Canon image stabilization: Canon lens technology: Image Stabilisation

Canon lens technology: Image Stabilisation





One of the major causes of poor image quality is camera shake. If you move the camera during the exposure, the image is likely to be blurred. Canon has a solution by way of a specially designed group of lens elements to help overcome this problem – an optical Image Stabilizer (IS) system.

Last updated 6 January 2021

For a number of years, Canon’s solution for helping to overcome the effects of camera shake – where unintentional movement of the camera during the exposure results in blurry images – was by way of image stabilisation in its lenses. The inclusion of IS has increased over the years, and in mid-2020 Canon took this one step further by developing in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) to complement its optical designs.

Here we look at how the optical IS works, and when it is effective for your photography.

How it works

Canon’s Image Stabilisation (IS) is controlled by a group of elements inside the lens which moves at right-angles to the lens axis. The movement of this special lens group is controlled by an on-board microcomputer and it works by counteracting the shaking of the camera.

When IS is switched on and the shutter button is partially depressed, the stabiliser lens group, which is locked in a central position when not active, is released. Then two gyro sensors start up and detect the speed and angle of any camera movement. The detection data is passed to a microcomputer which analyses it and prepares an instruction for the special stabiliser lens group. This instruction is transmitted to the stabiliser lens group which moves at an appropriate speed and angle to counteract the camera movement.

This complete sequence is repeated continuously so that there is an instant reaction to any change in the amount or direction of the camera shake. It takes about one second from the moment you partially depress the shutter button for the stabilisation to become really effective. The stabilisation action continues for about a second after you take your finger off the shutter release.

Above: Exploded view of the IS mechanism used in the EF 70-200mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM lens.

Benefits of IS

The original lenses that featured this system gave a correction ability of about 2 stops, allowing the lens to be handheld two stops lower than is normally possible – so 1/60 second gives similar results, in terms of sharpness, to shooting at 1/250 second, for example.

More recent IS lenses allow more correction, and we now commonly see lenses that offer 3 or 4 stops correction. The EF 200mm f2L IS USM was the first Canon lens to offer 5 stops correction.

Whilst image stabilisation works well for shooting static subjects, it can’t offer the same slower shutter speed benefits for moving subjects – here, the shutter speed is essential in order to freeze the action.

Image stabilisation is all about counteracting the camera’s movement, not the movement of your subject.

Above: In September 1995 Canon introduced the world’s first lens featuring Image Stabilisation technology – the EF 75-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM – which provided a benefit of 2 stops.

The handholding rule…

The reciprocal rule is a guide to the slowest shutter speed you should use when handholding your camera. This rule-of-thumb says that the shutter speed should be no slower than one over the focal length of your lens. For example, if your lens has a focal length of 400mm, your slowest shutter speed should be 1/400 second if you want to avoid blur caused by camera shake.

Above: This enlarged section of a church clock was shot at 1/100 second at 400mm without image stabilisation. EOS 6D, EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM lens.

Above: WIth the same settings, but with image stabilisation turned on, the clock face is slightly sharper at 1/100 second.

Above: The same shot was taken at 1/13 second at 400mm without image stabilisation.

Above: This shot was taken with the same settings with image stabilisation turned on. Here the benefit of IS is clearly visible.

When shooting with a focal length of 400mm, if you hold your camera correctly and you have a steady hand, you might get away with a shutter speed of 1/200 or even 1/100 second at a push – like we did here – but with image stabilisation you can easily take acceptably sharp images at much slower shutter speeds.

With the EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM lens the image stabilisation enabled us to work right down to 1/13 second.

Low light photography

Image stabilisation offers real benefits when shooting low light and interior images, allowing you to shoot without the need of a tripod in increasingly challenging lighting conditions.

Lenses with focal lengths from 200mm to 300mm would be virtually impossible to use in low light when shooting handheld if they did not have image stabilisation. It allows the use of slow shutter speeds of 1/60 second and 1/30 second (depending on your camera handling), which you are more likely to be able to achieve in low light levels.

ABOVE: Stained glass window shot handheld at 1/15 second with EOS 5D Mark II and EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM lens at 300mm. Image stabilisation turned on.

ABOVE: Same scene and settings, but this time with Image Stabilizer turned off. Handholding the 300mm lens at 1/15 second clearly shows the effects of camera shake.

To take advantage of image stabilised lenses you need to take control of the shutter speed. Working in shutter-priority (Tv) mode is recommended as it means you can set the speed to what you know to be safe for handholding, and the ISO can be set accordingly, or you can leave it on Auto so the camera looks after the ISO setting.


One situation where the IS system can work against you is when you’re trying to follow the motion of your subject by panning. This is a technique often used to get a sharp subject against a motion blurred background, such as this cyclist.

A problem arises when the camera cannot distinguish between your deliberate panning motion and unintentional camera shake.

The IS system detects the panning motion and seeks to counteract it. When it runs out of adjustment range, it resets and begins the next correction cycle. This behaviour can cause unpredictable results in stills photography and jerky movements when shooting movies.

To address this problem some of Canon’s IS lenses have an additional ‘mode’ switch, which has up to three settings:

  • Mode 1 is the standard two axis operation (pitch and yaw) in which the camera attempts to correct any movement it detects. This is the standard mode intended for stationary subjects.
  • Mode 2 is intended especially for panning. It is designed to ignore motion in the direction of the panning, but to correct any detected motion at right angles to the panning direction.
  • Mode 3 is for photographers who don’t want the viewfinder image to be affected by IS. In this mode, stabilisation is applied only during the actual exposure.

