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

Previous comments
Alex Coleman's picture

Yeah, it is nice to have. I don't think I would jump systems just for it, but I definitely consider it a bonus.

David Penner's picture

I heard some cameras now can take a photo digitally. That's right you don't need any film.

Kirk Darling's picture

Yeah, way. I read about it in Modern Photography.

Kevin Harding's picture

That's another of Trump's lies - don't believe it ! Fake news !!

David Penner's picture

Oh look someone has to bring Trump into a conversation that has nothing to do with politics at all.

Why not put the subject in the title. Started reading only to learn it is in body stabilisation. Everyone knows that.

Nikon User: 🤯
Sony User: No shit Sherlock 🤦‍♂️
Canon User: 🙈🙉🙊

I honestly thought I'd blundered into an April Fool's prank. Game changing? what game, the ignore any tech if it isn't on your fav cam game?

Alex Coleman's picture

Knowing something exists and having the opportunity to use it in the field are two different things.

If this is the first time you handle a camera with IBIS, then maybe you shouldn't be writing about photography.

Alex Coleman's picture

As mentioned, I've owned and shot with VR lenses for years- getting to extend VR capability to lenses that never had it is beneficial.

A technology that's like almost a decade old (or maybe even older). At last, welcome to the bandwagon, albeit 10+years later.

God, I would hope you've realized how stupid all the CaNikon users have been all these years forking hundreds of extra for that I.S / V.R lenses. Not to mention, Sony base has been using much cheaper 3rd party lenses with stabilization for a while. LOLOLOL *really rolls my eyes*🤣

Alex Coleman's picture

I wouldn't switch systems over this, particularly considering Nikon introduced VR and had it available in many lenses for years. Now that I get it with all my lenses as a "bonus", it is nice to have.

Furthermore, Sony certainly isn't passing the VR savings on via reduced lens pricing.

Reed Page's picture

Wait, this wasn't an April fool's joke? My old Sony a200 had it(sub $500) In fact every DSLR I've owned has had it. Welcome to the 20th century Nikon. Watch out for that y2k bug.

Alex Coleman's picture

Nikon's had VR for a while- they actually invented it. Bringing it to the body is definitely overdue, and I acknowledge how nice it is to now have it built in.

Reed Page's picture

Don't start the Nikon invented the internet crap. The earliest use of IS was a P&S that was a collaboration between Nikon and Sony but the first incorporation into an SLR lens was Canon in 1995 Nikon not until 2000. Minolta was the first to offer in body sensor IS in the DiMAGE A1 at the time Nikon and Canon were AGAINST IT because they were raping people for expensive IS lenses which they already had designs for. Before writing something, maybe you should... I don't know... do a little research. That internet thing, I'm sure your camera shop guy told you Nikon invented makes it real easy.

Alex Coleman's picture

No need to research it- we both agree the first camera with a form of IS had a Nikon nameplate. If you want to modify it with first lens IS, first in body IS, or other qualification, you're welcome to- but that's a claim I didn't make.

Furthermore, this isn't even a brand issue. It's great to see Canon and Nikon adding IS to the bodies- almost any photographer can benefit from the expanded shooting envelope.

Reed Page's picture

Wow, just like your articles... "No need to research...". If it makes you feel better, spin it anyway you like but in your apples to oranges world, image stabilization was invented by Martin Philip Stevens in the late 1960's who invented a stablizing mount for film cameras(Sorry no Nikon label on it). The problem with giving Nikon credit for modern IS (besides the facts) is like giving Lee Iacoca credit for air bags in cars. In Lee's case he hindered the technology in the industry for 20 years until other car companies started luring consumers with them. He then decided to claim that he not only invented them but petitioned the court to make it illegal not to have them). Nikon and Canon unfortunately did the same thing with image stablization. Remember when Canon said Lens stablizing was so far superior they would never have in body IS on their DSLR's? Yeah, it's like that.

The second part we both agree on. I'm no longer a Sony shooter but love that they(and a lot of other brands)are pushing tech forward on cameras and forcing the big 2 to follow. Canon and Nikon need to take a look at their history. Pentax were the top selling SLRs from the 60's - 70's. until a small privately owned company (Nikon) and a small but established company(Canon) all but wiped them out by offering better technology through the 80's.

I love my Nikon Z6 IBIS, it works very well. Better than my Sony's it seems. However, the thing I don't like about IBIS is it tends to add at least 100g to the camera weight. This makes my EOS R, RP or the X-T3 so much better and easier to carry around as a travel or street camera than the IBIS cameras that often weigh significantly more. I kind of hope Nikon makes a lightweight non IBIS mirrorless cam at some point.

Alex Coleman's picture

I doubt the IBIS systems add a significant amount of weight on their own. Instead, it seems like you're comparing cameras with significantly different specs.

Comparing the XT-3 and XH-1, that 100 grams difference is less than 10% of even an absolutely basic kit of body and 16-55 lens.

Compare the weight difference of a VR lens to a non-VR lens, then multiply that by the number of lenses with which you normally travel.

Weight savings with IBIS is incredible.

Xander Cesari's picture

"There was a feature that I didn’t pay much attention to, but I think it’s really undervalued."

Trust me, it's not cause it was undervalued... you just weren't paying attention. (I'm not trying to pile on, there's a point to all this.) Sony, Panasonic, and Olympus shooters have been lovin' on IBIS and specifically buying IBIS bodies for years. If you never looked outside of your system to find a feature that could potentially change how you shoot I hate to say it but that's on you. I'm not saying we should all have GAS and be lusting after every new gizmo but every once in awhile something comes along that really opens new doors.

So the question is; are we open to being amazed by a new feature? Are brand loyalty or technological preconceptions holding us back? I'm a full frame Sony shooter, but I am open-minded enough to let that go if Olympus' E-M1X truly turns out to be the better solution for motorsport? I dunno but I try so someday I'll maybe rent one and see. It sounds like you had loyalty to Nikon that prevented you from exploring new features until they handed it to you. Perhaps that's not an issue and your images are good anyway or the cost of switching would have outweighed the advantage of IBIS. But either way it sounds like you never made that decision cause you never tried IBIS or took the word of the people who raved about it. That seems like the lesson to be learned for all of us here.

Alex Coleman's picture

I've had and shot VR enabled lenses. They're nice to have, but for 99% of what I shoot, they aren't a critical factor. Having it built into the body is a nice convenience and could enable some new shots going forward that were marginal before- none of that is worth switching thousands of dollars of kit for.

If you hop kits every time a new feature comes out, you'll be broke.

Next article: "This Ford Feature is a Game Changer" (click) "On the Ford, power steering is available for any truck, as it is built into the base price. Having it always available has already expanded my handsfree envelope, allowing me to finish my McDonalds coffee at too high rate of a speed as I head to my next wedding... It also has seat belts!!!!!"

I discovered my camera has a digital sensor . It is truly amazing . No more film.

Ummm, more like Nikon is late to the game. IBIS premiered 15 years ago in Minolta SLRs. Almost the entire industry had it before Nikon did. Only Canon is left...

Alex Coleman's picture

Fortunately Nikon and Canon users have enjoyed VR/IS lenses for years. I don’t disagree that IBIS is beneficial (that’s what the article is about), but it is disingenuous to say Nikon is late to the game.

Black Rock's picture

Welcome to Year 2005. :)

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