Handheld stability mystery

Started May 3, 2013 | Discussions
OpticsEngineer
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Handheld stability mystery
May 3, 2013

I have a Pentax K5ii and a Sony A65.  Both very nice DSLRs.  I typically use them with 18-135 zoom lenses, but also with telephotos to 300 mm.

I find that when I take handheld shots with the K5ii, somehow I am able to hold the camera much steadier than I can hold the A65.    The image dances around less in the K5ii viewfinder.  I am at least twice as steady holding the K5ii than I am the A65.    I find this with all my lenses.

I do all the usual recommended things for stability, holding the viewfinder up to eye, contacting forehead, arms tucked in and all that.  As part of my job, I have trained many technicians and engineers to do optical alignments so I am aware that my hands are quite a bit steadier than the average persons.

Both cameras have in-body stablization.  The Sony Steadyshot system works great and I have no problems getting good handheld shots even as the lights get dim.   But I do even better with the Pentax because  I hold it steadier.  The Pentax IBIS does not have to work as hard.

I find the K5ii grip comfortable as opposed to the A65 grip being super-comfortable.  Could it be it is detrimental to stability to design a grip for maximum comfort?

Is a steadier shooting experience something Pentax is known for?

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awaldram
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to OpticsEngineer, May 3, 2013

I'm not sure, I suspect its more to-do with body (human) frequency and the IS.

I'm sure some people would have the opposite experience.

My reasoning is the KX used to induce image blur for some minority of people so there is some interaction between the body IS and the operator build.

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Cosmo Not
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to OpticsEngineer, May 3, 2013

I have no first hand experience with sony but I can offer a few theories. First the most obvious, is Pentax IS just better?

Number two, a heavier camera can make hand tremors less intrusive. The k5-II is 660g with no battery where the a65 is 543g.

Last guess, it is possible the extra weight could reduce internal vibrations resulting in a sharper image, but this is assuming you have tested it at different settings.

Just my best guesses, hopefully others can chime in.

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awaldram
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to Cosmo Not, May 3, 2013

You could be onto something

> mass = > inertia.

inertia is the force the IS works against so the greater mass the more effective IS can be

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jatthegreat
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to OpticsEngineer, May 3, 2013

"But I do even better with the Pentax because  I hold it steadier.  The Pentax IBIS does not have to work as hard"

How do you know Pentax IBIS does not have to work as hard? It might be working great for your style.

I have one suggestion you might want to try:

Disable IBIS in both the cameras and try which of them you get the best (sharpest) image at the lowest shutter speed. This will rule out if the IBIS was the one giving you better results.

Regards,

Jatin

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James O'Neill
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to OpticsEngineer, May 3, 2013

OpticsEngineer wrote:

The image dances around less in the K5ii viewfinder.  I am at least twice as steady holding the K5ii than I am the A65.    I find this with all my lenses.

There is a small difference in the mass of the cameras so the force you apply from body shake will move the Pentax slightly less, but I doubt if you would see this. The logical explanation would be something about the Pentax body makes you hold it differently or tense muscles differently that produce a beneficial effect.  The way someone else holds the sony might produce a beneficial effect in the other direction.

I'm fond of telling people that different cameras work better for different people : the fact I find Pentax works best for me doesn't mean it work better for them ...

Is a steadier shooting experience something Pentax is known for?

Ergonomics in general yes, steadier shooting specifically I don't think so.

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Cosmo Not
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to awaldram, May 3, 2013

Exactly. I like to think in exxaggerated terms to understand a point. This is the reason I dont follow the bandwagon that likes light fluffy cameras. All the little moving parts cause some vibration, but the heavier the camera is as a whole, the more stationary inertia there is to counter the mirror/shutter. Its like if a camera weighed two tons, like a car, in camera vibes would be virtually absent. This is also what the mirrorless crusade fails to realize, small cameras like the NEX line NEED to be mirrorless bc they are so light. I love my OVF, and if my camera is a bit heavier it only helps. I also find a firm grip means you lend the mass of your hand to help, same concept as a tripod.

