Image Stabilisation VR Vibration Reduction Explained

Lenses are now available with Image Stabilisation built in to their design. VR (the Nikon brand name for this technology) stands for 'Vibration Reduction' whereby the lens electronically compensates for unsteady hands. VR is especially important at long focal lengths, e.g. 200 mm and above, because the lens magnifies camera shake at the same time it is magnifying the subject. A VR lens will allow you to use slower shutter speeds without introducing camera shake.

The alternative to a VR lens would be mounting the camera on a tripod or using a higher ISO setting, which may reduce image quality but allows the use of higher shutter speeds. Anti camera shake systems (Canon use the term 'Stabilisation') boast the ability to hand hold a lens at two shutter speeds slower than the norm.

For example, on land I use a 70 mm—200 mm lens. A rule of thumb is to set a shutter speed faster than the focal length of the lens to avoid shutter shake. I use 1/250th sec with this lens. VR now enables a shutter speed two EV slower, i.e 1/60th sec. Whilst I have yet to test the results of this claim myself, I am satisfied that Stabilisation and VR technology delivers on its promise.

Fast and Slow Lenses. What does it Mean?

A lens is often referred to as 'slow' or 'fast', because of its aperture.

• The 'faster' a lens is, the more the aperture is allowed to open (the wider an aperture) and the lower the number can go in f-stops.

• Faster lenses let more light in to strike the camera sensor, which allows a slower shutter speed to be used. So a lens that can be set to f2.5 or f1.8 is considered very fast.

• Fast telephoto lenses, so popular with wildlife and landscape photography are expensive and can cost two to three times more for this convenience.

• A lens that has a lowest f-stop setting for example f5.6, is often considered 'slow'. This lens will require a slower shutter speed to achieve a correct exposure.

Whilst there are numerous lenses to choose, I suggest you consider the above models for all your needs. Visit the reviews at www.dpreview.com and keep in mind underwater users'comments from: www.wetpixel.com; www. divephotoguide.com

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