What is image stabilisation? A simple layman’s guide

What is image stabilisation? A simple layman's guide

What is image stabilisation and why should you use it? If you’re new to photography you might understandably have a few questions about some of the technology and equipment.

In our latest layman’s guide to fundamental gear we answer some of the most common questions photographers have about how to use image stabilisation.

What is image stabilisation? A simple layman's guide

What is image stabilisation?

Image stabilisation is a technology to help you take sharp handheld images at slower shutter speeds. Effectively, the technology enables the lens to compensate for any movement in the camera or lens that could result in an out-of-focus photo.

Different manufacturers refer to the technology by different names. For example, Canon uses Image Stabilisation (IS), while Nikon calls it Vibration Reduction (VR).

Some cameras come with image stabilisation built into the body itself, but it’s more commonly found in lenses, where a small movement has a disproportionately greater effect than in a camera body.

SEE MORE: A layman’s guide to depth of field – how to check and affect sharpness like a pro

When should I use image stabilisation?

You can use IS most of the time when hand-holding a camera, but it comes into its own when you are using longer lenses, which are difficult to hold steady.

Or whenever light levels are low, which results in slower shutter speeds and hence more time for vibration to occur. You will find an on/off button for your lens’ image stabilisation system on the lens barrel..

When shouldn’t I use image stabilisation?

You shouldn’t need to use image stabilisation when your camera is on a tripod, so it is best to switch it off. (While some cameras sense that the camera is motionless and disable IS automatically, many don’t, so control IS manually. )

The ‘internal’ movement of an image stabilisation system can potentially cause camera shake during a long exposure. It is also best to switch IS off when panning the camera for an action shot.

How effective is image stabilisation?

Image stabilisation is very effective. Depending on the system and conditions, it can help you get sharp shots at up to four stops slower than would normally be expected.

But remember: image stabilisation is only helping you from preventing image blur caused by camera shake. You will still get a blurred image if your shutter speed is too slow.

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