Superzoom camera group: Image stabilization contd..

Nikon P80

The P80's small size and low weight may have contributed to its IS OFF results, which clearly show how difficult it is to get a shot that's not completely ruined by blur at anything below 1/125 sec. Switching the VR on doesn't help a lot at higher shutter speeds (quite the opposite in our tests) but does significantly improve your chances of getting a more usable shot at slower speeds. That all said, the P80 was one of the most difficult cameras in this group to get a truly sharp (blur free) shot out of at anything under 1/1000 second.

Nikon P80 @ 486mm, IS OFF results Nikon P80 @ 486mm, IS ON results

Olympus SP-565

The SP-565 was the other camera we struggled to get consistently sharp pictures out of at anything under 1/500 second, and also the camera that produced the least impressive improvement when we switched the CCD-shift image stabilizer on. At best we'd say there's a one stop improvement, though not if you're shooting at anything below 1/125 second (when you get marginally less blurred results, but blurred all the same).

Olympus SP-565 @ 520mm, IS OFF results Olympus SP-565 @ 520mm, IS ON results

Panasonic FZ28

The FZ8's lens-shift Mega OIS system is one of the best performers in the group, offering a good 2 stop advantage over shooting with the stabilizer turned off - which is a good thing as the small, lightweight body is difficult to keep still without it. It won't help you if you try to shoot at the long end of the zoom at stupidly slow shutter speeds, but even at 1/60 sec (3 stops below the recommended minimum for a lens this long) half our shots were either perfectly sharp or sharp enough for a small print.

Panasonic FZ28 @ 486mm, IS OFF results Panasonic FZ28 @ 486mm,IS ON results

Sony Cyber-shot H50

Even at 1/500 sec we found it impossible to get consistently sharp shots from the H50 (half our test shots had mild softness). Turning the 'Super SteadyShot' lens-based stabilizer on certainly helped, and although the improvement wasn't as impressive as the FZ28 the end result - in terms of the proportion of usable shots at slower speeds - wasn't that different (the H50 seems to be a little more stable, presumably thanks to its extra weight).

Sony H50 @ 465mm, IS OFF results Sony H50 @ 465mm, IS ON results