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Skywatcher EQ5 Pro or Ioptron CEM25P EQ? Plus telescope choice.

HaydenWatson
05 Jul, 2019 12:58
Hey everyone!

I am currently looking at going for a proper Astrophotography setup as apposed to my little DSLR lens and Ioptron Skyguider Pro setup. First things first is the choice of mount. I am tossing up between a Skywatcher EQ5 Pro or the Ioptron CEM25P, both with Goto functionality etc etc. These two are likely the best for my budget (18 year old university student, gotta have some balance smile  ). As I live in New Zealand my true options for Astro equipment are pretty limited if I want to buy in the country. Here are the links to the mounts from the stores I am looking at:

-Skywatcher EQ5 Pro:
https://www.scopeuout.co.nz/products/sky-watcher-eq5-pro-go-to-telescope-tripod-and-mount-with-synscan-technology?variant=39906280012&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpPHoBRC3ARIsALfx-_L9QPHiwCauHWTWZwoHkOvO1T9w_hWMupY4l1MdGBsTmnXMhw1motoaAu0REALw_wcB
-Ioptron CEM25P EQ Mount:
https://www.astronz.nz/shop/item.aspx/ioptron-cem25p-goto-eq-mount/172/

Prices (In NZD) point toward the Ioptron being the cheaper of the two, however only by $50 which isnt really a problem (Dont think it includes shipping either). Looking at the specs (Although a lot of them I dont quite understand what im looking for) I would guess it points toward the Ioptron but I could be completely wrong. When it comes to payload capacities I probably wont go bigger than a 7kg telescope, not that I would go that big of a scope in the near future.

I will say I am leaning toward the CEM25P at the moment as I like some of the features (I.e how quiet it is wont annoy the neighbors smile ! And I quite like that Z-shape design).

The telescope I have look at mounting on the top of these is:

-Skywatcher 130mm f/5:
https://www.scopeuout.co.nz/collections/telescopes/products/skywatcher-130mm-dual-speed-astrophotography-reflector-telescope-ota-only

Again, my choice in telescopes are quite limited as I want to keep it within the country (Avoiding expensive customs payments). My end goal is to be able capture images of a variety of galaxies and nebulae in my southern skies, I am hoping this scope will have enough to achieve that. Looking at other images on this site, using that scope it seems near on perfect for what I would use it for!

Anyone who knows what specifications I should be looking for, or anyone with experience in either of these mounts, your input would be absolutely appreciated! Even some insight on my scope choice would be awesome too!
Cheers!
gnomus
05 Jul, 2019 15:14
Hello Hayden

If you’re just starting out in AP then it is inevitable that you’re going to run into a lot of challenges and problems.  Most of these are great fun and very rewarding when you solve them.  Some can be real head-scratchers though, and you’ll wonder what on earth is going on.  The good news is that the Internet can be a great thing.  Whilst iOptron make a lot of, I am sure, good gear, it is very difficult to see beyond the Skywatcher range.  I think you will be increasing the pool of support you have available to you if you went for one of these.  I wouldn’t go lower than the EQ5, and if there was any way you could push the budget to get an EQ6 that would be even better.  Would ‘used’ be a possibility?

The good news is that you don’t need to be spending huge amounts on a scope.  An inexpensive widefield would be my suggestion.  Once again, Skywatcher ride to the rescue with their ED80.  I suspect that the ED80 and EQ5 combination would be a common one.

BUT.  Don’t listen to me - I’m just some guy off the Internet.  I could be nuts.  Before I spent anything, I’d be tempted to get hold of a short book called ‘Making Every Photon Count’ by a chap called Steve Richards.  This will help you understand why you would be better off buying one piece of equipment over another.  I didn’t buy this book when I was starting out and, as a result, l ended up making a number of poor purchasing decisions.

Best of luck.

