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What Is Your Best And Worst Purchases For Astrophotography?

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#126 Ron (Lubbock)

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 08:25 AM

Best purchase:  Paramount MX & portable pier with The Sky X.  Yes, it cost a  lot, but I finish polar alignment so quickly, and it tracks accurately with my ~ 2000 mm focal length setup.  Good-bye, guiding issues.

 

Runner up #1: QSI 660 ws camera.  The low-noise Sony sensor gave a huge boost to my image quality compared to my old KAF-8300 camera, and it cut down on integration time.  I was able to ditch my large, bulky filter wheel, which already had to be replaced once (and its replacement was already developing USB problems).

 

Runner up #2: a few acres out in the country.  No more late-night visits from sketchy people in rusty old vehicles, nor the curious police officers who are out looking for them! 

 

Runner up #3: ONAG.  I only put the ONAG down this far because it mainly applies to SCT users. 

 

 

 

Worst purchase:  Old-school 1990s off-axis guider.  Purchased when I was just starting out ca. 1997.  It could taken an hour to find a guide star in my C8, and the guide star had to be really, really bright.  I basically never got it to work and  quit AP for 14 more years. 

 

Runner up: 60 mm guide scope.  I ditched guide scopes a couple of months later, and it's collecting dust in a closet.  Too heavy to use as a finder.


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#127 ks__observer

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:10 AM

Best

- Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED lens - Best bargain in astronophotography for $300.
 

Jerry

I will second that lens -- bought mine used on eBay for $500.  Beautiful lens.


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#128 Ronski

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 05:41 PM

Worst purchase: ES80 triplet APO off of Amazon. FULL OF DUST

 

Best: ZWO guide and imagining cameras.  I didn't get the MMMMM, COOL one lol.gif ,  but the one I could afford works just fine 



#129 elmiko

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 06:45 PM

Telescope best purchase ,Orion 8 inch imaging Newt 3.9 best bang for the buck telescope that I own.

Best software, by far Pixinsite. Wish I would have bought it over a year ago.


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#130 calypsob

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 07:41 PM

Worst, a no name manual filterwheel from ebay which did not accept 1.25 filters

 

best: well my favorite is the Samyang 135mm f2. Its a blast to use



#131 Maxtrixbass

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 10:10 PM

Worst: CMOS Camera.

Best: CCD Camera.

Not interested in starting a flame war, but my list is this is reverse.

 

Best: modding a dslr

Worst: CCD camera

 

I think its the sensor size. I just don't have the money to buy even a crop sensor sized CCD and I find the smaller sensor really unforgiving to use. Its like the difference between a 300 and 1500mm focal length...

 

I have reasonably dark skies so a one shot works for me. I will be giving it another go since I'm sure a CCD is more capable, I just find CCDs harder to work with overall.


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#132 Michael Covington

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 12:03 AM

To muddy the waters further, dedicated astrocameras are often using CMOS sensors these days.


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#133 rockstarbill

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 12:04 AM

To muddy the waters further, dedicated astrocameras are often using CMOS sensors these days.

Which means nothing more than they are less expensive. That does not mean they are better.



#134 zakry3323

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 01:54 AM

Hard to say...I've made plenty of less-than-ideal purchases for astrophotography....but each of them are stepping stone...learning experiences that I probably wouldn't have been able to surmount without the expenditure. I'm still a beginner, so I've still got plenty more mistakes to make, hopefully they're not expensive!

Least useful/most wasted time spent on- light pollution filters for OSC. This probably won't be a huge investment for most folks, but it was pretty substantial for me. I did get some bonuses in SnR on certain nebula, but not worth it for me. It was so much better/easier to remove the filters and drive to a darker sky. If that's not a possibility (and I still have to do 90% of my time in the red zone) it's still way easier to calibrate color without using one. I know there are a lot of different opinions about this, my own conclusion was it was more economical to stop trying to figure out what filter would be best for my situation and just shoot as long as subs as I was capable without saturating in my LP bubble. I sold my ultra-blocks and lumicons and put narrowband filters on the priority list for the future. 

