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Tuesday, 04 September 2007


The thing that bothers me with in-lens IS the most isn't just the relative lack on wide lenses, but the lack of it in fast primes. Not even Canon put it in their new high-end 50mm lens. My uninformed guess is that the extra element group needed precludes its use in really fast (faster than f/2.8 or so) lenses.

Fast lenses, high ISO and IS are complementary, not competitive technologies. There is little point is saying you don't need fast lenses when you have IS; it's like saying you don't need high ISO with a fast lens. Any improvement will enable people to take shots they wouldn't otherwise been able to.


The Nikon lens that would meet your objection is the very popular 18-200mm 3.5-5.6G VR.

Lack of in-camera-IS is already hurting Canikon. Not much but its a factor. Its why I went the Oly way after many many years of Canikonism. I dumped all my cameras but for my 4 x 5 last year. Bought a motorcycle and went nuts for a while. It was fun.

Now coming back to photography I can go any direction I dang well please. I picked up an Oly 510 as an experiment and am quite happy with it. I may go whole hog Oly except for lingering pixel envy. But heck ... I'm not gonna spend 5k or MORE any time soon for a camera body. 4/3 or APS-C is reality baby. And in-camera IS is a weighty ... big time ... factor.

[[but I'm really beginning to question the usefulness of image samples on the web. At least at anything short of 100%]]

For a pre-production sample, I don't see any problem with Panasonic wanting to limit sample photos to less than full resolution. Dpreview.com chose to not post any if they couldn't post full and I say good for them. PhotographyBlog decided to post the size of the photos they could. So be it.

However, I would have to say that, for any camera I'm seriously considering buying, I would always print at least one sample photo from a reputable review site at something like 8x12 which is about the max print size for my needs.

Don't overlook the EF-S 17-85 IS. I've owned this lens since getting my first Canon crop body and it is a fantastic "non-L" lens that has gone through thick and thin and still works beautifully. It's a half stop slower than the 18-55 at 4.0-5.6 but the IS certainly helps in this regard. It even has decent bokeh (if that's what you are after) for nice portraits.

I believe that LL reviewed it favorably as well. At a street price of around $500 it is a good value. The 18-55 IS looks like it will have a price around $200. Perhaps this is due to the new, simpler IS system.


This comment is a byproduct: I always thought that one of the awesome things about digital in this wide band world is that we could download and check first hand the different camera outcomes (great when compared in a systematic way too). You could see exactly what comes out of the camera through a good review site, impossible with film cameras. That's a turning point, for me. that said, I'm obviously talking about sites that let you download full res 100% unchanged files out of the the camera. Yep, at 100k my cellphone can look good too.

I suppose you are familiar with Diglloyd's opinion of 5D IQ. How does one account for the discrepancy?

You still chugging along with the KM 7D :) It's still a great camera and in some ways I wish I held on to it. I agree with your IS points. The IS I am looking for is to negate the cameraman's addition to the picture in terms of rattle and shake. After that, the camera is free to do it's thing - to take it's picture. I shoot a lot of low light work in my wedding work and love the Canon low light lenses, but I sure do wish the body has stabilization in it. Nikon had to opportunity to make their new 24-70 lens the standard of the wedding industry but they blew it. Now Canon has that opportunity, let's see if they take it.

The Olympus looks the most promising at the moment. If they can pull off a sensor like Nikon just did and also have image stabilization for all the lenses, then I would be attracted to this camera and for the first time add something outside of Canon hardware - and that's a big thing. Time will tell.

Nice to read you still use the 7D, that made me chuckle. ~ Peter


If I just had to guess, I'd say it was Minolta's ghost soon to be rising again, with a monogram on the sheet that reads: "Sony".

The Alpha 100 fell short for me, even though my Minolta glass is sitting patiently in the closet. (Wide, fast prime, telephoto, mid-range zoom...)

I was unhappy with the high-ISO image quality I saw in the reviews of the Alpha. And the shiny black body plastic just didn't move me. But what if Sony joins the recent pack with Live Preview--hopefully with real-time contast auto focus? And some decent high-ISO cabability? At a competitive price?

