Author Topic: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)  (Read 2452 times)

Chris Castillo

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I'm primarily asking those who have had experience with the two amounts (or have moved from a high end sub-premium bracket to some premium mount), with weight class relatively steady (so the capability to "handle more weight" is >not what I am searching for).

Sub-premium: Atlas Pro/Skywatcher AZ-EQ6, iOptrom CEM60, Losmandy G11.  (Not interested in Atlas, CGX, CGEM, CGE Guru, EQ-8 and other mounts which weigh more than 40 lbs for the head).

Premium: Mach1 GTO, SB MyT, Avalon Linear (not interested in larger or significantly more expensive mounts).

Everybody who can afford to recommends the superior mounts.  But what exactly is the distinction?  Needing less maintenance?  Durability?  Resale value?  Tighter stars?  Higher consistency?  And can it be an instance of 3x cost for 1 percent improvement or 3x cost for 20% improvement?

The question isn't entirely idle--I've budgeted for a superior mount (to be bought around October), however I am wondering if I'd be better off with a sub-premium bracket and better camera/filters/guidecams, etc..  The premium mount requires sacrifices elsewhere.  Basically, is it worthwhile?  (I am only interested in buying *brand new*).



esicnatka

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 11:20:16 PM »
After spending 50 years fighting mounts I could afford I finally spent the last 10 of those years not buying new mounts I could afford but saving for a Paramount ME I couldn't afford. They didn't make anything smaller at the time. The difference I'd say was astronomical. I went from having issues 25% of the time from something, changed backlash, wind, managing cables poorly etc to having it just work 100% of the time. I no longer even think about the mount. It just does its thing perfectly now for 12 years without one single issue except for one frame lost because of something to do with the mount I've never tracked down or ever repeated not due to sky conditions or human error (that's out of over 40,000 frames). First night out it guided perfectly using default values which I've never changed though rarely need any more. Now I have it trained so well I can take 30 minute subs at 0.5" per pixel without guiding at all. But I'm now permanently mounted. I still have the last less than premium mount which is fine for visual use but I'd not want to use it for any imaging other than planetary work.

In those 12 years I've managed over 1500 different deep sky objects imaged. Before it was retake after retake of the same 150 trying to get one that I liked. For me the mount is far and away the most important element. I saved for 10 years to afford a good one and have enjoyed the last 12 years with it far more than the 50 without it. Of course what is a sub premium mount has improved greatly over the more than 60 years I've been doing this, but I bought or used many along the way. Each better but the jump to the ME was well beyond those. Of course anything can be a lemon but I got lucky and got one of the really good ones. Even without PEC the PE was only +/- 1.3" and with PEC I can't begin to even measure it.

I don't like it for visual work as it really isn't designed for anything but computer control. Nothing in their line really is at least without an add on controller to use an Ipad or similar device. But I still use that old less than premium mount for visual with a different scope so not a problem. For field use the 48 volt supply is a pain as well but manageable at a price. Still if I worked in the field as I did for decades I'd look to other than SB mounts. Probably AP as I've a bit of experience with AP but none with the Avalon.

Rick

Ryan Lawlor

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2017, 03:48:37 AM »
Maybe you should take a look at this:

http://lambermont.dy...g/astro/pe.html

The "premium" mounts would usually have smaller periodic errors (machined with better accuracy).

scamcackratge

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2017, 11:48:10 AM »
Not sure about your groupings. Losmandy G11 and CGEM heads weigh about the same as I have both, its just that the G11 has a much higher weight capacity and has much better tolerances (less periodic error, tighter clutches, etc.). Yet I use the CGEM a lot (its been Hypertuned) because the learning curve is significantly less. No Asian built mount is going to have the precision, tolerances and low error rate of either the MACH1 or MyT (possibly Tak as I once had an EM-200 Temma but the Tak has smaller gear trains). As far as I know the Atlas Pro is heavier than the Atlas. Also I would have included the iOptron EQ45 in your list. These days I don't have much time for imaging so the "semi-premium" mounts like my CGEM work fine. I am 69 YO by the way and have spent 50+ years in this hobby.

Shane Proulx

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 01:55:30 AM »
Quote
Not sure about your groupings. Losmandy G11 and CGEM heads weigh about the same as I have both, its just that the G11 has a much higher weight capacity and has much better tolerances (less periodic error, tighter clutches, etc.). Yet I use the CGEM a lot (its been Hypertuned) because the learning curve is significantly less. No Asian built mount is going to have the precision, tolerances and low error rate of either the MACH1 or MyT (possibly Tak as I once had an EM-200 Temma but the Tak has smaller gear trains). As far as I know the Atlas Pro is heavier than the Atlas. Also I would have included the iOptron EQ45 in your list. These days I don't have much time for imaging so the "semi-premium" mounts like my CGEM work fine. I am 69 YO by the way and have spent 50+ years in this hobby.

