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Forget camera shake – Canon is now correcting subject shake

camera shake

Canon has designed a technology to combat subject shake – the amount of blur in a photograph caused not by erratic camera movement, but by movement of the subject itself. 

The new "image blur correction device" makes use of computational photography – a system powered by (artificially) intelligent, potentially machine-learned algorithms that can determine whether the blur in an image is caused by camera shake or subject shake. This could be, for example, when taking a photograph of a friend and they move suddenly while you are taking the exposure. 

• Read more: What is an AI camera? (opens in new tab)

According to the Canon patent, spotted by Asobinet (opens in new tab) (hat tip to Canon Watch (opens in new tab)), the aim of the technology is, "To provide an image blur correction device capable of obtaining an image blur correction effect desired by a user. 

"Since the amount of shake (direction and magnitude of shake) is generally different between 'camera shake' and 'subject shake', it is not possible to completely correct both. Therefore, for example, Patent Document 1 discloses a technique for correcting 'subject shake' when a subject's face is detected and correcting 'camera shake' when a subject's face is not detected."

Canon's shake detection uses faces to establish whether to apply camera correction (a) or subject correction (b) (Image credit: Asobinet / Canon)
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So, how does this system differentiate between the two kinds of shake, and determine which kind of correction to apply?

"It is considered that which of 'camera shake' and 'subject shake' should be corrected depends on the intention of the user (target of interest) in the shooting scene. For example, when the user pays attention to the background, it is desirable that the 'camera shake', which is the shake of the entire screen, is corrected. 

"On the other hand, when the user is paying attention to the main subject, it is desirable that the 'subject shake' is corrected. Therefore, it is necessary to appropriately control the shake correction target according to the user's intention that changes with the shooting scene."

Camera shake can, of course, be remedied by the use of in-body image stabilization, which Canon has recently begun incorporating in the Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab) and Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab). The addition of a means to remedy subject shake is definitely the next frontier of blur-free photography, so it will be fascinating to see if it makes it to market – and whether it will accommodate Canon's remarkable new animal AF, as well as human subjects.  

Read more: 

Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS R5 vs R6  (opens in new tab)
What are the differences between the PASM exposure modes on your camera? (opens in new tab)
Could we see the Canon EOS 5D Mark V in 2020? (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.