I started with a dslr and a decent 80mm ED Doublet. I've still got way more to learn and improve upon, but I wouldn't have changed a thing. It's a learning process, and sometimes learning and making mistakes costs money. At least, that's how I'm justifying my methodology smile.gif


Edited by zakry3323, 15 February 2019 - 01:58 AM.

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#135 Michael Covington

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 09:36 AM

Which means nothing more than they are less expensive. That does not mean they are better.

Are they?  CCD cameras and CMOS cameras are both CMOS integrated circuits, as I understand it.  The difference is in the location of the amplifiers.  I don't want to start an off-topic series here but would appreciate a reference to data on the CCD vs. CMOS issue. If substantial, start a new thread and refer me to it.


Edited by Michael Covington, 15 February 2019 - 09:36 AM.


#136 LoveChina61

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 10:10 AM

Best: Meade LX200 10" Classic SCT for $500 during the last economic downturn. The guy had to sell it due to hard times. I paid his original asking price and was glad that I was able to help him out ;)

 

Worst: William Optics ZS 80mm apochromatic. It's actually a decent scope but not for the purposes for which I bought it. I wanted to use it for astrophotography but the focuser could not handle the weight of my camera and slipped every time I tried to use the Rigel focuser to remotely focus. WO wanted an extra $200 to install a better R&P focuser. I thought it best to save my pennies to buy a truly fine doublet or triplet someday instead.

 

Mike



#137 JoeR

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 10:26 AM

Best: Astro-Physics 1100GTO mount. It just simply works every time and cured a lot of headaches. Plus rock solid stable

 

Worst: Orion 1.25" LRGB filters. I only kept them a week they were as anti-parfocal as you could get totally useless in the filter wheel. However I replaced them with another used set of Orion 1.25" LRGB filters and they were surprisingly totally parfocal.


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#138 Michael Covington

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 10:57 AM

Best: Astro-Physics 1100GTO mount. It just simply works every time and cured a lot of headaches. Plus rock solid stable

 

Worst: Orion 1.25" LRGB filters. I only kept them a week they were as anti-parfocal as you could get totally useless in the filter wheel. However I replaced them with another used set of Orion 1.25" LRGB filters and they were surprisingly totally parfocal.

Maybe you got a set of filters that were a mix of 2 different manufacturing lots (or more).   I'm glad you got a good set later.



#139 tcchittyjr

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 02:44 PM

Best (hardware): Paramount MyT - it just does it thing after a 30 minute TPoint run. I can get 5 min unguided subs which is great. Also, my Astrodon filters (LRGB, Ha, OIII, and SII. I also LOVE my ASI 1600MM-Cool. It's a learning stepping stone for me.

Best (software): TheSkyX that came with my MyT. PixInsight, and BYEOS.

 

Worst (Hardware): iOptron ZEQ25, Never could get guiding to work with that for more than 2 minutes. May have been my fault, but I just could't do it.

Worst (Software): None.

 

TomC


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#140 u2drvr

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 08:48 PM

Best and worst: PixInsight...amazing capabilities, but big learning curve that seems to consume far too much of my life (even though I enjoy doing it)


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#141 Tjn58

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 11:16 PM

I will second that lens -- bought mine used on eBay for $500.  Beautiful lens.

Agree......best $375 I ever spent on eBay



#142 Dwight J

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 12:17 AM

Best purchase by far for me was a Tak EM200 mount.  Saved me countless hours of frustrating unsuccessful tinkering to get a mount to just work.  An astromodded Canon T3i next.  Telegizmo 365 next.  

 

Hard to come up with the worst.  Perhaps the Meade 2000 one armed fork mount.  The 90 mm scope was ok although I bought it to use for my Lunt 60 mm solar scope.  It ceased function after about 4 hours of use.  I sold the handbox for almost what I paid for the whole thing so not a total loss.  I also have the refractor but I don’t know what I will ultimately do with it.


