Cons:Not adequate for astrophotography. No polar scope.
The Bottom Line: This product is light and portable, but the many limitations means it will likely disappoint more people than it will delight.
I don't OWN this unit - however the mount and I spent an evening together. This review is based on the assumption that the intended use for this product is astrophotography since it is called an "Astrophotography Bundle". More specifically the target user will be using a camera on the equatorial mount rather than a telescope. And I'm going to make one more assumption - that the camera will be a modest sized DSLR with a modestly sized telephoto lens weighing perhaps 4-5 pounds in total.
I have begun helping others get started in Astrophotography (I'm a beginner myself, really). I bought my first mount, the Orion Astroview EQ mount with optional dual axis motors and a rated 12 lb capacity. I chose the AstroView because it seemed to be the lightest mount that I would trust to carry my photo gear. Below the Astroview on the product scale is the Orion EQ-2 mount which is rated at 9lbs total load. The lightweight in the equatorial mount family is this Astrophotography Bundle using the EQ-1 at 7lbs load. That "load" means the total amount of weight that can be reliably used on the mount. Usually stated loads are off by a factor of double - but depends on many things including how bulky the load is and how well balanced the system is.
The mount used in the Astrophotography Bundle seems to be the same as that found on the table-top model.
Here are the problems I noticed with the unit.
1. There is no polar scope, and the polar axis is not hollow so the best you can really do for easy alignment is to "eyeball" it. But alignment is needed for all but the most rudimentary astrophotography.
2. The tiny markings on the axes and imprecise "pointers" for those markings are approximations that don't confer the feeling of accuracy.
3. The RA motor sticks out quite far. Putting a modestly sized DSLR on the mount I noticed that it was impossible to properly balance the RA axis (the only driven axis) because once the motor is installed and a camera is attached using the supplied hardware the counterweight strikes the motor when the camera is swung eastward. Swinging the camera westward produced a similar problem this time the camera may strike the motor. And this problem was observed at a 37 degree latitude. There will be even less clearance if used at lower latitudes.
4. Because of the motor strike noted above, this mount cannot be used near the meridian (straight up) - in fact it can't be used within about 30 degrees of the meridian where the holy grail of cleanest atmosphere is found.
5. The thumbscrews for locking the DECL and RA axis are flat and imprecise and harsh on the fingers. They are also painted black they are difficult to find in the dark.
6. The worm gear and drive gear are exposed. These components are subject to grit, dirt, dust.
7. The lightweight hollow legged tripod exhibited binding when extending or retracting the legs. Has an overall flimsy and unstable feel to it.
8. Once the drive motor is installed, the slow motion control knob for the Right Ascension is unusable as there is not a simple way to quickly and easily disengage the motor. The solution is to unlock the RA and move the scope by hand. The maneuver is not unusual for a mount like this.
9. Because of the low load capacity, it is improbable that this mount could ever be used with both a telescope AND a camera, except perhaps a very light telescope and perhaps a webcam.
Getting good polar alignment without a polar scope is going to prove difficult for the average beginning user - especially with the crude and tiny markings and pointers on the declination and right ascension axes. I cheated and held a green laser pointer along the RA axis - and that method might work well if only there were a flat surface parallel to the RA axis - but there isn't one.
This leaves drift alignment as the only possible method but the manuals do not provide a method / discussion on how to drift align.
On the plus side, the drive motor cable is substantial and seems to have a secure plug. The drive uses D-cell batteries. I imagine it will run for a long time on those - but be careful not to let it run unattended due to the motor-strike noted in items 2 and 3 above.
Because my student didn't have a suitable way to take long exposures, we couldn't test the tracking accuracy of the mount, but a 30 second exposure at 100mm focal length was acceptably sharp.
This product is quite light and portable, but it will likely disappoint more people than it will delight.
I would advise people to spend twice as much and get the Astroview with it's included polarscope and beefier capacity. If there is any thought about using a telescope for astrophotography, the minimum solution I'd recommend is a Sirius or Atlas mount or the 10 times as expensive astrophotography bundle.
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