iOptron SkyGuider Pro Review
The iOptron SkyGuider Pro is a portable EQ mount that offers a reliable solution for astrophotography on the go. The SkyGuider Pro makes shooting long exposure nightscapes without star-trailing possible.
On a stationary tripod mount, star trailing begins to show in exposures longer than 25 seconds. Depending on your camera’s focal length, the stars could begin to trail even sooner. To combat this, amateur astrophotographers counteract the rotation of the Earth using a tracking equatorial mount.
The problem is, these EQ mounts can be heavy and obtrusive, making them spend more time indoors than under the stars. And thus, we enter the realm of the new highly-portable tracking mounts like the iOptron SkyGuider Pro.
The iOptron SkyGuider Pro is a very versatile and portable astrophotography solution for both camera lenses and small telescopes. Below, you’ll see images captured using the SkyGuider including the Carina Nebula, and the Milky Way.
iOptron SkyGuider Pro Review
The monumental difference that a “star tracker” makes in your astrophotography will be experienced after the very first exposure is taken. No longer do stars begin to trail after 20 seconds, and a new level of detail and clarity can be achieved. Nothing displays this trait better than a long exposure photo of the Milky Way or a deep sky nebula.
The right ascension tracking motor of this camera mount allows you to “freeze” the movement of the night sky for long-exposure astrophotography. Photographing deep sky objects through a telescope requires accurate polar alignment and balance, both of which are straightforward to achieve using the SkyGuider Pro.
The William Optics RedCat 51 mounted to the iOptron SkyGuider Pro.
A lightweight tracking mount is a convenient option for those who choose to vacation under dark skies and want to image while you’re there. Bringing a full deep-sky imaging setup from home can take up a lot of trunk space, and simply isn’t realistic in many situations. Thanks to the SkyGuider Pro, I now have a completely portable deep sky astrophotography kit.
The iOptron SkyGuider Pro can be used on a regular photography tripod and is less obtrusive than a traditional, large equatorial mount. In a sea of competing portable sky tracker mounts, the iOptron SkyGuider Pro stands out as one of the more robust and capable options in this category.
iOptron sells two SkyGuider packages that include the alt-az base and counterweight kit, but one also includes the iPolar electronic polarscope device (you can also purchase the upgrade on its own). Keep in mind, to take advantage of the iPolar polar alignment feature, you’ll need to connect the device to a computer.
I suggest ordering the iOptron SkyGuider Pro Full Package without iPolar if you want to keep things ultra-portable.
This camera mount is suitable for heavy telephoto lenses such as the Canon EF 300mm F/4L, or lightweight refractor telescopes like the William Optics RedCat 51.
When selecting a telescope to use with the SkyGuider Pro, make sure it falls below the maximum payload capacity of 11 pounds. A heavier telescope with an increased focal length will put extra stress on the RA (right-ascension) motor of the mount, as well as magnify any issues in polar alignment or balance.
The SkyGuider Pro with a DSLR and 300mm camera lens attached.
Long Exposure Astrophotography
In this review, I will share my test images using the iOptron SkyGuider Pro as a camera mount (with a lens attached), and as a small telescope mount. Since receiving this mount from Ontario Telescope back in 2017, I have captured wide-angle photos of the Milky Way, and several deep sky objects using exposures from 30-120 seconds.
I enjoy controlling my DSLR camera with a third-party remote shutter release cable when using the SkyGuider with a small telescope or camera lens. This automates the imaging sequence of several long exposures so I can leave the camera running on its own.
The SkyGuider Pro is robust enough to handle a telephoto lens or small telescope in the 60-70mm range. The included 3-lb counterweight and shaft is adjustable so you can find the right balance to properly distribute the weight of your imaging configuration.
The William Optics Zenithstar 61 or Radian Raptor 61 are both excellent telescope choices for the SkyGuider. I have used both of these telescopes to capture images like the Andromeda Galaxy pictured below.
