The Move-Shoot-Move SIFO rotator is a very compact star tracking, timelapse and panorama device. The makers of the device approached me to do a review of the unit, so a disclaimer is that I didn’t pay for the unit, they sent me an affiliate link and discount code.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
The SIFO Rotator, a hot shoe cable, micro usb charging cable 1/4 to 3/8 adapter, 2 allen keys and a bubble level. You can purchase separately a laser star pointer and a motorized slider unit.
The unit weighs 0.46kg with a payload weight is 3kg. This is comparable with a lot of portable star trackers. Just as a comparison, my Skywatcher Star Adventurer weighs 1kg and has a payload of 5kg. I originally opted for this version as I tend to like experimenting a lot, however, the packability of the SIFO is very appealing.
MODE OF OPERATION
The SIFO appears to be very simple. It has a single dial that is used to change to any of the functions. The only variation is moving it clockwise or anti-clockwise and the rotator will move clockwise or anti-clockwise accordingly. The SIFO charges on micro usb cable. It appears to charge quite quickly (the advised time is 1 hour).
I found that once it’s been correctly aligned, that the unit appears to be quite accurate for star tracking. A separate kit can be purchased with a laser that can assist with polar alignment with Polaris. However polar alignment in the southern hemisphere is more difficult as it relies on an area of space around Octanis. For polar alignment in the southern hemisphere, I use the following steps:
- Work out the declination adjustment from magnetic south. I do this from an app or by webpage showing the location of where I am.
- Set the ball head plate head to the angle based on the latitude of the location. So if I’m at latitude 32 degrees – then I want to have the face of the ball head to be (90-32 = 58 degrees). If I’m using a skywatcher star adventurer, then I have the angle of the wedge set to the latitude (ie 32 degrees in the example).
- Using a magnetic compass, align the ball head plate to face south with an adjustment for declination. The declination adjustment for my location is only 1.6 degrees – so facing due south is sufficient for my angle.
- Mount the unit on the ball head and do a test.
Being on a ball head, it tends to be a bit harder to align. It would have been nice to have an attachment like the vixen polarie for quick alignment. It did take me longer to align with a simple ball head vs the wedge of the skywatcher star adventurer (plus leveling base).
I did a few tests of the star tracking. I tested 240s using a 50mm lens on a Canon 6d (full frame camera) with no material star trailing (there is a bit if you zoom in, however, this was a quick alignment). I also ran up to 16 minutes (960s) – this is where the alignment issues are more evident, however, this was after a quick alignment in windy conditions. A lot of astrophotography using a wider lens than 50mm – so the magnitude of misalignment is not so pronounced. So alignment is not all that easy in the southern hemisphere, but once you have it properly aligned, it appears to be very accurate.
I would recommend having the unit with the LED lights facing upwards. This will reduce any risk of red glare from the lights illuminating the ground.
The time lapse feature operates on an interesting way of having a hot shoe mount. After the camera shutter activates, a signal is sent to the SIFO and it rotates by a preset angle of 0.05, 0.075, 0.125, 2 or 9 degrees. This only works with Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras with a hot shoe.
If you lose the hot shoe cable, it can be replaced by a flash remote unit with a pc-sync cable that plugs into the 2.5mm jack.
I would have liked it to have had a continuous panning mode to use for go-pros or phones. I feel this would have improved the functionality of the device.
I didn’t really play around with the panorama mode, but it works in the same fashion as the timelapse mode. Moving an angle of 2 degrees or 9 degrees based on common camera focal lengths.
PROS AND CONS
On the positives:
- It is very very compact and packable. As I’ve been hiking kilometers at times to get to a location, the portability of the device is fantastic.
- The battery life appears to be very good. I let the unit run on star tracking for 22 hours before the low battery warning came on. If you’re concerned about battery life, you could always have a micro usb cable plugged in and charge it on the go.
Areas for improvement:
- Star tracking alignment – not limited to just this star tracker, but alignment in the southern hemisphere isn’t easy. I regularly get questions about aligning portable trackers.
- Timelapses – I’d have loved to have had a faster auto rotating speed for use with GoPros and phones.
- Battery – would have been nice to have an incremental battery indicator rather than “no problem” to “running out”.
The Moveshootmove SIFO Rotator is very capable and ultra-portable star tracker and time-lapse device. It appears to be very accurate once aligned properly for star tracking. The device has a few minor shortcomings.
If you’re interested in purchasing the device – click here (affiliate link) with a discount code “BEAR” for 5% off.