Some recent IS lenses dispense with a mode switch altogether and instead incorporate automatic panning detection.

Lens vs. camera IS

Canon’s original decision to house the IS system entirely within the lens enabled it to optimise the operation for each lens. Improvements in lens and transducer design, together with increased processor power has made the IS system faster and more accurate.

Is there a need for more than 5 stops? At the time, we thought not. The vast improvements at higher ISO settings meant that your options were pretty broad when it came to challenging conditions, and shots that were once impossible to achieve handheld were much easier to capture.

The advent of IBIS

In 2020, the introduction of in-body image stabilisation tookn the potential benefits of image stabilisation even further. The EOS R5 and R6 cameras both offer built-in 5-stop IS – this is achieved by moving the sensor around the large image circle that the EOS R system offers, which is done in a constant feedback loop with the lens.

What’s more, not only does the camera offer image stabilisation, but it works in conjunction with Canon’s lens-based IS system, to deliver up to 8 stops of benefit.

You can read more about the camera and lens combinations here

The most fascinating thing about this recent development is that, with 8-stop IS, you can take sharp exposures handheld as slow as1, 2 or even 4 seconds.

Did we see a need for this a few years back? No, not really.

Are we pleased it’s here? You bet! As ever, anything that increases your choices and creativity gets a big tick from us. Plus, if it resigns those cumbersome tripods to the bin, then that’s got to be a win.


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Image Stabilisation – Canon Europe

Image Stabilisation – Canon Europe


Find out how image stabilisation in lenses (and cameras) works to keep the image sharp despite camera shake and other involuntary camera movements.

Camera shake is the thief of sharpness. The tremble of your hand as you hold the camera, the slight jarring when you press the shutter release – even a tiny movement during the exposure can result in blurring in the image.

Much of the time, you won’t notice the effects of camera shake. If you’re shooting with a fast shutter speed or a wide-angle lens, the blurring may not be significant enough for you to register it – but it will still be there, and it might become noticeable if you make a dramatic crop or a large print of the image.

The obvious way to eliminate movement of the camera during the exposure is to fix it to something that will not move, such as a tripod, and to take precautions against jarring it, such as using a remote shutter release. However, a tripod is effective only if it is sturdy, which usually means heavy, so you can’t always carry one with you. There are also many situations where a tripod is just not practical, and several where the use of a tripod is not permitted.

Fortunately, Canon offers another method of reducing, if not eliminating, the effects of camera shake: Image Stabilisation (IS).

There are various kinds of IS. Let’s start with lens-based (“optical”) IS. The first lens with Image Stabilisation was introduced in 1995. It approached the problem of camera shake laterally. Rather than trying to stop the camera moving, a stabilised lens introduces a compensating movement within it, with the aim of keeping the image static on the camera’s sensor.

Action sports photographer and Canon Ambassador Richard Walch shooting with the Canon RF 100-500mm F4. 5-7.1L IS USM, one of the range of Canon lenses with built-in optical Image Stabilisation. Note the switch on the side for selecting between the three IS modes available.

How optical Image Stabilisation works

Image Stabilisation was available for camcorders long before it was introduced in EF lenses. Even when both electronic and optical systems were available, size or weight constraints meant that neither was suitable for EOS cameras. So Canon went back to the drawing board and took a fresh look at the problem.

Canon’s solution was to use a group of elements inside the lens that move perpendicularly to the lens axis to counteract camera shake. The movement of this special lens group is controlled by an on-board processor, and crucially, there is no reduction in the optical performance of the lens.

With a stabilised lens, camera shake is detected by two gyro sensors inside the barrel, one for yaw (side-to-side movement) and one for pitch (up-and-down movement). The sensors detect both the angle and speed of the movement.

The following sequence of events takes place when the camera shutter release button is partially depressed:

• The special stabilisation lens element group, which is locked in a central position when not active, is released.

• Two gyro sensors start up and detect the speed and angle of any camera/lens movement.

• The gyro data is passed to a microprocessor in the lens, which analyses it and formulates an instruction for the special stabilisation lens element group.

• This instruction is transmitted to the stabilisation lens element group, which then moves at the appropriate speed and direction to counteract the camera movement.

• This complete sequence is repeated continuously, so that there is an instant reaction to any change in the amount or direction of the camera shake.

When the camera is static, the rays of light pass through the lens and form an image on the sensor. When the camera moves, the rays of light from the subject are bent relative to the optical axis (represented by the blue dotted line) and the image shifts slightly on the sensor. You can see this effect in the camera viewfinder if you gently shake the camera while viewing a subject.

In an IS lens, gyro sensors detect the camera movement, and the microprocessor in the lens moves the IS lens elements the precise amount and direction required to counteract the amount and direction of the camera shake. The result is that the image remains stationary on the camera sensor.

Optical Image Stabilisation is effective with movement across a range of frequencies, so it can cope not only with simple camera shake (0.5Hz to 3Hz), but also with the engine vibrations encountered when shooting from a moving vehicle or helicopter (10Hz to 20Hz).

