Tutorial: Stacked Astrophotography Panoramas

Tutorial: Stacked Astrophotography Panoramas

This video tutorial combines two of my favorite techniques for maximizing image quality of astrophotos: stacking and stitching.

Video Tutorial

Two of my favorite technigues for improving the quality of astrophotography are highlighted in my tutorials for stacking and stitching. Over the last year, I’ve been testing different workflows to combine these two techniques together in order to truly maximize the image quality of my astrophotography. Creating a stacked panorama is now my personal favorite technique for shooting astrophotography. Check out my workflow in the tutorial below:

Any questions on the technique? Let us know in the comments below!

Gear

For your camera and lens, I recommend simply using a standard prime like a fast 50mm or similar. The mildly longer focal length and fast aperture that are typical on a standard prime will make for an ideal light gathering tool for this technique.

Sunwayfoto DDP-64SI and Desmond DLEVX-68 Leveling Base

Our Panorama Head: the Sunwayfoto DDP-64SI and Desmond DLEVX-68 Leveling Base with a 120mm Nodal Slide

I also highly recommend a simple horizontal panorama head in order to make the shooting process easier. It’s not a requirement but it has certainly made shooting these massive panoramas much simpler. Here’s what I used:

Sony a7S (B&H)
Sony Zeiss 55mm/1.8 (B&H)
Sunwayfoto DDP-64SI Panorama Head (B&H)
Desmond DLEVX Leveler (B&H)
Desmond 120mm Nodal Slide (B&H)
Sirui T-025X Tripod (B&H)

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This tutorial is part of Astrophotography 101 a course on accessible astrophotography that’s completely free for everyone. All of the lessons are available on the Lonely Speck Astrophotography 101 page for you to access at any time. Enter your email and whenever we post a new lesson you’ll receive it in your inbox. We won’t spam you and your email will stay secure. Furthermore, updates will be sent out only periodically, usually less than once per week.

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Thanks so much for being a part of our astrophotography adventure.

-Ian

11 Responses

  1. Marc December 13, 2017 / 5:51 am

    Hi There. nice tutorial. but can i ask have you tested the Canon 24mm f2.8 Pancake Lens for Astrophotography?

  2. Chris Macias December 12, 2017 / 10:47 am

    Awesome tutorial! been waiting for this one for a while. Definitely stepped up the video editing on this one. Great thorough explanation as needed for something like this.

  3. Amit Kamble December 9, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    That’s an excellent tutorial man, but I think I’ve posted a comment before, I’d really love to learn how you did the timelapse for the opening credit 🙂

  4. Keith Evans December 6, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    Nice tutorial as always. I’ve been using this technique on a few images for a while but you showed me a couple new things with stitching which is super cool.

    I’m wondering about the dpi of the stacked/exported images.

    I’m seeing 72dpi on the exported images, but the images I imported were 240dpi (im using a Sony A7s).

    Am I losing resolution with Starry Landscape Stacker? I’m beginning to print my images much more and this is why I’m wondering.

    • Ian Norman December 7, 2017 / 9:14 am

      DPI is a concept that applies only to print size. If your overall resolution pixel dimensions do not change, the image will still have the same resolution. In this case, SLS may be exporting at 72dpi but that just means that the print dimension is larger… not that you’ve lost resolution. So… basically you have nothing to worry about.

  5. Blake December 5, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    Thanks for the great tutorial Ian. I will be using this information as I continue to shoot stary nights in Montana.

  6. Juan Renta December 5, 2017 / 2:50 pm

    I was just looking for exactly this type of information. Thanks, Ian!

  7. Dale T December 1, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    Another great video.

    I played with this over the summer. I used groups of three, with dark frames. That seemed to give good results and minimized alignment problems

    • Ian Norman December 7, 2017 / 9:17 am

      I’ve actually tried it with success with up to 8 exposures per position but it’s best if limited to a smaller number of positions for the panorama.

  8. Jordan December 1, 2017 / 9:00 am

    Video production and editing went way up with this one! Thanks for the tutorial, and keep it up!

    • Ian Norman December 7, 2017 / 9:16 am

      Thanks Jordan! It was a tough one to edit but I learned a lot in the process!

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