Importance of IS?

Started Oct 24, 2012 | Discussions
Dorus
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Importance of IS?
Oct 24, 2012

Hi, I am a happy owner of an Olympus E520 which has served me well, but the improved IQ of the recent crop of mirrorless cameras has me now lusting after something newer, better, and smaller. Due to some imaginary loyalty to Olympus I was looking at the EM-5 and am blown away by the improvements in IQ that Olympus has made, but somehow I did not fall in love with the camera.

The X-Pro1 and X100 struck me as something that was very much like what Olympus was trying to do with their PEN series, but better executed. The X-E1 then came and struck a chord with me. I am seeing this mostly as a camera for social occasions using available light, something the E-520 always struggled with. Also, it should be an outstanding travel cam.

So here is my question: the in-body IS that Olympus offers seems to be a big advantage, and the X-E1 does not offer that, except of course the in-lens IS that the new zoom offers. Maybe more such lenses, including primes, will come along in the future but that is an unknown at this point.

For those that bought into this system or who are now considering the X-E1, you probably weighed the absence of IS in your considerations. Does that mean that IS is not (very) important to you? Or were there other factors that balanced the advantages of stabilization? I'm seriously interested in this so any considered opinions will be very much appreciated.

Dorus

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Adamant
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to Dorus, Oct 24, 2012

All of the zooms will include OIS.  The primes will not.  None of the Fuji primes that have been roadmapped to-date really need OIS.  I presume Fuji will do a good job of it in the zooms.

It is uncommon for primes to include OIS.  Panasonic's M4/3 primes do not (to my knowledge) include it.  You probably gain some marginal advantage in the Olympus bodies when using primes.  Perhaps one stop?  But I don't see it as a big deal, and it did not deter me from pre-ordering the X-E1 with kit zoom.

If I'm shooting a situation that really requires OIS, I'll use the zoom.

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Vivec
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to Dorus, Oct 24, 2012

I have been using a FF A900 with IBIS for the past three years, and recently got a X-Pro1 with all the lenses. I love the X-Pro1 because of its light weight and really good image quality even at higher ISO's.

However, I definitely miss the image stabilisation: when the light drops I have made quite a few unsharp photos due to camera movement (ie. too slow a shutter speed) which I am sure would have been fine on the A900 due to IBIS. This is definitely something you will notice especially since Fuji messed up the auto ISO and the shutter speed is generally too slow when on auto ISO.

So, I learned to be just much more careful with the X-Pro and be more conservative in what shutter speed would be ok. But it is a bit annoying coming from an IBIS system -- I guess i have been spoiled

In the end though, the trade-off is worth it to me because of the other excellent features of the X-Pro: ie. small, light, manual direct controls, very good build quality, super nice lenses, and beautiful OOC jpegs with excellent image quality.

Because of iBIS, i looked very hard at the Olympus OMD-EM5. However, in the end, I found that the OMD didn't feel as good in the hand with the mushy buttons and that the image quality is just not (yet?) in the same league. Also, I often like to use shallow DOF. With the 35mm F1.4 on the Fuji and APS-C this works out quite well -- with M4/3 there is really a noticable difference in my opinion with respect to FF.

(btw. for me the one disappointment with the X-Pro is not so much the lack of IS, but that the autofocus speed is quite bad... the OMD does *much* better in that regard)

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mr moonlight
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to Vivec, Oct 24, 2012

Just keep in mind that IS does not freeze motion. It just helps with camera shake. I find better high ISO performance and fast glass are what help the most in low light. The need for IS really goes down when you can shoot at ISO6400 without the worry of losing on image quality.

I think the advantages of having a larger sensor and much better high iso performance out weigh any advantages gained from IS. Now of course having both would be the best of both worlds, but I guess we can't have everything.

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hellocrowley
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to mr moonlight, Oct 24, 2012

mr moonlight wrote:

Just keep in mind that IS does not freeze motion. It just helps with camera shake. I find better high ISO performance and fast glass are what help the most in low light. The need for IS really goes down when you can shoot at ISO6400 without the worry of losing on image quality.

I think the advantages of having a larger sensor and much better high iso performance out weigh any advantages gained from IS. Now of course having both would be the best of both worlds, but I guess we can't have everything.

