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maclean

EQ mounts expectations/budget

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Hi everyone,

I guess in the not to distant future I want to slowly but surely put together some imaging kit..

I have a dob scope and a camera and I think the next logical item to buy would be an eq mount.. However regarding EQ mounts, I need to align my expectations and budget, as they seem pricey and I like to be careful with pricey things :-)

I will probabbly never spend more than £1500 on a mount so anything above that is just not of interest to me no matter how good it is, I would rather stick to visual than to spend more than this amount on a mount, but to be honest I would really prefer to be around £1000 or below. Can a decent EQ mount be bought for such a price?

Is there any way of explaining or even demonstrating the loss of quality between I dunno say a £600 mount and a £1200 mount? I really dont have a grasp of what £1000+ worth of mount gets you in terms of image quality, and how much of that quality you are missing out on if you use a cheaper £600 mount.

I think it would be silly of me to spend so much money when I might infact be quite happy with what could be achieved with a cheaper mount.

Are there any side by side comparisions of the results of an expensive mount verses a cheaper one? Or anyone with personal experience of upgrading from a cheaper mount to an expensive mount.

Now dont get me wrong I totally understand you get what you pay for, but lets face it, if I wanted the best possible image quality I would be best building my own satalite to do it from space, but the problem being I have to settle for x quality at x price.

I totally understand that a cheaper mount will not do as good a job as a more expensive one, but my aim from this thread is to understand how much of a difference in quality that is.

Thanks for any insight people.

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For starters, your budget is good! for less than a grand you can get an NEQ6 pro mount which might be all the mount you ever need. This mount will have goto, polar scope, accurate stepper motors, periodic error correction, ST4 guide port for auto guiding, and will be able to take quite a payload in terms of weight e.g. it would be comfortable with an 8" Newt plus guider and cameras etc. The less expensive HEQ5 pro which is around 700 new will do all of the above just as well apart from the payload, it won't carry quite as much kit but some do stick 8" Newts plus guider on them and seem to get away with it ok.

It slightly depends on what scope or scopes you intend on mounting, now and in the future?

Chris

Edited by starfox

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I have the HEQ5 and cant fault it, NEQ6 is just a heavier version of the HEQ5 and can take a bigger payload as Starfox mentions.

the more expensive mounts are usualy for pros that can afford to chuck 3, 4, or 5 grand on just the mount. I image dso's and havent had a problem with the HEQ5 yet and in my opinion it is a bargain

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You could of course save yourself some money by picking up a second hand HEQ5 or NEQ6. Be aware that whatever you pay new for a mount will be reduced in value by a third as soon as you have purchased it, whereas secondhand you can alwaya move on and get much the same as you paid for it. Beinf on a limited budget I have bought nearly all my stuff secondhand and have not regretted it.

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Starfox - My current scope is a 8" skyliner 200p, I understand not 'prefect' for DSO imaging, however I know it can still acheive images...

The thought of buying everything all at once would make me sick so the idea being to upgrade slowly, and get used to each bit of kit as I add it... So in the future this may not be my scope but I know that it can be strapped to a mount and can produce images therefore its not until much later that I would even think of changing it.

So I guess atm, the payload would be a skyliner 200p and a canon 60d, guide scopes etc im not even that far ahead yet so do not know how urgently (or not) they are needed?

Hey star Raver do you have any pics floating about? Let me see if you do! HEQ5 seems to be decent price, id be interested to see what can be acheived with it.

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You could of course save yourself some money by picking up a second hand HEQ5 or NEQ6. Be aware that whatever you pay new for a mount will be reduced in value by a third as soon as you have purchased it, whereas secondhand you can alwaya move on and get much the same as you paid for it. Beinf on a limited budget I have bought nearly all my stuff secondhand and have not regretted it.

I like your thinking my friend... I don't know why I didn't already think of this but makes total sense, off to have a look on ebay...

Sometimes ebay can be frustrating mind you. There seems to be an abundance of people willing to pay very close to brand new prices for a second hand item which push quite a few auctions out of my personal interest zone lol. I was getting a camera lens that I could get from japan for 500 new and people where paying 420 - 440 on ebay second hand, so I just got it imported from japan brand new, will always get camera equiptment this way now. However i dont think you can get eq mounts imported from japan for cheap can you lol.

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For deep sky imaging a substantial mount is the most important purchase - period! However, you'd have to spend considerably more than your current budget to better the purchase of an NEQ6 mount (under £1,000) so your budget is safe and allows for at least some of the additional items that you will require.

Your 200P mounted in tube rings will be good for galaxies, planetary nebulae, globular clusters and many of the smaller nebulae but you will require a means of autoguiding your mount. As you have a Newtonian, a guide scope and guide camera would make the most sense and the NEQ6 will handle the whole lot just fine. An ST80 Guide 'scope (£90.00)and a QHY5 guide camera (£179) will only eat into you budget a small amount so you can easily afford to do this and get good results too.

