Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Equatorial Mount for DSLR

  • Please log in to reply
39 replies to this topic

#1 navcom

navcom

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 11
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Lake City, MN USA

Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:10 AM

Hi folks!  Complete noob here.  I'm literally just starting out and am looking for a DSLR equatorial mount.  Have loved the night sky and night photography for many years but have never waded into the astronomy end of things.  I've been a photographer for many years, so I have photo equipment covered in spades, but I have no astronomy equipment or knowledge for that matter.

 

What I'd like to start with is just using a DSLR for some long exposure stacking.  I'm a Nikon guy and would like to use a D850 with a 200-500mm lens (the largest I have).  Can anyone point me in the right direction for an affordable equatorial mount that can handle this pairing?  Would I need a specialized tripod or will a heavy duty Manfroto work?

 

Thanks for any help!  Really excited about starting out!

 

Jeff



#2 DubbelDerp

DubbelDerp

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 14 Sep 2018
  • Loc: Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:22 AM

I've had good luck with my iOptron Skyguider Pro. It should mount to any heavy-duty tripod with a 3/8" bolt. Longest focal length I've used with it is 360mm, and managed 120-second exposures with acceptable (to me) drift. At 50mm and less, 5 minute exposures are no problem.


  • navcom likes this

#3 cst4

cst4

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 92
  • Joined: 06 Jun 2018

Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:22 AM

iOptron Skyguider Pro and Skywatcher Star Adventurer are the two most basic and portable EQ mounts that come to mind.  Never used either of them myself.  I have a Skywatcher AZ-GTI mount which is a lot of fun and with a software upgrade it can do EQ tracking.  I would think your Manfrotto would work with any of these.


  • navcom likes this

#4 navcom

navcom

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 11
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Lake City, MN USA

Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:41 AM

Thanks guys!  I did see the iOptron Skyguider Pro but was concerned it might not handle the weight of the pairing.  Not quite sure how much it weighs (I'll weigh it when I get home this evening).  Also concerned that at 500mm, the CG might be a bit too far forward.  The next step up seems to be in the $1000+ range.  Was hoping to keep it more affordable.  LOL!

 

I'm guessing the Skyguider Pro would work great in the future for an average telescope as well?



#5 einarin

einarin

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1957
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2016

Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:55 AM

I think your gear weights 1kg + 2kg so Skyguider Pro with 5kg capacity should handle it.

And it can do autoguiding if required.


  • navcom likes this

#6 cst4

cst4

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 92
  • Joined: 06 Jun 2018

Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:56 AM

Trever with "Astro Backyard" did a few reviews on YouTube of the Skyguider Pro that I had watched which made me consider getting it.  Might be worth checking out some of the different lenses he or others online have used.  He successfully used a Zenithstar 61 on it at least which is a great 360mm APO at about 4 lbs.


  • Gary Z and navcom like this

#7 petert913

petert913

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3363
  • Joined: 27 May 2013
  • Loc: Portland, OR

Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:01 AM

I bought an Orion Astroview mount with a single motor drive.

You would need a dovetail bar and ball head to attach your camera.

 

https://tinyurl.com/yybcmkzh

 

You may find a used one for a lot less.   Good tracking mount for wide field.


Edited by petert913, 10 October 2019 - 10:27 AM.

  • zxx and navcom like this

#8 DubbelDerp

DubbelDerp

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 214
  • Joined: 14 Sep 2018
  • Loc: Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:03 AM

I've started using mine with an AT60ED, the cousin to the Zenithstar 61. The key is to be able to adjust the camera/lens or scope combination so it balances forward and back, so some type of quick release clamp and a longer plate to allow you to slide it on the bracket. I have an 8" arca-swiss plate for mounting the scope with a panning head on the declination bracket, and that lets me balance the combination perfectly. The counterweight is all the way at the end of the shaft, so you'd probably need an extra counterweight to make sure it balances.


  • navcom likes this

#9 navcom

navcom

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 11
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Lake City, MN USA

Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:43 AM

Thanks a ton folks!  Learning a lot already.

 

Any thoughts on the Sky-Watcher EQM-35 along with a dovetail plate for a ball head?  It's a bit more money but might be a more stable option?