The Panasonic L10 sounds interesting, although 640 x 480 online samples don't tell much. And the price is a bit high for the specs, unique (for the time being) as they are. (The swivel LCD with Live Preview auto focus is especially appealing.)

One thing for sure: the battle in the DSLR realm has been joined by many worthies; this fall presents unusually rich choices for the photographer on the cusp of a new camera acquisition...

---Steve Gillette

Very much looking forward to your words on the Zeiss Ikon Mike, feeling dizzy from all the DSLR news it will make refreshing change to be reminded of progress in film cameras.

Cheers, Robin

Anything wrong with the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS ?
May be too big or too expensive for walking around?
Or is it that it won't fit full-size sensors?

Yes, it's heavy and at 2.8 hardly an "available light" lens. But there's your Canon IS on a wide zoom. And a mighty good lens, I might add.

But your point is very well taken: When I take my EF 28/1.8 out for available light work, I so wish there was sensor IS when I hit below a tenth of a sec. But then again I so wish I was using a rangefinder instead.

It just seems wrong to expect an SLR (digital or film) to focus wide lenses in available darkness (without annoying AF lights). So in that scenario it's either the M8 or back to silver you-know-what.

"The Nikon lens that would meet your objection is the very popular 18-200mm 3.5-5.6G VR."

Like I say, Nikon doesn't have a single VR lens that interests me.


It has served me well. I've earned about $10k with it, not even really trying.

Also, I just love 7D images. I hesitate to admit this in public, but you know how you get attached to a piece of equipment and you start to feel insecure that a replacement will be able to do as well? I have this nagging suspicion that when I get something new I'm just not going to like it as much. The 7D is kind of a beast and not very pleasant to manipulate, but it sure gives me nice results.


The problem with the new Canon IS lens is the crappy f-stop range. Just not enough speed, especially for your fondly recalled "grab" shots. I had a Nikon D200 for over a year, used the 70-200 f2.8 VR, and found it exceptional for telephoto shots. Now I'm back to using my fast Leica lenses with a M8. Never had a problem with camera shake with a Leica.

It's true that slow lenses somewhat defeat the purpose of IS. For me at least, sensor IS is where it's at, because I can use short, fast lenses with it (although most often I use an f/2.8 zoom). Still, I would get the new Canon IS lens in a heartbeat if my DSLR was a Rebel XTi, especially if my current lens were the non-IS version of the same lens.


Well I recently got a Nikon D80 to replace the 7D and after a week or two of regrets now prefer the D80. However I really miss the memories on the 7d and the parameters displayed large on the LCD on the back of the camera. To my ageing eyes the small text on the D80 top panel is very hard to read.

On the plus side with the Nikon is the slow sync setting for the flash. Gives good balance between the flash and the existing light something that always took a few goes with the 7D.It seems to focuses faster also and to be honest makes a better job of the exposure. The 7D could produce some serious exposure errors. No problem with immediate review available, but still annoying

I'll stick the 7D on Ebay but hold on to the glass 'till I see what Sony produce as the 7D follow up.

On a side note I am amazed at the difference in coverage between the Sigma 10-20 and the Minolta 11-18. Wouldn't have thought a mil here or there would have made that much difference

Yes, I'm experiencing the same exposure errors with my 7D. It's the most serious of my camera's "aging problems." Successive exposures of the same subject with the same settings can be off considerably from one to the next. There's really no easy way to compensate for this--it's just equipment failure. My camera's gotten quite buggy as it's gotten older, so much so that I just don't photograph very often these days. I plan on replacing it probably sometime next Spring.


Hi Mike,

Just to say that I also still use my 7D. Absolutely no problems with it at all. My 28mm f2.8 is now on the camera 90% of the time, but for church interiors the 50mm f1.4 combined with antishake and ISO 400 is just wonderful. The Sony A100 left me unimpressed. I'm happy and not looking to upgrade, but.... a full frame would give me all my wide angles back!


