What Is Image Stabilization (IS) and When You Should Use It?

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What Is Image Stabilization (IS) and When You Should Use It

Most new cameras or lenses come with some type of image stabilization built in. In this post we will talk about what IS is, and when you should use it.



What Is Image Stabilization (IS)?

Well, without getting too technical, there’s some hardware built into the newest cameras and lenses that detects camera shake caused by you not being able to hold the camera still enough during a long exposure.

In theory, this allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds and helps prevent blurry photos. So the old rule of thumb was that you could handhold your camera still without any shake, as long as your shutter speed was faster than 1/focal length of your lens. So, for example, if you’re using a 400mm lens you want to shoot at, at least, 1/400th sec. With today’s modern digital cameras, since they have super-high resolution sensors, it’s better to double that number to be safe. So with that 400mm lens, you should shoot at least 1/800th sec.

Does Image Stabilization (IS) Really Work?

Image stabilization claims to give you a few extra stops of hand-holding ability so that you can shoot at slower shutter speeds without getting blurry photos. Does it really work? Well, the newest lenses have pretty amazing IS systems built into them. Some with as many as three different modes, depending on what kind of shooting you’re doing.

Some of those modes work best while both you and your subject are not moving. While other modes are made for panning images, where you want to shoot at slow shutter speed and have your subject in focus but the background blurry.



When Won’t The Image Stabilization (IS) help you?

Well, it won’t slow down fast motion like sports action. It only corrects for the shake from your hands or your body. So when you’re trying to freeze action, you still need to use a fast shutter speed.

When Would You Ever Turn The Image Stabilization (IS) Off?

In most cases, you can leave it on without any problem. If you’re shooting at the fast shutter speed, you won’t notice any difference in your pictures. However, if you’re on a tripod and shooting with slow shutter speed, especially with the older IS lenses, the motion of the mechanism might actually cause some blur in your photos. So it’s best to turn it off then.

Should You Spend Extra Money On IS Lenses?

Well, it really depends on what kind of things you shoot but if you need the extra stabilization, especially at low shutter speeds, it’s a no-brainer to make the investment.

Do you have any other information about Image Stabilization (IS)? Left your ideas and questions in the comments section below! and please don’t forget to follow kuulphoto.com on Twitter @kuulphoto

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