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#1 KevinCR

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 09:21 AM

First of all, I am new to this, and may not understand all of the terms and acronyms. If this is in the wrong section, by all means move it. 

 

I am looking at getting into astrophotography. Assuming that is the right term, I want to take pictures of deep space objects like galaxies and nebulae. My budget is 1.5k. That needs to be split between an EQ mount, a telescope, and a camera.

 

So first things first, I need an EQ mount. My research tells me that this will likely be the most expensive part. I am not sure how to divide up my budget, so I have found a few mounts, which I will list, with links and prices(Links aren't against the rules, I don't think)

 

iOptron SmartEQ Pro Computerized Equatorial Mount With Case - $560

There is also one that doesn't have a case , for $500

 

Orion SkyView Pro EQ GoTo - $700

 

Meade LX85 German Equatorial Mount - $800

 

If you have any suggestions besides these, by all means give them to me. Just keep in mind the 1.5k budget. I have mostly just picked these mounts to give a price range, and am not really sure exactly what I am doing. I would also like the advantages of different mounts and what specs I need to pay attention to just in general for an EQ mount.

 

Speaking of not sure of what I am doing, I need a camera. Looks like CMOS isn't an option given my budget, so I guess I will have to go with DSLR. I have absolutely no idea what to chose, or how much to spend given my budget, other than I will likely need to remove the IR filter myself. Give me suggestions, and their merits, please. Just like mounts, I don't know what specs to pay attention to for these.

 

Finally, I need the telescope itself. Refactors seem out of my price range, so I guess I will need a reflector. I have seen people say that a fast telescope is good, and I have seen people say that slow telescopes are good. I don't know which to pick. Another consideration is that it would be nice to be able to use it for visual astronomy, though I understand that one designed for deep space objects wouldn't be best for looking at planets. I don't know what to pick, and while I have a decent understanding of what the specs MEAN, I don't know what is optimal.

 

I can clarify, if needed. Thank you.



#2 wrnchhead

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 09:46 AM

Ok.

 

The honest truth is, you're going to have to save up some more funds. Your budget will maybe get you a used minimum standard mount. It's the most important part of your setup. 

 

Where will you be imaging from? 

 

A reflector is the hardest type of optics to image through. Putting that on a substandard mount and you have a classic recipe for frustration. 

 

A camera tracker ($200-$500) and a DSLR with a kit lens would be well within your budget, and you will get good results and learn processing (as big if not bigger part of this than operating the gear) 

 

There are tons of threads to read on Cloudy Nights that can help you get up to speed, and an oft recommended book by Bracken that will also get your head around everything involved. 


Edited by wrnchhead, 03 August 2020 - 09:46 AM.


#3 QuietStar

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 10:02 AM

If you got the LX85 paired with the Meade LX85 80mm f/6 APO Refractor you save on the mount. They have other configurations but I've heard good things about that scope/mount, and at $1700 it falls inside your budget. Keep in mind that the OTA doesn't include a mirror or eyepieces. I don't have any suggestions on a camera and I'm new at this myself so I'm sure others can be more informative, but I figured I'd give you something else to consider. Best wishes and hopefully clear skies.



#4 RJF-Astro

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 10:31 AM

There have been some positive posts on the Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 mount here on CN. It is a nice budget mount. Don't load too much and I think it will be fine.

 

Here is a list for suggestion:

 

iEXOS-100 $430 with polar scope $90

AstroTech 72ED $469

0.8x reducer/corrector $130

Nikon D5300 used $350

 

This costs about $1470. Enough left to buy that book by Bracken wink.gif

 

However, do expect to make additional costs once you get things going. You might run into issues (dew for instance, need dew heaters). And you will need software for processing and possibly camera control. If this is hard to do budget wise, consider the AT60 instead of the AT72.

 

Start autoguiding once you are familiar with alignment, targeting, tracking, calibration and stacking. Then see how long this set will appease you, or grow into a larger setup.


Edited by RJF-Astro, 03 August 2020 - 10:31 AM.

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#5 mic1970

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 10:32 AM

Do you want to shoot planets, deepsky, or both.  Do you have a DSLR right now?  What camera lens do you have?  

 

As a just left the newbie stage myself, the mount is everything for deep sky.  Get the best mount you can afford?  I've gone through two, waiting on the third.

 

START with a camera and lens (unless you already have a dedicated camera).  Get that down pat and go to scopes.  IMO.  If you don't already have a good lens, then start with a small widefield scope as they are the most forgiving.  

 

My two cents...if you have a camera and at least one good lens 135mm or longer... spend it all on the mount.   This goes on sale all the time.

 

RJF's input is above is good, but you will want the adapter that lets you get a good polar alignment.  


Edited by mic1970, 03 August 2020 - 10:35 AM.


