Image Stabilization

As listed in the "Photo Equipment" page, I use Canon EOS system cameras and lenses. One of the compeling reasons I chose Canon was the Image Stabilization (IS) feature available on their best lenses. I've now used these IS lenses for two years have found them to be highly helpful for my "style" of hand-held "candid" photography. I normally use the 100-400 zoom with the 2x extender at full zoom equaling 800mm. The Elan 7e will auto-focus without the 2x but requires manual focus with the 2x. Aperture with this combination is maximum f11; depth of field is very shallow at f11. My biggest challenge with 800mm is accurate focus, and especially so in low light conditions; with IS, I spoil more shots because of incorrect focus than from camera shake.

Does Image Stabilization Work?

My experience with IS has been very positive. I have gotten photos of birds (and racing cars and aircraft) hand-held at 800mm that are as sharp as the film can reproduce. Over my years of practice, I have become fairly good at holding steady while hand-holding telephoto lenses, but there is no question in my mind that IS is a significant help to improve chances of getting a good shot. The best way to explain how IS helps is to illustrate with some of my recent photos.

Scott's Oriole Photos

Both photos were taken at 800mm, Kodak E100G (ISO 100), f11, 1/8th second exposure, and were focused manually in low light; my aging eyesight is no help. Both are cropped to about 20% of the original. The first photo is the first frame on the roll. I'd inadvertently switched the IS off when I changed film, and the result shows a non-stabilized exposure. I discovered the switch in the off position after the third frame so turned it on. The second photo is the fourth frame on the roll, and the result shows a stabilized exposure. The second photo is out of focus (Scotty left before I could get another shot), but the point of the comparison is to show the results without and with Image Stabilization.