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Mega OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)

The DMC-L10's kit lens offers the same acclaimed 'MEGA OIS' optical image stabilization system found on the company's compact Lumix models. This is provided by a movable lens element controlled by a microprocessor (a full Venus engine no less) which receives inputs from gyros within the lens. The DMC-L10 provides three OIS options; Mode 1 (stabilize all the time), Mode 2 (stabilize only during shutter release) and Mode 3 (panning; vertical stabilization only).

The stabilization test

This test was first used in our Sony DSLR-A100 review, thirty hand-held shots were taken of a static scene, ten without stabilization, ten using OIS Mode 1, ten using OIS Mode 2. The shutter speed was then decreased by a stop and thirty more shots taken (from 1/200 sec to 1/8 sec). The L10's lens was set at 50mm to produce a 100 mm equiv. FOV. The test chart was approximately 2.0 m away from the camera. The L10 was held in one hand and used in Live View Mode as this tends to produce more camera shake, and we're looking for how much improvement the two modes offer, not an absolute measurement of 'how low you can go' with the shutter speeds. If you shoot carefully using the viewfinder - and have a fairly steady hand - you can probably shift all the graphs below one or two shutter speed steps to the right.

The resulting images were then inspected and given a blur score from zero to three where zero represented a very blurred image and three a sharp image with no noticeable blur (see crop examples below). Obviously the amount of blur which is acceptable will depend on your personal taste and the final image size (for instance a '2: Soft' will still look fine as a 4x6 print or in a web gallery). Example crops from these four blur scores can be seen below.

0: Very blurred 1: Blurred
2: Soft 3: Sharp

Hand-held, no stabilization (100 mm equiv. FOV)

The combination of live view shooting and the front-heavy nature of the L10 fitted with the big kit lens means that we struggled to get completely sharp results even at 1/200 sec, with the 'hit rate' falling steadily until by 1/50 sec and below anything even remotely usable was a rarity.

Hand-held, with Mega OIS Mode 1 (100 mm equiv. FOV)

Mega OIS Mode 1 operates continuously, even during composition. Whilst there is a noticeable improvement it's far from a dramatic improvement, though it does mean that you get slightly more usable shots when taking a chance on a shutter speed three or four stops below the recommended miniumum for the focal length in use.

Hand-held, with Mega OIS Mode 2 (76 mm equiv. FOV)

As we saw with the L1 (and with most Lumix compact models) Mode 2 brings a more noticeable improvement, but you still can't expect miracles. In this mode the OIS system only starts moving the lens element during the actual shutter release, which ensures the system doesn't reach its limit of correction before the shutter has even opened. As you can see from the results below Mode 2 provides almost two stops of absolute advantage, though the hit rate (as with mode 1) drops dramatically at 1/25th sec.

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