Image Stabilization technologies in Photography  screenshot

Image Stabilization technologies in Photography


Image Stabilization is a convenient technology which revolutionized photography. It plays a significant role in nullifying camera shakes and thus providing blur free images. This technology is used in a number of devices ranging from professional camcorders and long range binoculars to high-end Smartphones today.

Image stabilization is vital for all camcorders. But it’s a must for long range binoculars and professional camcorders as they boast optical zoom lenses. When the lens magnifies the subject to its maximum, image becomes super-sensitive even to the imperceptible motions, which results in blurred photographs. Unless the camera sports some kind of image stabilization, resulting images will be blurry even with shaky hands.

Image stabilization has two important forms namely optical and digital. Keep on reading for understanding them.

Optical Image Stabilization

Optical Image Stabilization, often called as OIS is the most effectual image stabilization technique today. As the prefix ‘optical’ suggests, it offset shakes by moving certain camcorder elements (mostly lens) swiftly in particular directions. These directions are determined by tiny gyro sensors nearby or inside the lens. It ensures cent percent handshake elimination and effective reduction of higher camera shakes.

Nokia’s PureView sensor is known to be the first OIS enabled cell phone sensor. Their PureView 808 phone, which sports the above sensor, was the first cell phone to have OIS. But, the feature became a standard one soon by the arrival of Smartphones. Today we have a number of Smartphones with OIS, like Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520, LG G3, HTC One M8 etc.

Some cameras even allow you turn OIS of on and off or use stabilization modes. Such modes allow you set shake compensation to particular directions only (say, vertical and horizontal). Currently, this feature is available in high end cameras only. This feature is yet to be ported to mobile camera units too.

Digital Image Stabilization

Digital Image Stabilization is some kind of software technology for reducing shakes, which involve no hardware part. It is ‘considered’ as less powerful compared to OIS and it won’t compensate anything more than slight handshakes. As it is a software thing, phone manufacturers use several methods for enabling it. Adjusting pixels for impact cancellation is the most common way of DIS implementation.

One thing I understood after going over various Smartphone forums is that most people consider DIS as a third rate image stabilization method. That is a pure misconception nowadays. For a clearer picture, take Sony Experia Z2 (Steady Shot) and Galaxy S5 as examples. Both phones come with advanced digital image stabilization algorithms which give OIS like performance. But in most cases, OIS is much superior to DIS.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a Smartphone photography enthusiast who loves taking gorgeous photos, you should definitely understand DIS and OIS. Today, most Smartphone and compact camera manufacturers offer one or another kind of image stabilizing techniques in their products. If you have gone over the article completely, I promise you will be able to distinguish between genuine and gimmick. Hope it helps!