#10 Gary Z

Gary Z

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1416
  • Joined: 26 Jan 2012
  • Loc: New Mexico

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:00 AM

Thanks a ton folks!  Learning a lot already.

 

Any thoughts on the Sky-Watcher EQM-35 along with a dovetail plate for a ball head?  It's a bit more money but might be a more stable option?

If you're planning on going this route, I'd strongly consider something like the Ioptron CEM25 Pro.  Lightweight, yet has a proven track record.  I don't know what results folks are getting with the EQM-35, however, I 'd certainly welcome solid feedback on it.  The CEM25 Pro has a good track record and Ioptron generally provides great support.  I purchased a used IEQ45 Pro mount last summer, and Ioptron has supported me fully at every turn. 

 

Gary


  • navcom likes this

#11 JDShoots

JDShoots

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 67
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Pennsylvania, North East

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:15 AM

Jeff,

   I am wholly unqualified to offer any comparative preference for one mount to another, because I have only one and only for the last 2 months.  Also being a Nikon daylight shooter for years, I added a tracking mount to my equipment pile just like you're considering.   Right now, my heaviest camera/lens combo is just shy of 10 lbs, add some wires, a heater, dew cover, and a few other accessories and I am sure to be pushing 15lbs.  So I wanted to at least start with something rated for 15-20#.  That brought me to the Orion Skyview Pro.  I found a deal on ebay for one with the tracking motor kit and a polar alignment scope installed for just over $250.  I see one up there right now cheap:)  For Reference, had I bought it from amazon, it's $565.  That will hold my equipment without issue, and the included tripod is a beefier then my Manfrotto, and probably yours.  And the mount it's self, for the price, is very heavy duty.  I was pleased once I saw it, I didn't want something flimsy that I would be worried would break under the weight of my camera.  

   Again considering my 2 months of astrophotography experience, I like my mount.  I have all the confidence in it's ability to support all of my setups, and it has tracked well for me in the half dozen shots I've taken so far.  There are better options, and I figured I would get started on the cheap and if it keeps my interest I can add more to it in the future. 

   One drawback of MY setup is adding the GOTO hardware is another 400+ bucks, because the motors are different.  But in my target choices so far, I am not missing it, yet.  If you think you will want goto capability and guiding, in a plug and play solution, then going for the goto kit from the start would be the best.  

   Another consideration is portability.   I shoot in my yard, but if you will be traveling a lot, the mount w/tripod is 40lbs w/o the camera.  But it can be easily broken down into some small manageable pieces.  

   I am interested in seeing how Andromeda(M31) comes out with your 200-500!  

Good luck.  

JD


  • navcom likes this

#12 navcom

navcom

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 11
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Lake City, MN USA

Posted 10 October 2019 - 12:29 PM

Lots to think about here.  Thanks much!  

 

One of the reason's I've waited so long to get started in astronomy/astro-photography is the steep learning curve with the equipment.  So many questions lead to more questions, and more equipment.  LOL!

 

Thank you so much!  I'll be back with more questions and look forward to reading more on the forum!

 

Jeff



#13 KLWalsh

KLWalsh

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 581
  • Joined: 19 Feb 2014
  • Loc: North Georgia, USA

Posted 10 October 2019 - 12:40 PM

I’ve got a Nikon D5100 (APSC) and a D810a (full frame).
I found that using BackYard Nikon (BYN) is really helpful in acquiring images. It’s relatively inexpensive even for the ‘Premium’ edition.
You can get a copy at otelescope.com. And you can try before you buy.
  • guyroch and navcom like this

#14 Hesiod

Hesiod

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3206
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2013

Posted 10 October 2019 - 02:07 PM

Thanks a ton folks!  Learning a lot already.

 

Any thoughts on the Sky-Watcher EQM-35 along with a dovetail plate for a ball head?  It's a bit more money but might be a more stable option?

At 500mm I'd skip the ball-head and screw a lens collar to the dovetail plate, also because you will be likely (auto)guiding the mount.

 

By the way, it could be useful to check your actual equipment: if have already a good geared head and a stiff tripod, could just put all your budget into a higher-performance device such as the Lighttrack: not only could skip the guide (at least as long as you stick with DSLRs), but would end up with a very compact setup*, and very straight-forward in its operations.

