DSLR mounts

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  • #573931
    Dominic Ford
    Keymaster

    Browsing the shops, I’ve noticed that AstroTrac DSLR mounts have become quite hard to come by lately, though some shops like Rother Valley still claim to have them in stock. I suspect AstroTrac have stopped making them, since their own website says “out of stock”.

    In its place, Telescope House are now selling a couple of other models — the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker, and the iOptron Skytracker Pro.

    Has anyone tried either of these mounts? On paper at least, the iOptron looks like the sturdier of the two.

    #579015
    Roger Dymock
    Participant

    Hi Dominic,

    I used the iOptron for a short time but found it a complete PITA. Too many screws to tighten (and one always seemed to come loose) and you can’t easily adjust it in RA or dec.  I sold it and and now use my DSLR plus small refractor on a goto mount which I originally used for a  Newtonian reflector. You might like to think about something like the Skywatcher EQ mounts. Don’t skimp on the payload capacity though. 

    Regards 

    #579016
    Neil Morrison
    Participant

    Good evening Dominic.I have been using  a Sky Watcher  Star Adventurer   over the last 12 months or so. I have used it to carry  a 500mm f5.5  Telescope  and seems to  track  well . As commented  already the attachment  screw to the Tripod should  be very very tight.    With the  poor weather  last year not very  much photography was  undertaken  let us hope for  better in 2018.

    Regards

    Neil

    #579017
    Jimmy Fraser
    Participant

    Hi Dominic, The Fornax LighTrack II looks to be a sturdy beast (sold by 365 Astronomy). The fact that they include an adapter that will accept a Skywatcher EQ5 polarscope has to be a huge bonus. The Astrotrac  polar scope is very poor – forever falling off its magnetic mount at the slightest touch.

    https://www.365astronomy.com/FORNAX-10-LighTrack-Mark-II-Mobile-Tracking-Mount-for-Astrophotography.html

    https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/534333-fornax-lightrack-ii-vs-astrotrac/

    Regards,

    Jimmy

    #579018
    David Basey
    Participant

    Hi Dominic,

    I’ve used a Vixen Polarie for some years and am quite happy with it. The reason I went with the Polarie is that I was something of an early adopter and at the time the market was more limited than it is now.  

    STRENGTHS.

    • Solid and well built.
    • Tracks well.
    • There are only a couple of thumb screws to tighten and these are not really fiddly 

    POTENTIAL ISSUES.

    • For longer exposures or longer focal lengths you will need to purchase the polar alignment scope which is an optional extra.
    • The polar alignment scope does not have an illuminated reticle so you may have to obliquely shine a torch down it. Having said that, there does appear to be a new version out which works differently with an app.
    • Unlike some newer offerings it does not have polar alignment adjustment screws so you have to adjust the tripod head which can be a bit awkward as it is likely out of balance. However with practice it does become relatively simple. 

    At some point I will likely make a permanent mount in the garden for it. Probably just a post with a suitably aligned top piece. Then all that will be necessary is to clamp the Polarie to the post when I want to use it and it won’t need any further alignment. This should resolve most of the issues.

    Lastly, there is a further thread here with additional discussion and an expanded version of this post.

    Regards,

    David.

    #579021
    Peter Carson
    Participant

    Hi Dominic,
    I purchased an AstroTrac about a year ago without any trouble, perhaps things have changed recently.
    I went for the AstroTrac after some research and experimentation with other DSLR star tracking mounts. Many of the small lightweight star trackers are fine for a DSLR and lens up to about 100mm in length. I wanted to use a 200mm lens and found most were just not up to giving really good results. My nearest contender was the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer which was very convenient to use but had a large periodic error which showed up in 200mm lens shots. 
    The Astrotrac is expensive but you are paying for good engineering…if they still make them.
    Peter 

    #579022
    Dominic Ford
    Keymaster

    Thanks all! The message I seem to be getting is that iOptron in particular isn’t a great buy. Further to Roger’s comments about screws coming lose, I was interested to find one blog post where someone was complaining that if you loosen the azimuth adjust screws too far, the mount comes off the tripod and your camera falls on the floor. Great! 🙂

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