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Thread: Image stability and USM type drives

  1. #1

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    Image stability and USM type drives

    So on similar lenses these options appear to add 150-300. Are they worth it? I have a 70-300 Sigma lens on my 550d without image stability and standard focus drive and I dont appear to have many problems. Looking at my flickr I seem to air towards stationary objects.
    So for my kit replacement lens do you think I need all the gubbins? The money saved could be better placed in other equipment

  2. #2
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    If you use your long lens on fast moving things; you will probably need a faster shutter anyway. Much better to spend on a faster lens.

    The stability thing only comes in useful to me in darker places.

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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    I don't know about the USM motors, but image stabilisation helps prevent blur from your movements, not the subject's. So IS helps for any hand-held shot, and is less useful or even bad when using a tripod. If you shoot mostly from a tripod, you might save the /$$ for IS to buy extra gear...

  4. #4
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    A USM (ultra-sonic motordrive) is also usually quieter, faster, smoother, and usually provides full-time manual focusing. However, it will add cost (as you've seen) and sometimes weight.

    That being said, I love every one of my lenses that has a USM.

    However, if possible, I would visit your local camera store and try before you buy. Then you can see first hand whether you prefer USM or not.

    - Bill

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    Adam

    If you are getting what you want with the non-IS, then fine - you don't need IS. But if you've been in a situation where you've seen the picture of a lifetime, you had exactly the right focal length of lens (say 300mm), you were hand-holding, the light was perfect, but was just too low to allow you to get the shutter speed up to something that would have given you a steady image - then you need IS (Yes, I know you can fiddle about with aperture and ISO ... but that aside).

    You don't need IS to make wonderful pictures and it's not going to make you into any better a photographer than you are now. You do need IS to make wonderful pictures that might not have been available to you if you didn't have IS.

  6. #6
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    You don't need IS to make wonderful pictures and it's not going to make you into any better a photographer than you are now. You do need IS to make wonderful pictures that might not have been available to you if you didn't have IS.
    Very well said! IS gives you a certain capability in a certain situation, that is all.

  7. #7

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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    On discusions with friends and looking through my photos and what I air towards I think I can get away without. The money I save would be better spent on upgrading bags and my tripod. I will however borrow my friends equipment to see how I get on as a replacement kit lens with all the gubbins might be the best idea and leave it off for my niche lenses

  8. #8
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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    With Image Stabilization, I can hand hold my 70-200mm f/4L IS at 200mm using 1/60 second and expect 100% sharp imagery, I get a lower percentage of keepers at 1/30 second but, the rate is still fairly respectable. You don't need IS if you are always shooting in bright sun or using either a tripod or a monopod. However, if you use your telephoto zoom the way I do; then IS assistance is a great help. I carry my f/4L IS lens everywhere and shoot in varying light conditions. I am able to shoot 4-5x more often with the IS than I could when I was using a non-IS 70-200mm f/4L lens.

    The general faulty thinking is that IS cannot help with moving subjects. This is only partially true. It can help in different situations:

    1. When the entire frame is sharp and the subject is moving. That blur will often provide the impression of movement...
    2. When shooting with a slower shutter speed and capturing peak action...
    3. When I choose IS Mode 2 and pan with my subject...
    4. Often 1/125 second is fast enough to stop some action - especially action which is coming towards or directly away from the camera. However, in most cases 1/125 second shutter speed is not fast enough to provide a sharp image when shooting at 200mm using a 1.6x camera.

    I thought that IS in a short focal length lens was just an unnecessary icing on the cake. However, since using the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens, I have found that because of the constant f/2.8 aperture and IS capability... it is a very capable low light glass.

    I can see quite a difference in focusing speed between my lenses which are equipped with USM and those that do not have this capability. However, USM is only needed in situations when you need relatively instant auto-focus such as capturing sports action.

  9. #9
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    Adam,

    Also keep in mind that IS and USM are mutually exclusive. They're actually two completely different things.

    IS actually has absolutely nothing to do with focus and can actually still be used in manual focus mode. IS actually measures movement of the lens/camera and uses micro servos to try and counter-act that movement. If your focus is off, the IS will do nothing to correct it, in fact it will work its hardest to maintain that off-focus position. That being said, I do like IS on the few lenses I have it on. But don't rely on it as a crutch. A tripod will give you way more stability than IS will any day.

    USM is the AF motor and thus completely separate.

    - Bill

  10. #10

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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    Depending on the lens used, IS (or third party alternatives) can sometimes be a bit slower; while the system 'locks on' to the target.

    But it is still a lot faster than my personal 'thinking period'. Are the settings correct? Is the composition the best that can be obtained? So even if it took an extra second it would still be faster then me.

  11. #11

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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    IS is the best thing since scorched almonds. A shot that you may not have been able to get because it needed 1/200th of a second (say, using a 200mm lens on a FF camera), you may be able to take at as low as 1/12th ...

    ... and that's a PHENOMINAL difference. For the sake of a few extra $$$, I'd go for IS everytime -- it's very cheap insurance - with a 1-off premium - and you get the premium back if/when you sell the lens!

  12. #12
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    1/200 to 1/12 is much better than my experience has been!
    I do like the IS on the one IS lens I have. I don't like much else about that lens but that's another story!

  13. #13
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    Re: Image stability and USM type drives

    IS or in my case VR has allowed me to get a shots where I simply wouldn't have been able to normally. I am not a "going out to take photographs photographer' I take my camera everywhere and take photographs every day so in ninety nine out of a hundred times when I press the shutter I don't have a tripod handy - in these situation the VR mechanism has saved the day.

    As to USM or SWM for us Nikon shooters then its a matter of user experience and not really results. These days I am used to a lens focusing without making a noise and when I use one that I can hear it sounds cheap - daft - I know but its a personal thing.

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