Multi-row Milky Way Panorama - Shooting Workflow

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
OP indigoshrine Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Multi-row Milky Way Panorama - Shooting Workflow

Astrophotographer 10 wrote:

You're getting some good advice here.

A few minor pointers. Your 18mm FOV seems quite narrow, is this an APSc camera?

Thanks for the feedback! No this was shot with a 50mm on a full frame (Sony A7iii).

That makes it a little harder as there are more panels needed. But generally speaking short focal length lenses tend to have optical aberrations, even the good ones. Panos tend to crop those out though.

I prefer portrait mode because some stitching software (PT Gui for example) seem to struggle to align 2 side by side panels that are stars only, no landscape. So ideally get a little bit of landscape in the image.

I have used a mini Pano head (Bushmans) with its click stop making it easy to shoot panels that match well. But you do need to occasionally sit the pano head back up vertically as it moves with the tracking.

I often shoot ISO1600 or 3200 and F2.8 depending on the lens. I do 8 shots at 30 seconds. That gets rid of noise in the image. Shorter tracked exposures are preferrable to me as polar alignment is a lot harder in the southern hemisphere and a 14mm lens at F2.8 on a full frame camera is very forgiving and round sharp stars at 30 seconds is easy to achieve. 3-4 minutes implies excellent polar alignment. Which is quite a skill by itself.

8 x 30 seconds stacked is veyr similar to 1 x 4 minutes except the 4 minute exposure is going to test your tracking, wind gusts, accidentally bumping the tripod.

Good point. I saw another thread discussing more stacked with shorter exposure vs. fewer shots with longer tracking time. It seems both work fine as long as you somehow just collect enough light (and of course, there is more risk in that one long exposure to be ruined). I noticed you use fairly high ISO settings. With up to ISO3200, won't you lose too much dynamic range? For my non-tracked shots I typically shoot in ISO6400 and they tend to be much inferior color detail-wise to anything I shoot at ISO1600 or lower.

14mm lenses though do add some distortion and it becomes hard to match land and sky as a result. So your 18mm lens may be just the ticket.

Blending tracked sky with untracked landscape is the really hard part.

If you use a nice mirrorless and the ISO is high enough you can see the landscape/bright stars well enough to frame the next image accurately enough to work. I have used ballheads this way and it wasn't difficult but the worst error is you leave a gap between 2 exposures and your pano is ruined. 50% overlap seems excessively conservative.

A click stop rotating pano base would be enough as the angle required is something easier to predict with a short test image or two. Just pick a distinctive item from the previous image you are trying to overlap with.

Yes, I will definitely tone down the overlap. Regarding click stop rotating pano base, I had the Novoflex Pano 48 in mind, but this is on hold for now as I will get an automatic tripod head later this year.

If you use an intervalometer make sure you put some black tape over any lights it may have or from your camera. They can light up the foreground and be visible in shots. A little tip.

Some shot the landscape portion during late dusk while its still got a little bit of fading light.

Some like a 1/3rd moon and shot with the moon behind them to light up the foreground.

Good point - I have mainly focused on the days around New Moon so far, but utilizing the moon to lighten up the foreground is a nice alternative.


I think regardless of the shooting technique and conditions, the image should give way more color detail than what I got out as result. Even if putting the whole panorama question aside, if just looking at one panel there should be much more possible. So I am increasingly convinced the single biggest potential for improvement lies in post processing.

 indigoshrine's gear list:indigoshrine's gear list
Sony a7 III Zeiss Batis 18mm F2.8 Sony FE 85mm F1.8 +1 more
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