The Truth Between Optical And Digital Image Stabilization

Brad Robinson
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Optical And Digital Image Stabilization

When it comes to image lens stabilization, it is important to understand the difference between optical and digital image stabilization. What are the pros and cons of each? For most people, little details in the difference can make all the difference in the world.

Optical Image Stabilization

This type of image stabilization is better than traditional methods.

The basic form is a small gyro sensor system, which detects movements.

When there is movement, it commands an extremely fast adjusting lens to catch back to the original position.

Digital Image Stabilization

In this method, after your camera captures an image, it will be examined by an algorithm. The system then decides how much to shift the image from the original and then shifts the image using data from the microelectromechanical system.

Image Stabilization with a Handheld

When comparing image stabilization for a handheld, optical image stabilization is better.

This is because there are different lenses for different situations, such as a 12mm wide angle and a 50mm telephoto lens. One lens will always adapt to a situation better than the other.

However, with digital image stabilization, both lenses adapt to the situations. Truly for these cases, the optical image stabilization shows it value.

Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS)

Manufacturers will supply this data with your product, telling you which level of image stabilisation is at your fingertips. The terms they use are OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) or IS (Image Stabilisation).

Some earlier smartphones have promised optical image stabilisation, so you can take photos in any condition but its really just another marketing tactic. When you take a picture without moving, the camera adjusts for the shake of your finger.

This works on the same principle as a tripod. It has nothing to do with the technology used. If you take a picture with a digital camera or a phone, its not too difficult to take a shake-free photo.

It’s only that the smartphones are so small that they are more sensitive to shakes. This is why smartphones have adopted image stabilisation. The current optical image stabilisation systems do their magic with tiny gyroscopes that measure the angle and rotation of the camera to correct it.

Digital Image Stabilisation (DIS)

Most modern time-lapse cameras have built-in Digital Image Stabilization or DIS. This is the standard camera stabilization type.

Dis uses a very high-powered processor on the camera to stabilize images. This system is mainly depends on processing power of the camera but, it also depends on other elements.

It is important to be aware that if the camera looses too much power, it also loses stabilization.

Another big consideration is the quality of the sensor used. Basically, the more the pixels, faster the processor, more memory, the better the image stabilization will be.

You could even say that is the biggest guide to how good your camera will be at stills and video.

That is why that the best camera at stabilization is not always the best camera to take stills and video. These two elements do not always go hand-in-hand.

The power of the processor is the biggest factor in determining whether your camera is DIS or not. And DIS can be a helpful tool if you are shooting in extreme conditions.

Hybrid Image Stabilisation

Works with a combination of lens shift and optical image stabilisation to counteract handshake / camera shake or a bumpy ride.

It is ideal for achieving zoomed long exposure effects where blur can be an issue. This mode only works with available light rather than flash so is best suited to night or natural light photography.

The Olympus E-P1 has an Electronic Dynamic Image Stabilizer (E-DIS) that works by shifting the optical image stabilization system lens inside the body to compensate for vibrations or camera movement.

The Canon PowerShot SD430 IS features optical stabilization system which you can see in the viewfinder when shooting. The Olympus uses an electronic display with Hybrid Image Stabilization active.

What Else Can You Do to Stabilise the Image?

If you don’t want to give up your video stabilisation, then you can consider other options. Almost any image stabilisation system for the camera has two stages :

  • Optical image stabilisation, without any electronic help, and
  • Digital image stabilisation with electronic help.

There are many ways to stabilise an image and make it more steady or more accurate. Think of optical and digital image stabilisation as separate forms of compensation for different movement types.

Optical image stabilisation is when you physically modify the device you're using. Optical IS includes lens and sensor-based options that help to physically reduce the effects of hand shake.

Digital image stabilisation is taking a processed image from the sensor and trying to stabilise it by using software.

Some digital image stabilisation for the camera combines both optical and digital image stabilisation to maximise efficiency.

Generally, digital image stabilisation options are somewhat 'smarter' and can handle multi-axis movement (pitch, roll and yaw), which in turn provides a smoother video and minimises jitters.

However, your hands are capable of moving far, far more than just auto-rotating.

So in short, it’s possible to get the best of both worlds.

Free-Hand Technique

Bokeh refers to the pattern of out-of-focus lights that are projected in the background of a photo.

Depending on the appearance, it has an impact on the composition of the photo and the mood of the viewer. Bokeh is the reason why some portrait photos appear dreamy and soft even without a shallow depth of field.

To achieve this effect, photographers use a special technique called Free Hug technique. In photography, it refers to pressing your camera's lens directly against your face to create a pin cushion out-of-focus effect. The result is a very sharp and in-focus subject and background.


When using a tripod, what is the one thing you always need to adjust? The legs of the tripod. And what do you use to operate the legs of the tripod? A tripod head!

The tripod head is what you use to actually secure the camera and operate the shutter release.

The biggest difference between tripod heads is how they secure the camera.

The most important feature is the quick release system, so that you can make camera adjustments quickly.

Do you need the head to follow the movement of the camera or do you need it to lock in place?

The best way to choose a tripod head is by matching the head to your most used camera type and then matching it to your camera specific needs.

To figure out which camera you are rocking, I suggest looking inside the battery compartment of the camera.


Who said monopods are only meant for tripods?

Monopods are another useful weapon in your photography arsenal. You can use them to stabilize your shots and increase your camera’s versatility.

Very handy if you are in a place where a tripod is not allowed!

The monopod can help take long exposures and sharp low-light photos, provide a stable platform for telephoto lenses or to anchor your camera in difficult conditions (such as wet or sandy ground).

Often, I’m seen using a monopod when shooting a moving subject or action shots. I find it very handy then when you are trying to take a sharp shot without any blur motion while panning the camera with the subject.

With monopods, you can hang all your camera gear without exceeding the weight limits. This means you can hide almost all of it inside your jeans pockets without anyone noticing.

Monopods are ideal for street photography (as long as it does not exceed the acceptable levels of photography in the country).

The monopod is easy to carry and works as an extension to your arms. It can be used in a number of situations like riding up and down the hills.


A gimbal is basically a pivoting support structure that is fitted around the lens axis of a camera. It holds the camera steady and acts in such a way that allows you to capture amazing smooth footage.

A physical gimbal is a great addition to your camera if you are a traveler, professional photographer or someone who likes to experiment with action shots. However, it is an unnecessary and expensive addition to your camera if you don’t photograph much action and action photography.

Gimbals are not essential for everyone. If you are interested in purchasing one, do your research and purchase the one that you feel is best for your purpose.

It should be noted that the image stabilization of a gimbal does not always come free of cost. Camera gimbals are usually heavier and bulkier than the camera itself.