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Old Apr 27, 2010, 9:38 PM   #1
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Default How effective is optical stabilization?

I just bought a S1800, my first camera with optical stabilization. I don't find it effective at all. It feels like stabilization doesn't exist. I've seen a camcorder's stabilization, and it is amazing (perfectly straight vertical pan and perfect zoom of at least 10x)

How stable should an average optical stabilizer be? Can you at least guarantee a shake free image without zoom in a low light setting (where exposure is longer)? Do I have a defective camera?

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Old Apr 27, 2010, 10:07 PM   #2
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Are you getting images with motion blur due to camera shake? Can you post an example or two?
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 10:35 PM   #3
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Here are 2 pictures I took of my curtains at 18x zoom, the first one with IS, the second one without IS.



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Old Apr 28, 2010, 12:04 AM   #4
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That looks like motion blur due to camera shake to me. I'd take it back where I bought it.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 10:30 AM   #5
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Reading your EXIF data your 35mm equiv. focal length was 504mm. Using the normal rule of thumb for minimum hand held shutter speed your shutter speed should have 1/500 sec. Assuming average IS effectiveness of 2 stops the minimum shutter speed you could expect to use successfully would be 1/125 sec.

Your actual exposure time was ~1/2 sec. so you were beyond the expected effectivness of the IS system by 6 stops! I have succesfully exceeded the expected effectiveness of my IS system by 2 stops but I was using special techniques.

Try taking a test shot at minimum zoom (28mm equiv.) with a shutter speed of 1/8 sec. If you can get some reasonably sharp photos with that shutter speed your IS is OK. Alternately take some photos of stationary objects outdoors (a lot more light) at max. zoom and a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. If you have a reasonable sucess rate at that shutter speed/focal length your IS is OK.

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Old Apr 28, 2010, 11:53 AM   #6
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I agree with ac.smith. When I read the EXIF data, I saw the 90mm focal length, and in the past I've seen Fuji pass off the 35mm equivalent focal length as the focal length, and conceled the actual focal length, so I presumed that 90mm was the 35mm equivalent focal length. If it's not, then the shutter speeds you were getting were way too slow for even the best image stabilization system. I suggest you try again at a shorter focal length.

ac.smith, thanks for catching my error.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 12:20 PM   #7
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I had to go to Fuji's spec. sheet to figure out what the EXIF was reporting but did match the OP's 18x info.

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Old Apr 28, 2010, 9:26 PM   #8
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Image stabilization is not magic - it helps you out some, but in this case you are too far outside the parameters. For full zoom, you are going to need a lot of light, even with image stabilization.
The reason videos look good to you is that they are videos. If you grabbed a still from one, you would find it not much better than what you have posted. The video has a minimum shutter speed of 1/frame rate, so will never get as slow as the 1/2s shutter opening of your pix.

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Old Apr 28, 2010, 11:03 PM   #9
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I think it would be best to use a tripod in your situation. IS can only help up to a certain point.
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Old Apr 29, 2010, 9:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dr_spock View Post
I think it would be best to use a tripod in your situation. IS can only help up to a certain point.
I think the OP was simply doing a test to learn his system and to verify functionality. Newbies also need to understand optical IS systems compensate for camera motion only. A couple of years ago I even read an supposedly experienced camera reviewer that seemed to think that IS took care of subject motion. Only shutter speed will take care of subject motion, not IS or tripods.

Further notes on video stab. systems. Often the stab. is accomplished on digital systems by shifting the electronic image from frame to frame of video, counteracting the motion using a sensor with an area larger than that required for the end image. As long as the frame appears steady we viewers accept the entire image as steady.



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