DSLR Dilemma

DSLR image stabilization

There are two types of digital single lens reflex image stabilization. They are both effective, but one may serve your needs better than the other.

Image stabilization helps produce clear, blur-free images by reducing the effects of camera shake when hand-holding a digital camera. I consider it a must have feature when I buy a new digital camera.

With compact digital cameras, the choice was easy. Get optical image stabilization, not digital. But with digital single lens reflex cameras, deciding is more difficult.

There are two types of DSLR image stabilization: IS built into the camera body and IS built into individual lenses. There are compelling arguments for each and, like most everything when it comes to digital cameras, there are cons too.

Image stabilization in a DSLR body


  • Every lens you attach to the camera, whether old or new, gets stabilized.
  • Interchangeable lenses without image stabilization generally cost less.
  • You can see the effects of IS when using Live View.


  • May not provide optimal performance for all lenses, especially telephoto lenses.
  • When looking through the viewfinder, the image isn’t stabilized. Some DSLRs do display a small graph showing the amount of camera movement.

Image stabilized interchangeable lenses


  • Helps you frame a shot better, especially with long telephoto lenses.
  • When looking through the viewfinder, the actual image is stabilized.
  • Image stabilization is tailored to each lens.


  • Lenses with built-in IS are generally bigger and heavier.
  • Lenses with built-in IS are often more expensive.

My take:

There is a vast difference of opinion between photographers about which DSLR image stabilization is best. But the issue really isn’t which is best per se, but which of the two best suits your shooting style.

But I haven’t been convinced that lens-based IS is way much better, particularly considering the added cost and weight. However, if long telephoto lenses will be used, in-lens image stabilization is my preference to have a stabilized view as I look through the viewfinder.