What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

Started Aug 27, 2021 | Discussions
shadewind Regular Member • Posts: 123
What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

Active SteadyShot is an option on A7SIII, A1 and some other cameras that enables improved image stabilization in exchange for a small crop. In many places I’ve seen claims that it adds digital stabilization on top of regular mechanical stabilization. However, it does not match what I’m seeing. Digital stabilization wouldn’t be able to get rid of the motion blur that you normally get if you stabilize footage recorded with 180 degree shutter. To me Active SteadyShot almost seems like it’s just a more stable version of the non-Active mechanical version. So what’s going on, what is it actually doing?

Furthermore, my experience is that it’s very stable for when you hold the camera still or pan very slowly but it behaves a bit weirdly when trying to do more fluid camera motion. It almost seems like the algorithm tries to stabilize the footage to be completely still until it can’t and then it just jerks it to the new position. This gives the stabilization a rather robotic jerky feel rather than a smooth one. Anyone with similar experiences? Any workarounds?

Sony a1 Sony a7 Sony a7S
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Funny Valentine
Funny Valentine Senior Member • Posts: 1,392
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
4

In my experience the active SS works best for slow panning shots and mounting it on a gimbal as it can very effectively remove jitters.

If you go too quickly it does become "jerky", but that's most IBIS. I use both an Olympus em1.3 and a7sIII for video and they both become jerky with sudden movements. The same happens with Canon R6 IBIS that I used,

The active steady shot makes the sony a7sIII footage from 24mm up to 85mm almost as stable as the Olympus em1.3. That's very impressive for a Sony camera. The downside of Sony Active SS is it adds a little crop (1,1X If I remember correctly).

Active steady shot is a combination of digital IS and simply giving the sensor more room to move in the small E mount thanks to the 1.1X crop. Sony owns a few Olympus IBIS patents, technically Sony could be the 2nd best IBIS manufacturer behind Olympus if they weren't limited by the E mount size. Proof is with a 1.1X crop sony's IBIS becomes insanely good.

But the active steady shot adds "warp" when I use it with the 20mm f/1.8. So below 24mm, I prefer IBIS alone on the a7sIII.

In comparison, the Olympus IBIS + digital IS is insanely stable and handholdable up from 7mm to 300mm (full frame 600mm) with no warp.

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OP shadewind Regular Member • Posts: 123
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

Funny Valentine wrote:

In my experience the active SS works best for slow panning shots and mounting it on a gimbal as it can very effectively remove jitters.

Yeah, unfortunately I mostly want it for waking shots where it kind of falls apart a little sometimes. It usually works okay with some added stabilization in Resolve.

If you go too quickly it does become "jerky", but that's most IBIS. I use both an Olympus em1.3 and a7sIII for video and they both become jerky with sudden movements. The same happens with Canon R6 IBIS that I used,

The active steady shot makes the sony a7sIII footage from 24mm up to 85mm almost as stable as the Olympus em1.3. That's very impressive for a Sony camera. The downside of Sony Active SS is it adds a little crop (1,1X If I remember correctly).

Active steady shot is a combination of digital IS and simply giving the sensor more room to move in the small E mount thanks to the 1.1X crop. Sony owns a few Olympus IBIS patents, technically Sony could be the 2nd best IBIS manufacturer behind Olympus if they weren't limited by the E mount size. Proof is with a 1.1X crop sony's IBIS becomes insanely good.

This matches what I’m see much better.

But the active steady shot adds "warp" when I use it with the 20mm f/1.8. So below 24mm, I prefer IBIS alone on the a7sIII.

In comparison, the Olympus IBIS + digital IS is insanely stable and handholdable up from 7mm to 300mm (full frame 600mm) with no warp.

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Another drawback is that you also seem to lose a bit of detail, even on the A1 that I’m using.

pollup Senior Member • Posts: 1,459
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
1

shadewind wrote:

Active SteadyShot is an option on A7SIII, A1 and some other cameras that enables improved image stabilization in exchange for a small crop.

Yes, a 1.1x crop.

In many places I’ve seen claims that it adds digital stabilization on top of regular mechanical stabilization.

Such places are wrong. You might be considering not getting information from those sources anymore.

The ZV-1 does use electronic (digital) stabilization and it's also called "Active SteadyShot", and this might be part of the reason to why those sources are wrong.

By the way, you're correct when you say "mechanical stabilization" but I'm going to call it "IBIS" from now on.

However, it does not match what I’m seeing. Digital stabilization wouldn’t be able to get rid of the motion blur that you normally get if you stabilize footage recorded with 180 degree shutter. To me Active SteadyShot almost seems like it’s just a more stable version of the non-Active mechanical version. So what’s going on, what is it actually doing?

That's correct. The 1.1x crop gives more room for the IBIS system to play with, and it avoids artifacts that you would get when going too far away from the image circle center, since it stays well inside the image circle.

