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Importance of Image Stabilization?
I am interested in purchasing a beginner/sub-$1000 total dSLR.

Image stabilization, is it worth it?.

Canon and Nikon have it built into some lenses while others, pentax, sony do it in the body. Is there a difference in effectiveness? What does 1-2-3 etc stops mean?.

It seems to me that it would be worth it to pay the extra for IS in the body rather than having IS on certain lense's only..

I am interested in the Pentax k10d, among others.. I won't ask "is this a good camera for me," I am just interested if people are satisfied with the image stabilizing feature of the camera..

Thanks,Josh..

Comments (15)

Here's the basics. In order to avoid blur that comes from camera shake, your shutter speed must be the inverse of the focal length. For example, if you zoom to 50mm, you'll need 1/50s. If you zoom to 200mm you'll need 1/200s..

IS changes that rule, allowing you to use slower shutter speed. 1 stop IS allows you to shoot blur free image at double the shutter speed. For example, you can hand hold 200mm at 1/100s. 2 stops IS doubles it again at 1/50s. 3 stops doubles it yet one more time, to 1/25s..

Why is it a good thing to have slower shutter speed? Because it allows you to gather more light, which is important in keeping correct exposure in low light environments..

But then slower shutter speed is also a bad thing. You need fast shutter speed to freeze motions. If your photography subject stands still, then freezing motions doesn't matter. But if your subject is human, or birds, or racing cars, then you will need fast shutter speeds anyways, which makes IS less important..

Here are some typical shutter speeds you need to freeze motions: 1/60s for people, 1/125s for walking people or active kids, 1/400s for sport, 1/800s for professional sport, 1/8,000s for humming bird wings..

So if you're using a 55mm lens, and your subject is human, then you'll need to set the shutter at 1/60s minimum. At this shutter speed, camera shake will not cause blur. So IS is useless..

Theoretically IS in the lens is more effective. However, it also depends on implementation, and some body-based IS is actually better. Regardless of the advertising, most IS systems will give you only 2 to 3 stops advantage. When the Olympus E3 says that it has 5 stops inbody IS, they used the "up to" in front of it, which means you'll get 5 stops only in some lucky situations..

If you have lots of lenses, then IS in the body would be most cost effective. If you will only use one lens, then Canon is coming out with a cheap $200 kit lens with IS...

Comment #1

Granduter wrote:.

I am interested in purchasing a beginner/sub-$1000 total dSLR.

Image stabilization, is it worth it?.

I have two Nikon lenses with VR, and it is definitely worth it, in situations where the light is too low to shoot at as fast of a shutter speed as is necessary to handhold steadily. A long lens in forest shadows for example. VR often seems like magic..

Canon and Nikon have it built into some lenses while others, pentax,sony do it in the body. Is there a difference in effectiveness?.

One opinion is that in the camera is more convenient to purchase,but it is more effective if designed to work with the specific lens..

What does 1-2-3 etc stops mean?.

Stops of EV, ie, shutter speed instead of aperture in this case..

The rule of thumb is that most of us can handhold a xx mm lens at 1/xx second shutter, without appreciable blur due to shakiness. That means minimum of 1/200 second for a 200 mm lens, handheld. But we dont always have 1/200 second worth of light available..

If the light is low enough so we must shoot a 200 mm lens handheld at 1/30 second, instead of at the 1/200 second minium at which it is possible to handhold it steady, then VR will likely help enough so that we can. Without VR, we couldnt hold it steady enough at 1/30 second so a very poor picture, but with VR, probably we can, and a good sharp picture results..

The speed difference 1/200 to 1/100 to 1/50 to 1/30 is said to be 3 stops of exposure. The lens settings proper are not modified at all, only the speed at which we can expect to hold it steady..

I say we "probably" can. Every shot is not guaranteed perfect, now and then one may fail, but almost all will be greatly improved by VR, in these too-slow shutter situations..

It will not help to stop a moving subject action, but it does help to stop handheld shakiness..

It seems to me that it would be worth it to pay the extra for IS inthe body rather than having IS on certain lense's only..

If that worked as effectively for all lenses, but one opinion is that it does not..

I guess we all make our choice. They are quite different, one moves the entire sensor frame, and one moves a small glass element at a critical location in the lens...

Comment #2

Granduter wrote:.

I am interested in purchasing a beginner/sub-$1000 total dSLR.

Image stabilization, is it worth it?.

YES. It is magic. It is possibly the single most valuable feature in your camera. OK, maybe I exaggerate  but it is magic and once you've got it you'll wonder how you ever did without it. It will enable you to take pictures that you simply couldn't take (at any quality) without it..

Canon and Nikon have it built into some lenses while others, pentax,sony do it in the body. Is there a difference in effectiveness?.

Canon and Nikon will argue that in-lens stablilisation is more effective because it is tailored to the individual lens. I don't know if they're right but it does seem to be a credible claim. The question is whether it makes a difference that you would notice in the work that you do..

