Image stabilizers

In order to get a sharp, not blurry shot taken handheld (or in motion), you need to take into account the shutter speed when shooting - because the longer excerpt, the more you can smear in the picture.

Image stabilizers

Image stabilizers

Almost always if lens aperture opens up to a large F2.8, they write that the lens is ideal for shooting in the evening and even at night. In some ways, they are right, but working and taking it off hand, I came to the conclusion that the VR stabilizer in the lens is more suitable than a large one aperture.

Taking off hands and using the golden rule that the number responsible for shutter speed should be greater than the effective focal length. For example, if you shoot at a focal length of 35mm, excerpt should be no more than 1/35 of a second, usually 1/60 and shorter excerpts. But when you use a lens with vibration reduction, this rule changes a lot.

For popular and well-known manufacturers of cameras and lenses, there is a designation for the function of reducing vibration. Below is a list of the most popular notation.

Stabilizers built into the lens:

Canon: IS - Image Stabilization

Nikon: VR - Vibration Reduction

Panasonic: OIS - Optical Image Stabilizer (optical image stabilizer)

Sony: Optical Steady Shot (Optical Shooting Stabilizer)

Tamron: VC - Vibration Compensation

Sigma: OS - Optical Stabilization

Camera stabilization:

Pentax: SR - Shake Reduction

Olympus: IS - Image Stabilizer

Sony: SSS - Super Steady Shot

Konica Minolta: AS - Anti-Shake

I will explain the benefits of vibration reduction  on the example of a lens with vibration reduction Nikon 18-105mm f / 3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX Nikkor (calculations can also be made for other lenses). If in order to get an acceptable shot at a focal length of 105mm (which is already an average telephoto), you need to use the camera parameters, at which excerpt should be less than 1/105 or even 1/150 (considering crop) according to the rule described above. Usually a number excerptsthat can be set on the camera corresponds to 1/125 of a second. Given that this lens, like most zooms, is not aperture (dark) at F5.6 aperture, you need to use high ISO values, which will give a lot of noise.

If on the lens enable VR function, you can just as well shoot at shutter speeds of the order of 1/20 of a second, thus reducing the ISO.

Why it happens? The manufacturer in the technical specifications indicates that the lens or camera with vibration reduction can work with shutter speeds of several steps shorter (longer) than without it. In this case, it is 3 steps.

One step in a photograph means a difference of 2 times. Three steps will give a difference of eight times. 2 ^ 3 = 8 (two to the third degree). So we get 1/125 divided by 8 is approximately equal to 1/15 of a second.

These calculations are really close to the truth, but due to the fact that manufacturers wind up indicators, a less or less true value is recognized only in practice.

For this lens at 105mm focal length (which in terms of EGF gives 157 mm) minimum excerpt when shooting with hands it is permissible in the region of 1 / 15-1 / 30.

An example of a photo taken with hands, shooting parameters in the signature picture.

Vibration reduction by example

1/25 sec ISO 1600 F5.6 105 mm nikon d40 + Nikkor 18-105 VR 3.5-5.6 handheld shooting

All these calculations are valid for any lens or suppression system.

1/2 second 45mm ISO 200 F4.5 Nikkor 18-105

1/2 second 45mm ISO 200 F4.5 Nikkor 18-105

As we see in the photo above, when excerpts in 1 \ 2 seconds (which under normal conditions is a very long shutter speed), we get an absolutely acceptable picture quality from hand at low ISO.

Previously, just a couple of years ago, photographers, with long exposures, had to use a tripod, or fast lenses.

When working with fast lenses, such as 50mm F1.4 50mm F1.8 and shooting under difficult conditions, lenses with vibration suppression make tangible competition, and sometimes outperform them.

Aperture F5.6 and F1.8 differ by about 3 with the tail of the stage, to be precise, the difference in the magnitude of the light flux is a difference of 9 times. (because two changes in the F number give a 4-fold change in area, from here 5,6 / 1,8 = 3.11, and a difference in area of ​​3.11 ^ 2 = about 9).

We get that winning with a fast lens gives a shutter speed reduction of 9 times, and when using VR by 8 times. In practice, both methods work when shooting in poorly lit areas.

It’s convenient for me personally to use and vibration reduction and fast fixes. Each has its own advantages.

Conclusion: optical stabilizers are great for telephoto lenses and for shooting in low light, giving a gain in reducing shutter speed without fear of getting a blurry shot.

Do not forget about helping the project. Thanks for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 35, on the topic: Image Stabilizers

  • […] The two differ in weight. The third version has a built-in image stabilizer (Vibration Reduce) and helps to shoot in places with poor [...]

  • [...] VR - vibration reduction, probably the most pleasant plus, [...]

