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Canon unveils optical stabilizer improvements

The first lens with the company's new Hybrid IS technology, which adds angular rotation to its stabilization arsenal, will be available by the end of the year.

Canon Inc.

In the first significant improvement Canon's made in its optical stabilization technology in a few years--I think the last major update was the SuperRange OIS in its camcorders--the company announced a new Hybrid IS technology that adds angular velocity sensing to its current bag of OIS tricks. While its IS system already has a sensor to detect rotation, the new velocity sensor is intended to detect the speed of rotation and thereby compensate more precisely. (Here's a simulation of how the current lenses work, and here's a nice PDF white paper on how angular velocity sensors work, written about Epson Toyocom's gyro-sensor.)

While this is the first angular velocity supplementation in a still camera stabilization system that I can find, it sounds quite similar to the implementation of the Active Steady Shot system in Sony's latest crop of HD camcorders, which also use angular speed detection and lens shift correction.

Canon USA says it will ship a lens using the technology by the end of the year. While I think the initial roll-out will probably be in a refresh of some popular pro long lens, especially given the timing, I don't think the implementation should be very expensive or large, the two things that would preclude it from appearing in consumer lenses. And shaky-handed consumers need the OIS boost more than pros, though the latter could certainly benefit. I'm guessing there'll be an 18-55mm IS II when Canon replaces the T1i next spring.