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06-06-2012, 09:40 PM   #316
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QuoteOriginally posted by smigol Quote
As was said to me recently:
"Sadly the truth about this hobby is you can spend far less time and frustration
if you shell out more money. You do get what you pay for and shed a lot of
frustration..."

Look at the used market, too. Check astromart and cloudynights.
I look at the marketplace here for the right primes to fill out my own collection!
I'm just not ready to pour a lot of money into it yet. The photo hobby in itself is pricey enough
I don't know how much time I will really want to spend imaging. Those big pricey mounts are heavy too, which is a deterrent. I'm not a big guy.

I wonder what you think of the following model. I know it's an extremely cheap thing, but bear with me.

FRYS.com

It is on sale for $130 until tomorrow at Fry's.

The specs are there :
Celestron 60LCM Computerized Telescope

The main reason I am interested in it is the mount, not the telescope.
It appears to be a tracking mount. They don't use the word Goto, but it seems that it is a gotomount too ?
The payload capacity is 5 lbs. This would be just enough for the Manfrotto lens support + camera + mirror lens.
Telescope + camera would probably be too heavy, and it doesn't come with the right adapter, it won't just work with a T-ring. But as I said, I probably don't care for that scope.

Do you think it is a complete waste of money to even try to go that cheap ?
Will I be disgusted and never want to do astro again (that might not be such a bad thing for my wallet ) ?

Edit: never mind, this mount is altazimuth and not suitable for astrophotography at all.


Last edited by madbrain; 06-06-2012 at 09:49 PM.
06-06-2012, 11:00 PM   #317
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If you want to go cheap, you can make a barn door tracker. You can make them as big or small as you want. This is one of the better sites around.

Astronomy Boy: Barn Door Tracker
06-06-2012, 11:34 PM   #318
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QuoteOriginally posted by pixelsaurus Quote
If you want to go cheap, you can make a barn door tracker. You can make them as big or small as you want. This is one of the better sites around.

Astronomy Boy: Barn Door Tracker
Thanks, but I'm also sure I want something computerized / goto, and this seems a bit too low-tech for me
I am a bit surprised those mounts start at $850 . I would have thought there might be something cheaper with lower payload capacity than 20 lbs if one isn't buying a telescope.

It looks like the Celestron CG-5 mount at $700 might work. It's still not cheap, same price as a mid/entry-level camera body.

Modding the Canon T3i for full spectrum would cost $335 too . 2/3 of that for labor, 1/3 in parts. The cost of that mod is more than I paid for my K-r

I guess this is too exotic of a hobby for these prices to come down .
06-07-2012, 05:53 AM   #319
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Yes, that weight would be beyond my CNC* assembly but it works well for lighter kit. When I wrote that piece I wasn't referring to the Manfrotto but another gadget I'd seen which did the same job for a whole lot more money. I was so impressed I can't even remember the maker. The Manfrotto's obviously a bargain in the colonies; the cheapest I've seen them here on this side of the water is 60 - a third dearer!.

CNC - usually Computer Numerically Controlled but in my case Cheap 'N' Cheerful . . .

BFN
David

06-07-2012, 05:56 AM   #320
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Madbrain wrote :
Modding the Canon T3i for full spectrum would cost $335 too . 2/3 of that for labor, 1/3 in parts.

Some kidology going on here, methinks. I'd like to see a breakdown of where they spend the $112 on parts!

BFN
David
06-07-2012, 11:54 AM   #321
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I see many people using a Canon 20D for this, which can be acquired for around $200 (body only).

Last edited by walky; 06-08-2012 at 08:10 AM.
06-07-2012, 12:00 PM   #322
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You need a tracking device to track the stars (follow them) as the earth moves, either an Astrotrac or Polarie. None of these are cheap. You also need a sturdy tripod and ball heads. You need to align with Polaris. You also need a DSLR camera and lens. You don't need a telescope if what you want is to image wide field. All of these terminology can be explained better in an astronomy forums like cloudynights, astonomy forum or Stargazers Lounge. Good luck. I just spent $1000 on equipment except for lens and cameras which I already had. Spend at your pace.
06-07-2012, 02:28 PM   #323
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QuoteOriginally posted by The Jannie Quote
Madbrain wrote :
Modding the Canon T3i for full spectrum would cost $335 too . 2/3 of that for labor, 1/3 in parts.

Some kidology going on here, methinks. I'd like to see a breakdown of where they spend the $112 on parts!

BFN
David
It's the price of new filter.
See Canon Digital Rebel XSi (450D), XS (1000D), T1i (500D) , T2i (550D), T3 (1100D) & T3i (600D) -Astro Imaging and Infrared Photography - by Gary Honis . It actually breaks down as $190 labor, $20 return shipping, and $125 for either a Baader UV/IR filter or multi-coated clear glass filter .

