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Friday, December 22, 2006

Weese on Anti-Shake

by Carl Weese

Readers have been asking for word on my new camera's Shake Reduction function, so here it is:

It works.

But how well it works, how many steps of shutter speed it buys you compared to your unassisted hands—that is turning out to be a difficult thing to determine. Between my own tests (which come out slightly different each time I repeat them) and tests of other shake systems I've looked up online, I am forming the conclusion that this feature may be impossible to evaluate objectively because it is in fact user-dependent. Specifically, I think that if hand-holding slow shutter speeds has always been a problem for you, this feature is going to make your day, or even your year. But if you were already really, *really* good at this form of photographic sharpshooting, you'll see a much more limited benefit. A benefit to be sure, certainly a full stop, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Above, a picture taken at Hidden Valley in very dim light at 1/6th second, handheld.
Below, a center crop from the same file.

So stay tuned; I'll report more when I have a better handle on this. In the meantime, I'd like to hear from anyone out there who is working with an anti-shake system. How many stops do you think your anti-shake system is buying you, under what conditions?

Posted by CARL WEESE


Blogger Peter said...

I've shot with both a Dimage A1 (the "original" camera with in-body AS/IS) and currently shoot with a Maxxum 5D.

Right off the top of my head I'm going to say 2-stops. Could be as much as 3 in some circumstances, but 2-stops is all I'd be willing to claim.

That being said I think there's a definite, albeit unquantifiable benefit, even for shutter speeds up to 2 x FL. (35mm equiv.)

The effect is especially pronounced after a long day of shooting and my wrists/arms are a bit tired.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Jason Greenberg Motamedi said...

My experience using a Pentax K100D for the past few months has been that Pentax's SR is an unreliable ally. Sometimes it works, othertimes not. So, my guestimate is that it might give me a stop. Would I trade SR for a faster lens? Without a question.

I also have a sneaking and completely unsubstantiated suspicion that SR has a negative effect upon image sharpness when used with faster shutter speeds.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Jerry Thirsty said...

On my first night out with the K10D I got one sharp photo at 4/10s with a 50mm lens. Ordinarily I wouldn't expect to be able to go lower than 1/30, so this is a bit over 3 stops. But it seems pretty random; most of the rest of the pictures were unacceptably blurry until I changed to 1/10. Then I started to get a reasonable percentage. If you really need 3 stops out of it, then you'd better have a static scene so you can shoot half a dozen frames and pick the best one, or else just hope you get lucky.

10:59 AM  
Blogger DonovanCO said...

My experience is that the lighter weight the camera, the more that anti-shake helps. I've found it more useful with my wife's Panasonic (2-3 stops is my guess), than with my much heavier K-M 7D (1 to 2 stops).

11:20 AM  
Blogger Ernest Theisen said...

The SR on my K100D lets me get sharp images in a murky fern forest set at ASA 200 I/15. I think the in body SR is one of the best features of this camera

2:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Carl,

I agree with what you said about "SR" effectiveness being an individual affair...
Something that has never Totally Rang True is when I read others talking about getting a Stop or More ect out of their "SR" System.
With my K10D, After some Practice I can get Fairly Consistant Photos down to Shutter Speeds of ~ 1/4 Second. I have read Posts where Some can use their "SR" effectively to ~ 2 Seconds.

Talking about "SR" Effectiveness in Terms of Stops is Not the Best Approach (imho) !

The Entire Industry Keeps Using this Stops Analogy - But I Think There's a Better Way to Look at it !

If you pay attention when you press the Shutter Button on your K10D ( Depending On How Steady You Hold your Camera )... You can hear and feel the "SR" System Moving/Vibrating the Sensor Position.
The AMOUNT OF TIME ( In My Case ~ 1/4 Second ) is the Real Driver Here...
Right Now I'm On the Average... Able to Hold the Camera Fairly Still for About 1/4 Seconds...
Now that 1/4 Second Window could have a Large Number of Different STOP Values depending on my Aperature Size, Exposure & ISO Settings.
"THE STOP" Value itself isn't the Be-All and End-All thing here... What Appears to Me to BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT IS SIMPLY SHUTTER SPEED. ( What is the Longest Shutter Speed that my "SR" will Allow Me to Shoot At... Seems to be the Bottom Line )
Within this Context... The K10D will Currently Apply it's "SR" Technology to Lenses upto ~ 800mm.
There are Limits to the Range of Motion that can be Confensated.

The Best of 2007 is Upon Us !


7:38 AM  
Blogger wheatridger said...

I tested my 7D's AS the other day by shooting a static scene in dim museum lighting, at SO 100. With a cheap 35- 70mm lens at the longest setting, I produced several sharp handheld pictures at 1/4 second. There's no way I would ever do that without the feature. I'm glad now that I don't have to buy fast, costly, bulky "pro" lenses and haul them around for available light work.

But that's not why I appreciate it the most. In more typical situations, the slow shutter speeds I can use with AS make my lenses' sweet spots of f 8-11 much more available. Very few lenses are as sharp at maximum aperture as stopped down a few. I've tested various lenses, including five Minolta "beercans," and found their sample variation is hard to spot. However, the difference between f4 and f8 was large, and always apparent.

The other hidden benefit of stabilization, as implemented by K/M/S, is the indicator that shows the amount of shake the camera is experiencing. Often, I think I'm steady and ready to shoot, but the camera tells me otherwise. So I settle down, breathe and wait until only one bar is showing. I think this biofeedback device is an advantage over N's & C's lens-based systems, which actually mask your degree of camera shake and reveal no sign of your steadiness at the moment.

6:02 PM  

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