The CGEM weighs about the same as the Atlas. The Atlas Pro is actually lighter (from rough data, 35 vs 40 lbs for the head).

I understand that none of the non-premium mounts have the precision, tolerances and low error rates of the premium mounts. But *what does that equate to in practice?* Is it losing one sub out of 10? 6 subs out of 10? Less tight stars on all of them? More consistent tracking at longer F/L?

The telescopes in my signature are the *only* telescopes I intend to use (including the Edge8 at 2,000mm) if that helps.

Jon Venning

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 11:03:39 PM »
I would not put the G11 into the same category as the others you mentioned. Its everyone-who-used-it's favorite bargain-basement premium mount IMO, especially when fitted with an OVision worm. Sure, it is not a Mach 1 but it certainly is not a Atlas. That said, if you can afford a Mach 1, go for it.

Ed

Darkz Tousa

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 07:44:38 AM »
Quote
Maybe you should take a look at this:

http://lambermont.dy...g/astro/pe.html

The "premium" mounts would usually have smaller periodic errors (machined with better accuracy).

Thanks, I'd seen this. From what I understand though, PE matters relatively little if the mount will be guided (as I intend to). For example, the Avalon Linear reputedly has random PE, but very tight stars.

Jorge Herbert

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2018, 02:28:17 AM »
Quote
I would not put the G11 into the same category as the others you mentioned.Its everyone-who-used-it's favorite bargain-basement premium mount IMO, especially when fitted with an OVision worm. Sure, it not a Mach 1 but it certainly is not a Atlas. That said, if you can afford a Mach 1, go for it.

Ed

The GM-11 is nicely machined, no question. OTOH it does require a fair amount of tinkering, which I'd rather avoid. The Atlas Pro and CEM60 have quite a good reputation judging from the work done and the praises I've seen. I've rarely if ever read a complaint or negative remark about them (the CEM60 had a rocky start, but latest non-EC versions have got uniform praise).

What kind of worries me about non-premium mounts, is their variability. I've in general not been lucky with products that have 'good ones and bad ones.' But are the sub-premium mounts I listed really as variable as the AVX or CG-5 or CGEM?

"If you can afford a Mach 1, go for it" --yes, I well might do that in the end, but then I will have to cut back on something else--(smaller camera, no Astrodons, no ONAG--something will have to give).

frenafverbi

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2018, 05:52:46 AM »
Well, as you know, we have a variation on this discussion from time to time and it's never conclusive because of differing personal priorities. It's still a fun thing to discuss.

Being a lazy guy, I define a premium mount as something that I can forget about and just count on to do the job. Metrics like throwing away images are interesting but hard - by that metric I throw away a picture or two a year (out of thousands) due to a mount issue. I do, however, throw away a lot of pictures due to seeing. So, in the end, does it matter?

There's also the issue of "tangible intangibles" such as build quality. For example, I will never own another plasticky mount. There are also odd ball features that matter, or not. I like my Takahashi mounts because they will be adequately polar aligned (for my moderate focal length) in 90 seconds. This ability, on my EM-200, is less important to me now because the mount stays setup more than not. It's still important on my EM-11, because it is a field mount.

Yet, Takahashi's are out for many people because they are primitive or old fashioned looking. Not to mention expensive for their payload/performance. Is the no-flip for your particular optical tube important to you? If so, maybe that's the killer feature that makes the price of admission worth it. Does guiding really bother you? Are you a perfectionist and you get excited about pointing models to eek out that extra performance?

If you divide the mounts up into two categories that make sense to you, Stelios, then that's fine because it reflects your priorities. I'd hold that it's more of a spectrum of cost vs. performance.

As for the cutting back compromise - yeah, I hear you loud and clear. There is truth to the idea that AP does come back to the mount as being more important (within reason) compared to the other accessories.

Leon Ware

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2018, 07:05:06 AM »
Quote
Being a lazy guy, I define a premium mount as something that I can forget about and just count on to do the job. Metrics like throwing away images are interesting but hard - by that metric I throw away a picture or two a year (out of thousands) due to a mount issue. I do, however, throw away a lot of pictures due to seeing. So, in the end, does it matter?

What I like the least about my current mounts (way below sub-premium, admittedly), and want to avoid like the plague, is the constant need to tweak things. Some days everything looks great and the tracking is OK. Then it goes to ****. Other days it's elongated stars from the start, and you have to play with PhD2 parameters, how much to offset the mount balance, and such.

I want to have a consistent routine that doesn't require me fussing all night long. I want to go inside and have dinner, or take a nap. I know that premium mounts will (once the learning curve is over) allow me to do that.

The question though is, will sub-premium mounts also largely do the same? Lots of imagers are using them to great effect.

reilpipohen

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2018, 09:05:09 AM »
What I wanted to see (and perhaps I should've phrased the initial question better...) is: Do people with sub-premium mounts bother to upgrade to premium?