#6 nimitz69

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 10:37 AM

As i see it you have 2 choices:
1. Save up a little more and get a decent beginner setup. This would be my preferred option since it will make learning AP easier. You’ll need about $1,200 for the right mount, $300 for a Nikon D5300 and probably another $1,000 or so for a good 80mm class APO triplet refractor

2. Buy a good camera tracker like an iOptron Sky Guider pro, Nikon 5300 and a nice used 85mm -135mm DSLR lens that is at least F/2.8.

I would not buy any of the mounts you listed as they are not good enough for AP. Learning AP is different than doing AP and either option above will enable you to learn first and then eventually do AP. Trying to learn how to do AP on a sub standard mount (WRT AP) is an exercise is frustration and you will find it more difficult than you might think. AP is very unintuitive for how many of the things work.

Edited by nimitz69, 03 August 2020 - 10:40 AM.

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#7 bobzeq25

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 11:09 AM

First of all, I am new to this, and may not understand all of the terms and acronyms. If this is in the wrong section, by all means move it. 

 

I am looking at getting into astrophotography. Assuming that is the right term, I want to take pictures of deep space objects like galaxies and nebulae. My budget is 1.5k. That needs to be split between an EQ mount, a telescope, and a camera.

 

So first things first, I need an EQ mount. My research tells me that this will likely be the most expensive part. I am not sure how to divide up my budget, so I have found a few mounts, which I will list, with links and prices(Links aren't against the rules, I don't think)

 

iOptron SmartEQ Pro Computerized Equatorial Mount With Case - $560

There is also one that doesn't have a case , for $500

 

Orion SkyView Pro EQ GoTo - $700

 

Meade LX85 German Equatorial Mount - $800

 

If you have any suggestions besides these, by all means give them to me. Just keep in mind the 1.5k budget. I have mostly just picked these mounts to give a price range, and am not really sure exactly what I am doing. I would also like the advantages of different mounts and what specs I need to pay attention to just in general for an EQ mount.

 

Speaking of not sure of what I am doing, I need a camera. Looks like CMOS isn't an option given my budget, so I guess I will have to go with DSLR. I have absolutely no idea what to chose, or how much to spend given my budget, other than I will likely need to remove the IR filter myself. Give me suggestions, and their merits, please. Just like mounts, I don't know what specs to pay attention to for these.

 

Finally, I need the telescope itself. Refactors seem out of my price range, so I guess I will need a reflector. I have seen people say that a fast telescope is good, and I have seen people say that slow telescopes are good. I don't know which to pick. Another consideration is that it would be nice to be able to use it for visual astronomy, though I understand that one designed for deep space objects wouldn't be best for looking at planets. I don't know what to pick, and while I have a decent understanding of what the specs MEAN, I don't know what is optimal.

 

I can clarify, if needed. Thank you.

You're making two very common beginner mistakes.  You're trying to do this on "too small" a budget.  You're underestimating the difference between visual and imaging (particularly learning imaging).  Just two different things, because the two sensors are so different.

 

Very common beginner mistakes that have led to _large_ amounts of wasted money, wasted time, and frustration.  This business is just not intuitive.  Suggestions.

 

For DSO astrophotography with that budget, one option stands out as really good.  Camera/lens/camera tracker.  Here's what that looks like.  Note that the price is for the mount only, total cost depends on what you now own, by way of cameras, lenses, tripods, ballheads.

 

https://www.ioptron....duct-p/3550.htm

 

You can learn the complicated techniques of data acquisition and data processing.  Make some nice images.  See if this is something you want to pursue seriously.  It's a winner.  <smile>

 

This book is an excellent guide.

 

https://www.astropix...bgda/index.html

 

A scope makes this way more expensive, mostly (not entirely) because you need a good mount and an autoguiding system.  Just out of your budget.  Like wanting to go wheel to wheel car racing on $5000.  People do autocross instead.

 

I have a few scopes and an excellent CEM60 mount.  I still use my camera tracker sometimes.

 

That's the AP part.  Figure out what you have left over (as I said, depends on what you have).  Then head over to the beginner forum and get ideas on what that can buy you for visual.

 

Two different things, two setups.

 

Details.  Second the recommendation for a Nikon D5300/5500/5600, unless you already own a DSLR with an available intervalometer for shooting the large number of required subexposures.  At your budget, starting out, just forget about modding.  A tweak, not a revolution.  Only works on emission nebulae.

 

Processing is more than half the game.  Reserve $150 for Astro Pixel Processor.  Both stacks and processes, works well, particularly in light polluted skies.  Anything you save with "free" alternatives will cost you more time than the $150 is worth in money.


Edited by bobzeq25, 03 August 2020 - 11:17 AM.

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#8 charlieb123

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 11:20 AM

Not to suggest you should buy a Skywatcher budget mount but like you I wanted to get into AP on a budget.

 

SW: AZ-GTI $360

Astrotech AT-80ED: $350

Canon T7: $360.

Adapters: $50.

 

$1120.

