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How effective is Sony IBIS with long lenses?

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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: How effective is Sony IBIS with long lenses?
    Posted: 20 March 2016 at 00:04
On another thread various comments have been made implying that Sony in-body stabilisation is known to be of only marginal value with long lenses Ė the figure of 1 stop benefit has been mentioned. Since this flatly contradicts my own experiences with at least 8 lenses of 300mm or more on the Sony A58 (four xx-300mm zooms and four MF primes) , I thought Iíd do a simple test to prove the point.

For this test I fitted my longest non-mirror lens, a Soligor 400mm f5.6 MF preset prime (which is a rather nice old thing but desperately slow in every respect) to my A58. I hand-held it, standing, and pointed it to the other end of my garden in the manner I would do if birding, except that Iíd probably want to be closer than the 60-70 feet at which the test was done.

All pictures were taken from the same place, and all at f5.6 with auto ISO. I apologise for the grain at 3200 & 1600ISO on the faster shutter speeds, but it was a dull day.
I tried several shutter speeds and for each speed I aimed at the paper label on the wheelbarrow, steadied myself, and took three shots manually in quick succession without re-aiming or taking my eye off the viewfinder. All the pictures were jpegs in camera and none had any PP except cropping (details) or resizing (the first view).

The first picture shows the overall view. This was taken with SS on and you might like to guess what shutter speed was used Ė answer at the end!

All the rest of the pictures are 100% crops from the image recorded. Pictures are below the descriptive text. Oh, and the label is not quite four incheas tall (about 9cm for those metricated Europeans!)

First up, three pictures taken at 1/640S with SS off. You can see that despite the grain, there is no significant shake and the text is readable. This accords roughly with the 1/f rule and in 35mm film days I used 1/500s and expected it to be reasonably sharp.


Next is 1/320 with SS off. There is clear camera shake here and the text is not easily readable.


Third we get 1/160, again with SS off. The shake is so bad you canít really detect letters at all.


Now I turned SS on and set the shutter speed to 1/80. Two of the three crops are sharp and one slightly blurred, but all are readable.


Next we have 1/40, still with SS on. Again, one shows some shake and is just readable, while the other two are quite sharp.


Lastly we have 1/20 with SS on. I didnít actually expect much from this so was surprised to find the shake was as little as it is.


So, now over to you: Compare the 1/20s SS-on crops with the 1/320s SS-off crops. Which is sharper? Possibly the SS-on crops are slightly more readable, even discounting the lower grain, because the SS has actually managed to keep the image still for part of the time, but if we ignore this aspect and just compare the average amount of shake for each set of three, Iíd say the honours are even.

Or compare the 1/640s SS-off crops with the 1/40s SS-on crops. Again, about even on two of the three shots; now preferences may differ but Iíd be happy to reject 1 out of 3 pictures in a set for shake but not 2 out of 3, so thatís my criterion here. And both these comparisons are 4-stops different (16x shutter speed).

If you compare the 1/320s SS-off with the 1/40 SS-on crops (3 stops different), it is clear that on two out of three the slower SS-on shots are better.
So, on this test at least, with a long 400mm lens (well over a foot long, in fact!!), SS is certainly giving over 3 stops benefit, and typically in the region of 4 stops.

Okay, now tell me what shutter speed you thought the first picture (the overall view) was taken?
Wrong. It was 1/20s, and I chose this particular picture to show fully because it was the worst of the three at that speed, and in fact the worst picture I took with SS on.

Now I wouldnít normally do 100% crops on this lens because it isnít really sharp enough, and when birding with a 400mm lens Iíd hope to be much closer to need only a little cropping for esthetics. If you can frame the shot reasonably closely and donít expect a huge blow-up, 1/40s is fine.

EDIT: I should have mentioned that the 400mm preset lens is fitted with a James Liao chipped adapter with the correct 400mm focal length. Also, I've deleted the reference to 'usable' in the last sentance which was subjective and not really relevant to the point being made.


Edited by Miranda F - 20 March 2016 at 00:42
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nandbytes View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote nandbytes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 00:16
Sorry to say, I don't think I would consider any of your pictures usable as far as wildlife/birds go (which was the main type of photography in question in the other thread ).

So... I guess "usable" would depend on what I was shooting too. Something I hadn't considered before
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Edited by nandbytes - 20 March 2016 at 00:21
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 00:28
Originally posted by nandbytes nandbytes wrote:

Sorry to say, I don't think I would consider any of your pictures usable as far as wildlife/birds go (which was the main type of photography in question in the other thread ).

