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)

Disclosure

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Learn Astrophotography

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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Lonely Speck is my full-time job. It’s been an amazing experience for us to see a community develop around learning astrophotography and we’re so happy to be a small part of it. I have learned that amazing things happen when you ask for help so remember that we are always here for you. If you have any questions about photography or just want to share a story, contact us! If you find the articles here helpful, consider helping us out with a donation.

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

-Ian

28 Replies to “Tutorial: Stacked Astrophotography Panoramas”

  1. Thanks for this tutorial. I was not sure of the gear. The Sunwayfoto DDP-64SI – this only is the rotating base, the head on top – does that have to be a particular ball head? I have one which does not allow easy horizontal rotation as it has 1 screw tightening head only. This will not matter if the Sunwayfoto DDP-64SI does the rotating. How does the Sunwayfoto DDP-64SI rotate – is it set according to the choice of rotation detents? Thanks. It means also I have to buy Sunwayfoto DDP-64SI . Can you explain the nodal slider as I don’t understand how to find this.

  2. This was a really good article. I’ve been able to take some pretty decent milky way shots as I learn the ropes but this will take it to the next level. With Mars shining brilliantly next to the Milky Way, I’m excited to get out and try this process out!

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