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04-16-2011, 10:59 PM   #1
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Image Stabilization: Pentax K-X vs Nikon/Canon

Which has the best image stabilization? The HDR built into the Pentax K-X or say the VR image stabilization built into the Nikon D3100 kit lens? How about the image stabilization built into Canon lenses?

It seems pretty nice having it built into the camera since we can have image stabilization even with the most ancient manual focus lenses.

I am just wondering which camera actually works the best stabilizing (assuming we have the appropriate lenses to do so on both the Nikon and Canon).

04-16-2011, 11:22 PM   #2
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The effective stabilization is on average just as good, but each system has its ups and downs. In-body SR is good because it works with all lenses and uses less power, and in-lens SR stabilizes the image in the viewfinder (which I personally find annoying) and can be more effective for longer focal lengths.

Sigma has started making OS lenses in the Pentax mount, so we did a few tests and compared it with Pentax SR: Fast Sports Zoom Lenses for Pentax | Sigma 70-200mm vs. Tamron 70-200mm vs. Pentax FA* 80-200mm F2.8

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04-16-2011, 11:34 PM   #3
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just to make sure you use the correct terms...the image stablization is called Shake Reduction (SR), not HDR. That's a completely different animal.
04-16-2011, 11:43 PM   #4
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There is an excellent article on in-camera image stabilisation (SR for Pentax) and lens optical stabilisation (OS or VR):
Image Stabilization Test: Olympus E-520 SLR Body - SLRgear.com!

While the test was performed with an Olympus, the outcomes were simple:
"The bottom line on the Olympus E-520's IS system is that it turned in a superb performance, very much on par with the best lens-based IS systems we've looked at".
This comment was echoed by several Pentaxians who noted little differences between both systmes. (Warning: the in-camera IS and lens OS/VR are incompatible. You need to use one only: eg. if your lens OS is on, you need to switch offthe in-camera SR.)

In my opinion, the major advantages of in-camera SR are the cheaper prize of the lenses and the lighter weigth of the lenses. The lens OS/VR adds both $$ and weight to the lens.

Hope that the comments wil help...

04-17-2011, 12:06 AM   #5
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My EF 70-200/4L IS has superior IS to my K-m SR with FA77, FA100 & FA*200. Then again, many Canon lenses aren't IS. I suggest you worked out your lens lineup then go from there.
04-17-2011, 04:33 AM   #6
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In body stabilization gives two to three stops of stability, in lens stabilization probably gives three to four. There are a lot of reasons to prefer in body to in lens options. Cost of course, is one, but also, VR/IS in a lens is something else to break in the lens (I have several friends who have had to have Canon IS lenses serviced for this reason). Also, IS is not available on small fast primes, whereas in body SR works with all lenses (even ancient manual focus ones).
04-17-2011, 04:50 AM   #7
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I think in body offers the advantage of working on all lenses as noted earlier , but in lens offers slightly better performance a stable viewfinder image and perhaps (speculation on my part) better spot metering and AF performance as a result of the stable viewfinder image. But both methods are only as good as the technique of the user
04-17-2011, 07:09 AM   #8
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I have both, and I prefer to have in-lens stabilisation as I like to be able to see a steady image in the viewfinder. That said, having IS at all is great.

04-17-2011, 09:31 AM   #9
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I haven't used in-lens stabilizing systems (ILSS), so I can't comment on them, except that they involve more stuff that can break/fail. SR shake reduction aka IBIS (in-body image stabilization) works with ALL lenses of ALL lengths. SR stabilizes all my M42's and whatever I stick on bellows, and anything else I mount on my K20D, from 8mm to 800mm.

