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Star Adventurer or the Mini Version?


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This has probably been asked before but .......

I'm looking at getting a tracking mount for wide field photography that I can take away with me on travels abroad etc.  Carting the NEQ6 aboard an aircraft is a tad to much hassle and it weighs alot :D
I'm interested to here of any reviews of the following two mounts that will sit on top of my Manfrotto 190XPRO tripod

Skywatcher Star Adventurer or the Mini version

Star Adventurer

Star Adventurer Mini

Has anyone used either or both?  I assume the weight of the mini is less than the bigger one but is it as good/useful.

TIA :)

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I recently bought the Mini version, mainly because I wanted something that was as light as possible - but still capable of carrying a reasonable load - and could be dismantled into the smallest compnents for easier transport in carry-on hand luggage.  There are others that will do the latter, but the Mini seemed to offer the best set of compromises.  The flexibility of its control app, which covers a number of time lapse modes - some unique to the Mini AFAIK - was also attractive.

Only managed a couple of sessions with it so far, and the first was clouded out after a few minutes, although I did manage a 50" shot, with a 75mm lens, which showed no trailing even with my rather rapid & rough polar alignment.

Next chance was a couple of nights ago.  Gradually increased exposure time, in small steps, and was pleased to get to two minutes without trailing.  Only stopped at that because my bones were freezing!  I'll try longer next time, but I'm very encouraged by this initial result.  My PA was a lot better that second outing. I used the control app's built in Polar Clock Utility, adjusting the view through the polar scope to match.  Pretty quick & easy, although I did find a right-angle viewer to be a VERY useful accessory.  Overall, I'm very pleased so far.  The Mini's manual says that with the right-angled dovetail bracket & counterweight, you can increase the payload to 4kg.  Have yet to try that with a small refractor, but will give it a go.

IMHO, if you want the maximum payload and don't mind the larger size & weight of the Star Adventurer then go for that one, but if you want the smallest, flexible mount for airline travel, and don't mind the reduced payload, then the Mini is well worth considering.

FWIW, here's a two-minute snap of M31, using a 60mm f2.8 lens on an Olympus OMD (120mm full-frame equivalent), at ISO 1600.  Single frame, quick iPad tweak in Enlight.

 

IMG_0826.JPG

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Thanks Mark for your post. I have used the Star Adventurer mount since April and it is a good mount and very portable. I used it on this year's holiday to a dark site in Cornwall. Haven't used the Mini (SAM) version as a comparison but it does have built in wi-fi capability which may be something you really want or alternatively don't feel you need. You can read more about both mounts on our sponsor's site. You can use the SAM's polar utility to manually polar align the larger Star Adventurer mount and it's a very useful app in this regard simply as the view on the app is exactly that what you see in the polar scope, there's no need to work out any differences in what you are seeing. I'd endorse what Chinapig mentions regarding using a right angled polar accessory it really does make polar alignment a lot simpler if you have any trouble bending to look through the polar scope. I've found that precision timing the end of polar alignment when Polaris is just on a marked division of the polar reticule has allowed me 3 minutes exposures using a 300mm lens.

Whatever you choose I'm sure you will find it useful and enjoy it.

Cheers,
Steve

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@Chinapig  Thanks for that small review.  My payload will be a 6D MKII and max a 100 - 400mm lens.  I will probably be using the 16 - 35mm more often than not so I will be well below the payload max for the mini

@Stu  Thanks - nice to read about both mounts from the same user - looks like the mini will be the way forward :)

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10 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

The blurb for the mini says maximum recommended camera lens focal length is 100mm.

I am presuming that is when you use the camera body as the mounting point.  The 100 - 400mm has a mounting ring for the tripod which balances the load and takes the weight of the lens off of the lens lock ring

Edited by MarkyD
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My advice is not to presume anything when it I comes to cheap mount like this. Ask the supplier before you purchase.

In this case the supplier has taken safeguards as the specifications says:

There are currently no specifications available for this product.

But under features it says

FEATURES

  • Maximum recommended camera lens focal length: 100mm
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40 minutes ago, Tomvictor said:

My advice is not to presume anything when it I comes to cheap mount like this. Ask the supplier before you purchase.

In this case the supplier has taken safeguards as the specifications says:

There are currently no specifications available for this product.

But under features it says

FEATURES

  • Maximum recommended camera lens focal length: 100mm

Max recommended 100mm is due to the larger Periodic Error - see post below.   There is nothing in the manual about max lens length.   FLO has the no specs available under most of their stuff

 

Edited by MarkyD
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I have the mini version but haven't been able to fully test it out in the field.  Attached is M42 imaged at 300mm ISO800 from a red zone. About 20-25% of the 60s subs were usable shooting from a window and I think draughts and convection currents are the reason I'm getting 75% subs with star trails. So it should perform way better outside.

