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Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?
  
 
mbphoto_2.8
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


A Nikon D810 with Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 will be mine some time before october, I hope.

We're going on a 2-week trip around the very north of the north (Tromsö, Lofoten islands, north cape, etc.) in october, and I want to shoot stars, star scapes, aurorae, nightscapes, landscapes, etc. (With the sun at a maximum elevation of 9° the light should be great all day long for landscapes )

Obviously, I won't need a tracker for most of the trip, and the Milky Way won't be visible ever, but I would still like to experiment with composites where you can see the stars over the Fjords. (the second week has a new moon phase, after all)


I've had a few tries at stars with my Fuji X-T10 and Samyang 12mm f/2 and was quite happy with the results, but I've always been lusting for a tracker to do stacking and longer exposures and the likes.

I recently discovered the iOptron Skytracker Pro that I liked a lot. But the weight limitation confused me.
Obviously, the Fuji isn't an issue, but the Nikon with 15-30/2.8 at over 2kg would already ask for the counterweight.

Add to that the fact that my ballhead is 700gr on its own, and we approach 3 kg already, which is the total weight limit for the skytracker pro. (What about the 1,3 kg counterweight?)
If I use my Yongnuo remote, maybe a light pollution filter, etc. or want to shoot the 200-500mm (joining the family some time 2018, I hope) to take images of galaxies and star constellations, I'm way over the load limit of this tracker.

So, I kept on looking and found the Sky Watcher Star Adventurer that could be had for only a little more than the Skytracker pro with counterweight (which I couldn't find in my country anyways), but can handle a 5 kg load.


What are your experiences and suggestions?


ps: I know that a good copy of the Samyang 24mm f/1.4 would be cooler than the Tamron zoom, but since I also want to shoot loads of landscapes, the Tamron will be the perfect "compromise".



Aug 03, 2017 at 10:04 AM
mbphoto_2.8
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Deleted my thread in the Nikon forum as I realised that the general gear talk might be a better place to ask about sky trackers.


Aug 03, 2017 at 10:05 AM
dgdg
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Just sampling one review
http://philhart.com/content/star-adventurer-review
It looks like your ultimate goal of using this tracker with 200-500mm will be disappointing. The whole point of a tracker is to have longer exposures for less noise.

I think it depends on how portable you need your tracker to be, and if you may want a small kit just to do wide or normal focal lengths. The price is certainly good. Looks like it has a vixen style plate so you'd need to make sure you know how you'll place your camera on it. I think the ballhead adapter looks kinda tiny and defeats the beauty of the counterweight kit where you should be able to aim your camera using RA and Declination rotations. I'd rather get an ADM v-style vixen plate to arca swiss adapter. For my 600mm f/4 I wound up simply buying a 14" long vixen style plate and two telescope rings. No more vibrations in a slight breeze.

I suggest you peruse the CloudyNights forum for thoughts on various trackers. Ask some questions. They are very nice and for your goal focal length, going to be quite helpful.

In the end, if you want to use 500mm focal lengths and don't need something ultraportable, you should consider a proper small german equatorial mount. They have a greater payload which means less vibrations during longer exposures. But the big bonus of a small GEM is the goto feature. Once you align your mount and then calibrate the goto with a few bright objects, hunting around for your subject is so much easier. It's a real dream. And if you ever want to, you can guide in RA and Dec.

Polemaster makes a small camera (basically no larger than a roll of film) with adapters that you can put in front of your polar scope. With a small windows laptop your can have precise polar alignment. You won't even need to drift align. It is super simple to use. Many on CloudyNights say it is one of the best accessories they have ever purchased.

The Astrotac is more portable and with the counter weight system able to hold 600mm f/4, but it is still going to be vibration prone and you'll spend an hour star hopping trying to find small objects. It's polar scope can be a weak link to an otherwise fabulous tracker. You'll benefit greatly from the polemaster and adapter to polar align if you are doing any telephoto imaging. By the time you get the Astrotrac, wedge, and counter weight system, you could have purchased a decent GEM instead (with goto). However, the GEM won't be nearly as portable.