I've tried to figure this out before. Why wouldn't Canon and Nikon add sensor IS to have available when you didn't have lens IS (assuming that both wouldn't work well together)? It doesn't seem like it would be all that expensive, given the cheap DSLRs that are out now with it. So you have to wonder if it's just that they don't want to admit there's any benefit to it...

I'm happy with my Digital Rebel XT for what I do, and don't plan on getting anything else any time soon, but a new cheap Canon with sensor IS would probably get me to upgrade.

I'm on your side of the IS debate; when using a long tele, my camera is on a tripod. Where I need IS most is when shooting locations (vacation) and events with my standard and short tele's that are usualy hand held.

In Michael Reichmann's review of the Canon EOS 40D, he wrote: "I find that the IQ of the 40D is on a par if not even slightly better than that of the Canon 5D, which up until now has been my benchmark for DSLR image quality both at low and at high ISO."

That's amazing.

The EOS 5D has a pixel density of only 122 pixels/mm vs. the EOS 40D's 175 pixels/mm. This requires the EOS 40D to use an enlargement factor that's 43% greater for any given print size which, in turn, thanks to diffraction alone, will limit the print resolution achievable at any given f-Number to 30% less than that available with the EOS 5D at that same f-Number.

As Pixel Density increases, enlargement factor increases, and the f-Number at which diffraction prevents a desired print resolution decreases. (The higher the pixel Density, the smaller the f-Number must be to support a desired print resolution.)

Disregarding the diffraction imposed by pixel density for the moment, consider the disparity in pixel count on print resolution. The EOS 40D has a 10.1 MP sensor (at 3888 x 2592 pixels). The EOS 5D has a 12.8 MP sensor (4368 x 2912). Do the math. For any given print size, independent of all other factors, the resolution of a print produced using the EOS 5D will be 12.4% greater than what the EOS 40D can deliver.

Mike Davis

Yeah, the major manufacturer is most probably Sony. :-)

They upset the launch of 40D with the announcement of their new sensor and then Nikon bombed the runways with the announcement of D300 and D3. Plus, however the fans of Canon might pooh-pooh the upcoming E-3, I really think it's a better camera than 40D overall (at least on paper and based on previous experiences, cause I haven't seen either). But the things are starting to look quite hairy for Canon.

BTW, I have similar problems with my E-300. But I think it's just the matter of dial acting up, cause the exposure deviation is very predictable. It always changes in the direction I moved dial previously and then it always ends on the double. That is, either the double of the previous exposure or half the previous exposure. It certainly needs servicing.

As for the camera news, one of the biggest Polish newspaper said (after the Japanese agency Kyodo) that on 21 October Sony has planned the announcement of a camera that will automaticly take photos of SMILING people (ignoring the sad ones).
So, maybe in few years photographers won't be able to recognize the smiles on people's faces just, as we can't adjust focus without AF today?

Hi,Mike! About the 40D, I have to say that, I have a deep respect for Mr.Reichman, as a photographer, and I'm a regular reader of Luminous-landscape. I've learned a lot there.
But I've seen Mr. Reichman's going overboard frequently, with unjustified enthusiasms. I think that he, again, went overboard analising a Canon product. The 40D uses the same pixel size and same processor than the 400D (Rebel XTI), which is an excelent camera. I use one, and like it a lot. But his description of IQ of the 40D is beyond good judgement. Please check www.outbackphoto.com...Uwe Steinmueller brings things back from poetry to reality.
Another inacuracy from Mr. Reichman: He considers that the 40D's dust/water protection for cards and battery doors "similar" to the fully sealed Nikon D200...

As always, thanks for your great site.


Rio, Brazil

Some thoughts about IS:

Regarding Janne's comment that Canon doesn't put IS on their fast primes, that is certainly not the case. Canon has IS on it's 300/2.8 L IS and on it's 500/4 L IS. Absolute lens speed is not what characterizes a fast prime...it's lens speed with respect to the focal length that is the issue. And for big glass like a 300 prime or a 500 prime, f/2.8 or f/4 respectively, is FAST glass.