When the first EF lens with IS was introduced, it was the first time that a high speed 16-bit microprocessor had been incorporated in a lens. The processor simultaneously controlled the Image Stabilizer, Ultra Sonic Motor (for focusing the lens) and the electromagnetic diaphragm (for setting the lens aperture).

The power required by the image stabilisation system in a lens comes from the camera battery. This means that the battery life is slightly reduced when an IS lens is mounted on the camera and IS is switched on.

The tech behind Canon’s optical Image Stabilizer system in IS lenses includes gyro sensors to detect the speed and direction of movement, special “floating” lens elements that can move in order to compensate for this movement, and a microprocessor to control the whole operation.

The camera and lens might move in a number of ways. Up-and-down rotational movement is called pitch; side-to-side rotational movement is termed yaw. Rotation around the lens axis is roll; lateral and vertical movement (in the X and Y axes respectively) are also possible. Advanced modern IS systems can detect and attempt to correct for all these five kinds of movement.

Image Stabilizer modes

One problem with the first EF lenses with IS was that the system saw a panning movement as camera shake and tried to overcome it. This caused the viewfinder image to jump about, making it difficult to see and frame the subject accurately.

On more recent IS lenses, you have the option of two or three IS modes, as follows:

Mode 1 (standard): When IS Mode 1 is selected on a stabilised lens, the IS system works in the same way as the original system and will correct both pitch and yaw movements. It is the best mode to use when you’re photographing static subjects.

Mode 2 (panning): Mode 2 is the best setting to use when you’re panning the camera to follow a moving subject. It sets the lens to ignore the panning movement and compensate only for movement that is perpendicular to the panning direction. It also ensures a smoother image in the viewfinder.

The IS system automatically detects the direction of the pan, so there’s no need to worry about whether you are composing portrait-format or landscape-format images or which direction you are moving the camera.

Mode 3 (during exposure only): Image Stabilizer Mode 3 was introduced in 2010 with the EF 300mm f/2. 8L IS II USM and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM (now succeeded by the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM) lenses. It’s also built into a number of telephoto and zoom lenses in Canon’s EF lens and RF lens lineups, including the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM and RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM.

This useful mode takes the benefits of standard IS (effective for both horizontal and vertical camera motion) but, instead of it being active all the time, it activates only when you fully press the shutter button to capture an image.

Mode 3 is especially useful for sports photography where you are likely to be moving between subjects quickly. In IS Mode 1 this can create a bump or jump within the viewfinder as the IS races to keep up with the lens movements. Instead, by not activating until the shutter button is fully pressed, it saves the system trying to compensate for random, rapid lens motion and compensates only at the point you are taking an image.

Also, by limiting the activation to the point of capture, it ensures that the stabilisation group is centred within the barrel, therefore offering the maximum degree of stabilisation.

Some EF, EF-S, RF and RF-S lenses with IS have automatic panning detection instead of a mode switch. On the RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM or RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM, for example, with IS activated, the technology is designed to detect intentional panning movement and switch automatically from Standard IS mode to Panning IS mode.

The EOS R7 and EOS R10 both have the option of a new Scene Mode named Panning Mode. Whereas IS Mode 2 deactivates horizontal stabilisation when you’re panning horizontally (as you usually would), the Panning Scene Mode can detect the subject you’re following and activate horizontal correction when needed in addition to vertical to help keep the subject framed as desired.

When panning the camera to follow a moving subject, select IS Mode 2. In this mode the IS will ignore camera movement in the direction of panning and compensate only for any movement perpendicular to this. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens at 324mm, 1/200 sec, f/8 and ISO100. © Richard Walch

In macro photography, the camera tends to suffer not only pitch and yaw movements (top image) but also side-to-side movements in the X and Y axes (bottom image). Hybrid IS is designed to address this particular set of problems.

Hybrid IS

Introduced with the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens in 2009, Hybrid IS takes the image stabilisation concept and applies it to macro photography. When you’re using longer lenses or in general purpose shooting, camera shake appears to be rotational – that is, an up-and-down (pitch) or side-to-side (yaw) movement around a point, that point being the camera. This is effectively corrected by the IS motors contained in the lenses. However, when you move in close for macro photography, the camera shake motion appears to be less rotational and more shift based – as if the whole frame is shifting up-and-down or side-to-side parallel to the subject. This is what Shift IS, found in the Hybrid IS system, aims to correct.

Canon’s Hybrid IS technology incorporates an angular velocity sensor, as used in all its IS lenses, which detects the extent of angular camera shake, plus an additional acceleration sensor that determines the amount of shift-based camera shake. The processor combines the output of the two sensors and moves the lens elements to compensate for both types of movement. Hybrid IS dramatically enhances the effects of IS especially during macro shooting, which is difficult for conventional image stabilisation technologies.

How effective is optical Image Stabilisation?

The effectiveness of IS may vary, depending on the user’s individual ability, but as a general guide the earliest IS lenses enabled sharp images to be captured at shutter speeds about two stops slower than normal. This means, for example, if you can obtain a sharp image shooting handheld without Image Stabilisation at a shutter speed of 1/60 sec, then you will produce results of similar sharpness at 1/15 sec with Image Stabilisation, other factors staying the same.

