Lens Basics: Image Stabilization
|Canon EF 17-85mm IS Lens|
Now let me explain that what that means. As a general rule of thumb most people hand-holding their camera (without IS) can get a high percentage of sharp pictures when shooting at a shutter speed equal to or faster than the inverse of the focal length of your lens. In simpler terms, if you are shooting with a 100mm lens, you want a shutter speed of 1/100sec to get a high percentage of sharp images. The longer the focal length of your lens, the faster you need your shutter speed to be in order to get sharp images. With a 28mm lens, you want your shutter speed to be 1/30sec; with a 300mm lens, you want 1/300sec. With practice and good technique many photographers can get sharp images at shutter speeds slower than this rule of thumb, but for our purposes here, but stick with the rule. At any rate, the faster your shutter speed, the higher percentage of sharp images you will be able to take.
Here's where image stabilization comes in handy. If your lens has image stabilization, you can shoot around 2 stops slower. So with your 200mm lens, you can shoot at 1/50sec and still get a high percentage of sharp images. With a 60mm lens, you can use shutter speeds of 1/15 sec, and so on. This is extremely helpful when you are hand-holding your camera at in lower light conditions and at longer focal lengths.
Here's a few things to keep in mind though:
- IS/VR does not replace a tripod. When you have very slow shutter speeds, IS/VR will be unable to give you sharp images, but a tripod won't fail you.
- IS/VR is not effective when your lens is on a tripod. Make sure to turn it off. A few lenses automatically sense when your camera is on a tripod--you can check your lens manual if you think your lens might be one of them. But with lenses that do not automatically detect this, your IS can actually create blur when mounted to a tripod. Be sure to turn it off.
- IS/VR can not help you with the movement of your subject. If you want to stop the motion of your subject so that it appears sharp, you need a fast shutter speed, or you can try panning the camera with your subject movement to keep it sharp.