So... I guess "usable" would depend on what I was shooting too. Something I hadn't considered before
I am learning stuff about myself here


Agreed, and I'm not offended! I'm not really concerned with 'useable' for this test so possibly that was a bad choice of word. I was just trying to see how many stops improvement SS gave with a long lens, for an equal amount of visible shake; I accept that to many people, *any* visible shake would be too much.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Blutengelnouta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 00:49
I'm sorry Miranda but these pictures that you call sharp are in my eyes quite or very blurry. The ones that you call "quite sharp" are frankly horrible, both in visible motion blur and destroyed contrast from the white background going into the black text. A picture that is not affected by motion blur, that is a picture that is as sharp as it would have been on a tripod.
Looking at your best shot examples at 1/80 the blur is right there to see. Sure, you can read the text, but what does that mean? I can read the text on the even blurrier pictures too. If you consider such pictures good, then good for you. But then I guess you don't need to buy any expensive lenses either, because who needs such sharpness?

If you show those 1/80 pictures in the same small size as the first horribly blurred 1/20 picture then it might look quite fine - even though it is in fact affected by motion blur - but when you want to crop a lot for birds and what not, no thank you.

This just confirms perfectly what I thought from the start in our discussion in the other thread when you kept insisting. While I guess this would back up the argument of each to his own and what is good in one person's eyes may not be so in the others'. And that is all good and well, but it becomes a problem when putting incorrect facts in discussions.

And then there are of course quite a lot of flaws in this test from the start. If you want to do this kind of test to show for anyone else than yourself, then you need to do something in the following fashion.

1. Wait for a decently bright day.
2. Find something clean and sharp, like the cover of a book with white background and black, preferably decently small, text.
3. Rig it up in a good spot.
4. Take low ISO (preferably ISO100) pictures with a stable tripod to determine what is REAL sharpness.
5. Test SS with low ISO on different shutter speeds.
6. If you so prefer, test without SS too. But for pete's sake, don't use ISO3200. The current non-SS example pictures are just horrible smudge and it is not possible at all to determine if there is any smaller motion blur.

Even so, for this to be usable you have to take quite a decent amount of shots for each setting and then make some kind of ranking of what is considered perfect, good, decent, horrible and then calculate the percentage of each in every lot.

Might have missed some points because of previously enjoyed ale and what not. Anyhow, this is not in any way an unfriendly meant post and it is good that you want to test the limits of SS, but as it is now I don't believe it is very usable at all.
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sybersitizen View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sybersitizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 00:58
I agree that Miranda F's approach described here is the preferred way to conduct a test of stabilization effectiveness. It removes the variable of inevitable differences in the capabilities of various individuals to hand-hold lenses and allows evaluation even in the absence of 'perfectly sharp keepers'. One suggestion for future tests would be to compare groups of ten shots rather than just three, providing a better data sample.

(Edited for clarity)

Edited by sybersitizen - 20 March 2016 at 02:09
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Post Options Post Options   Quote darosa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 01:09
Good test Miranda.

The 1/80 with IBIS is much much better than the 1/640 without IBIS.

This means you get (more than) 3 stops advantage.

Case closed.
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote samopinny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 01:52
I guess the topic here is not about comparing the iq of the photos but rather how effective is the ss. Overall it does shows it is effective to about 3 stops. The photos are not sharp probably because of the dull weather and probably it is not the best of 400mm lens.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote penfold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 02:13
Hi Miranda, thanks for the test. To me it illustrates what you said you were setting out to do.

To those suggesting we need a highly scientific test, then I propose that you would want a test chart with 30 photographers each shooting 30 exposures at each setting with the exact same lens and camera combination to have a statistically significant result for the one specific camera and lens that you had tested. To then extrapolate that, use 30 cameras and 30 lenses (the same lens, just different copies) to generate a more general answer for that lens and camera combination. Now repeat this process with different lenses to get a more general view of that specific model of camera. If anyone does do/has done this I will be very interested in the results.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote QuietOC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 03:13
Yes, I think this illustrates it working well enough.

Someone with a pair of nearly identical cameras could attach them together and wire them to shot simultaneously.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SnowFella Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 04:14
It's an interesting comparison for sure, makes me interested to do a 3-way one as I have one of those in A-mount scarce OS lenses.
Bit of crummy light here right now though so it might be a challenge to get enough shutter speed for the higher side of the tests without having to excessively bump up the ISO.