For longer focal lengths I purchased an ioptron CEM25 GEM with 2" legs. It is not as portable, but works very well at longer focal lengths and can handle the weight. Most astronomers will say for imaging, take the mount payload spec and divide by two. That's the max camera/lens or telescope load you should put on it.

David



Aug 04, 2017 at 12:07 AM
mbphoto_2.8
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Thanks for the reply. Will give that forum a try then.

If you have to devide the max load by 2, you cannot use any cameras anymore.
The ioptron skytracker pro is a favourite among the portable ones and has a max load of 3kg. That's 1,5kg when divided by two. Take away a small ballhead and add my mirrorless with Samyang and you're already "overweight".
How is it possible that loads of people shoot full frame DSLRs with large lenses on there?

Phil shot a 6D with 200/2.8 and got good results when stacking shorter exposures on the star adventurer. (Other reviews used even longer lenses on the ioptron and got great results)

I don't want to focus on long lenses, otherwise I would get a telescope with T-mount adapter and connect my Fuji to it.



Aug 04, 2017 at 06:55 AM
dgdg
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


I'd see what the Cloudynights people think about the star adventurer. I recall seeing threads about it. It definitely has good periodic error based on that one review. PE is important.

In the review, Phil had to limit his 200mm to 30sec exposures. That may sound good, but for the cost and fuss of a tracker, I'd expect better. On a windless night, I went 60 seconds at 1200mm on my Astrotrac with pinpoint stars. If Phil simply had trails, then he didn't polar align well. Maybe the scope can do better. Or maybe you need the Polemaster. Maybe his support sagged. Those would be my main questions.
There's a lot more out there compared to five plus years ago when I got my Polarie.
The original ioptron sky tracker had bad PE and sagged on it's built in mount. I suspect because there are more vendors in the game now, I have not seen extenive testing on the newer version. I used to load up my vixen Polarie to max payload and had great results with a 5D and wide angle lens. Accurate polar alignment required a manfrotto geared head. I think if you are using wide to normal focal lengths, you could use the max payload spec on these little trackers.

The overall impression in the link below seems positive. Realize the audience is chiefly the discerning amatuer astronomer who already has (or had) an imaging telescope and GEM but wanted something lighter and portable for fun. Looks like some could go a couple minutes at 300mm.
https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/516075-any-solid-reason-not-to-get-a-star-adventurer/
I think for full frame and your wide zoom you'll have a lot of fun with highly quality images and you will be able to explore some longer focal lengths too.
The Tamron is a fabulous lens. I have the Canon mount.



Aug 04, 2017 at 11:01 AM
mbphoto_2.8
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


You're right, most of them seem to have extreme expectations re the results they want to obtain.

I'm currently awaiting my "acceptance" by an admin over in the forum, but I guess I'd only get the very same answers as he did.



Aug 04, 2017 at 12:02 PM
R.H. Johnson
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?








question: looking at this set-up, has anyone tried to use/add a super sidekick between the ball and camera or long lens to balance the lens camera set-up?

i have to ask this because i don't own an astrotrac yet.



Aug 06, 2017 at 05:47 PM
Evangelos Makris
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


I would suggest to stay away from the Astrotrac.

I had one and sold it due to polar alignment issues (miscollimated polar scope, miscollimated polar arm etc). Google it, and you will find numerous pages and forum threads describing those problems.

I have been doing CCD astrophotography with EQ mounts the last ten years, so the issues i had with the Astrotrac were not due to my inexperience or inefficiency.

However, you would not have the stars trailing with the Tamron widefield lens and the Astrotrac, due to the focal length. For my widefield nightscapes i use the iOptron Skytracker V2 that i'm happy with, and for longer focal lengths i would consider the Fornax Lightrack II. Not cheap, but effective.