Related: Using the iOptron SkyGuider Pro with a Small Telescope (Andromeda Galaxy)
iOptron SkyGuider Pro Review
The following video was published to my YouTube channel in July 2017. At this time, the mount was brand new and I knew very little about it. Since then, I have photographed many deep sky objects with this mount including Comet 46P Wirtanen, the Orion Nebula, and many more.
This should give you a good idea of the portability and size of this camera mount for astrophotography on the go. For an in-depth look at the mount from a technical standpoint, David Morris has put together a useful video on his channel.
The video above shows the camera tracker used with a stock Canon EOS 7D DSLR and a wide-angle lens. Unfortunately, I forgot my shutter release cable at home, so the exposures were limited to 30-seconds each. A star tracker certainly helps reduce star trailing at 30-seconds in longer focal lengths, but the real power of the SkyGuider is revealed when you shoot 4-minute exposures through a telescope.
The EQ head of the SkyGuider fits in my palm, yet is packed with many useful features for astrophotography. I have not utilized the optional hand controller, camera shutter trigger, or even the ST-4 port. With successful 4-minute exposures taken at 250mm, I likely don’t feel the need to add an autoguiding system to my portable setup.
Accurate Camera Tracking in Small Package
It is astonishing at how small the iOptron SkyGuider Pro actually is. The mount weighs a mere 3 lbs and is easily transported in the included padded carry case. You can tell that iOptron paid attention to astrophotographers’ needs by including a bubble level, and an adjustable illuminated polar finder scope.
The build quality of the all-metal mechanical structure is evident when using the SkyGuider. The option for adding a counterweight and Vixen-type dovetail saddle for small telescopes puts this mount in a class above standard DSLR camera sky trackers.
For many amateur astrophotographers, the SkyGuider Pro is the first tracking mount they have ever owned. If you are ready to attach a small telescope to the SkyGuider for deep sky imaging, here are a few examples, and what I recommend.
SkyGuider Pro Specs:
- 11-lb payload capacity
- 4 Silent tracking speeds
- Engraved, illuminated polar scope
- Detachable alt-az base
- Built-in rechargeable battery
- Mounts to standard photography tripod
- Incredibly Small
- Micro USB charging port
- ST-4 port for autoguiding
- Camera trigger port
- Port for optional hand controller
The illuminated polar scope of the SkyGuider Pro allows you to quickly polar align the mount with the north celestial pole. The factory altitude and azimuth controls are solid, which makes polar alignment quick and accurate.
The factory wedge base is easy enough to adjust, and the altitude knob is smooth and it locks down securely.
I can easily move the location of the mount and tripod, and get polar aligned within 1-2 minutes. This process may take longer if you are new to polar aligning an EQ mount using Polaris.
If you find it difficult to polar align the SkyGuider Pro using the factory iOptron wedge base, consider upgrading to the William Optics Vixen-style base.
William Optics Vixen-Style Base Mount
In the picture above, you’ll notice I have upgraded the package to include the William Optics Vixen-style base mount. This is not a necessary upgrade to enjoy the mount, but it does make polar aligning the mount a more enjoyable experience.
The high-quality fit and finish of the William Optics base is a big upgrade from the original, black iOptron wedge. The adjustment knobs on this version are more robust, which provides a more stable base for the SkyGuider Pro unit overall.
Again, it is not necessary to achieve a stable tracking platform for astrophotography, but those that mount a small telescope to the SkyGuider may appreciate the added support.
iOptron offers several optional accessories for the SkyGuider Pro including the SkyTracker branded Ball Head, the SkyGuider Pro tripod, and even a hand controller. I did not require these accessories for my testing, as years of astrophotography adventures have left me with many useful bits and pieces from previous rigs.
If you’re considering the SkyGuider Pro, keep in mind that a sturdy tripod with the standard 1/4″ threads is needed to support the mount.
