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Author Topic: Image stabilization  (Read 21879 times)
Ray
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« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2006, 10:18:50 AM »
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Sounds like your're doing just about everything wrong--no image stabilization, no autofocus, using a tripod instead of a shoulder stock, and using a full-frame camera--which for most telephoto wildlife work is a disadvantage, since one is usually lens-limited--can't get close enough to the subject to fill the frame, so must crop the image. A 12.8MP image from the Canon D5, cropped to APC size, will yield a final 5.6MP image--compared to a full 10MP from several current DSLR's using Sony's latest 10MP APC sensor, or 12.2MP for the Nikon D2X.

Do you also use an incident-light meter?
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I can sympathise with Marc. IS is usually of very limited use in situations of strong wind and rocking boats, as it is from an elephant's back which is usually lurching from side to side as it walks along. If the subject is moving as well, such as a whale jumping out of the water, the problem is compounded.

To get close to 1000mm, I have to use my 100-400L f5.6 with 1.4x extender on my 20D, which makes the maximum aperture f8 and prevents autofocussing. I have difficulty accurately manually focussing such a setup on a moving target.

Of course, a 400/2.8 or 500/4 would be better, but some of us can't afford such lenses you know   .
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gkramer
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« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2006, 11:27:22 AM »
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I can sympathise with Marc. IS is usually of very limited use in situations of strong wind and rocking boats, as it is from an elephant's back which is usually lurching from side to side as it walks along. If the subject is moving as well, such as a whale jumping out of the water, the problem is compounded.

To get close to 1000mm, I have to use my 100-400L f5.6 with 1.4x extender on my 20D, which makes the maximum aperture f8 and prevents autofocussing. I have difficulty accurately manually focussing such a setup on a moving target.

Of course, a 400/2.8 or 500/4 would be better, but some of us can't afford such lenses you know   .
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I agree that the latest hi-tech bells & whistles are pretty pricey, and not for everyone. On the other hand, I would have thought that a good image-stabilized lens, with a shoulder stock, would be just the ticket for shooting from a rocking boat. Some of Nikon's VR lenses have a "Active" mode, which supposedly works from a moving car and the like, and if it functions as well as the "Normal" VR mode (which is all I've ever needed), it should be quite useful from a boat (I don't know about elephants).

Another lower-cost alternative to a pricey, pro-quality image-stabilized telephoto would to be to get one of the "Anti-shake" DSLRs, which puts the image-stabilization mechanism in the camera body, and use it with a top-quality, used older telephoto (preferably with autofocus). I recently acquired a Sony Alpha 100 for more-or-less this purpose, and though my impressions are that that type of image stabilization isn't as effective as the Nikon-Canon type, which puts it in the lens, it definitely helps, and makes a shoulder stock (which is much handier than a tripod for wildlife photography) practical for lenses up to 300mm or so (450mm full-frame equivalent). Camera bodies, in the digital era, will come and go for a few years yet; but a good lens is a lifetime investment.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2006, 12:43:56 PM »
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I agree that the latest hi-tech bells & whistles are pretty pricey, and not for everyone. On the other hand, I would have thought that a good image-stabilized lens, with a shoulder stock, would be just the ticket for shooting from a rocking boat. Some of Nikon's VR lenses have a "Active" mode, which supposedly works from a moving car and the like, and if it functions as well as the "Normal" VR mode (which is all I've ever needed), it should be quite useful from a boat (I don't know about elephants).

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Actually, shooting from the back of a moving elephant isn't that big of a challenge.  (Let me qualify that by saying that I have no experience shooting from the back of an elephant at full charge.  ;o)

The movement is fairly regular and predictable.  There's a rather long smooth period when each foot is lifted, swung, and replanted.  Plodding along.  It's just a matter of timing.

Boats (not smoothly gliding sailboats running before the wind) can be a bigger problem due to the photographer's inability to stabilize his/her own body as the boat pitches and yaws.  If one is trying to shoot things such as breaching whales it's very difficult to maintain proper posture while waiting/panning.  Lots of shots are going to be "snap shots".