One of these factors – a key one to consider – is the lens focal length. Increasing the focal length not only magnifies the subject, it also magnifies the effects of camera shake. A useful rule of thumb is that, without IS, you should use a shutter speed at least equal to the reciprocal of the focal length when holding the camera and lens by hand. So if you’re shooting handheld without IS and the focal length of the lens is 500mm, then the shutter speed should be at least 1/500 sec. If the lens you’re using offers 2 stops of IS, then you can expect to be able to use a shutter speed of 1/125 sec instead (that is, 2 stops slower than 1/500 sec) and still get a sharp shot. More recent IS lenses have improved their effectiveness, giving a 4-stop or a 5-stop gain. A 4-stop gain means that instead of 1/500 sec you should be able to go to 1/30 sec, while 5-stops will take you to 1/15 sec. Or to put it the other way around, a 5-stop gain means that shooting with a shutter speed of 1/15 sec with Image Stabilisation gives the same image sharpness as shooting at 1/500 sec without Image Stabilisation.

Keep in mind that Image Stabilisation only reduces the effect of camera shake − it has no effect on blurring caused by subject movement.

The IS unit is just one of the complex optical and electronic elements in a modern Canon lens such as the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM.

The Dual Sensing IS system in the Canon EOS R uses information from both the lens and the image sensor in the camera to detect more types of camera shake and correct blur more effectively than systems using lens motion data alone. The camera doesn’t have sensor-shifting In-Body Image Stabilisation, though, so it uses just the Image Stabilizer elements in the lens to make its corrections.

Camera compatibility

The optical Image Stabilisation system we’ve been talking about – gyros, microprocessor and special lens element group – is part of the lens, not the camera. This means that the IS can be optimised for each specific lens, and that the IS will work regardless of which camera you use the lens with. In some circumstances you might see the image move in the viewfinder after exposure, but this will not affect the sharpness of the exposed image.

In 2018, building on the Combination IS system used in Canon’s EOS M mirrorless cameras, the Canon EOS R introduced a Dual Sensing IS system, which uses information from both the camera and the lens to improve the effectiveness of the optical IS. The system acquires both camera-shake data from a gyro sensor in the lens and motion vector data from the camera’s CMOS imaging sensor, enabling it to accurately detect and compensate for low-frequency (slow) blur that used to be hard to detect with gyroscopic sensors alone.

Note that Image Stabilisation does not operate with most EOS cameras if you’re using Bulb mode for long exposures. IS is likely to be ineffective for long exposures in any case, and you’ll get better results switching off IS and ensuring the camera is secured against any movement.

In Canon cameras with In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS), including the EOS R5, EOS R6, EOS R3 and EOS R7, the IBIS system works in tandem with optical IS in the lens to deliver unprecedented levels of stabilisation. The lens microprocessor receives data from the gyro sensor in the lens, while the DIGIC X processor in the camera receives data from a gyro sensor and an acceleration sensor in the camera. The two processors share information in real time in order to adjust both the lens elements and the camera sensor to produce a super-steady image.

Much as the optical IS system in a Canon lens uses special movable lens elements, the In-Body Image Stabilisation tech in cameras such as the Canon EOS R3 has the imaging sensor “floating” magnetically so that it can move to compensate for camera movement.

In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS)

So far we have only been speaking about the optical IS found in lenses, but the EOS R5 and EOS R6, released in 2020, introduced 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) for the first time in Canon cameras, subsequently included in some other models in the range as well. IBIS moves the imaging sensor in order to compensate for camera movement and maintain a steady image.

IBIS operates in tandem with the IS in lenses and is particularly effective against low-frequency vibration (such as that caused by your breathing and heartbeat) and at wider focal lengths, while optical in-lens IS is especially effective at telephoto focal lengths. The in-body and in-lens IS systems working together can deliver a groundbreaking 8-stops of combined IS, depending on the lens.1 With some lenses with a large image circle, such as the RF 28-70mm F2L USM and RF 85mm F1.2L USM, the camera’s IBIS can deliver up to 8-stops of IS even though the lenses do not have built-in optical stabilisation.

The EOS R7 delivers up to 7-stops of IS when paired with RF-S lenses such as its RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens,2 which has a smaller image circle designed to match the camera’s APS-C sensor. However, the EOS R7 has the same IBIS system as its stablemates and will deliver the same 8-stops of IBIS when using certain full-frame lenses such as the RF 28-70mm F2L USM or the RF 24-70mm F2. 8L IS USM, for example. This is because the large image circle of these lenses gives the sensor more room to move and compensate for a greater degree of shake.

In practical terms, following the examples we used above, 8-stops of IS means you may be able to shoot handheld with a 500mm lens at 1/2 sec, and in fact with a wide-angle lens you could possibly shoot handheld with a 4-second exposure. That’s long enough to blur moving water but still keep the landscape sharp without the need for a tripod.

When you’re using a lens with an IS switch on a camera with IBIS, this switch controls both optical IS and IBIS – they’re either both on or both off. If you’re using a lens without IS or a lens without an IS switch (such as the RF-S lenses), then you can use camera settings to have IBIS always on (analogous to Mode 1 above) or active only when you take a shot (analogous to Mode 3).

In the EOS R7, the IBIS also enables a new Auto-Level feature, which uses the sensor’s rotation capability (roll correction) to get the horizon level in your shots. The sensor rotates through only a very limited range, however, so this won’t work with severely tilted horizons, but the feature operates whether the camera is in landscape or portrait orientation, and the result is shown in the viewfinder and rear screen display.

Find out more about In-Body Image Stabilisation in EOS R System cameras.

