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iOptron SkyTracker DSLR Ball Head

iOptron SkyTracker DSLR Ball Head
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Price:  £29.99(Inc. 20% VAT)
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Product Code:  I3305
Manufacturer:  iOptron


The SkyTracker makes it easy to take long exposures of the night sky without streaking or star trailing. Now, you can photograph incredibly faint detail in the night sky with any DSLR or even a compact camera. 
 
The SkyTrackerTM is quick and simple to set up. Just attach the unit to a camera tripod. Then slide and lock your digital camera into the saddle. Align SkyTrackerTM to Polaris, the North Star, using the included dark field illuminated polar scope. The SkyTrackerTMkeeps your camera tracking at the same speed the earth rotates. The unique DC servo motor keeps your camera in motion to avoid star trails and allows you to take long exposures for beautiful images of the night sky. SkyTrackerTM runs on 4 AA batteries for portability at any location. 
 
Any digital camera capable of taking long exposures will produce results, and even a minute exposure can reveal an amazing amount of detail.
 
The new iOptron SkyTracker Version 2 builds on the hugely successful version 1 with revised electronics and a geared adjustable base for higher carrying capacity.
 
What features make the SkyTracker so unique in the market?
 
Portability: SkyTracker is super-portable so you can pack it in your camera bag to take anywhere. 
 
Easy, accurate polar alignment and adjustment: Any sky tracking device must be aligned with the earth's polar axis for best results. The iOptron Skytracker has a reputation as one of the easiest devices to polar align on the market. The same dark-field illuminated polar scope used on iOptron's high-end telescope mounts is included in the package. Polar alignment is very accurate out-of-the-box without any add-ons and SkyTracker can even be fine-adjusted in latitude with the geared base. For longer focal length lenses, even more accuracy is possible by using the optional iPhone or Android polar-alignment apps. These clever apps use your phone's GPS for amazing precision. What's more, that precision can be maintained thoughout the imaging sessions. That's because, unlike simpler devices (and even most telescope mounts), you can check polar alignment and adjust it in seconds during an imaging session - without having to remove the camera and ball-head and risking misalignment whils't replacing it.
 
Durability, precision, and vibration-resistance: The SkyTracker has a very strong metal body and even the mounting gimball is made from metal. In fact there are no plastic parts on the casing, it's connection to the camera tripod, or it's connection to the camera. This tough all-metal body and strong connection between SkyTracker and camera tripod make it steady and vibration-resistant. This is a significant improvement on existing tracking devices of this type. 4x Internal bearings and a brass worm gear, place the SkyTracker at the forefront of "ultra portable" astro photography mounts.
 
SkyTracker really produces results fast: Customers regularly take astounding long exposure images with the SkyTracker, showing pinpoint stars and maximum detail. Even faint structure in deepsky objects is within your grasp. For example, see this amazing SkyTracker image of a spring galaxy cluster taken by UK Astro Photographer Francis Milsom. This shot clearly reveals detail within spiral galaxies with a DSLR camera and 100mm lens! 

Q: What accessories do I need to use the iOptron Skytracker? An optional ball-head is available for the Sky Tracker (see asssociated products below), which enables you to point your camera towards the sky. You will also need a stable photo tripod with 3/8 "pro" format thread to fit the base of the Skytracker. If you have a 1/4 thread tripod, you can buy a cheap adapter to convert to 3/8 format from any camera shop.
 
Q: What are the recommended camera and lens combination for the iOptron Skytracker? Any modern digital camera capable of taking long exposures is fine for you to start exploring the heavens, it will produce more detail than the human eye can ever see directly, and plenty of colours too. Your camera needs a threaded camera tripod hole on the underside (and most do!). When it comes to camera lenses for the Skytracker, we recommend a lens of around maximum 100mm focal length for beginners with full frame DSLRs (for APS size equivalent divide by 1.6x). If you're more experienced at taking night-time shots and know how to set your camera to avoid vibration by using features like mirror lockup, you can use lenses up to 200 or even 300mm. The longer the focal length of the lens, the more familiar you need to be with your camera's low light settings - such as mirror lock-up and remote shutter release - to avoid vibration. At longer focal lengths, more practise is also required with polar alignment. The iOptron iPhone polar alignment app and it's Android equivalent really help by telling you exactly where the stars need to be placed within the polar scope viewfinder. Balance is also important at long focal lengths. We have had some experienced astro photographers take pictures with light weight 300mm lenses, such as David Bennet's shot (above) of the Pleiades star cluster or M45. This shot was taken with his Nikon D5100 and a 300mm, f/5.6 lens, with the camera set at ISO 250. David kept his exposures short, and stacked them using 30x 30 second exposures to create this image. (click the thumbnail image above to view full-size).
 

Feature summary:

  • Attaches to any standard camera tripod
  • Accepts cameras weighing up to 6.6 lbs (3 kg) if in a compact mass and well balanced.
  • Auto-tracking for smooth camera motion, perfect for long exposures
  • Cast aluminum body with plastic painting finish
  • Integrated compass and latitude adjustment wedge for easy polar alignment  
  • Also includes AccuAligningTM dark-field illuminated polar scope
  • Up to 24 hours of operation on 4AA batteries
  • Padded carry bag included
  • Optional ball head available separately

Technical Specifications:
 

  • Type: Ultra Compact EQ mount for DSLR imaging
  • Payload (MAX): 3.4 kg
  • Weight: 1.1 kg w/o batteries
  • Dimensions: 153 x 104 x 58 mm
  • Base Tripod Connection: 3/8" large photo tripod
  • Tracking: R.A. auto 
  • Tracking Speeds: Cel, 1/2Cel, N/S
  • Latitude Adjust Range: 0 ~ 70 degrees
  • Polar Scope: 6 degree FOV with dark field illumination
  • Power Consumption: DC 4.8 ~ 6V,  0.06A at Max. load
  • Power Requirement: 4x AA batteries (not included)
  • External Power: DC 9 ~ 12V (Optional)
  • Duration of operation: 24 hours at 20C
  • Compass: Built-in.
  • Drive wheel: 80mm, 156 teeth Aluminum Alloy
  • Worm gear: 11 mm, brass
  • Bearings: 4x separate bearings
  • Motor Drive: DC servo motor
  • Operating temperature: -10~40C
  • Manufacturer Warranty: One year limited manufacturer warranty

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