IBIS Real-World Use: 4 MILC Cameras

Started Jul 27, 2018 | Discussions
MEDISN
MEDISN Contributing Member • Posts: 772
IBIS Real-World Use: 4 MILC Cameras
11

How often do you rely on IBIS and to what extent? Not an easy question to answer. Let’s put some numbers to it! I dug through 3 years of Lightroom data in attempts to answer this question with some degree of accuracy.

Methods

I chose recent MILC cameras with IBIS that had at least one full calendar year of use. I filtered out only my best shots (4- and 5-star). Exported as JPG to separate folders (one for each camera). Used EXIF Pilot to put all photos into table form, then exported to Excel using custom export template. EXIF Pilot has a column for “35mm equivalent” which makes this exercise far easier when using crop formats. Next, I deleted all entries with shutter speeds beyond my longest focal length, leaving a manageable number of entries to work with. Here comes the hard part. How to account for tripods? I reluctantly decided to go through the remaining photos individually and separate shots I knew to employ tripods/monopods/ledge etc. This really took time (and memory)! With the PEN-F and EM1mkII, all the “high-res” shots fell into this category for obvious reasons. Once this was done, I separated remaining entries into six buckets:

  1. Shutter speed at or faster than 1/FL (no IBIS required)
  2. Shutter speed 1-stop slower than 1/FL
  3. Shutter speed 2-stop slower than 1/FL
  4. Shutter speed 3-stop slower than 1/FL
  5. Shutter speed 4-stop slower than 1/FL
  6. Shutter speed 5-stop+ slower than 1/FL

If the value fell between stops, I assigned it to the lower stop. For example, a 1/30 sec shot at 100mm falls in the “1-stop” bucket despite being almost 2-stops.

The contestants! "CY" = calendar year. "4-, 5-stars" refers to Lightroom rating system (1-5 stars).

EM5

EM5, 2015 breakdown. IBIS likely accounted for ~17% of 4-, 5-star shots.

This camera was my only mFT camera in 2015 and carried considerable workload as you can see from the flow chart. I found it predictably able to achieve 3-stops when needed, 4 on occasion but not dependably. I later used the EM5 (2017) in conjunction with the optically stabilized 12-100 which did give me 4 stops (and more) consistently but 2017 data was not used for the EM5 in this comparison.

EM-5 "2-stop" example from Georgetown Waterfront Park

A7II/A7RII

A7II/A7RII, 2016 breakdown. IBIS likely accounted for ~14% of 4-, 5-star shots.

I’ve considered the second gen A7 series to offer good IBIS. I felt comfortable getting 2-stops of stabilization but 3-stops came with a lot of variability. Sometimes no amount of effort or luck could get me there. I achieved 4-stops a handful of times to my surprise but it’s not something I could depend on.

A7II "3-stop" example from The National Cathedral in Washington DC

PEN-F

PEN-F, 2017 breakdown. IBIS likely accounted for ~17% of 4-, 5-star shots.

Nothing terribly surprising here – slightly better than the EM5 and A7II/A7RII, especially in the 3- and 4-stop bucket. Like the Sony’s, nearly all my PEN-F use is at focal lengths less than 100mm, which I find less demanding on IBIS (vs OSS or Sync-IS). I achieved 5-stops+ a handful of times but it seems hit and miss depending on focal length.

PEN-F "5-stop" example of moving sidewalk at DTW airport

EM1mkII

EM1mkII, 2017 breakdown. IBIS likely accounted for ~22% of 4-, 5-star shots.

I’ve never used a camera with stabilization this good. 4-stops stabilization is never a problem but it doesn’t stop there. Combined with the 12-100 with SYNC-IS, the 5-stop+ bucket easily exceeded the other three cameras. Not entirely fair I realize, so I went back and omitted the 12-100 from the 5-stop+ bucket and still had 3% remaining with IBIS only (see example image with 9-18mm below). Of note, this is the only camera that broke the 20% mark for IBIS use in my 4- and 5-star photos.

EM1mkII "6-stop" example of Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier, Wilmington NC

Limitations

Results span a 3-year period. While my photographic interests have remained consistent, there could be variability in what I shot, opportunity, changes in skill/motor function, etc that led to more or less IBIS use.

