Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Image stabilisation - actually relevant to bird photography?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old Tuesday 22nd January 2019, 21:29   #1
wilfredsdad
Registered User
 
wilfredsdad's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Gloucestershire UK
Posts: 113
Image stabilisation - actually relevant to bird photography?

I have had a few thoughts about image stabilisation, I would be pleased to hear any comments on the following rational:
When trying to photograph birds we have two problems:-
1. Camera shake - the near impossibility of holding the camera and telephoto lens absolutely still when the shutter is released.
2. Motion blurr - caused by the bird being in more or less continuous motion whilst perched or in flight.
If I understand correctly image stabilisation addresses the former problem but not the latter - we deal with that by using high shutter speeds - and, here's the thing, high shutter speed would simultaneously address the problem of camera shake . . . . no?
Further, I actually find it just about impossible to keep the focus spot bang on the bird's eye when trying to hand hold a telephoto lens - I am lucky if I can keep it on the bird's head. So I usually use a tripod (and a nice smooth fluid head); this also makes a day's shooting a lot less tiring even when roving about. And - of course - when using a tripod it is recommended practice to turn off image stabilisation.
So - am I missing something here or is image stabilisation actually a bit irrelevant in bird photography? I would be interested to hear people's views on this.
Go in peace and kindness, Pete
wilfredsdad is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 22nd January 2019, 21:44   #2
Neil G.
Registered User

 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: coombe martin
Posts: 1,601
Personally it gives me opportunities i would never have if i was using a tripod all the time.I like to go on walks and shoot photos as they appear in front of me.....for this i hand hold my camera or have a small monopod continually attached.I have a lot of wildlife and bird photos i would never have got without vr.
Neil G. is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2018 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 09:37   #3
Dave Williams
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: North Wales
Posts: 2,581
Depends what camera and lens you are referring to I would imagine.
I can only speak for my own equipment and IS as it's called on Canon gear is very effective for hand holding. The more recent lenses have 3 settings and you'll see the difference when you look through the viewfinder.Holding the lens still and on a static target is much easier in setting 1 compared to the other two settings .The most recent lenses also detect when a lens is on a tripod too. I never turn my IS off.

You are correct about the shutter speed and motion blur.
Dave Williams is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 15:43   #4
Zackiedawg
Registered User
 
Zackiedawg's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Boca Raton, Florida, USA
Posts: 970
Absolutely it can be relevant, depending on your shooting style. I shoot all handheld, never a monopod or tripod, as I'll walk a lot through various wetland and scrub environments in hot humid conditions and like to be able to swing in any direction for a still or flying bird. When shooting with longer focal length lenses in the 400mm to 600mm range, stabilization is absolutely allowing me to shoot a distant target without camera shake, but even moreso, helps to frame and spot-focus on that distant subject. At 900mm equivalent focal length of a subject 100 feet off, even the steadiest of handheld shooters will see that tiny bird moving all around in the frame...but stabilization can allow me to smoothly center that bird in the frame without all the shaking and moving, to focus and shoot.
I do turn off stabilization when shooting a bird in flight, since I'm typically using shutter speeds of 1/1000 or higher, and stabilization not only won't contribute anything, it can actually cause interference at those shutter speeds and while quickly panning/tracking.
__________________
Justin Miller

Zackiedawg's Photography Gallery
Zackiedawg is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 20:16   #5
wilfredsdad
Registered User
 
wilfredsdad's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Gloucestershire UK
Posts: 113
Ah - now the point about stabilisation helping to locate the focus spot I had not thought of and it sounds like a very useful attribute of image stabilisation - so thanks for that zackiedawg.
I have done quite a bit of checking regarding motion blur and all the discussions I looked at confirmed, as you also said Dave, image stabilisation has no relevance to the issue of motion blur - you have to use a sufficiently fast shutter speed to overcome that.
May I ask zackiedawg - when you use i.s. to help locate the focus spot are you using single spot autofocus or continuous autofocus? regards Pete
wilfredsdad is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 20:23   #6
Dave Williams
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: North Wales
Posts: 2,581
It's not so much a case of locating the focus point, the image you see through the viewfinder is steady and not waving up and down as it would be without IS. Canon make some amazing binoculars with IS,I usually have to press mine against a window or lean on a wall to steady the image but the Canon one's you just press a button and the view is rock steady.
Dave Williams is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 21:11   #7
Zackiedawg
Registered User
 
Zackiedawg's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Boca Raton, Florida, USA
Posts: 970
Exactly as Dave answered - where stabilization helps is primarily in stabilizing the view when trying to find a smaller bird in the finder from great distances, and more easily place the smaller focus point on the bird and acquire focus. Without stabilization, the bouncing, vibrating view can make putting a spot focus point on a small target next to impossible - with it, it's much smoother, and steadier, and using a spot focus point allows me to reliably place the focus on a bird's head or eye while handholding a lens at 840mm equivalent.

When I shoot non-flying birds, I always use AF-S, or single focus - I prefer to acquire a focus lock with a half-press and fire. I use AF-C when shooting moving subjects like birds in flight...usually with wider or zone focus points opened up to allow the focus systems to track the movement both towards me as well as in the frame.

Especially with smaller birds in dense forest, where you sometimes have to thread the focus through heavy branches in front of the bird as well as behind...the amount of movement you will see in-lens without stabilization would mean nailing focus on an eye would be a massive challenge - once the view stabilizes, the view stops moving and wavering almost entirely and it's possible to stick a small sized spot focus point right on the eyeball.

See these examples, shot in dense forest cover and fairly low light - threading through all kinds of branches...I was shooting with a 100-400mm stabilized lens with a 1.4x teleconverter attached, so shooting at 560mm on an APS-C body, which means I was framing at an equivalent of 840mm handheld:

Red-eyed vireo:
http://www.pbase.com/zackiedawg/imag...07742/original

Acadian flycatcher:
http://www.pbase.com/zackiedawg/imag...07738/original

Ovenbird:
http://www.pbase.com/zackiedawg/imag...07735/original

Black-throated blue warbler - this one at 400mm without the teleconverter:
http://www.pbase.com/zackiedawg/imag...12920/original

In most of those cases, you can see out-of-focus branches in the foreground between the bird and my lens - and these birds are of course hopping constantly from branch to branch - at any given time you may have a small hole a few inches between all the branches to get a clear shot of the bird...without stabilization, it would not only add a few seconds to my time trying to level the focus point on the bird, but likely end up nabbing focus on a foreground branch or background obstruction instead.

The bird's motion of course can't be frozen at all with stabilization - for that the shutter speed needs to be high enough. But for a good, steady view through the finder and to eliminate any camera/lens vibration or movement from the equation, stabilization can be incredibly useful.
__________________
Justin Miller

Zackiedawg's Photography Gallery
Zackiedawg is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 22:11   #8
johnf3f
johnf3f

 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: South Wales UK
Posts: 1,112
Unlike others I have found the "perceived wisdom" on lens stabilisers to be incorrect. I am primarily a bird photographer and use the longest Canon lens currently available, often hand held, and can find no use for IS for bird photography.

What I have found is that IS slows down AF acquisition, reduces AF accuracy and significantly (sometimes greatly) hinders tracking of moving subjects. To be fair some really badly balanced lenses (such as my Canon 100-400 Mk2) may benefit from IS as I find this is a very difficult lens to hand hold.

My views go against the grain but I found a significant improvement by turning IS off 5 years ago (except for trials with my 100-400 Mk2 - IS is off on that now as well).
johnf3f is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th January 2019, 04:53   #9
akjackson1
Registered User
 
akjackson1's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Loma Linda, CA
Posts: 53
Absolutely VR is helpful. The robin was shot at 400mm @ 1/13s, and the Catbird at 500mm @ 1/20s, and the penguin at 260mm @ 1/10s, all handheld. Of course, I probably wouldn't frame the shots on my wall, but I'm relatively pleased with the results which would have been entirely impossible without VR unless I had a tripod and cable release. Increasing ISO also wasn't an option, as these were already shot at ISO 6400 and 4000. The penguin was at 12,800. I have many other instances where I've been able to get identifiable shots well below a normally hand-holdable shutter speed.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	104214911.jpg
Views:	27
Size:	267.0 KB
ID:	685487  Click image for larger version

Name:	104214771.jpg
Views:	26
Size:	209.1 KB
ID:	685488  Click image for larger version

Name:	102997761.jpg
Views:	27
Size:	144.2 KB
ID:	685489  

Last edited by akjackson1 : Thursday 24th January 2019 at 04:58.
akjackson1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th January 2019, 10:46   #10
Dave Williams
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: North Wales
Posts: 2,581
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnf3f View Post
Unlike others I have found the "perceived wisdom" on lens stabilisers to be incorrect. I am primarily a bird photographer and use the longest Canon lens currently available, often hand held, and can find no use for IS for bird photography.

What I have found is that IS slows down AF acquisition, reduces AF accuracy and significantly (sometimes greatly) hinders tracking of moving subjects. To be fair some really badly balanced lenses (such as my Canon 100-400 Mk2) may benefit from IS as I find this is a very difficult lens to hand hold.

My views go against the grain but I found a significant improvement by turning IS off 5 years ago (except for trials with my 100-400 Mk2 - IS is off on that now as well).
John ( Hiya!)
Stick your 100-400 on the 1DX, Hand old it and point at any subject with the IS turned off. There should be a perceived small amount of shake unless you are not of the norm. Turn IS on at setting No 1 and try again. It's much steadier but of course your hands are no steadier, it's the IS kicking in..
Try at settings 2 and 3 and it's similar to IS being turned off.
Honest, if you can't see the difference there is a fault on your lens.

I can't comment on the 800mm as I haven't ever had my hands on one but for a similarly heavy lens the IS works wonders on static objects.

You may well be correct about panning but Canon haven't spent a fortune developing improved IS performance for the sake of it.
Dave Williams is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th January 2019, 11:35   #11
Hauksen
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 704
Hi Dave,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Williams View Post
You may well be correct about panning but Canon haven't spent a fortune developing improved IS performance for the sake of it.
Very good point.

I'm sure that image stabilization today doesn't follow one simple model. Originally, I believe the model was "dampen shaking frequencies in the 15 Hz range", which was good for static shots. Probably sensitivity was automatically controlled on top of that, which made it necessary to switch off stabilization when the camera was set up on a tripod to avoid the system to react to random low-amplitude disturbances.

Today, there undoubtedly is elaborate software controlling the exact behaviour of the image stabilization system. I know from experience that my Panasonic FZ1000 tries to recognize automatically recognize what kind of stabilization is required, and switches modes if it feels like it. (They didn't get it entirely right for all situations, or I wouldn't have noticed.)

As a conclusion, I don't think it's possible to generalize whether image stabilization will improve shots in a certain situation without actually trying it out on a specific camera model, with a specific firmware version.

It would be nice if the manufacturers would provide a mental model for what the stabilization system does so that the photographer can make an informed decision on whether he wants to use it in a certain situation or not.

Regards,

Henning
__________________
3D Printable Objects for Bird Watching: https://www.thingiverse.com/groups/bird-watching/things
Hauksen is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th January 2019, 23:46   #12
johnf3f
johnf3f

 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: South Wales UK
Posts: 1,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Williams View Post
John ( Hiya!)
Stick your 100-400 on the 1DX, Hand old it and point at any subject with the IS turned off. There should be a perceived small amount of shake unless you are not of the norm. Turn IS on at setting No 1 and try again. It's much steadier but of course your hands are no steadier, it's the IS kicking in..
Try at settings 2 and 3 and it's similar to IS being turned off.
Honest, if you can't see the difference there is a fault on your lens.

