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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:18 am 
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Location: Corfu, Greece
... of the new Celestron SkyWatcher Allview motorized panographic mount for DSLR's?

Celestron are no longer supplying the Merlin motorized mount, and the "AllView" is its replacement at least in the USA. It is fully compatible with the Papywizard software that many have used to control their Merlins, but "AllView" comes with its own programmable controller, so you may not need to use Papywizard any more.

I am willing to organise discount pricing from a Celestron supplier in the EU if there are ten people interested. The price will be less than 400 Euros in the EU. The exact price will be confirmed if there are ten people who want to order one. It will be the same package as is sold in the USA. It is too heavy for backpackers. My own plan is tour by motorcycle (with detachable "trolley" panniers containing my photographic gear and spare 12v battery).


Image


Here is the user manual:
http://www.celestron.com/c3/support3/index.php?_m=downloads&_a=downloadfile&downloaditemid=732

Here's the promotional leaflet from which the above image is captured:
http://www.celestron.com/c3/support3/index.php?_m=downloads&_a=downloadfile&downloaditemid=733

Here's the specification of what will be supplied, click on the "specification" tab:
http://www.celestron.com/portal/skywatcher-allview-mount.html

[uli]It comes with a shutter cable for Canon EOS DSLR's at no extra charge.[/uli][uli]If you want a cable for a different DSLR, it will cost maybe 20 Euros more, and I will organise it for you at cost price.[/uli][uli]The motorized head is detachable from the supplied tripod and will fit any camera tripod with screw thread coupling.[/uli][uli]The motorized head weighs approx 4.5 kg; the supplied "very heavy duty" tripod weights approx 5.5 kg.[/uli][uli]It comes with a controller that allows automatic panoramic photographs to be programmed.[/uli][uli]The controller includes an RS232 cable through which it may connect to a computer running Papywizard.[/uli][uli]It runs off a nominal 12v DC supply, a motorcycle battery is fine.[/uli][uli]There is a battery compartment that takes 10 AA size NICADs.[/uli][uli]Power consumption when both stepper motors are running is 1A x 12V = 12 Watts[/uli][uli]I am willing to supply a power lead with spade terminals for connection to a small 12v lead acid motorcycle battery.[/uli]
Reply on this thread if you might be interested. When there are ten replies, I will negotiate the best price I can, and I will reply via private message to give you the direct contact details of the supplier. You will quote my name and the Kolor Forum, and the supplier will then confirm the discount and will deal direct with you thereafter. Oh and if you are a Celestron dealer in the EU and you want to be considered as our supplier for this order, then please send me a Private Message on this forum. Basically, its an open invitation to tender and the best price gets the order. I am also writing separately (by email) to various Celestron dealers. To be considered, you must confirm that the package you are supplying is the exact same one as is shipped to customers by Celestron in the USA. There is no closure date on the invitation to tender, instead the selection will be made when there are at least ten people ready to order, whenever that occurs!

Best regards,
Rob

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Rob Sherratt, British ex-pat living in Corfu, Greece
Professional Engineer; Amateur Musician, Photographer and Motorcyclist; Novice Moderator for this part of Kolor Forum!
"If all life's a stage, how come I can't remember my lines?"


Last edited by RobSherratt on Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:17 am 
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Update to my post above

The L bracket for portrait mode camera mounting is included in the package. The details of mounting and aligning the DSLR camera are shown on pages 6-12 of the user manual.

Image

The functions for panoramic photography provided in the dedicated controller are summarized below. The exact details are shown on pages 15-21 of the user manual.
The download link for the user manual was given in my previous message.

Easy Pano Mode
You adjust the mount to point to the center of the image you want to capture, then specify the upper, lower, right, and left limits of the panorama as angles.

Preset mode for full spherical panorama shooting
As well as automatically handling the 360 by 180 degree layering, the controller takes a zenith and nadir shot.

Time Lapse mode
You can set the controller to do time lapse photography, either with the camera stationary between shots, or with the camera panning between shots between two endpoints that you specify.
The time lapse interval between shots is anything from 1 second to 10 hours, you specify any number in H:MM:SS format from 0:00:01 to 9:59:59.

Video Filming Mode
Many DSLR's have video capture capability. Or you can mount a camcorder. You can set the controller to "Video mode" in which case it moves very smoothly along the path between two endpoints that you specify. You tell the controller how much time (in H:MM:SS format) you want it to take moving between the two endpoints, and it then slews the camera at a constant rate between the start point and end point, arriving at the end point after the time you specified.

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Rob Sherratt, British ex-pat living in Corfu, Greece
Professional Engineer; Amateur Musician, Photographer and Motorcyclist; Novice Moderator for this part of Kolor Forum!
"If all life's a stage, how come I can't remember my lines?"


