IS on or off on a tripod? (Canon 18-55 and 55-250mm version IS)
I've heard that you should disable IS when using a tripod. I've also heard that it doesn't matter when using the newer IS systems. I have the 18-55mm IS and 55-250mm IS if that matters (which I've heard is using said newer systems).

I was doing a zooming effect (using a relatively slow shutter speed and then changing the zoom as it's taking the picture) yesterday at the LGBT parade and I noticed that the zoom effect wasn't perfectly straight and you could see tiny squiggles if you zoomed in close enough on the picture..

Now, maybe it was simply the difficulty of the situation and my inexperience (the parade was moving so I had to "lead" the shot by unlocking the ballhead, moving it ahead a little bit, lock it, shoot and zoom all within a couple seconds). Specifically I was trying one of the tips from Scott Kelby's Digital Photography book minus the flash to create a sense of movement on the dancers. I started with 1/8 shutter speed but eventually sped it to 1/13 which helped a little on some shots (1/8 was a bit too much on the effect).

But now I wonder also if it's because IS was on (how do the new IS systems know it's in a tripod, and would the act of zooming confuse it?) Thanks!..

Comments (7)

I believe you should turn off IS when on a tripod in general. The IS can't stabilize an already stable system..

In your case however you were manipulating the camera while exposing by changing the zoom setting. You probably jarred the camera slightly. The same would apply if the camera was on a tripod and released the shutter by touching the release without using a time delay release or remote release..

IS is a feedback system. Motion is sensed and a correction is applied. The more motion sensed, the more correction is applied. Think of this as the error signal. With IS off there is no error signal and no correction. With IS on there is always a little bit of error signal due to electrical or mechanical noise.

I believe this is why IS on an already stable system should not be used. It might not detectably change results but it won't help but it might possibly hurt...

Comment #1

Dracil wrote:.

I've heard that you should disable IS when using a tripod. I've alsoheard that it doesn't matter when using the newer IS systems. I havethe 18-55mm IS and 55-250mm IS if that matters (which I've heard isusing said newer systems).

I believe that for those lenses, you need to turn the IS off when on a tripod. It should be noted on your owner's manual for those lenses. The "newer" IS systems that people are talking about are the newer L series IS systems that allow you to shoot with IS on a tripod...

Comment #2

If you read the instruction manual then you'll find the answer. It's recommended to turn the IS off with a tripod...

Comment #3

Well, the manual only says to turn it off to save some battery power. But nothing as far as image quality degradation...

Comment #4

The newer generations of IS measure motion to determine if a tripod is present. If a stable support system is used, the camera & lens do not have sufficient motion and the IS turns off. The problem is that some tripods do not provide very stable, consistent support, and there may be motion that varies above and below the IS automatic threshold level. This can result in the IS turning on and off, introducing instability..

In addition, if is there is momentary movement above the threshold, sufficient to turn the IS on, following which the camera and lens become stable, the IS might slowly hunt or oscillate until it turns off. This, again, will introduce instability..

I suggest you read this recommendation by Chuck Westfall, he is a senior Canon representative. It's about 1/3 of the way into the article, is quite brief and his comments relate more to the use of mode 1 & 2 IS. Regardless, his brief recommendation concerning IS and tripods is clear and unambiguous..


Best regards,Doug

Comment #5

I'm not going to be very technical about this, it's just my experience with my Powershot S3IS, once when I was trying to shoot the moon on a tripod, with IS on..

The image in the viewfinder went wild, not like shaking motion but like a small swing up and down. Instantly it became normal after I turned the IS off..

So turn it off when using tripod, especially when you use a camera with built in IS (sensor IS), instead of the lens one, since you cannot see the effect directly from the viewfinder...

Comment #6

I would mention that in some cases you *might* still want IS on when using a tripod - like if you don't have an external trigger, because pushing the button moves the camera slightly. also, in my house, when I have the camera on a tripod, people walking around in neighboring rooms causes the camera to shake slightly...

Comment #7

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