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What is a good mount for astrophotography on a budget?

astrophotography mount
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#1 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 10:05 AM

I am a beginner to astrophotography and telescopes in general and I have a limited budget to work with ($1000 dollars or more is way out of my budget). I have a lens I know I want and it is the zenithstar 61 f/5.9 doublet and now I need a mount. The mount needs to be GoTo and an Equatorial mount, I've been searching for a while and I just can't find something that will work for me. The only mount I can find that I think will work for what I want is the iOptron SmartEQ Pro+ GoTo German Equatorial Mount. It would be great if anyone could give me any advice on what to buy or if the mount I found is good. Thanks in advance!



#2 tog

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 10:19 AM

I would start my search in the used market. Most of the big astro retailers have used equipment posted on their web sites. Good luck in your search. You will find what you are looking for!


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#3 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 10:22 AM

I would start my search in the used market. Most of the big astro retailers have used equipment posted on their web sites. Good luck in your search. You will find what you are looking for!

Okay thanks! I will look for some used mounts, also does anybody know if the iOptron skyguider pro is a good mount because I have just found that and it looks pretty good.



#4 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 10:44 AM

Check out used mounts.  Ask for astrophoto examples with that mount.  Do NOT get a Celestron AVX mount...  New or used...


Edited by Jim Waters, 12 October 2019 - 10:46 AM.


#5 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 10:49 AM

What is the problem with the celestron AVX? and does this count as the AVX: https://www.cloudyni...al-mount-head/ 

Because when I search CG5 it comes up with the AVX as the first result.



#6 sg6

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 10:52 AM

The Skyguider Pro is not a goto, and it says it has a guider port but it has only 1 motor. So guiding fully is not an option,

 

The SmartEq is a bit lightweight, really needs the next tripod up. Although a nice mount, when I went for one the sort of lack of solidity put me off.

 

At the budget the alternatives are really:

EQ3-2 but again the tripod is the weak point.

EQ5 should be ideal, but I guess at the top end of any budget.

The Skywatcher EQM another option, looks like a modified EQ3-2 head on a bit more robust tripod

Other iOptrons are over budget.

 

Used market is a case of what appears and at what price. Although you can place a wanted ad.

 

Where are you?



#7 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:03 AM

I live in North Carolina and looking at the EQ3-2, it looks like it isn't sold in the US but I'm guessing it can be shipped here. If you can swap out the tripod, I do have a sturdy tripod that I could use. Is this a good mount head: https://www.cloudyni...ial-mount-head/



#8 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:06 AM

What is the problem with the celestron AVX? and does this count as the AVX: https://www.cloudyni...al-mount-head/ 

Because when I search CG5 it comes up with the AVX as the first result.

The vast majority of people that own the mount move on to better mounts because of issues such as high DEC Backlash, high or inconsistent / random P.E., stability or other issues.  Its a poor-man's design.  If I recall the mount does not use ball bearings on the DEC or RA axis's.  I know 4 people that have sold the mount after trying to get into astrophotography.

 

For general observing - YES

For astrophotography - NO


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#9 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:07 AM

it looks like it isn't sold in the US but I'm guessing it can be shipped here

astroshop.eu does ship worldwide so that might be a good option for me



#10 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:08 AM

Okay thanks! I will look for some used mounts, also does anybody know if the iOptron skyguider pro is a good mount because I have just found that and it looks pretty good.

I have one.  Its not GOTO.



#11 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:13 AM

astroshop.eu does ship worldwide so that might be a good option for me

If you are in the US order from a US supplier.


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#12 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:13 AM

The vast majority of people that own the mount move on to better mounts because of issues such as high DEC Backlash, high or inconsistent / random P.E., stability or other issues.  Its a poor-man's design.  If I recall the mount does not use ball bearings on the DEC or RA axis's.  I know 4 people that have sold the mount after trying to get into astrophotography.

 

For general observing - YES

For astrophotography - NO

Okay thanks



#13 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:20 AM

I have one.  Its not GOTO.

Oh okay 



#14 aatdalton

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:30 AM

Used Orion Sirius seems to be the standard entry level that won't end in frustration.
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#15 johrich

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:41 AM

I have had a Smart EQ Pro + mount for several years and have done a fair amount of AP with it using an AT72EDII, which is about the heaviest scope you should put on the mount for AP.  It is a Goto, it has some limitations in terms of the tripod, but it is a very lightweight EQ mount and I do not regret buying it and still use it for Club Star Parties for AP with good results.  Some issues, while it does have a polar scope that probably works well, I am older and have knee issues and the tripod is short so I cannot bend down far enough, even with my adjustable chair to see through the Polar Scope.  I now use the ASIAIR to polar align although the hand set does have a Polar Alignment routine for polar aligning if you can't see Polaris.  The other issue is that even if you get the Smart Eq+ with a small scope or DSLR, you are going to eventually want a bigger scope that the Smart EQ Pro + cannot handle.  I eventually wanted a 102 mm refractor and so had to get a larger mount, but I still have the Smart EQ Pro and intend to keep it.  Below is a link on Astrobin of one of the images I recently obtained with the Smart EQ Pro + and AT72 EDII, and another image of M31 I obtained from the setup at a Star Party.