I can't comment on the 800mm as I haven't ever had my hands on one but for a similarly heavy lens the IS works wonders on static objects.

You may well be correct about panning but Canon haven't spent a fortune developing improved IS performance for the sake of it.
I do find the 100-400 Mk2 very difficult to hand hold, not a problem with the Mk1! I was getting variable results at slower shutter speeds so I tried out all three IS modes on this lens. I found modes 1 and 2 to be poor but Mode 3 shows promise. With this lens I am still a bit undecided as results are mixed - hence the reason that I mentioned it.
With my other IS lenses, 800 F5.6 L IS, 300 F2.8 L IS + a number of previously owned IS lenses, I have found that I get sharper results (better AF/tracking etc) with IS off. With some lenses the difference is VERY marked - for example when I had the 300 F4 L IS (an older IS system) I had a 100% failure rate of flying Red Kites at Llandeusant. I returned the following weekend and turned IS off = 60% keepers and about 30% top notch.

Certainly IS can give a better view in the viewfinder, sometimes on the sensor too, but overall I get a significantly higher success rate without it. A number of local Togs have tried this too and most find the same - particularly with third party lenses. Turning IS off was the best upgrade that I have made to my bird photography and cost nothing. As to why Canon still fit IS? I have no idea - I just wish they didn't!

Just what works best in my experience.
johnf3f is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th January 2019, 23:55   #13
Hauksen
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 704
Hi again,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
As a conclusion, I don't think it's possible to generalize whether image stabilization will improve shots in a certain situation without actually trying it out on a specific camera model, with a specific firmware version.
And of course, with a specific lens.

(As my Sony has the image stabilization in the body, I keep forgetting that on other DSLRs, it's integrated in the lenses.)

Regards,

Henning
__________________
3D Printable Objects for Bird Watching: https://www.thingiverse.com/groups/bird-watching/things
Hauksen is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 25th January 2019, 20:29   #14
Telephoto Paul
Registered User
 
Telephoto Paul's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 300
Of course sometime you want subject motion blur (for artistic reasons / to convey action) while not having the background suffering from camera shake blur. This is a situation where IS came make the difference.
Telephoto Paul is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 26th January 2019, 10:12   #15
dalat
.
 
dalat's Avatar

 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 2,473
Maybe for the bird photographers with the really big guns, who usually use a tripod anyway, IS does not make such a big difference. I don't know.

But for sure, IS makes a huge difference for those not after the ultmate image quality but who are rather interested in getting record shots or nice pics on the go whole birding. Those who (like me) are not willing to lug around heavy gear and a tripod for photography.

For example see the Pitta shot below. This was in a very dull day, deep in the shadows, almost dark. A pitta was calling near the trail and I was lucky to get on the bird and try a photo. Exposure time 1/4 s, handheld!

With my style of birding and photography, taking a pitta shot would simply not be possible without IS.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	P1450235.JPG
Views:	24
Size:	145.5 KB
ID:	685672  
dalat is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 28th January 2019, 06:50   #16
Holter38
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Hinesville, GA
Posts: 10
VR seems very helpful and would improve the shots especially for beginners.
Holter38 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Hide clamps & stabilisation SwedishSnapper Tripod and Heads 2 Sunday 10th July 2016 18:15
Image Stabilisation Data Eos9 Canon 7 Saturday 31st December 2011 18:31
In-body vs lens stabilisation John Cantelo Panasonic 16 Friday 11th December 2009 22:42
Image stabilisation when using a tripod Martin Thomas Cameras And Photography 6 Wednesday 23rd July 2008 21:46
In camera image-stabilisation mmdnje Cameras And Photography 3 Monday 31st July 2006 11:54

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.15679502 seconds with 29 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 04:34.