I used an existing ball head from my carbon fiber daytime photography tripod. The iOptron branded version appears identical to the one I use. As for the tripod, I finally put the sturdy tripod legs that came with my old Celestron CG-5 mount to good use.
with the DSLR mounted to the Ball Head, pointing the camera in any almost any direction of the night sky is possible. Being able to capture a specific area of the sky while tracking gives you the freedom to collect exposures on anything you want.
The Orion Nebula | iOptron SkyGuider Pro with Canon EF 300mm F/4L Lens.
iPolar Electronic Polarscope
In 2019, iOptron released the iPolar electronic polarscope. This upgrade was designed to aid in the polar alignment process of the mount with help from a dedicated software on your PC. This requires you to connect the iPolar camera to your Windows PC via a mini USB cable.
The process of installing the iPolar electronic polarscope on the iOptron SkyGuider Pro includes removing the stock illuminated reticle polarscope in the mount, and replacing it with the iPolar camera. There is a specific adapter for the SkyGuider, so you close the device into the mount case properly.
The iOptron iPolar electronic polarscope fastened to the SkyGuider Pro.
With this level of polar alignment accuracy, it’s possible to shoot even longer exposures on the SkyGuider Pro. I confirmed this theory first hand when shooting the North America Nebula from my backyard using a small telescope. The following image was created using 62 x 4-minute exposures at ISO 1600 with a Canon EOS 60Da.
The North America Nebula and Pelican Nebula captured with help from the iPolar device.
If you are considering on making this upgrade to the mount, remember that you will now need to polar align the mount with help from a connected PC. This adds set-up time and additional gear to the process, so if the SkyGuider is your travel mount, it may not make sense for you.
Related Video: Adding the iPolar to the iOptron SkyGuider Pro
Ideal for Landscape Astrophotography (Nightscapes)
Based on my Instagram feed, It seems that astrophotography nightscapes are all the rage. Particularly, the types of shots that include the Milky Way and some sort of foreground interest whether that’s a tree, a tent or a mountain. If this type of astrophotography interests you, then a star tracker likely does too.
The iOptron SkyGuider Pro offers 4 tracking speeds, including a 1/2X tracking speed for imaging both the night sky and landscapes simultaneously.
I tested the iOptron SkyGuider Pro under the pristine dark skies at the Cherry Springs Star Party, and needless to say, it did not disappoint. I only wish I had captured some landscape interest in the shot rather than the silhouetted trees at the bottom of the image.
The images were stacked in DeepSkyStacker and then processed in Photoshop to boost clarity and contrast. A star tracker allows you to capture the faint details of the Milky Way in a single shot. By stacking the images together, you can create an incredible image. (Watch my Milky Way image processing video)
A stack of 90-second exposures using the iOptron SkyGuider Pro with a DSLR camera and lens.
Choosing a sky tracker for your needs
These days, there are many options available in this class of portable astrophotography mounts. To add to the confusion, a lot of these EQ mounts have similar names and features. The models from iOptron and Sky-Watcher have received a lot of attention as of late:
- iOptron SkyTracker (Original)
- iOptron SkyTracker Pro
- iOptron SkyGuider Pro
- Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer
- Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini
The main question to ask yourself before deciding on the mount is what your photography goals are. If you are planning to shoot wide-angle shots using a DSLR camera and lens, then the payload capacity of the mount is less of a concern. If you want to go deeper and use a heavy telephoto lens or a small telescope, then a more robust model such as the SkyGuider Pro is a better option.
The camera and telescope combination shown above is a great example of what’s possible using this mount. This highly-portable rig can be set up at a moment’s notice, on nights when you only have an hour or two to image. This convenience does not come at the cost of tracking accuracy or image quality either.
The image below was captured entirely using the DSLR and telescope combo above, without the use of autoguiding. The image exposures were 4-minutes each at ISO 1600, using a hydrogen-alpha filter in the camera.
The Rosette Nebula in Ha | Canon EOS Rebel T3i and RedCat 51 telescope on the SkyGuider Pro.