 

https://www.astrobin...4dsq34/?nc=user

 

It's not a bad mount from my experience, but it has it's limitations.

 

johrich

 

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 09212019 M31 AT72EDII ASI183MC IRCUT 49L 120Sec PRCF Field small.jpg

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#16 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 02:04 PM

I have had a Smart EQ Pro + mount for several years and have done a fair amount of AP with it using an AT72EDII, which is about the heaviest scope you should put on the mount for AP.  It is a Goto, it has some limitations in terms of the tripod, but it is a very lightweight EQ mount and I do not regret buying it and still use it for Club Star Parties for AP with good results.  Some issues, while it does have a polar scope that probably works well, I am older and have knee issues and the tripod is short so I cannot bend down far enough, even with my adjustable chair to see through the Polar Scope.  I now use the ASIAIR to polar align although the hand set does have a Polar Alignment routine for polar aligning if you can't see Polaris.  The other issue is that even if you get the Smart Eq+ with a small scope or DSLR, you are going to eventually want a bigger scope that the Smart EQ Pro + cannot handle.  I eventually wanted a 102 mm refractor and so had to get a larger mount, but I still have the Smart EQ Pro and intend to keep it.  Below is a link on Astrobin of one of the images I recently obtained with the Smart EQ Pro + and AT72 EDII, and another image of M31 I obtained from the setup at a Star Party.

 

https://www.astrobin...4dsq34/?nc=user

 

It's not a bad mount from my experience, but it has it's limitations.

 

johrich

Wow that's an impressive picture of Andromeda, I do think this is the mount I will get because I am a beginner and I wouldn't like to spend such an enormous amount of money until I am sure I want to do this. I have been told that the mount is not good for astrophotography and that it doesn't have good precision, they said it might be frustrating/difficult to use. Do you know about that? From the pictures you have taken with it however, I see that it is capable of great pictures.


Edited by Dimitrij, 12 October 2019 - 02:17 PM.


#17 johrich

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 05:03 PM

There are certainly much better mounts that are more expensive for AP, but even without guiding I was easily able to get 30 to 60 sec subs. With guiding using the ASIAIR I usually do 2 minute subs. I certainly found it useable for AP. To get a better idea, go to www.astrobin.com and do a search for images using the SmartEQ mount. You will find quite a few, over 300 when I checked. Look at the technical details of the images to get a better idea of the equipment and duration of the subs that people were able to obtain with the Ioptron SmartEQ mounts.

johrich
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#18 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 05:05 PM

Okay thanks, this is the mount I am going to get because it seems like a good entry-level mount for me and it is affordable. Thank you for the help!


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#19 johrich

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 05:56 PM

I think you will find the Smart EQ very usable for entry level AP.  Without guiding you are probably going to be limited to 30 to 60 sec exposures.  More expensive mounts would allow longer more precise subs, that is certainly true.  But if you are trying to get into AP, it will suffice, I believe, to get you started.  The Zenith Star 61 is certainly a great scope to put on this mount.  Remember the mount weight limit is 11 lbs and you want to stay well below that to increase the stability and precision of the mount.  I put about 8 lbs on it with my setup, which is higher than I would like, but it does work. Ideally, 5 or 6 lbs would be best.  Remember you have the weight of both the  scope, camera and finder scope.  You will probably at some point  will want to add a field flattener, guidescope and guide camera, etc, that will add more weight.  AP on a tight budget is not easy, but there are plenty of targets that can be imaged with a small setup.  You may also want to check out Trevor Jones' website and Youtube channel, "Astrobackyard".  He has a lot of introductory videos to AP using the Sky guider Pro and a DSLR, as well as more advanced setups.

 

 

johrich


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#20 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 06:09 PM

There isn't one. 


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#21 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:13 PM

Thank you so much, right now the weight I think would be around 5.5 lbs with all of that considered. I have looked at the field flatteners and that will be something I get a little later. Also, I have watched a good amount of Astrobackyard and have looked at the website as well, he has some helpful things on those and they are very helpful. 



#22 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:15 PM

There isn't one. 

What were you responding to?



#23 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:23 PM

What were you responding to?

the title of the thread.  a budget mount and AP do not blend well. You have to be able to track an object at every moment in time otherwise the image is degraded. It takes a bit of technology to do that and that costs some money. 



#24 Dimitrij

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:00 PM

the title of the thread.  a budget mount and AP do not blend well. You have to be able to track an object at every moment in time otherwise the image is degraded. It takes a bit of technology to do that and that costs some money. 

Oh okay, thanks


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#25 Hesiod

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 04:30 AM

There isn't one. 

Actually, for imaging at 360mm, this statement is far from being true


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