Understanding Reducing the Effects of Hand Movement

Aug 07, 2012

Have you ever been disappointed to discover that the photos or movies you recorded during your trip were all blurred due to hand movement? Camera and camcorder stabilization functions are devised to technically reduce these undesirable effects.


In the early days, the only way to reduce the effects of hand movement was by using optical stabilization built into the lens. Through advances in technology, electronic and digital stabilization became available. To many of us, these terms may look similar and confusing. This is why I would like to talk about stabilization; or the reduction of the effects of hand movement.


How can we stabilize them?

A sensor attached to the camera lens or imaging device (CCD, CMOS) detects hand movement and moves in the opposite direction to offset the effect. This is a very practical method when shooting in low light.

What kinds of stabilization art there?

Two stabilization methods to reduce the effects of hand movement exist: optical stabilization and electronic stabilization. Samsung uses both optical and electronic stabilization methods, which are integrated into its digital cameras and camcorders according to the products' characteristics and level.


Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S)

A sensor within the lens detects hand movement and moves the lens in the opposite direction to offset the effect. Until now, optical stabilization has performed better than the electronic method. Unlike camcorders, however, optical stabilization for cameras is only effective if the camera comes with an anti-shake lens.

Name of the optical image stabilization function for each company.

Samsung - Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S), SMART O.I.S,
Canon - Image Stabilizer (IS)
Nikon - Vibration-Reduction (VR)
Panasonic- MEGA O.I.S.
Sony- SteadyShot, Active Steady Shot


Electronic Image Stabilization

Electronic stabilization works slightly different in camcorders and cameras. In cameras, it reduces the effects of hand movement by enhancing sensitivity and increasing the shutter speed, or by moving the CMOS sensor in the opposite direction to detected movement.
In camcorders, it reduces the effects of hand movement by employing the CMOS's free space during recording. Roughly put, this can be said to be the difference in the characteristics of still images and movies.

Name of the electronic image stabilization function for each company.

Samsung Digital Image Stabilization, Hyper Digital Image Stabilization (DIS, HDIS)
Sony - Super Steady Shot (SSS)
Konica Minolta - Anti Shake
Pentax - Shake Reduction (SR)

Which method is better?

When electronic stabilization was first developed, optical stabilization performed better. Although optical stabilization still performs better today, the gap between the two methods has been dramatically reduced due to the rapid progress of electronic control technology. Further, since electronic stabilization is more versatile and can be used in wider applications compared to optical stabilization, some say that electronic stabilization will become more prevalent in the future.


Recent higher-level models tend to employ both electronic and optical stabilization to maximise their performance. For instance, Samsung's latest HMX-S16 series camera comes with the Dual IS method; integrating both optical and electronic stabilization. I hope this helped you to better understand stabilization, or the reduction of the effects of hand movement. One thing you should remember, though: to minimises hand movement, it is always better to use a tripod or ensure a stable position when taking a shot or recording a movie, rather than merely relying on stabilization functions!


Comparison of Movies with Samsung Smart O.I.S Turned On and Off