I am relatively new to the world of imaging but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt straight away it’s the less physical interaction there is between you and your imaging system whilst capturing the better. Especially if you’re not rich enough to afford one of those super steady mounts that cost the same as a small car! Enter this neat little filter wheel from Starlight Xpress.
The filter wheel contains 5 slots for filters, there is a 7 slot wheel available but I find 5 to be adequate. It means when using my DMK monochrome camera I have room for the red, blue and green filters as well as an IR cutoff and a light pollution filter. Movement of the wheel is completely automatic via a simple handheld remote, it’s silky smooth and very quiet but best of all it requires no manual intervention whatsoever. If you do need to change filters it requires no tools, just a little thumbscrew which is easily operated even with freezing fingers.
Another cool thing about the wheel is that it doesn’t need its own battery to operate, sometimes my back garden looks more like a jumble sale due to all the bits and bobs needed for imaging so the fact that it runs directly off my laptop is a welcome feature. It doesn’t seem to use an awful lot of juice in it’s operation either as my laptop lasts almost as long as normal with the wheel plugged in.
The best thing about the starlight though is the way its filter positions are electronically ‘remembered’ meaning even if you bump the wheel and it moves a bit you’ll still arrive bang on the next filter you select, very handy for the clumsier astronomer (ahem).
The wheel is nice and light to so it won’t cause any balancing issues and it’s nice and slim so doesn’t add too much extra length to your setup. At £300 it’s not cheap but unfortunately it’s the nature of the beast, imaging is an expensive pursuit and the need to quickly and efficiently change filters is a necessity. The starlight Xpress works brilliantly and in my opinion is worth every penny.
In conclusion it’s a fair bit of money to lay out but you’ll be glad you did as the amount of fiddlyness and frustration the starlight Xpress saves you is well worth the investment.