Image Stabilisation for video

All the IS systems we’ve mentioned operate whether you’re shooting stills or video, in different combinations according to the lens in use and the IS technologies available. The table below summarises this collaborative approach to image stabilisation in cameras with IBIS. Also, additional technologies for steadying video footage have continued to evolve. Many of Canon’s Cinema EOS pro video cameras, for example, use an advanced 5-axis Electronic IS (EIS) system. EOS R System still and video cameras have Movie Digital IS, which in models with IBIS uses all three technologies – lens, IBIS and digital – to enhance stability.

Recent firmware updates have improved the Movie Digital IS performance in the EOS R3, EOS R5 and EOS R6, remedying the slight wobble in the corners of the frame that could sometimes appear in footage shot with ultra-wide lenses.

Correction Axis
Lens Pitch/Yaw X/Y Roll


Without IS In-body IS In-body IS In-body IS
Optical IS Optical IS In-body IS In-body IS
Hybrid IS Optical IS Still: Optical IS

Movie: In-body IS
In-body IS
RF Without IS In-body IS In-body IS In-body IS
Optical IS Coordinated Control3:

Optical IS + In-body IS
In-body IS In-body IS
Hybrid IS Coordinated Control:

Optical IS + In-body IS
Still: Optical IS

Movie: In-body IS
In-body IS

Accessories for IS lenses

IS lenses work well when used with accessories. For example, they are very useful when you add a lens extender to increase the effective focal length of the lens by 1.4x or 2x. As already mentioned, increasing the focal length means that the effects of camera shake are magnified, so the IS is extremely beneficial.

Canon EF extenders are compatible with L-series and DO lenses of focal length 135mm and greater, and a small number of wide-aperture telephoto zoom lenses. Canon RF extenders are compatible with RF lenses above 300mm. Both are also compatible with many IS lenses.

Image Stabilisation also remains effective when extension tubes or close-up lenses are used.

Keep a tripod

Although an IS lens gives more opportunities for handheld shots, there will still be times when the support of a tripod is needed − with exposure times of several seconds, for example, or when you’re working with heavy lenses.

With some of the earlier lenses, you needed to switch the IS off when using a tripod as the lack of movement confused the system and the image started to jump around the viewfinder. However, even when using a tripod, there can be some camera movement in high wind or with super telephoto lenses, which means the IS system can be invaluable. More recent IS lenses are able to detect the use of a tripod and automatically disable the IS, if necessary.

You should also leave the Image Stabilisation on when using a monopod, as it is unlikely you will be able to keep this type of support perfectly still.

Written by Angela Nicholson and Alex Summersby

1 8-stops of IS based on the CIPA standard with the RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at a focal length of 105mm.

2 7-stops of IS based on the CIPA standard with RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM at a focal length of 150mm.

3 As of May 2022. Except RF 600mm F11 IS STM and RF 800mm F11 IS STM.


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8-stop Image Stabilizer

8-stop Image Stabilizer – Canon UK


Can you forget the tripod? The Canon EOS R3, EOS R5, EOS R6 and EOS R7 offer 8-stop Image Stabilization, opening up a whole new world of photography and video shooting.

The Canon EOS R7’s Built-in Image Stabilization (IBIS) works in conjunction with
optical lens stabilizer – as models
RF and models
EF when using
Mount Adapter EF-EOS R — and wildlife photographer Dani Connor demonstrated its capabilities during
trips to Spain, where she photographed rare animals. “I felt comfortable shooting handheld, even with a long lens,” she says. “The stabilization proved to be incredibly effective when shooting birds of prey in flight, such as golden eagles. I held a camera with a heavy lens in my hands and still got sharp photos.” Taken on camera
Canon EOS R7 with lens
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 300mm, 1/6400 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 800. © Dani Connor

Sometimes new technology not only helps photographers and videographers create images that were previously thought impossible, but also improves the overall quality of images. The Canon EOS R5, EOS R6 and EOS R3 are the first Canon cameras to feature built-in 5-axis Image Stabilization (IBIS), which delivers an effect equivalent to 8 stops of 1 (an industry leading exposure) when attached to certain lenses .

The EOS R7 is also equipped with IBIS, which provides up to 7 stops of exposure stabilization when RF-S lenses with IS 9 are attached0010 2 . Some full-frame lenses provide even better co-stabilization, as Mike Burnhill, Lead Product Specialist, Canon Europe, says: provide the same 8-stop effect as other cameras with IBIS. However, we don’t expect many EOS R7 users to use these expensive, professional grade lenses.”

This high efficiency will allow image creators to rethink the rules of handheld photography, work more often without a tripod, shoot in a wide variety of locations and create excellent photos and videos without camera shake.

What can be achieved with 8-stop image stabilization?

Innovative image stabilization eliminates the need for slow shutter speeds and helps, for example, to create creative blur effects when shooting fast subjects while maintaining sharpness in the right parts of the frame by eliminating camera shake. Indoor photographers who often shoot indoors are accustomed to working with slow shutter speeds and wide apertures (for greater depth of field) – they can now shoot handheld using shutter speeds of up to four seconds (depending on focal length) and also choose a low ISO sensitivity to maintain the maximum level of detail.

Video stabilization ensures smooth footage as the cameraman moves along with the subject, which is often the case in fast-moving shoots where cameramen are increasingly moving within the scene.