But the place where I find IS to be most useful is dimly lit temples/buildings where tripods are not permitted or polite.  If one is shooting statues, carvings, paintings, etc. the subject isn't moving and slow shutter speeds are just fine for available light photography.  IS to a great extent replaces the tripod.
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Marsupilami
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« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2006, 05:02:49 PM »
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What I always miss, when IS is praised, is that it works best for 1/8 to 1/60 sec. With shorter times I found it just plain useless, while it is very helpful in journalistic work to get acceptable shots for many situations it would be better to go up with ISO or open the aperture. If the situation allows it a tripod and mirror prerelease gets you the real sharp shots. And long times lead also to blur if the object is moving. Is is useful but I recommend to test it critical for your needs, Iwas too often disappointed and found that it is for my kind of work not very useful (like aerial shots, wildlife, or landscape).
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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2006, 09:17:01 PM »
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Sounds like your're doing just about everything wrong--no image stabilization, no autofocus, using a tripod instead of a shoulder stock, and using a full-frame camera--which for most telephoto wildlife work is a disadvantage, since one is usually lens-limited--can't get close enough to the subject to fill the frame, so must crop the image. A 12.8MP image from the Canon D5, cropped to APC size, will yield a final 4.6MP image--compared to a full 10MP from several current DSLR's using Sony's latest 10MP APC sensor, or 12.2MP for the Nikon D2X.

Do you also use an incident-light meter?
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Since it is a hobby I have a limited budget. I envy those with a 600mm autofocus, stabilized lens. I'll have to wait for the sunny day without wind. I have never been exposed to a shoulder stock (except in my Marine Corps days) is that a better method than a tripod? I just purchased a D80 as a travel camera and will take your advice on the reduced size sensor. My 500mm F8 Nikkor might work well. I seem to learn a lot by exposing my mistakes in public like in this thread, but I think that is how we learn! Incident light meter? is that like a histogram? Only kidding.......
Marc

PS I shoot from the shore as the whales get close, As I drive from the Kona airport north to Kohala I can predict where they will be in a few minutes and drive a bit to catch them. And you thought I was on a boat with a tripod and a light meter. Only kidding again......
« Last Edit: December 17, 2006, 09:23:41 PM by marcmccalmont » Logged

Marc McCalmont
Ray
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« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2006, 04:48:50 AM »
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Actually, shooting from the back of a moving elephant isn't that big of a challenge.  (Let me qualify that by saying that I have no experience shooting from the back of an elephant at full charge.  ;o)

The movement is fairly regular and predictable.  There's a rather long smooth period when each foot is lifted, swung, and replanted.  Plodding along.  It's just a matter of timing.
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Point taken, Bob. However, this principle only works with a static subject. When the subject is moving and the moment is critical, the long smooth period of a couple of seconds maximum, may not coincide with the ideal moment for the shot.
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gkramer
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« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2006, 08:54:02 AM »
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Actually, shooting from the back of a moving elephant isn't that big of a challenge...

Boats (not smoothly gliding sailboats running before the wind) can be a bigger problem due to the photographer's inability to stabilize his/her own body as the boat pitches and yaws.  If one is trying to shoot things such as breaching whales it's very difficult to maintain proper posture while waiting/panning.  Lots of shots are going to be "snap shots".
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I have a fair amount of experience with telephoto wildlife photography (mainly birds), both with and without image stabilization, and even more with small boats (power, sail, and oar) in winds up to 30 knots or so (the worst I've ever gotten caught out in). And though I have not yet had a chance to combine these two pursuits (since going digital-image stabilization), I've got some pretty definite ideas on the subject.

Forget about photography (or fishing) in winds of 20kt or more; boat-handling becomes a major preoccupation. And even in a stiff 15-knot chop, there will so much spray flying that you probably won't want to expose your delicate telephoto equipment to the elements.