 

I started with a Pentax Super-Takumar 200mm lens for $50 + adapter $15 so you could subtract $285 from that total if you went that route.

 

After deciding I wanted a laptop as my control for mount, camera and focus control I spent another $400 on a current Dell refurb.

 

$1520.

 

and now I've gone further and am DIYing my own focuser ($50 in parts).

50mm guide scope. $75

SV305 USB camera. $140

 

Up to $1785.

 

I will eventually upgrade to something like a SW EQ-6R but $1600 just isn't in the budget right now.


Edited by charlieb123, 03 August 2020 - 11:27 AM.


#9 RJF-Astro

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 11:22 AM

I understand the star tracker advice from a tracking/learning perspective, but I don't know about the 135mm or similar lenses. In my experience, these lenses do not offer very satisfying results unless used by an experienced imager, or in very dark skies. And satisfying results are a key driver to keep going in this hobby.

 

That is why I would advise stretch the mount capacity just a little further for a 60 or 72 scope. It is an act of balancing, but would an iEXOS with AT60 or AT72 reduced be that much harder to use compared to a tracker with 135mm? And sure, if budget permits get a bigger mount, like an HEQ-5 or similar. But if saving is hard to do, there is more than just a tracker.


Edited by RJF-Astro, 03 August 2020 - 11:24 AM.

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#10 rjhat3

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 11:43 AM

Just my opinion, but I wouldn’t buy any of the small mounts. Better to go ahead and get a decent one now, and not have to buy another one later. Would look at something along the lines of an Atlas EQ-G. It has a 44lb capacity (22 for AP), which is good for this price range. It’s also the least expensive I’ve found in this range at $1400. I know this kills your budget, but you simply can’t make up for a subpar mount, or one with a small payload. If you increase your budget to $2000, then you can get the mount and a used DSLR camera. You will need a lens, but if you shop thrifty, then you can find one with a lens.
This is enough to get started with astrophotography, as you can mount the camera and start taking pictures. Plus, your not skimping on anything. Nothing wrong with being a thrifty shopper, but “cheap” and “astrophotography” don’t go together. You can find good deals if you look. You may even find a used mount for $1000 or so, Just make sure it was well cared for.
So, in short, I would take the money and get an Orion Atlas EQ-G, or a Skywatcher EQ6-R . The EQ6-R will cost slightly more, though.
Here is a good used one.
https://www.cloudyni...ount - Like New
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#11 mic1970

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 12:14 PM

What he said.

Just my opinion, but I wouldn’t buy any of the small mounts. Better to go ahead and get a decent one now, and not have to buy another one later. Would look at something along the lines of an Atlas EQ-G. It has a 44lb capacity (22 for AP), which is good for this price range. It’s also the least expensive I’ve found in this range at $1400. I know this kills your budget, but you simply can’t make up for a subpar mount, or one with a small payload. If you increase your budget to $2000, then you can get the mount and a used DSLR camera. You will need a lens, but if you shop thrifty, then you can find one with a lens.
This is enough to get started with astrophotography, as you can mount the camera and start taking pictures. Plus, your not skimping on anything. Nothing wrong with being a thrifty shopper, but “cheap” and “astrophotography” don’t go together. You can find good deals if you look. You may even find a used mount for $1000 or so, Just make sure it was well cared for.
So, in short, I would take the money and get an Orion Atlas EQ-G, or a Skywatcher EQ6-R . The EQ6-R will cost slightly more, though.
Here is a good used one.
https://www.cloudyni...ount - Like New



#12 mic1970

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 12:16 PM

Watch astro-backyard on youtude...  a lot of 135mm awesome pics from a bortle 7 I believe.  I have some great shots with a 200mm canon and a star tracker.  Just ordered my EQ-6 though.

I understand the star tracker advice from a tracking/learning perspective, but I don't know about the 135mm or similar lenses. In my experience, these lenses do not offer very satisfying results unless used by an experienced imager, or in very dark skies. And satisfying results are a key driver to keep going in this hobby.

 

That is why I would advise stretch the mount capacity just a little further for a 60 or 72 scope. It is an act of balancing, but would an iEXOS with AT60 or AT72 reduced be that much harder to use compared to a tracker with 135mm? And sure, if budget permits get a bigger mount, like an HEQ-5 or similar. But if saving is hard to do, there is more than just a tracker.



#13 SilverLitz

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 12:54 PM

The one thing that is important all AP targets is a good mount, though it becomes more critical and expensive for shooting your small targets, with long FL and heavy scopes and highly detailed image scales.  The biggest bank/buck mount is a SW EQ6R-Pro ($1595, $1345 Sale), a very good budget mount w/ 44# rating (keep AP load to 22#).  To get better you would pay much more for Losmandy G11 (what I got) or iOptron CEM60 (or newer CEM70), which have higher 60# rating and lower periodic error.  These are also high value mounts, but cost $3K to $4K.

