REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
iOptronSkyTracker Camera Mount with Polar Scope (Black)
 
4.5

(based on 26 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (15)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (9)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

95%

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 26 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

Back to top

Previous | Next »

 
4.0

Completes it's task

By Pi_314

from Colorado

Verified Buyer

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

It's very easy to use, but who made the battery compartment? I could have designed a better one at the age of three. ;-)

Share this reviewHelp Icon

 
5.0

It works!

By Stacy

from Undisclosed

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

I have only had a very short experience with this device and I can say it definitely works although I was skeptical. I found the scope to find Polaris was not easy to use I just pointed the device toward Polaris and I was good to go

Share this reviewHelp Icon

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

AWESOME first tracker

By Logan N

from Dandenong, AUS

Verified Buyer

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

it works really well! it can do 45 second exposures @ 250mm (Equiv 400!) with my eos 700d, with about 1.6 kilos on it and really terrible alignment! i literally use the nearby constellation grus to align it to the SCP. I have never polar aligned before but this is spectacular! Super easy to pan the tracker for polar alignment but it doesnt fit onto normal tripods but a quick trip to bunnings solved it EASY. so far even from my light polluted suburban home it has produced SPECTACULAR results. I can tell the 0.5x mode will come in handy for timelapses! cant wait to take it do a dark sky. also the only thing is it doesnt come with a wall plug so i will have to pick up one. Otherwise a TRULY FANTASITC beginners choice

Share this reviewHelp Icon

 
3.0

The product functions as it should

By oudviolaguy

from Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Verified Buyer

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

I chose the iOptron as a fairly inexpensive tool for taking extended exposures of the night sky with a digital SLR camera. I already possess a full size SCT mounted telescope to which I can attach the camera for closeups, but I wanted something lightweight for easy travel and also to take more wide view shots.

I have been able to use the device for several clear nights. I find it fairly easy to use, a bit of a learning curve but not too bad. A caveat, in order to perform correct polar alignment one has to purchase separately an app for use on a smartphone such as my iPhone. The app is only a few dollars and works well. But the iOptron is not fully usable on its own without this extra app.

The longest exposures I have gotten without visible star trailing is 20-30 seconds. One minute exposures did have short star trails, which could be reduced in post-processing with Photoshop. I also use Deep Sky Stacker to combine multiple individual exposures; that software is freely available on line but takes a while to learn how to use. It does improve the final image quality significantly as one can average out noise from individual photos by stacking multiple individual exposures (each 20-30 seconds) and subtracting a dark frame to reduce intrinsic sensor noice. Much longer exposures than 30 seconds might be possible without star trailing if one performs a better polar alignment, I am not super patient about that so can't comment, only on my own experience.

Note also that one needs a fairly sturdy tripod with a detachable rotating head, the iOptron is designed to go directly on the flat top of the tripod, and then the camera is mounted on the iOptron. But to rotate the camera to different places in the sky, one needs to rotate the camera, hence a rotatable head needs to go between the iOptron and the camera. Such tripods are not super cheap, probably expect at least $150 for that.

Share this reviewHelp Icon

 
5.0

Works as advertised!

By Spike

from St. Louis

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

Very happy with this product! I have been able to increase my exposures to over 3 minutes with no star trailing. It is supposed to be able to go upto 5 minute exposures, but I haven't had the opportunity to push it that far yet.

Share this reviewHelp Icon

(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Works Beter than expected

By Landscaper

from Las Vegas

Verified Buyer

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

Built like a tank, solid and heavy. It took me awhile the first time to align it but once you get the hang of it it's easy.

The longest exposure I've tried is 7 minutes. All the stars were points. Much sharper than a 15 second exposure at 16mm.

This also doubles as a slow pan head for time lapse video. I love it. The batteries fit back in the case IF you make certain to put the wires back in last. You can't squeeze the wires between the batteries and the case or the cover won't go back on. As long as you don't it fits perfectly. The aligment scope and app are easy to use. I love the way the camera mounts to the tracker with 3 screws that keep it perfectly snug and aligned. Very well designed IMO. Goes full speed, half speed, and reverse for the Southern hemishpere.

Share this reviewHelp Icon

(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Works as advertised.

By AJ

from Dubai

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

So far I have only tested it for 60 second exposures. I am quite happy with the outcome. Solidly built. Battery box is a little tricky to remove. I always have a multi tool in my gear bag so I don't have any problems switching out batteries. Polar alignment is easier once you get it in focus.

Share this reviewHelp Icon

(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
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

    Share this reviewHelp Icon

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    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

    Share this reviewHelp Icon

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    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.

    Share this reviewHelp Icon

    (9 of 9 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.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

    Share this reviewHelp Icon

    (6 of 7 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

      Share this reviewHelp Icon

      (15 of 15 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

        Share this reviewHelp Icon

         
        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.

        Share this reviewHelp Icon

        (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.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

          Share this reviewHelp Icon

          (11 of 11 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

            Share this reviewHelp Icon

            (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

              Share this reviewHelp Icon

              (11 of 11 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

              Share this reviewHelp Icon

              (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.

              Share this reviewHelp Icon

              (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

                Share this reviewHelp Icon

                Displaying reviews 1-20

                Back to top

                Previous | Next »