I'm in the process of setting up an imaging system specifically for wide field shots 18mm to 180mm. Tonight I've been setting up the camera, guider and motorized focus controller.
Here is the new camera mounting setup for now. I'll probably change something once I get it on the mount (CG5-ASGT yet to come), but this feels pretty good to start with.
See the pictures in the gallery to examine the setup.
The camera I moved from just being mounted directly onto the plate to a dovetail because I realized that when I switched lenses (of course) the weight distribution changed. So having the camera on a dovetail lets me move the camera back and forth as necessary with the lenses that vary in weight.
The camera is a stock Canon 1000D XS ($500):
The lens is a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM ($600):
The guide camera is a Meade DSI Pro (long discontinued - I got it used for $100):
The guide scope is a Vixen 7x50 finder (it's short tube is necessary to reach focus - $100):
The adapter mechanism between the guide cam and the guide scope is a form of an afocal adapter like this one ($30):
Not pictured is the Shoestring GPUSB guide controller interface ($100):
The plate is a William Optics Vixen-Style Dovetail Plate ($80):
The dovetail saddle holding the camera is a Baader Planetarium NexStar Bracket ($80):
The focuser motor is a WalterLee heliFocus Standard (package #3 - $198):
The finder is an Orion EZ Finder II red dot reflex finder ($40):
The EX Finder is on a Photosolve Extend-a-Sight Plus flash shoe dovetail ($25):
Rough total for the components in this section of this setup is $1,855.
There is the other section of the setup which is the mount (CG-5 ASGT - $450 used), laptop (MacBook Pro $500 used), software (Nebulosity - $65, PHD $0, Starry Night Pro $150), 2x 12v deep cycle battery (Kirkland 115 AH $90 each), various hubs, splitters, cables, etc ($70) for a rough total of another $1,415 and a combined total of $3,340.
It could have been put together for less money, but it's not like I was splurging here. None of these parts are top of the line (or even middle of the line for the most part). The most expensive pieces: the camera, mount and laptop are all the bottom of the barrel and purchased used. The lens (the single most expensive piece) could have been a much cheaper lens, for sure, but I got this lens for daytime family stuff and it happens to be a great AP lens. Even those 4 items only make up 2/3 of the price at $2k. Another $1,300 is in all of the other stuff to make it work (at it's optimum performance for what it is).
I guess the bottom line is that this stuff isn't exactly cheap, even when we are doing it on the cheap. I suppose the least expensive way to get gear like this is if you have machining skills and can make some parts. The other thing would be to omit parts that are more "nice to have's" like the belt drive focuser motor and the reflex finder and bracket.