 

*figure your current kit for daytime photography and add a slender item, as long as your forearm and around 1kg heavy


  • navcom likes this

#15 17.5Dob

17.5Dob

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • ****-
  • Posts: 5239
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2013
  • Loc: Colorado,USA

Posted 10 October 2019 - 08:48 PM

Hi folks!  Complete noob here.  I'm literally just starting out and am looking for a DSLR equatorial mount.  Have loved the night sky and night photography for many years but have never waded into the astronomy end of things.  I've been a photographer for many years, so I have photo equipment covered in spades, but I have no astronomy equipment or knowledge for that matter.

 

What I'd like to start with is just using a DSLR for some long exposure stacking.  I'm a Nikon guy and would like to use a D850 with a 200-500mm lens (the largest I have).  Can anyone point me in the right direction for an affordable equatorial mount that can handle this pairing?  Would I need a specialized tripod or will a heavy duty Manfroto work?

 

Thanks for any help!  Really excited about starting out!

 

Jeff

Why such a huge lens ?

You can get by just fine with only 85 mm on an APS-c

40465965153_a036e1f6f6_b.jpg

48041407328_e5cd001cd8_b.jpg

48311305741_ef1beafdf9_b.jpg

Those were taken with a $199 camera tracker


Beyond 400mm you're going to need a mount capable of autoguiding and a computer to run everything.


  • Cfreerksen likes this

#16 Chris Boar

Chris Boar

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 353
  • Joined: 23 Feb 2009
  • Loc: Vancouver Island, Canada

Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:55 PM

I have the Skywatcher Star Adventurer tracker. Can load upto 11lbs and has an autoguider port if/when you decide you want to guide. I can track unguided about 1.5 minutes happily. With a Sigma Art f1.4 lens wide open 1 min subs are more than long enough.

 

But Dave is right.....go for a shorter focal length....makes everything a lot simpler.



#17 navcom

navcom

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 11
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Lake City, MN USA

Posted 11 October 2019 - 07:56 AM

Thanks folks.  Yeah, I don't "need" to go to 500mm.  Just thought it made sense to plan around that since it's my longest focal length.  Will use many different lengths in reality.  Again, I know nothing about this stuff.  It seems every time I think I have an equipment list for what I need, another piece of advice shows up to throw everything into a tail spin.  Which mount, which adapter, which go-to, do I need a go-to, autoguider?  Slender item?  How big?  How much? What accessories do I need?  Why do I need that?  And why wasn't it mentioned before?

 

I simply want to use my camera and existing lenses to take photos of galaxies and the like.  To stack images, I need the camera to follow the stars, thus I figured an EQ mount was a good place to start.

 

My journey over the last year or so:

 

Want to take pictures of galaxies and maybe planets -->  need a telescope  -->  which telescope?  -->  you need this one and you're all set!  -->  no, that one is for planets  -->  you need a shorter focal telescope  -->  this one will work!  -->  nope, you also need an adapter for your camera  -->  find adapter, ready to go!  -->  nope, camera is too heavy  -->  did you know that you will also need an EQ mount?  -->  EQ mounts researched  -->  that one doesn't work well with that telescope  -->  new one researched  -->  now need a different adapter  -->  that one won't work with the tripod you have  -->  tripods researched  -->  EQ mount is not capable of supporting your telescope AND camera  -->  why do you even need a telescope?  Keep it simple!  -->  look for DSLR only EQ mount  -->  your 500mm lens is perfect for galaxies, find a mount that supports it  -->  your 500mm lens is too long for galaxies  -->  you need a computer tracking system if you want to use your 500mm lens.  *sigh*

 

Don't get me wrong.  Everyone everywhere has been super helpful and eager to share.  If astronomer-types are anything, they are friendly!  It's just everyone seems to have a different approach and I have no experience to draw from to decide which approach is for me.  I've been trying to research everything to death but I think it's time to just commit so I can begin the real learning process.  I think I'll just buy a middle of the road EQ mount with go-to and start playing around with it.  If it doesn't do what I want, it goes on Ebay and I'll try another one.  In other words, I'll throw money at it and hope something sticks.  LOL!



#18 ssa2294

ssa2294

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 37
  • Joined: 29 Oct 2018

Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:11 AM

Hi navcom, I see you are in MN! Have you looked at our local astronomy club http://mnastro.org? The discussion board is not as active as Cloudy Nights here, but should/could be of assistance as well. 

