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SkyGuider Pro - Mounting for best results

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#1 maxpulsed

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 06:10 PM

Hello cloudy nights community,

 

I found this community because of a lot of helpful discussions. I recently received my SkyGuider Pro. I want to make sure that I don't stress to motor, so that the tracker works for a long time.

My equipment for Milky Way shots weights around 4lbs (1,8kg). And I read that iOptron says the maximum load for a directly attached ball head is (1,5kg/3,3lbs)

Here are my questions:

 

1. If I mount the ball head directly on the SGP will it stress the motor too much? Would you rather mount it on the DEC bracket? (See picture 1)

2. Is it better for the motor to use the ball head on top of the DEC bracket with the ball head as seen in the attached image, but without counterweights? (see picture Q2)

3. Would you recommend using the DEC bracket with a ball head and counter weights? (see picture Q3 ignore the red x's)

4. Would you use the DEC bracket without the ball head and counter weights?

 

I also flipped the mount on the DEC to the short side, the get a lower center of gravity as advised by Peter Zelinka.

 

I am looking forward to learn from people with experience in this field. :)

Attached Thumbnails

  • SGP-Q1.jpg
  • SGP-Q2.jpg
  • SGP-Q3.jpg

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#2 qswat72

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 06:19 PM

I would usually recommend just mounting your gear on the dec bracket with counterweight, but since you’re doing landscape, I would say go with 3 (dec bracket with the ball head and counterweight).

Edited by qswat72, 10 April 2021 - 06:19 PM.

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#3 jdk

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 06:19 PM

The best way to mount it is with the dec shaft and counterweights. It can also run just fine with a ballhead attached directly to the mount, depending on the orientation of the camera and the length of the exposures. The second image is a recipe for disaster. 


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#4 galacticinsomnia

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 08:39 PM

Hello cloudy nights community,

 

I found this community because of a lot of helpful discussions. I recently received my SkyGuider Pro. I want to make sure that I don't stress to motor, so that the tracker works for a long time.

My equipment for Milky Way shots weights around 4lbs (1,8kg). And I read that iOptron says the maximum load for a directly attached ball head is (1,5kg/3,3lbs)

Here are my questions:

 

1. If I mount the ball head directly on the SGP will it stress the motor too much? Would you rather mount it on the DEC bracket? (See picture 1)

2. Is it better for the motor to use the ball head on top of the DEC bracket with the ball head as seen in the attached image, but without counterweights? (see picture Q2)

3. Would you recommend using the DEC bracket with a ball head and counter weights? (see picture Q3 ignore the red x's)

4. Would you use the DEC bracket without the ball head and counter weights?

 

I also flipped the mount on the DEC to the short side, the get a lower center of gravity as advised by Peter Zelinka.

 

I am looking forward to learn from people with experience in this field. smile.gif

Balance, Balance, Balance, and if you forget, Balance ! 

If you have all the attachments, you should use them.  The mount is designed to be used with a ball head only, but that doesn't mean you don't have to balance. 
I love this mount, have used it for a while, but you really should utilize the gear it comes with for success, and pay close attention to your balance.

Clear Skies !!



#5 vidrazor

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 10:22 PM

Where did you see this 3.3 lb. weight limit listed? I took a quick look through the SkyGuider Pro manual and saw no such listing.

 

Is that the camera/lens combo you're stating weighs 4lbs? Is that including the weight of the ball head? I'm at a loss as to how that could weigh that much, as my all metal AT60ED scope, it's field flattener, a 5.5 inch Arca Swiss extension bar, and a Nikon D5100 weight 4.8 lbs.

 

If you're going to use the Dec arm, absolutely use the counterweight and balance the setup. You'll stress the tracker far more being so imbalanced. Do a quick balance, and then aim at your target, and re-balance once the camera is in it's target shooting positing. You may want to double-check your polar alignment after handling the unit, although it should be much easier to aim with the ball mount. It's in your best interest to balance the rig, not just for the sake of the motor but for maximum exposure time.


Edited by vidrazor, 10 April 2021 - 10:24 PM.

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#6 maxpulsed

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 06:18 AM

Where did you see this 3.3 lb. weight limit listed? I took a quick look through the SkyGuider Pro manual and saw no such listing.

