- UPDATE 2020-06-30: I guess it was time for an update, the main changes are the Mesu Mount 200 MKII (instead of the original), the Gemini E.fric instead of the G53F, the Astro-Physics Mach2GTO instead of the Mach1 and the Celestron CGX-L instead of the CGE Pro. The iOptron CEM120 and SkyWatcher EQ8 were added to the mix, as they were closer to this tier. Several price updates too.
I while ago I made a comparison table for mass-production mounts under $5k and some nice charts with its data. Since I was recently looking at the mid/high end mount category, which is even less straightforward, I thought it would be interesting if I made a similar table. So, this time nicer small mounts like Takahashi and Astro-physics are included, along with observatory-grade mounts up to $15k and 100kg capacity. There’s a Celestron, a Meade, a SkyWatcher and an iOptron thrown in because they didn’t fit the other table, but otherwise this listing contains superior quality mounts and thus things like mount capacity are not comparable the other table, as high end manufacturers tend to be very conservative with their numbers, quoting “realistic” imaging loads. As before, the specs were mainly lifted from the manufacturer page, except the peak to peak Periodic Error which is shown as a range (and also before / after PE Correction values separated by a “/”) from various reports (this source was helpful also this and numerous CN threads).
The table will not tell you which mount to buy obviously, but it should be useful to see at a quick glance what kind of competition there is in your desired category. The prices are current at the posting of this article, but don’t expect me to keep up with price changes, I will only update if the table becomes outdated overall.
Also, prices in this list are often just an indication, as they may exclude significant shipping costs/duty/tax – although I tried to find a price from a US or UK/EU seller where possible.
|Manufacturer / Model||Price||Mount Head (kg)||Payload (kg)||Hand-controller||Polar Scope||PE (arcsec) / PE w. PEC||PEC|
|10 Micron GM1000 HPS||$9196/£7285||19.5||25||Yes||No||1||Yes|
|10 Micron GM2000 HPS II||$13969/£11200||30||50||Yes||No||1||Yes|
|Avalon M-Zero||$4183/£3238||7.5||8||Yes||Yes, illum||***||No|
|Avalon Linear||$5470/£4270||12.5||20||Yes||Yes, illum||***||No|
|Avalon M-Uno||$6759/£5280||14.9||20||Yes||Yes, illum||***||No|
|Celestron CGX-L||$3599/£3555||24||34||Yes||Opt, external||?/4||Yes|
|Losmandy HGM Titan||$5995/£6800||34||45||Yes||Opt, external||7-14/2||Yes|
|Mesu-Mount 200 MKII||$5290/£5140||24.1**||100||Yes||Opt, external||4.6/-||No|
|Takahashi EM-11 Temma-2Z||$3350/£3590||7||9||Yes||Yes, illum||7-20/-||No|
|Takahashi EM-200 Temma-2Z||$5210/£5425||15||18||Yes||Yes, illum||10/-||No|
|Takahashi EM-400 Temma-2Z||$9150/£9570||27.7||35||Yes||Yes, illum||10/-||No|
|Takahashi EM-500 Temma-2Z||$13020/£14777||45||45||Yes||Yes, illum||7/-||No|
|Vixen AXD2 (Atlux Deluxe)||$7999/£7100||25||30||Yes||Yes, illum||?||Yes|
|iOptron CEM120||$3999/£3250||26||52||Yes||Opt, electronic||<7****||Yes|
|SkyWatcher EQ8-R||$4080/£2999||25.8||50||Yes||Opt, external||Yes|
* Fornax mounts don’t offer PEC, they do suggest you optionally purchase the TDM encoder system.
** The Mesu Mount 200 MKII head is technically 16kg, but the detachable 5kg wedge and 2.5kg counterweight bar were included for comparison with the other mounts that have them as part of the head.
*** The Avalon mounts by design have a very high (reportedly even over 50-60″ p-p), but very slow PE (with no PEC possibility), so cannot be used for unguided AP at any significant focal ratio. Their slow PE is very easy to guide, so they are popular mounts for guided AP.
**** The CEM120 also comes in two more expensive encoder versions (EC/EC2) which specify PE <0.15″ RMS.
So, as in the mass produced mount comparison, we start with the mount head weight vs payload capacity graph:
The further you are from the dotted line towards the upper left, the worse your payload/weight ratio. There are just 3 mounts that manage to “lift” at least twice their weight, the iOptron CEM120, the Astro-Physics 1100GTO and the payload/weight ratio champion, Mesu-200 MKII, with a claim that it is able to lift more than 4 times its weight! Obviously you should take these with a grain of salt, as some manufacturers might be more conservative in their specs than others, but the Mesu-200 is indeed known to have a great lift capacity for its weight.
Moving on to the Price/Payload capacity charts, I made separate ones for US/UK prices. This is because the prices fluctuate more than what we saw in the mass production mount tables between US and Europe, and this is because we are talking about niche manufacturers and heavy equipment, meaning US-manufactured units are far cheaper in the US (e.g. Astro-Physics) while European-made units (e.g. 10 Micron, Fornax, Avalon) are far cheaper in Europe. Note that prices are not directly comparable, as some may exclude large transportation fees / taxes / duties. E.g. you’d have to arrange to import the Mesu 200 yourself to the US, while others are available in US stores. Also, while I tried to include at least GoTo for all mounts, there can be big differences in what is included – e.g. the G11 and the CGX-L include a tripod.
You can see that the most lift/buck is provided by the Mesu, iOptron, SkyWatcher, Fornax mounts, with the new Celestron entry just missing the $100/kg and £100/kg lines (like the CGE Pro had done before the update). The new Gemini E.fric follows the Celestron closely. As noted, the Mesu mount’s cost is under-represented for the US, as I could not find a price from a retailer, while the SkyWather and iOptron are mass-produced type mounts so they are not exactly on par with most others (similar to Celestron/Meade). Also, to re-iterate, these charts are mainly for fun as we do not know how each manufacturer describes “maximum payload” exactly. E.g. the Takahashi mounts have a low lift/cost ratio which either means they are expensive for their size, or perhaps Takahashi rates them conservatively (or a combination of both).