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Old May 23, 2011, 1:47 PM   #1
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Default Is Sony's "SteadyShot" efficient for 300mm?

Hello there.

I would like to buy a DSLR (not very soon though) and i'm excited about the Sony models because they have sensor shifting stabilizer and that would allow me to buy a 75-300mm lens for the price of a 70/75-200/250mm from other brands (including the camera itself and a bundled lens (generally 18/22-55/75mm).

But I couldn't find any good review on the net about the efficiency of that kind of stabilization, not even "real" numbers about it. The numbers claimed by the manufacturers aren't very reliable imho.

I like Nikon's VR though Nikon lenses seems to be more focused on AF speed imho. Never tried Canon's IS but i think it's just as good as Nikon's VR, but what about Sony's SS? Does it compete here for longer range lenses?

PS: I'm talking about newer entry-level models, like the alpha-390.
And I didn't want to post this on the Sony forum because i think they will tend to overrate and not tell exactly the truth .

Thank you very much.
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Old May 24, 2011, 6:28 AM   #2
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Canon and Nikon put the image stabilization in their lenses because, at the time, they both still made 35mm film SLRs, and stabilized lenses work on film cameras too. (Canon no longer makes film SLRs, but Nikon still does.) Konica Minolta (Sony) and Pentax had stopped making film SLRs by the time they started making digital SLRs, but they still had a lot of great AF lenses out there, so putting the stabilization in the body was a good fit, as it allowed all the existing lenses to work on their new bodies. (When Olympus went digital, it adopted a new lens mount, so its existing lenses couldn't be used without an adapter, and Olympus never made any AF lenses for its film SLRs anyway.)

Sony's SSS is about as good as Canon's best IS and Nikon's best VR, and since the effectiveness of optical image stabilization varies from lens model to lens model, while the effectiveness of sensor shift image stabilization is consistant, whatever focal length lens you're using, in and of itself, I think Sony's stabilization provides, on average, better results than anyone's optical image stabilization. Plus, Sony's SSS lets you use all those 20+ year old Minolta AF lenses, and they'll be stabilized.
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Old May 24, 2011, 7:16 AM   #3
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Thank you TCav.
I can capture very sharp images with Nikons (without a tripod) shooting at 1/100s with a VR lens fully zoomed to 300mm (dunno exactly the model but it's a modern 70-300mm). Using a Sigma lens though, any image taken at speeds slower than 1/300 ends up unacceptably blurred. Also, I have a Panasonic P&S and I can capture images at 1/60 fully zoomed to what's equivalent to >600mm(35mm), I bought a tripod but almost never use it at all unless for night shots.
I really like to shot wildlife (specially birds) and I want a DSLR with quick AF and decent stabilization because I plan to shot most times fully zoomed.
This P&S I have is okay, but it's a little bit slow on AF and shows a some noise even at ISO400, ISO1600 is unacceptable for printing, however, for web, even ISO6400 is somewhat okay (redim. to <2MP for example).
My main reason to buy a DSLR is to shot flying birds, and quicker night shots. I never had the opportunity to test a Sony with long lenses. Stabilization on camera does make sense imho, but some reviews doesn't rate it well for longer focal lenses.
However, it's a fact that most review sites aren't fair and tend to overrate a specific brand (mostly Nikons). For example, I was almost decided to buy a Nikon P&S because of internet reviews, but I decided to test it myself and compared to this Panasonic side-by-side, it's so much worse that it shouldn't even fit in the same category. Some reviews rated it better than the Panasonic. Looking real pictures taken at the same conditions, with the same exposure settings, anyone can see the huge difference. Nikon should not produce P&Ss imho.
Thanks.
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Old May 24, 2011, 9:29 AM   #4
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As TCav said for the short lenses you are discussing the sensor shift stabilizer works just fine.
And is comparable with the original in lens stabilization from Canon & Nikon.

I have yet to find a sensor shift camera that can match the new in lens hybrid stabilizer in canons top lenses that can handle both camera shake and camera position shift.
I suspect to do that the sensor would have to be able to quickly move several inches in every direction.
But the drawback being these lenses with this new hybrid stabilizer are very very expensive.

Last paragraph on this marketing blurb from Canon describes the hybrid stabilizer
http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consum...s_Advantage_IS
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Old May 24, 2011, 9:31 AM   #5
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There are three reasons why a dSLR would be better for your BIF shots:
  1. P&S cameras use Contrast Measurement Autofocus which is not as fast as the Phase Detection Autofocus used in dSLRs.
  2. dSLRs have much less shutter lag than P&S cameras have.
  3. dSLRs can capture more images faster than P&S cameras can.
For BIF shots, Canon, and mid and upper level model Nikons are the best choice, though Sony's mid and upper level models aren't bad.

But for BIF shots, you need shutter speeds that are fast enough that image stabilization isn't a factor. As long as the shutter speed is faster than 1 / ( Focal Length X Crop Factor ), that is, 1/450 for an APS-C body with a 300mm lens mounted, then you shouldn't get any motion blur due to camera shake. And you'll need shutter speeds at least as fast as that to prevent motion blur due to subject movement.

So, for what you say you want to do, image stabilization shouldn't be an issue.
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Last edited by TCav; May 24, 2011 at 9:34 AM.
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Old May 24, 2011, 9:31 AM   #6
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Might also be worth looking at focus speed as well as stabilisation for BIF. I think I've heard the Nikons tend to be best for that.
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Old May 24, 2011, 9:40 AM   #7
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last thought,
300mm is very short for birds on the wing shots.
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Old May 24, 2011, 3:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterP View Post
last thought,
300mm is very short for birds on the wing shots.
... unless they're really big birds!
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Old May 24, 2011, 7:22 PM   #9
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Thanks guys.
I don't plan to shot exclusively BIF, that's why i'm seriously interested on image stabilization.
Also, i can't afford something longer than 300mm (a 400mm is more than 4 times the price of a 300mm) and i'll be shooting urban birds 75% of time, so the distance isn't that important (anything shorter than 300mm is discarded here though). And I think i could use a teleconverter for situations where distances will be presumably greater.
Nikon's lenses aren't that expensive too, something like 1/4 more than Sony's. Canon's are really expensive, maybe it's just in my country, but they are twice the price of the Nikon's equivalents.
Nikon was always an option and i just wanted to know if Sony were equivalent, and now i'm convinced it is. So i have another option to choose from because It's almost impossible to find cameras from other manufacturers in my country, and even the Sony's aren't imported officially, but they are quite common here. Nikons has their officially imported products but they are much more expensive (up to 5 times) than the ones imported independently due the high taxes. And the support is the same because they have a worldwide warranty.
Maybe in two or three months i'll buy my DSLR and i'll let you know which one i end up picking.
Thank you very much guys.
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Old May 25, 2011, 5:22 AM   #10
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Since you mentioned teleconverters, I think you should know that autofocus systems stop working when the maximum aperture of a lens hits f/8.0. If you put a 1.4X teleconverter on a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens, the focal length becomes 100-420mm, but the maximum aperture becomes f/5.6-8.0. With a teleconverter, the camera will stop trying to autofocus when the focal length reaches about 280mm. That's worse than without the teleconverter. And a 2X teleconverter is even worse.
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