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10-19-2014, 11:33 PM   #1
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Optical IS (in lens) vs optical SR (body sensor shift) vs DS (pixel tracking)

I know this has been discussed before, but can't find a straight reference for what I would like to know.

My K20D and my MX-1 compact both have sebsor shift SHAKE REDUCTION. My Optio WG-II has pixel tracking image stabilization. Yesterday I saw a Canon banner with something like: "IS belongs in the lens... yada yada..."

I know Pentax SR takes into account the focal length, so Canon' argument lacks validity here. Don't know what is Nikon's argument for their VS lenses, but I presume its similar as Canon's.

Not considering pixel tracking (electronic image stabilization) because it seems this system goes into thr point & shoot market, is there an actual evaluation comparing both IS and SR systems under real, unbiased and equal conditions?

Besides the obvious that in body SR gives you image stabilization wth ANY lens (considering you input the correct focal length), which is better? which fails more or actually degrades the image under which conditions?

10-19-2014, 11:55 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
is there an actual evaluation comparing both IS and SR systems under real, unbiased and equal conditions?
In lens vs in-camera stabilization systems are generally equally effective, except at very long focal lengths, where in-lens stabilization has a slight edge. Each system has its own set of advantages outside of image quality: for example, in-body stabilization works with any lens and saves weight, while in-lens stabilization also works while looking through the viewfinder. There are several threads discussing this matter in more detail (see the similar thread list below).

Pixel track/digital SR is generally not going to get the job done for stills. For videos, it introduces a nasty jello effect, so it's really only a stop-gap measure in cheaper cameras.

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10-20-2014, 12:41 AM   #3
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Here are two good articles on the subject. The first is a good comparison and overview, while the second is essentially a test of the optical approach.
10-20-2014, 12:53 AM   #4
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If you're going to shoot video with recent Pentax DSLRs or the K-01, then IBIS is disabled in favour of digital [fake] Movie SR.
This where Lens OS rules. I just got myself a Sigma 17-70mm 2.8-4 HSM OS, it's excellent when shooting video..

10-20-2014, 01:19 AM   #5
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Worth noting that Pentax also squeezes a few extra "Unique to Pentax" tricks out of the sensor based stabilisation:
K-3 and KS-1 get anti-aliasing simulation.
Astro tracer mode is possible with the o-gps1 because of the ability to move the sensor.

Another advantage of the sensor based stabilisation is that my lenses get a newer generation of stabilisation with each new camera - I'm still using lenses I had with my K10d, but now I get noticeably better stabilisation. In Canon/Nikon world I would have to buy newer lenses to gain a newer stabilisation system.
10-20-2014, 03:58 AM   #6
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I think in sensor can be as good as in lens for most situations. Biggest up sides to in lens currently is the stabilized are the fact that it stabilizes your viewfinder on SLR cameras and that it can be tailored to individual lenses . Biggest negative is that it adds cost and bulk to every lens that has it (and isn't available for many lenses). In camera image stabilization is obviously cheaper, works with all your lenses (even old ones) and has the ability to be used for other things (astro tacer, anti aliasing, shift). If Pentax ever went with an EVF, the viewfinder would then be stabilized with shake reduction on the sensor as well.
10-20-2014, 04:47 AM   #7
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In a Photozone review of a top-tier Nikon stabilized lens, the reviewer had trouble getting a good quality sample of the lens that didn't have big decentering problems (they tested four lenses). Photozone speculated that the in-lens optical stabilisation was possibly contributing to this issue of poor performance and big sample variation.

This makes sense, since by design the optical elements may no longer be as precisely fixed as they are in a non-stabilised lens. This may be another disadvantage of in-lens stabilisation.
10-20-2014, 11:38 AM   #8
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"while in-lens stabilization also works while looking through the viewfinder"

Does the above mean that in-body stabilization (such as Pentax's) does not work when using the viewfinder???

10-20-2014, 12:47 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Moropo Quote
Does the above mean that in-body stabilization (such as Pentax's) does not work when using the viewfinder???
It works, but the effect is not visible through the optical viewfinder. The optical viewfinder does not display the image off the sensor.

However if you shoot using LiveView and the rear LCD screen, the effect of image stabilisation will be visible when shooting still images and video (if you have stabilisation enabled, of course).
10-20-2014, 05:48 PM   #10
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Thanks for everyone. Now I have a clear picture on how things are about IS/SR systems.

HIghlights as I understood are:

IS has "the advantage" that is tailored to each lens, but has its caveats, like optical descentering and possible loss of sharpness due to shifting elements inside. The system works ONLY on lenses featured with the IS gimmick, so legacy glass has no image stabilization.

SR (such as Pentax's) works with every single lens. Just input the focal length if its legacy glass, including screw mount and aftermarket brands. Not so good on long glass (how long??? 300+ mm?) which anyway, just a few photographers out there work such focal lengths and if they do, any SR is better that none... right?. Besides, sensor shift SR adds several other features, like dust removal, low pass filter simulation, geo-tracking with GPS unit attached and horizon correction (as I saw this feature on the K50).

I dunno which system drains more battery, or when is the battery drainage happening. It seems this issue is well addressed by Pentax and the other manufacturers.

How about failure rate / repair of such systems? Is SR more prone to fail or is it IS the one to watch for?

BTW, I havent heard about a single case of a Pentax body that needed repair on its SR system...
10-20-2014, 07:07 PM   #11
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Evening Robert,

Just a couple of additions...
  • With the aid of the O-GPS1 unit, the camera body can act as an equatorial telescope mount for star tracking, having the sensor move in such a way to negate star movement for up to 5 minutes (depending on the lens' focal length)
  • You can also have the sensor shift so as to emulate a shift lens.
  • Also, even though the SR is enabled, it does not actually move the sensor until you are pressing the shutter. So, there is some battery depletion - but not as much as you would think.

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