 

Is that the camera/lens combo you're stating weighs 4lbs? Is that including the weight of the ball head? I'm at a loss as to how that could weigh that much, as my all metal AT60ED scope, it's field flattener, a 5.5 inch Arca Swiss extension bar, and a Nikon D5100 weight 4.8 lbs.

 

If you're going to use the Dec arm, absolutely use the counterweight and balance the setup. You'll stress the tracker far more being so imbalanced. Do a quick balance, and then aim at your target, and re-balance once the camera is in it's target shooting positing. You may want to double-check your polar alignment after handling the unit, although it should be much easier to aim with the ball mount. It's in your best interest to balance the rig, not just for the sake of the motor but for maximum exposure time.

I found this limitation in the official SkyGuider Pro manual: https://www.ioptron....rPro_Manual.pdf On page 10. But this refers only to attaching the ball head directly to the SGP.

 

Based on everyones recommendations I can summarize the following:

 

1. Using the DEC bracket with a ball head while balancing everything correct won’t be bad for the motor.

2. I shouldn’t use my camera and ballhead directly on the SGP due to its weight of 1,8kg (4lbs) which exceeds the recommendation of iOptron.

 

Did I summarize that correctly?

 

Btw. Thank you all for the fast and helpful replies. It was my first post here. I think this is a great community!



#7 vidrazor

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 07:19 AM

I found this limitation in the official SkyGuider Pro manual: https://www.ioptron....rPro_Manual.pdf On page 10. But this refers only to attaching the ball head directly to the SGP.

Based on everyones recommendations I can summarize the following:

1. Using the DEC bracket with a ball head while balancing everything correct won’t be bad for the motor.

2. I shouldn’t use my camera and ballhead directly on the SGP due to its weight of 1,8kg (4lbs) which exceeds the recommendation of iOptron.

Did I summarize that correctly?

Btw. Thank you all for the fast and helpful replies. It was my first post here. I think this is a great community!

Ha! I missed it, but it's on page 11 in my manual. I guess I have an older manual. Neither manual lists the ball mount as part of the weight tho. So your camera and lens are 4 lbs? That's surprisingly heavy.

 

Yes, definitely balance the unit with the counterweight and counterweight bar.

 

Enjoy!
 


Edited by vidrazor, 11 April 2021 - 07:27 AM.


#8 Kevin_A

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 09:53 AM

Best way is always without a ballhead!


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#9 T~Stew

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:45 AM

Where did you see this 3.3 lb. weight limit listed? I took a quick look through the SkyGuider Pro manual and saw no such listing.
 
Is that the camera/lens combo you're stating weighs 4lbs? Is that including the weight of the ball head? I'm at a loss as to how that could weigh that much, as my all metal AT60ED scope, it's field flattener, a 5.5 inch Arca Swiss extension bar, and a Nikon D5100 weight 4.8 lbs.

It doesn't seem unreasonable or surprising to me, though I am not sure why you are trying to make a comparison when using deep sky scope vs. wide angle lens (I assume?). I shot the milky way with Canon 6D and 11-24 f/4 lens. Camera is 1.7lbs and lens 2.6 lbs. That is over 4 lbs with no other pieces included. That's a pro lens but also only f/4... many would want a faster lens.
Also very popular is Sigma 14mm f1.8. Its also 2.6lbs...
Sure many starting out on budget may use a lightweight like a kit lens, but I hope most would be getting a really nice fast wide angle.
 
I used the ball head with the dec bracket & counterweight. Why are you trying to avoid having a balanced rig? If you're trying to bring it along for ultralight hiking then I'd be looking at a lighter setup, and maybe something like the move-shoot-move device instead of SkyGuider. But if you are already bringing 4 lbs of camera and the SkyGuider, bring the dec bracket & weight too. Good luck! Oh, and iirc you can attach a standard ballhead directly to the dec bracket (I think that is what is in your second picture) instead of the extra height of using the rotating dec mount piece in the last pic (since the ball head will rotate anyhow). You may have to purchase a 3/8" bolt. Just be careful removing the little screws.


Best way is always without a ballhead!

True! Completely unnecessary for DSOs. But incredibly difficult to frame without ballhead or at least some tiltable head if you're doing horizontal landscape!

Edited by T~Stew, 11 April 2021 - 10:50 AM.

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#10 maxpulsed

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:47 AM

Ha! I missed it, but it's on page 11 in my manual. I guess I have an older manual. Neither manual lists the ball mount as part of the weight tho. So your camera and lens are 4 lbs? That's surprisingly heavy.