Steve

[Edit:  I missed your scope suggestion when I read your post initially.  The scope you mentioned would not be a bad choice for beginning AP.  I am a refractor chap, though.  With a reflector, you have the additional issue of collimation.  If/when things aren’t going quite as you’d like, then having poor collimation as an additional possible issue will add to the complexity.  The refractor just gives you one less thing to think about.  I’d keep things as simple as possible when starting out. ]
Edited 05 Jul, 2019 18:28
HaydenWatson
06 Jul, 2019 00:40
Steve Milne
Hello HaydenIf you’re just starting out in AP then it is inevitable that you’re going to run into a lot of challenges and problems.  Most of these are great fun and very rewarding when you solve them.  Some can be real head-scratchers though, and you’ll wonder what on earth is going on.  The good news is that the Internet can be a great thing.  Whilst iOptron make a lot of, I am sure, good gear, it is very difficult to see beyond the Skywatcher range.  I think you will be increasing the pool of support you have available to you if you went for one of these.  I wouldn’t go lower than the EQ5, and if there was any way you could push the budget to get an EQ6 that would be even better.  Would ‘used’ be a possibility?

The good news is that you don’t need to be spending huge amounts on a scope.  An inexpensive widefield would be my suggestion.  Once again, Skywatcher ride to the rescue with their ED80.  I suspect that the ED80 and EQ5 combination would be a common one.

BUT.  Don’t listen to me - I’m just some guy off the Internet.  I could be nuts.  Before I spent anything, I’d be tempted to get hold of a short book called ‘Making Every Photon Count’ by a chap called Steve Richards.  This will help you understand why you would be better off buying one piece of equipment over another.  I didn’t buy this book when I was starting out and, as a result, l ended up making a number of poor purchasing decisions.

Best of luck.

Steve

[Edit:  I missed your scope suggestion when I read your post initially.  The scope you mentioned would not be a bad choice for beginning AP.  I am a refractor chap, though.  With a reflector, you have the additional issue of collimation.  If/when things aren’t going quite as you’d like, then having poor collimation as an additional possible issue will add to the complexity.  The refractor just gives you one less thing to think about.  I’d keep things as simple as possible when starting out. ]

Hey Steve!

Thanks for the input! Yeah I can see where you are coming from with the mount troubleshooting, its pretty hard to find a a whole lot of information about the Ioptron. In terms of the scope, I would love to also have a refactor like the ED80! However being in New Zealand the options are pretty much limited to three stores on the opposite side of the country  smile . Looking around it seems like the cheapest refactor (That would be suitable for AP) is around 1.2k (NZD) which is the ED80 Black Diamond Doublet (OTA). Although collimation is a bit of a pain, I do already own a Dobsonian so I know a little about that whole process and would also probably purchase the right tools, I.e a Laser Collimator.

It is frustrating how little options I have to choose from but I feel as if I buy outside of the country I have to double the price in customs fees  smile .

Cheers  smile
Hayden
gnomus
06 Jul, 2019 06:38
No problem, Hayden.  I neglected to post a link to the Steve Richards book: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

If I have done my sums correctly the EQ5 mount is roughly two-thirds more expensive in New Zealand than it is in the UK (and the UK is not cheap); the ED80 is about three-quarters more!  Sometimes, I buy equipment from the USA.  For anything more than a trivial sum, I get charged 'Value Added Tax' (sales tax) of 20% (this levy is added also to the shipping fees); then I get charged a 'Customs Duty' which varies depending on the type of good, but will typically add another 2-3% (or more).  Royal Mail will also apply a 'handling charge' for administering this system.

Since one's income has already been subject to taxation, one cannot help but sit back and admire the scheme: it makes Al Capone's 'Protection Racket' look amateurish by comparison.  I have no idea, of course, whether the 'services' provided by Capone were any more or less efficient/effective than those provided by our modern-day masters.

As far as I can tell, your NZ chaps run a similar (though slightly less costly) racket.  Would I be right in thinking that your sales tax is 15% and your 'Duty' would be around 1.67% for a telescope (WTO rules)?  Depending on the item, it still makes sense for me to import some items from the US.  With the premium you report in NZ, it still might make sense for you to import.  You are considerably closer to China than we are in the UK!

There are websites that allow you to calculate in advance what your costs will be.  I found the above information on a site called 'Simply Duty'.
Edited 06 Jul, 2019 06:47
HaydenWatson
06 Jul, 2019 08:18
Steve Milne
No problem, Hayden.  I neglected to post a link to the Steve Richards book: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.htmlIf I have done my sums correctly the EQ5 mount is roughly two-thirds more expensive in New Zealand than it is in the UK (and the UK is not cheap); the ED80 is about three-quarters more!  Sometimes, I buy equipment from the USA.  For anything more than a trivial sum, I get charged 'Value Added Tax' (sales tax) of 20% (this levy is added also to the shipping fees); then I get charged a 'Customs Duty' which varies depending on the type of good, but will typically add another 2-3% (or more).  Royal Mail will also apply a 'handling charge' for administering this system.

Since one's income has already been subject to taxation, one cannot help but sit back and admire the scheme: it makes Al Capone's 'Protection Racket' look amateurish by comparison.  I have no idea, of course, whether the 'services' provided by Capone were any more or less efficient/effective than those provided by our modern-day masters.

As far as I can tell, your NZ chaps run a similar (though slightly less costly) racket.  Would I be right in thinking that your sales tax is 15% and your 'Duty' would be around 1.67% for a telescope (WTO rules)?  Depending on the item, it still makes sense for me to import some items from the US.  With the premium you report in NZ, it still might make sense for you to import.  You are considerably closer to China than we are in the UK!

There are websites that allow you to calculate in advance what your costs will be.  I found the above information on a site called 'Simply Duty'.

Huh, yeah! looking a bit deeper into it you may be right. Yeah that would be correct, the sales tax is 15%. Ill keep on scanning around, see what I can find and figure out what the duty calculators say. Thanks for bring that into the light! Might just be a life saver!

Cheers  smile
gnomus
06 Jul, 2019 08:30
'Lifesaver' might be overdoing things a little  smile  And don't worry - they are going to get you in the end.   smile   Do you pay sales tax on 'used' items, I wonder?
HaydenWatson
06 Jul, 2019 09:01
Steve Milne
'Lifesaver' might be overdoing things a little  smile  And don't worry - they are going to get you in the end.   smile   Do you pay sales tax on 'used' items, I wonder?

Yeah I sure they will  smile . Looking through some customs documents, from what I can see under "Binoculars, monoculars, telescopes and other astronomical instruments" seems to say Rate of Duty is free. Even using customsdutyfree.com/duty-calculator it says the same thing. I could be wrong but it looks like the only charges are Entry Levy and Import Entry fees (and 15% tax rate). Imports could be the way to go  smile . Now I just need to compare import prices to local store prices and see the results…
koten90
06 Jul, 2019 15:08
Hi Hayden,
actually I have both CEM25 and EQ5, so I think I can suggest you well.
The CEM25 is absolutely better. Balancing it is terrific (its axis seem suspended in the void, while the EQ5 is always somehow stucked, in comparison), but when you have done it, I suggest you to mark the position of vixen bar and counterweights to easily replicate the balancing in few seconds.
My setup weights about 10kgs and I can take 30mins subframes at 580mm with a TS APO 100Q and a 50/160mm guide telescope.
It is even easier to set because of its GPS module included.
I use my EQ5 just to mount photo lenses (I can take 30mins subframes with both a Canon 200mm f2.8 and an old Nikon 400mm f2.8 which weights 8kgs), but I'm not sure I'll use it with the 100Q.