 

Anyways, I think I was in the same spot as you a few months back. Everyone has an opinion, and it does get frustrating. On the one hand there are many options, on the other hand there is too many options. Starting out with beginner/entry level GOTO EQ mount is not a bad option if it gets you into the game so to speak. Part of the reason this hobby is addictive is that it does encompass so many different aspects which does seem frustrating at first.

 

It is unfortunate we have had such miserable weather, and now it is getting cold. Otherwise I would strongly suggest to grab your camera and come out to Eagle Lake/Baylor Park observatory when a star party is being held. Sometimes in the summer you can get a lot of people there imaging, a lot of people with different setups who are more than happy to show you what they use, and why they use it. If you are still undecided by Spring, definitely come out some Saturday night.  


  • navcom likes this

#19 cst4

cst4

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 92
  • Joined: 06 Jun 2018

Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:17 AM

In there somewhere you listed the best piece of advice:  "Keep it simple"

 

If you have a camera and a few lenses you can capture a ton of beautiful images of the heavens.  No telescope or go-to mount necessary.  You just need something that can hold it and track the stars as they move and the Skyguider or Star Adventurer could do that for you.

 

But yeh, if you think you will want a telescope one day then going ahead and getting a go-to EQ mount isn't a bad idea.  Just a lot more hassle than necessary to get your feet wet.


  • navcom likes this

#20 navcom

navcom

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 11
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Lake City, MN USA

Posted 11 October 2019 - 10:47 AM

Hi navcom, I see you are in MN! Have you looked at our local astronomy club http://mnastro.org? The discussion board is not as active as Cloudy Nights here, but should/could be of assistance as well. 

 

Anyways, I think I was in the same spot as you a few months back. Everyone has an opinion, and it does get frustrating. On the one hand there are many options, on the other hand there is too many options. Starting out with beginner/entry level GOTO EQ mount is not a bad option if it gets you into the game so to speak. Part of the reason this hobby is addictive is that it does encompass so many different aspects which does seem frustrating at first.

 

It is unfortunate we have had such miserable weather, and now it is getting cold. Otherwise I would strongly suggest to grab your camera and come out to Eagle Lake/Baylor Park observatory when a star party is being held. Sometimes in the summer you can get a lot of people there imaging, a lot of people with different setups who are more than happy to show you what they use, and why they use it. If you are still undecided by Spring, definitely come out some Saturday night.  

Sounds like fun!  I will definitely look into it!  Thanks!



#21 JDShoots

JDShoots

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 67
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Pennsylvania, North East

Posted 11 October 2019 - 11:03 AM

....It seems every time I think I have an equipment list for what I need, another piece of advice shows up to throw everything into a tail spin.  ....

I simply want to use my camera and existing lenses to take photos of galaxies and the like.  To stack images, I need the camera to follow the stars, thus I figured an EQ mount was a good place to start.....

   That's me man, 3 months ago.  Years ago I found out about tracking and every time I started to look into it, I walked away.  WAY to many options, and I succumbed to analysis paralysis.  For over a decade I did nothing other then shot the moon.  Then I tripped across this video:  https://www.nebulaph.../resources/m42/

Not that I replicated his setup, but it pushed me over the edge and I, like where you are now, I finally just bought something.   I needed tracking and stability to hold 10-15lbs of gear with my 500 f4.  A little scanning on ebay and craigs list and I settled on the Orion Skyview pro because it was available for less then 300 bucks and they still support it with parts and accessories.  Again like you if it fails me It will just go back up on ebay.  There is a LOT to learn with this hobby, like ssa2294 said, there is a lt to learn and that's part of the fun.  

   So get the EQ mount and get out there shooting.   Hit M31 and M33 right away they are the biggest galaxy targets in the sky right now and will allow for some immediate success and fuel the addiction.  I pointed my 300f4 at M31 by eye, with no coordinates, hell I didn't know what Ra and DEC were.  M33 is a little fainter, so I needed to get in the right general area and it is smaller so I used my 500 f4.  For that I used the setting circles on the mount to point to my target, and that was cool too, no laptop out there with me.  M101 too.  So get the EQ mount with tracking and a built in Polar alignment scope at least and get out and get addicted, err I mean shooting. 

