Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

Started Aug 12, 2011 | Discussions
Fourth Quark New Member • Posts: 8
Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

Hello to all the Sony Alpha mavens out there.

I am thinking of buying my first D-SLR camera. It will only be used for family photos and vacation shots. I'm gravitating toward the Sony Alpha A580.

My question is: given the fact that the camera has in-body image stabilization, can I buy a lens that doesn't have IS built into it?

Thanks!

SteveGJ Senior Member • Posts: 1,422
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

You are correct - there is no need to buy stabilised lenses for any Sony A series camera. Indeed there are only a few imaged stabilised lenses available for A-Mount (from Sigma). If you did put an optically stabilised lens on an A-Mount then you can't have both lens and body stabilisation turned on as they will not work together, so one or the other has to be turned off.

Note that lens-based stabilisation would steady the image in the A580 viewfinder, so that might be one reason why an OS lens would be favoured as in-body stabilisation works only when the picture is taken (although, personally, I prefer to see if there is camera shake via the OVF).

Another reason that somebody might want an image-stabilised S-Mount lens was if they also intended to use it on a Sony NEX camera (via an adapter) as they do not have in-body stabilisation - at least on any current models.

Scott Nicol Regular Member • Posts: 286
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

The in body stabilisation will stabilise any lens with a working 'chip' in it (ie the lens is in electrical contact with the body via the gold contacts at the base of the lens and passes info like focal length and aperture from the lens to the camera). There are a few lenses out there in Sony A Mount that are fully manual (from third party companies like Samyang - they are manually focussed / have an external aperture ring to change apertures) that have no chip and thus do not benefit from the stabilisation - I believe, for the sensor to be moved correctly (which is how the Sony stabilisation works - the sensor shifts about to accommodate small movements / hand shake) the camera needs to know the focal length. Some enterprising ebayers and the like have 'chipped' these lenses to fool the body into activating the steady shot system.

In general, the in body stabilisation is pretty good at wide angle to low telephoto lengths (say upto 135mm on aps c cameras) but at longer telephoto focal lengths (say 200mm+), lens based systems are often more effective. In Sony mount, I don't think Sony do any stabilised lenses, Tamron do in other mounts but specifically remove them for sony versions and Sigma used to do the same as Tamron but have more recently started to include lens stabilisation in sony mount for selected telephoto lens. I can vouch for the Sigma system - it works extremely well on their 70-300mm OS (optical stabilisation) zoom - in fact Nikon think it works so well they are suing them for patent infringement

Two final things to note - if you are using the in body stabilisation and have the camera on a tripod or other very steady surface, turn it off via the menus! The camera is expecting shake (however small) and the complete absence of it ironically introduces blur as the sensor shifts around a little. Similarly, if you do ever buy an OS or equivalent lens with stabilisation, its important to choose which system is in use - if you have both switched on, the two systems often 'fight' each other as both try to compensate for shake, leading to some very strange blurry pictures (yes I've done this by accident and ruined my photos in the process :-))

phutyle Regular Member • Posts: 220
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

Another possible benefit of in-lens stabilisation over in-body is shooting video (if long clips are important to you). Turning SSS off in the camera will lessen camera heating and give you longer video clips. If your lens has stabilisation, you could use that instead.

I have to say, though, I'm really glad the Sony Alpha system has SSS. Saves us from the dilemma of "Should I buy the non-stabilised version and save some cash?" that Canon and Nikon users seem to encounter on a regular basis. With SSS, you just stick your lens on, and it's stabilised (apart from the rare fully manual exceptions as mentioned above).

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linzdoctor7d Contributing Member • Posts: 949
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

I shoot with a Tokina ATX 300mm F2.8 and 1.5x and 2x converters hand held a lot so I don't believe IS lens are any better than Sony's SSS just sounds like Canon and Nikon marketing too me.

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Edward Sargent
Edward Sargent Veteran Member • Posts: 4,693
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

Scott Nicol wrote:

The in body stabilisation will stabilise any lens with a working 'chip' in it (ie the lens is in electrical contact with the body via the gold contacts at the base of the lens and passes info like focal length and aperture from the lens to the camera).

I do not think you are correct, if the motion sensors were in the lens that would be true. I believe the SSS moves the sensor to the same degree for a 50mm lens as a 500mm lens for a given movement. I have no proof and I do have 2 lenses with no chip.

There are a few lenses out there in Sony A Mount that are fully manual (from third party companies like Samyang - they are manually focused / have an external aperture ring to change apertures) that have no chip and thus do not benefit from the stabilisation - I believe, for the sensor to be moved correctly (which is how the Sony stabilisation works - the sensor shifts about to accommodate small movements / hand shake) the camera needs to know the focal length. Some enterprising ebayers and the like have 'chipped' these lenses to fool the body into activating the steady shot system.