Most of the moves to premium I see from the crowd with some price sensitivity, come from the lower-level mounts (CG-5, AVX, Sirius, CGEM, various iOptrons of the -25, -30 and -45 families).

I don't see many Losmandy, Atlas or CEM60 owners (other than Sam...) make the move to premium. Is it because of price or diminishing returns?

Quas Padilla

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2018, 10:05:50 AM »
Quote
Do people with sub-premium mounts bother to upgrade to premium?I don't see many Losmandy, Atlas or CEM60 owners (other than Sam...) make the move to premium. Is it because of price or diminishing returns?

I'll venture an answer. Personally, having owned two G-11s (one with Gemini-II and the other with SiTech controllers with RA encoder) and a GM-8 (and coming from a visual background on a CG-5), my plan was to begin my AP adventure with these in hand. I am a tinkerer so owning the Losmandys was not a problem and actually a challenge.

In my subconscious, I could see in the future, a premium mount being obtained, but a year ago then was in the far future.

Then I came into a deal I couldn't refuse and got a premium mount (the MX+). I sold the G-11 with G-II since it wasn't going to get used and the SiTech version is special to me.

Would I have been satisfied with the original three? From what I've learned during my first year of real AP effort (and you should know also), there is so much more to AP than just a super mount.

Now, I understood early on the the CG-5 wouldn't cut it and didn't even venture down that path. I believe that I could have (and will) crank out super images (for me) with the original tri-fecta. Now that I have the MX+, I have the same dreams.

multalumiff

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2018, 12:43:12 AM »
I don't know, Stelios. Kind of like Brother Baron, my first GEM was an ASGT. Although I knew people that used them for AP and were OK with the results, I decided to buy something that had more precision and a larger payload. I almost bought a CGE, but when I saw one in the real world, I decided that it was too big for my needs at that time. I also saw a Takahashi and the owner demonstrated the polar alignment scope and let me play with the mount. I went home and ordered one that very night. So, that was 12 or 13 years ago.

I have contemplated upgrading to a Mach1 after it was introduced and later thought about a MyT. In the end though, for my purposes, those mounts don't offer a big enough advantage over the EM-200 to make an upgrade worth it to me. I am also a sentimental sort and grow attached to equipment that has treated me well. If I were starting from scratch though, knowing what I know, I'd buy one of those two newer mounts.

So, I know that doesn't really answer your question. I consider Takahashi mounts to be "premium" but not in the same category as the newer mounts with more sophisticated electronics.

Which brings up another issue - if you already own something, that's a different equation than if you don't.

I have, however, heard of at least a few people that upgraded from your "less than premium" mounts to a premium mount. In particular the Atlas. That's not because the Atlas is a bad mount but because there are more people that have bought them over a longer period of time.

adviconno

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2018, 09:46:16 PM »
Quote
I would not put the G11 into the same category as the others you mentioned. Its everyone-who-used-it's favorite bargain-basement premium mount IMO, especially when fitted with an OVision worm. Sure, it is not a Mach 1 but it certainly is not a Atlas. That said, if you can afford a Mach 1, go for it.

Ed

No the CEM60 works much better than the G11's I used. None of the mounts in the OPs post on the non premium side are premium mount he is correct. It's normal for folks who have dropped coin on a mount to think what they have is special. That's fine but your statement it's premium even if bargain basement, being an owner of several premium mounts I disagree. Making up categories doesn't make them correct.

tyrrcencifunc

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Re: Differences between sub-premium and premium mounts (under 35 lb head)
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2018, 02:19:18 AM »
Quote
Quote

I would not put the G11 into the same category as the others you mentioned.Its everyone-who-used-it's favorite bargain-basement premium mount IMO, especially when fitted with an OVision worm. Sure, it not a Mach 1 but it certainly is not a Atlas. That said, if you can afford a Mach 1, go for it.

Ed

The GM-11 is nicely machined, no question. OTOH it does require a fair amount of tinkering, which I'd rather avoid. The Atlas Pro and CEM60 have quite a good reputation judging from the work done and the praises I've seen. I've rarely if ever read a complaint or negative remark about them (the CEM60 had a rocky start, but latest non-EC versions have got uniform praise).

What kind of worries me about non-premium mounts, is their variability. I've in general not been lucky with products that have 'good ones and bad ones.' But are the sub-premium mounts I listed really as variable as the AVX or CG-5 or CGEM?

"If you can afford a Mach 1, go for it" --yes, I well might do that in the end, but then I will have to cut back on something else--(smaller camera, no Astrodons, no ONAG--something will have to give).
Your mount is probably the most important part of your imaging system. If you can stretch to a Mach1 go for it you'll not regret it. Out of the other non premium mounts you listed I found the CEM60 the best of the bunch.