As you can see in the photo above, the SkyGuider pro tracks the sky effortlessly during long exposures. Any instability in the mount would show itself right away at this focal length over the course of each 4-minute exposure.
If you want to use the SkyGuider with a camera lens, the mount is just as stable and reliable. In the photo below, I mounted a Canon EOS 7D DLSR and 17-40mm wide-angle lens to the SkyGuider for an image of the Milky Way.
I did not need to attach the included counterweight and shaft to the unit, as the overall weight of my camera and lens were low. The camera was attached using a ball head threaded to the mount.
The SkyGuider Pro is as capable as a much larger EQ telescope mount, in a small package. It is an attractive option for those getting started in long-exposure astrophotography, or that want to build a travel rig to take on adventures.
For example, I was able to pack the SkyGuider Pro mount, tripod, and all accessories into my carry-on bag for a trip to Costa Rica. I was able to capture incredible deep-sky images from another country thanks to the portability of this mount.
William Optics Base Mount
You may have noticed in the William Optics Vixen style base mount and extension bar in my video about the RedCat 51 APO. This is a beautiful accessory for the SkyGuider Pro that is a big improvement over the original Alt-Az base of the mount.
This version doesn’t just look a lot nicer, the controls are much more precise and secure. This upgrade is worth considering if you find yourself spending a lot of time fiddling around with the original base to get things locked and secure.
I have seen a big improvement in tracking performance since making this upgrade, thanks to the added stability of this base. I no longer worry about knocking the mount ever-so-slightly and ruining my polar alignment. Making small adjustments in either axis is much more accurate and smooth.
The color matched red extension bar gives you more flexibility in terms of balance. The added length allows for a better-balanced load, and this feature comes in handy when attaching my heavy full-frame (Canon 7D EOS Mark II) DSLR camera.
SkyGuider Pro or Star Adventurer?
The models from iOptron and Sky-Watcher have been under the microscope lately, as their price point sits within the range of a broad range of beginners. The earlier version of this unit is known simply as the SkyGuider Camera mount, and it lacks the precision and portability of the newer iOptron SkyGuider Pro.
Related: Read my Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro Review
The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer on left, SkyGuider Pro on right
The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mount is strikingly similar in terms of features to the SkyGuider Pro with the same payload capacity and autoguiding abilities. In late 2019 I finally got a chance to test out the Star Adventurer Pro, and it’s a real contender to the iOptron model.
If you would like to share your experiences using the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer EQ mount for astrophotography, please feel free to leave a comment.
Autoguiding with the iOptron SkyGuider Pro
I have successfully used the ST4 autoguiding port on the iOptron SkyGuider pro with a ZWO ASI290mm mini guide camera, and an off-axis guider. The Lumicon Easy Guider worked well on the William Optics RedCat 51 refractor to capture 3-minute exposures.
It is important to remember that the SkyGuider Pro does not have a declination motor, so you will need to turn declination guiding off in the settings of PHD2 to get it to calibrate properly. Once calibrated, I was able to utilize the dithering in my images captured on the SkyGuider.
Using the iOptron SkyGuider Pro with an off-axis guider.
The iOptron company creates some of the most innovative and practical astrophotography mounts in the world. I have enjoyed the iOptron SkyGuider Pro over the past 2 years for many reasons, but a few of them stand out.
I can get up and running with this portable mount in a matter of minutes. The first time I used the SkyGuider, I was off and running right out of the box. This mount is incredibly simple to use and straightforward (even in the dark). The mount silently tracks the night sky while I point my DSLR at different swaths of the night sky testing different exposure lengths and ISO settings providing absolute freedom to frame up new photos.
The battery is easy to charge using a micro-USB cable and lasts the entire night. The flashing lights when plugged in let you know that the battery is fully charged.
Moving the entire mount (including a tripod) to a new location is easy, as the polar alignment process can be done in minutes. This is handy in the backyard to work around obstructions, and when traveling with the mount to darker skies. The mount itself is small enough to fit in my glovebox or carry-on bag.
