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Do We Need Image Stabilization?

Jared Bauer , Oct 28, 2008; 02:51 p.m.

Long before IS or VR or OS there was a version of image stabilization that has stood the test of time, many people still use it successfully today. You might have heard of it. It's called a decent set of tripod legs and a good ball head. If you really think about your shooting and what you shoot most, do you need image stabilization in the lens or in the body? Or is this really a kind of "photographic crutch" that companies are feeding up and charging us more for in the long run.

I can throw my camera and lens on my trusty tripod and I have stops and stops of wonderful exposure freedom when it comes to shutter speed. More freedom than I could ever get from a stabilized lens or body. And the great thing is that this stabilization system works on any lens, any body and any equipment that I might have. Talk about flexibility! I hear people argue all the time about what is better, in camera or lens-based stabilization. How about neither? Isn't that an option?

Companies like Canon are now pushing stabilization down into less expensive lenses and I cannot decide if that is a good thing overall or not. I think in the long run I would almost always prefer faster lenses paired with a good tripod to any stabilization system in my equipment. Maybe we have become "tripod lazy" and we just cannot be bothered anymore to drag out the 'ole three legged wonder.

What do you think?


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Jeff Labanz , Oct 28, 2008; 02:54 p.m.

There are some places where the ole' trusty tripod just can't go That's not something I think...it is something I know :) -jeffl

Bob Atkins , Oct 28, 2008; 03:01 p.m.

Of course we don't ned image stabilization. We don't need autofocus either, manual focus is fine. We don't need automatic exposure, anyone can match a needle or use a light meter. We don't need TTL flash metering systems, since you can get perfect flash exposure using guide numbers.

There are lots of things that modern camera systems have that we don't need.

Geoff Sobering , Oct 28, 2008; 03:03 p.m.

"[a tripod] works on any lens, any body and any equipment that I might have."

But not on every subject...

No place for a tripod hanging out the door of a helicopter...

Rob Bernhard , Oct 28, 2008; 03:15 p.m.

[[I can throw my camera and lens on my trusty tripod ]]

I'm really rather surprised you've not encountered any location or venue that prohibits tripods.

Matt Laur , Oct 28, 2008; 03:16 p.m.

The images that needed stabilization are the ones that what they needed to be because of stabilization. If you don't need those images, then you don't stabilization. Me? I sometimes need it. Yay for stabilization. Sometimes I need a tripod, too, and cannot use one. I'm glad that I don't have to give up on those images.

Rose-Marie B , Oct 28, 2008; 03:35 p.m.

When I'm paddling my canoe down the lake and into the back swamp, blessed be image stabilization. When I'm on a bird-watching tour with my buddies and don't have time to hold everyone up while I set up a tripod, blessed be the image stabilization. And blessed be digital which allows me to switch to a higher ISO and higher speed, and auto focus. For all other times, when I HAVE time, my trusty tripod comes with me. I'm usually not one to go after bells and whistles, but it's nice to have the extra options when needed.

Bruce Margolis , Oct 28, 2008; 04:31 p.m.

"I can throw my camera and lens on my trusty tripod and I have stops and stops of wonderful exposure freedom when it comes to shutter speed"

Jared, I agree with you BUT.........

As said, sometimes it is impossible -- or at least impractical -- to carry around a tripod. And what is a tripod? Simply a photographer's tool. That's the way I see all the tools, whether they be lenses of different focal lengths, filters, image stabalization, bellows, autofocus, gimbal head, software, etc.

Funny, I remember there were many who decried the use of AF lenses. To some that was heresy. If you were a REAL purist, you would use only MF lenses. In other words, do everything the 'old' way. For that matter, some large format photogs looked down at 35mm as merely a snapshot camera rig.

Bottom line, image stabalization is just another tool but one I happen to appreciate. As for "preferring a tripod," that's where I agree with you. But again, it is simply not realistic to think a tripod is possible in all situations.

Benjamin Hicks , Oct 28, 2008; 04:45 p.m.

I just shot a music festival, and bad lighting + tripods prohibited = situation where IS helps A LOT

Juergen Sattleru , Oct 28, 2008; 04:45 p.m.

Do we need IS? Yes!

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