy who still has the desire and ability but physical limitations exclude him from going out and setting up? Maybe he/she, has to enlist aid or just plane have someone else set up? Here is a great reason to be in a cooperative! why should the rules preclude that person from taking part?
Well, That's a great example. In fact that's why it is important to talk these things through.