Price update Jan 9 2017: Some price updates. A few impressive price drops, the CEM25 in the UK (£699 from £899), the Orion HDX110 ($3505 from $4499!) and CGEM DX in the US ($1695 from $1999), otherwise mostly price increases in the UK, due to the $1=£0.82 exchange rate.
Note Oct 3 2016: After over a decade of listing the HEQ5 as 15kg payload and the EQ6 as 18kg img/25kg visual, Skywatcher has downgraded the capacities of these mounts as 13.7 and 18.2 respectively. To me it looks like a marketing idea to differentiate the more expensive AZ-EQ5 and AZ-EQ6, so I am keeping the listing as it was, at least for now.
Update Sept 19 2016: I added the three smallest/least expensive mounts (SmartEQ, EQ3, EQ5) just to be more complete, although they don’t really compete with the rest in astrophotographic capabilities. Prices are updated, mostly the weaker GB pound made some UK prices – especially Vixen – higher (with the notable exception of the CGEM DX which dropped dramatically). I added a separate price graph for UK, it has an extra mount compared to the US graph, as the EQ3 Synscan doesn’t seem to be sold in the USA (you can find it in Canada though).
There was a UK store that had a nice table with the basic specs of Sky-Watcher and iOptron which I had found quite useful especially to see at a glance which mount from a company was at the same category with what mount from the other. That page is no longer online, so I thought I’d compile my own table and try to include more and newer mounts. I’ll only include computerized EQ mounts from comparable/high volume manufacturers (under $5000), so no expensive Astro-Physics, Takahashi etc (but you can find all those and more mid-high end mounts on this comparison table here).
The specs were mainly lifted from the manufacturer page, except the peak to peak Periodic Error which is shown as a range (and before / after correction values) from various reports (this source was helpful also this and numerous CN threads). Note peak-to-peak error is twice the +/- values that are sometimes used and some extreme cases were not included. Also not included are values of 1-2 arcsec reported for some mounts (iEQ45, G11) with TDM. Payload normally means visual and sometimes I had to choose a source (e.g. Skywatcher and Orion give a bit different spec for the exact same mount). Prices are typical US & UK prices with basic tripod (or pier where applicable) included.
|Manufacturer / Model||Price||Mount Head (kg)||Payload (kg)||Resolution (arcsec)||Objects||Polar Scope||GPS||PE/PEC (arcsec)|
|Celestron CGEM DX||$1695/£1499||19.4||23||N/A||40000||-1||?/?|
|iOptron SmartEQ Pro||$499/£449||2.8||5||0.5||59000||Yes2||No||?|
|iOptron iEQ30 Pro||$1398/£1285||6.8||14||0.14||358000||Yes2||Yes||16/5|
|iOptron iEQ45 Pro||$1848/£1450||11.4||20||0.09||358000||Yes2||Yes||15/5|
|Losmandy GM8 G||$2495/£2240||9.5||14||N/A||40000||-3||13-20/8|
|Losmandy G11 G||$3150/£2850||16.3||27||0.14||40000||-3||9-20/?|
|Skywatcher EQ3 Pro Synscan||-/£399||4.2||5.5||?||42000||-4||?|
|Skywatcher EQ5 Pro Synscan (Orion SkyView)||$790/£549||6.2||9.1||0.288||42000||-4||?/?|
|Skywatcher AZ EQ5-GT (Orion Sirius Pro)||$1300/£999||7.7||15||0.25||42000||-4||16-40/?|
|Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro (Orion Sirius)||$1115/£779||10||15||0.144||42000||Yes2||20-50/6-7|
|Skywatcher AZ EQ6-GT (Orion Atlas Pro)||$1899/£1419||15.4||18-25*||0.144||42900||Yes2||25-30/8|
|Skywatcher EQ6/NEQ6 Pro (Orion Atlas)||$1395/£999||16||18-25*||0.144||42900||Yes2||20-50/6-7|
|Skywatcher EQ8 (Orion HDX110)||$3505**/£3289||25.4||50||0.12||42900||-4||6-8/?|
|Vixen SX2 (+SB10****)||$2199/£2449||7||12***||N/A||270000||-3||?/?|
*Orion rates these at 18kg, Sky-Watcher at 18kg imaging / 25kg visual (in the graphs below the average value is used).
**The price is with the Pier, as the mount is also sold head-only.
***Vixen rates their mounts for imaging, so they are probably more modest values compared to the rest.
****The SX2 comes with the Star Book One as standard. The Star Book Ten that provides goto is added to the price to match the list’s minimum spec.
Polar Scope Notes:
1. Optional non-illuminated available.
2. Illuminated Polar scope comes standard.
3. Optional illuminated available.
4. Optional non-illuminated available that attaches externally.
Let’s make some charts. We’ll start with the Payload vs Mount weight:
A y = x/2 line is drawn and there are actually some mounts that are below it, all from iOptron, meaning they can lift more than twice their weight. The CGEM seems like a disappointing outlier, being the only mount to lift less than its own weight, but it is possible Celestron is being modest about their payload spec.
Let’s move on to capacity / price:
Most mounts fall near the same price/capacity slope, with the Orion HDX110’s (SW EQ8) price drop bringing it to a better price/capacity ratio than the rest (followed by the Orion Atlas/ SW NEQ6 and the Celestron AVX), while the Losmandy and Vixen mounts are priced higher – although this graph does not say anything about the quality of the mounts and their performance (with the Losmandy for example having a quite good reputation). Below the pink line you are paying less than $100/kg of capacity.
While the prices all include a tripod and a GOTO handset, it should be noted that Celestron mounts do not include a Polar Scope like all the iOptron and most Vixen and Sky-Watcher/Orion (the ASPA is not a complete substitute when with some other mounts you can get within 2 arcmins from NCP in under a minute of effort – with the option of improving it with an ASPA-equivalent process). Also the iOptrons seem to be the only ones that include GPS as standard – which is a bit strange as GPS modules are included in $30 phones currently… Making the same chart with UK prices shows results that are even better for the Sky-Watcher mounts, as the Losmandy, the Celestron and some of the iOptrons carry a big price premium in Europe, a fact which has made Sky-Watcher mounts immensely popular in Europe:
It might be interesting to take a look at a graph with UK vs US prices:
The yellow/orange line is the exchange rate today as I compiled the chart (1$=£0.82). Only the Sky-Watchers are well bellow it (with the exception of the EQ8), and some iOptrons are doing well. With the weak pound sterling though, some Vixen mounts have even passed the 1$ = £1 line.