Attached Thumbnails

  • M33 Cap.JPG

  • navcom likes this

#22 Alen K

Alen K

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1079
  • Joined: 25 Nov 2009

Posted 11 October 2019 - 12:18 PM

You are certainly spoiled for choices. That's a problem I never had when I was starting out, so it's a little hard to empathize. smile.gif

 

It's all a matter of budget and deciding on a path. You can do what many do and continually buy your way up to better (and bigger) equipment, selling off the older stuff as you progress. Or you can take a long view and buy with growth and particular direction in mind. The problem with the second approach is that you probably don't know yet what direction you would like to take in all of this.

 

What I personally recommend is to buy something now that will allow you to learn how to take astrophotos AND will be something you won't want to part with later because it will remain useful. The SkyGuider Pro with the counterweight kit or the Star Adventurer full package will get you going at a low cost. You will be certainly able to do wide angle and short telephoto (up to ~300mm) without guiding in subexposures long enough to be useful. You might even be able to do 400mm unguided. At 500mm you would probably want to guide but both of those trackers support that with the addition of a guide scope, guide camera, laptop and (free) software.

 

After a while as the funds allow, you can purchase a full-size EQ mount and a telescope to mount on it. What you need will depend primarily on the scale of the objects you become interested in imaging. The CEM25P mentioned earlier is probably the minimum you should consider and will do fine for the wider-field telescopic DSOs (emission nebulae, large galaxies, etc) paired with an 80mm to 100mm aperture APO refractor (for instance). If you decide you want to do smaller objects like planetary nebulae and small galaxies (or planets), you will need a longer focal-length telescope and a much larger mount. 


Edited by Alen K, 11 October 2019 - 12:20 PM.

  • navcom likes this

#23 JDShoots

JDShoots

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 67
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Pennsylvania, North East

Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:35 AM

Navcom,

   Here are a few incidentals I picked up right away, well after the fist session made them obvious benefits:)  I included a link to the ones I got at amazon, but they are obviously other sources.  

JD

 

Intervalometer - I used the built in interval timer, but that was limited to 30 second exposures. 
https://www.amazon.c...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Heater, wow, that first night was good, but the second, my gear was soaked.  This and the lens hood will keep the lens from fogging.
https://www.amazon.c...1?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Cover - and this will keep the rest dry.
https://www.amazon.c...2?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Bahtinov Mask for focusing. 
https://www.amazon.c...1?ie=UTF8&psc=1

or smaller
https://www.amazon.c...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

straps nice to have around.
https://www.amazon.c...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Light - helpful.
https://www.amazon.c...1?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Quick Release - Since I am attaching regular gear it was nice to add an arca swiss style plate to my mount. 
https://www.amazon.c...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Dovetail mount - My mount was missing this and I had to drill holes to mount the Arca swiss plate. 
https://www.amazon.c...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1


  • navcom likes this

#24 vidrazor

vidrazor

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 254
  • Joined: 31 Oct 2017

Posted 14 October 2019 - 07:02 AM

Keep it simple at first. A tracker like the SkyGuider Pro or the SkyWatcher unit aregood starts, but the Alt-Az mounts and polar scopes are their Achilles Heel, but you can still get good setups. Unguided, I get about 25 second subs with an AT60ED on an Olympus MFT body (720mm equivalent) with my SkyGuider Pro

#25 navcom

navcom

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 11
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Lake City, MN USA

Posted 14 October 2019 - 09:11 AM

Definitely keeping it simple,  but I also want to be prepared.  I'm not scared of learning (part of the draw here!).  I'm slowly honing into what I should buy.  Talking with my wife, it's obvious that my passion here is astro-photography and at some point I will be getting a telescope, so getting as much meat in an EQ mount is probably a good idea so I can grow into it.  I love the night sky and I want pictures!  LOL!  This thread has taught me that I will most likely need an autoguider at some point if I ever want to use longer focal lengths, do longer exposures, or add a telescope with DSLR, so it makes sense to purchase something ready to go with a port as well.

 

Anyone have any thoughts about the Orion Sirius 9995 or Atlas 9996 EQ-G?  These are 30lbs and 40lbs units.  More cost for sure, but maybe a better route for astrophotograhy?




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics