Celestron, iOptron, Losmandy, Orion, Sky-Watcher, Vixen telescope mount comparison table.

September 19, 2016 // by ecuador

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 AVX $849/£739 7.7 14 N/A 40000 -1 30/8
Celestron CGEM $1499/£1289 19.4 18 N/A 40000 -1 16-30/6-10
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 ZEQ25 $799/- 4.7 12 0.14 150000 Yes2 Yes 12-32/5-6
iOptron CEM25 $799/£699 4.7 12 0.14 150000 Yes2 Yes ?/?
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
iOptron iEQ45-AZ $1948/£1450 11.4 20 0.09 358000 Yes2 Yes 15/5
iOptron CEM60 $2499/£2299 12.3 27 0.06 359000 Yes2 Yes 8-16/1.5
iOptron CEM60-EC $3999/£3599 12.3 27 0.06 359000 Yes2 Yes 4/0.5
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 ?/?
Vixen SXD2 $2659/£2459 9.2 15*** N/A 270000 Yes2 27/?
Vixen SXP $3299/£3299 11 16** N/A 270000 Yes2 ?/?

*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.

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5 thoughts on “Celestron, iOptron, Losmandy, Orion, Sky-Watcher, Vixen telescope mount comparison table.

  1. Jean Vallée says:

    Thanks for the works you do. Very Helpful.

  2. Abel says:

    I’m not in favor or against SW, but I think all tables are not realistic with the SW mounts regarding the payload. If you go to the official info about EQ6 mount, the maximum payload is 18,2kg. Some other websites says “up to 22kg, but 18kg recommended”. You used 22kg in all tables, and that is not correct from my point of view and also definitely from the official information. Another example, the HEQ5 has “up to 13.7kg” not 15kg as you says…

    However, thanks for the information and I hope you can update the list soon!

    • ecuador says:

      Thanks for the comment. Skywatcher for over a decade has been advertizing the EQ6 as 18kg imaging / 25kg visual. Orion, advertized the identical Atlas simply as “18kg”. This was the status when I compiled the table. The chart is supposed to be showing “visual” payloads, but the 25kg did seem a bit far-fetched (plus Orion was very modest), while on the other hand 18kg for visual seemed a bit low when I know people doing fine with imaging close to that, so in the end I decided to go with a “middle” value. When the AZ-EQ6 was first released it was listed with the same 18/25 capacity. Now, as you have noticed, Skywatcher suddenly decided to update their specs and list the EQ6 as 18.2kg (40lb), and the AZ-EQ6 as 20kg. To me, it seems like they wanted to promote the more expensive AZ-EQ6, but the latter being actually lighter than the EQ6 they couldn’t give it any more than 20 as the payload, so had to push the EQ6 back to 18. That’s some speculation from my part, but they did the same for the HEQ5/AZ-EQ5: The HEQ5 has been listed as a 15kg payload mount since it came out (2001 IIRC). This is an “accurate” figure in the sense that e.g. it does indeed lift more than the iOptron mounts that are listed at 12 and 14kg capacity, and I know that from personal experience. And yet they just updated the figure after 15 years and the only reason I can see is for them to “reserve” the 15kg rating for the more expensive AZ-EQ5. If the lighter AZ-EQ5 really could lift more than 15kg I expect they would have kept the HEQ5 the same and increased the AZ-EQ5 capacity instead. In general there is no methodology about measuring payloads so the graphs are to be taken with bucket-loads of salt, but as I try to keep it as fair as I can, I can’t suddenly downgrade the HEQ5 like Skywatcher marketing did. I am less confident about the payload values of the EQ6 & AZ-EQ6, so perhaps I’ll review in the future after discussing it with users, but, for example, if I used the current Skywatcher values I would end up with the EQ6 lifting less than the AZ-EQ6 when I haven’t heard something like that so far. Note that I do go into some trouble of pointing out things that the relatively cheap (in Europe) Skywatcher mounts lack, so you can’t really say I am biased… In fact in my ZEQ25 review I do not have many good things to say for the HEQ5 in comparison to the iOptron mount 😉

  3. kolunaco1 says:

    Thanks for the table and detailed overviews on these branded telescopes, were really very helpful to me.

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