Selection of IBIS or Lens IS for the E-M5

Started Nov 13, 2012 | Discussions thread
OP Robert Deutsch Forum Pro • Posts: 10,163
Re: Selection of IBIS or Lens IS for the E-M5

Anders W wrote:

Robert Deutsch wrote:

With the 14-42x on the E-PL5, with Lens IS-priority set to ON and the main IS control set to ON, the image (42mm,, 1/5) is relatively sharp. With Lens IS-priority OFF and the main IS control is ON, the image is also sharp. I think the first of these settings represent the working of the lens-based IS, and the second IBIS. (I wouldn't swear to it, but the lens-IS seems to produce a slightly better result in this situation.). Turning both lens IS-priority as well as the main IS control off results in a very blurry picture.

From what I've read, there is no way of setting the IS in the EM-5 so that it uses lens-based IS. (The camera salesman I talked to suggested that this could be done in a firmware update.) However, the consensus seems to be that the 5-way IBIS is considerably better than the earlier-generation mechanism that's in the E-PL5, and it's also as good as or better than Panasonic's lens-based IS.

If any of you are wondering why this concerns me: I bought an E-PL5 (replacing a GX1) a few days ago, and although i've been generally impressed with it, I've been thinking of exchanging it for an E-M5. The way the E-M5 handles Panasonic's IS lenes is one of its few downsides compared to the E-PL5. The Olympus 5-way IBIS may be superior, but I like to have a choice.

Anyway, I bit the bullet and bought an E-M5, with the understanding that one of the two cameras will be returned. The battery is charging now...


Hi Bob,

Thanks for your little test report. Could you please also try a shot where Lens IS-priority is set to on and the main IS set to off and see how that compares to the other combinations.

The image is blurry.

They could have found a better way of explaining it, but the system actually makes sense.  The main IS setting determines whether IS of any sort is used, and then, once this is turned to ON, if the Lens-priority setting is OFF, then the camera uses its own IBIS, and if the Lens-priority setting is ON, then it uses the lens OIS.  BTW, I've read somewhere (DPR?) that Lens-priority IS is on by default, but that was not the case with the camera I got.

I was quite impressed with how the IBIS worked with the Panasonic 7-14 and the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 on E-PL5;  I expect to be even more impressed with the EM-5's IBIS.


I am still not sure how to interpret what the manual says on p. 47:

"When using a lens with an image stabilization function switch, priority is given to the lens side setting."

It struck me in retrospect that my interpretation in the post to which you responded might be partly wrong. My initial thought was that it meant that the switch allows you to choose between OIS and IBIS (if the main IS control is on) or between OIS and no stabilization (if the main IS control is off). But in view of the fact that this note on the manual is on the page that talks about IS on versus off in general, it could also be taken to mean that the hardware switch allows you to choose between IS on and off and that the choice between OIS and IBIS is then regulated by the Lens-priority menu item. I think they could have used a few more words here to sort out these various interpretations.

When it comes to the E-M5: As Bob Tullis has already pointed out, there is currently no way you can get an OIS lens to use its OIS on the E-M5 unless it has a switch on the barrel. If it has, there is no problem here. You just have to remember to turn IBIS off if you turn OIS on. This could easily be fixed by means of a firmware upgrade but nevertheless remains to be seen if we will see it happen or not.

Furthermore, I would say your understanding about the E-M5 IBIS is largely correct. It is a very efficient stabilization system so I don't think you will miss OIS too much. The only lens with which I use OIS rather than IBIS on my E-M5 is the 14-45, where the reason is that OIS counteracts the shutter shock troubling the E-M5 at certain shutter speeds better than IBIS. I have found this to be true for this particular lens only. With my other OIS lenses (45-200, 100-300), there isn't any difference.

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