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What Is Your Best And Worst Purchases For Astrophotography?

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175 replies to this topic

#151 Umasscrew39

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 05:19 AM

Best

  • PixInsight
  • Astrodon NB filters
  • AP1100 mount
  • Celestron autofocuser

Worse

  • Broadband LP filters

On The Fence

  • Moonlite Stepper motor autofocuser

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#152 terry59

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 07:42 AM

All of the equipment I have purchased has taught me something about AP. With hindsight, some of it could have been left unpurchased for sure

 

smile.gif 


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#153 Becomart

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 10:26 AM

Best:

1. Polemaster - this device came along at a time I was feeling discouraged about how long it was taking me to polar align and I used to spend 2 hrs trying to align my avx with aspa. I very nearly threw in the towel and then overnight, my problem was solved. 

2. Avalon mount - it just works. It’s rock solid, reliable, a joy to use and looks amazing. The stargo software/hardware is also very intuitive. 

3. Sesto senso - beautiful bit of engineering, no additional boxes and again very easy to use. 

4. Eagle (2) pro - Yes, there are cheaper ways of PC control but I love how I can keep everything connected. My setup now takes me 10mins and then I can relax indoors controlling everything on my iPad. 

5. Princeton tec head torch. Lots of red and white light settings and the batteries last for ages. 

 

Worst

1. Finding a hardy, reliable usb cable has been hard work and I’ve had bad luck with a variety of amazon offerings. 

2. EQ3 mount - hey, I was young! You’re not going to be doing serious astrophotography with this mount. 

3. Flip mirror - it’s not that this is awful but rather redundant from my setup and I’ve barely needed to use it. 

4. ASPA and the Celestron nexstar Remote. 


Edited by Becomart, 15 September 2019 - 10:27 AM.


#154 medderx  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 05:41 PM

Best purchase: "broken" sbig ao-8t that worked fine after resoldering the cable. Polemaster is a close second. 

 

worst: honestly and sadly, CEM60. Wish I saved a bit longer and got a used astrophysics. 


Edited by medderx, 15 September 2019 - 06:21 PM.

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#155 P-Man

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 05:55 PM

Best : 1/ SharpCap Pro for polar alignment. PA error of 0.1 or 0.2' at $15 a year.

           2/  TS Flat 2" flattener. Although over $200, this flattener gives me pin-point stars on my cheap Meade 80 , my LX70 R5 and

                 even my 30 year old Premier 2080 SCT with a DSLR sensor/field, from centre to edge.

           3/ Svbony CLS filter. Cuts out blue star halos COMPLETELY.

           4/ TF2 grease. Did wonders on my AVX mount.

 

Worst: Cheap RGB filters for photographic use. Make sure only  selected wavelengths get through; no mixing.


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#156 epdreher

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 06:26 PM

Having a look at my .sig that includes what I used to own versus what I do now, with the exception of my TOA130, Schaefer mount and 32cm Newt, anyone can see my worst and best purchases.


Edited by epdreher, 15 September 2019 - 06:27 PM.


#157 Alen K

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 08:50 PM

Best ever: Pentax K-3II DSLR. Astrotracer = Awesome

Next best: Vixen GP-DX with SS2KPC. 15 years and still going strong. 

Worst ever: Meade DSI. (I bought it deeply discounted to use as a guiding camera. Even so, I paid too much.)

Next worst: Nothing to mention. I try not to buy things that won't be good enough to keep nearly forever.


Edited by Alen K, 16 September 2019 - 03:55 AM.


#158 zxx

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 09:17 PM

 

 

Worst

 

2. EQ3 mount - hey, I was young! You’re not going to be doing serious astrophotography with this mount. 

 

http://www.astrobin....356967/?nc=user


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#159 17.5Dob

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 09:39 PM

I have two more "Best" items to add, and another old purchase going into the trash.

AT115, a steal at it's old price last year ..(before "The Uber Management" tacked an additional  few $100's in tariffs.) I finally had a series of good of nights to test it, waytogo.gif waytogo.gif

Hotech FF. pinpoint stars corner to corner on my AT115 and an APS-c sensor. 