About the telescope, you have to make a choice: galaxies are very little so you need long focal lenght, nebulae are much larger and, unless you want to pass your lifetime taking mosaic's panels, you should consider shorter telescopes.
My friendly suggestion, if you're choosing nebulae, is to consider a petzval quadruplet refractor (built in field corrector and absolute APO performance). I know they're not so cheap, but there is no issue on correctors, distances to respect between sensor and corrector and so on. If you can't afford it, then choose an APO triplet. You should't consider ED doublet such as the ED80 Black Diamond you mentioned. Their performances are not comparable and you risk to have enormous big balls instead of stars.
A great Peztval short telescope I'm hearing about is the Tecnosky AG70, a.k.a. TS APO 71Q (70/350mm f5) https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p7085_TS-Optics-TSQ-71ED---71-mm-f-4-9-Quadruplet-Flatfield-Refraktor-mit-FPL53-Triplet-Objektiv.html
HaydenWatson
06 Jul, 2019 23:48
Alessio Pariani
Hi Hayden,actually I have both CEM25 and EQ5, so I think I can suggest you well.
The CEM25 is absolutely better. Balancing it is terrific (its axis seem suspended in the void, while the EQ5 is always somehow stucked, in comparison), but when you have done it, I suggest you to mark the position of vixen bar and counterweights to easily replicate the balancing in few seconds.
My setup weights about 10kgs and I can take 30mins subframes at 580mm with a TS APO 100Q and a 50/160mm guide telescope.
It is even easier to set because of its GPS module included.
I use my EQ5 just to mount photo lenses (I can take 30mins subframes with both a Canon 200mm f2.8 and an old Nikon 400mm f2.8 which weights 8kgs), but I'm not sure I'll use it with the 100Q.

About the telescope, you have to make a choice: galaxies are very little so you need long focal lenght, nebulae are much larger and, unless you want to pass your lifetime taking mosaic's panels, you should consider shorter telescopes.
My friendly suggestion, if you're choosing nebulae, is to consider a petzval quadruplet refractor (built in field corrector and absolute APO performance). I know they're not so cheap, but there is no issue on correctors, distances to respect between sensor and corrector and so on. If you can't afford it, then choose an APO triplet. You should't consider ED doublet such as the ED80 Black Diamond you mentioned. Their performances are not comparable and you risk to have enormous big balls instead of stars.
A great Peztval short telescope I'm hearing about is the Tecnosky AG70, a.k.a. TS APO 71Q (70/350mm f5) https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p7085_TS-Optics-TSQ-71ED---71-mm-f-4-9-Quadruplet-Flatfield-Refraktor-mit-FPL53-Triplet-Objektiv.html
Hey Alessio!

Awesome to hear! I am still highly considering the CEM25P. One question though, when you say your setup is 10kg, is that including counter-weights and all? Its just when comparing the specifications of the EQ5 and CEM25P, the EQ5 says just over 9kg and the Ioptron says just over 12kg - Excluding counter-weights. Does the specs for the EQ5 adjust for counter-weights or is the CEM25P simply a higher payload capacity?

Yeah, I think the telescope choice is the hard part  smile . I have a ton more searching and testing to do. When ever I find a scope that interests me, I always make sure to run it through Stellariums optics plugin to check capabilities. I also always search for the scope on this site aswell, get a rough idea of the capabilities. But yeah, APO Triplets will be noted!

Thanks!
Hayden
koten90
07 Jul, 2019 00:43
Payload capacities reported on a techincal sheet are always intended to be “upon the clamp”, so don’t consider counterweights.
My 10kgs are from telescope, guide scope, CCD and accessories; I have 7,5kgs of counterweights. The complete setup, including mount and tripod is about 30kgs and I can lift it all (without disassemble anything) to take it in / out the garage.
Pay attention to the weight of bigger mount: the EQ6 whights about 30kgs just in mount, tripod and counterweights. I had it and sold it: too heavy.

