"The Promise Of Stabilization"

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Thank you for posting the link to image stabilization. This VR (as Nikon calls it) feature has become very important in many new lenses, especially for the low light shooter who needs to hand hold the camera.
In the past, when there was no VR, photographers were using high shutter speeds to improve the percentage of photographs that were "in focus." During those times our high ISO film was 400 and although grain was ever present, we were used to it, especially with b&w photography. I know from experience that what was a great color print with ISO 400 and medium format cameras yesterday is not an acceptable solution today due to the total absence of grain with mainly low ISO files when using digital. I will not comment more on this aspect of our photography because many photographers do not seem to be bothered by the presence of grain in their work.
How important has VR been to us? Very important indeed allowing the use of long lenses without a tripod or monopod, a godsend for the wildlife and sports photographer. How important for the landscape photographer? This is a different animal!
The landscape photographer depends on his or her tripod. The tripod not only offers a super steady platform for the camera but also aids in composition. In my case, I cannot do without it, even if I am using a VR lens. A tripod is indispensable in macro photography and I say this without experience using VR in macro lenses. Even with VR, I would like to stabilize my camera with a tripod for those critical macro shots.
The new cameras are excellent when it comes to low light performance. We could "push" film in the past but the advantage of using digital with the new sensors goes beyond what any photographer could have ever imagined. I continue to be amazed at the quality of shots at ISO 3200 and beyond and I know this trend will be more common with the cameras of the future. These high performance camera can do without VR, except in a coal mine while photographing a black cat!
I wish I could discuss the advantages of VR in camera and in lenses but unfortunately, I have never used a camera with that feature, except for point and shoot cameras where genuine VR seems to work very well. Other cameras increase their ISO speed and are not genuine VR cameras although manufacturers call them like that.
I have three VR lenses, the 80-400, the 70-300 and the 18-105. The 70-300 is the only one with a modern VR system that allows its use from a platform that is moving. The other two are first generation and in my experience, the professional 80-400 does better than the kit lens and I am sure the majority of you will agree. On regard to usable stops below the shutter speed "rule" I can say that the 70-300 is the best one of my VR lenses allowing me easily three stops under the safest speed at which the camera is hand holdable with the lens on.
Experienced photographers know that it is not always advantageous to use VR. With high shutter speeds VR adds nothing. For rapidly moving subjects, like birds in flight, the use of VR slows the camera, VR is not absolutely necessary with camera on tripod and in many cases, when a high ISO setting is used, the shutter speed is so high anyway that VR is not needed. I already discussed that using VR for serious landscape photography makes no sense since a tripod does better.
VR is great for when traveling without a tripod becomes a necessity. It is not the answer to all of our photographic problems but it helps considerably.
This is my take on VR and I am sure many of you have different opinions on this feature.
Let's hear them.

William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.
 
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Denmark
In the past, when there was no VR, photographers were using high shutter speeds to improve the percentage of photographs that were "in focus."

VR does nothing to improve your focus, focus is front to back movement and is not helped by VR. If anything VR will make AF sluggish and impede focus, as you note in your last paragraph.

How important has VR been to us? Very important indeed allowing the use of long lenses without a tripod or monopod, a godsend for the wildlife and sports photographer.

No argument that VR can be helpful for wildlife, but I think you need to distinguish between sports, where the action is rapid in unpredictable directions like ball sports, and situations where the action follows a defined path like any type of race. From the sports forum the consistent advice is shutter speed of 1/500 or faster for ball sports, where VR is going to be of marginal value at best.

I suspect a huge number of VR lenses are being sold to, or bought by, people unhappy about the sharpness of their images. However, the lack of sharpness is often a result of problems VR is not capable of solving, such a missed focus, subject motion blur or a combination of settings that produce apertures well into the diffraction range. Thus we get the endless stream of "Is my lens sharp" threads.