Kind regards,
Evangelos




Aug 06, 2017 at 06:43 PM
dgdg
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


The Astrotrac is a great travel kit, but you need the Polemaster or an adapter to fit something like the Polarie or ioptron polar scopes which are already collimated.
Some have collimated the Astrotrac scope. You can find detailed instructions with a quick search. It works quite well then. I found it difficult and wound up adapting a Polarie scope.
I wouldn't add more stuff between the ballhead and camera. It wont 'balance' it. A long lens supportrail may reduce vibrations some.
If you have a longer, heavier lens you will want to get the counter balance kit or a true GEM. The former is more portable, the latter is much easier to use.
The astrotrac counter balance kit will balance the lens in RA. If your plate is long enough you prob can balance it in Dec too.



Aug 06, 2017 at 08:16 PM
R.H. Johnson
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


i exceed the payload for the Fornax Lightrack II. my payload is 7.62 kg, FD 800mm 5.6l + 5D MKIII + Sirui K40 ball + super sidekick + Q-clamp. damned back to the drawing board.


Aug 06, 2017 at 08:35 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Evangelos Makris
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Then go with the Astrotrac (with the counter balance kit) option but have in mind:

1. The polar arm does need to be collimated. However, one position of mine was good and clear of the mounted camera, so I just always used that same one.

2. The Pole Master is very good for polar alignment (as stated earlier by dgdg) and i would not go without it for your set up.

Kind regards,
Evangelos



Aug 07, 2017 at 12:07 PM
dgdg
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Evangelos Makris wrote:
Then go with the Astrotrac (with the counter balance kit) option but have in mind:

1. The polar arm does need to be collimated. However, one position of mine was good and clear of the mounted camera, so I just always used that same one.

2. The Pole Master is very good for polar alignment (as stated earlier by dgdg) and i would not go without it for your set up.

Kind regards,
Evangelos


With the counter balance kit, one should be able to stick the Polemaster on it. Use this for rotation in RA and alignment.
That way if your polar arm is off, it won't matter for long focal lengths.
For short focal lengths, you'd be leaving the counter balance rig at home and the polar arm should be good enough.




Aug 07, 2017 at 12:40 PM
mbphoto_2.8
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Threadjacking, help!


Just wanted to let you guys know that I'll probably get an iOptron Skyguider Pro instead of the Star Adventurer.

It seems to be better suited for my needs and allow for alignment with the camera mounted (without the need for an adapter for the polar illuminator, like the Star Adventurer would).


I did look into the Fornax Lightrack II, but that would be another 300 bucks more expensive and would need a portable power source too.
Should I ever go full-out serious about astro stuff with long lenses, I'll give the Fornax another thought.



Aug 07, 2017 at 12:52 PM
dgdg
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Congrats!
My ioptron polar scope is very nice. It's probably the same across their models. The polar alignment app showing celestial north relative to the north star is wonderful. Three star alignment takes time and puts a strain on my neck.
It's an attractive kit, esp with the included counterweight.
You'll have to let us know what you think about the periodic error, since you won't have any polar alignment excuses!



Aug 07, 2017 at 04:48 PM
R.H. Johnson
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Then go with the Astrotrac (with the counter balance kit) option but have in mind: 1. The polar arm does need to be collimated. However, one position of mine was good and clear of the mounted camera, so I just always used that same one. 2. The Pole Master is very good for polar alignment (as stated earlier by dgdg) and i would not go without it for your set up.

agreed.



Aug 07, 2017 at 06:27 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


For your original stated needs, I would not try to add the future long lens in to the mix, and wait until you get that lens before deciding if and how you want to track with it. A small goto telescope mount may be a better solution to that future need. And it does sound like you are headed toward ignoring the longer lens with your mention of the iOptron Skyguider Pro, which may be a bit small for the long lens. Besides the Skyguider Pro, they also offer the Skytracker Pro, which is even a bit smaller, and often used without a counterbalance system. iOptron improved on their previous small tracker, and kept the price about the same.