Edit: just did a quick test between OS and SS at 400mm, going all the way down to 1/40 sec and can't for the life of me really see much of a difference

Edited by SnowFella - 20 March 2016 at 04:37
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aavo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 06:44
If me, I would consider, that the basic shutter speed for your combo (400mm lens mounted on aps-c body) is not 1/600s, because you crop lot. You are croping so much, that you need to calculate, what is your "real digitally croped zooming" and take the basic shutter speed adequate to this one. Then, when you come down to evaualte IBIS correction, you can see, that you can probably have good enough results.

Actually I use my 24/1,8CZ on NEX7 as 2x zoom because this little lens is so great and sharp. For that reason, if I see my serious croping need, I select min shutter speed 24mm x 1,5 x 2 == 72 == 1/80s ... 1/100s and then 100% crop is ok sharp.

I bought Canon FD 50/1,8 to mount on NEX7 via adapter a week ago. Despite it is good enough lens, it can't be used (for me) like 2x zoom, probably only as 1,5x zoom, because it is not so good as 24/1,8CZ. Some other FD lenses I still have with my A-1 in the drawer, are not so good too. Why I mention it now is, that old lenses are not so great for great novadays digital bodies, and have influence to your 100% crops results too.       

Edited by Aavo - 20 March 2016 at 07:03
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 07:02
Originally posted by Blutengelnouta Blutengelnouta wrote:

Might have missed some points because of previously enjoyed ale and what not.


No, you only missed one point, but I think you have missed it *entirely*!

Originally posted by Blutengelnouta Blutengelnouta wrote:

Anyhow, this is not in any way an unfriendly meant post and it is good that you want to test the limits of SS, but as it is now I don't believe it is very usable at all.


That's okay, this is a friendly response.

In terms of judging sharpness and IQ, I wouldn't disagree with most of your points, and if I'd been birding with this lens on that day, I very much doubt if I'd get anything worth keeping (which is one of several reasons why I generally use other lenses). But I thouight it was a good lens for the purposes of this test, which was specifically to refute your comments about in-body steady-shot only being capable of one stop improvement.

Apply the 3-4 stops improvement it can give to your favourite lens and maybe that would give results you find satisfactory at a much lower shutter speed than without SS, and maybe you can then use lower ISO and maybe one stop smaller aperture to improve the lens resolution. That works for me!

If you wonder why I used letters to judge the results, it was to make it clear how much shake was in the image, which is difficult to judge otherwise, though you should note I included a horizontal and vertical 'normal' low contrast edges in the plastic body moulding in the crops if you want to judge that way.

I think the most amazing thing about the test was how well the SS *did* freeze the shot at quite low shutter speeds. Be honest, if I'd said in the other thread that SS will allow you to feeze the image solid two times out of three at speeds below 1/100 sec with a 400mm lens on a crop-sensor camera (600mm FF-equivalent), would you have believed me?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 07:06
Originally posted by Aavo Aavo wrote:

If me, I would consider, that the basic shutter speed for your combo (400mm lens mounted on aps-c body) is not 1/600s, because you crop lot. You are croping so much, that you need to calculate, what is your "real digitally croped zooming" and take the basic shutter speed adequate to this one. Then, when you come down to evaualte IBIS correction, you can see, that you can probably have good enough results.


You're quite right. The only reasons I cropped the results were that the maximum posting size is 1024 pixels here and you can't see the shake well enough at that size to make a good judgement. Think of the crops as details out of the main image to aid comparison.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 March 2016 at 07:21
Thanks Miranda for this test. It confirms my own findings that SSS can still be very effective with long lenses. The fact they're not taken under ideal conditions in a scientific controllable fashion doesn't matter at all, when you need the effect in the field those conditions don't exist either . I think nearly everybody will see that point, and those who don't, well......

It reminded me of a test I did a few years ago with a friend of mine. I used a 400 mm lens on an SSS body and he used a 400 mm OSS lens on a Canon body. We started shooting ~40 pictures of the same scene at 1/125th sec. With OSS/SSS off nearly all results were horrible. With OSS/SSS on we had about 2/3 of the shots with reasonable sharpness. Both camera's were APS-C, so 1/600 would be the 1/fl speed.

Then after a short rest we switched system, I used the Canon and he used my camera. Again without OSS/SSS the results were horrible. Then with the systems turned on the results improved to less then half shots with reasonable sharpness, but still a tie between both systems. We concluded from this that both systems have their merit, neither are a 100% guarantee to get sharp shots and the operator/user gets better results with the system he is familiar with.

After this result I stopped worrying about "theoretical" differences between OSS and SSS and focussed on improving my hand holding technique. In the end that pays much bigger dividends then blaming your system for results you're not happy with.



Edited by pegelli - 20 March 2016 at 07:25
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
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