Another reality of course is that Canon and Nikon (Nikon in particular) have a huge established customer base of pros using film SLRs. Their in-lens systems mean they can offer them to their film users as well..

(OK, Pentax have a large customer base as well, but not so much in the high-value pro area. Pentax have probably taken a marketing decision on that.).

It seems to me that it would be worth it to pay the extra for IS inthe body rather than having IS on certain lense's only..

Maybe. Maybe not..

It is of course true that once you've bought IS in the camera, your lenses are cheaper. BUT for practical purposes -.

How many lenses are you going to buy, and will they all benefit equally from IS? If you are looking at buying an SLR for arond $1,000 as a beginner, how likely is it that you will in the near future be buying multiple VR lenses to the point where the price difference really hurts?.

For example, my experience:- First purchase = D80 + 18-200.- One year later, 70-300 non-VR - low cost.

Sure I could have paid a lot more for the VR version of this lens, but I will be using it mostly in good light (= high shutter speed) and on tripod or monopod. Lack of VR is not a huge issue..

- Wish list includes lenses such as the 50mm and 85mm, maybe 60mm macro. Few if any of these would benefit greatly from VR.

- In other words, I don't expect to be having to pay a lot extra for VR lenses overall..

And of course there's a whole range of other things to spend your $ on - flash, tripod, extra battery, memory cards, computer gear - etc. This could mean one of two things depending on where you're coming from:1. You really need to save money on the lenses  or.

2. Lenses (or the difference in cost for VR on maybe one extra lens) is actually a smaller proportion of your total spend on your hobby than you might think..

There's no doubt that in-body IS is cheaper, over multiple lenses, then in-lens. The question is, for you, and the gear you plan to buy, how much will that really matter? And if you have a preference for a given brand or camera for other reasons (as mine was for Nikon), is this a big enough factor to change your mind? How much are you giving up in other areas, for the sake of a possible, and possibly small, difference in your overall budget?.

Your call..

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Comment #3

Granduter wrote:.

I am interested in purchasing a beginner/sub-$1000 total dSLR.

Image stabilization, is it worth it?.

Yes and no. Too many people try to use image stabilization in place of tripods or flash. I tell people - use image stabilization like you don't have it. As someone else pointed out, in theory with a 3 stop 200mm IS lens, you 'should' be able to hand hold it. In reality, unless you have impeccable technique, you'll still get motion blur - especially if the subject is moving, which brings up another point. IS doesn't stop subject motion.

Being able to shoot hand held at 1/8 second won't help freeze subject motion..

Also, IS does not GUARANTEE sharp images - it merely increases the odds of keepers by minimizing motion - not eliminating it. A tripod or flash on the other hand, will do much better at stopping motion..

Canon and Nikon have it built into some lenses while others, pentax,sony do it in the body. Is there a difference in effectiveness? Whatdoes 1-2-3 etc stops mean?.

It seems to me that it would be worth it to pay the extra for IS inthe body rather than having IS on certain lense's only..

Well, in body IS is nice, but you don't see the effects of it through the viewfinder. With in lens IS you do see the effects of IS through the viewfinder - this can be critical with long focal lengths when trying to focus on a critical subject..

Also, IS is more important on longer focal lengths than smaller focal lengths. Case in point, at 17mm you don't really need IS for two reasons: Theoretical handholdability is already 1/15 second. That's getting into the realm where IS simply is no longer effective - there are limits..

Second, 17mm has a wide field of view. For the sake of argument, lets say a 17mm lens has a 100 degree field of view, and a 500mm lens has a 1 degree field of view. If during an exposure your lens moves 1/2 of one degree, on a 17mm lens that would only be 0.5% of your image width. Wheras that one degree in the 500mm lens is fully 50% of the image width. Which motion blur is going to be more noticeable? Bottom line, the bigger lens - where IS is more critical - is going to need more correction. A long lens with built in IS is going to be better tailored than a generic in-body IS system..

Before going with an in-body IS camera, I suggest going to a camera store and seeing for yourself how IS works with an in-lens system and a long lens (300mm or longer)..

Comment #4

I have two elderly, large and heavy digital cameras and I can handhold them to about s or 1s most of the time. The heaviest takes a 400 mm lens and I often can grab handheld shots with it - though not always perfect, but a grabbed shot never is..

I have a modern, smaller and lighter dSLR and I can handhold it to about s most of the time and even with the 300 mm (in 35 mm film terms) lens on it. But not all the time - so less margin for errors; perhaps because of the size and weight..

Getting my entire hand round the thing seems to be important. With the medium sized one I am very conscious of having to hold it carefully to avoid touching buttons and wrecking the shot and to get all my fingers and the thumb on the body. The old larger ones can just be picked up and fired off - usefull for "grab" shots. (So size is important.).

