After reading the answer by Bill to this question became curious about IS modes. So, What is basically IS mode? Does all lens comes with various IS modes?

And what are various situations to use these modes?


IS modes are used to tell the camera what kind of movement to correct for. All implementations I'm aware of have at least two modes: "normal" to correct for motion in all axes and "panning" to allow motion in one axis while correcting for motion in the other.

The exact details of each available mode depend on the manufacturer, for example Canon lenses can have up to three modes (normal, panning, and panning but only active when taking the shot), while Nikon lenses only have two modes (on when focusing, on when taking the shot) but panning detection is automatic rather than by changing modes and they also offer a choice of two motion correction modes 'Normal' and 'Active', with Active being intended for use while in a moving vehicle and therefore offering stronger correction.

Newer lenses will generally have more IS modes available than older lenses, and stabilized Telephoto (and Super-Telephoto lenses) will usually have more modes than stabilized primes or zooms.

The IS in newer lenses will also tend to be more effective than in older lenses allowing for even lower shutter speeds.

  • some lenses only have on and off (kit lenses mainly) Jul 28 '12 at 5:21

I'm only familiar with Canon's and one Sigma IS lens.

All newish Canon lenses have two IS modes, normal (Mode 1) and panning (Mode 2). Basically you use normal for everything except when you're panning to capture "motion" in the picture. The same is true for the Sigma lens I've tried.

Older lenses might only have one IS mode, but I don't know of any.


Sorry I wasn't too clear with my answer, you asked about a photo from a Canon contest, so I assumed that it was done with a Canon glass, but please take a look at Canon's explanation on the matter.

Basically, the tl;dr

  1. Mode 1: You can use IS in both vertical and horizontal
  2. Mode 2: Used for panning at right angles to the motion V or H.
  3. Mode 3: Enhances Optical Mode 2 by functioning only when the shutter release is fully pressed. Allows for better panning and sport photography. (Mode only on L lenses so far)
  • Canon's explanation is quite perfect. I suggest you add one line to your answer to describe Mode 3 too, to keep a complete overview here.
    – Itai
    Jul 27 '12 at 20:34

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