The Hotech FF finally solved the mystery of the concentric rainbow rings in my old, old images. Newton rings from a bad Orion FF.


Edited by 17.5Dob, 15 September 2019 - 10:18 PM.

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#160 zakry3323

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 10:33 PM

Best purchase: "broken" sbig ao-8t that worked fine after resoldering the cable. Polemaster is a close second. 

 

worst: honestly and sadly, CEM60. Wish I saved a bit longer and got a used astrophysics. 

 

I'm sorry to hear about your CEM being a regret! Would you mind sharing what was wrong with it? Ugrading to a CEM60 from an AVX would be up there along with one of my best purchases!

 

That and a Baader Clicklock. I can quickly swap it out between my focusers and swap out the whole imaging train depending on which target I'm after. It's proven to be very durable, holds like a vise, and makes framing a lot easier.



#161 medderx  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 11:31 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your CEM being a regret! Would you mind sharing what was wrong with it? Ugrading to a CEM60 from an AVX would be up there along with one of my best purchases!

 

That and a Baader Clicklock. I can quickly swap it out between my focusers and swap out the whole imaging train depending on which target I'm after. It's proven to be very durable, holds like a vise, and makes framing a lot easier.

Mine just seems to have tracking problems and occasionally goto issues. I added the "honestly and sadly" because every person I know that has one loves it. I do admit though that I am asking a lot from it by having 38Lbs mounted on it, at 2350mm and the mount is not technically being guided because i use an AO-8T.


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#162 View2

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 11:51 PM

Orion ssag was the worst. My best purchase was probably the 3 in 0.7 x field flattener focal reducer explore scientific hadon sale for $75. I bought one and then they said oops that's supposed to be 25% off but honored that ad. I think they sell for 300 or so

Edited by View2, 15 September 2019 - 11:52 PM.


#163 knight_parn

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 04:10 AM

Best:

 

1. Near new HEQ5 Pro which I got for £550. Installed the Rowan belt and ADM dual saddle myself. Been working very well so far.

 

2. ~ 900 shutter clicks Canon 600D (missing front cap) for £100 to replace my old 40D (slightly undersampling with my refractors, sold for £80). Got it modded for another £90. Works like a charm with BYE.

 

 

Worst:

 

1. Flimsy low profile T-ring. This thing measures only 1.5mm compared to the 11mm of a standard T-ring. The recommended backfocus distance of the TS generic 0.79x FR/FF is misleading (58mm for WO90 and 57mm for APM107). I thought I had to use the low profile T-ring in order to have enough overhead to play with various T2 extensions to get the correct spacing. Turned out that the actual backfocus for a flat field was around 63mm for WO90 and 61.5mm APM107, so a more sturdy/solid standard T-ring would have sufficed.

 

2. Baader 12-14mm variable T2 extension. Wiggles and wobbles at any length but the minimum setting.



#164 Draughty

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 12:03 PM

Giving great thanks for this topic and its commentary/guidance.. so..obviously the best investment is my time spent learning from others! 

 

My best purchase..the old Nikon D40 that got me into digital photography and led to my interest in AP!

Worst.. well that has yet to be determined!



#165 ssa2294

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 02:03 PM

Best: 

1.) Backyard Nikon - Browsing Youtube one day and I came across video on this software. Downloaded it, tried it out with an old Nikon D90. Purchased a license shortly after, and is probably the single most important purchase that got me started into astrophotography. It was not just that the software was great, but the support as well. 

2.) Sharpcap - $15/yr vs $280. Advice given to me before I bought my first setup was to just go with Sharpcap since I would already have a guide cam & scope. Not regretted it for a moment. 

