One of the issues that can be encountered with panoramas is called parallax.  This is due to the point of view shifting a little bit when moving the camera to take each image and causing some issues when stitching the image together.  To resolve this problem, panorama heads are used to shift the camera and lens back so that the shift is minimalised.

Most of the time doing wide field astrophotography, the foreground is far enough away that any evidence of parallax is minimalised.  However a recent shoot has brought me back to considering ways to reduce the effect.  Most panorama heads are very … expensive.  This costs maybe less than AUD10 for a flash bracket.  It’s by no means perfect, but helps to shift the camera back to a reasonable point that any point of view shift isn’t too material.

In the following examples – I’ve taken all the images in portrait mode.  Shots were 23-26mm (accidentally changed the focal length during the test and didn’t notice till I got the images off camera).

To illustrate the normal ball head that I use for shooting:


This is the flash bracket that I use – you can see that the camera/lens is shifted back and is above the tripod where it pans around.



Illustrating how the camera rotates on the tripod using the ball head vs the bracket.



Images showing the effects of panning the camera left and right using a ball head.  Notice the shift of the red stake directly behind the white stake in the foreground:

Normal ball head central


Normal ball head to the left


Normal ball head to the right


Now using the bracket – where the lens is directly above the ball head:

Using the flash bracket – central


Using the flash bracket shot to the left


Using the flash bracket shooting to the right