This Camera Feature is a Game Changer

This Camera Feature is a Game Changer

I recently started shooting with a Nikon Z 7 and noticed something interesting when reviewing some images from a shoot. There was a feature that I didn’t pay much attention to, but I think it’s really undervalued.

Before the Z 7, I was shooting with a Nikon D810 and primarily the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8. My version lacked VR, and while some of my other lenses had it, I didn’t get into the habit of using it.

On the Z 7, stabilization is available for any lens, as it is built into the sensor. Having it always available has already expanded my handheld shooting envelope, allowing for some shots that would have otherwise required too high of an ISO. Additionally, this opens up a number of possibilities for stabilizing lenses that have never had the option of VR.

For example, this recent shot required me to dangle the camera out at arm’s length to get the appropriate perspective and was about 3 stops slower than the reciprocal focal length guideline. Despite those two factors, it is sharp, given the shallow depth of field. Don't take this as a technical test, as the light source created both fringing and a fine grid pattern that isn't present under normal light.

Given this was an adapted Nikkor 24 f/1.4, there would not have been a reasonable way to stabilize this shot before the Z 7, and my test shots with VR disabled were too blurry to be usable. I understand VR itself isn’t revolutionary, but to me, always-available VR is a huge convenience. It isn’t a replacement for a tripod, but for marginal situations, it can be a huge help.

Lastly, I’ve noticed an increasing movement against tripods in the places I enjoy shooting- for instance, Zion National Park banned some instances of tripod use and many buildings prohibit it outright. In these cases, VR is the only option for adding stability.

Have you shot with a body that has built in image stabilization? I didn’t consider it an essential feature on lenses before, but it’s already proven useful.

Cover image by Yunming Wang

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62 Comments

All I know is that if a camera don't have Ibis and eye-af I am not buying. On a mirrorless you can actually see how valuable it is.

They have now become standard requirements on all "Pro" bodies. I think Sony missed the mark not having it on the a6400. I understand why to make a price point. But, I think it was a bad move.

Well if all you need is a kit lens you will be fine. More demanding users might be willing to pay more.

Fujifilm xt-3 is more expensive, but adds little except dual cards, and all the nice glass you can you can buy. Sony might try something in that price range.

It's not a "bad move" if there's a market for a $900 camera, but they couldn't afford to put IBIS in at that price point. Do any other $900 cameras have IBIS as good as Sony's?

All they have to do is release an A6600 for $1500-1800 that has IBIS and dual SD slots.

michaeljin's picture

After that, all they have to do is actually release good glass for their APS-C cameras the way they do with their FF cameras.

Alex Coleman's picture

I don't shoot much where eye-AF would come in handy, but I definitely see the potential for it.

Yes if you shoot portraits then it is nice but face detection will do most of the time. If you want shallow dept of field precise focus is critical. Looks like Sony's new update for A9 brings eye-af in to sports photography. That is amazing.

Kevin Harding's picture

People, Dogs, Cats, Wildlife even Birds ... if you don't shoot any of those I agree. But then it's likely to be on a tripod anyway isn't it ;)

Kirk Darling's picture

I shoot portraits exclusively and have had zero need for eye detection. None of my clients want only one eye in focus: "Hey, why is only half of Aunt Tilly's face in focus? Did your camera break? My cell phone always gets everyone in focus."

Kevin Harding's picture

A number of Sony's APSC lenses have OSS built in negating the need for IBIS. Frankly for the money the 6400 is an astounding camera - the eye-AF and AF is virtually on a par with my pro-level A9 which says an awful lot.

According to what I have seen in tests of the 6400 there is a huge difference with A9, even if the tech is the same. But yes looks good. I only have FF lenses and they don't have any OSS, so for my part I don't want it. I think if all you need is the kit lens it's a bargen, the kit lens does have OSS.
Anyway I for my part commented on the Z7 article, saying IBIS is a must for me. Good Nikon have that built in. Now they are upgrading the firmware and maybe after a year we have a choice. That's good news to.

Adam Palmer's picture

I am a fan. I can take smooth water waterfall pics without a tripod now (just a bit of overshooting to make sure I get a good one.)

