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07-16-2013, 05:16 AM   #1
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Image Stabilization in Pentax Cameras

I am involved in a photography author’s Facebook group. One issue that has come up is image stabilization. I first had to correct the members’ impressions that only Olympus and maybe Sony have image stabilization built into the camera body—Pentax of course has it also. After that, one of the photography experts stated that image stabilization built into the lens is much better, and that Canon and Nikon made the right choice in having it done that way. I commented that the image stabilization works great in the Pentax camera bodies. It is always there--I don’t have to make sure the lens has it. He then posted a long commentary on that matter.

I am a newbie, and I would like to respond simply for the purpose of ensuring that the facts are fairly presented with regard to Pentax. I am not trying to win any debates, just trying to correct any possible misconceptions. The poster may be perfectly right for all I know.

Anyway, the poster stated that basic physics makes it difficult, if not impossible, for stabilization to be more effective at the sensor. The movements of the sensor have to be much larger, while the movements of the lens mechanisms are measured in tiny fractions of a millimeter, and for sensor-based stabilization to be effective it has to be moved up to millimeters at a time. An example is a laser pointer and paper, where it is much easier to keep the laser pointer still than it is to try to move the target around to keep the pointer centered.

Image stabilization in the body also suffers from the inability to know exactly how the lens is zoomed and focused, which means that its correction is inherently somewhat inexact. Every lens would have to be accurately profiled and that data would have to be either stored in the camera or lens for truly accurate correction.

The advantage that sensor-based stabilization has is that if you have multiple lenses it is cheaper, as you only have one stabilization mechanism to deal with. You buy the mechanism once, and it works with all of your lenses.

The reason that Canon and Nikon have elected to do correction in the lenses is that it is easier to do and can be more responsive. Current IS/VR technologies are giving about four stops of improvement, which is far more than what sensor-based correction can do, especially on long lenses.

It is not that sensor-based stabilization is ineffective, but it is inherently much more difficult to pull off well, and it has a lot of limitations, especially as you start using telephoto lenses. It was invented for cost savings, not because it is a better way of doing it.

07-16-2013, 05:40 AM   #2
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Uh hm. Well, in-body IS also takes a lot less net space - Pentax lenses are tiny and compact compared to other DSLR lenses, because the camera body has AF motor (only a couple Pentax lenses are SDM) and SR. It also means that you can put a lens made in 1970s on your camera and it has modern SR.
Now, sure, in-lens stabilization has its own pro's and con's, but its not really just a battle of "which is better" - its much more about what each offers. And the Pentax SR offers quite a lot, apparently quite a lot of people like it
Oh, and I think you can still buy lenses, like Sigma lenses with OS, and use in-lens stabilization on Pentax cameras (you just shouldnt use both at the same time). So with Pentax you don't really lose the in-lens stabilization, you just gain in-body stabilization and can still buy third party lenses with in-lens stabilization.
But its usually not a good idea to argue with fanboys of other brands. Its just not good for the nerves, you know?
And maybe this thread can clear up more stuff for you:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-k-5/146897-image-stabilisation-camera-lens.html

Last edited by Na Horuk; 07-16-2013 at 05:48 AM.
07-16-2013, 05:48 AM   #3
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I remember reading somewhere that Olympus 5 axis IBS is as good as or pretty close to in-lens stabilization and better than current Pentax IBS. Someone may have more information.
07-16-2013, 05:50 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kenntak Quote
Image stabilization in the body also suffers from the inability to know exactly how the lens is zoomed and focused, which means that its correction is inherently somewhat inexact. Every lens would have to be accurately profiled and that data would have to be either stored in the camera or lens for truly accurate correction.
...

It is not that sensor-based stabilization is ineffective, but it is inherently much more difficult to pull off well, and it has a lot of limitations, especially as you start using telephoto lenses. It was invented for cost savings, not because it is a better way of doing it.
Everything he says is correct and the last line sums it up quite well. Minor correction, with lenses that do communicate the focal length to the body (i.e. all modern lenses), the sensor-based SR does know the focal length of course, though it is true that stabilizing the lens itself is easier and more precise.

There is a small advantage for the in-body SR, it can correct motion around the lens axis unlike the in-lens stabilization as far as I know. But then again in-lens stabilization also has some advantages such as already stabilized view in the OVF (and stabilized view for the AF sensor).

Fanboism: I am surprised to read some comments calling your opponent a fanboy, he definitely does not sound like one, while this whole thread is all rotten with fanboism, starting with the original post. The thread starts with the call to provide proof that Pentax SR is better than Canon/Nikon basically - pure fanboism. (I don't blame the OP, he did state clearly that he doesn't know and wants to find out if he missed anything).


Last edited by vanyagor; 07-17-2013 at 12:28 AM. Reason: typo
07-16-2013, 05:56 AM   #5
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Some people will claim that in-lens stabilization is better for very long focal lengths. I suppose even if it doesn't work better at long focal lengths, at least the image seen in the viewfinder is stabilized (drawing current at the same time!).

The four stop claim for in-lens stabilization doesn't trump everything as I think Olympus has claimed that much, too.

