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Image Stabilization, what's the big deal ?

by Zing00 / January 5, 2005 9:44 PM PST

From what I have read, this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. For anybody looking into a 10x + zoom camera, this is a must have feature.

But if this is truly the case, then why isn't it offered in more cameras ? Konica Minolta and Panasonic seem to be the one's that offer the most options in IS capable camera's, they even offer it in 3x & 7x zoom models. Olympus, Nikon and Canon only have 1 each in their 10x+ model line. But then you have Kodak, who already has the highly successful DX7590 10x zoom camera, introduces a brand new 10X Zoom camera in the Z740. The Z740 is intended to bring extended zoom capablilities to more people. But they don't mention one thing about IS.

Now if IS is such a "must have" feature, then why wouldn't all camera manufacturer's have this on at least 1 camera in their product line ?

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It works for me
by rgfitz / January 6, 2005 12:16 AM PST

I think it is a big deal because at 12X with my Panasonic DMC-FZ3 I can take hand-held photos that are sharp and clear. However, I have not tried taking the same photo with and without IS...I just assume it works.

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(NT) (NT) P.S. IS apparently works well in binoculars too.
by rgfitz / January 6, 2005 2:13 AM PST
In reply to: It works for me
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They don't offer it because they're trying to keep the
by Kiddpeat / January 6, 2005 8:32 AM PST

price low. It's not a miracle cure, but is does help with hand held shots. I have heard that it's worth two to three f stops. That means you can use a lower shutter speed and still get the same sharpness.

I don't know about point and shoots, but Canon offers IS on several of their SLR lenses. I suspect the others do also.

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by trotter / January 6, 2005 9:00 PM PST

Whether or not image stabilization is a big deal depends on how you use the camera. If you are planning on a lot of family photos and panoramas with the big zoom feature as an occasional nice to have, then don't worry about it. My hobby is photographing native american rock art, which has the nasty tendency of being three miles down a trail and way up on a cliff. Stabilization means I can use a zoom full out, not have to carry a tripod with me, and get good quality.

I don't know the full details on how image stabilization works. I expect it is not an easy technology to implement. My Nikon zoom lens for film with image stabilization cost me $1000 and weighed a pound and a half. So I am rather thrilled to see the stuff happening in digital. As I understand it, in film lenses the actual lenses "float" within the barrel to eliminate shake. With digital I think they have allowed the CCD to "float" reducing the cost and difficulty associated with the lens elements.

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In high end cameras, CCD 'float' has only been implemented
by Kiddpeat / January 7, 2005 12:17 AM PST
In reply to: Depends

by one manufacturer. It's advantage is that every lense used with the camera is stabilized. Others, like Canon and Nikon, use optical stabilization in the lense just as yours does. I don't know if IS is available in non SLR digital cameras.

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It's a mixed bag
by butchblack / January 6, 2005 11:27 PM PST

Image stabilization is somewhat a mixed bag. It does allow one to handhold a camera with a shutter speed 2-3 stops slower then without. It also adds weight, complexity, and cost to the camera. So it's biggest advantage is when shooting with a long telephoto indoors or in poor light outdoors. The technology is covered by various patents and copyrights. Those companies that do not offer IS must think that the advantage is not worth the cost. Most digital P&S shooters would be as well served by using good technique, such as using the viewfinder instead of the LCD screen to frame and compose the picture, holding the camera with both hands, elbows braced against the body, legs apart with knees slightly bent, body braced against something if possible, and lightly pressing not jabbing at the shutter button.

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Thanks to all....
by Zing00 / January 7, 2005 12:27 AM PST
In reply to: It's a mixed bag

This is the information I've been looking for. You've helped make a hard decision, easier.

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Don't even think of comparing image stabilization to bread
by sharkky9 / January 7, 2005 6:05 AM PST
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(NT) (NT) Hmmm, Focal length 6 mm - 72 mm?
by Kiddpeat / January 7, 2005 6:30 AM PST
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(NT) (NT) PS: no mention of an IS capability.
by Kiddpeat / January 7, 2005 6:32 AM PST
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IS is a big deal & worth the high price
by Silver Leaf / January 7, 2005 7:31 AM PST

I have a pair of Cannon binoculars 10x50 with IS. Price difference is about $1000.00 with, as compared to without. I can turn the IS feature on and off. If you want to see the difference for yourself, go to a camera shop or sports shop that sells cannon binoculars and try them. The cannon binoculars are around $1200 to $1500. I use the IS feature in a high speed boat and it definitely works. I have friends that have IS in their camcorders and it makes all the difference for sports shots of their kids or any action shot. Worth the extra money on a long term basis.