Yes, definitely balance the unit with the counterweight and counterweight bar.

Enjoy!

Just checked with iOptron and they say the ballhead also counts to the total weight recommendation. My whole setup looks like this:
1 Sony A7III (658g) + Tamron 28-200 (575g) + Ballhead (300g) = 1.6kg (approximately 3.8lbs). Is this tol much weight for the motor if I attach the ballhead directly on the SGP?

Edited by maxpulsed, 11 April 2021 - 01:34 PM.

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#11 maxpulsed

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:58 AM

It doesn't seem unreasonable or surprising to me, though I am not sure why you are trying to make a comparison when using deep sky scope vs. wide angle lens (I assume?). I shot the milky way with Canon 6D and 11-24 f/4 lens. Camera is 1.7lbs and lens 2.6 lbs. That is over 4 lbs with no other pieces included. That's a pro lens but also only f/4... many would want a faster lens.
Also very popular is Sigma 14mm f1.8. Its also 2.6lbs...
Sure many starting out on budget may use a lightweight like a kit lens, but I hope most would be getting a really nice fast wide angle.
 
I used the ball head with the dec bracket & counterweight. Why are you trying to avoid having a balanced rig? If you're trying to bring it along for ultralight hiking then I'd be looking at a lighter setup, and maybe something like the move-shoot-move device instead of SkyGuider. But if you are already bringing 4 lbs of camera and the SkyGuider, bring the dec bracket & weight too. Good luck! Oh, and iirc you can attach a standard ballhead directly to the dec bracket (I think that is what is in your second picture) instead of the extra height of using the rotating dec mount piece in the last pic (since the ball head will rotate anyhow). You may have to purchase a 3/8" bolt. Just be careful removing the little screws.


True! Completely unnecessary for DSOs. But incredibly difficult to frame without ballhead or at least some tiltable head if you're doing horizontal landscape!

Okay, good information. How did you balance your camera with the ballhead. Let me explain:

My RA is balanced, which means if we are talking time the camera wouldn't move at 09.00 and 03.00. BUT as soon as I start to position my camera towards the location I want to shoot, how do I get the declination balanced? (I know it is possible with a dovetail plate, but how would you do this on a ballhead. Here you will find a video, where I show you what I mean: https://drive.google...ew?usp=drivesdk

As well as this YouTube video at the 06:58 mark https://www.youtube....h?v=cZaNmMOAo2M

 

Thank you.


Edited by maxpulsed, 11 April 2021 - 11:05 AM.


#12 T~Stew

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 11:49 AM

With only 4 lbs I wouldn't worry too much about it. Get it roughly polar aligned, and get your camera framed up how you like, then balance it in that position best you can. I'd go back and do polar alignment since framing your target might have jostled things around a bit. I've only imaged the milky way one night so no expert in this method but hope to revisit it when it comes back in season. From where I shot the milky way was nearly south so the camera was not far out of balance anyhow, its more out of balance when rotated more east or west so ymmv. It probably wont cause much issue being slightly unbalanced shooting wide angle at 4 lbs. If your up at 10+ lbs or shooting long exposure DSO at high magnification then it is more critical. If you really want to perfect the balance use a ballhead that accepts arca-swiss and buy a long arca-swiss rail that will allow you to slide it back and forth. This will allow you to balance it over its center of gravity. Here is a picture of mounting on a a arca plate, though its my DSO rig and not using ballhead the same could be applied (but I'd really not bother imo). If you have trouble balancing it say 12 o'clock, with a ballhead you could try to rotate it a bit either way towards 9 or 3 and then try balancing it from there. I'm not sure how long your sessions will be, mine was relatively short less than an hour spent so it didn't really matter at what point I placed the initial position as long as the ballhead allowed enough movement and the lens clears the mount. With DSO and no ballhead then each target is a fixed position so it is critical.

 

T7OdNH2h.jpg

 

Again, its probably not critical for wide angle / ballhead, but this is an arca rail mount that would allow you to slide along it to balance. A much shorter would would be ok for just a wide angle lens.


Edited by T~Stew, 11 April 2021 - 11:50 AM.

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#13 maxpulsed

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 12:09 PM

I would usually recommend just mounting your gear on the dec bracket with counterweight, but since you’re doing landscape, I would say go with 3 (dec bracket with the ball head and counterweight).


