When I got my DSLR, I took a lot of pics and all of them came excellent, even though I had VR at the "Off" position.

Since those came out so well, I wonder when should I turn VR on, and when I should just leave it off.

I found this article which answer this question in detail, but that's too much for me to understand easily. Can someone explain the strict rules in short?

Should I use VR with tripod? When should I use it when I'm not using a tripod, and when should I leave it off?

  • 1
    The question (and title) seem to be incomplete. You may want to edit them. – ysap Sep 15 '11 at 19:22

Image stabilization (VR, IS, SR, AS, SSS, OS or VC depending on the brand) can safely be turned on under most hand-held conditions when it is working properly. There were apparent some bugs which caused it to induce shake at high shutter-speeds but I've never seen it.

When on a tripod, image stabilization should not be used as it is known to cause a feedback loop. On most lenses and cameras that means you have to turn it off yourself but some systems try to detect those cases and disable themselves automatically while others turn of stabilization when the self-timer or a remote-trigger is used. In these cases, there is no action to take on your part.

  • Most early IS lenses had feedback loop problems. This is not true of all lenses with IS. Canon's Super Telephoto series have modes specifically intended for tripod use, including one that is optimized to counter the vibrations caused by mirror slap. – Michael C May 31 '13 at 6:40

As for tripod, the rule with most VR (IS) systems is to turn it off, as the system will introduce shake to the VR element and thus induce blur. Some newer lenses have more intelligent VR systems that sense when the lens is on a tripod and automatically shut-down the system.

Note that I am referring to VR in a general sense here. It is IS for Canon and other designations for other manufacturers. You really need to check that on a per-lens basis.

  • 1
    One lens I have has two image stabilization settings, one for "normal" IS, the other intended for use on a tripod. It doesn't auto-sense, you have to choose the right setting for the conditions. – Warren Young Sep 15 '11 at 19:48
  • 1
    Which lens? I have not seen that. Sometimes there are two modes for bi-directional vs uni-directional stabilization, the latter is used for panning. – Itai Sep 15 '11 at 19:59
  • @Warren Young - why would you need a special mode for tripod? You just shut it off. – ysap Sep 15 '11 at 20:39
  • @Itai -just to make sure, does your comment refer to Warren's comment or to my answer? – ysap Sep 15 '11 at 22:22
  • @yasp: It helps with unsteadiness in panning. That's my recollection anyway. Maybe the mode is for hand-held panning instead. I don't have the manual here to check. – Warren Young Sep 15 '11 at 22:46

You may want to turn off VR if you are getting close to exhausting your camera battery. This has saved my bacon a couple of times. And, as others have mentioned, when using a tripod, in most cases.

One other factor: The VR by default starts to do its thing once you half-press the camera shutter. It will then take some time, around half a second, for it to get up to speed and actually stabilize the image. In other words: If you need to "snap-shoot" photos, turn VR off... during the half-second spin-up time it may very well be introducing blur instead of reducing it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.