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#143 Henry from NZ

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 02:06 PM

Best:
====
Skywatcher NEQ6: reliable workhorse. I regretted selling mine so much that I am thinking about buying one back second hand. For its price it probably has the most bang for the buck.

Astro-physics Mach1: beautiful reliable mount. Never miss a beat. Even in windy nights with big scope I still get sub arcsec guided result. Unbelievable performance. It is expensive though, so less bang for the buck than the NEQ6. Its accessories are also expensive, but again they are nicely made. Because it is pricey, I often hesitate to leave it out, unlike my previous NEQ6 which I just left semipermanently mounted outside covered with a Telegizmo 365.

Astro-physics 130GT: beautiful optics. Round stars to corners. It just works.

Cateye collimation tools: would not have been able to collimate my e130D without them.

Pixinsight: if you have a Mac, this is the way to go. Does calibration, stacking and post processing all in one app.

Atik 460: Just works.

Good, but needed work:
==================
GSO 6" RC: an absolute PIA to collimate, but once collimated worked well. Needed tons of upgrade to get to that point. I would not recommend this unless you like a challenge.

Takahashi e130D: also an absolute PIA to collimate, but great once collimated. Also needed tons of upgrade to get to that point. However, the effort is well worth it as it is f/3.2. As far as I know no refractor can get to that speed without some problems. I understand other imaging newts also have similar problems, so this is just a price to pay for the speed.

OK
===
Celestron EdgeHD 800: My first copy was a dud. My second copy which I still have is a good copy. My first copy of the dedicated reducer was not very good. My second copy of the reducer is better. I am sticking with it because there are not many alternative options if you want to get to that focal length, without breaking the bank. It has a reduced FL of 1400. A refractor at f/7 would need an aperture of 200mm (non-existent). RCs get that FL but difficult to collimate unless you splash out for something like RCOS. For this reason, I am still keeping mine for imaging small galaxies and PN. If I am to buy one of these again I would buy it from a place where you can return it easily.

OK, but a little disappointed / YMMV
============================
William Optics 81GT: Not a bad scope but not worth its price tag. It has WO's signature diffraction artefacts. Stars at extreme corners are not round. If it is priced cheaper it would be acceptable as a beginner scope. But I have seen better images from much cheaper ED80 Doublets.

Skywatcher Espirit 80. QC seems to be a problem.I have bought and sold the same model twice. The first one I bought was a dud with big diffraction artefacts giving uneven halo around bright stars that looks like a cross. Returned it and got a good copy but sold it to finance a FSQ85 (see under "Disappointed"). Purchased a second one to replace my FSQ85, again got a dud and had to return it for a replacement. The replacement still had a hint of the artefact (but it is passable) and a little corner star elongation (but I am a pixel peeper - it is passable). Like the WO81, it would have been acceptable as an intermediate scope if it is priced cheaper. I sold it eventually to finance my Takahashi e130D. Having said this, it is better and more cost effective than my Takahashi FSQ85, which I presume it is positioned to compete with. If one is to choose between a Baby-Q and an Espirit, I would choose the Espirit every time.

Atik EFW and OAG: very solid and well made, but it takes up way too much back focus, such that you simply can't use it on most refractors as a EFW-OAG combo (EFW by itself is ok, but I am partial to OAG). About the only thing you can use this combo on is with SCT.

Disappointed
==========
FSQ-85: Despite its hype and cost, it was a very disappointing scope. My first copy ex Hong Kong was a dud, with clear discollimation out of box. I had to ship it all the way back to Japan for repair. The repaired scope is sharp in the centre, but corner stars are elongated. Takahashi factory said that it is within spec?!?! when I complained. Spent a fortune on focuser upgrade trying to make it work: With the Feathertouch focuser I could get a reasonably good field with my Atik 460, but only if I focused on a star manually off centre (the standard advice is to focus half way between centre and edge). I simply could not use SGPro autofocus feature and get an acceptable result. Without auto focus I could not really use it unless I baby sit it whole night. At this price it should just work but it did not. There are countless other reports of the same problem; I just wished I had read about them before I purchased.