In general, the in body stabilisation is pretty good at wide angle to low telephoto lengths (say upto 135mm on aps c cameras) but at longer telephoto focal lengths (say 200mm+), lens based systems are often more effective. In Sony mount, I don't think Sony do any stabilised lenses, Tamron do in other mounts but specifically remove them for sony versions and Sigma used to do the same as Tamron but have more recently started to include lens stabilisation in sony mount for selected telephoto lens. I can vouch for the Sigma system - it works extremely well on their 70-300mm OS (optical stabilisation) zoom - in fact Nikon think it works so well they are suing them for patent infringement

Two final things to note - if you are using the in body stabilisation and have the camera on a tripod or other very steady surface, turn it off via the menus! The camera is expecting shake (however small) and the complete absence of it ironically introduces blur as the sensor shifts around a little. Similarly, if you do ever buy an OS or equivalent lens with stabilisation, its important to choose which system is in use - if you have both switched on, the two systems often 'fight' each other as both try to compensate for shake, leading to some very strange blurry pictures (yes I've done this by accident and ruined my photos in the process :-))

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dlkeller Veteran Member • Posts: 6,922
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

I agree with Edward. I believe the SSS DOES work with ANY lens, chipped or not. I have used a non-chipped, manual focus mirror lens and SSS works with it. I have heard this statement before and disagreed then as well.

I also find SSS effective at 300 mm but can't really dispute the advantage of in-lens in long lenses, nor have I seen that claim (which is often made by CanKon types) actually verified either. Even if there is some advantage the amount is very open to dispute.

The stabilization of the OVF is correct, however, often the lack of stabilization in the OVF forces you to hold the camera steadier which increases you chance of a successful shot.
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Dave

dlkeller Veteran Member • Posts: 6,922
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

I seriously question the accuracy of that statement above.
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Tubal Contributing Member • Posts: 709
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

It's pretty well documented that SSS causes the sensor to overheat faster while shooting video.

http://support.d-imaging.sony.co.jp/www/dslr/information/news/top_slt-a55a33.html

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OP Fourth Quark New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

Wow, that's why I love visiting dpreview. Thanks for your replies, Steve, Scott, Ed, Dave, linzdoctor, phutyle and tubal. I learned more about IS through this thread than through my research over the whole of last week.

paul_kew Senior Member • Posts: 1,673
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

Fourth Quark wrote:

My question is: given the fact that the camera has in-body image stabilization, can I buy a lens that doesn't have IS built into it?

Thanks!

That's the whole point of having it in the body.

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El Profe Senior Member • Posts: 1,706
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

That's the idea of the in-body stabilization. You don't need to pay more for a lens with in-lens stabilization because you don't need it. Although there are some people that claim that in lens stabilization is better because you are actually seeing the image already stabilized when you use a lens with in-lens stabilization. I consider better the Sony (minolta) in body stabilization system. Why? Because it forces me to try to be even more steady when holding the lens (because i can see if the image is shaking) in order to get even better and even sharper photos. Aside from saving money. Although some people in order to justify their reasoning for paying much more for their lenses with internal stabilization claim under some circunstances it can be up to 1 stop better. Maybe. But 1 stop better is not enough reason to me to paying double or triple the price.

El Profe Senior Member • Posts: 1,706
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

Scott Nikol claim that "the in body stabilization is pretty good at wide angle to low telephoto lengths (say up to 135mm on aps c cameras) but at longer telephoto focal lengths (say 200mm+), lens based systems are often more effective" is not true.

I currently use a Sony A700 but also have (although no longer use) a Minolta 7D and a Sony A100. All my lenses are "old" Minolta mount lenses. One of them is a 100-400mm and the in-body stabilization system works perfectly in all those cameras even using it with 1.4x or 2x multipliers.

All those lenses with in-body stabilization system were originally designed for Canon and Nikon cameras that don't have in-body stabilization system, and that the companies decided to also sell them in the Sony (Minolta) mount.

Plastek Contributing Member • Posts: 619
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

dlkeller wrote:

The stabilization of the OVF is correct, however, often the lack of stabilization in the OVF forces you to hold the camera steadier which increases you chance of a successful shot.
--
Dave

That's a huge advantage of IBIS (in body image stabilization) over in-lens one that many people simply ignore.

You may not see in stabilized lens that you push the stabilization to the limits having the shots unsharp, but you will always see if you hold the lens steady when what you see in viewfinder is actual image before stabilization.

It REALLY helps in achieving sharp photos.

Also the in-lens stabilization systems might cause image quality degradation (because lenses inside move causing beams of light to change their path away from perfect one) though there aren't any extensive tests on this matter AFAIK. And even if there would be - you essentially need to test every lens before coming to conclusion as in each lens there's different optical element moving causing different effects. One lens can have almost no image degradation due to IS, while other will have big problems. So it's not a simple matter.

linzdoctor7d Contributing Member • Posts: 949
Re: Do I need Image Stabilization in the lens?

The lens does not need to be chipped I have tried it with my 80-210 and 200-500mm
Tamron adaptall lens and it works just fine!

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