Handheld shutter speed no longer has to be chosen based on the fractional rule – when the shutter speed cannot be slower than 1 divided by the selected focal length, i.e. 1/50 sec. for 50 mm, 1/100 sec. for 100 mm, etc.). If you activate image stabilization on your camera or lens, you can choose a slower shutter speed depending on how many stops the image stabilization effect is equal to. For example, 2 stops of stabilization will allow you to choose a slower shutter speed by two steps.

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Adventure photographer Ulla Lohmann captured this landscape from a hot air balloon, but she managed to get the clearest possible shot. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm, 1/320 sec, f/9and ISO 400. © Ulla Lohmann

Advertising photographer Rob Payne used a four-second shutter speed to capture this striking shot of a drone in flight—more accurately, a red light mounted on it; the moving drone itself is invisible. Even though he shot handheld in low light with such a long exposure, the background came out crisp, down to the clumps of vegetation on the hillside against the sky, demonstrating the effectiveness of the camera’s image stabilization. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 at 24mm, 4 sec, f/5.6 and ISO1600. © Rob Payne

Many users have already appreciated this technology. Adventure photographer and Canon Ambassador Ulla Lohmann took her Canon EOS R5 to the Bavarian Alps to capture climbers rappelling down to the falls. “This is a very risky event that you can’t bring a tripod with you,” she says. – Putting the camera on the rocks will also fail, because everything around is wet. I wanted to use a slower shutter speed to create a blur effect for the waterfall, but capture the foreground as clearly as possible. The idea worked, thanks in large part to the fact that even when shooting handheld with a 1-second shutter speed, I was able to create sharp images. ”

Fashion photographer Wanda Martin took her Canon EOS R6 to the opulent palaces of Palermo, Sicily to capture a ballet dancer in low light, and was able to capture his movements even at very slow shutter speeds without a tripod. “I was able to capture a frame with a 4-second exposure and still have a clear background. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she says.

To put the EOS R7 to the test, wildlife photographer and content creator Dani Connor traveled to Andújar National Park, Spain, to take photos and videos of the Pyrenean lynx. She chose several stabilized lenses to work with this flagship APS-C mirrorless camera, including the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM and the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM.

“I was impressed with how effective the RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM was with this camera,” she says. — I shot the video right during the walk, and it turned out to be as smooth as possible. The same can be said about the videos taken from the car, although the road was quite bumpy. I never thought I could create videos of this quality with a DSLR.”

Orangutans is the specialty of wildlife photographer Maxim Aliaga; According to him, the advanced image stabilization in the EOS R5 and a number of other available technologies open up new ways to photograph them in the tropical jungle of Indonesia. Taken without a tripod on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 600mm F4L IS USM lens at 1/320 sec, f/4 and ISO800. © Maxim Aliaga

When shooting in remote jungles, it’s often difficult for a photographer to prepare a scene, but Maxim says the EOS R5’s advanced stabilization system and incredible low-light performance have helped him react faster to changing scenes and capture shots that were previously considered impossible without a tripod. , like this shot of a pygmy bee-eater in Masai Mara National Park, Kenya. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens at 1/3200 sec, f/4 and ISO1250. © Maxim Aliaga

Wildlife photographer Maxim Aliaga says the Canon EOS R5’s comprehensive stabilization system and other technologies have revolutionized the way he shoots. “The combined camera and lens stabilization is really excellent. Now I only use a tripod when my hands get tired after long exposures with the RF 600mm F4L IS USM lens.

I work a lot with orangutans in Indonesia. There is quite little light in the forest, and in the past I had to shoot with a tripod to create clear images. However, now that the stabilization and ISO performance on the EOS R5 is so high, I can shoot handheld. This allows you to quickly respond to changing situations and take pictures that previously seemed impossible.”

Action sports photographer Martin Bissig appreciates the Canon EOS R5’s stabilization when shooting in low light. “Most of the time I shoot at fast shutter speeds because I photograph movement, but on expeditions I also take a lot of more spontaneous shots to capture the journey,” he says. — I regularly shoot in situations with a lack of light, such as in temples or at night in a campground.

The IBIS system on the EOS R5 helps a lot in these situations, including allowing you to work without a tripod in most, if not all cases. Now I can shoot handheld using shutter speeds up to 2-3 seconds.”

The benefits of this innovative stabilization system are clear, but how does this advanced technology work?

Action sports photographer Martin Bissig says the EOS R5 allows him to capture clear shots even handheld at 2-3 second shutter speeds. “Yes, you have to hold your breath, and successful shots are not obtained on the first try, but the result is worth it.” Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm, 2sec, f/2.8 and ISO3200. © Martin Bissig

“I travel a lot by bike and I’m always on the go, so I can’t afford a tripod,” says Martin. “However, the combination of IBIS and in-lens IS allows me to shoot handheld and capture photos and videos with a level of clarity that was previously impossible without a tripod.” Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 15mm, 3.2 sec, f/2.8 and ISO12800. © Martin Bissig

Lens stabilizer and built-in IBIS

EOS R5, EOS R6 and EOS R3 5-Axis Built-in Image Stabilization (IBIS) in combination with an IS-equipped lens provides combined IS with up to 8 stops of exposure 1 . In this case, it is impossible to choose the most effective among these stabilization technologies. In other words, there are types of vibration that the lens stabilizer handles better, and other vibrations that the camera stabilizer cancels out – in the end, they work together to provide the best result.

