Author Topic: DSLR Tracking Mounts  (Read 4747 times)

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Mike

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DSLR Tracking Mounts
« on: Jan 09, 2015, 12:13:04 »
I would like to get a small portable tracking mount for DSLR use. Several of you so far have tried out a number of different mounts of this type so i was wondering what your thoughts are on the mounts you have tried so far and what you would recommend please?

Thanks,

Mike

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Kenny

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #1 on: Jan 09, 2015, 14:45:11 »
I like this question. Also listening to replies.  :lol:

Carole

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #2 on: Jan 09, 2015, 16:32:37 »
Ditto, I have never had any success with widefield mainly because of trying to get focus, and it has been suggested I got a lens without a zoom on it which was probably confusing the issue. 

If I can manage to get some decent wide field shots I'll be looking for a DSLR mount for taking on holidays.

Carole

RobertM

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #3 on: Jan 09, 2015, 18:22:36 »
I've tried three - Astrotrac, iOptron Skytracker and Skywatcher Star Adventurer.  They all have their strengths and weaknesses which I'll try to summarise.

What you're after ideally is a ultra portable tracking mount with infinite stability combined with ease of setup - bear those criteria in mind as I recount my experiences:

Astrotrac
a) Excellent tracking
b) Excellent weight capacity
c) It's expensive
d) It doesn't run for very long without having to be reset as it'll only track for about 2 hours max.  There is then the issue of re-acquiring the target which isn't easy and by the time you have then there's only about 1hour 30 mins left for tracking.
e) The polar scope is hit and miss (you might get a good one) and it's held in by magnets which sometimes fail.
f) Balancing equipment is difficult without extra expense.
g) Runs off 12v.
h) Later version has facility for RA guiding.
j) Framing subjects can be challenging.
Minimum kit: astrotrac, Ball Head, Tripod, Geared head/Polar wedge plus 12v power source.

Opinion: can be the best option if you buy all the bits but then it's very expensive.

iOptron Skytracker
a) Reasonable tracking
b) Reasonable weight capacity
c) Not expensive
d) Excellent built in polar scope
e) Very compact
e) Will run till the batteries give up.
f) Difficult to balance so more suitable for light equipment.
g) The attachment plate for the camera is held in by two brass screws which tend to come loose.
h) Can be the lightest if requirements are modest.
i) Runs off 12v
j) Framing subjects can be tricky - depends on how good the ball head is.
k) Integrated polar adjustment wedge.
Minimum kit: Startracker, Ball Head, Tripod, plus batteries or external  12v power source.

Opinion: Neat and compact but tricky to frame target and no option to balance the camera (need to confirm polar alignment after framing).

Skywatcher Star Adventurer
a) Good tracking
b) Good weight capacity
c) Cheapest option
d) Excellent built in polar scope
e) Quite compact
f) Will run till the batteries give up.
g) Has multiple operating modes
h) Has RA slow motion controls and fine Dec adjustment which make framing a breeze (compared to the above).
i) Easy to balance with included balance arm and weight so suitable for heavier lenses.
j) Included solid attachment plate for the camera.
k) Has facility for RA guiding.
l) Is stable when all the screws are done up (because it's comparatively tall).
m) Runs off batteries or 5v external via mini usb
n) Has clutches on both RA and Dec so easy to move around the sky.

Minimum kit: Star Adventurer, Tripod, plus batteries or external 5v power source.

Opinion: can take far more weight than you would expect, is more like an EQ mount, easy target framing makes for easy operation.  Is cheaper than the alternatives without many compromises.  In my opinion it's the best all round option so far.


A note on stability:
All these require a tripod commensurate with the load you want to put on them.  A low centre of gravity helps and if you extend the tripod fully then expect trailed stars if the balance isn't close or there is a breeze.  I have a camera tripod rated at 12Kg and an EQ6 tripod; the camera tripod is always used with the minimum extension on the legs.

Personally of the three I've had the Star Adventurer ticks many more boxes than the other two.

Sorry it got a bit longer than I expected.

