Olympus E-P1 Image Stabilization

Wanted to share some quick results of my not so scientific testing of the built-in image stabilization of the E-P1. Some of the results I was seeing with it left on at higher shutter speeds made me curious to see if it was adversely impacting image quality. To tell you the truth - I still don't have a definitive answer on that but I will get there. In all likelihood it is pilot error and not the actual image stabilization.

In any case here are some Aperture 3 screen shoots at full magnification of my non-clinical testing. For the scientifically minded out there my methodology consisted of the following:

  • Focal length 28e.
  • Three shots at with and without image stabilization of shutter speeds 1/2 s, 1/6 s, and 1/20 s.
  • Same general focus point on the nearest PileOfCrap™ to my desk.
  • Hold the camera as carefully as I can.
  • Chose the best out of each group of three to compare.

Here is the screen capture at 1/20, no real practical difference accounting for variations in us humanbeans.

Next we have the test at 1/6,

Last but certainly not least we have 1/2. At this point we are definitely in the realm of needing some technological help as you can clearly ascertain.

The bottom line is the E-P1 internal IS works. The more important thing to note is that what shutter speed you can hand hold a camera at for a given image magnification is highly personal. I expected to see a huge difference in every single shot. I don't. At 1/20s and 28e there is no visible difference in any of the 6 shots I made. At 1/6 s the difference is a little more clear, not in my best of the bunch but in the consistency. My non-image-stablized shots at 1/6 are one out of three is good, one is bad, and one is not-so-good but acceptable. The story completely changes at 1/2 s, none of my non-stabilized shots are useable, all of the stabilized shots are.

The amazing part is that my old hands can handhold at these speeds at all. I am shocked considering I had about 4 cups of coffee so far this morning. I am especially surprised that I can hand hold the E-P1 much slower than the GF1 even without IS. I have to investigate this in a more controlled manner. My best with the GF1 and 20mm is 1/20s no matter how many shots I take. More on this later.

The one thing to take away from this is that your own care and practice are at least as valuable as image stabilization. If you can't hand hold sharp shots at normal shutter speeds I don't think any amount of IS is going to help you. If you have good technique IS is pretty amazing. If you have good technique and you get lazy because you have IS you really don't gain that much.


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