The EOS R3 is impressive in that the systems can work together to provide up to 8-stops of stabilization effect even when the camera is in 30 fps high-speed burst mode.

“The EOS R3’s electronic shutter delivers extremely fast readout speeds,” explains Mike. — This means that for shooting at a speed of 30 fps. you can use a shutter speed of about 1/125 sec. Not only will image stabilization be more useful at longer shutter speeds, but it will also provide more accurate AF position selection. The presence of stabilization means that the AF point will be in the right area of ​​the subject, and not “jump” around the frame, which will be the basis for accurate autofocus even at 30 fps.

The Optical Image Stabilizer for lenses was developed by Canon for the EF models in the 1990s, during the era of film cameras. The gyroscope senses camera movement, and certain elements inside the lens move to compensate for that movement, resulting in a smoother image. Optical stabilization is especially effective on telephoto lenses and continues to be used to this day.

To enable photographers to work with even longer exposures, the developers have created digital stabilization methods. Combination IS, pioneered in Canon’s EOS M mirrorless cameras and also featured in Canon’s EOS R line of cameras, uses the direction of motion from the image sensor to improve the performance of the optical image stabilization system. Embedded image sensor systems are most effective at eliminating vibration over a wider range of focal lengths.

Image Sensor Stabilizer and Optical Stabilizer now work together to offer high performance at any focal length.

Answers to questions about the EOS R system

All information about Canon’s line of full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Learn more

Combined stabilization will help not only photographers, but also videographers. Filmmakers will be able to create smoother videos when shooting handheld by using the Digital Image Stabilization mode when shooting movies. “In this mode, the camera pretty much compensates for the effect of walking like a gimbal,” says Mike. “Of course, the original stabilization systems will also be effective, but they are not designed for shooting video like a gimbal system.”

Digital Video Stabilization crops the image slightly so that the data received from the image sensor can be used to compensate for motion or vibration. There are two parameters available, which differ in the value of the crop factor.

On the Canon EOS R camera, digital video stabilization uses data from the lens and image sensor together, however, on Canon EOS R system cameras with IBIS technology, the lens, IBIS and digital data are used in three aspects at once, resulting in a more effective stabilization. “The whole system becomes a single mechanism,” says Mike, “and as a result, stabilization with a sensor provides a more optimal result that is not subject to purely optical systems.”

With the firmware update for the EOS R5, EOS R6 and EOS R3 cameras, digital video stabilization has also been improved when shooting with wide-angle lenses. “IBIS moves the image sensor to compensate for vibrations, and the corners of the image move back and forth,” explains Mike. “In some cases, the edges of the image may have more shaking than in the center, but with the new firmware version, digital stabilization will compensate for this movement to improve image clarity.”

Both the lens and the camera are equipped with sensors that continuously monitor the movement of the device, while the high-speed interaction of the camera and lens allows the two systems to work together to provide high quality photos and videos.

The combination of a moving image sensor and optical lens stabilization ensures the best results at all focal lengths and levels of camera shake.

Communication between lens and camera

This image stabilization uses two separate signals from the camera’s image sensor and from a lens equipped with image stabilization.

A gyro sensor inside the lens measures the angle and speed of lens shaking, and an acceleration sensor measures the acceleration for that movement. This information is tracked by a separate lens processor.

The camera also has an acceleration sensor and a gyro sensor, as well as a separate direction sensor on the image sensor. This data is processed by the camera’s powerful DIGIC X processor.

This information is transmitted in real time between the lens and the image sensor, providing perfect motion compensation to eliminate any vibration. The floating lens element group moves to compensate for tilt, tilt, and X-Y movement (side-to-side, up-down) when using Hybrid IS lenses for photography.

In the camera, a high-precision magnetic system moves the image sensor to eliminate shake from pan, X-Y movement, tilt and tilt. The latter is corrected by fast interaction through the RF mount system, which gives the Canon EOS R system a number of advantages.

Built-in 5-Axis Image Stabilization (IBIS) in the EOS R5, EOS R6, EOS R3 and EOS R7 is energy efficient and has no noticeable effect on battery life.

The large diameter of the RF mount (1) makes the image sensor (2) more agile, resulting in superior stabilization performance. Red indicates how light hits the entire image sensor even when it is shifted to its maximum (3) to ensure image stabilization.

The role of the RF mount

The basis of the new stabilization system is not only the electronic components inside the cameras, but also the innovative RF mount, which allows the camera and lens to interact quickly. A lot of data needs to be exchanged between the lens and camera for the stabilizer to work accurately, and the RF mount is designed to send large amounts of information quickly without delay.

Another important aspect is the mechanical and optical design of the RF mount: the 54mm diameter allows the image sensor to move freely, allowing for better vibration correction.

For Canon engineers, the main challenge was to develop a combined (optical + built-in) image stabilization using a high-speed connection between the camera and the lens. This system requires high data accuracy, so the engineers added an inertia sensor and information about the direction of movement.

With its large diameter and short flare, the RF mount also allows Canon to produce lenses with large image circles. This allows freedom of movement for the image sensor without the risk of image clipping that sometimes occurs with smaller diameter mounts. The large image circle allows the camera’s built-in IS to provide an 8-stop equivalent effect when used with non-IS lenses such as the RF 28-70mm F2L USM and RF 85mm F1.2L USM.

