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!