The IS does not freeze motion which could help you create very interesting photos of moving trains/bikes without setting up a tripod... With the XPro1, I generally have to use shutter speed triple that of the focal length to be safe (so 1/60 for 18mm, 1/125 for 35mm).

OMD IS helps gain about 5 stops. XPro1 ISO performance is about 1 stop better. Do the math and take your pick.

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drv320
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to Dorus, Oct 24, 2012

I found that I used IS, OS, IBIS as a crutch.  Yes, it was nice to have, but it can't replace good technique and thorough knowledge of your camera.

I never thought I could use a non-stabilized camera or lens, but I began to learn with the 50mm f1.8 on my Nikon DSLR.  I found that IS, OS, IBIS were not nearly as important as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (and the relationship between them).  My X-Pro1 beats the pants off Oly in high ISO (had the OM-D and sold it).  No, the AF isn't as fast, but it's fast enough for my style of shooting.  Besides...for fast, I have my DSLR.

Even though I am perfectly happy with my non-stabilized X-Pro1 and the non-stabilized 35mm.  I will be getting the (stabilized) 18-55.  I need a zoom for travel.

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caver3d
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to mr moonlight, Oct 24, 2012

mr moonlight wrote:

Just keep in mind that IS does not freeze motion. It just helps with camera shake. I find better high ISO performance and fast glass are what help the most in low light. The need for IS really goes down when you can shoot at ISO6400 without the worry of losing on image quality.

I think the advantages of having a larger sensor and much better high iso performance out weigh any advantages gained from IS. Now of course having both would be the best of both worlds, but I guess we can't have everything.

In spite of your comments, there will be times (hand-holding a camera) where you will end up using a low enough shutter speed that high ISO performance and a larger sensor cannot compensate enough.  At that point, having IS is most definitely an advantage.

caver3d

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StickBreitling
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to caver3d, Oct 24, 2012

With my D700 I owned no stabilised lenses. Instead, I relied on sufficient shutter speed and the excellent high ISO response of the sensor. With the Fuji XPro1 I use the same techniques.

IS is useful are when you are trying to do long exposures of say a waterfall and you've forgotten the tripod. There are ways around this, but undoubtedly IS shows its value.

The stabilised 18-55 zoom is a welcome addition and does give you more leeway in terms of shutter speed.

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dnercesian
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to drv320, Oct 24, 2012

drv320 wrote:

I found that I used IS, OS, IBIS as a crutch.  Yes, it was nice to have, but it can't replace good technique and thorough knowledge of your camera.

I was wondering if anyone else felt this way. Thanks for posting. I totally agree. I love IBS/IS/OIS/VR, but I know for a fact they have allowed me lazy moments that I should not have accepted over proper shooting technique. Ultimately it is our decision to use the technique regardless of the equipment, and the stabilization is there as a safeguard, just in case, but I do appreciate the discipline forced upon me on the occasions I wouldn't force it upon myself.

I have done this lazy dance a lot with my OMD. Sometimes I push it and I don't get away with it, and it stinks when you download the images and see what has happened and the lost opportunity. Other times I get away with it and chuckle to myself.

This is hardly the case on my X Pro 1 though because I do keep notice on technique, and I think it makes me a better photographer. Personally, when I get my XE1 kit and the zooms, I will treat them asif they don't have OIS, I hope. I'll mostly be using primes anyway.

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viking79
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to hellocrowley, Oct 24, 2012

hellocrowley wrote:

mr moonlight wrote:

Just keep in mind that IS does not freeze motion. It just helps with camera shake. I find better high ISO performance and fast glass are what help the most in low light. The need for IS really goes down when you can shoot at ISO6400 without the worry of losing on image quality.

I think the advantages of having a larger sensor and much better high iso performance out weigh any advantages gained from IS. Now of course having both would be the best of both worlds, but I guess we can't have everything.

The IS does not freeze motion which could help you create very interesting photos of moving trains/bikes without setting up a tripod... With the XPro1, I generally have to use shutter speed triple that of the focal length to be safe (so 1/60 for 18mm, 1/125 for 35mm).

OMD IS helps gain about 5 stops. XPro1 ISO performance is about 1 stop better. Do the math and take your pick.