Edit- just noticed it's in Random Rambling Ruminations section so I could have gone on for far longer :)

Does that help
Robert

mickw

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #4 on: Jan 09, 2015, 18:39:40 »
Oh crap

Does buying new kit while the weather is crap excuse me from the ire of the weather gods ?
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julian

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #5 on: Jan 09, 2015, 19:11:57 »
Quote
Oh crap

Does buying new kit while the weather is crap excuse me from the ire of the weather gods ?

NO

mickw

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #6 on: Jan 09, 2015, 19:32:17 »
Bugger  :(
Growing Old is mandatory - Growing Up is optional

MarkS

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #7 on: Jan 09, 2015, 19:46:02 »
I've got the iOptron.  I didn't know the Star Adventurer was just about to be released  :(

Mick - have you been buying new kit then?  :o

The Thing

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #8 on: Jan 09, 2015, 19:58:11 »
I went for the Star Adventurer after asking around. Full kit. I am trying it out with two DSLRs (they balance each other:)) but have guided (ST4 only) with one and the counterweight as well as a DSLR and a finder/guider setup as the counterweight on the crossbar unit. It FEELS lovely and looks and behaves like a full size mount. Easy to use clutches on each axis, a whole slew [geddit] of tracking modes even alt/az panoramic and a facilty to trigger the camera shutter according to a variety of built in durations. It's flash upgradeable and rumour has it a DEC drive add-on may be coming real soon now... The red one is very nice, not sure about other colours in the society realm. Oh yes it comes in several colours [Fay].


As Carole said, focusing a DSLR with a lens is a bitch. But I've made a mini bahtinov mask as well as liking Marks daytime focus and tape it procedure. Also if like me you intend to use a laptop rather than Magic Lantern Canon hack or an intervalometer and memory card it's not that big a deal.

BTW Robert, it runs off 5-6v not 12 hence you can run it off a USB source as well as the 4AA internal batteries.
Life is like a box of chocolates, scoff it while it's in front of you.

JohnP

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #9 on: Jan 09, 2015, 20:58:43 »
Nice report Robert - didn't even know the Star Adventurer existed.... Thks,  John

Carole

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #10 on: Jan 09, 2015, 21:19:37 »
Quote
Does that help
Robert
It certainly does, all noted for future reference.

I presume the Ioptron is the lightest.
Taking the kit on a plane would you say that is the best option. 

Also does any-one have any links to new/2nd hand sturdy camera tripods, I think mine is too flimsy?

Carole

Mike

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #11 on: Jan 09, 2015, 22:36:22 »
Does that help
Robert

Very much so. Thanks for the detailed response. Thanks Dunc also.

Sounds like it's the Star Adventurer then.

Mike

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RobertM

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #12 on: Jan 10, 2015, 08:06:24 »
I presume the Ioptron is the lightest.
Taking the kit on a plane would you say that is the best option. 

Also does any-one have any links to new/2nd hand sturdy camera tripods, I think mine is too flimsy?

Carole

There really isn't that much in it weight wise unless you take the counterweight.  Versatility wise I've had the Lunt solar scope on the Adventurer with a camera tripod but that is at the limit.

Tripod - How much do you want to spend (string theory applies).  I bought a triopo though a Sirui might be better (or you can spend more on a manfrotto if you prefer).  If you're worried about weight then you can save more by going carbon fibre rather than magnesium alloy.  Note that most have rubber feet so you need to ensure you get one with extending metal spikes.  The rubber is fine for terrestrial but not for the sort of stability we need imho.

Robert

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #13 on: Jan 10, 2015, 08:15:03 »
I have a 3 section (so it folds small) carbon fibre Manfrotto. It's very light but stable if you hang a weight from it. It's been on many long haul trips and I've had it for 20 years and it's still like new. I also like to bolt the SA head to an old Meade field tripod, but you won't get that in your suitcase.
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mickw

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Re: DSLR Tracking Mounts
« Reply #14 on: Jan 10, 2015, 09:24:38 »
Quote
Mick - have you been buying new kit then?  :o


Only a S/H NEQ6 Pro - no scopes. cameras, iOptron or other big kit  ;)

Tempted by the star adventurer though  :oops:
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