Miguel de Sá

Tracking VS Staking to Photograph the Milky Way

One of the big challenges of photographing the Milky Way is noise, and on that front, we have two ways: Staking, photograph a bunch of photos of the Milky Way and staking them removing the noise in the process (Wach as video of me blowing my mind about it). In this video, I use Sequator (Download Here).
And Tracking, one long exposure with a star-tracker tracker that makes your camera follow the rotation of the earth. In this case, my star-tracker is Move Shot Move. But which one is the best? Or will result in a better image in astrophotography? That is what I’m testing on this video.

Staking

The 15 images were stacked on Sequator, only using star images, immediately on un-edit 16-bit tiff we can see that the HDR is very impressive and the montage between the landscape and the sky is very good. And no visible noise.

15 Photos from Canon R6, 15mm f/2, 20 seconds. Stacked in Sequator on Freez Ground, all on or auto except Reduce Light Pollution and Merge 4 pixels, and Time-Laps (Off)

By going ahead and editing the image other problems come up, it intensified the lens fringing which gives me more editing work than usual. This problem comes from the lens… staking just intensifies. The transition from a bit of light pollution isn’t the best but very easily fixed with color noise reduction of lightroom. The photo itself looks very good, very clean, but no clear improvement over a single long exposure, besides the much better noise-free image.

Before & after Lightroom Defringin and color noise reduction

Tracking

I managed 4 minutes in a low ISO of 400 the noise is non-visible. Just a quick look, the colors in the sky become visible, especially in the area of the Antares Nebula, but also in the little of light pollution… worst that that is the landscape with is unusable (of course).

The 4 minut tracked, 400 ISO, F2

A second shoot is required to be photoshopped here. As we are in photoshop… applying the technic of star reduction the image becomes very impressive! This takes more time! So… a lot of time spent on the field photographing & a lot of time spent in post-production.

Second shot photophoped for the landscape and Star Reduction

Tracking VS Staking

Tracked – VS – Stacked

Comparing the 2 side by side the clear winner is tracked one… but taken in point the that costs more, you need to buy the tracker and accessories, and the basic is just needed to make the stacking! Besides that work with tracked shots takes more time to prepare, and more time on the edit. So, no clear winner in fact… It depends on you to choose.

Tracking & Staking

16 photos of 2minuts, f/4, 3200iso

If I was complaining about the time in the field and post-production… it’s nothing comparing to this one. In fact, we have 16 shoots, from 1 in the morning to 1:30, stacked and a landscape shot at 6 in the morning… and blend this all together is not an easy task!

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