Wondering about stabilization systems, and the necessity of built-in flash

Started Oct 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
jeffharris Veteran Member • Posts: 8,197
Re: Wondering about stabilization systems, and the necessity of built-in flash

mtar925 wrote:

One thing I haven't been able to figure out is the relative effectiveness of stabilization systems. I'm interested in handheld available light photography, for travel and indoor candids. But going back to when I shot film with a Pentax MX-1, my hands have seemed to be shakier than average and they've gotten moreso with age. With a 50mm prime my shots at 1/125 were noticeably sharper than at 1/60, even when I was paying attention to steadiness.

Does stabilization help markedly with sharpness at typical shutter speeds in the 1/30-1/125 range, or is it most helpful at really slow speeds?

Slow speeds, below 1/60th (for me at least). Or longer lenses.

Me? I prefer and use fast lenses (to keep ISOs low) and lots of homegrown stabilization techniques… leaning the camera (or me) against solid objects and whatnot. Stabilization is NOT the panacea many assign to it. Regardless of whether or not a camera or lens has stabilization, learning solid camera handling techniques can only be a benefit in the long run. Since you shot film, I'd suspect the advice is unnecessary.

My short list now, for various reasons, is the GX7, E-P5, or E-PL5. The E-PL5 is attractive not just for the lower cost, but because I like the 170-degree tilting screen for self shots. But if the 5-axis stabilization in the E-P5 is noticeably better, it might be worth the upgrade for me even though more than one reviewer has called the E-P5 overpriced.

The EP5 is certainly overpriced.

And, I haven't been able to find any careful comparison of either Oly system to either Panasonic's in-lens stabilization, or to the 2-axis system in the GX7. Has anyone done such a comparison?

With so many specs to try and understand, one route I'm considering is the E-PL5 now, to get my feet wet and start building a m43 lens set. But I'm wondering if the lack of a built-in flash is a dealbreaker. I like the idea of a handy built-in flash for fill, but now with HDR I wonder if it's as necessary as it used to be.

I rarely use a flash, but if I ever need one, want one! There's no way I'll buy… or LUG… something I may rarely or never use.

Any thoughts?

First of, you should go and handle ALL the different cameras you're considering BEFORE buying anything. What looks good on paper can be a very different beast when actually using it.

The EPL5 and carefully selecting lenses is a good place to start. I think a built-in EVF is crucial. It offers better stability and adds a range of ways to hold the camera, although a tilty screen is great for shooting from the hip… again, in a more stable position.

The GX7 is really the best of both worlds and seems to balance the necessary compromises well: great set of external controls, UI and handling, EVF (the tilt is surprisingly useful!), tilty LCD, good stabilization, pop-up flash (that's also tiltable for bounce), excellent touch interface, extended ISO125 coupled with 1/800th shutter speed (GREAT!) all in a solid, compact, low-profile body.

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