Image stabilization; who has the best?

Started Feb 21, 2013 | Questions thread
EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Image stabilization; who has the best?
In reply to joejack951, Feb 22, 2013

joejack951 wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

joejack951 wrote:

If you intend to shoot things in motion, VR only becomes useful at super-telephoto lengths as you've noted. For anything else, the more, the better in my opinion (with several caveats about optical performance, size and weight, cost, etc.). The difference between what would yield acceptable camera shake in a shot taken on a tripod versus handheld without stabilization can easily be 10 stops or more. Any photographer would prefer to shoot at base ISO versus something higher given the choice. For plenty of subjects, shooting wide open is not ideal either. So in a common dim indoor lighting scenario where f/2.8 is yielding 1/30" at ISO 3200, you'd need 5 stops of stabilization just to get to ISO 100. If you want to stop down to f/8, there's another 3 stops. If you are shooting at 100mm, that's another 2 stops necessary to get to a reasonable shutter speed for that focal length.

Of course, rooms can get much darker, focal lengths can get longer, and apertures can get smaller too.

Well, I shoot with Sony A55, which has in-body stabilization. When using a lens with optical stabilization, I usually turn off IBIS and go with OS primarily since it is more convenient to work with a switch on the lens than to dive into menu to turn IBIS off especially when switching back and forth between tripod and hand held. I also prefer to keep IBIS/OS off when shooting action to maximize response.

My post might have lead you to believe otherwise, but for what I shoot, stabilization is way more of a hindrance than a benefit. I rarely turn it on.

The only time I find image stabilization useful is when shooting static objects, especially with slower lenses, where motion blur may not be an issue. BTW, you can shoot wide open and not have to worry about lack of DoF, depending on the focal length and distance. More often than not, I do want a good separation (hence control over DoF).

I frequently want separation too but not always. Even at short focal lengths, if you get close enough DOF begins to get very limited. My 35mm f/1.4 can focus down to under a foot. Wide open, there's very, very little DOF at minimum focus distance. I can't think of any time I was doing more than experimenting with that lens where I was shooting at minimum focus distance and wide open, but it could happen some day. I'd want to stop down and stabilization could be useful that.

As for your point on need for 5-stops of stabilization, the exposure values (ISO 3200, 1/30s and f/2.8) combine to give a brightness value of -2 (the typical living room in a home lit artificially is +2). To shoot the same shot at ISO 100, f/2.8, 5-stops will get you to take handheld image at 1-second exposure. It might work if focal length is short but I don’t see why there would be a need to push the limits when the new sensors are pretty good at higher ISO than having to compromise on such slow shutter speed (unless motion blur were the intended effect). Perhaps use stable ground or a tripod and make sure stabilization is off?

Given the choice (with no ramifications either way) I'd choose a lower ISO any day over a higher one. High ISO with the D3s is like a dream come true, but I don't want to be shooting high if I don't have to. There are still obvious downsides to shooting at high ISO and always will be even as sensors progress. On the same note, given the choice, I'd rather work without a tripod than with one (ok, so I'd prefer the tripod for a 30 minute night exposure :-)). If I can take that 1 second exposure handheld and get the same sharpness as a tripod would have given me, why would I want to bother with the tripod?

With all this said, where stabilization is now it's not even close to being a tripod replacement. It's an aid at times (and honestly for me, those times are quite infrequent).

Now, I acknowledge that there can be situations where flash and tripod use is disallowed. But, newer cameras take care of that too. I don’t mind pushing ISO either. Here are two examples inside a church, with relatively low light and not so fast (travel zoom) lens at hand:

I'm no stranger to pushing ISO when needed either (fairly fast zoom lens but needed decent shutter speed and had terrible light):

Based on what I see here, this is an excellent example of where faster shutter speed was more important than the ability to shoot five stops down with help of IS, also helped by relatively shallow DoF. Five stops would have gotten you ISO 1600 at a shutter speed of 1/4s and motion blur to match.

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