Thursday, January 18, 2007
How-To Fundamentals: Image-Stabilization Options
Once you try it, you can't go back
Labels: Camera Technique
I admit it: I'm an addict; I'm hooked on image-stabilized shooting. Once you try it, you can't go back. Fortunately, for me—and all photographers who shoot handheld—there now are a number of "fixes" available: Canon, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Nikon, Panasonic, Pentax, Sigma and Sony all offer stabilized gear, with more on the way.
What's so great about stabilized shooting? Sharper photos. The old rule of thumb for handholding a given lens is that you should use a shutter speed equal to the reciprocal of its focal length (or faster) if you want sharp results. With a 200mm lens, for example, you'd need a shutter speed of 1⁄200 sec. or faster.
Stabilized gear compensates for camera movement and thus lets you attain equivalent results at slower shutter speeds. The claims are for two to three shutter speeds slower, meaning that with a stabilized camera or lens, the average serious photographer can get sharp images handholding a 200mm lens at 1⁄50 or 1⁄25 sec. While results vary depending on conditions and skill level, you can expect to handhold stabilized gear at least two shutter speeds slower than you can handhold the same focal length without stabilization.
Image-stabilization systems don't resist camera movement like costly gyro-stabilizer attachments; rather, they let the movement happen, but compensate for it. There are two basic types of image stabilization in use today, both of which are highly effective:
With optical image stabilization, the system shifts a group of lens elements to counter camera movement and keep the subject in one place on the image sensor or film. Canon uses a version of this system in its IS (Image Stabilizer) lenses, Nikon in its VR (Vibration Reduction) lenses and Sigma in its OS (Optical Stabilizer) zoom. Optical stabilization is also used in consumer digital cameras from Canon, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony.
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