These data do not show failed attempts at getting the shot, only successes. For example, I found it difficult to get 3-stops stabilization consistently with the A7RII. I may have had to take 3 or 4 shots to get one sharp vs 2 with the PEN-F. Ultimately, getting the shot is getting the shot. Taking the shot 4 times is still faster than setting up a tripod 😊

This approach ignores any benefit of IBIS at or above the 1/FL rule of thumb I set as the cutoff. I think it’s fair to assume IBIS would still be beneficial at 100mm and 1/100th sec for example, yet those cases are excluded here.

I didn’t have a full calendar year with either the A7II or A7RII (longer story) so I combined the data. I didn’t notice a difference in IBIS performance between them but certainly a limitation as the 42MP “R” version is less forgiving of mis-focus or camera shake that could have led to fewer 4-, 5-star photos. Also, the A7II is devoid of silent shutter and the mechanical shutter fires with…purpose. Not as violent as the original A7 series but not exactly dampened either.

One could argue selection bias associated with the EM1mkII – I (we) assume it’s the best, do I carry it more in situations I expect to lean on IBIS? Perhaps.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, it’s interesting to see how IBIS use has impacted my own work over time and across cameras.  Exciting to see what new generations of IBIS and SYNC-IS (and the like) brings as more manufacturers move to include IBIS in their offerings.

Olympus E-M1 II Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN-F Sony a7 II Sony a7R II
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boxerman Senior Member • Posts: 1,542
Special shots opened by good IBIS
1

Thanks for your efforts. It's tough to get a good picture of how technologies like these affect our lives, and, actually, your post is one of the few I've seen that actually trIes to do that.

A particular interest of mine is how technologies can have major influence in the KIND of photography we do, especially in trying and/or getting those rare, special photos. A genre like "on-the-run-hiking-smoothed-waterfall" shots really can be opened, as any on-the-run night shooting.

Here's an anecdote that is vivid in my own experience. We went on a safari to Uganda earlier this year, and had a couple of days (one contact hour each) with gorillas. For us, really once in a lifetime. Our first trek was amazing, encountering the gorillas in an open space in the jungle, eating strawberries. They were really close, and some even approached and touched some members of the group. Unfortunately, somehow the IS switch on my 12-100 somehow got flipped, and I was TOTALLY without IS. Only figured this out after the "shoot." It was dark in the jungle and, the footing was VERY uncertain, so a lot of photographer-induced shake. Very few real keepers, though a few lucky good ones. Would have been worse had I not opted for ISO 3200, to keep the shutter speed up. (I was thinking of animal motion, but it turned out it was photographer motion that really benefitted.)

Our second trek did have IS, and a far greater percentage of keepers. Not any of the really special ones we might have got on trek 1, had I had IS.

That's it. Done gorilla shooting for a lifetime.

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The BoxerMan

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phil from seattle
phil from seattle Senior Member • Posts: 3,159
Re: IBIS Real-World Use: 4 MILC Cameras
1

Good work.  My photography has been significantly affected by IBIS, especially with the EM1.2.

Before I switched to M43, I had a Nikon APSC and a reasonably fast zoom VR lens. I tried to take hand held pictures (and mostly failed) of the interiors of museums, cathedrals and other buildings. Also, tried nightscapes with similar poor results. I would use a tripod where allowable/convenient but that was a very small number of shots.  With IBIS, those hand held photos were now possible.  I haven't crunched the numbers but with the EM1.2, I am definitely taking a lot more hand-held long(er) exposure shots than with the EM1.1. The Mark I is good but the Mark II is so far ahead.

ahaslett
ahaslett Senior Member • Posts: 5,241
Re: IBIS Real-World Use: 4 MILC Cameras
1

Thank you!  That's really interesting and useful.

Do any of your Sony lenses have OIS, enabling Dual IS?

Andrew

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MEDISN
OP MEDISN Contributing Member • Posts: 772
Re: IBIS Real-World Use: 4 MILC Cameras

ahaslett wrote:

Thank you! That's really interesting and useful.

Do any of your Sony lenses have OIS, enabling Dual IS?

Andrew

Thanks Andrew, it was a fun exercise.  Afraid none of my FE lenses (current or past) have OSS.  Mostly wide primes and adapted legacy glass.  My lone remaining Sony camera now is my A7R so some OSS would be useful!

ahaslett
ahaslett Senior Member • Posts: 5,241
Re: IBIS Real-World Use: 4 MILC Cameras

MEDISN wrote:

ahaslett wrote:

Thank you! That's really interesting and useful.