In more benign conditions, a sailboat, preferably a sizeable (18' or so) centerboarder, would actually be a pretty good choice; the sail acts as a very effective roll stabilizer, and even with the sail down, dropping the centerboard provides fair amount of stability in deep water, and even more over a shallow mudflat, if it can bury itself in the mud (don't try that on an outgoing tide, however; you may have to wait for the next tide to go home).

In power boats, a center-console fishing boat large enough to take a leaning post instead of a conventional seat (17' or so), and with no T-top or other high structure to interfere with a 360-degree view, would be my first choice. A leaning post is a barstool-height seat cushion securely bolted to the deck, so one can either stand and lean against it, or sit on it and plant one foot on the console, and another on a gunnel; in either case one has a very solid three-point anchor to the boat from the waist down, and can sway one's entire body from the waist up to compensate for the low-frequency motions of the boat. With a solid shoulder stock and a good image-stabilized telephoto, that would be the cat's whisker for waterborne bird photography (and I presume would work for whales as well). A sit-down boat would be much less versatile, as would an all-out flats boat with nothing to lean against, since balancing on one's feet in inherently less steady.
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wheatridger
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« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2006, 10:48:23 PM »
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I don't know if IS/VR lenses are softer than conventional ones. I only know they're more expensive. But even if a given pair of lenses shows a difference, and the stabilized lens isn't as good at a given f-stop, I wouldn't really care. That's not the proper comparison to make. Forget about rocking boats and plodding elephants- in typical static photographic situations, I rarely use stabilization to make pictures I couldn't make otherwise. I use it so I can make the pictures at a smaller aperture.

I've done simple tests on five identical zoom lenses, among others. The sample-to-sample variations were small, but the difference between f4 and f8 were always obvious. Most quantitative lens tests will agree. They typically show 30-50% greater resolution is gained when stopping down from wide open. THAT'S what stabilization allows me to do, again and again. For the same shutter speed, you can stop down more, so that f8 sweet spot is available in most situations. It's all good, mostly.

I'll never know the answer to the original question, of course, unless I leave the K/M/S system and give up my 7D. But then will I still be able to buy my "stabilized" lenses for $50 used at the pawn shop?
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Killer Angel
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« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2006, 10:22:10 AM »
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I have a Canon 70-200 F2.8L(IS-Version)lens.If I turned off the IS during sunny days and with a faster shutter speed,would I be getting pictures as sharp as Canon 70-200 F2.8L(Non-IS- Version)lens?Also,what results shall I be getting if I used the IS mode during day time and with a faster shutter speed(400 And Above)?Forgive the ignorance as I am still very new to photography.
THANKS.

Killer Angel
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Killer Angel
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« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2006, 05:20:31 AM »
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The 70-200 uses an IS design that senses when the lens is tripod mounted, and uses different vibration dampening techniques (more focused on low-amplitude, high frequencies like wind turbulence and mirror slap than the high amplitude, low frequency vibrations typically encountered while handholding) when on a tripod than when off. Some older lenses use a less intelligent design which twitches and jumps around when the lens is tripod mounted, and IS on these lenses should be turned off when on a tripod. My experience with IS is that it is well worth the additional weight, cost, and battery power in many, if not most shooting conditions.
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I understand that this Tripod Detector IS device is only available in the Second Generation of the 70-200 F2.8L IS lenses.Anyway,I also have a Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS lens which I bought 7 months ago.How can I tell on whether my lens is the First Generation or Second Generation?Also,a little bit off-topic.What results shall I get if I shall be using the IS mode shooting action sports?
THANKS.

Killer Angel
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jani
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« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2006, 09:50:17 AM »
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I understand that this Tripod Detector IS device is only available in the Second Generation of the 70-200 F2.8L IS lenses.
No, that is not correct.

It's available in that generation of lenses.

If there had been a second generation 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, the lens would probably have been named 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS, or something like that.
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Jan
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« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2006, 08:27:43 AM »
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I still don't see any reviews on the net of the 70-200L f/4 IS. Pom has indicated that it's not as sharp as the non-IS version, but that the IS is well worth it despite that.

