Customer Reviews: Celestron Heavy-Duty Altazimuth Tripod
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on April 28, 2013
I see a wide range of opinions on this, and I'm writing this because I think they're all missing a piece of the puzzle. Here's the deal. When I buy an optical instrument for astronomical viewing, my thoughts are that I should expect to pay about as much for my mounting system as for the instrument itself, give or take. However, if I've got something cheap, say a C90MAK or C130MAK or similar, what are my mounting options? A sturdy, but sub-professional photographic tripod is problematic. First, you're probably pushing the weight capacity of the mount. Second, since most tripod manufacturers are thinking "camera" (or maybe camera with a moderately long lens), the moment arm of a telescope is probably larger than the mount manufacturer expects. Third, it's hard to point, especially if you're close to the limits of the mount.

The "Heavy-Duty" tripod addresses these three issues. It's sturdy enough to hold small telescopes, and provides fine motion controls which are extremely useful for high magnification optics, and it does so at a reasonable price.

That said, there are some issues with this piece of equipment. First, while there is a fine control for altitude adjustment, and both a fine and coarse control for azimuth adjustment, there is no coarse altitude control, like a tilt lever for a "normal" tripod. Instead, you grab the scope and push or pull on it to tilt. I wish there were a lever for this, and I wish I could tighten it or loosen it like on a regular telescope. It's possible that adding the tighten/loosen feature and making it hold the projected equipment isn't possible without adding significant cost. I can see that. So at least give me a lever with which to tilt the existing head. How much could that cost, really?

Some parts are also a bit flimsy. The tripod legs are hollow aluminum, and I wish they were maybe one gauge thicker to make them a little sturdier. Of course, this would add cost and weight, but I'd be cool with that. I'm also a bit worried about
the leg cross brace/equipment holder. While I think it feels flimsier than it is, I could easily see it getting bent and causing problems. Again, I'd be good with paying a little more for something a little sturdier.

Third, the tripod has no bubble level. This isn't a huge deal, at least not nearly the deal it would be on an equatorial mount, but still, if I can get one on a $14.99 photo tripod, it can't be that expensive.

Fourth, my only choice for leg tips are plastic points, which will sink into mud or soft grass and transfer vibration well on bricks or paving stones. Having the option to use rubber feet would be nice.

I don't expect that making the changes I recommend would cost more than, what, $20 extra? I'd be willing to pay that, bringing the Amazon cost from $80 to $100, in order to make this thing more generally useful to me, but if I'm careful, it works fine with the equipment it was designed to be used with, and it's a lot cheaper than going to the "next step up", which will probably cost about $200.

One additional problem with the tripod, though, is that I don't think it's very suitable with the 20x80 or 25x100 binoculars that are listed in the product description. First, with a maximum height of 45" ... well, you do the math. Yeah, you could try to use that combination in a seated position, but once you tilt the binoculars off the horizon, it's going to get crowded, and you'll wind up with a frustrating experience. If you're looking for a real mount for your big binoculars, I don't think you'll be able to do something decent for less than the cost of a decent tripod base plus a low-end parallelogram mount, which means spending $250 or more.

For a small, inexpensive reflector, though, such as those listed in the product description or others with a standard tripod 1/4"-20 screw receptacle, it works well enough without breaking the bank. If you've spent $300 on your scope, go ahead and buy a better mount than this, but if you've just bought a C90MAK or something similar on Amazon for $150, this will do.
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on February 24, 2006
There were no instructions with this tripod and being an amateur I found it a bit puzzling as to how to attach the binoculars this is suppposed to support - the binoculars don't stay pointed at the angle I want. I may be missing something about how to use it, so I'm going to try to get help from the web or a telescope store. Other than that it seems like a nice solid tripod.
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on July 16, 2013
The build quality for the price is actually quite good. I am not using this as a telescope mount. I built a sky tracker system for my digital camera and needed a better altazimuth adjustment for aligning with Polaris. The ball head I used just kept getting off track as I tightened it down with the load. This tripod has large handles that turn easily and firmly which allows a quicker, smoother, more accurate fine adjustment. The only problem I had was figuring out how to move the head up closer to my altitude setting. There where no instructions included (I don't know if this was repackaged,or an oversight) so the only way I could see to do it was to loosen some locknuts. As I started to loosen the locknut, the whole head raised up! Then I realized that all I had to do was pull on the head firmly to adjust the altitude up or down. The locknut was to adjust the tightness of that movement. Very simple but would have been easier if I had the instructions!

Out in the field it works quite well. The feet are pointed so it sticks well in loose soil. It is heavy enough to support a decent weight. My sky tracker with camera and lens weighs about 8 pounds and the tripod doesn't budge even in 10mph winds so I am happy there! I would have like it to get a little higher because I have to bend down to look at my camera's screen for night photography but the tripod was intended for telescopes so I'm sure it is plenty high for its original purpose. All in all, for the money I think it is a solidly built tripod and money well spent....for my purpose!
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on April 7, 2016
I don't understand why all the negative reviews. If you are an astronomy or astro-photography enthusiast with an expectation on getting nothing by the best results, then you should prepare to spend several hundred or even thousands on the equipment. For an altazimuth tripod that costs just around $70, it's an excellent tripod. I use it on the C90 mainly for target sighting at the shooting range and occasionally use it to look at the moon, Saturn, or something easy to find in the night sky. The tripod is steady (Adding some rubber padding on the bottom with help) and the find adjustments work perfectly. By the way, I think the fine adjustments are meant to make small adjustments, like a few degrees up/down or left/right, not 0 ~ 90 degree adjustment. Anyway, I love it, and I would recommend it for any "non-professional" scope users.
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on July 5, 2014
I purchased the Celestron 52252 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope to put on top of this tripod. I couldn't be happier with both products. The tripod is rock solid, has good feet for grass, dirt, or concrete. The fine adjustment for azimuth and elevation make it easy to find the target and keep it locked on. I am extremely satisfied with this tripod at this price.
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on December 9, 2012
I'm sure this is not for everyone. I bought it to use with a 1250 mm telephoto lens. Was too heavy for stability with a standard camera type tripod. This fills the bill for me just fine.