For more budgetary constrained mount options, the advice to "put your money where your mount is" is very good advice.  Another good rule of thumb is to keep your total load at 50% of manufacturer’s stated, though Losmandy's loads are supposedly for AP (but I would still haircut it).  The normal budget picks are SW HEQ5 (or Orion Sirius twin) or iOptron CEM40, or for very light imaging loads, the iOptron CEM25.  The widely available budget mount, Celestron AVX, seems to have serious problems (lack of bearings on DEC), though few have gotten “lucky” with a unit that performs OK.  ES has a couple of decent low priced mounts for the seriously budgetary challenged, the EXOS2GT (PMC-8 version) and iEXOS-100.  The EXOS2GT is more robust and capable of the two, and I expect is worth the very modest price difference.  All of these lower cost mounts are more limited in their ability to handle longer FL scopes, heavier imaging trains, or in guiding longer exposures.

If you will only be doing AP with a light DSLR and moderate FL lens (up to 135mm), camera trackers are popular, but they are much more limited than the above mounts.  Most camera trackers: 1) only move in RA (DEC is fixed); 2) very few have the ability to autoguide (and then only in RA); 3) do not have ability to GoTo; 4) do not have ability to finely tune pointing by platesolving; and 5) do not include a tripod.  Think of the iEXOS-100 as a camera tracker, but without the above disadvantages, and the ability to handle a light 80mm scope and camera, all with a similar price to the more capable camera trackers.  The camera trackers main advantage is that it is very light for those who want to take their light imaging rig on a hike.



#14 Stelios

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 02:19 PM

There's a reason why everyone wants to recommend a mount that busts your budget. Let's say you DO buy a mount that fits your budget (used AVX perhaps). Such a mount will make it less likely (because of lack of good results) that you'll get serious about the hobby, and if you *do* get serious about the hobby you'll discard the mount. 

 

But let's analyse a bit, staying frugal, and let's throw in some expenses you've ignored.

 

About the best affordable camera for you would be a Canon T3i body (still available new for $300 from Amazon, used you can find it around $190). It will be noisy in the summer, it has the IR-cut filter which (for emission nebulae) should be removed, a tricky operation if you've never done it). Shoot it at ISO 800 or 1600. (MUCH better choice would be a Nikon D5300 body (used around $325 from Ebay).

 

About the cheapest refractor (reflectors would NOT be cheaper once you add in collimation tools, coma correctors and focuser upgrades which you would need, PLUS reflectors would need a sturdier mount) would be between Astrotech AT72EDII ($469, 432mm F/L -- focal length) and  Astrotech AT80ED ($399, 560mm F/L). You need an ED quality scope at a minimum (achromatics won't do).

 

You will need to add $150 for a field flattener.

 

If you get the AT80ED you will need to add a guiding solution ($230). If you get the AT72EDII you may be able to get away without it, but it will adversely affect your images.

 

You will need to add in T-ring for the DSLR and T-adapter, and a Bahtinov mask for focusing ($50). 

 

I will assume you have USB cables and a laptop. I will also assume you'll use all-free software for processing (DSS and GIMP) and you will use APT (~$25) for acquisition. You'll use a T-shirt and the sky for flats. I also assume you'll power everything with AC (batteries will add at least $100) and that you have boxes and foam you can use for cases for transport, or that you won't need transport (cases can add quite a bit to cost). 

 

OK, so we have at a minimum: $190 (used camera) + $399 (scope) + $150 (flattener) + $230 (guiding) + $50 (misc) + $25 (software) = $1,044 *or*  $190 (used camera) + $469 (scope) + $150 (flattener) + $50 (misc) + $25 (software) = $884. (solution without guiding, not really recommended).

 

This leaves a maximum of $616 for the mount. The main possibility here is to gamble with a used AVX. Gamble because even though the AVX's are uniformly excellent for GoTo and visual, they are of highly variable quality for photography. Some are good, some are close to useless (I've owned one of each). Or again a used iEXOS 2GT-PMC8 which I expect will be roughly the same with lower capacity.

 

The *cheapest* mount really recommended is the iOptron CEM25P. $898. 

Even better would be the HEQ5-Pro $1,150 (the Orion Sirius is essentially the same at $1,099 but not as modern).

 

The 2nd mount has somewhat higher capacity. Either should be able to handle the refractor + guidescope + DSLR suggested. 

 

One additional possibility for you:

 

Get the iOptron CEM25P. Get a D5300 Nikon with a lens (ask in the DSLR forum here for best lens choice). Shoot with that for a while (no scope)The advantage over getting a camera tracker mount is that you can save and add a scope later, and the CEM25P will handle it. Meanwhile you have a better camera. And with a lens up to 250mm or so you won't need guiding.

 

I do NOT recommend a camera tracker mount to begin with, unless your ambitions end there, and all you want is wide field images--no Whirlpool Galaxy, no globulars, no planetary nebulae (Dumbbell, Ring, etc.) other than as tiny little pimples.

