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in-body image stabilization versus in-lens stabilization?

Stephen Lich , Jun 28, 2006; 08:17 a.m.

Canon puts their image stabilization technology into individual lenses, while Minolta/Sony build it into the camera bodies. From a user's perspective, is there any advantage to one over the other? (Besides the obvious: if I have an IS lens, it will work on all my bodies; if I have an IS body, it will work with all my lenses.)


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Gustavo Orensztajn , Jun 28, 2006; 08:55 a.m.

I have a camera with AS in body and works great, I can use old lenses, at a cheaper price that an expensive IS lens.

It gives me 2.5f-stops extra but the new Sony alpha will give you 3,5 extra f-stops.

Rob Bernhard , Jun 28, 2006; 09:19 a.m.

<<It gives me 2.5f-stops extra but the new Sony alpha will give you 3,5 extra f-stops.>>

It is important to differentiate what Sony /claims/ the Alpha will do and what it /actually/ will do. There have been no tests (that I've seen) that provide any real data on how many extra stops the Sony stabilization method will /actually/ give you.

Jeff Owen , Jun 28, 2006; 09:21 a.m.

If I presume that the 'in camera' stabilization is done from the image chip and software then it won't work with SLR optics unless, that is, there is a secondary chip doing the work. Even then what moves to correct the camera movement?

I suppose that gyros in the camera could move the main sensor to compensate, this would mean the chip would be on a floating gimbal or the sorts. Quite complex and very susceptable to damage. Particularly when cleaning.

Daniel Cheung , Jun 28, 2006; 09:53 a.m.

Jeff >> Yes, it's the sensor that moves to compensate for movement.

It is possible to develop algorithums to compensate the movement with software but that requires lots of computational power and cannot be done effectively on the camera in real time.

Rob Bernhard , Jun 28, 2006; 09:55 a.m.

<<Quite complex and very susceptable to damage. Particularly when cleaning.>>

Which may be one reason Sony provided in-camera dust removal by way of an anti-static layer and high-frequency vibrations.

Daniel Cheung , Jun 28, 2006; 09:55 a.m.

I seem to remember that the AS in the minolta body corrects for one less degree of freedom than the IS in the lens. Is this true?

Also, even though canon IS lenses are expensive, they might still be less expensive than the non-IS minolta counterpart which means going with IS in the body might not save you any money at all.

Martin Doudoroff , Jun 28, 2006; 10:00 a.m.

One significant difference in terms of the user's experience is that, with in-lens stabilization, you can see the stabilized image in the viewfinder! With in-body stabilization, the sensor is stabilized (its position is shifted around based on gyros), so when the shutter opens, hand shake is accounted for, but that doesn't help you frame or time your shot.

A side-effect of the in-body approach is that the same equipment that shifts the sensor can (in many bodies) also be used shake dust off the surface of the sensor on power-up.

Mark Rebuck , Jun 28, 2006; 10:08 a.m.

Somewhat off topic, but... I think it will be interesting to see how the image stabilization battle plays out over the next few years. Canon/Nikon want to protect the price premiums they can charge for IS lenses, while customers want to have IS working with all lenses. From an engineering standpoint, I suspect putting the IS in the body makes a lot more sense (less mass to move, and over a much smaller distance.)

This is a classic case of the established business model ("charge $400 extra PER LENS for IS") clashing with both the engineering factors and customer desires. My guess is that Canon and Nikon will both hold off on bringing IS into the DSLR camera bodies as long as possible, eventually giving in to demand and canabalizing their market for IS at the lens level. But what do I know?

Tommy Lee , Jun 28, 2006; 10:08 a.m.

In theory, you don't even need to turn off the camera. Just jump up and down with the lens cap off. It is natual move after chimping :-) You will soon see former Minolta macro shooter refine this to an art :-) :-)

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