I think 5 stops might be optimistic? Maybe 2 or 3 more realistic based on what a person with steady hands can hold.  Anyway, IS is no different than a tripod, you can always substitute a tripod for IS. Obviously, I hate carrying tripods, so that does make IS nice, but in practice I find that IS is never quite as good as a tripod.

I also found going from an IS camera to a non IS camera, that proper technique was my main problem, not IS.  I found that using appropriately fast shutter speeds was the bigger issue.  Sometimes I found that IS did weird things too, like actually made the picture worse or caused general softness issues, and I have seen that with both OIS and IBIS.

However, there is a point where you can't go faster than say 1/100 but have a 50-150 mm lens on an APS-C camera and you really need IS at that range, it makes a huge difference.  I won't deny that.  Thankfully most companies make a nice IS lens for that range (either 50-150 or 70-200).

The problem with fuji is that 1/(1.5*focal length) is not always enough.  Sometimes 1/2x or 1/3x  is more appropriate.  I wish they let you adjust auto ISO accordingly, to pick the X in 1/(X*focal length.

So I am split, IBIS/OIS can be nice to have in certain situations for sure, but as everything, they come with trade offs of their own, and I see too many people using it as a crutch as someone else pointed out.

Eric

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Dorus
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to dnercesian, Oct 24, 2012

dnercesian wrote:

drv320 wrote:

I found that I used IS, OS, IBIS as a crutch.  Yes, it was nice to have, but it can't replace good technique and thorough knowledge of your camera.

I was wondering if anyone else felt this way. Thanks for posting. I totally agree. I love IBS/IS/OIS/VR, but I know for a fact they have allowed me lazy moments that I should not have accepted over proper shooting technique. Ultimately it is our decision to use the technique regardless of the equipment, and the stabilization is there as a safeguard, just in case, but I do appreciate the discipline forced upon me on the occasions I wouldn't force it upon myself.

I have done this lazy dance a lot with my OMD. Sometimes I push it and I don't get away with it, and it stinks when you download the images and see what has happened and the lost opportunity. Other times I get away with it and chuckle to myself.

This is hardly the case on my X Pro 1 though because I do keep notice on technique, and I think it makes me a better photographer. Personally, when I get my XE1 kit and the zooms, I will treat them asif they don't have OIS, I hope. I'll mostly be using primes anyway.

Lots of helpful and interesting responses so far. However, I do not understand this "IS as a crutch for poor technique" thing. If a situation calls for a wide open aperture and slow shutter speed would IS just not give you more opportunity to get the shot? How would better technique give you the same added flexibility?

Dorus

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Dorus
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to Adamant, Oct 24, 2012

Adamant wrote:

All of the zooms will include OIS.  The primes will not.  None of the Fuji primes that have been roadmapped to-date really need OIS.  I presume Fuji will do a good job of it in the zooms.

Thanks for your response, which i found helpful. Can you elaborate why "none of the Fuji primes ... really need OIS"? I don't see OIS or IBIS as a function of primes-vs-zooms although a case can be made that longer focal lengths will be benefit more from stabilization.

Dorus

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dnercesian
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to Dorus, Oct 24, 2012

Dorus wrote:

dnercesian wrote:

drv320 wrote:

I found that I used IS, OS, IBIS as a crutch.  Yes, it was nice to have, but it can't replace good technique and thorough knowledge of your camera.

I was wondering if anyone else felt this way. Thanks for posting. I totally agree. I love IBS/IS/OIS/VR, but I know for a fact they have allowed me lazy moments that I should not have accepted over proper shooting technique. Ultimately it is our decision to use the technique regardless of the equipment, and the stabilization is there as a safeguard, just in case, but I do appreciate the discipline forced upon me on the occasions I wouldn't force it upon myself.

I have done this lazy dance a lot with my OMD. Sometimes I push it and I don't get away with it, and it stinks when you download the images and see what has happened and the lost opportunity. Other times I get away with it and chuckle to myself.

This is hardly the case on my X Pro 1 though because I do keep notice on technique, and I think it makes me a better photographer. Personally, when I get my XE1 kit and the zooms, I will treat them asif they don't have OIS, I hope. I'll mostly be using primes anyway.

Lots of helpful and interesting responses so far. However, I do not understand this "IS as a crutch for poor technique" thing. If a situation calls for a wide open aperture and slow shutter speed would IS just not give you more opportunity to get the shot? How would better technique give you the same added flexibility?