Alex Coleman's picture

It's sure nice to have. For smoothing water, it could be great combined with stacking some exposures.

Paul Parkinson's picture

I have a Fuji XT3 (without IBIS) and a Fuji XH1 which has IBIS. I love using the XH1 when I'm doing ANYTHING which doesn't involve a tripod!

Alex Coleman's picture

I always noticed it with long lenses, but having it on any lens is very nice.

I knew the articles would start to surface from Nikon users about how awesome IBIS is, and both Canon and Nikon users about how useful some of the other features of mirrorless are.

FYI, Sony users are all rolling their eyes.

This happens every time a large brand name finally gets around to adding a feature that a smaller brand has had for years. I remember it happened numerous times when Nikon had certain features for years, and Canon finally added some of them. Now it's Sony that's the primary underdog, and they've had lots of features for a generation or two (or three) that Nikon and Canon are just now figuring out.

Just know that all of these cameras today are extremely capable, and we're back to the point where, unless you're really, really pushing the envelope in a particular direction, you'll get amazing results from any camera. Pick the camera that has as many useful features as you need, but also, pick the camera that just plain works for you and your mental workflow as a photographer, including the ergonomics and menus etc.

my Minolta A1 has IBIS (Sony bought them out & i now have a 7yo A99v with it). It was around almost 2 decades ago. i think Minolta bought the patent from Pentax... This 'game changer' happened decades ago. Really rolling my eyes! Why am i here? Could it be because of 'Click Bait'? Viewers really need to fight this infestation.

Alex Coleman's picture

Many cameras are very competent. I think it is a mix of factors between which is the best for individual photographers. Smaller brands need to take some risks on features to remain viable, and I think it's great that photographers can choose between the different feature sets.

Penny Fan's picture

This article is pretty much pure marketing.
I remember many years ago, when Sony has IBIS in their aXX series era, Nikon and Canon claimed they would not put IBIS in their camera because they have OIS lenses and they work better than IBIS, now Nikon finally catches up and start promoting it like it's such an essential feature for any photographer.
Other example are like OVF vs EVF, and many other things...
IMO all these features are good to have, but not deal breaker...I switched from A7R3 to X-T3 which has no IBIS and it did not stop me from taking any photos.

>because they have OIS lenses and they work better than IBIS

An analysis i saw said the two together were better ... but that was in the old days of 3D IBIS stabilization. Now that Sony introduced 5D maybe the ballgame has changed...
Interesting Q did CaNikon buy the 5D patent or just the 3D?
Clearly it was in their marketing interest to poo pooh IBIS -- it helped sell a lot of (overpriced) lenses, to a {captive) audience.

Deacon Blues's picture

> FYI, Sony users are all rolling their eyes.

FYI, Pentaxians have been rolling their eyes for far longer ;)

michaeljin's picture

Is this a joke?

Kawika Lopez's picture

This reminds me of a quote that went something like, “Nothing actually exists until a white man discovers it.”

Rk K's picture

This "game changing innovation" of nikon has been around for more than ten years...

Yann Langeard's picture

Actually, my first dslr had it. It was a Minolta 5D. I think it hit the market in 2005.
When Sony bought Minolta in 2006 they took over this technology.
Though... They had already implemented steady shot into their video cam at this time.

Alex Coleman's picture

"I understand VR itself isn’t revolutionary, but to me, always-available VR is a huge convenience."

Rk K's picture

Well, pretty much every lens ever made has had always available VR on most Sony and mft cameras for a long time.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

The first body I ever used that had IBIS was the Olympus E-M10 II that I bought, and suddenly I realized that years of Canon and Nikon arguing that lens based stabilization was always better was a lie. Being able to stabilize any lens reasonably well is always better than not at all, and the Olympus stabilization does so well beyond reasonably well.

Yeap. I went from nikon to Olympus just for the ibis. And those years nobody else wanted to do 5 axis. So olympus was really eye opening. Even a 1/10s was ok most of the time. While I squint to use 50mm f1.4 at 1/30 on the nikon and they come out shaky.

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