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iOptronSkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black)
 
4.4

(based on 19 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (10)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (8)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

93%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Strong construction (13)
  • Compact (12)
  • Accurate (11)
  • Easy to use (10)
  • Lightweight (4)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Astronomy (15)
  • Travel (4)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Casual/ recreational (9), Avid adventurer (6)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (15)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Works great, easy to set up and align

Not terribly expensive, and the results you can get are pretty amazing. Using their app for your smart phone, it tells you where to put the north (or south) star for alignment...Read complete review

Not terribly expensive, and the results you can get are pretty amazing. Using their app for your smart phone, it tells you where to put the north (or south) star for alignment in the scope, and then you set your camera on it and start a long exposure of 1-5 minutes, depending on how dark it is outside. The darker it is, the longer the exposure. I do astrophotography and lots of post processing to remove light glow and stack images to remove noise, so the results may be a bit different for just out of camera images, but as far as tracking the stars, it does great. I can't complain about anything on it.

Compared to getting a full fledged mount, while it's about half to one third the cost, it's an order of magnitude lighter and easier to set up and carry around. My only other option for this is to carry a 15lb tripod and 10lb mount head, and then a 20lb battery for the mount.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Lightweight and inexpensive

I purchased this item because it was the lighest tracking mount I could find that would hold my Nikon D7100 and associated lens. It was not useable out of the box. There were mechanical...Read complete review

I purchased this item because it was the lighest tracking mount I could find that would hold my Nikon D7100 and associated lens. It was not useable out of the box. There were mechanical issues with the cast housing which had cast metal that had partially covered the 3/8" threaded brass insert used to mount the unit a tripod. This had to be removed before it could be tripod mounted (I forutnately have a machine shop at my work which made this easy to do). The battery housing required a pliers to get it out because of plastic flashing from the mold that had not been trimmed off. Even after removing the flashing, the battery housing only fit properly without batteries. Once the batteries were installed it required further trimming of the housing in order fit inside the battery compartment and still required a pliers the remove the housing to change the batteries. This is even worse if you are not careful to make sure the two wires from the housing are not being pinched. The battery compartment cover also does not stay in place. There is no postive latch on the battery cover but since the battery housing press fitted into the housing the cover does little to hold the battery housing in place.

The polar alignment was very easy at least for short exposures(less than 30seconds) at focal lengths up to 300mm. If the lens you are using at any significant weigth you will want to recheck and adjust the polar alignment after you are pointed at your desired scene to compensate for flexure in the mount.

I would only recommend this product if you have weight restrictions in taking this out in the field.

Reviewed by 19 customers

Displaying reviews 1-19

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5.0

I now place this as a must have piece of equipment

By Paul

from Seeley, WI.

About Me Avid Adventurer

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Accurate
  • Compact
  • Easy to Use
  • Strong Construction

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Astronomy
    • Low Visibility

    Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

    Very easy to use if you follow the instructions. Give it one test run and you will see how easy it is and how much it improves night photography. Very solid and well built. The three screws that attach camera base to motor are a bit hard to reach to tighten but not impossible.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    No clear skies to speak of

    By Nikonkelly

    from Goodrich, Michigan

    About Me Casual/ Recreational

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Compact
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • Not Easy To Setup

    Best Uses

    • Astronomy

    Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

    I have only been able to use it briefly as we have not had many clear skies when I have not been working. The hardest part of using it is setting it up. Took two times to get it, but a blast to use now that I got it setup! The only real con is using the sight tube.. I would also suggest that you get the ball hed that is available for it.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    4.0

    Only tried it once so far

    By Botast

    from Wisconsin

    Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

    The first time I tried it I did so on a full moon. It's just been too cloudy every other night for almost 2 weeks.

    Here's my take: It's a little difficult to get Polaris lined up so be prepared to spend a few minutes doing that. I was doing this in frigid weather without gloves so I'm sure that didn't help. I didn't get it lined up perfectly according to the app, but a 380 sec exposure had pretty small star trails. They weren't pin points, but I'd say they were similar to what a 50mm (35mm equivalent) lens would give you at 20 sec. If I spent more time getting it lined up, I'm sure I could improve the results.

    One other thing, the unit only goes to 70 deg latitude. I would like to be able to go to 90 like the Vixen Polarie- not because I'm going to the North Pole, but because it would allow a time lapse panorama. That said, it seems well made and it's pretty small for what you're getting. Unlike other reviews, I had no problems getting the batteries in.