 

Worst:

1.) Celestron 127eq - I think this somewhat qualifies. I bought this on sale, and along with it was a smart phone adapter to take images. Could never get my phone to focus using the adapter. Worse the 127eq was a big burden to move around, a complete PIA to get anything focused, and even when focused a pain to see anything. Only after I got my first scope, ES ED80, that I realized just how awfully bad the optics were on that scope. I knew it was bad, but my god when comparing in realtime it was unbelievable. The $50 refractor I bought at T.J. Maxx years back had better visual optics. The one bright side was I used the counterweight with my new mount & scope saving me $20 + shipping. 



#166 ChrisFC

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 07:00 AM

Best
1. Pixinsight
2. Stepper motor and driver/arduino to make an automated focuser and 3d printer to make bracket for it. All night imaging now! Woo hoo!

Worst
Any one of the bits of crap I got on ebay.

Edited by ChrisFC, 21 September 2019 - 07:01 AM.


#167 elakrab

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 07:11 AM

Bests:

- Skywatcher Star Adventurer ... if it could guide on DEC it would be a perfect toy.

- AZ Gti ... if it had a polarscope it would be amazing.

- Redcat51 ... still fighting a bit with random tilting.

- NEQ6.

- Canon 6D. This camera is 100% amazing and still serving me amazingly. 

- Barghain 450Da that I have peltier cooled.

- IDAS LPS P2 

- Optolong L-enhance: I still cannot believe how amazing this filter is.

 

So-so:

- MN152: The optics are not too bad, but I should honestly have gotten a refractor or the MN190. 

- LX90 8": It was a expensive toy and although the optics are a gem, I still wonder if it was that intelligent to buy it. It is currently deforked.

 

Worsts:

- ETX70 ... bought it ... I don't know why. 

- Celestron C11 ... it had such a bad astigmatism that the image was much worse than my LX90 8". I managed to sell it to someone I explicitly told about how I couldn't manage to get the astigmatism shorted and still bought it. 

- Meade SCT 6.3 reducer (got apparently the short focus one and the corners of the APS-C are way too overcorrected). Still thinking on getting an Antares/Celestron reducer and giving the LX90+EQ6 another chance. 

- ASI 120mm clone (Datyson) ... I cannot believe how bad the firmware is with those silly broken frames.


Edited by elakrab, 21 September 2019 - 07:13 AM.


#168 rkayakr

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 07:30 AM

Best:

MN190 - love the scope, fast (F5.3), holds collimation and is a joy to use with MoonLite stepper focuser

AstroTech ATR8 reducer/flattener - inexpensive and works great with my ES127, WO Z80 and TS 80/480 APOs

 

 

Worst:

EXT90 - difficult to use, suffers from "rubber banding"; when you slew the scope it moves back to where you started on its own



#169 Wigleydh

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 07:53 AM

Best -- PixInsight.

 

After getting it, I reprocessed a lot of my old data and the results looked as if it had been taken with better equipment and not simply a reprocess of the exact same data.



#170 Michael Covington

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 09:08 AM

 

Worsts:

...

- Celestron C11 ... it had such a bad astigmatism that the image was much worse than my LX90 8". I managed to sell it to someone I explicitly told about how I couldn't manage to get the astigmatism shorted and still bought it. 

 

I wonder if that C11 had its secondary off center.  I've had that happen with a C5, and you end up with an uncollimatable telescope -- it is slightly out of collimation no matter what you do.



#171 zach540

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 12:58 AM

Best

1. Observatory

2. PoleMaster

3. CEM60

4. SGP

5. Pixinsight

6. ASI1600MM-Pro

 

Worst

1. Meade DSI (original)

2. Meade LXD-75 mount

3. Cheap USB cables



#172 RJF-Astro

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 02:13 PM

Best is easy: HEQ-5 with belt mod. It is steady, easy to handle and it works every time.

 

It took me a while to be able to say this. But worst: Sky-Watcher 100ED. I started AP last year and was drawn to the 100ED as a nice compromise between visual and AP. In the end I am doing mostly AP and the 100ED is just too slow (F7.5 with reducer). I now have three other scopes which are 2-3 times cheaper than the 100ED each, and they all perform better for AP.



