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In-camera DSLR body image stabilization vs optical lens stabilization

I recently went on a trip and took a lot of photos using a telephoto lens that has image stabilization built into it. While taking photos, I realized I should write a blog post explaining what image stabilization basically does and how the two techniques (lens vs in-camera body) are different from each other. If you have a Canon or Nikon lens, you must have heard terms like IS (Image Stabilization for Canon) and VR(Vibration Reduction for Nikon) while buying lenses. These naming terms indicate that the lens supports image stabilization.
Image stabilization, as the name itself suggests, is a technique for reducing the effect of shake or vibration on the final image. This vibration might be coming from shaky hands, tripod leg sliding at 1 mm per second or just natural body rhythms that get magnified at higher zoom values. While Nikon and Canon are still sticking with traditional lens-based image stabilization technique to reduce shake, manufacturers like Pentax, Sony and Olympus follow a totally different methodology known as in-camera body image stabilization. 

In-Camera vs Lens stabilization on a DSLR
Image was taken using s DSLR lens with image stabilization (OIS)
A little history of Image Stabilization:
Nikon and Canon have always been into lens-based image stabilization. When Konica Minolta finally got around to make their first DSLR, they introduced sensor based in-camera body image stabilization. Pentax and Olympus followed the norm. Sony first decided to use lens-based image stabilization because it's favourable for video, thus came up with a couple of stabilized F1.8 prime lenses. After the first generation of full frame (FE) bodies, they started incorporating sensor based stabilization into their cameras. So now they have older FE bodies without in-camera body image stabilization, newer ones with it, and a mix of lenses with and without it. Quite confusing! As of today, Pentax, Sony and Olympus all prefer in-camera body image stabilization. Here is a list of best DSLR cameras with in-body image stabilization:
Pentax KS-2
Sony Alpha A7SII
Olympus E-M1
Olympus E-M5
Panasonic GX7
Pentax K-70
Panasonic GX8 has both.
Pentax K200D
Pentax K-5.

So now we know we know the best DSLR cameras with in-camera body image stabilization. If you have to make a call between in-camera body stabilization vs optical lens stabilization, what would you do? I personally would prefer having both if I had the budget, but let's discuss advantages offered by both stabilization systems.
Lens Stabilization: Also called OIS which stands for Optical Image Stabilization.
-Longer telephoto lenses yield better results with lens-based stabilization instead of in-camera body stabilization.
-The further zoomed in you are the better the OIS will be compared to the IBIS.
-Optical lens stabilization is visible in the viewfinder when it comes to DSLR cameras. This really gives the user an excellent idea of the picture.
-Can be used with older camera models too.

In-Camera Body Image Stabilization: Often abbreviated as IBIS. Also known by the names such as Super SteadyShot (Sony) and Shake reduction (Pentax).
-Even manual and legacy lenses will work with a DSLR body having in-camera stabilization. You do not have to invest in OIS based lenses every time as your camera body takes the power of stabilizing your shots.
-IBIS will stabilize your fast non-stabilized primes for low light. This will allow you to shoot handheld easily in low light.
-In-camera body image stabilization is 5 axis unlike 2 axis stabilization given by lenses. This is a bit of Maths so I will go in-depth in a separate post.
-Possible money saver as a user does not have to look for IS or VR lenses.
-Makes the lenses lighter and easy to handle.

If your low light photography shoots involve fast/quickly moving people like a nightclub or dance performance, then either technique of stabilization would be of very low value for you.  Also, do not base your DSLR buying decision solely based on image stabilization, it is not the holy grail of photography. Hope the post helped you understand what Image Stabilization basically does and the advantages of one methodology over the other one. If you found this post informative, share the photography love by sharing this post. :) 


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