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    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Fun to use

    By Steve in Central Michigan

    from Central Michigan

    About Me Casual/ Recreational

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • See Notes In Text

    Best Uses

    • Astronomy

    Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

    I've had this unit for about two years and am still using the original batteries I put in, so there is a lot of life there. The unit is quiet and when set up correctly quite accurate. Would suggest using multiple exposures around 20-30 seconds and stack with Ps or similar rather than long several minute exposures. The unit is solid (aluminum construct) and sturdy heavy.

    There are a few annoyances in setting up which shouldn't be construed as a not buy recommendation. Once you take care of them, you likely won't have any real complaints about using this.
    1. Initially setting up the polar aligner scope was annoying to get the focus. Do this in daylight according to the instructions. Once you have done this, tape it in position.
    2. The battery holder fits into a very tight space and can be very annoying to get into place. Try positioning with the battery wires at the top. That seems to be the preferred position.
    3. The polar aligner needs to be set properly in alignment with the north star and the fact that the north star isn't exactly due north. iproduct users can download an app. The same info can be obtained on an Android device using the Google Sky Map app. Position the north star in the polar aligner at the same position on the circle as it is on the app or you'll get streaking.
    4. The right-left swing knob is small and hard to find in the dark. Mine also never quite tightened real tight. I replaced it with a larger three corner knob that can be bought in any hardware store, 6-32 thread I think. Tighten this well because you can easily bump the unit while moving around in the dark.
    5. I find that when trying to align the north star with the right-left swing that the swing can be a bit sticky, of course at the final mm of where you need it. Viewed motions in the aligner move in the opposite direction to the way you move the unit, an optical problem not iOptron's.
    6. The up-down latitude adjustment does have an arrow embossed into the body of the unit. Paint this, you can't see it in the dark. This also doesn't seem to tighten as well as I'd like with its "dumbbell" shaped lock, but if you bump the unit, this adjustment does not seem to get bumped out of alignment so this is minor.
    7. When your camera is mounted, you can swing it any direction you want as long as the polar alignment stays in position. I recommend removing the polar aligner after it is set because can be bumped when you are positioning the camera.

    Having said all this, I love the unit and have had a number of fun nights photographing the stars with it.

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    • No

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    (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Great piece of gear

    By Matt

    from Dallas, TX

    About Me Avid Adventurer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Compact
    • Easy to Use
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Astronomy
      • Travel

      Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

      Amazing quality for a great price.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Awesome Tool

      By JanM

      from Ontario, CA

      About Me Avid Adventurer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Compact
      • Strong Construction

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Astronomy

        Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

        I've been shooting night skies now for several years, spending lots of money on "fast glass" and new cameras with better noise levels. I know all about the longer the lens focal length, the faster shutter speeds needed to keep those stars looking like pinpoints instead of pancakes. So on recommendation from a friend, this seemed like an awesome addition to my arsenal. I've only had it out once to Joshua Tree National Park, a reasonable dark-sky place, but I can see the possibilities are endless. Only one setup snafu on that maiden voyage - somehow the N/S hemisphere switch got moved to South - once over that, the results were astounding. Andromeda LOOKED like Andromeda. I did 30 sec and 60 sec exposures, and focal length up to 50mm. Hoping to go for longer mm next time out.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        4.0

        Very complete and strong stuff !

        By Dan

        from St Augustine (FL)

        Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

        Complete, compact and very portable Stuff !
        Easy polar alignment with IPhone app.
        Due to weather issues, I only test it with my 28mm.
        Stars are pin point when I magnify the picture.

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        (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Well made and effective

        By Sean Nelson

        from Vancouver BC Canada

        About Me Casual/ Recreational

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Strong Construction

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Astronomy

          Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

          This unit is very solidly built and works well. It uses a 3/8" thread to mount onto a camera tripod, so if you have a tripod with a 1/4" screw you'll need an adapter (these are very cheap). It includes a double-ended screw for the camera mounting plate so that you can mount a camera or ball head that uses either a 1/4" or 3/8" hole. You'll most certainly want to use a ball or other tripod head on the mounting plate so that you can point the camera to somewhere other than the north celestial pole.

          If you purchase one, you should also get the "Polar Finder" app for your smart phone - it has an option to show an image of the eyepiece reticle that this unit uses so that you can easily use Polaris to get an accurate polar alignment. You do NOT point the unit so that Polaris is in the crosshairs of the reticle, Polaris must sit on one of the circular rings at a position that depends on the time. The smartphone app makes it very easy to see where it should be aligned to.

