One of the great things about being a photographer these days is that there is no shortage of gear out there that helps us take better photos.
That includes a host of star-tracking mounts used to track the motion of the stars so you can get crystal-clear, pinpoint stars, as shown above.
Below, I’ve outlined the features and specifications of each one so you can choose which one best fits your needs.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Features
The Star Adventurer is a heavy-duty star-tracking mount that can accommodate up to 11 pounds of gear. That makes this an ideal mount for shooters that use a full frame camera, especially since the Star Adventurer has a clutch mechanism to keep your gear secure.
The mount uses four AA batteries for power, which will get you about 72 hours of runtime. Alternatively, if you have a power source nearby, you can power the unit using a mini-USB.
The Alt-Az base on the Star Adventurer allows you to quickly and easily adjust the unit for polar alignment by using the altitude adjustment and the azimuth adjustment knobs.
Combined with the built-in polar scope, the Star Adventurer allows for highly accurate polar alignment.
The unit is capable of sidereal, solar, and lunar tracking with automatic DSLR shutter release control. There are also built-in settings to help you create time-lapse videos.
Lastly, despite being a heavier-duty mount that weighs 3.63 pounds (with a dec bracket), this unit is highly portable, so you can take it virtually anywhere to capture gorgeous photos of the night sky.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini Features
If you shoot with a smaller camera and don’t need the heavier payload capacity of the Star Adventurer, the Star Adventurer Mini might be a better choice for you.
This unit can support up to 6.6 pounds, which is ideal for shooters with an APS-C camera and a wide-angle lens.
This mount uses just two AA batteries, which give you 24 hours of runtime. You can also use a micro-USB cable to power the unit.
Though the Star Adventurer Mini does not have a clutch system like its bigger counterpart, it has a simple two-screw system that provides more than enough friction that keeps the camera mount from rotating.
However, if you’re using a full frame camera, a telephoto lens, or both, the Star Adventurer and its clutch mechanism is a definite must.
Unlike the Star Adventurer, the Star Adventurer Mini does not have a built-in polar scope, so it must be installed each time you shoot.
However, this is a very easy process - just slide the polar scope into its slot and you’re ready to go. You don’t even need the polar scope if you use a wide-angle lens!
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Ease of Use
The Star Adventurer is one of the easiest to use mounts, if you ask me.
The unit has a rotary dial that you use to determine the tracking speed. It also has a hemisphere switch and RA slew buttons that help you get it set up and ready for shooting in short order.
Additionally, it basic shooting speeds for nighttime long exposures are a breeze to set and only takes a few moments. Setting up the Star Adventurer for a time-lapse is a little more involved, but is still a straightforward process once you get the hang of it.
As noted above, though this is a heavy-duty unit, it’s still lightweight, small, and highly portable. That makes it easy to carry in just about any camera bag, and since it’s easy to handle, setup on a tripod is simple as well.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini Ease of Use
It can’t get much easier to use than the Star Adventurer Mini.
This unit has just one button that’s used to turn it on and off. Once the unit is on, it broadcasts on its own Wi-Fi network to which you can connect your smartphone.
Once your phone is connected, you can use the aforementioned free app to control the Mini.
The app is loaded for bear with features, including controls for basic star-tracking functions (i.e., hemisphere and tracking speed). There’s a built-in polar finder utility for easily finding Polaris, and if your camera is connected to the unit using a SNAP cable, you can use the app to set an intervalometer for time-lapse photography.
Speaking of time-lapses, the app has three separate time-lapse modes built-in, all of which are incredibly easy to use:
Astro time-lapse, which tracks stars for the duration of the exposure and then repositions back to the start and repeats the process
Regular time-lapse, which can be used to add a panning motion to daytime time-lapses
Long exposure time-lapse, which can be used during the day (with ND filters) or at night. The Mini stays put during the duration of the exposure, and then pans to take another exposure.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Price
There are several packages that include the Sky-Watcher, each with a slightly different price.
The Star Adventurer Pro Pack (shown above) is $415.00 and includes the mount, a dec bracket, a latitude EQ base, a counterweight kit, and a ball head adapter.
The Star Adventurer Photo Package is $319.00 and includes the mount, a polar scope illuminator, and a ball head adapter.
The Star Adventurer Astro Package is $329.00 and includes the mount, a polar scope illuminator, and a dec bracket.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini Price
You can pick up a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini for $249.00, which includes the mount, a polar scope with illuminator, and a ball head adapter.
A Star Adventurer Mini Pro Pack is $380.00 and includes the mount, a polar scope with illuminator, a dec bracket, a Star Adventurer Latitude EQ base, and a Star Adventurer Ball Head Adapter.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer vs Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini
Whether you have a full frame setup or a small camera, the Star Adventurer and Star Adventurer mini offer loads of features to help you create breathtaking shots of the night sky.
Additionally, since both units are so portable and easy to set up, you can tackle astrophotography in short order, even if you don’t have much (or any) experience doing so.
With cutting-edge technology, helpful features that assist you in getting clear shots, and prices that are affordable, both of these mounts represent excellent buys for photographers that are looking to get into astrophotography or upgrade their existing kit.