Shake and sta­bi­liza­tion

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Cam­era shake oc­curs when shoot­ing hand­held at ‘slow’ shut­ter speeds – but how slow de­pends on the fo­cal length of the lens, and the longer the lens, the greater the ef­fect. The rule of thumb is to shoot ‘one over’ the fo­cal length, so with a 20mm lens you should be able to get shake-free shots at 1/20 sec shut­ter speed. Shoot with a 200mm lens and you’ll need a shut­ter speed of at least 1/200 sec. If you’re us­ing a ‘DX’ lens you’ll need to take the 1.5x crop fac­tor into ac­count to cal­cu­late the ef­fec­tive fo­cal length – you’ll need to be shoot­ing at 1/300 sec on a 200mm.

Im­age sta­bi­liza­tion – or Vi­bra­tion Re­duc­tion – uses gy­ro­scopes and mo­tors to move a set of lens el­e­ments to counter the cam­era shake, en­abling you to shoot at slower shut­ter speeds. Many of to­day’s sys­tems can coun­ter­act up to four stops of shake, so with the 200mm lens you should be able to get away with shut­ter speeds as slow as 1/25 sec with­out shake spoil­ing a shot. Some lenses have ex­tra sta­bi­liza­tion modes to pre­vent the lens from coun­ter­act­ing the move­ment of the cam­era when pan­ning.

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