Image Stabilized Lenses – Gimic or Need

Image stabilized – yes or no??

I get asked a lot about the need for image stabilized lenses. Many people also want to know if a point and shoot camera should have image stabilization.  People want to know if it is needed to get good pictures or just a gimmick and if it is worth the money?

If you would have asked me years ago I would have said outright don’t waste your money. But as I get older and I push my photography limits I have to say that I do like it.

First a little background

Image stabilized lenses have been around for a long time. In the past they were used only in larger lenses to eliminate the need to use a tripod.  But since the advent of digital photography they have moved into wider angle lenses as well.

With the current point and shoot camera selection it has almost become standard.

With digital SLR cameras people are using the rear screen as a viewfinder and getting a lot more blurry pictures in doing so. So camera manufacturers have found that stabilizing is a necessary option to add to their cameras and lenses.

Image Stabilized
Even wider lenses are now image stabilized

A lot of the problems people have with blurry pictures can be solved with proper camera techniques. People do not hold their cameras stable enough. Better camera technique would eliminate the need for most image stabilizing in the camera or on the lens. 

So do you really need an image stabilized lens?

For most photography you do not need it.  Set your camera properly, Hold your camera correctly, and the need for an image stabilized lens is reduced to zero.  But because we always try to push the limits of photography I would say the extra help is worth the cost. In the end it will reduce your blurry images. It will also allow you to push the limits further.

If you are buying any long lens, say above 200mm I would definitely spend the extra to get stabilizing. It will save you buying a new lens in a few years when you are older and shaking more. After all we all are getting older and less stable instead of younger!