  • Igor

    Hello. Essentially a question: the instructions for using the lens with a stub say that you can’t remove the lens or turn off the camera while the stub function is on. active. Does this mean that before turning off the camera (replacing the lens), the VR function must be switched to the OFF position? Or is it enough to wait two seconds after the shutter is released (while the stub is still active) and then you can safely turn off the camera without even turning the VR switch to the ON position?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes, that’s exactly what is written in the instructions, but I never follow this rule and turn the camera on / off with the vR mode on the lens. Nothing happened with the camera or the lenses, therefore, I think this is not an indication, but a wish to use a VR lens.


        They write correctly. The fact is that VR becomes active (on my D3100 in particular) when the shutter button is pressed halfway and turns off 1 second after releasing the button. And at this second it is still better not to turn off the fotik, just as not to turn it off with the button pressed halfway. Although no one turns it off - the same second the frame is written to the flash drive :-)

  • Igor

    Thank you!

  • Good day. Recently discovered your site and is very pleased so far.
    I shoot on the D90 and I am very pleased that many articles and examples are associated with it.
    I wanted to ask: I use the whale 18-105, I recently decided to purchase a nikon 50mm 1.8D, due to the positive reviews about it, an open diaphragm and an attractive price. After reading this article, I began to doubt whether it is worth it? You say that the stabilizer almost completely compensates for the diaphragm openness ???
    and I also read in one of your articles that on incomplete cameras, the crop factor also affects the aperture when using lenses designed for FF, nikon 50mm 1.8D also applies to lenses for FF ???

    Please answer both questions, thank you in advance for your help

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The crop factor affects all Nikon lenses, and DX and FX mounted on cropped matrices. Aperture and stabilizer are two different things. The stabilizer compensates for shutter speed. An open aperture helps to make a shallow depth of field. Nikon 50mm 1.8D from full frame. Always happy to help.

  • “When working with fast lenses such as the 50mm F1.4 50mm F1.8 and shooting in harsh conditions, Vibration Reduction lenses offer significant competition and sometimes outperform them.”
    “When working with fast lenses such as the 50mm F1.4 50mm F1.8 and shooting in harsh conditions, Vibration Reduction lenses offer significant competition and sometimes outperform them.”

    Given the above, should I buy a 50mm 1.8D ??? if the difference, as you say, is minimal and imperceptible, provided that I will shoot reports in nightclubs ???

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Reporting half a dollar and a crop is a tricky business. Understand that the stabilizer on a dark zoom will allow you to shoot in a nightclub without a flash at shutter speeds of 1/20 and here it is not the blur from hand shake that is important, but the blur from the movement of bodies in the frame. It is in this situation that the fixes will win, because by 1/60, in order not to blur human movements, they need a much lower ISO value than for a dark zoom.

  • I'm shooting at 18-105 with a flash of 1/20 - 1/15 sec. The flash is certainly not Nikon's (the acmepower TF120 only rotates upward, but I'm already used to horizontal frames). If I use 50mm, will the effect be better ??? for example as with the same exposure but more blurred and LIGHT background ??? Or is it better to add money and buy a Nikon flash?

    I want something like this

    pay attention to the background, it is light and blurry, what do they shoot with? or is it a flash?

  • Temur

    I shoot at 18-105 plus the Acmepower TF120 flash (it only turns up, but I'm used to horizontal frames) it works fine. You can look at the geometry of ru, there is a search, if you choose the city of Tashkent, there are my reports. nickname eleery. (well, or through the search you can). But I want photos of Moscow or St. Petersburg photographers, their background there is very light and pleasant, and it’s also blurred. Or is it more about the flash? What do you think, what do they shoot?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      This is all just a fast lens, it is easy to notice from the overall picture. Even with SB-910 on 18-105 it will be practically impossible to get such a picture. + there on many photos not just a flash, but the use of more decent light sources.

  • Temur

    I’m probably tired of you already)

    Do you think they have portable softboxes with them or what do you mean by the name "decent light sources"?

    So 1.8D is right for me? or not that?

  • radical

    It seems to me that when shooting with a stabilizer, in any case, the shutter speed should not be more than 1/20. And what happens, the same tamron 17-50 at the wide end with a focal 17mm shutter speed get 17x1.5 / 8 = 3 i.e. 1/3? And if the sigma is 17-50 with its 4 feet? The stabilizer will not save from grease. You need to focus on some kind of lower shutter speed

    • Arkady Shapoval

      At 18mm, you can shoot at 1 \ 15, if you use the tips from the article how to remove from hands.

  • Denis

    Is it correct to use a stub in a night portrait, with shutter speed and flash on the rear curtain, as well as in freezelight while maintaining the background?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes, the light from the background will not be so blurry.

  • Razor

    On the lens, VR mode is always on.
    Tell me, does it ever need to be turned off and why?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It should be turned off when shooting with a tripod and to save battery.