 

Good luck!


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#15 RJF-Astro

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 02:40 PM

Watch astro-backyard on youtude... a lot of 135mm awesome pics from a bortle 7 I believe. I have some great shots with a 200mm canon and a star tracker. Just ordered my EQ-6 though.


Sure but Trevor is an experienced imager, with good skills in post processing. My estimate is that it will take a while to get there. Also the number of targets for a widefield beginner is small.

I have seen people quit on my club with a tracker and camera. Results were dissapointing, alignment still tough and finding targets without goto is difficult. That is why I would rather recommend a step up, as an alternative to a tracker.

#16 mic1970

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Posted 03 August 2020 - 03:06 PM

I agree... I have had great nights and I have had really bad nights.  I come to learn of the last year, that balance and leveling are really, really important.  I have found if slightly out of balance, my guiding will not work (I have the star adventure).  I'm getting ready to demo and report on explorer scientific mount for cameras and small scopes.  Suppose to be clear this week.  I'll let you know how it goes.  

 

Sure but Trevor is an experienced imager, with good skills in post processing. My estimate is that it will take a while to get there. Also the number of targets for a widefield beginner is small.

I have seen people quit on my club with a tracker and camera. Results were dissapointing, alignment still tough and finding targets without goto is difficult. That is why I would rather recommend a step up, as an alternative to a tracker.


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#17 johndcrisp

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 09:05 AM

Some of my observations - I started in a similar place as you - but with a slightly larger budget - I can tell you that now over the years I have spent tens of thousands of dollars - but I am still searching for a balance of capabilities and portability and price.

 

There are some basic truths that you will run into and should have right from the start - and yes I agree with the spend more save later approach - but if you just can't go for bigger budgets my advice:

 

Get a good low priced mount, know you are going to have to tinker with it mechanically as well as learn how to run software on a computer both for controlling the mount, the camera and processing.

 

This hobby is an investment of time and resources.

 

If you have the expectation of jumping in and taking APOD worthy pictures your first night out you will be disappointed.

 

This is a challenging but rewarding hobby.

 

Start with wide field as you will find the demands on the mount/tracker are more forgiving. Planetary is it's own set of requirements in my opinion.

 

Get a decent camera and know you will need to budget for some processing software - although there are free alternatives - that a quick google search will reveal.

 

I have an EXOS II with PCM8 from Explore Scientific that I run three different configurations - the David H Levy Comet Hunter, A William Optics Zenith Star 61 and sometimes just my DSLR with a good lens. This mount is capable of doing plate solving for imaging and I run it via USB. It has been reliable and works great.

 

Cloudy Nights can be a good resource along with google searches and youtube of course. Take the time - as you are - to do the research in advance. You can certainly get started for this budget level.

 

John


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#18 wadeprunty

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 09:25 AM

First, I would consider starting out with a DSLR and lens. A few months ago I bought a Canon T3i DSLR with a 50mm and 75-300mm lens for $300 on eBay. 

 

B: As for how much you need to spend on a mount that can support astrophotography, take a look at this 10 minute sub. I spent about $450 on the mount it was shot on.

 

Be careful who you listen to on this forum, it can be like the mean girl of astrophotography.

 

600 Second Sub Using the Explore Scientific iEXOS-100:

 

Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 Example Sub

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#19 Choxsta

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 09:39 AM

First of all, I am new to this, and may not understand all of the terms and acronyms. If this is in the wrong section, by all means move it.

I am looking at getting into astrophotography. Assuming that is the right term, I want to take pictures of deep space objects like galaxies and nebulae. My budget is 1.5k. That needs to be split between an EQ mount, a telescope, and a camera.

So first things first, I need an EQ mount. My research tells me that this will likely be the most expensive part. I am not sure how to divide up my budget, so I have found a few mounts, which I will list, with links and prices(Links aren't against the rules, I don't think)

iOptron SmartEQ Pro Computerized Equatorial Mount With Case - $560
There is also one that doesn't have a case , for $500

Orion SkyView Pro EQ GoTo - $700

Meade LX85 German Equatorial Mount - $800

If you have any suggestions besides these, by all means give them to me. Just keep in mind the 1.5k budget. I have mostly just picked these mounts to give a price range, and am not really sure exactly what I am doing. I would also like the advantages of different mounts and what specs I need to pay attention to just in general for an EQ mount.

Speaking of not sure of what I am doing, I need a camera. Looks like CMOS isn't an option given my budget, so I guess I will have to go with DSLR. I have absolutely no idea what to chose, or how much to spend given my budget, other than I will likely need to remove the IR filter myself. Give me suggestions, and their merits, please. Just like mounts, I don't know what specs to pay attention to for these.

