Do you need an image stabilising lens as well as in-body stabilisation?
Many camera bodies come equipped with image stabilisation (IBIS). Similarly, most high-end lenses also come with optical image stabilisation (IS). So what happens then if you use a body with IBIS coupled with an image-stabilising lens? Do you even need both or does one cancel the other out? And is it worth paying extra for the lenses with IS?
If you’re confused by this conundrum then David Bergman via Adorama has come to your rescue. David answers the question about whether you even need to spend extra money on an image stabilising lens if you have a camera body with built-in stabilisation.
“I just upgraded to the Canon R6 body, which has In Body Image Stabilization, or IBIS,” asks the viewer. “What’s the difference between that and the optical stabilization on a lens? Do I really need both, or can I buy the less-expensive lens without IS?”
It’s a really good question and David has some great information. David starts off by talking about eliminating motion blur. By this, he means unwanted motion blur, more commonly referred to as camera shake. The old rule of thumb was to use a shutter speed roughly double that of the focal length of the lens.
Optical image stabilisation
David explains that the lens image stabilisation works a little bit like the suspension on a car. The lens aims to neutralise any tiny movements that might occur. And of course, it does only work with subtle movements.
Lens manufacturers will often say how many stops of lens correction the image stabilisation will correct. So 5 stops of correction means that you can shoot 5 stops slower in terms of shutter speed than you could have otherwise. So for example, if you usually shoot at 1/125 then that means you could feasibly shoot at 1/4 sec instead.
The newer mirrorless cameras come with in-body image stabilisation or IBIS for short. This works by moving the imaging sensor to compensate for any movement. The Canon cameras with IBIS are certainly designed to work in consort with the optical image stabilisation of the lenses. Certain combinations can give you up to 8 stops of shake correction. That’s quite considerable, particularly the longer the lens you’re using.
One interesting point that David makes is that optical stabilisation helps most with long lenses whereas IBIS works best on wide-angle lenses.
Do you need both?
So back to the question: is it necessary to have both? Well, the simple answer is no, not if you’re only shooting stills. Photographers managed for years without any kind of image stabilisation, aside from a tripod.
However, embracing new technology can often open up new ways of working that otherwise weren’t available. It’s not about being lazy but giving yourself every possible advantage. Again it does depend on what you shoot. If you shoot sports at very fast shutter speeds in full daylight then it likely won’t make a huge difference. If you regularly shoot in low light with long lenses then the ability to shoot 5 or even 8 stops of light slower could be a wonderful advantage.
Personally, I have really shaky hands and I can’t shoot slower than 1/80 even with a plain old nifty fifty. Any extra help is welcome to me! Whats the slowest you can shoot handheld?
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe