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02-22-2007, 10:58 AM   #1
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in-camera shake reduction vs in-the-lens

Very positive review of the K100D in PCPhoto magazine (Jan/Feb 2007, page 90) says,

QuoteQuote:
The "price" you pay for getting stabilization with any lens that can be mounted on the camera is that you can't see the stabilizing effect in the viewfinder; unlike lens-based stabilization, Shake Reduction stabilizes only the recorded image.
I've read the same thing many times elsewhere. It sounds a bit like propaganda put out by the makers of cameras that don't have in-camera stabilization.

I know, when I use the K100D to take a photo and I try to be VERY still - when I'm taking a carefully composed shot handheld - I am sometimes aware that the camera is moving very slightly, because I myself am moving very slightly. But it's hardly a big deal, not enough, say, to affect the framing of the shot, and not enough to affect my ability to focus.

If I were shooting with a Canon or Nikon using a lens with in-the-lens optical stabilization, is the IS feature really capable of eliminating that tiny bit of motion? Does this matter to anybody, really? And how would the camera know that the tiny adjustment was random and not purposeful?

Am I missing something here?

Will

02-22-2007, 11:12 AM   #2
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We own a Canon 30D & a Rebel and have the good fortune to own a 100-400 L lens. The IS on the lens is amazing. When you look through the view finder and everything is shaking and moving, then you push the shutter half-way and everything just stops. I think you really notice it in the large lenses. I'm not sure if the pictures come out any better (I don't have that large a lens for my K100D), but it is fascinating to watch when you push the shutter half way.
02-22-2007, 11:20 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by xfraser Quote
We own a Canon 30D & a Rebel and have the good fortune to own a 100-400 L lens. The IS on the lens is amazing. When you look through the view finder and everything is shaking and moving, then you push the shutter half-way and everything just stops. I think you really notice it in the large lenses. I'm not sure if the pictures come out any better (I don't have that large a lens for my K100D), but it is fascinating to watch when you push the shutter half way.
Thanks for the reply. It does sound like an impressive effect, and I suppose journalists do need to mention this.

But I still wonder how much it really matters. I have a lens for my K100D that zooms to 300mm, and when shooting birds I typically use it with a 1.4x converter. I am still quite capable of homing in on a bird on the other side of a pond and composing my shot. I've never felt that it was a problem.

Now, you raise the real question, namely: is in-the-lens IS any better? I don't know the answer to that question. I would think that, if one method or another were significantly better, I'd have read about it by now. But perhaps not.

Will
02-22-2007, 12:48 PM   #4
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I've read in a couple of places that in lens stabalization is better. It doesn't matter to me, though. Pentax's SR works beautifully for me.

02-22-2007, 01:02 PM   #5
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I have read in sources of varying reliability that in-lens IS works better, provides you with more stops (3-4 vs 2-3 for in-body IS). Having ready access to Canon, Nikon, and Pentax bodies with tons of lenses, I plan to do some informal tests soon...

What I can tell you is that IS Nikon and Canon lenses always seem to lock in faster, I suspect due to the fact that these are USM / AF-S lenses. Once I get my hands on one of the new Pentax SSM lenses, I plan to test this out further....

I generally tell people that even if you do "lose" a stop of stability on the in-camera IS system, it is well worth it to make EVERY lens you own IS, versus just a select few.
02-22-2007, 01:06 PM   #6
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Hi Will, I've seen it argued both ways. Unfortunately there is no real way to empirically test this, too many variables. As you do know the SR on the K100D works, and works well. Yes you will still see the subject move around a bit but, who cares? Canon and Nikon people would probably try to tell you different but I doubt it matters. One thing is absolutely certain IS/SR/VR (what ever you want to call it) lenses are MUCH more expensive. And once you get a SR body, ALL of your lenses are IS/SR/VR, not just the expensive ones. There were two innovative real world tests done on the SR of both the Pentax K100D and the K10D. Janneman02 of DP review rode around on his riding mower and took shots with SR both off and on, the results were amazing. I don't have the link, but I think I've seen it here, if not, you can go over to DPR and try to search for it. Pretty creative test.

NaCl(the thing about the pentax system is that it works and works on ALL lenses)H2O
02-22-2007, 01:16 PM   #7
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Thanks, everybody.

I don't see why it would be too hard to perform some useful tests. I'd do them indoors, with good, fixed lighting. I'd make sure I hadn't been drinking too much coffee (or Coke, or beer) lately. I would take about twenty shots with each camera - a Pentax and a Canon - with the system's SR/IS enabled. I'd start with shutter speeds around 1/120s, taking 2 pictures with each camera at each shutter speed, then slow the shutter down over and over until I got to about 1/2s or perhaps even 1s. Then I'd compare the results.

And I would not be surprised if shake reduction in the lens were slightly better. I don't know why it would be. But I have a tendency to believe that, when large groups of people don't agree with me, it's not simply because they're crazy. If in-the-lens IS was even slightly better, then there would be a rational choice here between Canon/Nikon and Pentax/Olympus, etc.

If I were a pro, I would perhaps be willing to spend more for slightly better IS. And I'd have other reasons to go with Nikon or Canon, as well. But for me as an amateur on a limited budget, being able to get good lenses for less money is a huge advantage.

Will
02-22-2007, 01:20 PM   #8
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The "In-lens-system-is-better" myth was started and perpetuated by various publications by Canon including the most often quoted White Paper. The fact is that there has been no objective testing done comparing various system. One reason being that it is very hard to implement a image stabilization test while eliminating other variables.