#173 bino_george

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 08:48 PM

Without question the best money I spent on are :

 

1) Sequence Generator Pro, I can get a good nights sleep and image at the same time !

2) PixInsight, **** user interface, but works !

3) Both my Celestron mounts, AVX and CGX. Very happy with them, I had a couple of issues with the CGX but Celestron has great service and they took care of it, did not even have to pay for shipping !

4) Polemaster, no more guiding issues, good Polar alignment is the key !

5) Lodestar X2, great little guide camera !



#174 TimN

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 08:10 AM

Best:  Best by far is my POD. Without an observatory I doubt I would still be able to carry all my equipment out. Coupled with SGP which allows me to image while sleeping - not standing outside freezing - the whole hobby has changed for me.

 

Also, since most clear nights here seem to around a full moon, getting a CMOS camera with narrowband filters has more than doubled my imaging time.

 

Worst: I haven't really had trouble with anything that wasn't my fault, either with a lack of research or in how I used it. Regardless, I certainly learned something from everything I ever purchased.



#175 Kaydubbed

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 10:02 AM

Best: 

1. Celestron 127eq [Powerseeker] -- Now hear me out. My wife bought this for me a few years back from Amazon Warehouse and it got me into the hobby! Yeah yeah it is garbage once it gets out of collimation and the mount is trash, but I got to see Jupiter, Saturn, the moon, and quickly upgraded. 

2. Losmandy G11T -- It is a heavy pig and I love it. It assembles in a few minutes and I can put the RA and DEC sections in little boxes. PA is a breeze [30 seconds with SharpCap] with its altitude and azimuth adjustments and I am so happy I don't have to muck around with my CGEM II's 'push/pull' adjustments anymore for azimuth, or the 5 degree 'drops' from turning the altitude key 1/8th of a turn. 

3. Stellarmate/ASIAIR -- I have used both and without saying which is 'better', I'll say that micro PCs for this hobby changed the way I set up for the better. Now if I can just get Stellarmate on my RPi4 working, that would be 'stellar'

4. 120ah LiFePo4 battery from AliExpress -- I wish I had done this sooner. The battery cost as much as 2 AGM batteries of the same capacity, but weighs 20% as much. And I got it customized with Anderson PowerPole connectors, voltameter, and a board controller for charging. I used a gold seller and was not concerned about quality or capacity and my hand was held the whole time to ensure I got exactly what I wanted. 

 

Worst

1. ASI294mc -- I bought it twice. Returned it twice. I just couldn't get the calibration down and in my Bortle 5/6 skies, it was all very mushy and LP filters made it worse. If I spent more time with it, I could have gotten decent images of large, bright targets, but it just is not a high performer for the types of emission nebula I like to image.

2. Vixen R200SS -- Imaging newts are hogs and I didn't realize how exact collimation had to be. Just a personal preference, but I get so OCD and paranoid about collimation getting wonky that I haven't settled down and just enjoyed imaging with it.

3. CGEM II -- It is a mound of die-cast steel with outputs that feel cheap and aren't flush with the panel, a controller with a cord far too small, and alt-az adjustments that are better-suited for inquisition-era torturing. As mentioned above, the 'push/pull' azimuth adjustment is a total PITA with SharpCap and the saddleplate has chunks missing from it. Synta sucks in this price range for ergonomics and I learned my lesson. I also wouldn't dare put over 20lbs on it. Guiding was not terrible, though. There were a few instances in winter where after platesolving, it almost seemed like the mount thought we were in the southern hemisphere and it tried to do a somersault. I wish I bought the EQ6 in retrospect. Same factories, but the software is better and it is less reliant on the controller.

4. 155Wh battery from Amazon -- ~12Ah at 12v, these batteries are deceptive in that they calculate their advertised Ah at 5v and aren't cheap. The battery I got from AliExpress has 10x the capacity and only cost 2.5x as much. Those 'tanks' that Celestron sells are not any better. I think power in general is the next weakest point in most amateurs after software for processing and acquisition. 




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