I was disappointed when I first started looking at the 24-70 f2.8 and it did not have VR. Today I never think about it. More often than not I am now deleting old images I took with my 18-200 with VR, because, VR or not, I am too critical about blur today, and find they come up short. I was simply too optimistic about what I could get away with.

So before selling off old lenses, consider why the images are not meeting your expectations, and then evaluate whether VR will solve the problem.
 
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You don't need VR unless you're shooting extreme telephoto shots. The old rule of thumb of shutter speed corresponding to focal length works all the time. The VR on the 16-35 is a gimmick to hide the fact it's not a 2.8 lens. :wink:
 
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Tom, you did not quote me right. I never said that VR improves focus, I said we used high shutter speeds to improve the percentage of photographs "in focus", meaning photographs with little or no blur.
It is a fact that VR has nothing to do with the focus mechanism of the camera. VR works even if the camera is not focused.
I am in agreement Jonathan, VR in wide angle lenses is not that useful but man, how useful it is with a tele...and not all of us have a steady hand.

William.
 
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You don't need VR unless you're shooting extreme telephoto shots. The old rule of thumb of shutter speed corresponding to focal length works all the time. The VR on the 16-35 is a gimmick to hide the fact it's not a 2.8 lens. :wink:

I have gaffer tape over mine on the 16-35 so it doesn't get switched on by accident :wink:
 
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You don't need VR unless you're shooting extreme telephoto shots. The old rule of thumb of shutter speed corresponding to focal length works all the time. The VR on the 16-35 is a gimmick to hide the fact it's not a 2.8 lens. :wink:

depends on situation surely, VR won't do anything a decent tripod can't but tripod is not always practical, can also help with video on shorter focal lengths :smile:
 
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Of course there are many situations where VR can help, and you can always turn it off if you prefer to.

It does have one tangible drawback for me though, and that is bulk. The mainstream DSLR manufacturers seem to have totally forgotten the virtue of small, light lenses and cameras. Its as if they've completely given up on what once was THE leading-edge competitive feature of pro and top-quality cameras.

I still value a small, light discreet camera and lens, and so any big fat monster, however brilliantly it can perform, will not appeal much to me. I'll use it if it does the job, but reluctantly.
 
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depends on situation surely, VR won't do anything a decent tripod can't but tripod is not always practical, can also help with video on shorter focal lengths :smile:

That I agree on! In fact the 16-35 VR makes an awesome video lens. Forgot about that. Though an external mic is definitely needed unless you like the constant whooshing in sounds in videos!
 
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You don't need VR unless you're shooting extreme telephoto shots. The old rule of thumb of shutter speed corresponding to focal length works all the time. The VR on the 16-35 is a gimmick to hide the fact it's not a 2.8 lens. :wink:

As I've said on here before, I disagree entirely :rolleyes:

Using a 24mm/f2 lens at f2 for 1/6th of a second gets me a usable photo that I would not otherwise have been able to get (because I'm not that steady). How can that not be useful?
 
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i'm rather oldschool on this whole VR bizzoid.

i have two VR enabled lenses (105/2.8G macro and 200/2G vrii). VR is handy at times and a complete waste at others.

i've learned to turn it off until i rekon i'll 'need' it. so, when i'm @ ~1/125 or less on the 105 or at ~1/500 or less on the 200 i switch it on.

VR isn't a 'set and forget' function. you need to be aware of what it can and cannot do. shooting @ 1/3000s? you don't need VR. shooting @ 1/125s in a helicopter: you'll find VR handy.

i'm not in any rush to upgrade my older D-series f2.8 glass to the new G series VR glass.

VR is simply another 'tool' in our toolkits that can help us (and can hinder us) if we use it (in)correctly.


Using a 24mm/f2 lens at f2 for 1/6th of a second gets me a usable photo that I would not otherwise have been able to get (because I'm not that steady). How can that not be useful?

please show me VR enabled 24mm f2.0 lens.
 
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My old Pentax FA* 24mm/f2 connected to my old Pentax K-7. Every single lens was stabilised, no matter how old!
 

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