When (what distance ?) to turn stabilisation on or off

Just been taking a few landscapes and realised I always leave Stabilisation on.
I too it off and took a few more, hard to see any difference, then wondered if there are rules / preferences.
I use it for closeups standard Canon 18-55 lens on 7D and it is fine. I read for such as Moon photos it is best off ? Wondered if there is a preference for turning it off for closer shots, like horizon or accros a field.

The IS doesn’t react to position shifts but to angle changes(*) so it is not a matter of distance. Early versions of the IS were said to interact with the tripod so it was recommended to disable the IS when on a tripod, but I don’t think it applies to modern lenses.

As far as I know the IS “bends the optics” a little bit so disabling it could yield a sharper image, but I would do so only when I’ sure the IS isn’t going to improve the shot anyway, so for exposures shorter than 1/60s@18mm and 1/200s@55mm. However leaving it on put a more stable image on the focus sensor so you could get a more accurate focus (this is definitely the case on my long zoom…).

How is that for a non-answer? :smiling_imp:

(*) Except for Canon’s true macro lenses, the 100m f/2.8 L IS USM and the 35mm f/2.8 Macro STM for the EF and EF-S mounts.

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I think the factor is more about angle than distance, i.e. the stabilizer is designed to offset the angular motion of the camera.

Therefore, placing the camera on a solid, heavy surface says “no” while standing on a cliff edge in the wind with arms outstretched would be a definite “yes”!

In other words, the criteria would be the probability of undesirable camera motion and the efficacy of the stabilizer.

I’m ignoring the controversy regarding tripods …

I would recommend reading the user guide for the lens that you are using as the IS can vary between different models. Some should definitely be turned off on a tripod or when panning and for others it is not important. I personally tend to keep the IS on when hand holding. If I was doing a commercial shoot with time on my side I would use a non-stabilised lens and instead depend upon a tripod for steadiness. But IS is so convenient for travel photography. I am also glad to see that Canon eventually realised the value of in body stabilisation combined with lens stabilisation and have included that in my new Canon R7.

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I never turn it off. Never had a problem that wasn’t user error.

(Fujifilm X-H1 and X-H2S).

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My opinion is: on if handheld, off if on tripod. :slight_smile:

Panning - depends on the lens/camera. Some (older mostly) try to cancel out the panning which is a disaster.

Thanks everybody, all clear now.
Basically the IS off for the moon photos is because it would be on a tripod anyway, so on a tripod not needed.
Otherwise the harder it is to hold it steady the more it is needed. I am usually ok but sometimes at an awkward angle and get the shakes.
Saves me trying to spot the differences in with and without photos, and as said above any differences are more likely me than the camera :smiley:

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I thought a tripod was supposed to be a “solid surface” (or at least a solid support) …

This sounds a reasonable approach, but it might also depend on the size of the lens which I didn’t see mentioned. The moon is bright so a 300mm lenses could be handheld in a pinch with a suitable fast shutter speed and IS turned on. Still a tripod is an excellent choice when we have the luxury of time.

I find it easiest to not have it available, then I don’t have to worry about whether it should be on or not :wink:

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My tripod, made in a far-off land, is any but a “solid surface” … it is a bit springy and has a resonant frequency that could be set off by stuff being waggled around in an attempt to stabilize a lens or a sensor or both.

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