Faster lens or Image Stabilization?

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
chironNYC
Senior MemberPosts: 1,377
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Re: Faster lens or Image Stabilization?
In reply to Steve Balcombe, 10 months ago

Steve Balcombe wrote:

Wolfkc wrote:

When considering all the options for a new lens, for me it comes down to deciding between a fast lens like the Sigma 18-35 1.8 or Image Stabilization like the Canon 15-85 F3.5-5.6 IS. If i understand how these work; the faster lens would be better for lower light situations or where the subject is moving and the IS is better if the camera is moving compared to the shutter speed. It's motion blur vs camera shake.

It's not true to say that a faster lens is better than an IS lens for low light. They each offer a solution but which is better depends on the situation. IS won't help if you need a fast shutter speed to freeze subject motion, but equally f/1.8 won't help you if you need to stop down for depth of field. You can't shoot at f/1.8 all the time!

As a general rule I would say that a slower IS lens is easier to use than a fast non-IS lens, if that is a consideration. You also have a vastly greater zoom range with the 15-85, obviously.

If you're torn between the two solutions, the 17-55/2.8 IS could be the ideal compromise, with both IS and a fairly fast aperture - there aren't that many situations in general photography where you need more than f/2.8, unless you are specifically pursuing a narrow depth of field style.

My camera is a Canon 70D and I have an old Sigma 18-55 F2.8 that I might just stay with for now and keep lusting for new lenses

I have the Sigma 18-50/2.8 'Macro' - I guess that must be the one you mean. I'd love to upgrade it to something with IS but nothing quite fits the bill for me. Sigma's 17-50/2.8 OS comes close, but it's bigger and heavier which I don't really want for an everyday standard zoom, and the HSM is only the micro-USM type with no full-time manual.

I think Steve Balcombe is giving you excellent advice here. And the 17-55 f/2.8 IS would be a fine choice.

In my experience, IS gives me more for MOST situations than does a good max aperture. Modern IS systems give you about 3 stops+ increased exposure potential in dim light. That is much better than the aperture difference between my IS lenses and my big aperture lenses, which is generally only one stop.

I also find IS useful for many subject situations. Typically I am shooting people, and I do not find it difficult to get a shot I want with an IS lens when they have paused for a moment or become relatively still. In other situations, such as landscapes in marginal but interesting light, IS will often let you hand-hold the camera with a much narrower aperture for greater depth of field. Think of adding 3+ stops of sharpness to a landscape at dusk or dawn or at night.

I think the IS lenses give you much more flexibility in picture taking.

Finally, camera movement is one of the most common, worst, and impossible to correct sources of image degradation. It is the single factor that most destroys or limits sharpness in images. I no longer buy any lens that is not image stabilized.

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