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.


32 Replies to “Tutorial: Stacked Astrophotography Panoramas”

  1. Just point of Clarity – When you say 4 exposures in each zone – do you mean 4 “images” OR do you mean 4 images of different exposure values…like -4, -3, -2, -1…etc. I only ask because – at least on my Sony – If I set the ISO to a value manually – I can’t set exposure – If I set ISO to Auto – I can set exposure, but cannot set ISO value….I know it’s a dumb question. I also sent another question through email – see if you can find it – I’ve donated $100. (Since this has been my bible for night sky photography for about 3 years…Love what you do bro…

    1. Tyler did he answer you on this? I was wondering the same thing! Just four images or is he doing different exposures? TY

  2. Thanks for this recommendation! I’m shooting an A7RIII on a RRS TVC-24. I have a Kirk BH-1 Ballhead but figure a leveling base is warranted. Wondering if you would recommend the Desmond over getting a RRS unit – the Desmond is much less $. Or any other things out now that you would use instead?? I plan on panos as well as getting a tracker at some point. Thanks!

  3. Thank-you so much… this cleared a bunch of technique issues up for me. I am not a Lightroom user (prefer DxO) but I can see there is are a lot of benefits to LR.

  4. Tried to subscribe and got the following error message.


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  5. 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.

  6. 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?

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