30mm Guide Scope and L Bracket Set Up
Astrophotography,  Photo Gear

How to Mount a Guide Scope to Your DSLR / Mirrorless Camera without a Telescope

I have several good Canon DSLR lenses that I have been using for Astrophotography.  Using my Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Go To mount with a good polar alignment, I’ve been able to get 3 – 3.5 minute exposures.

I wanted to take my astrophotography to the next level and start using a guide scope and camera and continue to use my DSLR lenses.

Guide Scope Mounted to a Canon 80D using an L Bracket
Guide Scope Mounted to a Canon 80D using an L Bracket

Guide Scope Mounting Equipment

After a lot of research, I came up with a solution using an Arca Swiss Compatible L-Bracket and Quick Release Plate.  I ordered a Newer Quick release Plate and an off brand L-Bracket, and the set up cost me less than $35.

Topaz Labs

Using this set up, your guide scope and guide camera will be mounted off to the side of the DSLR, not on top.  I’ve used this set up with a Canon 80d and the following lenses:

The L Bracket that I ordered is no longer available on Amazon but they appear to fit on many camera models. The one that I purchased worked on all my cameras that are listed below:

  • Canon 5D Mark III
  • Canon 7D Mark II
  • Canon 80D
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1X
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 III

Here is a similar Arca Swiss L Bracket that I found. Make sure you look at the dimensions for your camera.

I’ve mounted a ZWO ASI120MM-S guide camera and ZWO 30mm f/4 guide scope with this set up and I have been able to consistently get exposures of 5 minutes. 

Lagoon (M8) and Trifid (M20) Nebulae
Lagoon (M8) and Trifid (M20) Nebulae

The above photo of the Lagoon and Trifed Nebulae were taken with this set up using a Canon 80d (modified) and the Canon 300mm f/4 lens.  Here are the settings and the exposure information for this image: ISO 800, f4.5 31 lights at 300 seconds, 10 darks, 20 flats.

This guide scope configuration is easy to set up and small enough to leave assembled between shoots.

30mm Guide Scope and L Bracket Set Up
30mm Guide Scope and L Bracket Set Up

Guide Scope Set Up and Tips

Here are a few set up steps & tips.  I’ve also attached photographs of the set up from different angles.

  • The long end of the L bracket screws into the bottom of the camera using a tripod screw.
Attaching the Guide Scope to the Quick Release Plate
Attaching the Guide Scope to the Quick Release Plate
  • The guide scope bracket attaches to the quick release plate through a hole in the middle of the plate. 
Ensure you Leave Enough Room for Your Cable
Ensure you Leave Enough Room for Your Cable
  • Make sure you leave room at the side of your bracket for the USB cable or Intervalometer cable.  There is a gap in the quick release plate that I was able to feed the USB cable through without bending it.
  • When attaching the L bracket / guide scope mount to your camera and lens make sure you keep the guide scope parallel with the lens.

This is a great way to continue to use your DSLR / mirrorless lenses for Astrophotography without having to buy several telescopes of different sizes.

Written by Martin Belan

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