I brought the SkyGuider Pro on my honeymoon to Costa Rica. The EQ mount, base, counterweight, and tripod all fit in a small carry-on bag for the airplane. I even had enough room for my DSLR camera and telescope as well.
The SkyGuider pro has opened the door to several new astrophotography projects that were previously out of the question. I am now able to utilize my full arsenal of photography lenses with my DSLR as if they were separate tracking telescopes.
The ability to use this mount a telescope is an attractive option for owners of a small refractor such as the William Optics Z73 or similar telescope, as pictured below. At 5.5 pounds (Zenithstar 73), is about as heavy as I would go with this mount.
I highly recommend the iOptron SkyGuider Pro to beginners and those looking for a portable grab-and-go setup.
This camera mount has exceeded my expectations, and is often the mount I look to first when setting up in the backyard. Even if I have my primary imaging rig running, there is no excuse to not run the SkyGuider Pro as well for some deep sky astrophotography with my DSLR.
Read the Quick Start Guide (PDF)
It’s important to remember what these tracking mounts were designed for; portable astrophotography. It is tempting to want to push the SkyGuider pro to its limits and treat it as a substitute for a full-featured deep-sky EQ mount.
You’ll get much better results by setting your expectations for what these little wonders were intended for, capturing the night sky in situations where you couldn’t before!
The grab-and-go, simplistic nature of this camera tracker is what I value most. The SkyGuider Pro continues to provide me with incredible wide-angle and deep-sky images with minimal effort. The consistent results and positive user experience make this EQ mount one of my favorite astrophotography products of all time.
What do you think of the iOptron SkyGuider Pro? If you have used this mount for astrophotography, please let me know your results in the comments. Until next time, clear skies!
Thanks for all the info, I actually just got one of these trackers. I originally bought this for milkyway shots. But I was wondering if it would be possible to use a small scope like the Astro Tech AT65EDQ 65mm since its only around 5lbs with a small camera like a Sony A6000
Thanks, Jeremy. I would say YES based on my personal experiences with the SkyGuider pro. I was able to get sharp stars in 180s exposures with a Canon DSLR and heavy 300mm lens – without utilizing the counterweight system. The SkyGuider manual displays a 72mm refractor in use with the mount! Clear skies!
I’m still trying to figure out the guide scope configuration with a dslr. The only way I can see to do it is to remove the counterweight which seems counterintuitive. Have they provided you a drawing for this?.
I’m starting to think that the only way to guide is to throw my ST80 on it and piggyback the guide scope.
It would however be really cool to guide my 60Da.
Hey Sean! I haven’t used the autoguiding feature yet. I’m super impressed with the long exposures I was seeing with only a careful polar alignment. (sharp stars in 180s subs at 480mm focal length! :O) I will look into the ideal configuration for guiding a DSLR and get back to you soon.
You need to download the full manual from Ioptron. The Star Guide is woefully short on diagrams and nomenclature for the various bits. The full manual should answer most questions.
Very nice blog, great job! I bought a SGP two months ago and I’m very happy with it. I’m now starting using it with a Taka FS-60 @355mm focal length. The only change I made was to replace the DEC camera mounting block for a 360° panorama head, making object’s centering through DSLR live-view very easy and smooth (no shifting at all while locking the screws).
Thank you Christophe! I am glad you are happy with your SGP as well – and very neat to know you are using it with a small refractor! I’ll be mounting a William Optics Zenithstar 61 this weekend 🙂
I am thinking about getting a SkyGuider Pro but I am wondering what cable is used for autoguiding?
Hi Doug – Great Question. You need a cord like this http://amzn.to/2wNXSUC (RJ11 Cable). This will connect to the mount and ST-4 port on the guide camera. I’ll cover this soon as I try autoguiding with the SkyGuider Pro.
Just got my Skyguider Pro and will use it with the D810 + Tamron 15-30/2.8 in Norway this fall.
Now I have no idea how to go about astroscapes.
I don’t want the “compromise” solution, using 1/2 sidereal tracking, but track the starscape at 1x sidereal with stacked exposures and all the bells and whistles, and then do a static base iso long exposure of the foreground.
But how can I do that? If I switch the SGP off, the mount rotates freely..
On or off, the SGP can be locked. Make sure that all of the various locks are tightened. The one I think you may be missing is the RA lock. It’s the big wheel around the RA axis. Tighten it when you want to track, loosen it when you want to make a big manual RA adjustment then re-tighten.
How do you aim the Z61 exactly where you want to aim it without using a ballhead mount? Can you aim the telescope without messing up the polar alignment? If so, why do you need a ballhead for the DSLR?
Chris – You can control the RA/DEC on the SGP to position the scope wherever you need to. You just loosen the RA clutch first, point and lock. Then loosen your DEC mounting plate, point, and lock. The Polar Alignment will not change – that axis will remain stationary when moving the RA/DEC around. The ballhead just makes it much easier when using a DSLR and lens! I hope that made sense. Diagram of RA – DEC on an equatorial mount: http://www.astronomysource.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Atlas_3-475×465.jpg
Thanks for the review. I’m enjoying my first few nights with mine, but I’m having a tough time getting consistently good tracking for longer than ~30s with my crop sensor Nikon and a 300mm lens. I believe the problem may be difficulty locking everything down and polar aligning. For instance, when I tighten the altitude lock lever after setting the altitude, looking through the scope I can clearly see Polaris shift a little. There’s also slop in the azimuth even after tightening the azimuth locks as much as I can, especially with the heavier camera/weights added. Any tips for polar aligning and locking things down with this mount?
I am curious. I have extreme skepticism about these sort of products. I once owned an older model Skytracker. I had to return it. It made a low volume but horrifically invasive whining noise. Also the Az and alt adjustments became loose in time. The tracking system in due course broke down and became unusable. But it showed potential for a while- at one stage M42, Horsehead, Running Man and Flame Nebulae from one photo with a Fuji XM-1 and 230mm lens over 5 minutes exposure.
In the southern hemisphere, all tracking products seem to massively miscalculate just how difficult it is to see the faint near-polar stars. By contrast, by replacing the existing low aperture polar scope objective on an Astrotrac polar scope with a 32mm riflescope objective, which I checked via photography to find the correct new location of the SCP, this larger objective I found gave a vast improvement on seeing the faint pole stars, though less predictable accuracy due to makeshift attachment system.
I have an Astrotrac. It has done some good photos (e.g. M83 including spiral arms and some structure) in one 6 minute photo Fuji XM-1 and 230mm lens. I had been using an IOptron skytracker tripod, but found a way with bamboo to vastly improve the rigidity of this tripod. Somehow one photo gave near-perfect tracking at 230mm for 10 minutes. But there have been problems with the Astrotrac becoming wobbly- though I just found how to apparently fix that. I have to try to return the scope-attachment system (Astrotrac) though as it had major mechanical failure after only about 1 night.
I have discovered a number of apparent physics and engineering breakthroughs that should allow vastly better capability of these sorts of products, including: how to give the iOptron the advantages of the Astrotrac (track duration accuracy property), and vice versa (iOtron pinpoint property).
Tripods: in my opinion these are dreadful. Office chairs usually have 5 points of support. I figured out that pentagons provide the best support for a rotating platform.
Bracing and shock-absorption and energy distribution technology and advanced energy organisation technology might allow 1 hour photos at 500mm, without much weight, by using advanced physics ideas re: structure. If tripods are the base, they could at least be of wide angular sections (like Avalon M-Zero but only much better), Az and Alt bases need to be oversized and ultra-precision- polar-scopes need to be preferably over 32mm objective and suitable for light camera use to enable ultra accurate polar alignment and drift alignment, and should have right-angle correct view for easy use (then tripods can be lower to ground and lighter).
