Pop quiz: Which camera company invented image stabilization?

Panasonic image stabilization diagram
(Image credit: Panasonic)

These days, many camera bodies and lenses benefit from image stabilization. But do you know which company came up with the idea? 

If you answered Panasonic, you are correct! And it did so all the way back in 1988, with the Panasonic PV-460 camcorder – the world’s first video camera with an optical image stabilizer.

 The best Panasonic cameras have brought many innovations over the years

Other companies would later make their own breakthroughs. In 1995 Canon became the first manufacturer to make a lens with optical stabilization (the Canon EF 75-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM), and in 2003 Konica Minolta was the first to produce a camera with in-body image stabilization (the Maxxum 7D DSLR). 

Panasonic, though, came up with the idea – while its engineers were on a trip to Hawaii, no less.

"The development of image stabilization has a long history, dating back to around 1980," according to an article by the official Lumix Magazine. "An employee named Oshima, who was engaged in the research and development of gyro sensors for use in car navigation systems, went to Hawaii with a colleague with a video camera.

(Image credit: Panasonic)

"The video camera at the time was so large that it could be carried on the shoulder, and when a colleague tried to take a picture of the scenery while driving, it would be very blurry.

"However, when Oshima saw the rotation of his colleague's body trying to prevent it from shaking, he realized that the movement was similar to the movement of the gyro sensor he was developing at the time.

"The gyro sensor development team for car navigation systems that I was working on at the time had been dissolved for some reason, so I came up with the idea of ​​applying the technology we had cultivated to image stabilization for cameras."

Today we take stabilization for granted, whether we're shooting with the best mirrorless cameras, camera phones or telephoto lenses. But, were it not for a clever engineer on a busman's holiday to Hawaii, things may have been very different.

For more information on the development of image stabilization technology, make sure to check out the full Lumix Magazine article

The best camcorders are still a fantastic option for video work, particularly for their ergonomics, although the best cameras for video and the best 8K cameras take many shapes and sizes these days. 

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a 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 like 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, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. 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.