Canon is worried about the SR/AS trend, so much so that they put out a full page ad in photo magazines advocating the in-lens supposedly "superiority" over in-body system. This would further perpetuate this myth with the mis-leading ads which was full or errors. In the ad, Canon stated that they chose in-lens method because they tested both and found in-lens system to be better. This, of course, cannot be true. They first used in-lens stabilization back in the film days because there was NO OTHER CHOICE! You can't possibly move the whole film around.

Yes, the optical image stabilization viewfinder effect is quite impressive, the same as Canon optical IS camcorder I've been using for many years, and the KM's A2/A200 CCD Shift with live preview. But this hardly affects final image output.

02-22-2007, 01:34 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
I don't see why it would be too hard to perform some useful tests.
Human factor is the hardest variable to remove. Actually, just try taking shots at slow shutter speed without IS or SR, you will be surprised how variable the results would be. Different camera weight, hand grip, hand holding method, shutter release etc can all affect the result.

QuoteQuote:
I'd start with shutter speeds around 1/120s, taking 2 pictures with each camera at each shutter speed, then slow the shutter down over and over until I got to about 1/2s or perhaps even 1s
Don't go too slow. SR can eliminate camera shake, but it cannot remove your own movement. Once the shutter speed is too slow, your own movement (fore & aft, side to side) would come into play. Choose a longer focal length, distant object, then slow down the shuter speed to 2 stops, 2.5 stops, 3 stops.... below the 1/focal length*1.5 rule.
02-22-2007, 01:47 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by nosnoop Quote
Human factor is the hardest variable to remove. Actually, just try taking shots at slow shutter speed without IS or SR, you will be surprised how variable the results would be. Different camera weight, hand grip, hand holding method, shutter release etc can all affect the result.
Yes, I understand that. When you can't eliminate a variable entirely in testing, you compensate by taking many tests and looking for the results that are most instructive. That's why I would make sure I took more than one shot at each setting with each camera. Two shots with each camera would be better than one; three shots would be better than two. I suspect that, with three shots, it would be possible to spot differences in result if they were significant.


QuoteQuote:
Don't go too slow. SR can eliminate camera shake, but it cannot remove your own movement. Once the shutter speed is too slow, your own movement (fore & aft, side to side) would come into play.
Well, yes, but the thing you'd want to find out is, at what point, with each camera, would your own shaking become a problem for the photo. In tests I've done with the K100D itself - with SR on, and with SR off - I found that, with SR on, I had a reasonably good chance of geting a decent photo of a still subject with a shutter as slow as 1/4s. Without SR, I could not get close to that slow a shutter without blurring the photo.

QuoteQuote:
Choose a longer focal length, distant object, then slow down the shuter speed to 2 stops, 2.5 stops, 3 stops.... below the 1/focal length*1.5 rule.
A variant of what I was thinking of, and a good idea, too.

The point, I should think, would be to spot a trend or an average or a tendency. I'd be looking for a result that could be expressed something like this: "49 of 70 images taken with in-the-lens IS were sharp, while only 40 of 70 images taken with in-camera SR were sharp". Or vice versa. Close results would be indecisive - except that the lack of a clear victor would be a victory for in-camera shake reduction, in my view.

My brother-in-law has a Canon. I've written him to ask if he has an image-stabilized lens. I think he may not. He's a landscape photographer and I know he uses the tripod all the time, so perhaps he's never bothered to pay for IS. I don't want to do something sneaky like buy a lens, do the tests, then return it for a refund.

Will
02-22-2007, 02:08 PM   #11
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u aint being sneaky and thinking of buying a canon for those indoor sports shots now are u Will.. he he

purely a guess based on intuitive logic if there is such a thing.. but i take it for granted the IS in the lens is at least slighty better.. but it would need to be a million times better to outweigh the advantage that one off any lens SR in the body has going for it..

trog
02-22-2007, 02:19 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by trog100 Quote
u aint being sneaky and thinking of buying a canon for those indoor sports shots now are u Will.. he he
My dear trog, I assure you that, while my head is full of many crazy ideas, that is NOT one of them.

Seriously, I had a Canon, the S3 IS - not a digital SLR, but a very nice camera nonetheless. AS I've mentioned in another thread, the continuous shooting mode was wonderful and the image stabilization was great, too, indeed, the Canon S3 IS persuaded me that SR was indispensable and so sold me the Pentax. Little irony there, I suppose. Anyway, I thought about keeping it but decided against in part because my mind is no longer nimble enough for me to get comfortable with two quite different sets of controls.

Will
02-22-2007, 02:36 PM   #13
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Will, Besides the fact that with body stabilization every lens is stabilized, the other advantages that I've read are

1. with lens stabilization they add an extra lens element that is moved to correct movement, adding an extra piece of glass means that you've added a new element that can reduce photo sharpness.

2. the Pentax in body SR can compensate for slight rotational movement, can be cause by pushing the shutter release. This movement can not be compensated for in a round lens element that's inside the lens stabilization.

Les
02-22-2007, 02:50 PM   #14
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The famous Janneman02 lawnmower tests

Hi Will, for your edcuation and entertainment I've found both of Janneman02's shake reduction tests. Pretty ingenious and amusing tests. First the K100D
Janneman's dynamic SR-Test, mufflers needed [imgs]: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
Same method, different lawnmower! K10D:
You've been waiting for this one ..... The muffler-post: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

NaCl(I don't know why this test amuses me so, but it does)H2O
02-22-2007, 03:02 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Hi Will, for your edcuation and entertainment I've found both of Janneman02's shake reduction tests. Pretty ingenious and amusing tests.
It's a miracle this guy lived to post the photos!

It's an amusing test, to be sure. Unfortunately, he proves only what we knew already, namely, SR in the Pentax cameras works rather well. Now, we need to convince him to get up on a horse with a Canon Rebel XTi.

Will
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