Reviews of the Superb TTS Panther Mount
See here for professional reviews of this superb mount.
A customer's review
3 years ago I was looking for an astrophotography mount that would be the least hassle to set up and operate. After a 15 year break from astronomy, the hassle of polar alignment was still a clear memory. I was intrigued by the TTS Panther and after exchanging a number of e-mails with the the man behind TTS, Niels Haagh, I decided to take the plunge and invest in one along with the TTS rOTAtor which enables long exposure astrophotography with the mount.
3 years on, I cannot imagine moving back to an equatorial mount. Though I mainly image from home, I have no room for a permanent set up. I can have the Panther set up on my garden patio in 5 minutes. The mount requires no leveling and no polar alignment. Just place the sturdy pier in place, lift on the mount head, add the counterweights and your scope. Plug in the handpad and the necessary cables and you're ready to do a simple 2 star alignment. The handpad is just a joy to use and whizzing through the menus, the alignment is soon done. GOTO accuracy is very good and can be further refined though I have never found the need. I use PHD2 for guiding and basically use default settings. Perhaps I could tweak these but as I have always been happy with the guiding, I haven't bothered as yet. I find the only subs I throw away are ones with airplane trails etc, not ones due to any guiding issues. I should say at this point that I image at around 500mm focal length but I see no reason for the tracking and guiding not to be good at much longer FL's. Once on target and the guiding calibration is complete, you are ready to begin imaging.
Not forgetting that you can image right through the Meridian (there is no Meridian Flip with an Alt Az mount). Too good to be true? Well not really, though you do need to understand the rOTAtor and how to image with it. Firstly it is very accurate but the field rotation speed varies depending on which part of the sky you are imaging. This means you will get much longer before having to rewind the rOTAtor imaging in the East or West than imaging in the North or South. Likewise the higher in the sky the faster the field rotation. In other words imaging in the South may give you an hour before rewind but you may have two hours in the West. Rewinding the rOTAtor is as simple as a couple of clicks on the handpad. Just pause the guiding, rewind the rOTAtor and re-frame the target by rotating the imaging camera approximately the same amount as the rOTAtor re-wound. It's really not complicated at all and I have got it down to a fine art now. If you are imaging a smaller target than the full frame, then just don't bother re-framing as it isn't necessary (your stacking software takes care of aligning the different sets of images).
What else can I say? The quality of materials and construction is first class - this is no mass production product. Everything packs away into a couple of supplied bags. Check out the TTS website for a nice video of the mount being set up. Support from TTS is excellent, so no worries there. Also worth saying that as a visual mount, being an Alt Az the eyepiece is never at some crazy uncomfortable angle.
I am no expert at image processing but feel free to have a look at my little website. All the images were made using the TTS Panther: