The Joys of IBIS

August 9, 2014

Olympus OM-D camera bodies have a feature called In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS). This feature reduces camera shake when the shutter speed gets low. The big advantage of the IBIS system is that stabilization is available for any lens you put on the camera. Most other cameras use lens based stabilization. This means the image stabilization capability resides in the lens hardware. Either stabilization system works well, but lens-based stabilization means each lens must be IS capable and not all lenses are built this way. Sometimes the feature is removed to save costs; sometimes the manufacturer just doesn’t think it is necessary. That was often the case with my Nikon lenses. Nikon just doesn’t seem to  think IS (or as they call it- VR, for vibration reduction) is necessary for wide-angle, normal, and short telephoto lenses. None of the Nikon lenses I used most often for portraits had VR. Occasionally, I used the 70-200/f2.8 lens for portraits. It had VR and was very sharp, but it was big and heavy, so I didn’t use it for portraits very often.

The picture featured for this post is a good example of why I love the Olympus design philosophy for stabilization. The photo was taken at sunset and the light was diminishing quickly. I wanted to highlight the colorful bridge lights, but still properly expose for the subject. If I added flash to the picture I would lose the bridge lights and the wonderful quality of the sunset. The low light levels meant I needed to go down to 1/25s to get the shot I wanted. I know from experience, that I would normally need about 1/100s to get a sharp shot with a 90mm (equivalen) lens like the Olympus 45mm/1.8. With IBIS I didn’t need to mount the camera on a tripod to get a sharp shot. I could just fire away. IBIS is always there when you need it!

Equipment Used

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Olympus HLD-7 Camera Grip

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Lens

2 thoughts on “The Joys of IBIS

  1. Wolfgang Lonien

    A strong argument Michael, tho Kirk Tuck recently had a counter argument which I think he heard from someone at Panasonic. They told him that with moving sensors, you have a weight problem concerning the heat sinks which need to be attached to sensors, so with cameras which use IBIS you’ll always be restricted against those which have their sensors mounted to much larger and heavier non-moving heat sinks.

    But IBIS for me is the number one argument why I never really considered buying a Canon or Nikon camera until now. I still have an E-520 which has IBIS, and Pentax cameras use it as well. I love having those long shutter times with my E-PL5 also.

    For the average amateur photographer, I couldn’t think of a better camera than the E-M10 at the moment. Thinking about getting one of those for myself, because in studio settings I lose the VF-2 viewfinder for a radio remote on that “Pen”. Otherwise, I love that I can tilt it up for different perspectives.

    1. Michael Weeks Post author

      That’s an interesting point that I haven’t heard about the weight issue. It may explain why Canon and Nikon don’t use IBIS in their larger format cameras. If that is the case, then I count it as another positive for the micro four-thirds format. I don’t know what restrictions would be caused by a larger heat sink, but it doesn’t seem to hinder me in any way with my Olympus OM-D cameras.

      I don’t have an E-M10, but I love the E-M1 and the E-M5. I don’t think you could go wrong with the E-M10.

      Thanks for reading the post and commenting!

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