Hello all, I've been lurking and now its time to post. Sorry for yet another 'help me decide my setup' post, but I haven't found a good discussion that follows what I'm looking at. I'm unable to come to a clear decision about what to purchase, and given the current backorder status of everything I want to get in the right waiting line.
My primary goal is visual, with some lightweight astrophotography (yeah, I know you shouldn't start there, but I have to be honest and will attempt it no matter what I get). I'm also a casual photographer (hence the desire to do some AP), and the lesson I've learned with equipment is to get something more in the middle of the line that doesn't make you feel like you've wasted money on something lower quality than you can handle, but balance that knowing that I probably won't get the value of the more expensive professional series equipment. I also like to purchase something that is a mixture of versatile and potentially can be upgraded, should it become important. Portability would be nice, but I'm alright with something heavier if it is more versatile. I am realistic about my AP interest though, as something I'd like to learn and do occasionally and with easier targets.
I've been looking at the 6SE as the low end (it sounds like a wonderful, portable option), but its not a great option to pair with my DSLR. 8SE sounds a little too unwieldy for the mount, so I've eliminated it. Then I look at the AVX 6, 8, or even 9.25 and see mixed reviews on the mount (though it is equatorial so thats helpful for photography, it doesn't sound like its very smooth). Then I see the EdgeHD options, which increase not only the price of the optics but also the accessories. If I really want to do some deep space AP after a while I know I'll need a different scope to do it well, and would like the reassurance that my mount can handle it.
Given all of these details, I'm struggling to decide how much to invest. I'd like to keep it under 2k, but could bend that a little bit if necessary. I mostly don't want to spend more unnecessarily. If I don't do much AP then something like the 6SE would probably be more than functional (so why spent the extra money?). However, it likely means I'll be left wanting to buy another scope and mount for AP, and I'll end up spending more in the long term.
I know this sounds like a Dear Abby post, but any guidance or additional thoughts on what might work best would be appreciated!