          For me, the two biggest drawbacks of the unit are the battery holder/compartment and the tight spacing between the camera mount and the polar finder scope.

          The battery holder fits very, very tightly into its recess, and this makes it difficult to remove and challenging to install. It works, but it's unecessarily difficult.

          I use a Panasonic GH3 on a ball head, and in some orientations of the camera it blocks the polar sighting scope. That's an issue because changing the position of the camera with a long telephoto can cause flexure of the tripod which affects polar alignment, so I'd like to re-check the alignment every time I change the camera position.

          Overall, though, I'm quite pleased with this unit and am glad I purchased it.

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          • No

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          (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Good product

          By Calgary_BMW

          from Dallas, TX

          About Me Casual/ Recreational

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Accurate
          • Compact
          • Easy to Use
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Astronomy

            Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

            Unit is build solid. I mounted this on my Vanguard Alta+ 263 and it provided a very stable platform for tracking. Setting up is very quick, and with illuminate polar scope alignment is achieved with little effort. The azimuth lock causes the alignment to shift slightly, so you have to deliberately offset Polaris and let it settle into place after the lock is tightened.

            I've used the tracker with my Sony RX100ii. There is no star trailing with 30s exposures at maximum zoom of 100mm equivalent. Frames taken at the start and end of a 30 minute sequence did not show more than a couple of pixels of offset at 5Mp resolution. I have not tried the setup with my bulkier Nikon D3200, but the mount clearly has no problems with the tiny RX100ii. As others have pointed out, I also found that the latitude lock does not completely secure the head. While this may allow some drooping over time for heavier loads, this was not a problem with the RX100ii.

            So far, after 4 hours of use the batteries continue to show good charge. As other reviews have noted the battery compartment is very tight. It is impossible to change the batteries without disturbing the alignment. I built a power cord with a plug for the external DC input at one end and a connector at the other end that is compatible with my RC Heli's 3S LiPo's. This allows me to easily change out a depleted battery without disturbing the mount at all.

            The whole setup is very portable. If you normally take your camera and tripod somewhere, the tracker only adds marginally to what you have to take along.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Easy to use

            By Bariom

            from Lugano, Switzerland

            About Me Avid Adventurer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Compact
            • Easy to Use
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Astronomy

              Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

              SkyTracker is good for night photography of the sky.
              It is easy to use and it is compact.

              The only way to make it better is to add a "goto" functionality as the computerized telescopes.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

               
              2.0

              Lightweight and inexpensive

              By MarkSB

              from Goleta, CA

              About Me Casual/ Recreational

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Lightweight

              Cons

              • Quality Issues

              Best Uses

              • Astronomy
              • Field Use

              Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

              I purchased this item because it was the lighest tracking mount I could find that would hold my Nikon D7100 and associated lens. It was not useable out of the box. There were mechanical issues with the cast housing which had cast metal that had partially covered the 3/8" threaded brass insert used to mount the unit a tripod. This had to be removed before it could be tripod mounted (I forutnately have a machine shop at my work which made this easy to do). The battery housing required a pliers to get it out because of plastic flashing from the mold that had not been trimmed off. Even after removing the flashing, the battery housing only fit properly without batteries. Once the batteries were installed it required further trimming of the housing in order fit inside the battery compartment and still required a pliers the remove the housing to change the batteries. This is even worse if you are not careful to make sure the two wires from the housing are not being pinched. The battery compartment cover also does not stay in place. There is no postive latch on the battery cover but since the battery housing press fitted into the housing the cover does little to hold the battery housing in place.

              The polar alignment was very easy at least for short exposures(less than 30seconds) at focal lengths up to 300mm. If the lens you are using at any significant weigth you will want to recheck and adjust the polar alignment after you are pointed at your desired scene to compensate for flexure in the mount.

              I would only recommend this product if you have weight restrictions in taking this out in the field.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Good value

              By Matt

              from Fort Worth, TX

              Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

              I tested out this tracker last night and was happy with the results. For wide field shot, I was able to get 5 min. exposures with no trailing. I pushed it and tried one at an effective focal length of 480mm and got a 1 min. exposure without significant trailing. This won't replace a good German equatorial mount for astrophotography, but it's great for a highly portable alternative and it got respectable results.