Regarding IS in general...I must admit I get a bit confused here at TOP at times. There are editorials that say it's not equipment that makes great photographs, it's PHOTOGRAPHERS that make great photographs. Yet, on the other hand, there is all this grousing that this body or that body does not have IS. ???

I shoot a lot of pro motorsports with FAST primes, and I turn OFF the IS on the lens that I have that has it (my superb Canon 500/4 L IS)...why? Because it gets in the way....In fact, I don't know personally of any pro motorsports photographer that DO use it...they all turn it off. I specifically chose the non-IS 70-200/2.8 L because it was sharper than the IS version, not to mention $600 less expensive. My old Series 1 300/2.8 does not have IS, and routinely generates superb images of racing vehicles moving at high speeds while shooting handheld at low shutter speeds: witness this photograph of 7 time World Motorcycle Grand Prix champion Valentino Rossi shot at the 2006 USGP at Laguna Seca


Or, this photograph shot handheld with my *500* again, with no IS (BTW, I never shoot panning shots of bikes faster than 1/250th of a second)

Eric Bostrom, 2005 USGP, Laguna Seca, 500 mm handheld at 1/250th sec.


With all this talk about it being photographers who make great images, not cameras or gear, there sure a lot noses getting bent because cameras don't have all the technical bells and whistles they would like. To quote the Baron von Rischtofen, it's not the crate, it's the guy flying it that matters! It's about intangibles like practice, skill, and technique rather than griping that this body or that lens does not have IS, anti-shake, auto ISO, VR, face recognition or newest fad, *smile recognition*.

It's no mystery. It's just horses for courses. As I've said many times, sensor IS just happens to fit what and how I like to shoot. Cameras don't take pictures, but people don't take pictures either: people with cameras take pictures. You need the right basic tools, and for each of us, those tools might be different. But we still need them. For instance, how would you like to be out covering motorsports with just a 50mm lens? We all just pick the tools that fit and go on from there.


Mike, I understand where you're coming from.....but let's be real, a lot of these developments are to differentiate products that are becoming more and more commoditized. You have said it eloquently yourself, with respect to the plethora of point and shoots that make it so difficult for customers to choose one.

The requirement for big glass doesn't really fit, in my mind, to the point I'm making, though. The need for big glass today for motorsports is a necessity only due to the fact that motor racing circuits have been dramatically increasing "runoff" for the sake of safety, and as the cars and bikes are being pushed farther and farther away from photographers, you need longer glass to get the subject full-frame at that distance. This is no different than an astronomer needing big glass to see stars that are far away. Back in the 80's I was able to get F1 photos at Brands Hatch with an OM-1 and a 75-150/4.5 that would require a 300 or 400 mm lens today. Jesse Alexander, the reknown motorsports photographer from the 50's and 60's, used to take many shots with a 35 mm lens on a Leica rangefinder. I am sure that photographers would love to be in close enough to shoot with a 50mm. In fact, two weeks, ago, I was shooting IRL cars at 40mm, because I was able to be safely close enough to do so.

I often post some of my motorcycle racing photos on a local motorcycle forum, and inevitably get asked what camera I use...as if that is what really matters in producing these photos. I find the same to be true of motorcycle riders...they think if they get a bigger and more powerful 1000cc, 180 hp motorcycle, they will be able to ride faster...when the truth is they would get their wheels blown off by a skilled club racer on a 250 Ninja. Why? Because it's really about the skill of rider, not how powerful his motorcycle is.

I was addressing a phenomenon that I commonly see with photographers, which is an emphasis on bells and whistles to make great photographs, rather than skill development.
MR on LL grouses that D-SLRs from Canon don't have auto-ISO, yet never brings this issue up when referring to the Leica M8. Hypocritical to my mind. "Darn! I missed that shot because my camera body didn't have anti-shake!" "Rats! I didn't that cute expression of my kids because I had the smile recognition turned off!" "Oh no, my pictures are dark and poorly exposed because my camera doesn't have auto-ISO! Waaaa!!!"