Do any of your Sony lenses have OIS, enabling Dual IS?

Andrew

Thanks Andrew, it was a fun exercise. Afraid none of my FE lenses (current or past) have OSS. Mostly wide primes and adapted legacy glass. My lone remaining Sony camera now is my A7R so some OSS would be useful!

The 90/2.8 macro has OSS.  I get Dual IS with the Canon 35/2.

Andrew

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MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 37,667
How about an “IBIS meter”?
1

Thanks for takng so much trouble to research this issue.

From my point of view IBIS and its close cousin lens-based OIS are very useful tools that have extended the capability of photography and simplified kit (less need for tripod and flash).  This is all good stuff and I would rather have these extra features than not have them.

However it has been a very useful marketing tool used by Olympus to the point that some seem to think that they could not manage without IBIS. Your charts and graphs seem to indicate that it is appreciated that for many photography situations IBIS is not even working at all.

On the other hand it seems that with long telephoto lenses the amplitude of movement of IBIS is not enough to cover the necessary stabilisation - therefore Olympus has added OIS to its 300/4.0 telephoto to be sure.  I am also the owner of Olympus’ wonderful 12-100/4.0 lens which is the second Olympus lens with OIS - which I am truly grateful of when I use it on my not-stabilised GM5.

Another factor which might also help catch sharp images is better performance high ISO sensors.  I have just made some very sharp theatre images with a hand held Olympus 40-150/2.8 on a GM5 - neither is stabilised, but the ISO ranges 800-1250 with shutter speed of 1/320 which in turn easily stops normal stage motion.

So we “sacrifice” some ISO and get something similar even if the sacrifice might not always be for the best.  Ultimately the highest stabilisation will end up in conflict with shutter speed as there is eventually an issue with a rock solid platform and subject movement blur.

I make these point as points of discussion and not criticism.  Good IBIS and OIS are very useful tools for photographers and should be used extensively.

What I would like to see on all cameras fitted with stabilisation is a form of pop-up “IBIS meter” which would have a scale from “off” to a red danger mark when IBIS was working itself to near death.  Should be easy as there seems to be no difficulty in putitng up a camera shake icon.  But maybe users and manufacturers don’t really want to know/show that their IBIS is often asleep

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Tom Caldwell

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 37,667
Making it all too easy?

ahaslett wrote:

MEDISN wrote:

ahaslett wrote:

Thank you! That's really interesting and useful.

Do any of your Sony lenses have OIS, enabling Dual IS?

Andrew

Thanks Andrew, it was a fun exercise. Afraid none of my FE lenses (current or past) have OSS. Mostly wide primes and adapted legacy glass. My lone remaining Sony camera now is my A7R so some OSS would be useful!

The 90/2.8 macro has OSS. I get Dual IS with the Canon 35/2.

Andrew

Hi tech is amazing.  Once tripod and/or flash then lens-based stabilisation then “or” in-body stabilisation and now IL+IBIS .... plus my comment on floating ISO.  Then we do have truly high shutter speed multiple captures to make our subjects stay still.

Why - these things are making the impossible possible and taking all the skill out of the craft ....

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Tom Caldwell

ahaslett
ahaslett Senior Member • Posts: 5,241
Re: Making it all too easy?

Tom Caldwell wrote:

ahaslett wrote:

MEDISN wrote:

ahaslett wrote:

Thank you! That's really interesting and useful.

Do any of your Sony lenses have OIS, enabling Dual IS?

Andrew

Thanks Andrew, it was a fun exercise. Afraid none of my FE lenses (current or past) have OSS. Mostly wide primes and adapted legacy glass. My lone remaining Sony camera now is my A7R so some OSS would be useful!

The 90/2.8 macro has OSS. I get Dual IS with the Canon 35/2.

Andrew

Hi tech is amazing. Once tripod and/or flash then lens-based stabilisation then “or” in-body stabilisation and now IL+IBIS .... plus my comment on floating ISO. Then we do have truly high shutter speed multiple captures to make our subjects stay still.

Why - these things are making the impossible possible and taking all the skill out of the craft ....

Handy for those of us with lesser skills. However I can't help noticing that tripods and monopods are also used, especially for landscape.  Getting exact control of perspective can be important.

Andrew

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Infinite are the arguments of mages. Truth is a jewel with many facets. Ursula K LeGuin

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