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Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Rots of Ruck with Sony repair service in the US.

Sorry to hear about that Mike, that's not normal as you point out. Hope you get it exchanged soon.

Well, you could try a different lens and see if the SteadyShot on that one works any better.

Oh, yeah. Sony puts it in the body, not the lens. Sorry.

Many of us (we?) Nikon shooters have long since discovered that using VR (Nikon's version of stabilization that is on-lens) can inhibit perfect sharpness even when speeds are adequate.

Maybe you were just lucky with the prior A900 and shot at a speed/lens/SteadyShot combo that did not affect sharpness??

I've pretty much accepted that there will never quite be any substitute for a tripod - even though I hate using the things.

Did you pay attention to your shutter speeds? Last year Thom Hogan explained Nikon's VR and advised against using it above 1/500s because it can reduce the sharpness sometimes.

If it's anything like VR (half shutter press activated), it needs a bit of time to spool up - so if the shutter gets pressed too soon then exposure starts while the stabilisation is getting into position.

Seems I read not to turn on VR with a tripod or bean bag, etc. as the system will attempt to correct vibration that is non-existent and in fact create slight blur. Don't know those details of your test.

C'mon, give me a little credit here, guys. I'm satisfied I tested the camera competently and that the problem I'm describing actually is a problem.


Are you using a tripod along with SteadyShot? I have heard some talk about getting fuzzy images using this method.

I for one completely trust your diagnostic skills.

And plus, I'm looking forward to reading about your experience with the G3. I have a G2 and love everything about it except the quality of the color and oh yeah, the highlight clipping. Minus 2/3 stop whenever the sun shines.

I have to admit that while I've made great use of KM/Sony's IS over the last 6 years, it bugs me that my camera has a sensor that moves. My KM 7D exhibits a little discoloration of high ISO images after I've been shooting with IS for a while (presumably sensor heating) and I know I occasionally see odd image artifacts that don't look like camera shake or lens softness or OOF, but I suspect are due to a sensor reacting to the fact that I just picked it up, and not realizing I put it to my eye and am now holding it steady.

So I prefer to turn off IS when i don't need it. That's why I don't like that Sony is now hiding SSS on/off in the menu on newer models, instead of on an easily accessible switch.

Ultimately, it's one of those "simplicity" things. I don't like the potential problems associated with the complexity of the system, nor the occasional user errors I cause; the luddite in me would prefer a solidly locked down sensor that doesn't budge ! But six years of sharp images, from tack sharp in good light to much-better-than-without-SSS at slow shutter speeds in low light, it works.

Plausible explanation: electronics are not identifying the lens focal length correctly. Using older lenses, even with M42 ones, the DR in my K5 works great, but if I change a lens and forget to dial in the new focal length I get blur. Even if its switching a 50 for a 35, you get minimal blur but the difference is clear with a shot were the correct focal length is used.

Nikon has had at least three versions of VR in various lenses. The official advice about using VR on a tripod varies by version. So, be careful of broad advice on this topic off the Internet! You need advice specific to a particular lens.

Mike, best of luck getting a working camera! The complexity inherent in stuff like IS/VR/SteadyShot is mind-boggling, when I think about it I'm surprised it ever works at all.

This is a rather complex engineering problem. The ever-vigilant Falk Lumo has documented quirks in the Pentax K7's IS algorithm (which seem now to be corrected).

Frankly I can't believe that people think that a moving sensor (regardless of design), is going to improve image sharpness. Sounds more like marketing hype than mechanical engineering.

Manufacturers such as Leica, Hasselbled, and Phase One, to name just a few, go to great lengths to very accurately align a sensor for optimum performance.

You may notice that none of the above mentioned manufacturers have any form of image stabilisation based on a moving sensor.

The laws of physics just don't change to suit marketing departments.

I have the same issue with a Pentax K-x & an Olympus E-P1, both with in-body IS. Roundabout 1/100sec the image stabilization system can produce less sharp pictures. I only turn IS on when i need, otherwise it's turned OFF.

Not directly germane to your post, but it suddenly occurs to me that I never saw anything you wrote on your experiences using the Pentax K5. Did I miss your comments, and if so, could you provide a link?

Mike, anyone who's done tests will tell you the same thing: stabilization will soften your images. Period. If you don't need it, turn it off. If you do need it, turn it on.

"stabilization will soften your images. Period."

Other James,
A common enough misconception, but not so.


I found that if I pressed the shutter release quickly without pausing to focus on my Pentax K10 , it seemed like the camera would move the sensor just as I was making the exposure. I hated pausing with the release half pressed so I sold the camera.

On the other hand I routinely shoot at 1/20 with a Nikkor 105mm lens on my Sony NEX and usually it's pretty sharp.

I once had an Olympus E-P1 that exhibited the exact same phenomenon. Unfortunately turning IS on and off meant a foray into its menus every time.

Dear Seascape,

Your understanding of the laws of physics is insufficient. This is an engineering problem. Image stabilization is a well-understood and well-established technique. It does not work under all circumstances, all the time. That is also well-known. But it definitely works well, a lot of the time.


Dear other James,

I've done tests. I quite disagree with this anonymous "anyone" you refer to.

pax / Ctein

Yep, if you have a steady hand IS works exactly like a tripod roughly over 1/10th second (as it is intended), from what I've got with Canon point and shoots and Pentax slr's. The fact that it sounds impossible doesn't make it less effective.
If it's on and mated with a suitable lens it's a camera issue.

Mike, I have an Olympus E5 and the only way to get perfect sharpness, specially with the SHG digital zuiko lenses is: using a tripod, focusing manually, rising the mirror and turning the sensor stabilizer off. If I leave the stabilizer on, with the same setting, I don't get perfect sharpness. The same happens with my previous Oly E3 and with the EP2. I realized that the IS is good only when yo are shutting between 1/8 to 1/60 of a second to get just decent sharpness.


Dear Ctein,

My point about moving sensors was not about the fact that under certain circumstances they may improve an image capture.
My point was simply that a sensor that incorporates movement, would be extremely difficult to optimally align in a moderately priced consumer product, not to mention the reliability of such a design.


This is just one of those topics where people have vastly different experiences, even with the same camera. I have an E5 and shoot landscape with it and achieve perfect sharpness using IS in most conditions. I turn it off for long exposure tripod work, and off for flying birds, running dogs, etc. I wish that DPR would more thoroughly test in-camera IS in their reviews of higher end cameras, since people always are curious.

I've tested the IS somewhat rigorously myself on Canon, I've fiddled around with it on Nikon, and I've seen a number of tests (of varying quality) online that all show image stabilization having an effect on sharpness when it's not needed--particularly when you're on a tripod. It's not always a big difference, but it is there.

Personally, I leave IS on all the time if I'm handholding, even when I'm using flash to freeze motion--if only to keep the viewfinder image stead.

I am not just a random poster repeating lore I've heard about IS being a bogeyman. I'm one of those "anonymous anyones" that Ctein mentioned...and there seem to quite a few others posting in the comments here as well.

Dear Seascape,

I understood your point. I do not agree, nor do my tests.

pax / Ctein

Congratulation for the G3 which is heading for the TOP headquarters. Don't forget to order a spare battery in time. I have been using the G3 for two months now, but I am still waiting for a spare battery to be delivered. There is a shortage, at least in Europe. The same applies to lenses. Very annoying.

The way how my A900 (bought new in Spring 2009) renders hand-held shots taken at 1/250 s in a hurry with a Minolta AF Apo HS 400 mm G lens + TC 1.4× Apo II (= 560 mm) sharp to the single pixel level keeps impressing me.

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