Misleading image stabilization terms

Written by Gail Bjork

There are many terms for image stabilization. Understand the differences so you get the right thing.

Image stabilizationThere are many digital camera features I find quite useful. But there is one that is a must have for me: Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

Image stabilization increases the stability of a camera lens so images that might otherwise be blurred due to camera shake are not. IS does not prevent blur due to a moving subject (a fast shutter speed will do that), but it does help prevent image bur when shooting at slow shutter speeds or using a long telephoto lens.

Is image stabilization perfect? Nothing is! But IS is remarkably effective.

OIS, which is hardware based, is certainly not a new technology. It is, however, a relatively new feature found on some digital cameras.

As more consumers discover the benefits of IS and want it, more digital camera manufacturer’s are jumping on the IS bandwagon. And this is a good thing, right?

Well, yes and no.

Misleading image stabilization terms

Anything that helps prevent blurred images is welcome. What is not welcome is when manufacturers use terms that mislead consumers.

Terms such as anti-blur technology, anti-shake function and image stabilization mode may simply mean that a camera increases the ISO (and therefore shutter speed) to help prevent blurred images. These types of digital IS doe not actually stabilize the lens.

Phil Askey of dpreview recently opined at his site:

However one thing which has become annoying is the increasing use of the label ‘image stabilization’ or ‘anti-shake’ to describe nothing more than a (noisy) high sensitivity mode.”
“Some manufacturers prefix with ‘digital’, however to the average consumer this isn’t enough to correct what is a misleading and confusing description.

Hats off to Mr. Askey! I encourage you to the read of the full text of his comments.

If want a digital camera with Optical image stabilization, make sure you get exactly what you’re asking for before plunking down your hard earned money.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

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