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IS, is it worth it?
by Mgradyc / January 8, 2005 3:27 PM PST

There are two ways of looking at IS. One way: IS is an expensive way to (sometimes) get away with bad habits in your basic photographic technique. The other way: It is a tool to extend the range of very good photographers who do use good fundamentals.

For the cameras discussed here, I tend to see it mostly as the first viewpoint. There are a few exceptions. If you take a lot of pictures from moving/vibrating platforms such as vehicles, it can be helpful.
In the hands of amateurs, IS can allow shots up to 3 stops slower for the same focal length. Because pro's get much closer to the theoretical limits of their equipment to begin with, adding IS usually only extends their range about 1 or 1.5 stops. Sometimes though, that extra range is the difference between getting or not getting that BIG money shot, thus worth the expense. But we are talking VERY expensive D-SLR equipment here. In addition, under such scenarios IS is being used in conjuction WITH (not INSTEAD of) other ways of stabilizing the platform.
One of the most familiar applications to a lot of people would be the sports photographer. We all see them on the sidelines at the NFL/NBA/etc... games every weekend. There is no more severe test of photographers and equipment than shooting fast moving subjects (athletes, wildlife, whatever...) in low light at high focal lengths from a distance. They are using very fast lenses (a "fast" lens is one that lets more light through to the focal plane so that a faster shutter speed will allow proper exposure) at high ISO settings (requires less light to begin with, but the tradeoff is digitial "noise"). That's where the $10,000 (okay, so prices have started to nudge a little lower, but $7-8,000 isn't exactly "pro-sumer") camera bodys come in. Low noise ISO 3200 isn't cheap, especially when you want to be able to save several fps in long bursts at high resolution RAW or TIFF format to the multi-GB micro hard drive inside your camera. If you'll notice, most of those guys also have the entire camera/lens system mounted on either a monopod or even a tripod, or securely clamped to something solid like the stadium itself. They are using IS lenses that sometimes cost more than the camera body (see above) they're hung on to get that fast moving athlete frozen in time (instead of slightly blurred) at just the critical point in the key play of the game. Assuming they guessed correctly and pre-focused and metered on the correct spot of the field before the play actually got there. If they do, it might be worth whatever the cover of next weeks SI or Sporting News is paying these days. But they don't buy IS lenses so they can leave the monopod at home. They buy IS lenses so they can get more out of the entire combination.

Ultimately, like most questions along the lines of: "Is ____ worth the extra cost?" when talking photo equipment, the answer depends on what type of photography you want to do and are capable of doing.

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It is, of course, also useful to those who are old enough
by Kiddpeat / January 8, 2005 4:01 PM PST
In reply to: IS, is it worth it?

that holding a camera steady is quite difficult.

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What about those with shaky hands?
by bairdsteven / March 17, 2005 11:16 AM PST

I am not old, being under 30, but I do have arthritic hands that are "jittery". I want a camera for taking pictures of the kids at distances that would necessitate a zoom. The distance would probably be about 10 ft, and moving. so would the SI be important in these types of instances? Anyone recommend a Zoom?

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RE: IS, is it worth it?
by Tank252ca / January 9, 2005 10:18 PM PST
In reply to: IS, is it worth it?

For regular 3x optical zoom cameras I think shutter speed is more important than IS. It's not a feature that I would look for in a pocket digital, but if you're looking at 10x optical zoom digitals, I would recommend it.

I had a look at Cannon's 3MP 10x zoom camera and the IS works very well. Just zoom out at 10x and turn the IS on and off and you can see right in the store through the camera's LCD display just how well it works. If you are very particular about camera operation and features, go to a camera store, not one of the big box stores. I got much better service, advice and info from the one camera store operator I spoke to as opposed to the dozen big box kids. I would have bought the Cannon for sure had it been 4MP.

The Fuji 5100 I looked at was very good for action shots. Good shutter speed and low shutter delay. I was told that the Kodak can have a slow shutter response but I haven't been able to try one first hand, so check that out. The Panasonic is said to have fast shutter reponse, but again I could not try out the camera (another big box chain). Only the camera store was able to let me try every model and even view the images on a TV. I'm willing to pay extra for that kind of service.

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