A wider field of view from a ED refractor (80mm would be good) will be next on your list though and at £340.0 for the Sky-Watcher ED 80 pro (OTA) from FLO, you'd have a system that most would be very proud of.

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*Hong kong not japan *

BTW is there a way to edit a post in here I couldnt find an edit post button

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this is a link to my first pic with the heq5 with canon 60d unguided with simple p/a only had the mount about 2 weeks now and only had lets say an hour and a half clear sky, im still new to imaging so these are my first real attemps with under a min expsoure and not very many subs, there are alot better examples out there with the mount
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For deep sky imaging a substantial mount is the most important purchase - period! However, you'd have to spend considerably more than your current budget to better the purchase of an NEQ6 mount (under £1,000) so your budget is safe and allows for at least some of the additional items that you will require.

Your 200P mounted in tube rings will be good for galaxies, planetary nebulae, globular clusters and many of the smaller nebulae but you will require a means of autoguiding your mount. As you have a Newtonian, a guide scope and guide camera would make the most sense and the NEQ6 will handle the whole lot just fine. An ST80 Guide 'scope (£90.00)and a QHY5 guide camera (£179) will only eat into you budget a small amount so you can easily afford to do this and get good results too.

A wider field of view from a ED refractor (80mm would be good) will be next on your list though and at £340.0 for the Sky-Watcher ED 80 pro (OTA) from FLO, you'd have a system that most would be very proud of.

Thanks for your input, is some form of autoguiding more or less needed for imaging, or are there closer/larger nebulae that don't require it as much?

Reason being, I would rather grow my equiptment slowly, and learn each piece step by step, and hopefully get some results with each new piece, and then get some slightly better results when the next upgrade eventually gets bought.

So it would be nice to think I could simply buy a mount, and get some neat images with it, okay maybe not great, but still decent. Then after some months practise with this then buy guidance stuff to then improve much later on.

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*Hong kong not japan *

BTW is there a way to edit a post in here I couldnt find an edit post button

need 250 post before it unlocks

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Thanks for your input, is some form of autoguiding more or less needed for imaging, or are there closer/larger nebulae that don't require it as much?

Reason being, I would rather grow my equiptment slowly, and learn each piece step by step, and hopefully get some results with each new piece, and then get some slightly better results when the next upgrade eventually gets bought.

So it would be nice to think I could simply buy a mount, and get some neat images with it, okay maybe not great, but still decent. Then after some months practise with this then buy guidance stuff to then improve much later on.

guiding is needed for long exposures but you can get away with a min or 2 un guided

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For deep sky imaging a substantial mount is the most important purchase - period! However, you'd have to spend considerably more than your current budget to better the purchase of an NEQ6 mount (under £1,000) so your budget is safe and allows for at least some of the additional items that you will require.

Your 200P mounted in tube rings will be good for galaxies, planetary nebulae, globular clusters and many of the smaller nebulae but you will require a means of autoguiding your mount. As you have a Newtonian, a guide scope and guide camera would make the most sense and the NEQ6 will handle the whole lot just fine. An ST80 Guide 'scope (£90.00)and a QHY5 guide camera (£179) will only eat into you budget a small amount so you can easily afford to do this and get good results too.

A wider field of view from a ED refractor (80mm would be good) will be next on your list though and at £340.0 for the Sky-Watcher ED 80 pro (OTA) from FLO, you'd have a system that most would be very proud of.

Love your book couldnt live without it. it has helped me so much the the equiptment i have chosen, and still learning something new from it day to day a must read to anyone wanting to get into AP

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http://stargazerslou...-mount-arrived/ this is a link to my first pic with the heq5 with canon 60d unguided with simple p/a only had the mount about 2 weeks now and only had lets say an hour and a half clear sky, im still new to imaging so these are my first real attemps with under a min expsoure and not very many subs, there are alot better examples out there with the mount

Hey man considering these where first attempts with your new kit, they look pretty dam impressive to me.. These seem like pretty good quality images to me. This strengthens my leaning towards the sub £1000 pound mounts. Many thanks StarRaver. What improvments do you think having some kind of guidance would bring to the table?

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Hey man considering these where first attempts with your new kit, they look pretty dam impressive to me.. These seem like pretty good quality images to me. This strengthens my leaning towards the sub £1000 pound mounts. Many thanks StarRaver. What improvments do you think having some kind of guidance would bring to the table?

guidance would make it possible to do alot longer exposures if well polar aligned 5, 10 mins even more without the problem of star trails, and with longer exposures you will be able to lower iso to reduce noise in your subs and able to capture more detail it the pics,

im like yourself slowly building up my AP gear and i havent got to guiding just yet so im sure someone with more knowledge will be able to help with this, I recomend Steve's book Making every photon count as an essential read as it has helped me with all the gear choices i have made so far

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So it would be nice to think I could simply buy a mount, and get some neat images with it, okay maybe not great, but still decent

You could certainly get some worthwhile images of the brighter (hence shorter exposure in the 1 to 2 minute maximum range) objects but StarRaver speaks with wise tongue about the advantages of guiding.