Regarding the comment about sensor stabilization can only work well knowing lens info.... well that's exactly how it works. All auto focus lenses transmit the focal length (even for zooms) and the camera processor uses that to calculate the proper stabilization dynamics for the sensor. This is why there's a focal length input available in the menu system for when using a manual prime lens.
07-16-2013, 05:57 AM   #6
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There are a host of advantages to in camera stabilization but arguing with fanbois is a loosing proposition. The one you are engaged with does not sound like facts are something that he bothers to notice. Look at the Pentax pages on the Japan site on the O-GPS1 and see just some of the in-camera advantages to stabilization over lens based stabilization. As for accuracy with longer lenses, maybe but I'd like to see some actual empirical research and not just assertions from a fanboi.
07-16-2013, 06:02 AM   #7
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Speaking from experience rather than any technical knowledge of the mechanics of image stabilization I've found that the Pentax system does everything I want it to with normal and wide lenses and has the significant advantage of always being there (many of the best Nikon normal and wide lenses aren't stabilized). But with super-teles, i.e., 400mm and above, the Nikon VR in-lens system is much better. I assume this is true for Canon IS as well but I have no personal experience with that system.

Russ
07-16-2013, 06:10 AM   #8
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Original Poster
Believe me, I have no intention of arguing with fan boys. I have gotten involved with that in other forums, and it is a no-win, waste of time. My only purpose for responding is to present the other side for members. It was disheartening to see that members did not even know that Pentax cameras have IS. Besides, maybe my comments will actually encourage one or more members to take a look at a Pentax camera in the future.

07-16-2013, 06:20 AM   #9
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If Pentax wanted to they could design telephotos with in-lens IS. The cam would then default to no shake reduction.

In-body IS is a great feature. No way around it.
07-16-2013, 06:28 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by krebsy75 Quote
If Pentax wanted to they could design telephotos with in-lens IS. The cam would then default to no shake reduction.

In-body IS is a great feature. No way around it.
Yeah - what's wrong with having both? Pentax can do in-lens stabilization, there's one or two 645D lenses that sport that feature. So why not have IBIS to work with Pentax classical small primes, and produce long telephotos with in-lens stabilization?

And I have used my IBIS with my Tamron 70-200 down to obscene shutter speeds.
07-16-2013, 06:28 AM   #11
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It's great to share opinions and compare kit and all that, but more importantly for me is my own trial and error.
I tested out some handheld exposures to see where I could get to a comfortable level without having to carry a tripod or even monopod.
Keeping ISO at 100 on my K10, I pushed this shot to 1 second and f9.

OK, admittedly, I wouldn't be making an A3 print out of it, but even at full size the photo isn't as blurred as one might expect.
Certainly doesn't look bad.
Therefore, I feel Pentax's SR is fine for me.
This was just a test shot, but I needed to be content in situations where I would be shooting at night knowing that I didn't want to take time setting up my tripod, and it wasn't always convenient lugging a tripod around in the busy streets of Tokyo.

I know the OP talks about SR being less effective with longer lenses, that may be the case.
But, like I said, for the lenses I use and situations I need, I've found Pentax SR more than acceptable.

07-16-2013, 06:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
Yeah - what's wrong with having both? Pentax can do in-lens stabilization, there's one or two 645D lenses that sport that feature. So why not have IBIS to work with Pentax classical small primes, and produce long telephotos with in-lens stabilization?

And I have used my IBIS with my Tamron 70-200 down to obscene shutter speeds.
I routinely use my Tamron 70-200 for sport and have found that the SR works just fine at the long end. My 55-300 is also just fine at 300. I do not own anything longer at present but if there is an advantage to 400+mm lenses and lens-based stabilization then why not put it only in those lenses? Also, I find paying over-and-over-and-over again for stabilization in each lens (even if we only count those at 300 and under) to be a huge waste of money. Pay for it once and move on.
07-16-2013, 06:47 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
I routinely use my Tamron 70-200 for sport and have found that the SR works just fine at the long end. My 55-300 is also just fine at 300. I do not own anything longer at present but if there is an advantage to 400+mm lenses and lens-based stabilization then why not put it only in those lenses? Also, I find paying over-and-over-and-over again for stabilization in each lens (even if we only count those at 300 and under) to be a huge waste of money. Pay for it once and move on.
And we have to imagine - not all CaNikon lenses are stabilized. All Pentax lenses are stabilized, to some degree.
07-16-2013, 06:59 AM   #14
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Everyone has their favorite SR example...here is mine.

Pentax K-x; DA L 55-300 @ 300mm; 1/40s; f/5.8; ISO 2000.


07-16-2013, 07:24 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kenntak Quote
The reason that Canon and Nikon have elected to do correction in the lenses is that it is easier to do and can be more responsive. Current IS/VR technologies are giving about four stops of improvement, which is far more than what sensor-based correction can do, especially on long lenses.
I don't think this was a deliberate choice on Canon's and Nikon's side. AFAIK they started to offer IS in the film era, and IBIS simply doesn't work with film (well, maybe it could, but probably nobody ever tried …). Pentax was a late-comer (as with AF) and had the option to do IBIS, and this is what they chose. As compatibility has always been a major sales argument for Pentax this was a pretty consistent decision.

With a standard FL I couldn't hand-hold slower speeds than 1/30 on my LX; whenever I did try though, > 90% of the shots were blurred. With my K5 I've had many sharp shots @ 1/4 or even 1/2 s for 28 or 35mm which gives 3 or 4 “stops of improvement”. I'd say the success rate depends a lot on “how steady” you hold the camera: the IS can compensate small recurring movements pretty well but is taken by surprise if you jam down the shutter release.

The different reports about how much effect an IS has are probably due to the ways people hold their cameras. There is no standard measurement procedure, and every photographer have their individual ways of rolling and shaking …
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