Around the 0:50sec mark I include an example of Astro-Timelapse vs Regular Timelapse. In Astro-Timelapse mode, the mount tracks the stars for the short exposure, then resets the mount position back to the same starting point before starting the next exposure. For the ‘Regular timelapse’ the mount is turned off, so there is a higher degree of trailing in each frame. If the exposure times are too long, then the stars may appear to flicker from one position to the next between frames. This effect is similar to having a shutter angle that is too low during daytime photography and so footage may render smoother, albeit with trailed stars, in regular timelapse (non-tracking) mode. However, in this example the Astro-Timelapse mode is quite effective and produces more pleasing footage.
Either of these mounts are effective for timelapse motion control as a complement to tracked long-exposure astrophotography. If daytime timelapse motion control is your only intended function you may find dedicated motion control products cheaper (for single-axis) or offering dual-axis motion or more tailored control systems. The Astro-Timelapse option is an interesting and relatively unique feature that renders footage better than I expected.
The settings to configure the Console App for timelapse control could be made more intuitive. There are effectively two independent sets of figures – one to fix number and duration of exposures and the other to configure range and speed of motion. The App allows you to set the intended duration of the video file but this gets quite confusing as you need to set some parameters and then the others are determined based on these. My advice would be to set the exposure time and number of photos and let the App show you what the resulting duration of the video file will be (for a given frame rate). Then choose the amount of motion to apply – less is more in this case. I recommend not much more than 7 degrees per hour at night, unless you are shooting very short exposures under moonlight (<10 seconds).
Pushing the Limits
If your real interest lies in deep sky astrophotography and you intend or want to use long lenses or small telescopes, you need to ask yourself some hard questions about whether a portable tracking mount is right for you. Like most astrophotographers, I’ve have had it drummed in to me that you need a solid (heavy) mount for reliable imaging, which will typically allow for autoguiding in both right-ascension and declination axes also. But you are looking at $1500+ minimum, or hunting around on the second-hand market, to take that step.
So for the purposes of this review, I’ve had a go pushing the limits with these smaller mounts. The image below shows my Borg 77EDII eclipse scope (550mm focal length) with a Canon 5D Mark IV on the Star Adventurer 2i mount. On paper this is actually within the 5kg load limit for the mount but it is a very wobbly beast with all that leverage hanging off such a small mount. Luckily it was a calm, although not completely still, night.