Every now and then trackers and mounts are listed side by side as if they were equal options. This is not the case. As soon as medium to long focal lengths are used and as soon as more than 30s subs are needed guiding is a must. A guided mount with two motorized axes is corrected in periodic error and polar error. A tracker with only one axis can only be corrected for periodic error but just a bit polar error and there are star trails even in guided images. So, yes, you can get fantastic images with a tracker but you have to be very precise when polar aligning. With a mount you don't need to care that much (guided!).
When it comes to unguided imaging mounts that allow for periodic error correction can track longer, provided the polar alignment is good enough. So the two key questions are if the lucky friend will be guiding and if he will use a long focal length optics. It is a matter of fact that trackers are available for low pay load only. Should the lucky friend ever think of a telescope a solid mount is a must. Talking about $1500+ here. If this is predictable I suggest to get the ioptron smart eq because is works exactly like a real mount only that it is small. The upgrade to a big mount (next birthday or self bought) is a very small step.
Second big difference is GOTO which is kind of self explaining. If that friend has a good knowledge of the sky and the stars and is able to locate things a tracker is perfect. Without that knowledge finding an object can be a long and frustrating experience especially at a long focal length. I have seen several noobs post an image of whatever and a quick plate solve is proof that the object is just outside the field of view.
When imaging at home I'd always go for a mount. Tracker are perfect for hiking. If you spend a few weeks in the high mountains a tracker gives you the opportunity to image under dark skies and get images you could never have in the light pollution at home. When the user is going to image at home or go to a dark place by car there is no point in using a small and light device when Goto plus an option for guiding is available for the same price. My opinion. YMMV. Don't want to start a discussion here, just want to point out that there is a huge difference between tracker and mount. They are made for different use cases.
Edited by the Elf, 20 April 2021 - 02:01 PM.