Interestingly, Takahashi has recently released a 1.01x flattener for it, IMO basically an admission on their part that the scope in its native form is not flat. I sold mine just months before they announced the flattener. I always wonder whether with this flattener it would perform better, but then I have moved on and could not try it.

Absolute Nightmare
===============
iOptron ZEQ25. I purchased one after reading rave reviews on CN. But honestly this is a POS. I spent countless hours trying to tune it as per instructions here, but my best guided result I got was 2-3 arc sec with mediocre result paired with a 80mm refractor. This is my first "serious" mount and I thought for some time the problem was with me. But when I traded it for a NEQ6 and the difference was night and day. It was then that I realised the problem did not lie with the operator. I know others have had good result with it, but this was not my experience. If you are a beginner, this is the worst thing you can buy because if it does not work well you would never know whether you are the problem or whether the mount is the problem.

I have made many mistakes in my previous purchases. One thing I learnt is that you get what you pay for. The other thing I learnt is that it is often more expensive to buy cheap upfront as you will pay more in the long run. The last thing I learnt is that expensive gear with lots of hype (yes, FSQ85, I am referring to you) does not automatically mean that it is going to be good and careful research is required.

Edited by Henry from NZ, 16 February 2019 - 03:51 PM.

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#144 tcchittyjr

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 03:47 PM

Fully agree, and my equipment is also not worth more than my car.

Buy an expensive car, and this should always be true! :)

 

Tom C


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#145 dawziecat

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 11:31 AM

Best: All the stuff I have now!

Worst: All the stuff I burned through, wasting $$ on, learning that buying the stuff I have now is what I should have bought in the first place! 

OK, absolute worst single item: Celestron Nexguide. Couldn't wait to get rid of it! 


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#146 epdreher

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 06:09 PM

I'll bet your story has been told by many here, myself included. 



#147 Cancington42

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 07:57 PM

best purchase was definitely the polemaster, I love how simple it makes polar alignment!! Worst was my first mount, the eq5, I used it for 6 months, and always had problems with it, until I realized it was defected.. still under warrenty and ended up trading it in for an eq6-t, which is an amazing mount! Great thread!!



#148 SimonIRE

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 03:37 PM

Worst:  Everything I purchased in my first 5 months of AP (mounts, OTA's, filters, etc)... It was all mid-tier gear which I quickly realized I wanted to upgrade.  I'm now going to take a 7-10k bath in the resale market.  If you have the money and are serious about this hobby, buy all premium gear from the get-go.  I suspected this when I started but everyone seemed to advise against it.

 

Best:  QHY-OAG, AP1100, Rig-Runner gear,  Spike-A-Flat panel

This is spot on. Wish I had known....



#149 tcchittyjr

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 04:39 PM

Best Hardware:

 

Paramount MyT. It just WORKS

Telegizmos 365 cover for it and my scope. I would image a lot less without it.

ZWO 1600MM-C with an EFW and Astrodon filters

 

Second level:

Used Sirius EQ-G mount. My bad for buying it, but I did buy it.

 

Worst:

Trying to guide. I just plain suck at it. I don't know what I was doing wrong, but I could never get it to work!

 

TomC



#150 txo

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 04:52 AM

worst: SE 8" Newtonian Astrograph https://www.astrosho...foc-ota/p,52216

 

I spend frustrating half a year with it. Bought even new moonlite focuser and still wasn't able to collimate it properly. When you collimate it in one position it looses it in other. As been mentioned already cheap newtonians are hell for beginners.

 

best: William Optics FLT 132

 

Real joy to work with. Now I can finally focus on AP and not on the battle with the telescope. 


Edited by txo, 15 September 2019 - 04:53 AM.



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