Optical image stabilization

This is the first time Canon has fitted an A series camera with an optical image stabilization system, and given the A710's 200mm F4.8 telephoto it's a welcome move. The system works well and is easily good for a 2 or 3 stop advantage over the A710's non-stabilized predecessor, the A700.

There are three modes: Continuous (IS on all the time), 'Shoot only' (IS is activated at the moment the exposure is made) and Panning (for horizontally panned shots).

The first option makes framing easier - the IS system steadies the preview image - but the second is easier on the batteries and, in theory more effective (though as usual our test showed this to be by no means guaranteed - at very long exposure settings the continuous mode seems to work better).

Although we've no definitive test for IS systems in real-world use, I was very impressed with the A710's system, we found it perfectly possible to shoot at 1/25th sec at the long end of the zoom (a 3 stop advantage over non stabilized shooting) and - nine times out of ten - at 1/4 sec at the short end (again, a good 3 stops better than without the IS), so it's worth having. It also makes for much less jerky movies.

As with all IS systems it's not infallible, nor is it easy to predict which setting will be more effective (I tended to leave it on 'continuous' when shooting tele, as the stabilized preview image makes framing so much easier), but if you don't expect miracles and take a few 'safety shots' in borderline cases it's rare you don't get at least one 'keeper'.

1/15th second, hand-held, 200mm (equiv.)
IS off IS on ('continuous' mode) IS on ('shoot only' mode)
1/30th second, hand-held, 200mm (equiv.)
IS off IS on ('continuous' mode) IS on ('shoot only' mode)