06-07-2012, 03:33 PM   #324
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QuoteOriginally posted by walky Quote
You need a tracking device to track the stars (follow them) as the earth moves, either an Astrotrac or Polarie. None of these are cheap. You also need a sturdy tripod and ball heads. You need to align with Polaris. You also need a DSLR camera and lens. You don't need a telescope if what you want is to image wide field. All of these terminology can be explained better in an astronomy forums like cloudynights, astonomy forum or Stargazers Lounge. Good luck. I just spent $1000 on equipment except for lens and cameras which I already had. Spend at your pace.
Are you using a modded camera body ?
I'm familiar with that forum, might go back there.
I think I need to find a lightweight used mount to image with my DSLR and mirror lens.
06-07-2012, 07:21 PM   #325
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You don't need an expensive camera. I have done it with a Canon SX30 IS which is not DSLR, though in a limited form. I cannot get exposures longer than 15 secs and f stops lower than 2.7, but yes you can. An older model DSLR with at least 1600 ISO can do, just in case you wan to try 1600. AS THE MASTER SAID, "Alignment and atmospherics come to mind to start with." Tracking capability is a most or all you will get is trails, which are beautiful themselves if that is what you intend to get. I say again, cloudynights and stargazers have all the information required and be prepared to spend a few months learning to dig the jewels from the general chit chat. Some people may have preferences that may not fit your specific goals. I ended up buying an equatorial mount I did not like, and it is stored in my garage.
06-07-2012, 07:27 PM   #326
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Light is not what they recommend. The heavier the better because a heavy mount dampens any movement which is critical for long exposures -- which are usually needed for milky way, etc.. Forget light. They will start recommending a CG5 mount and that is heavy and expensive. Then you need tracking (motors to track on RA and DEC) so you don't get trails and then you have to learn to align with Polaris and find your stuff in the sky (or get GoTo capability). All this means $$$$ on gear surrounding the camera.
06-07-2012, 10:39 PM   #327
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QuoteOriginally posted by walky Quote
You don't need an expensive camera. I have done it with a Canon SX30 IS which is not DSLR, though in a limited form.
Is that a modded camera ?
I will be using one of my DSLRs. Either the Pentax K-r or Canon T3i. I may mod one of them - or not.

QuoteQuote:
I ended up buying an equatorial mount I did not like, and it is stored in my garage.
Which one was that ? Is it a tracking mount ?

What did you just spend $1000 on ?
06-07-2012, 10:53 PM   #328
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QuoteOriginally posted by walky Quote
Light is not what they recommend.
Well, light is all relative

QuoteQuote:
The heavier the better because a heavy mount dampens any movement which is critical for long exposures -- which are usually needed for milky way, etc..
Right, I understand weight will improve the stability of the image.

However, strictly in terms of required support, I am surprised not to see any tracking mount with say, a 10 lbs max payload. The lower the payload, the lighter the mount would need to be, and thus the lesser it should cost.

When I look at Orion telescopes for example, the SkyView Pro costs $850 , or $400 without the compute/ motor drive/goto. That's got a 20 lbs payload. If the tripod was lighter, and the motor not as strong, I would expect to have a complete goto mount with 10 lbs in the $400 range. The electronics don't seem to be very expensive, given that a Celestron 60LCM can sell for $130 retail and include them.

It seems like this all stuff could be a bit more modular than it is. For instance, the electronics are only sold together with a motor drive, mount, or complete telescope, but never separate.

QuoteQuote:
Forget light. They will start recommending a CG5 mount and that is heavy and expensive. Then you need tracking (motors to track on RA and DEC) so you don't get trails and then you have to learn to align with Polaris and find your stuff in the sky (or get GoTo capability). All this means $$$$ on gear surrounding the camera.
Yes, I know I want tracking & Goto before I will even try photographing stars. I'm just surprised at the price of even the entry-level mounts. CG-5 is slightly cheaper than Skyview Pro , but also heavier. And it looks like SV Pro may include a couple extra items that are optional with the CG-5
06-08-2012, 06:47 AM   #329
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I have a mirror lens I have not used but will, soon. It is like a short catadioptric telescope. My cameras are not modded, but I am just starting on this and caught by the awesomeness of the pictures I have seen. Mine are just beginner's , in the wide field arena. I am stepping up with the gear that will allow me to image the milky way and some galaxies.

The $1K was spent on: a manfrotto 055 prob tripod, a 410 geared head and a 498cr2 ball head plus... A Polarie tracking device. I needed a sturdy, capable tripod and the heads are necessary for positioning. As you see, not much in terms of gear, just what is necessary. I already had the cameras and lenses I will be using. So probably the expenditure total is above $2k.

I must say I followed many an advice and bought a CG4 mount (although everyone pushed for something heavier) and motors which seemed to me too heavy and that was not what I wanted,I figured out after buying those. So I wasted my moment on that. They ARE for sale ( hint, hint) if anyone is interested and can pick them up in Orlando, Florida. They are new and unused. I went this way:

The Polarie or ASTROTRAC allows you for tracking on a light setup that you can mount on your car and drive to any site you want. That' s where the heads and sturdy tripod come in handy and are necessary. These other equatorial mounts, on the contrary, are heavy and difficult to set up, at least in my opinion. I am 65 and can't be just going around with such a heavy equipment. They are not the type of thing you can take on a cross country trip or abroad easily. Even to the woods. I chose the Polarie because it is the lightest, and less expensive, I can travel with it and not be burdened with the weight. And the tripod and balls serve double duty for plain photography! Also, since I don't plan to load it heavily, it was perfect or ME. You have to assess your needs after careful reading between the lines and decide base don YOUR needs.

And there is one expense I did not incurr on yet, the polarie can be used with a specific polar scope that goes into aligning it precisely. That is another $ 250 I did not shed just yet. I will if I need to, depending on my future experience but is not necessary.

Hoping the clouds clear up in my neck of the woods to try all this!

Last edited by walky; 06-08-2012 at 08:10 AM. Reason: add more detail
07-15-2012, 03:40 AM   #330
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My first ASTROTRACER deep-sky object

Not a grand showpiece perhaps, but still a promising result for me, still trying out and learning to use the Pentax O-GPS1 Astrotracer function.

This non-resized 100% crop shows star Eta Herculi at upper right and globular cluster M13 at lower middle:


Pentax K-5 with smc Pentax-M f/2.0 50mm lens stopped down to f/4
Single exposure: 1 minute at ISO 800. Contrast enhanced in PhotoImpact.

Could of course be better with a longer lens and a few more frames for stacking. Also a darker sky would help. This image is rather aggressively post-processed using curves and levels.

But, it's a start.........
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