View Full Version here: : Hello!
13-07-2012, 11:54 PM
My name is David. I am based in Melbourne.
By day I am an engineer working for Toyota Techincal Center Australia.
In my spare time I am a keen photographer, although lately I have not shot much :(
I am in the process of making a photography website but for now, you can check out my flickr site if interested (good and bad photos on here)
Later this year I am travelling to Port Douglas to see the Solar Eclipse.
I have been researching what is required to capture the event and have decided that an equatorial mount would be a good option. So I will have some questions I will post about options later (Initial thoughts below).
Whilst researching mounts and whether I would be better off with a telescope of my existing camera lenses for the eclispe, I came to realise that an old lens I purchased in Japan secondhand will be excellent for wide field astrophotography due to is wide aperture (200mm f1.8)
My parents have a farm/property south of Warragul, Victoria in the Strezlecki Ranges and although in near warragul, the light pollution is a lot less than melbourne, so I have a dark(er) site for viewing/astrophotography.
So initially, I plan to start off with an equatorial mount and existing cameras/lenses. In the future, if I become more serious, I may add a telescope for planet/deep space stuff, but at this stage I think I need to practice a lot before rushing in to things.
Current camera gear which I think could produce results are
Canon 7D (stock)
Canon 5DmkII (stock)
Would love to get a cooled dslr but will practice first with my current bodies.
Current equatorial mount that I am thinking about it
Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro GoTo Mount as it would serve well with my current gear and future upgrades as well as being just under what I could send in checked in luggage (my girlfriend travels light, so she ends up checking in gear for me:D)
Can anyone recommend the best places to buy gear from and also some must read books?
High David, and welcome to the forum. Sounds like you've done your research and have planned a strategic evolution into the field of astrophotography. I'm no expert but going from the gear other users on here have your gear is more than exceptable, especially since you are just starting. I have a HEQ5 pro and they are a great mount. You mentioned checking it, I presume you mean on a plane if your travelling? These mounts are quite heavy, approximately 15kg i think?) especially because you need counter weights to balance your photography gear. I'd be surprised if you could check it on a plane without having to pay excess baggage, but I could be wrong.
But anyway to answer your question there are several different surpliers that everyone uses, some I have links for below. Hope this helps, and good luck on your endeavours.
14-07-2012, 09:43 AM
Thanks for the links and friendly welcome.
I have already factored this in, my girlfriend tends to only use carry on luggage for shorter trips, so I have 23kgs of her check in available, which should cover the mount/counter weights and maybe my camera tripod for use on the rest of my trip. This will leave my check in for my clothes and any spill over from her carry on. ;)
14-07-2012, 10:13 AM
:welcome: to IIS :)
Are you talking about taking a HEQ5 up for the eclipse? Correct me if I'm wrong, please, someone, but you shouldn't need a mount, a tripod will suffice? (If so, there go my travel plans, as I was planning to travel with a vast array of hair styling implements).
If talking about a mount for travelling, I think I recall jjjnettie saying she was able to get an ioptron cube mount in her luggage? Let's see if she chimes in here :)
14-07-2012, 11:20 AM
The EG mount will allow me not to continually reframe the eclipse.
I also plan to run the Eclipse Orchestrator software so that the photography side of things is automated and I am not fusing around trying to get the shot and miss out on enjoying the eclipse. If it does not seem to work, I can always take over, but I suspect that once things are in motion, I will either forget about the camera or make mistakes as I would have to work quickly. I normally shoot landscapes so I am used to taking my time.
I guess it is pretty extreme and I could get OK results with my current gear, but I think the tracking ability of an EG mount and the stiffness I would get out of the HEQ5 setup would handle my camera gear which will weigh about 4.5kgs. (300/2.8+2x+7D)
With a focal length around 960mm , reducing shutter vibration is a priority as well as for longer exposures, the movement of the earth blurring things.
My current tripod, Really Right Stuff TVC-33 is stiff but with such a long focal length I think I will want something more sturdy.
I have being using this exposure chart as a guide to what settings I will need to run for what features I want to photograph.
For my focal length I will have about 1.5 Solar radii either side of the total eclipse, so I will need to run shutter speeds down to the Corona 2.0Rs rows.
As the eclipse is at only 14degs above the horizon, I may have to run lower shutter speeds due to the atmosphere.
Stopping the lens down 1 stop to improve image quality, I can run f8. At 100 ISO, this means I will have 8 pixels worth of blur without a EQ mount, if my calcs are correct.
Considering I will do some astrophotography as well, I may as well buy one decent mount to begin with. In terms of camera tripods, I am on my 4th tripod as my equipment became heavier and my need for sharper images became a lot higher. So I want to avoid this as much as possible.
I am open to suggestions though.
14-07-2012, 06:09 PM
2nd hand gear is nearly always the way to go. Especially when purchasing on here at IIS.
The HEQ5 pro will do nicely for cameras or a small scope. You can buy Baader solar film and make some solar filters for your lenses to shoot white light solar.
If you want to capture those lovely swirly/shag-pile-carpet type images the you are up for a dedicated solar scope like a PST or Lunt 60 or similar. The heq5pro will hold either scope easily.
You may want to check out the Astrotrac for a more portable solution.
If you look in the images section here under solar system images you will find a ton of white light images taken during the transit of Venus so you can see what is possible.
If buying new, Andrews communications have great prices, and bintel are very helpful before and after sales as well.
I'd get some solar film ASAP and try it out on your existing tripod, you may be surprised how well that works.
14-07-2012, 06:50 PM
:rofl: Classic, Mish
14-07-2012, 07:41 PM
:) the little cube fits nicely into a small suit case and weights only a couple of kilo.
I wish I hadn't sold it now.
Mish, it's going to be damn hot up there. The only styling need doing is flipping the whole lot up into a pony tail. :)
14-07-2012, 08:32 PM
Astronomey alive is the only place in Melbourne you can get one at a good price because bintel are out of stock of every eq mount :mad2::sadeyes::shrug: Its like a car dealership running out of cars left with nothing but parts to sell, how the hell that happens i don't know.
14-07-2012, 09:11 PM
Thanks for your suggestions.
The Astrotrac is a neat design. It is rated quite highly for payload.
Not sure how stiff it would be with two camera tripod heads.
I have a couple of ballheads so I will mount 1 on to the other and take photos with the gear I will be using as a test to see how the astrotrac setup could work.
Will pick up some film this week and give the sun a try.
14-07-2012, 09:28 PM
The Saxon mount you linked to looks very similar to the skywatcher.
Is this a re-brand mount?
How does the saxon mounts compare to the skywatcher mounts?
14-07-2012, 10:14 PM
Its the same mount but saxon branded, saxon is skywatcher which is also orion all made by the same Chinese place :) Saxon is for australian distribution, Orion American and skywatcher Canadian, though thats not always the way as you can get them anywhere apart from saxon only being Australian distribution from my understanding. Saxon are black and skywatcher are white, there both still the same apart from that fact. They both run sync scan and have all the same gears motors and parts :)
16-07-2012, 10:17 AM
With the EQ5 you may not need to take the counter weights. Although a couple of cameras and lenses wll add up to a few kg on the head it will probably cope with it easily without. The stabilty of the bigger mount is a plus for sure and if you have to you might be able to jury rig a weight at the end of the extended shaft (which might be enough counter weight in itself ) Borrow a G Cramp or similar. Saves on baggage weight.
16-07-2012, 09:36 PM
I am going to have to practice a lot to make sure things go smoothly so I will test what counter weights I will need (if any, like you say Brent).
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