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miles green
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to jatthegreat, May 3, 2013

Excellent idea! Isolate the steps to see what's making it better.

1. stabilization system

2. weight (strap something to the bottom of the Sony)

3. EVF stabilization (is it enabled for viewing or does stabilization only move the sensor around for the actual picture taking)

I would think that it also has to do with the ovf/evf. Assuming the evf shows a stabilized image, maybe with the slightest delay, it filters the feedback you need to hold the camera steady. Maybe ?

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OpticsEngineer
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to miles green, May 3, 2013

I should clarify that the Sony EVF is not image stablized  (none of the SLT cameras are, stabilization only kicks in when the image is actually captured.)   So in that way it is like the OVF in the Pentax.

My question is not so much about the stablization systems and image quality.  Both cameras are excellent in that way.  My questiion is really about what it could be that makes me able to hold the K5ii so much more steady than the A65.

I was wondering if it might have something to do with a different optical arrangement of what I was seeing in the viewfinders.  So I bolted a small laser pointer (Barska because those have on/off switches) onto each camera and watched the red spot of light on a distant wall.   The dancing spot of light moved exactly with the view through the viewfinder, so that verified it really is that I can just hold the K5ii more steadily.

The suggestion about muscle tension makes sense to me.  I also wonder about where on the wrist there is pivot point.

I have posted on the Sony forum asking if anyone finds the heavier A77 more steady to hold than the A65, but people seem not to have noticed a difference.  I have read endless discussions  over there about which one is better to buy but I have never seen anyone post that the A77 is more steady to hold or gives better overall image stabliization.

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SRT201
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to awaldram, May 3, 2013

I have on occasion seen the very strange Kx motion blur you mention.  Never been able to nail it down to a repeatable situation.

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OpticsEngineer
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to OpticsEngineer, May 5, 2013

I measured that the weight of the K5ii+18-135 was 5.1 ounces more than the Sony A65+18-135.  So I added the 5.1 ounces to the Sony.  It did not make any difference, the stabiliity in my hands of the A65 was the same.     So I tried a lot of different ways of holding the A65 without any real difference.  I am really puzzled how the K5ii can be so much more steady in my hands.

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faith_ps
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to OpticsEngineer, May 5, 2013

I measured that the weight of the K5ii+18-135 was 5.1 ounces more than the Sony A65+18-135.  So I added the 5.1 ounces to the Sony.  It did not make any difference, the stabiliity in my hands of the A65 was the same.     So I tried a lot of different ways of holding the A65 without any real difference.  I am really puzzled how the K5ii can be so much more steady in my hands.

So whats your conclusion regarding Sony's Steadyshot?

If the K5II stabiliser is soo good, then it is indeed a gem.

Jakop

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OpticsEngineer
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to faith_ps, May 5, 2013

"So whats your conclusion regarding Sony's Steadyshot?"

My conclusion is that in my hands, the Pentax is indeed a true gem.   The Pentax combination of better handheld stability and IBIS lets me get good shots in dim light when my Sony A65 plus SteadyShot does not.

Other people may have a different experience of course.

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Pacerr
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Re: Handheld stability mystery
In reply to OpticsEngineer, May 5, 2013

Consider the position and "thrust-line" of the shutter-finger. I've found small changes in the location and angle of the shutter button make a large difference in the tension of my right hand and affect shutter release motion.

I've tried using a wired cable remote with a micro-switch that could be placed in various locations to verify that position is important. I don't find the 'forward tilt' on many of the DSLR bodies to be advantageous for smooth shutter release.

Using the shutter button accessory that screwed in to the threaded cable release socket on the Spotmatic's shutter button was the most comfortable arrangement I've used. I've considered gluing something similar to my DSLR bodies.

H2

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