Furthermore, my experience is that it’s very stable for when you hold the camera still or pan very slowly but it behaves a bit weirdly when trying to do more fluid camera motion. It almost seems like the algorithm tries to stabilize the footage to be completely still until it can’t and then it just jerks it to the new position.

That's correct. That's because it's made for stills, where you don't care if it resets its position. There is no way around that for video, because at some point you need to reset the IBIS to some place. It's exactly like moving your mouse ... at some point, you need to lift it and reset it to some central position because your mousepad or your table are not infinite.

This gives the stabilization a rather robotic jerky feel rather than a smooth one. Anyone with similar experiences? Any workarounds?

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FGarit New Member • Posts: 24
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
1

In many places I’ve seen claims that it adds digital stabilization on top of regular mechanical stabilization.

Such places are wrong. You might be considering not getting information from those sources anymore.

Do you have any sources to support that claim? The Sony website is not clear about this https://www.sony.com/electronics/support/articles/00010669 It seems to me like it's mixing lens OSS with AS.

And the A7IV user guide provides no helpful info: https://helpguide.sony.net/ilc/2110/v1/en/contents/TP0002897739.html

However, it does not match what I’m seeing. Digital stabilization wouldn’t be able to get rid of the motion blur that you normally get if you stabilize footage recorded with 180 degree shutter. To me Active SteadyShot almost seems like it’s just a more stable version of the non-Active mechanical version. So what’s going on, what is it actually doing?

That's correct. The 1.1x crop gives more room for the IBIS system to play with, and it avoids artifacts that you would get when going too far away from the image circle center, since it stays well inside the image circle.

Are you suggesting that IBIS in normal mode restricts the range of physical motion of the sensor so the whole image stays in frame while is AS mode, the IBIS system moves the sensor more dramatically and so requires a crop so we don't see vignetting? And this is somehow due to how narrow the E-mount is (meaning that if it were wider, AS could go cropless)?

To me, the 1.1x crop suggested that it just applies electronic stabilization in body.

OP shadewind Regular Member • Posts: 123
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
1

FGarit wrote:

To me, the 1.1x crop suggested that it just applies electronic stabilization in body.

I would have assumed so as well. However, electronic stabilization is plagued with motion blur (unless you violate the 180 degree shutter rule) that cannot be removed. Anyone who has used image stabilization in post will know what I'm talking about. Using Active SteadyShot does not have this problem, which leads me to believe it's not using electronic stabilization.

Funny Valentine
Funny Valentine Senior Member • Posts: 1,392
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

I also came to the conclusion that active steady shot is also purely physical and lets more room for the sensor to move around, at least on the a7sIII which I use.

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FGarit New Member • Posts: 24
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
1

Funny Valentine wrote:

I also came to the conclusion that active steady shot is also purely physical and lets more room for the sensor to move around, at least on the a7sIII which I use.

It's possible that we think this way because we see fewer artifacts than in-software stabilization but it could simply be because the in-body electronic stabilization is dialed down compared to what you can do in-software. It's only a small crop after all.

But I'd be happy to be wrong on this. I just wish there were resources that actually describe what AS is.

MILC man Senior Member • Posts: 5,855
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
1

shadewind wrote:

FGarit wrote:

To me, the 1.1x crop suggested that it just applies electronic stabilization in body.

exactly, e.s. has a long history of cropping frame size, optical stabilization does not do that.

I would have assumed so as well. However, electronic stabilization is plagued with motion blur (unless you violate the 180 degree shutter rule) that cannot be removed. Anyone who has used image stabilization in post will know what I'm talking about.

i think that is confusing different concepts, with generalizations that may or may not be relevant or true.

"Sony Active stabilization is an electronic stabilization applied in-camera that uses the accelerometers and gyros in the camera to adjust the image for stability before recording." Sony A7SIII FAQ - Z Systems, inc.

Using Active SteadyShot does not have this problem, which leads me to believe it's not using electronic stabilization.

the vz-1 example mentioned earlier indicates otherwise, since it does not have ibis but it does have selectable active steadyshot or standard steadyshot in video mode only... there is no active steadyshot capability in stills mode.

so i imagine that one is e.s. and the other is o.i.s, or active is a combination of the two:

"Sony Support
73.9K subscribers

Take a deeper look at Advanced SteadyShot™ with Active mode, one of the main features of the Sony ZV-1, a camera made for Content Creators and Vloggers. The ZV-1 includes advanced image stabilization, ensuring steady video, even for the most active content creators shooting hand-held while walking. Optical image stabilization in Active mode suppresses camera shake when shooting movies by combining optical image stabilization and electronic stabilization to maximize results!"

FGarit New Member • Posts: 24
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

This makes sense to me.

Again, would be happy to be wrong, but this feels like wishful thinking that AS is somehow magical when it makes much more sense that it'd be a little bit of Electronic Stabilization (using gyro data) applied in-camera. There has been a trend with gopros etc.