Since Canon EOS R system cameras are also compatible with EF lenses (through various EF-EOS R mount adapters), another challenge for the engineers was to develop an IBIS camera stabilizer that would be effective with EF and RF models equipped with IBIS. stabilization or not. The table below provides an overview of system operation and 5-axis stabilization with various lenses attached.

You may notice that photographers and videographers using EF and RF lenses without image stabilization can still experience the IBIS effect on the EOS R3, EOS R5, EOS R6 and EOS R7, while RF lenses with optical or hybrid stabilization work effectively with both systems (although the effect may vary depending on the chosen lens).

Of course, the best effect is achieved when the lens and camera work together. In this case, their benefits combine to eliminate the various types of camera shake that can be seen at different focal lengths and shooting conditions, helping you to rethink handheld shooting and beyond.

By Adam Duckworth and Marcus Hawkins

1 8 stops of stabilization based on CIPA standard with RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 105mm focal length.

2 7 stops CIPA based stabilization with RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 150mm


    Photographing one of the most secretive cats in the world

    Learn how wildlife photographer Dani Connor used the Canon EOS R7 to capture the critically endangered Pyrenean lynx in its natural habitat.

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    All about the RF mount

    The RF mount is at the heart of the Canon EOS R system. Learn about the many innovations and design improvements made possible by it.

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    What are the features of different Canon cameras

    A handy guide to the features of different Canon cameras – weather protection, IBIS, animal-eye detection autofocus, adjustable tilt screen and more.

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    Image Stabilization

    Learn how Canon’s lens IS technology keeps photos sharp despite camera shake, which image stabilization mode to use for best results, and more.

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How Canon Lens Optical Image Stabilizer Works

Optical Image Stabilization in lenses is a technology that mechanically compensates for camera angle and shake to prevent blurring at slow shutter speeds. .

The optical stabilization system is used in cases where shooting from a tripod is not possible and, in fact, serves as a replacement for a tripod in a certain range of shutter speeds.

The first optical image stabilization technology was introduced in 1994 by Canon called OIS (English Optical Image Stabilizer – optical image stabilizer). The technology itself is so well established that it has been picked up by other lens manufacturers.

There are no fundamental differences in the principles of operation of stabilizers, however, different manufacturers call their implementation of optical stabilization differently:

  • Canon – Image Stabilization (IS)
  • Nikon-Vibration Reduction (VR)
  • Panasonic – MEGA O. I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer)
  • Sony – Optical Steady Shot
  • Sigma – Optical Stabilization (OS)
  • Tamron – Vibration Compensation (VC)
The principle of operation of the optical image stabilizer of the lens

Since the idea of ​​IS belongs to Canon inc, let’s consider the principle of operation of the stabilizer using the example of its products.

In the first part of the material, we will visually consider the work of IS without going into theory and technical terms, and as a guide we will use the company’s excellent videos.

At the heart of Canon’s IS lenses is a compact and lightweight Image Stabilizer that works together with an optional lens group, a high-speed microcontroller and two gyro-vibration sensors to accurately and reliably correct for camera shake and shake.

How the built-in image stabilizer works

Camera shake causes the lens to move, changing the angle of the incoming light relative to the optical axis, and as a result, the projected image “floats” on the surface of the sensor, resulting in blurry photographs.

Canon IS-equipped lenses correct for light shift by moving the movable biconcave optical stabilizer lens in the opposite direction to the direction the lens is moving. This stabilizes the position of the projected image on the sensor during shooting and reduces the degree of “smearing” of the image.

Lens Optical Image Stabilizer Demonstration

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM lens – cross section modeled for illustration.

New Hybrid IS technology designed specifically for macro photography

Angle camera shake – A sharp change in the angle of the lens direction (in the figure above) in a circular plane will affect the image quality in normal shooting (for example, landscape)

Shift camera shake – while shifting the camera in a linear plane (pictured below) parallel to the subject will have a greater impact on macro quality.

Canon Hybrid IS technology – how it works

When shooting macro, camera shake and vibration affects both the projected image on the sensor and the image formed in the viewfinder, which in turn makes it difficult to focus and capture a clear image.

Hybrid IS Optical Stabilizers include: an angular velocity sensor to determine the degree of angle deviation due to hand shake, which was used in conventional image stabilization mechanisms (popularly anti-shake), as well as a new acceleration sensor that determines the degree of lens displacement in a linear plane . The microcontroller analyzes the signals from the sensors and, according to a special algorithm, generates control signals to shift the stabilizer lens using an electromagnetic drive.

In this way, the Hybrid IS Optical Stabilizers reduce the effects of both types of shaking.

Given that macro photography is often not possible using a tripod, Canon’s hybrid is technology is indispensable.

IS Off – displaying the image in the viewfinder of the subject with the image stabilizer off
IS – displaying the image in the viewfinder of the subject with the image stabilizer on
Hybrid IS – demonstration of the image in the viewfinder of the object being shot when the image stabilizer is working Hybrid IS
Shooting – similar to the shutter button (shutter release) in the camera, if you click on the button with the mouse, the video will show what kind of picture you can get.

Dynamic IS – Demo of Dynamic Image Stabilizer

Dynamic IS is used by telephoto and wide angle lenses when shooting movies. The dynamic stub helps reduce camera shake and movement when shooting while walking.