Canon Announces New Generation Image Stabilization

July, 2009 – Canon has announced the development of Hybrid Image Stabilizer (IS), the world’s first optical image stabilization technology that compensates for both angle camera shake and shift camera shake. The technology will be featured in a lens planned for release before the end of 2009.

Several different preventative methods and corrective procedures have been introduced to compensate for errors caused by camera shake, which occurs when a camera moves while its shutter is open and its image sensor is exposed to light.

Canon began researching methods to compensate for camera shake in the 1980s, and in 1995 launched the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, the world’s first interchangeable SLR camera lens to feature a mechanism that compensates for optical camera shake. Since then, the company has continued to produce a variety of interchangeable lenses with image stabilization capabilities, and boasts a total of 21 such lenses in its current product lineup.

Canon’s newly developed Hybrid IS technology optimally compensates for angle and shift camera shake. Sudden changes in camera angle can significantly affect images taken during standard shooting, whereas shift-based shaking, which occurs when a camera moves parallel to the imaging scene, is more pronounced in macro photography and other close-range shooting.

The new Hybrid IS technology incorporates an angular velocity sensor that detects the extent of angle-based shaking and is found in all previous Canon optical image stabilizer mechanisms, as well as a new acceleration sensor that determines the amount of shift-based camera shake. Hybrid IS also employs a newly developed algorithm that synthesizes information from the two sensors to make optimal adjustments, thereby dramatically enhancing the effects of image stabilization during shooting, including macro shooting, which had proven difficult for conventional image stabilization technologies.

Canon is actively engaged in ongoing research and development of interchangeable SLR camera lenses incorporating Hybrid IS technology, and is aiming for the early commercialization and inclusion of the lenses in a wide range of products.

What does this mean – Our Interpretation

In camera stabilization has become very popular thanks to brands like Sony, Pentax and Olympus. In these systems, it is the sensor that moves to compensate for minor movements due to handheld shaking. The benefit of this is, of course, is that ANY lens can be used and you still get the advantage of stabilization.

Canon (and Nikon too) put stabilization in their lenses and charge a premium for them. For example, Canon’s 70-200mm L f/2.8 lens lists at $1249 while version with image stabilization (IS) lists at $1699, a $450 premium.

The forums are full of people asking (demanding) that Canon and Nikon introduce in camera stabilization.

It would appear that Canon is listening to this (to a degree), but obviously is resisting to go that way. Most likely they are concerned it would erode the premium they can charge for image stabilized lenses. So, Canon is obviously trying to raise the bar by introducing newer generation stabilization techniques into their lens systems, thus trying to differentiate from the in camera stabilization techniques.

So which is better? Time will tell, but in the mean time, this type of one-up-man-ship is good for consumers as it drives technology to become better and better, and that benefits us all.

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