If the marketing hype is to be believed, I should be able to get a shot with the new IS version at 200mm and 1/25th sec, that could/should be as sharp as 1/400th with IS turned off, ie. a 4 stop advantage for IS.

I need to see it to believe it.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2006, 01:07:23 PM »
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I still don't see any reviews on the net of the 70-200L f/4 IS. Pom has indicated that it's not as sharp as the non-IS version, but that the IS is well worth it despite that.

If the marketing hype is to be believed, I should be able to get a shot with the new IS version at 200mm and 1/25th sec, that could/should be as sharp as 1/400th with IS turned off, ie. a 4 stop advantage for IS.

I need to see it to believe it.
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I just got my very first IS lens, not the 70-200 but the 24-105/4 L IS, for use on my 5D. My initial test shots (about 200) suggest that I can count on 2 stops and, with care, 3 stops better than I could do at similar focal lengths without IS. For me that's enough so I'm happy I got the lens. I would be skeptical of a 4-stop increase.
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Ray
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« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2006, 06:56:57 PM »
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I just got my very first IS lens, not the 70-200 but the 24-105/4 L IS, for use on my 5D. My initial test shots (about 200) suggest that I can count on 2 stops and, with care, 3 stops better than I could do at similar focal lengths without IS. For me that's enough so I'm happy I got the lens. I would be skeptical of a 4-stop increase.
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Eric,
When I tested my new 24-105 IS, bought over a year ago, I was skeptical of the Canon claim of 3 stops and occasionally got results at full wide angle that seemed no better than no stops or perhaps just one stop at best. The inconsistencies at wide angle seemed greater than those at the long end. In other words, sometimes a shot at 1/13th and 24mm was unacceptably blurry whereas all shots at 1/50th sec and 105mm were acceptably sharp.

I gues the problem is due to the lack of a consistent standard for 'hand-held shakyness'. Maybe also the 1/FL rule  does not apply at 24mm to the same degree it does at 100mm.
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joedecker
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« Reply #34 on: December 23, 2006, 01:02:16 AM »
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IS is usually of very limited use in situations of strong wind and rocking boats,

I beg to differ.  IS saved my bacon photographing polar bears in cloudy light from a Zodiac in Svalbard this September, a 1D Mark II N, a 1.4x and the 300L/4 IS managed a surprising number of sharp images at as much as 1/125 sec.   Amazing.

Polar Bear Walking

--Joe
« Last Edit: December 23, 2006, 01:03:50 AM by joedecker » Logged

Joe Decker
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Ray
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« Reply #35 on: December 23, 2006, 07:35:09 AM »
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I beg to differ. IS saved my bacon photographing polar bears in cloudy light from a Zodiac in Svalbard this September, a 1D Mark II N, a 1.4x and the 300L/4 IS managed a surprising number of sharp images at as much as 1/125 sec.  Amazing.

Polar Bear Walking

--Joe
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Joe,
The problem is, we can't tell from that small jpeg just how sharp that polar bear is. I've taken shots on firm land of mules slowly meandering down a rocky path in Nepal, at FL 100mm, 125th sec and IS on, and critical parts have not been sharp.

I've taken shots from a walking elephant's back at a 250th sec, with IS on, that have not been sharp.

One could argue that whatever is unsharp with IS on would be more  unsharp with IS off, but that's no consolation for an unsharp image.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2006, 07:37:50 AM by Ray » Logged
jani
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« Reply #36 on: December 23, 2006, 07:55:05 AM »
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I gues the problem is due to the lack of a consistent standard for 'hand-held shakyness'. Maybe also the 1/FL rule  does not apply at 24mm to the same degree it does at 100mm.
Intuitively, I'd say that this was because at 24mm, you shoot different subjects.
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Jan
Ray
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« Reply #37 on: December 23, 2006, 08:12:51 AM »
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Intuitively, I'd say that this was because at 24mm, you shoot different subjects.
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Jani,
When testing IS capability, I would always shoot static subjects. I can't guarantee consistency of 'hand-held' shakyness, but I can guarantee consistency of subject immobibility.