Finally, I need the telescope itself. Refactors seem out of my price range, so I guess I will need a reflector. I have seen people say that a fast telescope is good, and I have seen people say that slow telescopes are good. I don't know which to pick. Another consideration is that it would be nice to be able to use it for visual astronomy, though I understand that one designed for deep space objects wouldn't be best for looking at planets. I don't know what to pick, and while I have a decent understanding of what the specs MEAN, I don't know what is optimal.

I can clarify, if needed. Thank you.



#20 Choxsta

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 09:49 AM

Hey considered a exos 2 gt pmc 8? Its wireless and belt driven. Been using it for a few months now. Awesome mount. I have a 102 refractor with guiding and getting 5 min subs easily.

Edited by Choxsta, 04 August 2020 - 09:49 AM.

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#21 Choxsta

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 09:54 AM

My budget setup
Exos 2 gt pmc 8
Skywatcher 102t refractor
Svbony 50mm guide scope
Zwo asi120mm mc-s guide camera
Canon 600d
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#22 Noobulosity

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:53 AM

There's a reason why everyone wants to recommend a mount that busts your budget. Let's say you DO buy a mount that fits your budget (used AVX perhaps). Such a mount will make it less likely (because of lack of good results) that you'll get serious about the hobby, and if you *do* get serious about the hobby you'll discard the mount. 

 

But let's analyse a bit, staying frugal, and let's throw in some expenses you've ignored.

 

About the best affordable camera for you would be a Canon T3i body (still available new for $300 from Amazon, used you can find it around $190). It will be noisy in the summer, it has the IR-cut filter which (for emission nebulae) should be removed, a tricky operation if you've never done it). Shoot it at ISO 800 or 1600. (MUCH better choice would be a Nikon D5300 body (used around $325 from Ebay).

 

About the cheapest refractor (reflectors would NOT be cheaper once you add in collimation tools, coma correctors and focuser upgrades which you would need, PLUS reflectors would need a sturdier mount) would be between Astrotech AT72EDII ($469, 432mm F/L -- focal length) and  Astrotech AT80ED ($399, 560mm F/L). You need an ED quality scope at a minimum (achromatics won't do).

 

You will need to add $150 for a field flattener.

 

If you get the AT80ED you will need to add a guiding solution ($230). If you get the AT72EDII you may be able to get away without it, but it will adversely affect your images.

 

You will need to add in T-ring for the DSLR and T-adapter, and a Bahtinov mask for focusing ($50). 

 

I will assume you have USB cables and a laptop. I will also assume you'll use all-free software for processing (DSS and GIMP) and you will use APT (~$25) for acquisition. You'll use a T-shirt and the sky for flats. I also assume you'll power everything with AC (batteries will add at least $100) and that you have boxes and foam you can use for cases for transport, or that you won't need transport (cases can add quite a bit to cost). 

 

OK, so we have at a minimum: $190 (used camera) + $399 (scope) + $150 (flattener) + $230 (guiding) + $50 (misc) + $25 (software) = $1,044 *or*  $190 (used camera) + $469 (scope) + $150 (flattener) + $50 (misc) + $25 (software) = $884. (solution without guiding, not really recommended).

 

This leaves a maximum of $616 for the mount. The main possibility here is to gamble with a used AVX. Gamble because even though the AVX's are uniformly excellent for GoTo and visual, they are of highly variable quality for photography. Some are good, some are close to useless (I've owned one of each). Or again a used iEXOS 2GT-PMC8 which I expect will be roughly the same with lower capacity.

 

The *cheapest* mount really recommended is the iOptron CEM25P. $898. 

Even better would be the HEQ5-Pro $1,150 (the Orion Sirius is essentially the same at $1,099 but not as modern).

 

The 2nd mount has somewhat higher capacity. Either should be able to handle the refractor + guidescope + DSLR suggested. 

 

One additional possibility for you:

 

Get the iOptron CEM25P. Get a D5300 Nikon with a lens (ask in the DSLR forum here for best lens choice). Shoot with that for a while (no scope)The advantage over getting a camera tracker mount is that you can save and add a scope later, and the CEM25P will handle it. Meanwhile you have a better camera. And with a lens up to 250mm or so you won't need guiding.

 

I do NOT recommend a camera tracker mount to begin with, unless your ambitions end there, and all you want is wide field images--no Whirlpool Galaxy, no globulars, no planetary nebulae (Dumbbell, Ring, etc.) other than as tiny little pimples.

 

Good luck!

Stelios has some very good info and advice here.  I would recommend a similar path.  Start with a solid mount, camera, and lens.  You can image without autoguiding for now.  If you're sticking in the 100-400mm focal length range (or longer, if you choose to push it), you can shoot unguided subs up to maybe 1 minute or so.  Possibly longer with the shorter focal lengths.  This will get your feet wet with polar alignment, capturing images, finding targets, setting up and tearing down your gear, and learning to process your images.  You can also learn to get your calibration frames and see how they impact your final images.  Then, add a true telescope, guiding, etc. later on.

 

I started with my camera and lenses, but I chose the small sky tracker route because it was cheap-ish.  This was a big let-down, as I quickly found I really wanted to get some deep sky images of Orion, Andromeda, the Pleiades...  and my DSLR and 100-400mm lens was over its limits right from the beginning.  I should have just saved up to get a true mount and skipped the small tracker.  If you want wide-field images, they're great.  But you'll have to really be on your game if you want to start extending your focal length beyond 200mm.

 

When I switched to my EQ6-R Pro, I also bought a Celestron PowerTank Lithium Pro.  You could go with a non-lithium version for much cheaper, and this would make your mount portable.  You could set up in the yard without extension cords, or take it with you somewhere.  If you're wanting to transport it around, this might make for an easier time setting up, as you don't have to look around for outlets to get your power.  I run my DSLR off batteries and just change them every couple hours or so.

 

Lots of people really hammer on getting a good mount, and for good reason.  It's the foundation of your imaging platform.  If that's not solid, nothing will be.



#23 johrich

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 12:25 PM

So I have had the Ioptron Smart EQ Pro + and have had it for several years.  Here are my observations on it, copied from another post from another person who asked about the Smart EQ Pro +

 

I have the Ioptron Smart EQ Pro + and have had it for several years.  This is kind of a controversial mount in some ways and many will tell you to save your money and buy something bigger like the Ioptron CEM25P or a Skywatcher HEQ5, Etc., and this is good advice.  So if you can afford to wait to save $1,000 or more for a mount, that would probably be best in the long run.  That being said, if around $500 is all you can afford, then I have found it works very well as long as you keep in mind its limitations.  First and foremost you need to keep the total weight of your telescope, camera, guide scope, etc. no more then 8 lbs or less, preferably less.  That means either a DSLR and appropriate lens, or a small refactor that weighs around 3 or 4 lbs.  I have an Astro Tech AT72EDII on mine, which is about as heavy a telescope as I would recommend on this mount.  The AT72EDII is a doublet with very high end glass, FPL-53,  a 60 mm ED refractor would even be better and lighter.  For any serious exposures, you will need have a guidescope and camera.  I use a small 30mm ZWO guidescope and an ASI224MC although a better guidescope might be an ASI120 Mini or something similar.  You will need to control your imaging with either a laptop and appropriate software, like Astrophotography Tool or similar software.  However, as I use my Smart EQ Pro + setup as my lightweight quick set up and take down,rather than a laptop, I use a ZWO ASIAIR to control the imaging, polar alignment, guiding and target selection.  For an imaging camera, I use an ASI183MC Pro, though there are many cameras including DSLRs you could use.  You will also need to eventually get field flattener to ensure your stars are round at the corners of the image.  All of that stuff adds several pounds to your setup, which is why I say you need to keep the telescope as small and light as you can.  What I am trying to say is there is also a lot of other stuff you need that adds weight to the setup and many more $ you may need to spend to make a true astrophotography setup..

 

Some folks rely on a review several year ago in Sky and Telescope magazine on the original Smart EQ mount to judge it.  That review was accurate for that older version, but Ioptron made some significant improvement in the Smart EQ Pro + model that corrected many of the issues with the original version of the mount.

 

With my set up, I usually am able to obtain guiding anywhere between .7 and 2" RMS, which works fine for wide field astrophotography

 

Some cons,

 

1.  This mount leaves essentially no room for upgrading to a larger scope later.

2.  The tripod legs are only 1.25 in and short.  I am older and I cannot bend down low enough to use the polar scope.  (I use the ASIAIR for polar alignment)

3.  The knobs for tightening the RA and DEC are terrible, small and hard to tighten,  I have been known to use pliers

 

Some Plus'

 

1 Probably one of the lightest computerized equatorial mounts you will find.

2. For wide field astrophotography, I have found it works very well, especially with guiding.

If you want to see the results, check out my Astrobin page, ( https://www.astrobin.../users/johrich/ ) check the technical details to make sure you are looking at images taken with my Smart EQ Pro + and AT72EDII as I also have images from a larger setup. 

 

With everything I have on my Smart EQ Pro + mount, I probably have closer to $2,500 in the whole set up, rather than $1,500.  That includes the mount, an AT72EDII telescope, Field Flattener, ASI 183MC Cool camera, ZWO 30 mm guidescope, ASI224MC guide camera (also doubles as my planetary camera), and the ZWO ASIAIR.  The mount does have limitations, but if you learn how to use it, and use a guide camera, I have had a lot of success with it.  It's very easy to set up, it's what I take to local star parties, or when I am not sure if I will have clear skies or not.  I do have a much larger setup that I also use when I know I will have good clear skies all night, but I still grab my Smart EQ Pro + setup for easy short sessions.