Dorus


IS is not a crutch in and of itself in the same way an actual crutch is not used as a crutch when it is sitting in a closet. When and if it becomes a crutch is completely up to the user. The equipment doesn't matter in that respect as much as your decisions do. You could have IBIS active and in use for all your lenses and still display the utmost technical skills on all your shots.

For instance, I trust proper lighting, tripods, and filters more than things like HDR and IS. I still like HDR when I actually want that effect specifically, but I prefer proper lighting when I can get it as well as the use of filters.

There are times when a tripod is simply necessary though, or at least advisable. I don't think IS is a replacement for that owe times, but it could help in a pinch if you don't have a tripod with you. Honestly though, you have a better chance at nailing it with the tripod.

I'm really grateful for the Fuji high ISO performance though. Gives me a lot more room to work with propper shutter speeds.

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dnercesian
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to Dorus, Oct 24, 2012

Dorus wrote:

Adamant wrote:

All of the zooms will include OIS.  The primes will not.  None of the Fuji primes that have been roadmapped to-date really need OIS.  I presume Fuji will do a good job of it in the zooms.

Thanks for your response, which i found helpful. Can you elaborate why "none of the Fuji primes ... really need OIS"? I don't see OIS or IBIS as a function of primes-vs-zooms although a case can be made that longer focal lengths will be benefit more from stabilization.

Dorus


You sort of answered your own question there with regards to focal length. At shorter focal lengths IS is not nearly as helpful as it is at longer focal lengths. Also, the primes tend to have faster maximum apertures, so you can get the shutter speed up on those a bit more, of course, if that works out for the type of exposure you are tryingto get.

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Dorus
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to dnercesian, Oct 24, 2012

dnercesian wrote:

Dorus wrote:

Adamant wrote:

All of the zooms will include OIS.  The primes will not.  None of the Fuji primes that have been roadmapped to-date really need OIS.  I presume Fuji will do a good job of it in the zooms.

Thanks for your response, which i found helpful. Can you elaborate why "none of the Fuji primes ... really need OIS"? I don't see OIS or IBIS as a function of primes-vs-zooms although a case can be made that longer focal lengths will be benefit more from stabilization.

Dorus


You sort of answered your own question there with regards to focal length. At shorter focal lengths IS is not nearly as helpful as it is at longer focal lengths. Also, the primes tend to have faster maximum apertures, so you can get the shutter speed up on those a bit more, of course, if that works out for the type of exposure you are tryingto get.

Thanks - appreciate the perspective.

Dorus

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drv320
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to dnercesian, Oct 24, 2012

dnercesian wrote:

You could have IBIS active and in use for all your lenses and still display the utmost technical skills on all your shots.

Very true.  However, it became a crutch for me as I would avoid any equipment that didn't have some sort of stabilization built in.  Stabilization allowed me to become lazy with my technique.  I was speaking for myself and myself alone.  I can definitely see situations where, regardless of technique, IS, OS, IBIS would come in very handy.  All I was talking about was me relying on it to the exclusion of proper technique.

I'm finding that I'm getting just as many keepers with my unstabilized kit as I did/do with stabilized stuff.  The difference is that I'm slowing down and paying attention to shooting technique...spraying and praying FAR less.

Of course, YMMV.  If you prefer stabilized kit...good on ya.  I guess I just went about photography backwards...I took the easy path before learning the right way.

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dnercesian
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to drv320, Oct 24, 2012

drv320 wrote:

dnercesian wrote:

You could have IBIS active and in use for all your lenses and still display the utmost technical skills on all your shots.

Very true. However, it became a crutch for me as I would avoid any equipment that didn't have some sort of stabilization built in. Stabilization allowed me to become lazy with my technique. I was speaking for myself and myself alone. I can definitely see situations where, regardless of technique, IS, OS, IBIS would come in very handy. All I was talking about was me relying on it to the exclusion of proper technique.

I'm finding that I'm getting just as many keepers with my unstabilized kit as I did/do with stabilized stuff. The difference is that I'm slowing down and paying attention to shooting technique...spraying and praying FAR less.

Of course, YMMV. If you prefer stabilized kit...good on ya. I guess I just went about photography backwards...I took the easy path before learning the right way.

