An Unscientific Look at Fuji OIS
OIS stands for Optical Image Stabilization, a technology found in a few of the Fuji XF lenses that have been released to date. I decided I’d do a real quick test just to see how well the OIS performs on the Fuji XF 55-200mm lens. I’ll warn you now: the test is absolutely unscientific, consisting of me lounging in the backyard of my in-laws house in Florida while handholding the lens at a few static objects about a foot or two away from me. I wanted to see just how much flipping this switch was actually doing for these images.
I did everything in my power to keep the camera perfectly still. I cradled it and tried to control my breathing. I was convinced that I could accomplish a steady shot handheld without the OIS. From what I could perceive, I wasn’t moving at all when any of these shots were fired, aside from the obvious movement of triggering the shutter.
I took two shots, one of an iron chair and one of a wicker chair and did my best to match the framing on both shots. I took one exposure with OIS activated and one with OIS turned off in each instance. Unscientific, I warned you. But the results are still pretty interesting, hence the post.
OIS is activated on the LEFT. OIS is off on the RIGHT.
The pictures all shared the same settings: they were all shot on the 55-200mm lens at 200mm, about a foot or two away from the chairs at 1/60, ISO 640, f/6.0. The only thing that was different was flipping the OIS on or off. It's incredibly interesting to me that the lens can actually detect and correct such subtle movements at the time of exposure. A lot of people flip the switch and take it for granted. That's too bad, because lens technology like this is pretty extraordinary.
THE OBVIOUS CONCLUSION
So what I’m concluding here is that even if conditions are perfect and you think your handholding skills are supreme, if you’re shooting at such long focal lengths handheld you’re going to introduce shake. Even at some of the much higher shutter speeds, OIS can be helpful at long focal lengths. I found the X-T1’s setting that only activates the OIS when the shutter is fired to give me the best results. If you’re still experiencing a degree of shake when OIS is on, consider changing your “IS Mode” setting to “Shooting Only” on your X-T1.
For more information straight from Fujifilm about the tech behind OIS, including facts such as the linear motor checking for camera shake 8000 times per second (what!), check out the official Fujifilm Lens Technology page for OIS here:
Sidenote: Image stabilization is not exclusive to Fuji. The OIS on my Panasonic 12-35mm is a life saver on my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, and the built-in stabilization on recent Olympus and Sony camera models, which allows for even vintage manual focus lenses to be stabilized, is something that I hope Fuji looks into with future camera systems.