You're right...the point still is to go out and make photographs, but what I increasingly see is bells and whistles driven by the manufacturers to differentiate their products, and a preponderance of concern by photographers on looking to those bells and whistles to make their photographers for them when it's chops that really matter.

"what I increasingly see is bells and whistles driven by the manufacturers to differentiate their products, and a preponderance of concern by photographers on looking to those bells and whistles to make their photographers for them when it's chops that really matter."

No argument, Stephen, except maybe that word "increasingly"...it's really the same as it ever was.

Chops are where it's at. I remember showing up to shoot a famous musician at a charity event and every newspaper guy from miles around was there with three bodies and long lenses and flashes and Quantum batts and all sorts of crap strung all over themselves, and I'd sit there with my one little N8008 and one 35mm lens and P3200 loaded and no flash at all thinking, I'm going to get a better shot than all those guys. And sometimes I would. (Of course to be honest sometimes I wouldn't.)

The gear is a hobby too, though. Pictures matter more to me and you than the gear, but that's not true for everybody.


"The gear is a hobby too, though."

Good point Mike. Whenever I buy a lens or camera and my girl friend asks me if I really needed it, I tell her that taking photos and collecting photo gear are two separate hobbies.

Dear Mike D,

Well, first off, most folks don't think that resolution is the sole measure of image quality. All other things being equal, more resolution is better, of course, but why assume all other things are equal? Do you know that they are? Michael Reichmann strongly suggests they're not.

A 12% difference in resolution is not actually all that much. It's barely measurable in lab tests (the resolution chart in my sampling column has rows of bars at twice that difference). In the real world, it's extremely hard to see in photos. Not indetectable, but at the limits. it's not hard to imagine other image factors dominating one's judegement of overall quality.

Also, we don't even know there is a 12% difference in resolution without looking at in-camera tests. Camera resolution does not depend solely on the number of pixels. Different cameras with the same number of pixels easily span a 12% resolution range. So, it'd make more sense to dig up some real test data than rely on likely-wrong assumptions.

Finally, I could mke no sense out of this statement:
"...This requires the EOS 40D to use an enlargement factor that's 43% greater for any given print size which, in turn, thanks to diffraction alone, will limit the print resolution achievable at any given f-Number to 30% less than that available with the EOS 5D at that same f-Number."

In a word... huh?? How in the world do you get to this conclusion? For example, at f/5.6 diffraction (which will only be 3-4 microns, substantially smaller than the pixel pitch in either camera) isn't going to be the limiting factor on resolution for either camera. So what's with this blanket statement? Seems patently wrong on the face of it.

pax / Ctein

Mike Johnston wrote:
> ... Canon's and Nikon's arguments that lens
> IS is more effective than sensor IS at long
> focal lengths. It may be ...

Even in the aging Minolta 7D, in-body IS is effective enough for sharp hand-held shots with 400 mm and 1/15 s if you're trying, and 500 mm at 1/125 s routinely. In newer cameras, in-body IS has even improved upon that.

I am not suggesting in-body IS was more effective than in-lens IS with long lenses. But at least it leaves nothing to be desired. Furthermore, in-lens IS tends to compromise lens performance---after all, the principle relies on deliberate de-centering of the optics. And with in-body IS, upgrading to the latest IS generation will always require the purchase of one new body only rather than half a dozen new lenses.

Mike also wrote:
> I'm experiencing the same exposure errors
> with my 7D. It's the most serious of my
> camera's "aging problems." Successive
> exposures of the same subject with the
> same settings can be off considerably from
> one to the next.

Avoid using multi-pattern metering; use integral metering instead. It will yield more consistent results. And for even more consistent results, I set my 7D to M mode ;-)

-- Olaf

"If I were a Canon shooter, I know what two lenses I'd own: the 18–55mm IS lens and the 24–105mm IS lens"

Good choice. The latter, while bulky, is a fantastic lens. Awesome resolution, great IS. It especially works well with the full frame 5D.

I own the the 18–55mm IS lens and it blows me away with it's sharpness.

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