Last edited by RobSherratt on Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:02 pm 
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Hi
I am not interseted (use merlin/panogear), but did You now, You should pay also value added tax and customs duty if You buy from non EU countries?
And then price may be NOT " less than 400 Euros".

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:30 pm 
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RobSherratt wrote:
Celestron have now discontinued the manufacture of the Merlin motorized mount, and the "AllView" is its replacement. It is fully compatible with the Papywizard software that many have used to control their Merlins, but "AllView" comes with its own programmable controller, so you may not need to use Papywizard any more.

Sorry Rob, this is not correct !!!

The Merlin (and assimilated) is still availlable actually in EUROPE and most countries in the world, "EXCEPT USA" where Celestron (Skywatcher affiliate) have imposed a commercial limitations on the Merlin head !

The Allview isn't the replacement of the Merlin !!!

There are some limitations in the "Built-in" functionalities of the AllView Mount for panoramic applications and, as allready mentionned, Weight / Huge footprint etc are limiting factors !

The rotation speed of the Allview is similar to the Merlin ... (if you have seen faster speeds in video, this is not the reality, this is only fast forward video effects...)

Papywizard (multiplatform), PanoramaApp (Android) and T&C touch-controler (full autonomous controler device) are still applicable to the Allview and will allow to break-out the Allview software limitations (not the "huge" foot-print and weight of course ...)

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:cool: Claude :cool:
Merlin + Papywizard on Windows 7 & Nokia 770 § N810 & Acer (Netbook) + PanoramaApp Androïd + Deltawave PapyMerlin BT + Autopano
Spherical Pano (180 x 360) with Canon 40D + Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 Zoom & Pôle Pano with Canon 5D MK2 and shaved Tokina 10-17 3.5-4.5 AF DX Fisheye
Gigapixel photography with Nikon D200 + Sigma 70-200 F 2.8 EX DG APO HSM


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:02 pm 
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Mateusz Malinowski wrote:
Hi
I am not interseted (use merlin/panogear), but did You now, You should pay also value added tax and customs duty if You buy from non EU countries?
And then price may be NOT " less than 400 Euros".

Yes. The target price in the EU (if we can get an order together for ten of these) will be under 400 Euros including VAT. They are currently listed by Phil Burton Photography in the UK at 340 GBP plus 8.99 GBP in the UK, these prices including VAT. That would correspond to 434 Euros, there would be extra shipping costs to send elsewhere in Europe. I anticipate to negotiate a better deal based on ten people ordering at the same time.

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Rob Sherratt, British ex-pat living in Corfu, Greece
Professional Engineer; Amateur Musician, Photographer and Motorcyclist; Novice Moderator for this part of Kolor Forum!
"If all life's a stage, how come I can't remember my lines?"


Last edited by RobSherratt on Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:48 pm 
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claudevh wrote:
The Merlin (and assimilated) is still availlable actually in EUROPE and most countries in the world, "EXCEPT USA" where Celestron (Skywatcher affiliate) have imposed a commercial limitations on the Merlin head ! The Allview isn't the replacement of the Merlin !!!

Hi Claude,

Another user on this forum posted saying the Merlin was discontinued - so it seems he was mistaken. I really must check my sources more thoroughly :) Anyway, I accept your input on this and I modified the thread starter correspondingly. Unfortunately, regardless whether the Merlin is still available or not, I'm doubtful whether the Merlin head would take the EOS 500D camera and EFS 17-55 f2.8 lens that I use, whereas the Skywatcher AllView definitely will. The weight of 4.5 kg for the AllView head and controller is not an issue for me, and the advantage of a compact controller included in this weight budget means that I will not have to bring a laptop or notebook to run Papywizard. The AllView system will consume 12 Watts of power when fully operational/ all servos driven. Are you able to answer these comparison questions about the Merlin?

[uli]What is the total weight of a Merlin head, a typical notebook and cable capable of running Papywizard?[/uli][uli]What is the total power consumption (in Watts) of the Merlin solution, inclusive of a typical notebook?[/uli][uli]What is the maximum length camera + Lens that is supported by the nodal offset bracket?[/uli][uli]What is the total camera + lens weight that may be carried?[/uli][uli]What is the typical cost of a Merlin solution complete with controller?[/uli]
Note: EOS500D + EFS 17-55 f2.8 weighs 1.2 Kg, requires about 300 mm clearance from pivot point when used at full zoom.

I'm asking because quite a critical factor for me is the weight of any batteries/ power supply I have to carry, plus the time for recharge. I'm often in remote locations (in the mountains in Greece) for several days and I don't want to bring an extra 12v battery or charger with me. Given that I am a motorcyclist, I will be able to use the battery of my DL-650 to power the AllView rig. Nearly always, I have been able to "park" the motorcycle right next to the viewpoints I use to take my panoramas, and I have a power takeoff socket fitted. Drawing 12 Watts/ 1A from a 30 AH battery will drain the battery by 33% during 10 hours continuous photographic use, and a 1 hour journey on the motorcycle will recharge it again.