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              (0 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Built like a tank

              By Livskunst

              from Sacramento, CA

              About Me Avid Adventurer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Accurate
              • Compact
              • Easy to Use
              • Strong Construction

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Astronomy

                Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

                I purchased this to start some serious astro photography. I haven't used it at night yet, but a dry run indicates smooth, steady operation. I'm very impressed with the solid construction - especially at this price. It will probably weigh in over four pounds with a ball head and clamp, so you probably won't want to pack it in very far. It has a half speed feature so that you could do one minute exposures and keep both the stars and the foreground in focus.

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No

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                (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                4.0

                Fun addition

                By Duke

                from Ohio

                Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

                A fun way to try out astrphotography

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                5.0

                Functions well

                By dwphoto

                from bay shore ny

                About Me Casual/ Recreational

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Accurate
                • Compact
                • Easy Setup
                • Easy to Use
                • Strong Construction

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Astronomy
                  • Travel

                  Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

                  Does what it is designed to do with careful polar alignment.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Pleasantly surprised with this product

                  By bob the builder

                  from Erie, PA

                  About Me Casual/ Recreational

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Accurate
                  • Compact
                  • Easy to Use
                  • Lightweight
                  • Strong Construction

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Astronomy

                    Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

                    Simple to use & even with minimum effort for setup, I can take 5 minute exposures with a wide angle lens. By minimum setup, I mean setting the azimuth somewhere in the ballpark & aiming it roughly north. This will put Polaris in the scope where you can easily get it roughly centered. It took less than 2 minutes to set up & try my first 3 minute exposure. It worked so well, I went for 5 minutes & stars were still pinpoints of light. Very happy with this unit

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (9 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Works great, easy to set up and align

                    By Robert

                    from Dallas, TX

                    About Me Casual/ Recreational

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Accurate
                    • Compact
                    • Easy to Use
                    • Lightweight
                    • Strong Construction

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Astronomy
                      • Travel

                      Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

                      Not terribly expensive, and the results you can get are pretty amazing. Using their app for your smart phone, it tells you where to put the north (or south) star for alignment in the scope, and then you set your camera on it and start a long exposure of 1-5 minutes, depending on how dark it is outside. The darker it is, the longer the exposure. I do astrophotography and lots of post processing to remove light glow and stack images to remove noise, so the results may be a bit different for just out of camera images, but as far as tracking the stars, it does great. I can't complain about anything on it.

                      Compared to getting a full fledged mount, while it's about half to one third the cost, it's an order of magnitude lighter and easier to set up and carry around. My only other option for this is to carry a 15lb tripod and 10lb mount head, and then a 20lb battery for the mount.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Great for introduction into astrophotogr

                      By Brian

                      from Phoenix, AZ

                      About Me Avid Adventurer

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Compact
                      • Easy to Use
                      • Lightweight

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Astronomy
                        • Hiking/Backpacking
                        • Travel

                        Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

                        I've used this a little bit, so I can't be super detailed until I get more experience with it. But so far, this thing is a bargain if you want to get into astrophotography.It is really easy to set up after you have read the directions once or twice. I can now set it up from scratch in 2-3 minutes. I've heard others, such as the AstroTracker, can take 10-15 minutes. I love the small size of it. Packed down in it's little travel bag, it's the size of a softcover book or a box of Wheat Thin crackers, and only weighs a few pounds, so it's super portable for a backpacker like myself. I've used my 85mm lens on this for 4 minutes without having star trails. I'm confident this thing could accept my DSLR + 70-200mm f4 without a problem. Beyond that, I don't know how much I'd be willing to place onto it. But I got this thing not to do deep sky astrophotography, but wide angle instead to go along with my regular landscape photography. One of the cons is that it will only track once you've aligned to Polaris, whereas others can align to other stars as well. But that is the nature of this beast, and why they could build it so portable. The only other major con is that the rotating base is not very precise, and when you tighten the knob it seems to change position also, where I have to account for that when aligning. I consider this only a slight annoyance, and one that is easily fixed with a cheap panning base (I had the Feisol which was about [$]).

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                        • No

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                        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        ISON is coming

                        By GAK

                        from Annapolis, MD

                        About Me Casual/ Recreational

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Accurate
                        • Compact
                        • Easy to Use
                        • Strong Construction

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Astronomy

                          Comments about iOptron SkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black):

                          I've been looking forward to photographing comet ISON over the next couple of weeks, and now I'm prepared. iOptron's SkyTracker is the perfect tool for long exposure photos of the comet's tail! Once aligned, it is easy to use and I've been experimenting with exposure times thru my 400x telephoto so I can stack the results with software.

                          • Was this a gift?:
                          • No

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