28th of February 2009 (Sat), 14:53
I am wanting to get a little deeper into astrophotography. I have no intention to go out and buy anything expensive ($300+) for my hobby as there are still children starving around the world, so please leave anything more expensive out of the discussion for now (I may win the lottery some day, feed a bunch of kids, and then not feel so bad about buying a golden mount). So, what I am looking at is either building a barn-door mount (http://www.petesastrophotography.com/barndoor.html) or buying an Orion Min-EQ (http://www.telescope.com/control/product/~product_id=09055/ (http://www.telescope.com/control/product/%7Eproduct_id=09055/)) with EQ-1M motor drive (http://www.telescope.com/control/product/~product_id=07826/ (http://www.telescope.com/control/product/%7Eproduct_id=07826/)). I have read both good and bad reviews (http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/MOUNTS.HTM) of the Orion Min-EQ system and am at a loss as to whether I would get better results from a home-built barndoor or a cheap (but quite real) equatorial mount. I have no delusions of taking pics to put the Hubble to shame with either of my choices, but I would like to get the easiest to set up and most accurate tracking mount that you can get on a shoestring budget. I also understand that I will likely need to take series of exposures (say 5 minutes each) and stack them to get what I am hoping for out of my attempts, but I just don't know which way to go on the hardware side of the equation. Thanks for any advice, helpful hints, or war stories from trying to use either of these systems on your own.
1st of March 2009 (Sun), 02:27
What do you want to shoot and what with (scope/camera/lens)? I assume you are in the US.
I think you should be able to get an EQ2 or even EQ3 for less that your feel bad about it figure. An Eq3 with RA drive in the UK is about £250 so you should be able to get it for that over the pond in dollars. I personally would look for an EQ3 Synscan second hand as that would give you GoTo and much better tracking.
1st of March 2009 (Sun), 08:38
Ah, I did leave out some important details, didn't I?
I have a Canon XSi (450D) with the 18-55 IS, 50 f/1.8, 70-300 IS currently. I am also thinking seriously about adding a few primes to my bag (Sigma 30 f/1.4 and a Canon 100 f/2). I also have a Manfrotto 055XProB with 322RC2 head and various flashes, etc. lying around. I primarily shoot landscapes, museums, etc. for my hobby and am the semi-official photographer at my church (just shot a new church directory, weddings for those that can't afford a pro, and so on). That is why some of my choices probably look a little schizophrenic. I don't mind picking up equipment if I can help others with it, but to spend it on purely hobby-related images, well, that I have a hard time doing.
You're right that I am from the US (rural, middle of the country). As for what type of pictures that I would like to take, right now, I would like to tackle some of the larger and/or brighter deep sky objects (Orion Nebula, Andromeda galaxy). I would like to take planetary photos (i.e. catching the Galilean moons, resolving the crescent on Venus, etc.) and nicer pics of comets than I have personally be able to do up to this point.
Here is where I am going to have to admit my lack of research/understanding in the area. When you mentioned an EQ3, I tried going to telescope.com (the Orion website) and telescopes.com (several manufacturers) to look it up and couldn't find anything. Are these general classes of equatorial mounts, or is this a specific model number from a particular manufacturer? If they are general classes, are they all essentially the same across manufacturer within a class (i.e. do all EQ3's have a polar alignment scope?)? I'm sorry for asking such a rudimentary question, but it seems that this is understood vocabulary in the astrophotography field.
Also, what type of specifications should I look for to quantify tracking quality? Is it a matter of steps per second of the motor drive or does it also have to do with the quality of the mount (resistance to binding/slipping, etc.)? Thank you for your insights on this.
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