  • Michael

    thanks for sayit
    a lot of useful information,
    but please, more specifically the situation is such use d3100 18-55 afs dh without BP for travel for the pros is clearly not a problem, but I’m somewhere in the USSR Zenit-Helius Industar60 Jupiter, etc. soap dishes and coolers without options the question of the stabilizer is a necessity under rapidly changing circumstances, I personally may be better off trying Canon 1100 with stabilizers and there is no single answer, just your advice, thanks

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It is possible without a stabilizer, the lens aperture is the same, which means the shutter speed will also be the same.


    Thank you, as always, it is all about the price, but as I understand it, raising the ISO and opening the aperture on the d3100 from a car at a speed of 130-160, I will reduce the shutter speed and in the afternoon I will get a normal (not super), but not blurry (panoramic!) photo? In perfect weather, etc. on the go (on foot) it is possible to get norms. photo if there is no stabilizer? I didn’t quite understand this taste; I tried it in the store, took a picture, but didn’t get into the settings completely, the seller knows no more than 1100 (with BP) and d3100 (lens without BP) a lot of anointed (tried :)) and little tried, for the layman this is a question, is it necessary?

  • Jeks

    Good afternoon, but what about how to shoot on a fix without a stub 50 1,8 after a whale 18-55? It seems that the hands do not shake, but the grease is visible.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Stab compensates in the area of ​​3 stops, 1.8 aperture does the same.

  • Andrei

    Hello. Please help me with choosing a lens. I want to buy Tamron 17-50, but I can’t decide whether to buy with a stub or without. Does it make sense to overpay for a stabilizer at such focal lengths?

  • Ivan

    Honestly, I do not like stabilizers.
    The reasons are as follows: firstly, if the stub is built into the optics, then this worsens its parameters to some extent, and no one will dissuade me from this - any optical part that is not “rigidly” fixed in the lens already poses a potential threat to quality images. However, this can be neglected - after all, now many lenses "dangle" in housings and everyone pretends that this is normal and does not harm the picture))
    Secondly, they are not sickly eating batteries. This is also not a big problem, but it is unpleasant and must be remembered. But the worst thing that manufacturing companies do not like to talk about is the decrease in the reliability of the system as a whole by several times. If the stub is built into the carcass, there are two or three piezo motors under the matrix, and such a stub is very sensitive to impacts - the piezo motors instantly fly to pieces. However, some people manage to “glue them together”) The stub in the lens is also sensitive to physical effects, but fortunately, there are no piezo actuators, so the optical stub is better than the stub in the carcass. For years there have been discussions on repairmen's forums about how best to “treat” lenses, carcasses with a stub. Most often, lenses and matrices are rigidly fixed after adjustment, forcibly “turning off” the optical stabilizer.
    Stub is very useful, as I think, for video shooting, useless for serious street, sports or landscape photography, absolutely not needed for portrait or subject photography. That is, the stub is very, very rarely where you can use it effectively.
    Probably, it is still better to buy light optics or use a serious flash. Yes, and light optics have many advantages in this case over the stub (except for one - weight).
    A beginner in photography will still not be able to use the stab correctly - it is better for a beginner to learn “the correct photographic stand”, put on a belt on his hand or take a monopod with him. So the stub, by and large, warms the soul precisely as a high-tech problem, but it is rarely used) as I think)

    • Dmitriy

      I will not say that the stub is eating the battery so much. Differences with and without stub will be about 2-5% of pictures on a single charge. With video, of course, the difference will be greater, but it is somehow not reasonable to turn it off during video recording. Maybe he “eats” more in the massive optics of Canon 500 4 L, but I never used it. So the benefits of turning off the stub are as much as turning off bluetooth in the phone (that is, more inconvenience than saving)

  • anonym

    As with any high-tech problem, you need to clearly understand whether you need a stabilizer or not. For it will have to pay decently. A stub will not help to remove sports events or the like - aperture is needed here. Using long exposures from 1s will also not help - you need a tripod. And the stub block is an additional mechanism that can fail and require repair. So think before buying.

  • Paul

    I bought a lens from the hands of Nikkor 70/300 with VR, how can I check if the stub works with it or not?

  • Victor

    Hello! I suddenly noticed that on my 18-105 the stub does not always turn on. I noticed the soap in the photographs, listened, but he was silent ... It costs two or three times to turn it on and off and it starts working (audible). Tell me, have you encountered such a phenomenon and what to do? For repairs? Thanks in advance for your reply.

  • Я

    The comparison is completely incorrect. What does aperture lens have to do with it ??? Who in a healthy mind will shoot at 1.4 just because there is little light and not enough exposure? And that in the end, soap from a handshaker or soap due to a tiny DOF.

    • Michael

      It depends on what conditions. Close to infinity mona and 1,4. And sports are often filmed in the open.

    • Basil

      Street photo, astrophotography, rooms where it is undesirable to turn on the flash, for example)

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