Image Stabilization and Tripods

Image stabilization (IS) in some lenses and cameras will actually make a picture more blurry when used with a tripod. Common advice is to turn off IS when using a tripod. I like to read advice, but then I test it myself.

I did numerous tests with my Olympus E-M5 on a tripod with and without IS. I used multiple lenses, apertures, and shutter speeds. There was no sharpness difference in any of my tests. Other E-M5 owners reported the same in online forums. I’m sure that IS+tripod is a problem for some cameras and lenses, just not for mine.

I’m going to leave IS on since I switch between handheld and tripod frequently. If I turned it off for the tripod then there would inevitably be times when I would forget to turn it back on.

For me, the lesson is that you should gather as much advice as possible, but then see whether it actually applies to your situation. There is no substitute for experiments with your particular equipment.

Thanks to Tony Sweet for mentioning the IS issue in his recent newsletter.

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About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.


  1. Mike Annunziata August 2, 2013 at 11:35 am

    More or less I agree, but I think use of “cavalletto” as english tripod is the optimum when shoot.
    I write the “Elogio del cavalletto” on my Albums with a bit of humorism on tripond or exactly Monopd. I apologize but I write italian

    Mike Annunziata

  2. Max Zu December 31, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Mostly agreed. I have an article about tripods. It’s about tripods too, but for landscape photography. Thanks.


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