About the scope, I tried yesterday for the first time the Canon 200mm f2,8 L II  and it’s amazing. Take a look to this single 30min frame
https://www.astrobin.com/413880/   smile
HaydenWatson
07 Jul, 2019 00:50
Alessio Pariani
Payload capacities reported on a techincal sheet are always intended to be “upon the clamp”, so don’t consider counterweights.My 10kgs are from telescope, guide scope, CCD and accessories; I have 7,5kgs of counterweights. The complete setup, including mount and tripod is about 30kgs and I can lift it all (without disassemble anything) to take it in / out the garage.
Pay attention to the weight of bigger mount: the EQ6 whights about 30kgs just in mount, tripod and counterweights. I had it and sold it: too heavy.

About the scope, I tried yesterday for the first time the Canon 200mm f2,8 L II  and it’s amazing. Take a look to this single 30min frame
https://www.astrobin.com/413880/   smile

Ahh I see, gotcha! Yeah Ive always considered those awesome little lenses to go with my Ioptron Skyguider Pro, they do some pretty amazing things with their low F/ ratios smile . Perfect for my light weight travel kit!
gnomus
07 Jul, 2019 07:11
It's a complicated business and that's no mistake.

With mount weight limits, you will appreciate that the manufacturer's figures for payload usually applies to using the scope for visual work.  A good rule-of-thumb is that you should halve the payload capacity when using the mount for imaging.  I'd rather have some 'spare' capacity than run it up to the limit.  As you progress, you may want to consider adding items to your rig - guide scope, CCD camera, filter wheel, etcetera.  What with cables and all, you can very quickly get up to the limit.  In general, the more stability the better.  So, one area where I disagree with Alessio is in regards to the EQ6 being too heavy.   My EQ6 is, by some margin, the lightest of the imaging mounts I use.

Here's a A couple of threads where these issues are discussed in more detail: first is an AVX vs CEM25 (AVX is Celestron's near equivalent to the EQ5) https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/571949-avx-vs-cem25/ ; second is someone asking a broadly similar question to yours - https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/257983-ioptron-mounts/?tab=comments#comment-2821188

Don't be too alarmed by some of the negative comments on these threads - tolerances and QC at this price point mean that you will have to check carefully that everything is OK when you get the mount.  I like my EQ6R, but the first one I got had to go back because it was 'slipping'.  I'm sure that the Ioptron would be a fine mount, if you get a good version.

Also, you should be aware that there may be considerable overlap between brand and manufacturer.  By this I mean that you will find a lot of items with very similar specifications being sold with different badges on them.  You will come across many, many examples of this, but one case in point is the range of 71mm cheap Petzvals.  I can't see a great deal of difference between this telescope: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p7085_TS-Optics-TSQ-71ED---71-mm-f-4-9-Quadruplet-Flatfield-Refractor-with-FPL53-Triplet-Objective.html and this one: https://www.365astronomy.com/william-optics-star-71-mark-ii-71mm-f-4.9-apo-imaging-refractor-4-element-apochromat.html.    This 4-element scope was initially issued in a 5-element version - the WO Star 71 Mk I (there was a TS 5-element version too).  It was plagued with QC issues.  For a time, I ran two of these in a dual rig.  But I had to get 4 scopes to find 2 good ones - some of the copies I got were absolutely appaling with 'shuttlecocks' across the field instead of round stars.  The 5-element version was withdrawn from the market pretty quickly - I believe the 4-element one is a better design (I had one of these for a time).

It's trickier to build a 4 element scope than it is a doublet or triplet and it's no surprise that when you try to do this 'on the cheap' you can run into problems.  Even the big boys run into issues from time to time - this is a corner detail from my Takahashi FSQ 85 -  - it looks like star trailing - however this 'trailing' was arranged in a circular (radial) pattern around the corners of the FSQ image.  Another telescope that had to go back.  That was one reason why I suggested that, especially when on a budget,  simplicity might trump complexity.
 
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