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You could certainly get some worthwhile images of the brighter (hence shorter exposure in the 1 to 2 minute maximum range) objects but StarRaver speaks with wise tongue about the advantages of guiding.

Brilliant, I feel truely much more informed, thanks.... I will possibly have a look at your book too, Starraver recommends it and his first pics where good, and looking at your site even Patrick Moore has had a read of it and says good things!!

Thanks alot guys!

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To answer your earlier question about what you get with very expensive mounts, it is accuracy or payload or both. If you are not using a physically large scope then you don't need a huge payload mount. And if you are imaging at shorter focal lengths (say under a metre) you don't need premium mount accuracy either. If you start using an SCT with two metres or more of FL then you guiding has to step up big time in terms of accuracy. On the other hand I use both the NEQ6 and Takahshi EM200, the latter a very expensive mount. The tracking accuracy of the Tak is a little better than the NEQ6 under guiding (and a lot better unguided) but at short focal lengths the errors on both remain sub-pixel so it makes no difference to the picture. This changes at long focal lengths.

Olly

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If you need any more encouragement that you don't need to spend a fortune to capture DSOs, here's an image I took with a second hand EQ5 pro (£300) in a light polluted back garden using a standard Canon 1100D (£200) and a guiding set-up consisting of a 9x50 finder scope (£45) and a Playstation Eye as a guide cam (£15), all controlled by PHD (free); ATP (£10) and EQMod (free). Also, I'm still very much a beginner!

M42_Orion_Nebula_1.JPG

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"Love your book couldnt live without it"

+1

I don't understand all of it at the moment but getting there I think.....

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This is true, you don't need to spend a fortune to do some basic DSO imaging, my entire imaging setup cost just 600 quid (old black HEQ5=280, WO66 Apo=140, Canon350D=180) no guiding just 1 to 2 minute subs, you can always add guiding further down the line:)

You would most likey get better results and earlier with better kit but its not a must to begin with, although it depends on your standards which tend to get higher as you go along e.g. I was chuffed with these when I first did them but now all I can see is three different colour backgrounds leaping out at me:D

post-16129-0-15420000-1352406886_thumb.j

post-16129-0-40157400-1352406946_thumb.j

post-16129-0-82955000-1352406982_thumb.j

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Lets take an NEQ6 and an EQ5 as examples - As your budget is well within an NEQ6 range - You mention in your original post about how much better your images would be with a more expenisive mount. In a way, they will actually show very little difference. You certainly won't be able to look at 2 images and say that was with an NEQ6 and this was with an EQ5 for example.

But what you will get is consistently good subs with the more expensive NEQ6. You will probably (once guiding is sorted!) be able to keep a whole nights worth of subs, however I think that it's true to say, that with an EQ5 you will not be guarenteed this luxury. If you only manage to get out a couple of times a month due to weather for example, you will want to maximise your imaging time. This is not maximised by having to throw out subs that have suffered from less accurate guiding or a puff of wind for example.

I have an HEQ5 carrying a small refractor, which places no pressure on the loading capacity and neither the guiding accuracy. Its a good mount, but I think I'd go for an NEQ6 if I was doing it all over again .......... just incase!!!

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I agree with Swag here, I have an HEQ5, though a great mount for the price the payload is substantially less than the NEQ6. If you can afford the NEQ6 go for it as it future proofs what you may do if you decide to change/add extra scopes etc. You could start off with the HEQ5 and the 200P and a DSLR but then you may want to add a CCD with filter wheel,a guide scope and then maybe a wide field APO. An Neq6 would let you do this,the HEQ5 would not!

Also look here for second hand gear but make sure if you can't pick the item up you always pay with paypal (not gift as you'll lose buyer protection) and it's always good to check how much stuff they have sold before. http://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php

Cheers

Matt.

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You've already had great advice from a couple of real imaging gurus here (Olly and Steve), so not sure how much more someone could say here, but I'll have a go. The EQ5 is widely regarded as an outstanding mount for the cash, many believe it outperforms the EQ6 in tracking accuracy, but it won't carry much more than a medium (~80-100mm) frac and guidescope, with the associated electrickery. The EQ6 can safely carry 15kg and image ok (it might be able to carry more, but not many people image too brilliantly with 25kg on it). Like most hobbies, astro-photography follows the law of 'diminishing returns', once you start passing the EQ6 price bracket, small improvements cost alot.

There's a sky full of objects which make realistic targets for the amateur on a modest budget. If you don't go chasing the really dim, super-small DSOs you can get great photos with basic kit. (leave the stuff needing 2.5m fl to Olly etc). Some of the images on my site are from a belt modded EQ6 and an old ED80 (web-cam guided and EOS550 imaged), others use an Altair wave 115 with a starshoot guider. Some people get away with even less than this. See them at http://www.alphageek.co.uk/page24.html. A DSLR paired with a scope from 600-1000mm focal length are much less demanding to guide.

If you want to be a sniper and hit moving targets at a thousand metres, it's going to be tough. Stick to stuff you can use a shotgun for, until you win the lottery.

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