Last night and tonight, I shot Saturn with gear on hand, all without the aid of a telescope or tracking gear.

Firstly, one thing that didn’t work. I saw on a website somewhere that you could take a scope or other T-mounted long lens and use a teleconverter (like my Canon TC’s) and use that multiplier with the lens. So, my Celestron 750mm f/6 suddenly becomes a 1050mm f/8+ with the 1.4 TC attached.

Well, the 20D didn’t like that combination, and kept throwing Err 01 messages. Guess that’s not such a good combination, eh!

So last night, I shot with the Celestron 750mm f/6 on the Hakuba tripod (using its default head — more on that below) and tonight I shot with my Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 and the Canon 2x Teleconverter, the combination delivering 800mm f/11, mounted on my trusty Bogen tripod with my Bogen 3030 head. Both times, I shot in RAW mode, and used mirror lockup (custom function 14). Skies were hazier tonight, and both nights there was a garish bright moon to wash things out. 😉

First impressions? Well, just from a shooting perspective, the Bogen is built like a tank — it doesn’t move. I noticed the Hakuba doesn’t seem to handle the vibration quite as well. Now, it’d probably be worth swapping lens and legs, and seeing if that’s a function of the huge Celestron lens being on the head, or if it’s something more specific to the tripod.

The other usability item I noticed was how solid the Bogen head is. You turn the knobs, and it’s in place…. for good. The default Hakuba head just doesn’t handle the weight of the Celestron as well, especially tipped straight up to shoot astronomical fields. I’ve also noticed that with the 100-400 attached, so I think that’s just the way that head works.

Now, I love the Hakuba. It’s easier to set up and is much, much lighter than my Bogen, but this smacks of “the right tool for the right job”. The Bogen just seemed to excel when shooting astronomical subjects.

So, how’d the lens compare? The Celestron should’ve produced brighter images, and it seemed to, so no surprise there. However, focusing that thing is a bear, even with the Canon Angle Finder C attached to the body. So, the Celestron gets a nod for brighter images, but the Canon gets a big ol’ check mark for ease of use.

Image quality-wise, they both looked pretty similar, although I still need to practice astrophotography with both of them — I have a lot of room for improvement. Adding the Angle Finder C was a huge improvement though. It is really helping me with my focusing.