How do I get it balanced correctly? I works for the RA direction but not the declination... it’s like in this video at the at the 06:58 mark: https://youtu.be/cZaNmMOAo2M

#14 vidrazor

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 02:40 PM

Just checked with iOptron and they say the ballhead also counts to the total weight recommendation. My whole setup looks like this:
1 Sony A7III (658g) + Tamron 28-200 (575g) + Ballhead (300g) = 1.6kg (approximately 3.8lbs). Is this tol much weight for the motor if I attach the ballhead directly on the SGP?

OK, I thought your setup was that Canon with the kit lens, which is pretty light. Your setup is obviously heavier, and yes, you should use the DEC arm. However...

How do I get it balanced correctly? I works for the RA direction but not the declination... it’s like in this video at the at the 06:58 mark: https://youtu.be/cZaNmMOAo2M

Really the best way is to not use a ball head at all. It places the camera further out from the center of gravity. Ideally you want to mount it on a Vixen bar so you can balance it on RA and DEC, but your setup doesn't offer you axial rotation, unless you can find a generic tripod mount for your lens. You would then mount the lens and camera on the Vixen bar via the lens tripod mount, and mount the two on to the supplied Vixen mount that came with the SkyGuider Pro. Your only other immediate (and probably easiest for you) option is to mount the camera onto an Arca Swiss bar and mount the bar onto the ball head, which SHOULD be Arca Swiss. Otherwise unscrew the mount off the ball head and screw an Arca Swiss mount to it. You can see how you would do that below. A bit clumsy, but now you should be able to balance on RA and DEC. Remember to re-balance once you're in your shooting position.

Attached Thumbnails

  • bar.jpg

Edited by vidrazor, 11 April 2021 - 11:32 PM.

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#15 galacticinsomnia

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 05:53 PM

That is always a challenge.

Long vixen rails, and use the attachments it came with if you don't want to spend more money.

I love the above setup with beautiful canon glass !  :)

I don't pay attention to weight limits as much as I do about balance and polar alignment.

 

2020 09 22 144526

 

Here is my extreme setup with an RC6 from last summer.. Yeah pretty crazy !  I don't suggest this, but at the same time, your mileage may vary with regards to weight.  Balance, Balance, Balance. :)

Clear Skies !!


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#16 Kevin_A

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 06:16 PM

It doesn't seem unreasonable or surprising to me, though I am not sure why you are trying to make a comparison when using deep sky scope vs. wide angle lens (I assume?). I shot the milky way with Canon 6D and 11-24 f/4 lens. Camera is 1.7lbs and lens 2.6 lbs. That is over 4 lbs with no other pieces included. That's a pro lens but also only f/4... many would want a faster lens.
Also very popular is Sigma 14mm f1.8. Its also 2.6lbs...
Sure many starting out on budget may use a lightweight like a kit lens, but I hope most would be getting a really nice fast wide angle.
 
I used the ball head with the dec bracket & counterweight. Why are you trying to avoid having a balanced rig? If you're trying to bring it along for ultralight hiking then I'd be looking at a lighter setup, and maybe something like the move-shoot-move device instead of SkyGuider. But if you are already bringing 4 lbs of camera and the SkyGuider, bring the dec bracket & weight too. Good luck! Oh, and iirc you can attach a standard ballhead directly to the dec bracket (I think that is what is in your second picture) instead of the extra height of using the rotating dec mount piece in the last pic (since the ball head will rotate anyhow). You may have to purchase a 3/8" bolt. Just be careful removing the little screws.


True! Completely unnecessary for DSOs. But incredibly difficult to frame without ballhead or at least some tiltable head if you're doing horizontal landscape!

I use a arca L bracket attached to my camera and mount a rotateable release plate to the Dec pad then position my camera horizontally for landscapes. I can then rotate up and down using the rotator plate while the camera sits parallel to the horizon. Works great. Its all about adapters, but ball heads don’t balance the camera and lens well and is just a quick dirty solution that is always never balanced well.


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#17 T~Stew

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 09:40 PM

I use a arca L bracket attached to my camera and mount a rotateable release plate to the Dec pad then position my camera horizontally for landscapes. I can then rotate up and down using the rotator plate while the camera sits parallel to the horizon. Works great. Its all about adapters, but ball heads don’t balance the camera and lens well and is just a quick dirty solution that is always never balanced well.

