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Image stabilization - Olympus IS or Nikon VR, or none?
I want to buy my first DSLR, and have been doing a lot of research and reading on the Oly, Canon, and Nikon forums. I'm looking at the lens family of each brand, as well as the camera body. Here are my observations and questions..

At first I had my eyes set on the Olympus E-410, but embraced the E-510 because of it's in-body image stabilization (IS). From reading the Oly forum, it seems that having IS is a desired feature - many /img/avatar8.jpgs parise it, and said they bought the 510 because of it. Very useful in low-light conditions, telephoto shots, and shakey hands, they say..

Then I read the Nikon forum, and image stabilization doesn't seem like a big deal. In fact, out of the large number of Nikon lenses, only 14 have VR (vibration reduction, similar to IS). And most of their VR lenses are 200mm or more. Not many short VR lenses. A lot of Nikon /img/avatar8.jpg have been shooting without VR lenses, and doing fine without it. I'm interested in the Nikon D40 or D40x, both which have kit lenses without VR.

A couple of people on the Nikon forum said that feature is only helpful on long focal length lenses, and of little benefit on the shorter lengths..

So now I'm scratching my head, wondering how important image stabilization really is. How much weight should I put into IS when selecting a camera brand and lens system?..

Comments (10)

It is a desirable feature, and in-body or in-lens work equally well. I shoot Nikon and have only 1 VR lens out of my 5, and don't miss it on the others. The combination of high ISOs and faster shutter speeds mean it's only really necessary on longer lenses - I would agree with that..

The general rule is that you only need VR when your shutter speed is slower than 1/x - where x is the focal length of the lens: so that with a 50mm lens as long as your shutter speed is faster than 1/50th sec, you should be OK. But with a 200mm lens, getting faster than 1/200 sec is not so easy, so VR is great there..

By the way you may not be aware that Nikon is about to upgrade their kit 18-55 lens with VR, which I think you would get with the D40(x).

Olympus have the advantage of inbody IS, no doubt about that - but a negative are their small, dim viewfinders..

Alex.

Http://alexandjustine.smugmug.com/..

Comment #1

For background: My kit = Nikon D80, with- 18-200 VR- 70-300 non VR- next purchase will be a Tamron 90mm macro (non IS)Therefore I intend to have 2 out of 3 non-VR lenses..

I think VR is the best thing since sliced bread, but your point/questions are good ones..

BigBen08 wrote:.

...Then I read the Nikon forum, and image stabilization doesn't seemlike a big deal. In fact, out of the large number of Nikon lenses,only 14 have VR (vibration reduction, similar to IS). And most oftheir VR lenses are 200mm or more. Not many short VR lenses. A lot ofNikon owner have been shooting without VR lenses, and doing finewithout it. I'm interested in the Nikon D40 or D40x, both which havekit lenses without VR.

Acouple of people on the Nikon forum said that feature is only helpfulon long focal length lenses, and of little benefit on the shorterlengths..

Well that last part is true to some extent. If you're using, say, a 70mm lens, which in Nikon DX format is a 105mm equivalent in 35mm format), then the rule-of-thumb minimum shutter speed if 1/105 second. So as long as you're shooting 1/105 second or faster, which would be common in any sort of decent light, then the benefit of VR is much less than if, say, you are shooting with a 200mm lens (300mm equivalent = 1/300 second "rule of thumb" shutter speed)..

But on the other hand, having VR in my 18-200 is a godsend because it lets me shoot at 1/30, 1/15 and even slower with no camera shake. It's fantastic, and I believe it even helps at 1/60 or 1/125..

On the other hand, my 70-300 lens was dirt cheap and I usually only use it in situations where faster shutter speeds are the norm (ie good light) so the value of VR on that lens, for me, is not as great..

And the Tamron 90mm macro is a lot cheaper than the closest Nikon VR equivalent, the 105mm VR, I admit that I probably won't be able to use it in some situations where I could have used a 105 VR, but on balance I'd rather have the non-VR lens than none at all (or the non-VR plus a saving towards my next wish list item!).

All that might be a bit long winded but perhaps it will give you and insight into the idea that - I suppose it all comes down to personal preferences and priorities, plus of course you've got a lot of Nikon owners with pre-VR lenses that they're very happy with; VR is a bonus..

So now I'm scratching my head, wondering how important imagestabilization really is. How much weight should I put into IS whenselecting a camera brand and lens system?.

OK, so at this point, you are saying "that's all very well Arrowman, but if you had in-camera IS there'd be no compromise at all, so even though you're 95% happy with your kit, wouldn't it be better to have in-camera IS?".

Depends on what else you're trading off. Without going into the detailed reasons, I infinitely prefer the Nikon system over other makes that have in-camera IS. To me, the small advantage of having VR on all your lenses at no additional cost (and the extra cost of VR seems to be dropping all the time) is far outweighed by the other considerations in choosing a system..

And exactly how many lenses are you planning on buying anyway? To hear the proponents of in-camera IS talk, you'd think their owners were planning on buying 2 lemses a year for the next 10 years. WHich some people are, but most people aren't..

You need to put it in perspective: How many lenses are you actually going to buy, and on how many of those would VR be a significant benefit?.

I am also prepared to believe the marketing claims that in-lens IS/VR is more effective than in-camera IS/VR - which I believe is born out by the fact that Nikon claim a 4 stop improvement (correctly, in my experience) where (as I understand) the claims of the in-camera IS systems are at least one stop less..