The camera platform needs to have ability to easily point camera anywhere in the sky from a compensating wedge and advanced counterbalance system. Alt and Az adjustments need to have far better energy organisation systems and extreme precision.
I look forward to when there is communication between manufacturers and amateur astronomers/ inventors in delivering awesome lightweight deep sky photography for under 3Kg.
Does anyone with this SGP have any thoughts about a solid but affordable tripod? Ideally I would to get a Zenithstar 61 APO, so it would need to support the additional weigh as well.
My SGP RA clutch and the camera mount are not rotating independently suddenly. Earlier when I moved both of them in opp direction , it was getting locked. Now suddenly both seems to just have stuck to each other.. The RA clutch and the mount on top of that are rotating freely in front of SGP. Any pointers would be of great help..
I purchased the SGP earlier this month and have had success with my Canon 7Dii, either using a Canon 70-200ii or 100-400ii telephoto lenses (with a 1.4x Teleconverter iii) and counterbalance system with no problem (my equipment weight is roughly 8 pounds). I do not currently own a telescope yet, but I am overly impressed with the images I am getting with only a dslr and telephoto lens. Baby steps…
When I purchased the SGP, I was initially going to mount it on top of my Manfrotto MT055XPro3 Aluminum tripod (19.8 pound capacity) but I chose to purchase the iOptron 1.25” stainless steel tripod (30 pound capacity). At $89, it was a good purchase (that fell within my budget). I could have opted for the more expensive iOptron field tripod, but this one I have is sufficient. I dream about the Celestron CGX mount daily… My friend has this particular mount, and it is perfect for what I plan to build (when I can afford it).
I have experimented with this set up (dslr w/telephoto lens, SGP mounted on the iOptron 1.25” field tripod) twice now out in my backyard. 1st: “feeler” outing to practice polar alignments and test shooting (while tracking). 2nd: refining my focusing techniques and streamlining the set up and tear down processes. I experienced camera shake during the second outing (507 knot wind), but got about a dozen good images of the Orion Nebula (one with a passing Iridium satellite!).
The only complaint I have regarding the iOptron 1.25” SS tripod, is the fact that it has plastic feet; I would have preferred removable rubber pads (possibly with spikes). I do however stake down the tripod (after balanced) then mount and polar align the SGP… I have yet to mount this set up on my Manfrotto tripod… But I prefer the iOptron tripod for the locking tray to hold accessories.
I’m sure you could use an existing tripod, but the SGP’s maximum suggested weight capacity is 11 pounds (and I’m not planning on testing it). I do plan to purchase a refractor for future use with the SGP (the carbon fiber refractor that I am researching weighs the same as my telephoto lenses). Sadly, I am stuck with this configuration for now until I save up more money. But, I am building up experience as I progress down this new path! I hope this helps. Cheers, George
Correction: 5-7 knot winds
May I please have a recommendation for a decent ball head (for use with the SGP, dslr and telephoto lens)? I’m currently using my Manfrotto MXHPRO-BHQ2, but it is frustrating at times (with the extended knobs and slight creep). I’m sure there is something out there that is more stable…
Thanks for everything, George
Thanks for the Review Trevor! I got out of Astrophotography about 7 years ago due to the truck load of gear I was lugging around to dark sky sites. This new SGP mount looks like the answer for me, I think I’ll order one!
Regarding SGP polar-alignment apps: I use both “PS Align Pro” and iOptron’s version; however, the two tend to be off from one another.
Can anyone confirm that one of those two apps are accurate, more than the other?
Great job Trevor! I just received this mount after reading your post.
your last pic in this post illustrates how to use the mount with a small telescope or telephoto lens, without a ball head. So under such a setting, how to point it to a particular object in the sky? I assume that once polar alignment is done, we should not move the tripod anymore. Thank you!
