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I am taking a photograph course and the instructor, who repairs cameras, says it is extremely important to turn off the Image Stabilization on the lens before you remove it from the camera. He says turning it off "locks" things in place and prevents damage. Is this true? I have googled it and can't find any reference to this. I have a Canon 20D and Canon lenses. Thanks!

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the only time the IS elements are "moving" is during the focus process (when you have your finger on the shutter button and a couple seconds after) otherwise everything is locked in place. If this weren't true then moving the lens and camera with IS turned on would have the potential to damage the elements of the lens and that would defeat the purpose of the IS in the first place.

Your instructor is wrong.

[Edit] from the EF 100-400 F4.5-56L IS USM manual (page E-9):

The image stabilizer continues to operate after you release the shutter button, as long as the metering timer displays the exposure value. Never remove the lens while the image stabilizer is operating, or you could damage the lens.

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Ignoring the lens side of the equation, you should be turning your CAMERA off before changing lenses anyway, which would remove power from the IS anyway... accomplishing the same load of BS the instructor is claiming. – cabbey Feb 17 '11 at 16:38
There is an argument that rages on many a forum that you don't need to turn the power off for lens changes either - I do though because it makes me feel happy :-) – JamWheel Feb 17 '11 at 16:42
You don't need to turn your camera off before you change lenses. This is a myth. See:… for more detail... But feel free to continue the practice if it makes you feel happy! – Jay Lance Photography Feb 17 '11 at 17:37
@cabbey There's nothing in the 20D manual about turning the camera off when changing lenses, if it was important I'm sure Canon would mention it! – Matt Grum Feb 17 '11 at 17:50
@Jay @Matt: the contact frying bit I was well aware of, but the conversation Matt and Itai had in that question about static charge and dust is eye opening. I'll probably still try to avoid doing it. But since @Shizam has proven that even turning it off isn't enough when he's around it probably won't matter much. :) – cabbey Feb 17 '11 at 18:29

This is incorrect. Modern image stabilization is achieved through a lens element that is moved via electromagnets. Since electromagnets need to be powered in order to work, removing the lens (and the power source) will effectively lock the element in place rendering any movement impossible anyway.

Having said that, there are a number of really 'old school' lenses that potentially would be damaged if the image stabilization was not turned off first because they used gyroscopic stabilization methods instead of electromagnetic ones and the 'off' button literally locked physical elements of the lenses in place. Not locking the elements meant that they just 'rattled around free' in the lens housing. You don't have one of these lenses, however... They wouldn't fit on your Canon 20D (or any other modern camera)!

Not trying to judge, but this may be a case of an instructor not bothering to learn about new technology advances and carrying forward bad advice because "that's the way it used to be," which sadly happens quite a bit...

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Modern lenses are designed to be "idiot proof," else they generate too many returns and warranty repairs. It's a bad idea, but I have seen (and even done, on occasion) lens changes while the camera is on with no ill effects. Image stabilization doesn't need to be turned off on modern lenses (unless specifically stated in the documentation).

Panasonic released a Micro 4/3 macro lens last year that even rattles when not on the camera. Panasonic sent a notice saying not to worry, this is normal.

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