Sounds like a good setup but if I understand it correctly you still are not balancing in dec?


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#18 vidrazor

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 11:35 PM

Here is my extreme setup with an RC6 from last summer.. Yeah pretty crazy !  I don't suggest this, but at the same time, your mileage may vary with regards to weight.  Balance, Balance, Balance. smile.gif
Clear Skies !!

What kind of sub times were you getting with that rig? Were you guiding? Looks like a fun way to torture a SkyGuider Pro. :)
 


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#19 Kevin_A

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 08:42 AM

Sounds like a good setup but if I understand it correctly you still are not balancing in dec?

I actually have a lot of different setups using different arca plates where I can move the camera forwards and backwards with longer lenses to balance it better.

It took me a while to get various different setups on the dec. You can even buy a camera rotator these days that allows you to spin your camera body around on Dec eliminating a rotator plate completely. 


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#20 maxpulsed

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 01:12 PM

I actually have a lot of different setups using different arca plates where I can move the camera forwards and backwards with longer lenses to balance it better.

It took me a while to get various different setups on the dec. You can even buy a camera rotator these days that allows you to spin your camera body around on Dec eliminating a rotator plate completely. 

Interesting. Which adapter do you use to move your camera with a L-Bracket forward and backwards for DEC alignment. Just curious what kind of adapters you use. :)



#21 galacticinsomnia

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 02:21 PM

What kind of sub times were you getting with that rig? Were you guiding? Looks like a fun way to torture a SkyGuider Pro. smile.gif
 

I can't remember exactly, but it was something between 30sec and 90sec I believe, I'd have to look at my subs from then.  I believe I was shooting the Lagoon nebula really close up, and they came out pretty well.  :)

clear Skies.



#22 vidrazor

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 04:27 PM

I can't remember exactly, but it was something between 30sec and 90sec I believe, I'd have to look at my subs from then.  I believe I was shooting the Lagoon nebula really close up, and they came out pretty well.  smile.gif
clear Skies.

I'm amazed you can balance that with just the supplied counterweight! Were those unguided times?


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#23 limeyx

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 04:52 PM

It doesn't seem unreasonable or surprising to me, though I am not sure why you are trying to make a comparison when using deep sky scope vs. wide angle lens (I assume?). I shot the milky way with Canon 6D and 11-24 f/4 lens. Camera is 1.7lbs and lens 2.6 lbs. That is over 4 lbs with no other pieces included. That's a pro lens but also only f/4... many would want a faster lens.
Also very popular is Sigma 14mm f1.8. Its also 2.6lbs...
Sure many starting out on budget may use a lightweight like a kit lens, but I hope most would be getting a really nice fast wide angle.
 
I used the ball head with the dec bracket & counterweight. Why are you trying to avoid having a balanced rig? If you're trying to bring it along for ultralight hiking then I'd be looking at a lighter setup, and maybe something like the move-shoot-move device instead of SkyGuider. But if you are already bringing 4 lbs of camera and the SkyGuider, bring the dec bracket & weight too. Good luck! Oh, and iirc you can attach a standard ballhead directly to the dec bracket (I think that is what is in your second picture) instead of the extra height of using the rotating dec mount piece in the last pic (since the ball head will rotate anyhow). You may have to purchase a 3/8" bolt. Just be careful removing the little screws.


True! Completely unnecessary for DSOs. But incredibly difficult to frame without ballhead or at least some tiltable head if you're doing horizontal landscape!

A photographic panoramic tripod head works great for DSO. I dont know about wide-field or mosaic though (but I'm not brave enough to attempt a mosaic with a star tracker)



#24 galacticinsomnia

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 07:52 PM

I'm amazed you can balance that with just the supplied counterweight! Were those unguided times?

yes !  stock weight but used a tripod center pole as an extenision pole.  very shaky..  lol



#25 Kevin_A

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 09:10 AM

Interesting. Which adapter do you use to move your camera with a L-Bracket forward and backwards for DEC alignment. Just curious what kind of adapters you use. smile.gif

I attached another arca plate to my camera and a arca mount to the l bracket.... man o man it gets complicated but a camera rotator elliminates all of that jiggimapokery. Haha Some lenses have collars which i really like too. I have so many lenses and setups it boggles my mind! Haha




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