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by Russell McMahon

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Canon EF 24-105mm F/4 L IS USM should has up to 3-stops stabilizer. I'm not sure if I'm using it wrong or it's a marketing tool for Canon. In many low light situation I found that my photo will be underexposed, so I may use a lower shutter speed (3 stops down) or make the aperture wider (by 3 stops), I hold myself steady and follow some techniques to hold the camera steady and click! And almost all the photos are blurry, Am I using it wrong? How actually do you use your image stabilizer to get sharp images? Is it always true that you can used the whole announced additional stops?

BTW I'm not shooting a moving subjects just still subjects.

Update: While I was walking someday a bicycle was running behind me hit the camera and unfortunately the lens. I felt that it wasn't a major hit and I checked the lens (after long cursing and yelling) and found that it was functioning good after that (focusing was still fast, USM is quite, ....) It was perhaps the 3rd day I used the lens so I don't have photos with the same issues before that.

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What are you shooting? IS systems only reduce camera shake, they won't make any difference if you're shooting a moving subject with a slow shutter speed. –  ElendilTheTall May 23 '12 at 15:14
    
@ElendilTheTall nope ain't doin that –  akram May 23 '12 at 15:31
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It strikes me odd that you're finding that your photos are consistently underexposed by 3 stops. Unless you're in a really challenging situation for the camera, I'd expect it to be more accurate than that. Anyway, when you're shooting, after correcting for exposure, what shutter speed are you using at what focal length on what camera? –  Dan Wolfgang May 23 '12 at 15:46
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Some examples? And how slow at what focal length? Are you half pressing the shutter and giving IS time to activate? –  rfusca May 23 '12 at 18:10
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Are you using "focus-then-recompose" technique? If so, then you have to give the IS between 1 and 2 seconds to settle down after you recompose. It's busy trying to compensate for your recomposition, which it perceives as camera shake. –  Jim Garrison Jun 9 '12 at 0:03

3 Answers 3

The stabilization is activated by doing the half press on the shutter button to cause a focus. This will enable, but sometimes it can take a second to activate and stabilize. So you should make sure you're doing that before taking into account other advice.

That being said, IS is not a miracle worker, you can still get blurry pics. You should try to increase the ISO target in low light scenes, and if you're comfortable set the shutter speed to a fixed value to ensure the pictures aren't blurry, though some might be dark as a result.

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Shutter priority mode (or rather Time value on canon) ! –  Berzemus May 24 '12 at 8:49

Three stop IS means that you'll probably be able to get an acceptable exposure with shutter speeds 3 stops slower than the minimum recommended for the lens focal length. (I seem to remember 1/lens length). So assuming 1/125s for your lens, you can probably use 1/30s and maybe 1/15s at 105mm.

Three stop IS does not mean that you can go 3 stops lower than any shutter speed.

Have you tried increasing ISO?

Edit: are you sure this is blur due to slow shutter speed and not a focusing problem? (I don't have enough rep. to comment yet.)

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The operative word is "probably". If you have a steady hand, you are quite likely to achieve this 3-stop stabilization when compared with the 1/focal length rule of thumb. If you are more jumpy, as I am, either drink less coffee or don't count on 3 stops :) –  Steve Ross May 23 '12 at 16:31
    
Precisely. I can usually make it work at 1/30 but not consistently at 1/15. –  miguelq May 23 '12 at 16:53

Image Stabilizer (IS) helps you with the shake-blur, not with motion-blur. That said, if your subjects are moving, IS will be of no use (well, there is a technique called panning!).

The 24-105mm has an excellent implementation of IS and it allows you to capture sharp images in shutter speed up-to 3 stops slower than what you would normally use. For example, if you manage to get a sharp image without the IS at 1/125 sec shutter speed, with IS turned on, you should be able to get shake-free images at around 1/15 sec (3 full stops slower) shutter speed. If you want to test it, turn off the IS, determine the slowest shutter speed required for capturing a shake-free image, turn the IS on and make the shutter speed 3 stops slower, change other settings for adjusting the exposure (decrease Aperture/ISO) and capture the same image. Now compare the two images.

Not sure, what your problem is, but there is a switch for turning IS on/off. By any chance did you accidentally turn it off?

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no it's actually pretty hard to turn it off without realizing :) The problem is that out of 10 photos I get 8 blurry. But if I increased the light source in the place where I'm shooting and use the same setup the photo comes out fine, could it be a defect with my lens? –  akram May 23 '12 at 15:33
    
Hihi - I respectfully disagree :) I ended up covering the IS switch with a bit of gaffa tape on mine! –  Staale S May 23 '12 at 21:40
    
@AkramMellice:: its had to say if your lens is broken or not without testing it. You can test it by yourself, or if you feel its too much for you, maybe you can take it to a service center or even to a friend who has good technical knowledge. –  fahad.hasan May 24 '12 at 7:27

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