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E-P3 IBIS does more harm than good?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Programmer, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. Programmer

    Programmer New to Mu-43

    Mar 7, 2012
    I'm a new Micro Four Thirds camera owner, having just purchased an E-P3 kit and a 17mm lens. I like the camera a lot. The kit lens is sharp and incredibly fast focusing, while the 17mm is compact and produces lovely results despite not being the sharpest lens on the block (which I knew going in). The main reason I bought the E-P3 is because I really like Olympus JPEGs and while I've shot mainly RAW in the past I just don't have time to process my photos to get them to look the way I want. I find that OOC results from the E-P3 are pretty close to how I would process them anyhow, which is great.

    I was tempted to wait for the new OM-D, but this is my "snapshot" camera and I really wanted something pretty compact. The OM-D seems to be significantly larger, but maybe in practice there's not such a big difference.

    Which leads me to... IBIS. The new system on the OM-D is reputed to be excellent, but I'm finding IBIS on my E-P3 to do more harm than good.

    At shutter speeds around 1/80 and above, I often see very slight double-images in my photos. I did some handheld test shots with IBIS enabled and disabled, and the sharpest shots were with IBIS disabled. I got inconsistent results with IBIS, some shots were quite sharp, and some were really quite soft. I also rested the camera on a table with IBIS disabled and (not surprisingly) got the sharpest shots of all, confirming that the kit lens is not the issue. There's no substitue for simply holding the camera steady or using a tripod :) 

    I had read that the E-P3 IBIS system was perhaps more robust than the E-PM1 (which I briefly tried and was disappointed with) but this doesn't seem to be the case. I'm worried that I won't be able to get blur-free handheld shots with the E-P3 when I buy the 40-150mm lens which I'd like to use for nature photography.

    I still have time to return the camera. Nearly all of my photos are hand-held, I often don't carry a tripod, and I plan on dong a fair bit of telephoto photography. I'm pretty sensitive to soft images, perhaps more than I should be but I'm used to getting tack-sharp photos from my Nikon V1 at full telephoto zoom at just about any shutter speed over 1/30. I prefer the E-P3 in every other way though.

    Any IBIS tips to improve my photos, or should I consider a different camera for what I want to do?

    And let me conclude by saying that I'm really enjoying these forums. It seems like a great community focused more on photography and less on gear and pixel-peeping, which is something I'm striving to do myself!
  2. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes, at shutter speeds of 1/80 or faster using a wide to standard focal length, IBIS will not be beneficial at all. This is true with any type of IS system. At longer focal lengths, the range of IBIS effectiveness increases, so your 40-150mm at higher shutter speeds should still gain more benefit than your 17mm, which is a rather wide focal length.

    At 1/80s with a 17mm focal length, you should not get any camera shake so turn IS off if it's not too inconvenient to do so.
  3. Programmer

    Programmer New to Mu-43

    Mar 7, 2012
    Thanks for the reply. I was actually using the 14-45 lens at 45mm when I noticed the IBIS issues and did some testing. My 17mm shots have looked good.

    The issue I have is that IBIS seems to make my photos look WORSE at reasonable shutter speeds. I wouldn't mind if it didn't always improve them, but the other stabilization systems I've used (Nikon 1 VR, Canon IS) seem to be more effective and almost never cause visible degradation.
  4. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    My E-PL1 shows these double images at speeds of about 1/125s, too, but I have not noticed yet, that my E-P1 has that issue. The E-P1 series has a better IBIS than the E-PL1 series and therefore I am not surprised. By the way, the service of Olympus had my E-PL1 and did not find any faults with its IBIS. I have turned IBIS off and have never activated it again on my E-PL1, since images are sharper without IBIS.

    In general image stabilization should only be turned on, if needed. Otherwise it can be the reason for soft images. The IBIS of Olympus is no exception here. Nikon explains the reasons somewhere at their home page, but I don't know the link anymore. Thom Hogan has written an article about Nikon's VR here and although Olympus' implementation of image stabilization is different, some of the principles are applicable, too.
  5. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    If you're picky about sharpness, I would leave IBIS off unless you are either shooting with a very long lens, or using very slow shutter speeds (< 1/actual focal length).

    Like all feedback-based systems, IBIS does not work well when there is too little feedback (i.e. shake).

  6. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I have always thought that was well and I could have sworn I saw it written down somewhere but I can't for the life of me remember where. Do you happen to know the particulars on it?
  7. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Generally speaking if you don't really need the stabilizing then turn it off. The system works by trying to find shake , if there is none it tends to make it. My Nikons even do it especially with certain lenses and at certain apertures/shutter speeds. The biggest advantage of having the stabilizer in the lens is the switch to turn it on or off is on the lens itself. I only turn mine on when I am shooting in low light or using a longer shutter speed without a tripod or with a long tele.
  8. grantb

    grantb Mu-43 Veteran

    Well you learn something new every day. I don't think I've ever turned mine off.
  9. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2011
    IS is useful at speeds greater than 1/FL. 1/FL is just a guideline. Depending on the steadiness of your hands (and sharpness and focal length of your lenses) you might find you sometimes get hand shake at speeds faster than 1/FL.

    I shoot 70mm-e a lot and I've seen hand shake even at speeds up to 1/200 on occasion.

    If you don't need IS, turn it off, but don't assume hand shake magically goes away at >1/FL.
  10. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    It was said when it was announced and Digital Photography Review writes in the review:

  11. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    1/focal length is based on full frame. So on a crop camera, you have to use the crop factor as well so on a m43 you should consider it as 1/focal length x ~2

    So on a 17mm, it should be more like 1/35.. real world it's more like x1.5 ---- 1/25s vs. 1/17s from experience anyway.

    So at 42mm .. the 1/fl is more like 1/60s - 1/80s to get a steady shot. If you got 1/42 you may see some blur if you're not a very steady shooter.
  12. Programmer

    Programmer New to Mu-43

    Mar 7, 2012
    I ended up returning my E-P3. At least in my experience, IBIS provided only a small benefit at slow shutter speeds and did more harm than good at more typical shutter speeds. I've been spoiled by the VR on my Nikon V1 which has incredible and reliable stabilization which I've come to rely on. I simply don't want to have to remember to disable and re-enable IBIS as conditions change, and found the benefit marginal regardless.

    Probably smarter to wait for the OM-D anyhow. But I don't like waiting for new gear :) 
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