If I had a gazillion bucks/euros/quid to spend on top-of-the-line Canikon gear, I'd be quite happy with ILSS, I'm sure. But I don't have a gazillion of anything except cheap lenses, all of which can benefit from IBIS. Hay, it's only money -- if you've got it, spend it.
04-17-2011, 09:45 AM   #10
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I think the in-body stabilization is a plus for anyone starting out: in-lens only gives the advantages with the pricey long glass anyway. (But if you really want in-lens for *that,* you can even have in-lens stabilized third party teles for Pentax,) The fact is, too, that those stabilized kit lenses aren't necessarily very good lenses to begin with, (Almost said no great shakes, nyuck nyuck) and it's a jump to the big stabilized zooms. Between kit lenses, Pentax is a better lens than the Canon, and you're not so stuck to it. (The Nikon seems similar: I've tried the Canon one via a sometime student: it's not *bad,* but not great, I think.)

A stabilized finder image would be really nice for tracking birdies with something long, but I'd also be a little concerned that it'd teach beginners some bad habits, cause it'd tend to absorb the feedback your eyes could be telling you about how steady you yourself are being.

The advantage of the in-lens SR is probably really in the more expensive and exotic glass where it's custom made for the lens cause it's *part* of the lens, and then it's a question, I suppose of *is the difference worth it in practice,* which judgment I'd leave to those who actually use that stuff and have tried both. Being mostly a prime lens shooter, never mind on my budget, the choice generally isn't between 'In body or in lens,' but 'SR or none.'
04-17-2011, 09:58 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I think in body offers the advantage of working on all lenses as noted earlier , but in lens offers slightly better performance a stable viewfinder image and perhaps (speculation on my part) better spot metering and AF performance as a result of the stable viewfinder image. But both methods are only as good as the technique of the user
It could be speculation. Several years ago I read an article by an optical engineer who stated that in body shake reduction tended to be more accurate than in the lens IS due to the fact the mechanical manipulation was at the sensor level rather than several inches away. He went on to say this difference could be measured but in practise may not be readily obvservable.
04-17-2011, 10:35 AM   #12
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From what I have read in articles are that the two competing technologies are pretty much equal in terms of performance. However, both have their respective benefits and cons. Price vs limitations. Personally I like having in body over lens based as price is lower and it works on all lenses. In addition with Sigma now releasing lens stabilization it should really give in body more incentive as you can swap which conditions you want to use which technology.
04-17-2011, 05:48 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Ca you quantify this, for example, how many stops better?
Also, what is the weight difference between your Canon and 20-200 vs the Km and the heaviest of the lenses mentioned?
One thing I have noticed over the years is that heavier equipment tends to be easier to hold still.
The light weight of Pentax actually works against itself in some ways.
My only Pentax body is away to service centre and won't be back in a month, so I won't be able to do some meaningful tests. But I have weak arms and lighter lenses actually work better for me. Just between 40D/EF70-200/4L IS (or even f2.8 that I used for a day) and K-m/FA*200/2.8, 1/60s was quite useable with the Canon, but rather hit & miss with the Pentax. The tiny size of the K-m could be a factor though as there is not much "grip". One important factor I have found is that I react better with stabilized viewfinder. With Pentax 200mm, the viewfinder simply shakes too violently to use comfortably.
04-18-2011, 07:58 AM   #14
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I tried the new Sigma 150 - 500mm zoom in the shop with OS on and with IS on (not at the same time of course). OS was more consistent and gave better results - at best I've had 2 stops advantage with IS but that is 'at best', whereas with OS I got up to 3 stops advantage.

The benefit may be related to how steady I am but if I won the lottery, I'd get whatever OS lenses are available.
04-18-2011, 08:18 AM   #15
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With Olympus I was really happy with the performance of the in-body IS. My E-3 gave me very consistent results and my personal experience was that it performed just as well as my 5D with an OS lens.

The Pentax IS does not seem to be a effective as what I had with Olympus. This is my personal experience and I never did any controlled testing.

My personal hope is that Pentax will focus on improving in-body IS and AF for the K-5 replacement. As Pentax refines the technology there is no reason to believe they can not achieve a 4-stop improvement.
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