However, I should state categorically, that my findings are impressions only, from a few shots under varying conditions. Just occasionally I get a surprisingly sharp shot from an accidental 1/6th sec shot at 24mm (in aperture priority mode), and I wondedr why.
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joedecker
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« Reply #38 on: December 23, 2006, 10:46:09 AM »
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Joe,
The problem is, we can't tell from that small jpeg just how sharp that polar bear is. I've taken shots on firm land of mules slowly meandering down a rocky path in Nepal, at FL 100mm, 125th sec and IS on, and critical parts have not been sharp.

I presume, for the sake of argument, that you're working at wide apertures with such shots, and I similarly presume that you've both ruled out problems with focus or limited depth of field from your own experiences.  I presume that your lens IS is on, and is functioning properly, and that you've verified that in more controlled circumstances.  I presume you understand that IS may not work correctly for some lenses with tripods.

I'm out of town so I can't give you crops right now, what I would say about the image I linked is that it's sharp enough at the eye that I'd sell a 16x11 print of the image without concern.  At f/5.6 the foreground and background of course are somewhat out of focus, this is unrelated, as I'm sure you'll agree, to questions of IS.  Not every shot I took under those conditions was critically sharp, but most were, and I'd've left with nothing sharp without IS.

And tripods, for reasons that I hope will be obvious, are very bad choices for photographing polar bears in the wild at 15-meter distances.

But to close on an agreeable note, I always use a tripod when possible.  It's more effective in most cases than IS.  But that's often not the case with wildlife.

--Joe
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Joe Decker
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #39 on: December 23, 2006, 10:50:36 AM »
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I still don't see any reviews on the net of the 70-200L f/4 IS. Pom has indicated that it's not as sharp as the non-IS version, but that the IS is well worth it despite that.

If the marketing hype is to be believed, I should be able to get a shot with the new IS version at 200mm and 1/25th sec, that could/should be as sharp as 1/400th with IS turned off, ie. a 4 stop advantage for IS.

I need to see it to believe it.
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I'll jump into the fray, but won't argue about it...  I bought the new lens 30 minutes after trying a friends.  

I found his to be a tad SHARPER than my non-IS 70-200/4, as did my friend when comparing to his.  In fact, I found this new lens as good or slightly better than my last 70-200/2.8 IS.  However, I also suspect that like most lenses, there is sample variation and this could explain why Pom feels his is not as good as his non-IS version -- he had a better than average non-IS and maybe only an average IS version, while my friend and I had the reverse.    

As far as how many effective stops you gain...  I would say somewhere between 3 and 4 stops is a good number IF your subject is stationary.  However, I did test the lens at 200mm and got "usably sharp" images pretty consistently (maybe 70% of the time?) down at 1/8th sec, or about 4-1/2 stops below the 1/focal standard(!)  But to be clear, these were not perfectly sharp, just usably sharp!

By usably sharp, I mean they were good enough for a series on street imaging where I might actually use the lens that way for example, but would not be acceptably sharp for a fine-art landscape.  And I think this is the point where the "how many stops" argument will never get resolved, even if examples are posted: We all have differing standards for what acceptably sharp actually means for the type of imaging we're doing.

I will add that I personally feel IS still offers a benefit for moving subjects in that there is a distinctly different perception of subject-motion blur versus camera-motion blur in an image -- and I am of the opinion the former is more readily accepted by most viewers than is the latter.

I will conclude by saying this new zoom is a damn fine lens and IMO worth the relatively high price of admission compared to it's brothers...  Its lightweight and good optical performance sees that I actually keep this one in my shoulder bag at all times. I never did that with the non-IS f4 lens because it was pretty useless handheld in low light, nor with the IS f2.8 lens because it was too heavy.  

Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 23, 2006, 11:00:14 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

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