I also have an itsy bitsy, modern, light camera with IS and bitter experience tells me it works some of the time but not always and like one or two others I now see iIS gives only one or two stops' or shutter speeds' advantage. When I first had it I produced a lot of blurred pictures because I stupidly believed it would work "as advertised"..

So IS is usefull but not really necessary. Technique and a comfortable and easy to hold camera are far more important, imo..

And a tripod and cable release are even more usefull..

Regards, David..

Comment #5

Even in good light, IS can be quite useful. You can stop down the lens to get more depth of field and still get a decent image at the lower shutter speed. I do this frequently when I shoot my panos.Leonhttp://homepage.mac.com/leonwittwer/landscapes.htm..

Comment #6

Image stabilization, is it worth it?.

It depends on your application requirement. For action photography (sports, birds, races etc.), no use. For landscapes, cityscapes, nature: Good value. During hiking/trekking: Invaluable.I.S. is akin to having a tripod attached with camera without the hassles of it..

Canon and Nikon have it built into some lenses while others, pentax,sony do it in the body. Is there a difference in effectiveness? Whatdoes 1-2-3 etc stops mean?.

It means you can shoot at 2 times slower - 4 times slower - 8 times slower shutter speeds while still having blur free image..

It seems to me that it would be worth it to pay the extra for IS inthe body rather than having IS on certain lense's only..

Obviously..

I am interested in the Pentax k10d, among others.. I won't ask "isthis a good camera for me," I am just interested if people aresatisfied with the image stabilizing feature of the camera..

Yes. (From the experience with S3IS). Anyway you can always switch it off at any time. K10D is fine camera even without I.S. (weather seals, built, OVF quality).

Best Wishes, Ajayhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ajay0612..

Comment #7

I use Minolta 7D DSLR for almost 3 years. During this period many of shots got "saved" by camera body IS. I used various lenses. Compact fast primes like 50mm f/1.7 AF and 24mm f/2.8 in combination with camera IS are working very well..

Pentax, Sony, Olympus implement camera body based IS technology (Minolta was first)..

Camera body IS works well enough with 70-210 f/4 lens that made me kind of sloppy. Recently I switched IS off without noticing it and after photographing deer in park was annoyed by blurry result - till I saw IS was in off position.... .

IS is not magic, it can't stop the movement of subject (kids, cars). But it works good in combination with f/1.4 f/2.8 lenses and high ISO produced by camera..

I also use external bounce flash with diffuser when needed..

Http://www.stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com..

Comment #8

I agree completelly with previous poster..

Use tripod, monopod, or support camera against tree, rock, wall or fence.This is natural IS widerly used by good phtotographer..

I do it almost always. Tripod allows me compose carefully, avoiding distractions, shoose best exposure settings. Not to bee affraid by light loss because of filter use or closed diapgragm for max depth..

For shots like this you need stable tripod:.

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Http://www.stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com..

Comment #9

Thanks for all replies.

Dylanbarnhart - I hear you on the multiple lenses subject. In reality I can only see myself buying a 18-200ish lens and then something good for landscapes, from my limited knowledge something fixed and below 18mm..

IS can't replace the stability of a tripod, fully understand that one. I am just looking for something that I can use while on a hike or somewhere where lugging a good tripod is annoying..

David - Good point on the hands and learning how to properly hold the camera rather than starting as a beginner relying on IS..

So I guess I am back to not knowing what to buy...

Comment #10

Josh.

The Olympus E510 has in-camera IS and with the two lens kit, falls within your price range. The Olympus packages provide some of the best kit lenses around at a reasonable price..

Dale B. Dalrymplehttp://dbdimages.comhttp://stores.lulu.com/dbd..

Comment #11

Dbdalrymple wrote:.

Josh.

The Olympus E510 has in-camera IS and with the two lens kit, fallswithin your price range. The Olympus packages provide some of thebest kit lenses around at a reasonable price..

I'll go along with that and add that any camera can be jammed up against something whilst the shutter is carefully released or - better still rested very carefully and the self timer used. A lump of Blu Tak or a bean bag also work..

But not one of them is a good substitute for a tripod and cable release. Use them and you can do 32 x 24" prints from 4 megapixels (if you get everything else right)..

Regards, David..

Comment #12

Stan_P wrote:.

I agree completelly with previous poster..

Use tripod, monopod, or support camera against tree, rock, wall orfence.This is natural IS widerly used by good phtotographer..

I do it almost always. Tripod allows me compose carefully, avoidingdistractions, shoose best exposure settings. Not to bee affraid bylight loss because of filter use or closed diapgragm for max depth..

For shots like this you need stable tripod:.

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

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

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

Http://www.stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com..

Comment #13

I own the Samsung GX-10, which is a K10D clone & find the IS very useful for Landscape photography. I often take shots whilst hiking around the mountains of North Wales & the IS has proven invaluable, especially in adverse weather !!.

Personally wouldn't want to be without it.

Simon.

Http://www.landscapephotographyuk.com/.

North Wales photographs - Snowdonia & Anglesey..

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