Vixen - Polarie Star Tracker - DISCONTINUED
- Product Review (submitted on April 1, 2012):
I recently purchased a Vixen Polarie and finally had a first light opportunity. I'd like to let you know that this is an amazing product. I had originally intended to procure another product, and knew nothing of the Polarie at the time.. However, after being able to evaluate the Polarie next to other products, and discuss my requirements with the knowledgeable staff at Woodland Hills, I took a leap of faith and carried the Polarie and Vixen tripod home with me.
First off, I travel frequently on business and seldom have time to image any more with my larger gear as I cannot possibly take it with me on flights. My main requirement was to obtain a system that is portable and airport friendly. Given the fact that I was able to put the Polarie, tripod, laptop, camera, and accessories all in my carry-on backpack for the flight home was simply impressive. The Polarie and tripod only added a few pounds. The competitor platforms take up a much larger footprint, and are certainly nowhere near as lightweight.
Secondly, the Polarie will track continuously without needing to rewind the gears, or time limits. This is important as I often will set up, pull the trigger on the camera, and go to sleep while imaging the same object for hours. Two hours is not enough integration time for serious attempts on some objects.
The simplistic setup of this platform is astounding. You don't need to bolt on extra dovetails, or adapters, or a full-scale pier to mount it to. No need for anything beyond the tripod, Polarie, and a camera. Other products require accessories to get going properly.
Lastly, but probably the most important - the tracking. I don't have my Polar scope just yet. However, as you can tell by the first light image (http://www.vixenoptics.com/mounts/Orion_Widefield_JK_L.jpg), I was shooting at a target due South, at a low angle with nothing more than a rough alignment through the viewfinder and was able to run exposures exceeding 180 seconds with a 50mm lense. I spent no more than a matter of seconds aligning the Polarie. Since my first light image, I've been able to push the limits of this platform by moving up from 50mm, to 300mm and still able to produce the same results while tracking due South, all without the polar scope. I've let my filtered camera track the sun for a few hours one afternoon with very little drift detected at 300mm.
In summary this is an astounding product. This is the most portable imaging platform I have seen. It is so compact that it makes a Netbook look cumbersome. The precision is spot on. The Polarie is a serious contender. For the price, it should be a no-brainer decision for the casual or serious astrophotographer who is looking for a lightweight platform to travel with.