Pro's: Very stable. Love the cable operated adjustments for vertical-horizontal fine adjustments. The mount has adequate strength and length to support long (but narrow) attachments.

Con's: It's a bit long (folded) for travel. In spite of that however, it's not really tall enough for "normal" camera use. Only height adjustment is extending or retracting legs. Pan has a knob to allows the head to turn easily. Height does not. Strictly friction and pretty tight.

That said, I only included the Con's for information to those who would buy it for conventional camera usage. Nothing I listed in the con's (except maybe the overall height of 45"), really has any effect on my use.

Overall, if you need a good stable platform at a reasonable price, this should work for you.
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on August 19, 2012
This tripod was purchased to provide a stable platform for the Celestron C90 spotting scope with zoom eyepiece providing a 52x to 156x magnication. Placed in an apartment approximately 350 feet above street level, the scope needs to pitch (i.e. rotate front up/down) -45 degrees to +25 degrees. Moreover, the scope should remain extremely steady to observe small subjects. Unfortunately, the Celestron Heavy-Duty Altazimuth Tripod fails to deliver on both requirements.

With a magnifications greater than 50x, the slightest movement can cause the observer to lose track of the subject. At one mile, every degree equals 92 feet. So, I was a bit surprised that rotating the zoom of the eyepiece will move the field of view because the tripod is NOT rock solid. While I realize there are vastly most expensive and heavier tripods available, this tripod isn't exactly portable. Moreover, there is even some play in the adjustment knobs that proves problematic.

On the pitch motion, I was a bit surprised there wasn't a greater gross adjustment range. That is to say, it only provides about 30 degrees up and 10 degrees down. The latter is far too close to horizontal to look down a steep hill or an urban street scene from a high rise building. Oddly, the gross adjustment is controlled by manually moving the scope and hoping the friction of pivot bolt holds it into place. There should be a clamp to insure steadiness such as on a machinist's vise. If the user would like to invert the pivot range, the tripod can be around with the adjustment knobs pointing in the wrong direction, away from the user. Clearly, the tripod was not designed for spotting scope applications such as viewing subjects in hilly terrain.

Some users may find the height of the tripod insufficient. For use while the observer is standing, the height should be about 6 to 18 inches shorter than the user. So, if you are 70 inches tall, the necessary height could be 52 to 64 inches depending on the type of scope. Again, there is room for improvement as the max height is only 46 inches.

Lastly, I was stunned at the lack of knowledge demonstrated by the Celestron tech support team. Basic questions such as an explanation of the different mounting arrangements could not be answered. More complicated questions led the support representative to talk in circles. Don't expect much pre- or post-sales assistance from Celestron.

Modest price
Heavier than travel tripods

Poorly trained tech support representatives
No clamp/thumbscrew on gross adjust pivot
Too short for some applications
Not rock solid despite weight
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on April 30, 2015
I use this tripod with astronomy binoculars for observation of planets. It is stable and allows accurate aiming at any point in the sky in seconds, in part because the coarse-altitude adjustment is fast and stable. The dual altitude adjustment on this tripod is one of my favorite features: friction adjustment (coarse) and lead-screw adjustment (fine).

Some users who reported very-limited altitude adjustment range, appear (based on details in some comments) to have missed Celestron's online description of altitude adjustment, which says: "To make large adjustments in altitude, simply grab the mount and move it to the desired location. A friction clutch installed in the head will hold it in position." It would be helpful if Celestron would include a note to this effect with the tripod (no manual included; but at this price I can't complain). Using both altitude adjustments and both azimuth adjustments allows fast, accurate aiming at any point in the sky.

The stability, ease of aiming, stability and affordability of this tripod make it one of my favorites for planetary astronomy.
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on September 29, 2014
Great for wildlife viewing and star gazing with a Celestron C90. Fine tuning lets me keep the object in view. Some people complain about the limited range of motion on the fine adjusters. I don't think they realize that you move the entire head as a rough adjustment and then use the fine knobs.
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on August 1, 2013
BUT, no instructions come with it. If you new at this, beginner, novice, otherwise, it has no instructions on how it goes together. Maybe Celestron figures you already know, but I had no idea what the long thingys were and what were their function. I had to look at the picture on the box to see where they go, then there's a shorter thingy, now that one I had to figure out where that one went, and after a few trial and error, I see where it attaches at, now to figure out what are the functions.... and how do I mount the Celestron C90 to it. If you love to do this type of figuring out, you'll have fun, (I did actually). I did see other reviews that it doesn't tip up as far to see other constellations, but I dipped the back leg down on the tripod a tad and that would put the angle up higher. Just be careful and don't leave it in the position, as it might tip over.
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