Understanding image stabilizer lenses through the Canon EF series
Image stabilizers are an mechanical and optical additions to lenses. A relatively new introduction to consumer cameras they allow taking steady sharp photos in spite of camera movements. When using high zoom lenses even the slightest camera movement can be leveraged to a blurry smudged photo. To avoid that photographers can use several techniques such as using a tripod, leaning on a steady surface or just placing the camera still on a flat steady surface. In many cases however the photographer does not have the time or the option to use such method. Sometimes a photo needs to be taken fast and in poor conditions. In such cases an image stabilizer mechanism might be the only difference between a sharp and a useless digital photo.
If you do not have an image stabilizer you can use a few simple techniques to stabilize your camera. Using a tripod is the obvious one. If you have a tripod make sure that it is standing still on a flat stable surface. In many cases though you will not have a tripod with you or you will not have the time to set it up. In such cases you can try other techniques for example hold the camera tight against a steady surface, a wall, a pole, a bench. Squeeze the shutter down slowly and hold your breath to make sure any possible camera movement is eliminated.
You can also simply place the camera on a steady surface instead of holding it in your hand when taking the photo. Make sure that the surface is flat and completely stable. Also if you have a remote control use it or if you can set the camera to delayed shutter use it too. The reason is that you are very likely to move the camera as you squeeze the shutter resulting in the camera bouncing a bit and the photo being blurry.
Image stabilizers can stabilize the photo the camera takes even if the camera slightly moves during the time the photo is taken. There are two main ways to implement image stabilizers. One is by using an electro mechanical mechanism that is embedded into the lens itself. Another way is by using an electro-mechanical mechanism that is installed in the camera body and can thus work with any lens that is placed on the camera. The device inside the lens uses a gyro control floating optical element. The optical element moves in the opposite direction to any camera movement and compensates for it resulting in a sharp stable photo. The system inside the camera body moves the camera photo CCD sensor to compensates for camera movements. Image stabilizers used to be expensive and only used by the very professional photographers. But these days as the cost of electronic devices goes down they can be found in affordable cameras and are use by semi-professional photographers and even by many amateur photographers.
The Canon EF 400mm lens is a good example of an affordable image stabilizer lens. The Canon EF 400mm can be used in conjunction with any compatible Canon SLR camera such as the Canon EOS series. It offers many other features in addition to image stabilization such as fast and quiet auto focus and great optical zoom quality. The Canon EF 400mm uses an in-lens image stabilizer based on a floating optical element and a gyro.
Sometimes camera movements are actually wanted. For example when taking a photo of a moving object with the intend to blur the background. Such panning technique might not work if you image stabilizer constantly tries to compensate and eliminate it. For that reason exactly Canon introduced some controls over how image stabilization works. You can turn it off completely but you can also set it to different modes that only stabilizer one axis while letting you pan over the other axis.
Danette Mckay writes about this and many other subjects. Read more about vivitar vpt2400 tripod