 

Hope this helps,

 

johrich


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#24 Tjh1023

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 01:02 PM

I am new to this hobby, I just purchased an explore scientific exosII GT PMC-8, I love this mount so many ways to use goto. I personally use th explore stars app or Stellarium. This mount will use up about half your budget, Explore scientific also has a first timer discount. This mount gives you tone of room to grow with load limits of 40lbs visual or 28lbs for photography. I have only used it a couple of time so far but am very happy. Also a big plus for me was the involvement of the Explore Scientific staff on these forums and their own forum plus multiple live you tube and other social media events you can ask questions directly to the staff. The costumer service here is top notch. If you don't want the extra weight capability you can get the exos 100 for about a third of your budget. For scopes ES also has some great ones for beginners. I also like William Optics for scopes. I have done 30sec subs on the exosii unguided with a 150mm lens with an Olympus Omd Em 1 Mkii (300mm) equivalent.

I would give ES a really good look don't think you will be disappointed.


Edited by Tjh1023, 04 August 2020 - 01:03 PM.


#25 bobzeq25

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 01:04 PM

So I have had the Ioptron Smart EQ Pro + and have had it for several years.  Here are my observations on it, copied from another post from another person who asked about the Smart EQ Pro +

 

I have the Ioptron Smart EQ Pro + and have had it for several years.  This is kind of a controversial mount in some ways and many will tell you to save your money and buy something bigger like the Ioptron CEM25P or a Skywatcher HEQ5, Etc., and this is good advice.  So if you can afford to wait to save $1,000 or more for a mount, that would probably be best in the long run.  That being said, if around $500 is all you can afford, then I have found it works very well as long as you keep in mind its limitations.  First and foremost you need to keep the total weight of your telescope, camera, guide scope, etc. no more then 8 lbs or less, preferably less.  That means either a DSLR and appropriate lens, or a small refactor that weighs around 3 or 4 lbs.  I have an Astro Tech AT72EDII on mine, which is about as heavy a telescope as I would recommend on this mount.  The AT72EDII is a doublet with very high end glass, FPL-53,  a 60 mm ED refractor would even be better and lighter.  For any serious exposures, you will need have a guidescope and camera.  I use a small 30mm ZWO guidescope and an ASI224MC although a better guidescope might be an ASI120 Mini or something similar.  You will need to control your imaging with either a laptop and appropriate software, like Astrophotography Tool or similar software.  However, as I use my Smart EQ Pro + setup as my lightweight quick set up and take down,rather than a laptop, I use a ZWO ASIAIR to control the imaging, polar alignment, guiding and target selection.  For an imaging camera, I use an ASI183MC Pro, though there are many cameras including DSLRs you could use.  You will also need to eventually get field flattener to ensure your stars are round at the corners of the image.  All of that stuff adds several pounds to your setup, which is why I say you need to keep the telescope as small and light as you can.  What I am trying to say is there is also a lot of other stuff you need that adds weight to the setup and many more $ you may need to spend to make a true astrophotography setup..

 

Some folks rely on a review several year ago in Sky and Telescope magazine on the original Smart EQ mount to judge it.  That review was accurate for that older version, but Ioptron made some significant improvement in the Smart EQ Pro + model that corrected many of the issues with the original version of the mount.

 

With my set up, I usually am able to obtain guiding anywhere between .7 and 2" RMS, which works fine for wide field astrophotography

 

Some cons,

 

1.  This mount leaves essentially no room for upgrading to a larger scope later.

2.  The tripod legs are only 1.25 in and short.  I am older and I cannot bend down low enough to use the polar scope.  (I use the ASIAIR for polar alignment)

3.  The knobs for tightening the RA and DEC are terrible, small and hard to tighten,  I have been known to use pliers

 

Some Plus'

 

1 Probably one of the lightest computerized equatorial mounts you will find.

2. For wide field astrophotography, I have found it works very well, especially with guiding.

If you want to see the results, check out my Astrobin page, ( https://www.astrobin.../users/johrich/ ) check the technical details to make sure you are looking at images taken with my Smart EQ Pro + and AT72EDII as I also have images from a larger setup. 

 

With everything I have on my Smart EQ Pro + mount, I probably have closer to $2,500 in the whole set up, rather than $1,500.  That includes the mount, an AT72EDII telescope, Field Flattener, ASI 183MC Cool camera, ZWO 30 mm guidescope, ASI224MC guide camera (also doubles as my planetary camera), and the ZWO ASIAIR.  The mount does have limitations, but if you learn how to use it, and use a guide camera, I have had a lot of success with it.  It's very easy to set up, it's what I take to local star parties, or when I am not sure if I will have clear skies or not.  I do have a much larger setup that I also use when I know I will have good clear skies all night, but I still grab my Smart EQ Pro + setup for easy short sessions.

 

Hope this helps,

 

johrich

The Smart EQ Pro + is a great camera tracker.  Could work for a very small scope.




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