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I recently purchased a Sony A7 and I am currently learning photography! I am using the Zeiss 24-75mm lens with in-lens image stabilization(IS).

I read on B&H that you may damage the IS if you use it while the camera is on a tripod, due to a feedback vibration loop. Does this mean I cannot use IS in lens on a tripod?

Thanks! I appreciate your education!

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    Hi Alan and welcome to the site! As a comment regarding this question, you really have three in one. Ideally, we like to have each post a distinct question as that makes it easier to separate and group. – John Cavan Mar 14 '14 at 21:01
  • @JohnCavan sorry, :) I will revise my question. Sorry, this is my first post on Photography and figured I could ask a few questions. – Alan Mar 18 '14 at 17:14
  • @mattdm thank you for the advice. I have edited it – Alan Mar 18 '14 at 17:15
  • Do you have any reference to the page you are referring to? I can't find anything like what you are referring to or even find anything talking about a 24-75mm Zeiss lens. – AJ Henderson Mar 23 '14 at 20:27
  • He's referencing this page - "Worst case scenario: things spin out of control and your camera ends up in the repair shop." Its rather...extreme example. – rfusca Mar 23 '14 at 20:35
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There is no reason I know of that using an image stabilised lens on a tripod should damage the lens. It is, however, counterproductive as the tripod itself is already stable and any movements you make with the tripod will be fought by the image stabilization.

If you try to move the camera while it is on the tripod, the IS will slow down how fast the lens actually follows your movement and this lag is undesirable, thus when using a tripod, you should turn off the IS.

Additionally, looking at the B&H page that rfusca found, it appears that the concern being described is a lesser (but minorly possible) concern that the rotation of the gyroscope could induce shaking in the lens element when the camera itself is well secured.

Basically, the thought process is that if the camera body is unable to move at all, then the rotation of the gyroscope, if slightly off balance, could start to cause the image stabilizing element to begin to wobble in sync with the rotation of the gyroscope. Each additional rotation would add a little more strength to the movement of the stabilizing element since the camera body can't absorb the energy being released by the gyroscope.

For this to happen though, the system would have to be amazingly stable and you would notice it from an obvious and growing wobble in the image as you looked through the viewfinder or looked at the LCD screen.

In more complex IS systems it may also be possible that attempts to correct will continue to cause more corrections, but again, this would still show up as increasing amounts of vibration in your viewfinder.

Point is, turn off the IS on a tripod, but it's not going to damage your camera without you being able to notice a problem growing and is unlikely to be a serious problem even then. It may be theoretically possible, but actual practical and common problems still make it worth turning off.

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  • what happens if I can't turn off the image stabilization on the lens? Does that mean I shouldn't use the lens at all on a tripod? The Sony A7 doesn't have in-body IS. – Alan Mar 24 '14 at 16:32
  • @Alan - I'd personally try it. Most current lenses are able to detect if this is happening and most older lenses had a physical switch to turn the IS on or off. If you don't have a switch, red the documentation for your lens and just watch it closely to make sure it isn't causing vibrations. – AJ Henderson Mar 24 '14 at 17:04
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Yes on the in camera Image sensor shift stabilization you need to turn it off for tripod use. Will it damage your camera? probably not but your images will sometimes get shake caused by the sensor shift so it is counter productive. I have often forgotten to turn it off on my Sony A99 and have no ill effects except shaken images LOL. OH by the way Im jealous of the A7

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  • thank you, so it is pretty much counterproductive to use in lens image stabilization on a tripod? I don't believe there is anyway to turn off the IS on my lens. – Alan Mar 24 '14 at 16:30
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While a feedback loop is ..technically possible, assuming some kind of detection and compensation system in the lens exists. (And this page claims its potentially damaging) - I find it incredibly unlikely that it will actually cause damage. The vibrations that such a loop causes should be such an order of magnitude lower than say...engines from a motorcycle or car.

It's possible, but incredibly unlikely. The worst case is probably a more blurry image than otherwise.


Note some camera makers take steps to try and automatically correct this. Nikon top end lenses will detect tripod usage and disable VR. Pentax disables SR during remote usage (since you're likely on a tripod).

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No, there will not be any damage. Yes, you should turn it off.

The feedback loop often caused additional vibrations but not enough to damage a lens. Some lenses are equipped with a tripod-detection but really do you want to count of this working perfectly all the time? A much better habit is simply to turn it off every time you are on a tripod rather than memorizing which of your lenses knows better.

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