If Olympus is the system for you - for whatever reasons - then go for it. But if (IS/VR considerations aside) you prefer Nikon, or Canon, then - and this is the key point you are asking - IMHO the presence, or absence, of IS/VR in the body should not be a dealbreaker...

Comment #2

Mr. Arrowman makes some good points..

However you simply have to go to DPReview's test results of the IS on the E510 to determine just how good the IS is on it..

From http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympuse510/page15.asp :.

"Hand-held, with Shake Reduction (50 mm lens, 100 mm equiv.).

It's clear that the E-510's stabilization gives real benefits in these shooting conditions, allowing us to capture perfectly sharp shots at least 80% of the time down to about 1/20 secs, and producing usable results with half the shots at 1/10th second. There are so many variables involved in measuring image stabilization - from lens weight to focal length to subject distance to the steadiness of the photographer himself and the nature of his 'shake' that it's impossible to draw any overall conclusions from this simple test..

But it's fair to say that in the specific conditions tested here (using real camera shake) the E-510's system seems to do a remarkably good job in the 1/80 to 1/20 sec region, allowing you to get sharp results the majority of the time at a good two to two-and-a-half stops below the recommended minimum for a 100mm equivalent lens (using the good old reciprocal focal length rule of thumb).".

Noting that they're using a moderate focal length in their tests and holding the camera with only one hand... I think the 2 to 2.5 stops below the recommended minimum are quite good for what you're working with here. There are also other things to consider. For example that most people buying a camera/system are not looking to be professionals. The ones who fit that category rarely extend themselves too far beyond the kit lens range. However, should one desire to do so, they would have a great deal more latitude in buying an Olympus..

Stepping things up to the "pro" level lenses, you can get an EFL of 22-400mm in just three lenses. And, as the lens test results at slrgear.com can show you that Olympus has some of the sharpest lenses wide open than any manufacturer..

If you're still wanting in-lens IS, you can simply buy a couple of Leica lenses and you'll have the IS you're wanting with a range of 28-300mm EFL in two lenses. Remember, with the Four-Thirds standard lens mount you can use any lens that meets that standard. And with the way the mount is constructed you can also use several different lenses (35 different lens types) from other makers with the help of an adapter.TANK.

'Why is it everytime I need to get somewhere, we get waylaid by jackassery?' - Dr. Venturehttp://www.myspace.com/servantoflove.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #3

Have you actually looked through an Olympus veiwfinder? They're really not as bad as people claim... and with the new E-3 released, it is likely the technology they use to make the viewfinder as big and bright as those found on FF sensor cameras will trickle down to other Oly camera bodies in the near future..

"Small and Dim" will be an opinion that is a thing of the past.TANK.

'Why is it everytime I need to get somewhere, we get waylaid by jackassery?' - Dr. Venturehttp://www.myspace.com/servantoflove.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #4

I have a camera with in-body IS. It's not an Olympus. The longest lens I have is 200mm. But, I really like the IS with my shorter lenses for shooting in old churches, museums, and in the street in the evenings. Yes, if people are moving they are blurred. Sometimes I don't like the results, sometimes I do.



With in-lens IS it's only useful with telephoto because that's where it's available. I've heard that Canon and Nikon are moving to put VR in shorter lenses now.Patrick T. KellyOaxaca, Mexico..

Comment #5

I've used the canon 17-85 IS for a couple years now. The IS is very useful for hand held shots at the shorter focal lengths..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

1/4s f/5.6 at 50.0mm iso1600..

Comment #6

The reason there is not much discussion of IS on the Nikon forum is because there are not many Nikon owners that have VR because the lenses are add ons AND expensive..

With the OLY you get inbody and it makes a huge difference when used in the proper manner. It's not going to make a moving object stop moving!! At any rate here are some shots that I posted on Pbase to demo the OLY 510 capabilities because I get tired of all the arguements. Take a look and make-up your own mind on what to buy. Bottom line is that ALL the DSLRs produced now are very good cameras. Investigate the features and hold each camera your interested in in your hands. See how they feel.

Think of having to carry it all day. Think about how YOU are going to use it. Look at the cost. Then make a decision that fits YOUR needs and desires, oh yea then go have some fun!!.

Http://www.pbase.com/maddogmd11/tests.

Maddog.

Olympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #7

Here is another thread in the OPEN TALk forum that will be of interest to you. If you are not a PRO, the in-body IS systems, coupled with good (fast) lenses, may be your best bet..

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...ums/readflat.asp?forum=1018&thread=26433480Raj..

Comment #8

I find I am more interested in IS as I age and as cameras get smaller and lighter. Camera movement is more of an issue with me than it used to be. In body IS is fine for that sort of casual use, I think. I have no doubt that in lens IS will be superior for certain types of photography, but I doubt I would ever likely do that sort of photography. I'm not a long lens kind of guy.STOP Global Stasis! Change is good!.

Now that you've judged the quality of my typing, take a look at my photos..http://www.photo.net/photos/GlenBarrington..

Comment #9

Olympus veiwfinder? They're really not as bad as people claim.

I saw a Nikon D80 with it's big (18-135 if memory serves me right) kit lens and the viewfinder was surprisingly dark..

A citation from the "Conclusion - Pros" part of the review:Very large and bright viewfinderhttp://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond80/page29.asp..

Comment #10

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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