I have a Panasonic G3 with the 14-42mm kit lens. I am now looking for a second lens and would like to start with a longer kit-zoom. Something to go from around my kit lens' 42mm up to the 150mm kind of length.

In this range, I was thinking of getting the Olympus Digital Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 due to budget (I'm not looking for quality glass just yet. I'd rather focus on technique before spending more than I have to on equipment I won't use to its full potential).

I understand that Panasonic put their IS in the lens and Olympus put it in the body, so if I put an Olympus lens on my Panasonic body then I won't have any IS. How much of a problem will this be? Does the in-lens IS from buying a Panasonic lens really make a large difference in this focal length range?

  • As an aside, I'm not buying your argument for not getting quality glass now. If you expect you'll get their eventually, why not cut out the middle step? This will save you money long term, and part of what's better about better glass is that it's easier to use. You don't need to use it "to its full potential" to benefit!
    – mattdm
    Mar 8, 2013 at 13:12
  • I don't know if I will get better quality glass eventually. I don't take many photographs (I'm mainly a holidays and social occasions kind of photographer) so I tend to take photos to capture the moment, rather than to be artistic. I just couldn't justify the price difference for better lenses really. Mar 8, 2013 at 15:40

5 Answers 5


In general, lens based optical stabilisation ought to work very well with a 150mm lens. Modern designs are capable of three stops (8x increase in exposure time) or more. As to whether it will make a large difference to what you can shoot, that depends on how much light you have. Of course image stabilisation does nothing to help you with moving subjects, so if there's something else constraining your shutter speed IS could be irrelevant.

To get stable images without IS at 150mm you will want to keep your shutter speed to 1/250s minimum unless you have particularly good technique. At f/5.6 this corresponds to EV13 which means you'll need ISO 200 on an overcast day during daylight. Indoors you're looking at ISO 6400 and up.

So if you primarily shoot outdoors in daylight you should be fine without IS, as the sun starts to go down you'll be able to increase the ISO sensitivity to compensate, but indoors you're going to struggle for light.

  • 1/250? Really? On APS-C, I can easily shoot a 55mm (IS) lens at 1/10 or a 200mm (IS) at 1/60 (@ISO 400), despite the fact that I have really shaky hands and crappy technique. Are you being conservative or am I missing something? Mar 7, 2013 at 21:38
  • @ChinmayKanchi: You're missing the fact he is discussing Tv needed without IS.
    – Michael C
    Mar 8, 2013 at 3:26
  • @MichaelClark Doh! My reading comprehension skills aren't the best at 4 am, apparently! Mar 8, 2013 at 5:19

Image stabilization is generally regarded as being both more useful and more effective at longer focal lengths. See what is effectively the opposite question to this at How useful is image stabilisation below 200mm, really?, noting that for the normal rule of thumb for shutter speed the crop factor applies. For Micro Four Thirds, that's 2×, so, roughly, you'll be able to hand-hold at shutter speeds of about ¹⁄₃₀₀th of a second or faster.

For the Panasonic Leica D 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6, Panasonic claims that their "Mega O.I.S." will get you "more than three steps". Taking that claim at face value means you should be able to shoot at about ¹⁄₃₀th of a second without motion blur. That's pretty significantly useful. Even if you're more picky than the rule dictates, and even if the benefit is less than claimed (and actually, they're usually pretty correct), still getting down to ¹⁄₁₀₀th of a second or so is worthwhile. That's enough to cope with subject movement if your subject isn't moving quickly.


Simply put, the image stabilisation buys you time.

As a rule of thumb, the shortest exposure time corresponds to the focal length when shooting hand held. At the focal length 150 mm you should not go over 1/150 s exposure time to avoid motion blur.

If the image stabilisation for example compensates for two stops, that would mean that you could go up to 1/40 s, as each stop allows for doubling the exposure time.

As long as you have enough light, you won't miss the image stabilisation.

  • 4
    The 1/focal length rule doesn't take format size into account. A very small sensor with small pixels will exhibit motion blur even with a short focal length (some compacts are only 18mm at the long end of their zoom!) for this reason it's a good idea to use the 35mm equivalent fl when applying the rule, so in this case it would be 1/300s.
    – Matt Grum
    Mar 7, 2013 at 16:44

For photography it only matters if you need the extra stabilization for slower shutter speeds. It will still help with sharpness up to a certain point of shutter speed though. (Exact spot is going to depend on a variety of factors that don't really let it have a good measure). If you plan on shooting any video however, the IS will make a HUGE difference.

As an example, I'm a trained marksman and have very steady hands. Even with all the stabilization I do, shooting freehand at 300mm on a full frame, it is a gittery mess when shooting video. When I turn on the IS on my Canon 70-300mm f/4 IS lens, I can comfortably shoot video at 300mm freehand with fairly minimal movement.

For images on the other hand, I notice a slight bit of sharpness difference in moderate light (inside), but it isn't really significant with lots of light (outside daylight).


It is only helpful if you need it. And it really does not matter which format you are using.

You can shoot at a slower shutter-speed with stabilization and get a sharp image. This is helpful only if you would shoot at such a shutter-speed!


  • To freeze moving subjects, a certain speed is needed. Stabilization does not help for this because it stabilizes your movements. If you shoot sports for example with a lens under 500mm (effective or 250mm for m4/3) then stabilization is not needed.
  • If you shoot from a tripod, stabilization is not needed. You actually have to turn it off to avoid a feedback loop. Some lenses avoid this issue, particularly high-end ones but most do not yet.
  • If you shoot slow moving subjects or still ones in low-light, then it can help. With stabilization you can use a lower shutter-speed which lets you keep ISO lower too and that leads to higher image quality.
  • Early IS systems created feedback loops. Newer lenses can sense when the lens is on a tripod and adjust. Canon's super telephoto lenses even have an IS mode that corrects for vibration caused by the mirror when tripod mounted.
    – Michael C
    Mar 8, 2013 at 3:30
  • 1
    @MichaelClark - You do not use enough lenses ;) They still often do. Nikon entry-level lenses introduced last years clearly suffer from this and is very easy. Panasonic's also show this often. On Canon, it varies.
    – Itai
    Mar 8, 2013 at 14:38

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