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!


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


27 Replies to “Tutorial: Stacked Astrophotography Panoramas”

  1. Ian, the leveler you specify is not the one you are using in the tutorial. The Desmond DLEVX does not have a leveling bubble. I did not realize this until buying one. Without the bubble on the leveler, it is not possible to level the camera over a ballhead since level in one position will not follow through for the full rotation.

  2. Question. You take your RAW files, export then to TIFFs. Combine the stacks and convert back to a DNG. This DNG is no longer a true RAW file then? Is that the case? What are you loosing from this method?

  3. Wondering why you no longer recommend/use the Nodal Ninja? If you use the ball head to tilt the camera up, you run the chance of not having the camera level, right? Seems like the Nodal Ninja would keep things squared and level since it mounts at a right angle of the leveled ball mount.

    1. I guess using the ball head. Otherwise, why would it be there? I had thought it would be hard to keep things from getting out of kilter, but I guess if one is careful it should not be a problem.

    2. This is my question too. It would seem that if you tilt your camera up or down from your original starting position, from the first row, I would think that the second row would now be out of parallax. Am I wrong on this?

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