03-18-2018 09:03 PM - edited 03-18-2018 11:14 PM
Curious if anyone here has any experience with this unit, I am interested in astrophotograhy, although where I live there will not be any astounding milky way shots I would like to at least experiment with the genre.
I have looked at several trackers and this one seems to be a good "Standalone" that has everything but the camera, which is what I am hoping for.
Also a little unsure if this is a Camera or a Lens question, so I picked the lens catagory
03-25-2018 02:52 PM
iOptron does make a lot of popular products and certainly there are loads of astronomers that use them.
After several disappointments, I use Losmandy products for my imaging mounts, but I've used lots of mounts... just never an iOptron mount. My disappointments were based on mounts that could track well enough with the amount of weight I needed to place on them. Sometimes that's probablems with the precision of gears. Sometimes it's the bearings (e.g. "stiction"), etc.
What I do like about it (vs. just buying an iOptron SkyTracker or SkyGuider) is that it comes with a tripod which is probably fairly beefy (much beefier than the typical photo tripod).
The downside of that, is you wont want to go on a long hike with it (this is the sort of gear where you drive your car to the observing site. (you wont want to carry this gear on your back over a 5 mile hike through a canyon). But the upside is that it's likely to be more solid than any photo tripod.
iOptron claims it is good for "wide field" astrophotography. When it comes to astrophotography, any camera lens (I don't care how long the focal length is) is considered "wide field" to an astrophotography (they're comparing to telesocpes that have MUCH longer focal lengths... 2000mm... 3000mm... or above). Anything under 1000mm is "wide". I have a TeleVue NP101is apochormatic refractor that I use for imaging... it's focal lenth is only 540mm... in astrophotogrraphy that is "wide field".
I bring this up because every mount has some amount of tracking error due to mechanical imperfections. If you are willing to spend more money (and I mean exponentially more money... double the budget, quadruple the budget, etc. (A Paramount ME II is about $15k. A Planewave L600 is about $30k ... yes... for a MOUNT. I was kidding when I said "exponentially more money) then the mounts get much much much better... but even those aren't "perfect".) the photographers still use auto-guiders to take care of tracking error. This makes the imaging more complicated.
When shooting with long focal length telescopes (e.g. 2000mm) it doesn't take much error to be noticeable in the image with smeared/elongated stars. But that same mount might be able to use a 300mm lens and have pretty good looking stars.
Suitability for astrophotography really depends on how long of a lens and how much weight you plane to put on the mount. It'll be fabulous for a 14mm lens... guaranteed (becuase even a stationary tripod that doesn't track can be fabulous for a 14mm lens). It'll probably be great for a 135mm lens... or even a 200mm.
At some point, you WILL notice that the tracking just isn't as good... so the question is when does that happen? It it only when you exceed a 500mm focal length? 1000mm focal length?
iOptron says it has an 11lb payload. The general guidance in astrophotography is to cut that number in half. This is because there is NO STANDARD for how anyone comes up with that number.
I would feel better if the industry said... how much weight can we pile onto the mount before it flexes enough to move a star by 30 arc-seconds (I'm making that number up) ... and for one mount it flexes that much with 2 kg... but another mount can handle 5 kg. Unfortunatley no such agreed upon a test exists.
Marking people love to extol the virtues of their products... so the general suspicion is that the numbers they are willing to publish are optmistic values, but if you cut them in half, they are probably believable.