Thursday, March 17, 2016

In praise of IBIS (in-body image stabilization) (again)

So, I tried out a Canon full-frame camera. Wow, it had ISO settings up to 25.000! Keeeewl.
So I shot some hand-held test shot with a fast 85mm lens. Most around 1/50th second.
And what do you know? They were shaken! Shaken just enough to not be useable.

My Olympus ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) has "IBIS", meaning in-body-image-stabilization. So whatever lens you put on it, you get really solid help with holding the camera still, when hand-held. And I've gotten used to that with most lenses, I can get sharp pictures at 1/8 to 1/15th second, sometimes even longer.  It was a small shock to be suddenly cast back to the Bad Old Days without IBIS.

So in a nutshell: Though the big and heavy full frame camera had ISO up to 25k (though rather grainy), which gained me about three stops of use in low light, the lack of any stabilization in either lens or body cost me three stops of the same. So net effect: zero.

Sony now has full-frame cameras (the A7 series) with IBIS, and the newest Panasonic Micro Four Thirds camera also has, finally. This is great. Well done those makers.

Left behind are the Big Boys, "CaNikon", Canon and Nikon. For whatever conservative reason of their own they have chosen only have stabilization in the lens, in a minority of lenses. And in many situations this costs your three stops of light. When we think of how much we have to pay (in money and weight/size) to get a lens of a given focal length which is one or two steps faster (a lot), this is just... a ridiculous waste.

By the by, related subject: I've seen it claimed that the heavy cameras make it easier to shoot long shutter times without shake. My experience is quite opposite. I think because the heavier the camera, the more the muscles strain, and there for shake. With my first M4/3 camera, I found to my delight that even without any stabilization, but with a more relaxed position, camera at waist height, screen tilted, with less weight, a softer shutter, and no big Mirror Smash (mirrorless cameras, remember?), with a 40mm-e lens I could actually take dead-sharp pictures at 1/15 second a lot of the time.


emptyspaces said...

Yes! This is why I chose Olympus. I'm pretty steady anyway, but with Olympus IBIS I will engage the slow burst mode and shoot at 1/10 a lot. I fire off a series of three shots, and keep one. So I can get a nice portrait shot in super dim light at a few stops lower ISO.

And I have found, to my surprise, that I like their eye-priority face detection mode also. I have two young kids and the face detection works well enough that I can just point and shoot if I have to.

Ken said...

It is quite impressive the first time that you realise that you have taken a photo at 1/10 s and it is perfectly sharp. I usually take a few at the slow speed just to be certain.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Ken, good policy. Especially if you do it on automatic, so you don't have to press the shutter for each.

Emptyspaces: Indeed; face/eye detection is one of those rare things which seemed like a silly tourist gimmick at first, but turned out to be dang valuable. Instead of Focus - recompose - shoot, repeat, it's just shoot, and shoot again at next interesting expression or composition.

TC [Girl] said...

Thanks for the reminder of doing bursts, empty spaces; headed for some family time and not much of it...gotta get 'em, QUICKLY!! STILL ABSOLUTELY LOVE my 'Oliver' (Olympus); BEST investment I have made, camera-wise, to date!! :-D

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I've just read on The Online Photographer that their tech guru, called Ctein (hard C) has just invested in a EM5 mark II. I'm pretty sure of my perceptions, but it doesn't hurt to have a quality expert confirm one's choice.