M42-1.jpg

Edited by Snooze
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A heavy DSLR and a 100-400mm L-series Canon Telephoto puts the normal Star Adventurer over the top, I can't move at all without it wobbling.....My 5D M-III only works reasonably well on smaller lens at 100mm on a Manfrotto video camera tripod, and thats PA with a polemaster.....I think the weight limits are horribly over exaggerated. Maybe a smaller DSLR with a £100 75-300mm plastic lens might work, but what kind of quality photos are you going to get??

Edited by TrickySpot
Missing info
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4 hours ago, TrickySpot said:

and thats PA with a polemaster

Thanks for this intel I've been wondering too how a PoleMaster would/wouldn't fare on the SA mount. Interesting too to note your experiences with your DSLR and L-lens, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6 L IS Mk II weighs in at 1,640g and Eos 7D Mk II DSLR 910g. I have the cheaper Canon EF 75-300mm f4.5-5.6 III USM lens but when it's on my EOS 600D the total weight is 1,164 and I've been able to get longer exposures at 300mm. This is an image of the Double Cluster in Perseus and Stock 2 taken on 9.9.2017-

9_9_17_PDC_Final.thumb.jpg.2e967bbd30c1a810205ed368ec1e94a1.jpg

20x three minute light frames taken with a Canon 600D and EF 75-300mm f4.5-5.6 III USM lens at 300mm FL, plus 10x dark frames and 50x each bias and flat frames. Conditions included a bright waning Moon to the SE and temprature of the light frames varied between 17-19 degrees C over the imaging period. Frames stacked in DSS and processed using StarTools. I have my SA connected directly to an old Celestron Alt-Az tripod (I couldn't get on wth the SA wedge) and find the tripod very robust and the Alt-Az fine tuning knobs make for a smooth and fast polar alignment. I use the SAM app for polar aligning and I've found ending polar alignment (turning on the tracking) when Polaris is just on a division helps improve alignment by taking some of the guesswork out of the process.

Good luck experimenting with your equipment and thanks again for your post.

Best regards,
Steve

Edited by SteveNickolls
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1 hour ago, Jkulin said:

I use a polemaster with my SA and it is perfect, very easy and simple to set up.

Thanks for your post John, may I ask what exposure lengths you are achieving both with/without the PoleMaster accessory?

Cheers,
Steve

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Hi Steve,

Last time I used it I was in Central France in June and was doing 450secs, but my camera wasn't balanced as I had left the bar and weights at home, but I have no reason not to use even longer exposures.

I don't image without the polemaster.

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2 hours ago, Jkulin said:

Last time I used it I was in Central France in June and was doing 450secs, but my camera wasn't balanced as I had left the bar and weights at home, but I have no reason not to use even longer exposures.

I don't image without the polemaster.

Hi John,

Thanks for this. Didn't want to hijack this thread so have PM'd you a question.

Cheers,
Steve

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12 hours ago, TrickySpot said:

A heavy DSLR and a 100-400mm L-series Canon Telephoto puts the normal Star Adventurer over the top, I can't move at all without it wobbling.....My 5D M-III only works reasonably well on smaller lens at 100mm on a Manfrotto video camera tripod, and thats PA with a polemaster.....I think the weight limits are horribly over exaggerated. Maybe a smaller DSLR with a £100 75-300mm plastic lens might work, but what kind of quality photos are you going to get??

Then you want to buy an astrotrac, since it might be better suited to your equipment spec. The rest of us will make do with our small DSLRs and our plastic lenses on our SAs :happy6:

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Well as a non-famous member I still think that I'm gonna post my opinion

I own a Star Adventurer Mini and all I can say is that you will get everything for its price. :)

I use a 600D (moded) with 50mm 1.8 and 100-300mm lens

With 50mm I archieved 360sec unguided (saw someone got 20min no guiding with the SAM)

With 100-300mm I get up to 2min unguided,too

So, a prety good mount in its price range

Fast PA,attach the mount and ball head, camera with lens on the ball head, select N as hemisphere,turn on, and you can easily go in the house and do what you want (I usualy have it working for 4 hours)

Well it have a "dark" site too and thats are BATTERIES

If its fall down below 0°C (32F i think) it simply wont turn on (batteries feel cold)

I suggest you that use a external charger (I asked it on forum)

So, after 1000 words, this mount is GOOD for its price,I will attach you some images if you want

Good luck! :)

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52 minutes ago, JemC said:

please post some images, would like to see them, :happy11:

At the moment I have this image of the Orion Nebula which I send on messenger to friend and downloaded it now, others are on the USB and I'm on phone now :)

 

Edited by serbiadarksky
The image say error, how to upload from a smartphone?
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