And this has plenty of practical applications to ease editing workflows for certain types of shooting.

FGarit New Member • Posts: 24
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

DPReview also indicate that the Active SteadyShot is just a bit of digital correction added on top: "Active crops in and adds a level of digital correction as well."

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-a7-iv-review

davethebirder Regular Member • Posts: 431
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
1

FGarit wrote:

To me, the 1.1x crop suggested that it just applies electronic stabilization in body.

It isn't using electronic stabilization !!!!!!!!!

.......Sony's E mount is smaller than say Nikon's Z or Canon's R mount ....... so the sensor is limited in it's IBIS movement/displacement and the sensor's corners get shaded by the smaller E mount itself ......... Z mounts and R mounts use larger bayonets thus vignetting is much less ........

............ so Sony has to use a 1.1 X crop and they call it  ...... "Active Stable Shot" ........... allowing the  "sensor greater movement"  as now the "corners" are no longer shaded ....... because they're cropped out!!

When Sony bought out the rights from Minolta .......... they bought into their small lens mount ........ and now they have to live with it ......... probably their only real fundamental mistake!!

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Funny Valentine
Funny Valentine Senior Member • Posts: 1,392
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

davethebirder wrote:

FGarit wrote:

To me, the 1.1x crop suggested that it just applies electronic stabilization in body.

It isn't using electronic stabilization !!!!!!!!!

.......Sony's E mount is smaller than say Nikon's Z or Canon's R mount ....... so the sensor is limited in it's IBIS movement/displacement and the sensor's corners get shaded by the smaller E mount itself ......... Z mounts and R mounts use larger bayonets thus vignetting is much less ........

............ so Sony has to use a 1.1 X crop and they call it ...... "Active Stable Shot" ........... allowing the "sensor greater movement" as now the "corners" are no longer shaded ....... because they're cropped out!!

When Sony bought out the rights from Minolta .......... they bought into their small lens mount ........ and now they have to live with it ......... probably their only real fundamental mistake!!

So the Sony IBIS is doomed to never improve ? because of the small mount ?

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someguy50 Regular Member • Posts: 462
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
5

davethebirder wrote:

When Sony bought out the rights from Minolta .......... they bought into their small lens mount ........ and now they have to live with it ......... probably their only real fundamental mistake!!

Wasn't that outcome the A-Mount? E-Mount is pure Sony

Samuel Dilworth
Samuel Dilworth Senior Member • Posts: 1,310
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
2

Funny Valentine wrote:

So the Sony IBIS is doomed to never improve ? because of the small mount ?

No. If davethebirder’s theory applied, no large-format lens would be able to cover a sheet of 4x5 or (worse) 8x10 film. It’s a made-up problem.

davethebirder Regular Member • Posts: 431
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

Samuel Dilworth wrote:

Funny Valentine wrote:

So the Sony IBIS is doomed to never improve ? because of the small mount ?

that's why Active steady shot is there complete with it's 1.1X crop ......... yep

No. If davethebirder’s theory applied, no large-format lens would be able to cover a sheet of 4x5 or (worse) 8x10 film.

It's not a made up problem ...... active steady shot however, is a made up solution to an actual problem !!

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Samuel Dilworth
Samuel Dilworth Senior Member • Posts: 1,310
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

davethebirder wrote:

It's not a made up problem ......

Explain to me why the size of the lens mount prevents a lens from casting a large image … and how a small large-format lens can illuminate a 4x5 inch sheet of film:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/472002-REG/Linhof_000102_Kardan_RE_View_Camera.html

davethebirder Regular Member • Posts: 431
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

Samuel Dilworth wrote:

davethebirder wrote:

It's not a made up problem ......

Explain to me why the size of the lens mount prevents a lens from casting a large image … and how a small large-format lens can illuminate a 4x5 inch sheet of film:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/472002-REG/Linhof_000102_Kardan_RE_View_Camera.html

It's a complicated subject ....... so I'll let follow another thread on the topic!

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4430203

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Samuel Dilworth
Samuel Dilworth Senior Member • Posts: 1,310
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?
1

davethebirder wrote:

It's a complicated subject ....... so I'll let follow another thread on the topic!

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4430203

What’s complicated about it?

I read that rambling thread and learned nothing, least of all the answer to my question.

I won’t humour you again by reading a long thread, so next time link to a relevant post if you don’t have an answer yourself. This is the question: why would the mount size prevent the lens from projecting a much larger image, when it doesn’t on countless other cameras and optical devices?

Remember, the E-mount is still huge in diameter with respect to its flange distance of 18 mm, compared to historical standards.

The truth is the mount has nothing to do with any limitations of Sony’s IBIS implementation.

davethebirder Regular Member • Posts: 431
Re: What does Active SteadyShot actually do?

Samuel Dilworth wrote:

The truth is the mount has nothing to do with any limitations of Sony’s IBIS implementation.

You've humored me already just writing that!!

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