The Astrotrac can be nice, and will work with more payload, but it is not very portable compared to the Skytracker or other similar small mounts. The Astrotrac is also pretty expensive. The payload ratings are not exact for any of these mounts, and you can exceed half of the rated payload in almost all cases.

If you want to consider the fairly small iOptron Skytracker Pro, get a smaller ball head to put on the top of it to do the camera aiming, and leave your larger ball head on the tripod to form the adjustable base for the Skytracker. Then put a small Arca Swiss plate on the bottom of the Skytracker, and mount it in the ball head on your tripod. The smaller ball head will not use up much of your payload, but should still support your camera and a wide angle lens perfectly well.

At those high latitudes, the polar axis will be near to vertical, and your camera will be partly centered over the rotation axis. Than means that you should have roughly full payload available because of fairly good balance. The hard part will be using the polar scope, because you will need to get low to look almost straight up to look through it.

Note that your polar alignment does not need to be super good in order to shoot wide angle shots. My fast polar align for small trackers including both versions of the Skytracker is with a green laser pointer that I have adapted to fit in the polar scope hole on the tracker. I just adjust the tracker so that the laser beam is pointed at Polaris, and I am done. Easily produces sharp images with up to a 4 minute exposures using a 24mm lens.



Aug 08, 2017 at 12:46 AM
mbphoto_2.8
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Thanks for the insight @Roland W
The long lens won't come into play anytime soon. Will add a 70-200/2.8 G2 from Tamron down the road (which lacks coma almost completely) and am currently weighing the 200-500mm against a 300/4 PF, since I've never owned a long tele lens and never really "needed" one.
I'll simply have to see where my needs take me. (Might end up getting a 85/1.8 Tamron or 85/1.4G Nikkor first)

The 70-200/2.8G2 would do fine on the Skyguider Pro or Star Adventurer, not so much on the Skytracker Pro. Especially if I'm shooting at home. Also, most people over at cloudynights claim that you shouldn't go beyond 75% of the load capacity, sometimes 50% is already said to be too much (depending on the angle, I guess).


re polar alignment and neck strains:
Is there something like an accessory angled finder that you could attach to the polar scope?



Aug 08, 2017 at 08:11 AM
Roland W
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


For a right angle polar scope, do an internet search and you will find that people have adapted camera right angle viewers on to polar scopes. You will also find the very nice right angle polar scope that AstroPhysics sells, which only fits their mounts, and which costs about as much as the mount you are looking at. I might look at adapting a camera right angle finder because I have an old one kicking around some where.

Not sure if you have any legal issues with a 5mW green laser in the countries you want to use your mount in, but it is really fast and easy for polar alignment for wide angle imaging. Being responsible while using a laser is pretty easy for most adults, but some people are not responsible, and it makes it harder for the rest of us. Adapting the laser pointer to fit the larger hole was a bit tricky, and I used plastic bushing type parts obtained from an industrial supply house.



Aug 08, 2017 at 11:36 AM
mbphoto_2.8
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Yes, found those DIY solutions with camera angle finders.
Will try something like this too



Aug 08, 2017 at 12:29 PM
mbphoto_2.8
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Astro tracker for the D810 + Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ?


Ordered the Skyguider Pro and 2 angled finders from Contax.
one for 29 bucks and one for 24 bucks..
the former looks to have diopter adjustment (-5 to +3, with my eye being at -5, this would be cool) and the latter has a round barrel that attaches to the camera.
The former has a barrel that's flattened on one side, so that might make it tougher to fit into the "cap" to attach it to the polar scope..

I thus decided to buy both and try the mod with each, then sell whichever I can't use.


Oh, and I also ordered an RA54 (Red enhancer) filter in 67mm for my Samyang 12mm f/2.
Really looking forward to being able to reduce the pee in my images




Aug 09, 2017 at 08:58 PM
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