Correct – you don’t want to move the mount after polar alignment – or you’ll have to do it all over again! To point to your object, release the RA clutch (that black wheel) to move the telescope in that axis, then turn the DEC axis by spinning the scope on the mounting plate, and re-lock it. Make sure everything is tight and locked in once you’ve made it to your object! Finding the heart nebula was a bit tricky for me – so I had to shoot a number of test shots (30-sec subs started to show brightest areas on nebula at ISO 6400) on the DSLR to frame it up right!
Trevor, Have you tried to autoguide this mount yet? Will PHD2 auto guide in RA only? Watch your videos and read on your site a lot. Thanks for the help?
Trevor, great job reviewing the tracker. Do you know what purpose the hand controller would be, or did iOptron just have extra parts laying around 🙂
Trevor. Do I need a special adapter to mount a Nikon D850 to the iOptron Skyguide Pro? Thanks!
Thanks for the detailed review. I now bought one and am waiting for the skies to clear, it is monsoon season here in India. I don’t have a tripod though. Which one do you recommend considering the weight of my Old Nikon D50 cam. I would also like to try the camera attached to my Orion 80mm F/5 short tube refractor on the Skyguider pro. Your recommendation would be helpful to choose and buy a good tripod.
I built a portable pier for my Mount. I used a wooden base with two wheels for dollying it. It has a piece of 8 inch sonotube filled with concrete that the SGP mounts to. Very heavy but quite easily moved. Anyone interested in seeing some pictures let me know.
Could you please share the pics….
Since 2015, I have SW Adventurer. In my opinion, it copes with its task perfectly and forces its owners to study the starry sky. Over time, I developed my exact polar alignment device, which at the same time serves as my auto guide. After that, I can easily afford exposure up to five minutes at 500 millimeters of focal length with a minimal number of defective frames. The only drawback in shooting is the wind.I also apologize for my English, I am from Ukraine
Hi trevor, What’s the maximum sub exposure without autoguiding with this mount? Also what is the maximum useful focal length with this sub? How long will this mount track successfully? I recently saw your video about the Fornax mounts and was super impressed. Now I’m wondering between Fornax (expensive), SGP or the Sky-watcher Star Adventurer 2i. any tips?
After less then a year most of the thumbscrews have snapped off and the brass gears on the mount are starting to wear. Every time I remove the rig to point to the target it loses PA. I have sold my soul to WO and gone for the upgraded mount and extender.. fingers crossed. Now if the snow would just clear I might get a chance to test this. Fingers crossed.
Thanks for the great instructionals. Is the recommended maximum focal length for a tracker based upon optics or the weight of the lens? I ask because I’m using the Olympus 4/3s system and my 300mm lens is quite light compared to Nikon or Cannon glass. Thanks.
Man, I’m really curious how you’re getting those exposure times. I’ve borrowed my buddy’s SkyGuider with the iPolar scope, and with a dead nuts alignment I can’t get 60 seconds with the Canon 300mm and R5. No idea what I’m doing wrong here but my experience has not been great. Any thoughts?
I really enjoy your channel.
Last Christmas, Santa brought me one, full package of course. I’m sure this one will make me go out even more and stay up until the early morning.
Setting up the iOptron is just a jiffy. The night sky was meant to be observed wide-open quick and easy, Time is money in this business, or better yet, time is in galaxies!
Besides, once Mr Zss begins to knock at the door of my eyes, a quick pick-up is just 5 min away. and done.
Back in the arms of Morpheus!
Is the iOptron SkyGuider Pro compatible with the ASIAir controller? If so, how should I connect the two? Between the micro-USB, RJ45, and RJ10 connectors on the SGP and the USB and RJ45 connectors on the ASIAir, which combination of inputs and outputs should I use to connect the two?
Following up, to hopefully help others starting new out like myself – I had good success connecting the iOptron SkyGuider Pro to the ASIAir Plus using the ST-4 cable from a ASI120mm guide camera. The ASIAir was able to talk to the mount through the USB connection to the camera, and sending pulses over the serial ST-4 cable. The micro USB port on the iOptron SkyGuider Pro is only for charging and does not support USB control directly from the ASIAir.