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Nope, I am in the same boat as you. I always tend to let stabilization make me lazy. I would definitely call it a crutch by the way I tend to use it on my OMD. Sometimes I have a good laugh at photos that I messed up on because of it. I'll learn one day I guess. lol.

But for now, I am in the same boat as you my friend. In so many ways, the non stabilized primes are so good for me.

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Dorus
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to dnercesian, Oct 25, 2012

dnercesian wrote:

drv320 wrote:

dnercesian wrote:

You could have IBIS active and in use for all your lenses and still display the utmost technical skills on all your shots.

Very true. However, it became a crutch for me as I would avoid any equipment that didn't have some sort of stabilization built in. Stabilization allowed me to become lazy with my technique. I was speaking for myself and myself alone. I can definitely see situations where, regardless of technique, IS, OS, IBIS would come in very handy. All I was talking about was me relying on it to the exclusion of proper technique.

I'm finding that I'm getting just as many keepers with my unstabilized kit as I did/do with stabilized stuff. The difference is that I'm slowing down and paying attention to shooting technique...spraying and praying FAR less.

Of course, YMMV. If you prefer stabilized kit...good on ya. I guess I just went about photography backwards...I took the easy path before learning the right way.

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Nope, I am in the same boat as you. I always tend to let stabilization make me lazy. I would definitely call it a crutch by the way I tend to use it on my OMD. Sometimes I have a good laugh at photos that I messed up on because of it. I'll learn one day I guess. lol.

But for now, I am in the same boat as you my friend. In so many ways, the non stabilized primes are so good for me.

Thank you both - this is an angle that I certainly had not considered. It seems in line with the current dichotomy that is arising between the 'photo taking machines' and the 'retro rangefinder look' cameras in that both attract a different crowd (with overlaps of course) which each value another feature set, or even a lack of certain features.

I think I am leaning more towards the retro side of things. Now the question is what features I would happily give up to firmly move into that camp. It wounds like IS may have to go....

Dorus

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Laszlo13
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to viking79, Oct 25, 2012

viking79 wrote:

hellocrowley wrote:

mr moonlight wrote:

Just keep in mind that IS does not freeze motion. It just helps with camera shake. I find better high ISO performance and fast glass are what help the most in low light. The need for IS really goes down when you can shoot at ISO6400 without the worry of losing on image quality.

I think the advantages of having a larger sensor and much better high iso performance out weigh any advantages gained from IS. Now of course having both would be the best of both worlds, but I guess we can't have everything.

The IS does not freeze motion which could help you create very interesting photos of moving trains/bikes without setting up a tripod... With the XPro1, I generally have to use shutter speed triple that of the focal length to be safe (so 1/60 for 18mm, 1/125 for 35mm).

OMD IS helps gain about 5 stops. XPro1 ISO performance is about 1 stop better. Do the math and take your pick.

I think 5 stops might be optimistic? Maybe 2 or 3 more realistic based on what a person with steady hands can hold. Anyway, IS is no different than a tripod, you can always substitute a tripod for IS. Obviously, I hate carrying tripods, so that does make IS nice, but in practice I find that IS is never quite as good as a tripod.

Actually 5 stops is not necessarily optimistic.  This is 24mm equivalent shot at 1/3 sec.  People that haven't used the E-M5 won't understand - although you can try it at a store: look at the LCD while visibly shaking your hand all around.  It's fantastic for videos.  It's like carrying an invisible tripod.  With all that being said, I do agree that it's not needed most of the time with fast primes, unless indeed slow shutter speed is desired for motion blur.  It's just one piece of the equation whether or not to switch from Olympus, and I think it's a good piece.



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eilivk
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Re: Importance of IS?
In reply to Laszlo13, Oct 26, 2012

Was my main argument against buying Fuji. The high ISO quality is very good but because of the lacking IS some of the advantage is lost? But then I got the 20mm for G3, no IS, and it's looking rather good. You just have to be less "lazy" and more careful taking shots. In line with attempts to take fewer and better composed shots. And with the 35 mm maybe not much of a problem. More with the 60mm? And for video - which I seem to forget most of the time... And as camera and lens are rather small, a tripod could also be small.

Interesting discussion, very helpful.

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