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looking for new AP kit recommendations please

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Hi all, I have struggled with a CPC for a year or two. some great observations but not cutting the mustard for imaging a F10.

So, I am contemplating changing my kit.

I am interested in planetary and deep space objects so after a good all round set up.

So far I am pointed to SW80ED and the HEQ5 pro.

Any thoughts from you way more experienced imagers?

What about the SW 120 or 150ED?

Whole set up to come in under 2k.

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I am not going to stick my neck out and give you a recommendation but I will give you my experience. I have been imaging for only about 2 years (a surprising small number of clear nights!) and started with a cheap 90mm scope on a standard HEQ5 using a DSLR and got some OK images.  I then bought a second hand C8 and used a focal reducer so I was imaging with a FL of about 1250 (6.3 x 2000) ,  again a few OK images but the angular view was so tight I needed to guide, which itself is a challenge with a C8 unless you use an OAG.  I belt modigied the HEQ5 which was better. I decided to drop the focal length and got a ES102 F7 triplet which has a FL=714.  I found this was much more suited to the mount and I could guide easily with a 50mm guide scope and a cheap camera.  I also found that there are an abundant number of targets suited to the FOV of this scope.  I can get good results with exposures of 60 - 120 secs.  I can also add a Focal Reducer to widen the FOV if necessary.  All in all this combination was much more forgiving and within the tolerance of the mount.

My next revelation was buying an ZWO ASI294MC-Pro, not cheap, but compared to a DSLR so much more sensitive and with much lower noise and of course it doesn't need to be astro modified. Even at Unity gain of 120, stars were blowing out if I went much more than 60 secs, so that made imaging much easier by doing lots of 60 sec subs, plus calibration frames.  My skies are Bortle 5, so my next buy was the Optolong L-eNhance  dual-bandpass narrowband filter.  For targets with strong nebulosity like the Veil Nebula this produces great results.

I toyed with the idea of going for a mono camera and filter wheel, but I am not ready for the jump, maybe next year.

My conclusion out of all this is go for a balanced set up and keep the focal length as short as you can for the targets you want.

In parallel I found I needed to work on my processing. Once stacked in DSS,  I use Startools, which is workflow oriented and allows you to get good results with a simple "automatic" approach and then to build on this by exploring and improving each stage.

I have now resolved to improve my imaging and processing with what I have, using Astrobin for inspiration and motivation, before I think I need more stuff. To paraphrase CSNY:    If you can't get the kit you love, love the kit you have.

All the best






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The SW120 and 150EDs are a bit large for the HEQ5.  Though I do use an Ed120 on my HEQ5 you can get away with it if you don't have a hefty guide camera.

However a lot depends on which camera you are going to use as I only use my ED120 for very small targets.  

I think you'd be better off with an ED80.


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