Camera stabilization is the deliberate process of keeping your camera steady to avoid blurring images.
Blurred images are caused by movement during exposure, which reduces sharpness and will often cause an image to appear unnaturally dim because less light reaches the sensor.
What is camera stabilization used for?
Camera stabilization is most commonly associated with action and sports photography.
It enables photographers to capture clear, sharp photographs even when shooting handheld at slow shutter speeds or in situations with limited lighting—two common problems that can result in blurry photos.
Image stabilization is also beneficial for filming videos and shooting handheld movies.
Professional videographers often use tripods or gear like sliders and dollies when shooting, but many people who shoot videos on their smartphones have limited handheld options available to them.
Smartphone manufacturers are now integrating EIS and OIS into their smartphones as it enables consumers to take shake-free videos without investing in additional equipment. (More on this shortly.)
What are some disadvantages of camera stabilization?
Although stabilizing your photo or video can make your result look sharp and professional, it does come with its downsides.
For example, EIS can cause some loss of detail because it crops the images before processing them.
Similarly, OIS can also cause some distortion because it changes the actual shape of the lens to compensate for camera shake.
What is the difference between camera stabilization and image stabilization?
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a distinction between camera and image stabilization.
Camera stabilization is all about reducing camera shake that results in blurry photos and videos. Camera stabilization may be achieved using a gimbal or a tripod.
Image stabilization is a feature built into some cameras and smartphones that helps to reduce the appearance of blur in photos and videos.
It allows you to take sharper pictures of stationary objects at slower speeds.
How does image stabilization work?
There are three main types of image stabilization:
- Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS)
- Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
- Hybrid Image Stabilization
Electronic Image Stabilization or EIS
Also called Digital Image Stabilization, this type is available on many smartphones and some video cameras.
EIS uses the smartphone’s accelerometer to spot tiny movements and software to smooth out the image.
This method is suitable for eliminating shakes, but it can also cause some distortion and loss of detail in the picture.
Optical Image Stabilization or OIS
OIS is a type of image stabilization that can only be available on specific cameras.
It works by physically moving the lens elements inside your camera to compensate for camera shake, which reduces a blur.
This type of stabilization uses unique lens elements to counteract the shaking caused by your hands.
It’s a more expensive technique but results in less distortion and loss of image detail.
Hybrid stabilization combines EIS and OIS and is available on some cameras. It provides the best results among all types of stabilization.
What techniques are used to stabilize a camera?
There are several camera stabilization techniques, each with different advantages and disadvantages.
One-axis stabilization uses motion along just one axis (e.g., panning the camera horizontally or vertically), while two- and three-axis use motion across at least two axes (pitching up and down or panning from right to left).
This is often called “rolling shutter” because it only compensates for movement in one direction. Thus, your images can come out unnaturally tilted.
One-axis stabilization is suitable for recording smooth videos horizontally or vertically panning the camera.
This type of stabilization is also called “hybrid” image stabilization because it uses a combination of electronic and optical stabilization.
Two-axis stabilization is good for reducing shake when you’re not moving the camera, but it’s not as effective at eliminating shake when you are moving the camera.
This is the best type of stabilization and is found in most high-end cameras.
Three-axis stabilization effectively eliminates shakes in all directions, making your videos and photos look smooth and professional.
Which type of camera stabilization should I choose?
The type of camera stabilization to choose largely depends on your needs and budget.
If you’re looking for the best possible stabilization and don’t mind spending a bit more money, then go for a camera with optical image stabilization.
If you’re on a tighter budget, then electronic image stabilization will still help reduce blur in your photos and videos, albeit to a lesser degree than OIS.
Keep in mind that some cameras have both types of stabilization available, so if you can’t decide which one to choose, hybrid stabilization might be the best option.
How do I choose a camera with image stabilization?
Not all cameras have image stabilization, so you’ll need to check before buying.
If you’re looking for a high-end camera, then chances are it will have three-axis image stabilization.
If you’re looking for a budget camera, then you’ll probably find that only one- and two-axis stabilization are available.
No matter what type of camera you choose, the best way to take clear photos and videos is to keep your hands still. Use a tripod or monopod, or rest your elbows on a solid surface.
Now that you know what image stabilization is and how it works, you can make an informed decision when choosing a camera.
Remember to look for a camera with three-axis image stabilization if you want the best possible results.
And regardless of the device, you’re using, don’t forget to use a tripod or monopod to keep your hands still for the sharpest photos and videos possible.