Best regards,
Rob

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Rob Sherratt, British ex-pat living in Corfu, Greece
Professional Engineer; Amateur Musician, Photographer and Motorcyclist; Novice Moderator for this part of Kolor Forum!
"If all life's a stage, how come I can't remember my lines?"


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:38 am 
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The group buy is no longer on offer from me. I went ahead myself and ordered the AllView from HandsOnOptics in the USA. Their price was $399 plus $100 to ship to Greece. Then I will have to pay 25 % in duties when it goes through customs. At least I know for definite that this is the full USA package and not some European version that omits the camera brackets.

** Update: It arrived, exceptionally good hardware build quality. And I was not charged any customs or VAT duties in Greece. Amazing! **

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Rob Sherratt, British ex-pat living in Corfu, Greece
Professional Engineer; Amateur Musician, Photographer and Motorcyclist; Novice Moderator for this part of Kolor Forum!
"If all life's a stage, how come I can't remember my lines?"


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:08 pm 
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RobSherratt wrote:
I'm doubtful whether the Merlin head would take the EOS 500D camera and EFS 17-55 f2.8 lens

No problem: i used a 5D2 with a 300mm Nikon- and a 200mm Canon-lens.

RobSherratt wrote:
I will not have to bring a laptop or notebook to run Papywizard. The AllView system will consume 12 Watts of power when fully operational/ all servos driven. Are you able to answer these comparison questions about the Merlin?

To use the Merlin with PapyWizard most users take a small Nokia, a Netbook or the TC. Merlin needs 12V. The TC controller is about the size of a small cigarette-pack - fits into every pocket. The TC definitely is the most comfortable solution.

RobSherratt wrote:
What is the maximum length camera + Lens that is supported by the nodal offset bracket?[/uli][uli]What is the total camera + lens weight that may be carried?What is the typical cost of a Merlin solution complete with controller?

I would name 300mm as definitely safe and 400mm as most likely safe. You don´t need to care much about the NPP when you shoot long distances using 300-400mm. Total weight . . i didn´t measure it, but as said it took my 5D2/300mm without any problem. Others used longer lenses without issues.

Typical costs differ: you can buy a Merlin for around 150.-€ and the TC from Kolor (price in the list). So i guess for about 400-500.-€ you can get a solution that has proven it´s reliability for years now and is backuped by a large community (that´s more important than you might thing :cool: )

RobSherratt wrote:
I'm often in remote locations (in the mountains in Greece) for several days and I don't want to bring an extra 12v battery or charger with me.

The accus that Josef provides for the Merlin would suit you best i mean. I have 4 of them inside my Panoneed - they´re good for about 3000-5000 moves/shots. So two of them in the Merlin should have power for at least 1500 shots. And they´re small enough and light enough to carry 4 or 6 as backup.

RobSherratt wrote:
Given that I am a motorcyclist, I will be able to use the battery of my DL-650 to power the AllView rig. Nearly always, I have been able to "park" the motorcycle right next to the viewpoints I use to take my panoramas, and I have a power takeoff socket fitted. Drawing 12 Watts/ 1A from a 30 AH battery will drain the battery by 33% during 10 hours continuous photographic use, and a 1 hour journey on the motorcycle will recharge it again.

Looking at the AllView-pictures i recognize that it´s definitely larger in any aspect than the Menlin. It´s vertical arm surely isn´t longer than Merlin´s vertical arm.
See: looking 90° up wehen shooting a sphere you most unlikely will use a lens of more then 85mm - and that´s definitely not exceeding the length the Merlin allows to use:
i did it many times using a 1,4/85mm Nikon lens on my 20D and 5D2 with the Merlin. I had the Merlin/TC and the 5D2 with 4 lenses in a Tamrac no.12 bag. No problem to carry around. The Merlin with 2 accus inside definitely doesn´t weight 4,5Kg . . i guess it´s around 2,5Kg - 3Kg.

I´m quite sure: the AllView couldn´t beat the Merlin regarding the features and the variety of controlling-devices. How much the AllViews´s conroller matches the needs of panorama-photography definitely would be interesting to know. I definitely have doubts.

I mean the AllView is not a real alternative to the Merlin - at least not in Europe, regarding the additional costs. But we will see: i hope you´ll keep us informed.

best to you and good luck, Klaus

PS: i forgot to ask - does the AllView provide XML for positioning? That´s very important for shooting large mosaics - especially outdoors!

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Last edited by klausesser on Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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