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When I'm shooting hand-held during the day, when the light is strong enough for the camera to shoot at 1/2000 and slower (therefore the image stabilizer should be useless, right?), should I disable the IS on my lens, or should I leave it enabled anyway? What about cases when using a tripod, for example?

I know that IS consumes the battery a little more, but let's ignore this fact. Let's talk about the produced image quality.

  • The title does not describe the question well. I thought you meant to compare IS vs non-IS lenses. – ysap Jun 29 '11 at 23:44
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    @ysap: The title describes the question just fine. The only way you could have arrived at the conclusion that this is an IS vs. non-IS lens question is because you made the assumption that it was... – Jay Lance Photography Jun 30 '11 at 0:27
  • @Jay - Image Stabilizer is there, whether activated or not. So, asking if Image Stabilizer reduces quality on a lens with IS is meaningless. The question should have been something like "Does activating IS reduce IQ on fast shutter speeds?". Just my 2 cents. – ysap Jun 30 '11 at 0:55
  • ysap why don't you just edit the title yourself? you have enough reputation to do it, nobody will be mad ;) – Richard Rodriguez Jun 30 '11 at 1:05
  • Question is clear as a bell to me. +1 – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Jun 30 '11 at 1:30
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It is documented that stabilization should be disabled when shooting from a tripod. This is because the stabilization system me try to compensate for inexistent movement and create a feedback loop. In this case you would lose image quality.

Sometimes it is done for you:

  • Some modern high-end lenses supposedly detect when mounted on a tripod and turn off stabilization automatically. Disclaimer: I own no such lens, so I do not know how well it works.
  • Pentax DSLRs automatically disable stabilization, which is provided by the body, when a self-timer or remote is used.

For high shutter-speeds, I am not entirely sure. There were anecdotal evidence that some lens-based stabilization system had trouble at shutter-speeds faster than 1/1000s and caused increased blur unless disabled. I have never seen it happen but I haven't tried every combination of lens and shutter-speed :)

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