Short Description

Image stabilization prevents blurring images from camera shake. It's especially important to have image stabilization when buying a large zoom camera, or when shooting in low light situations because the images are at significant risk of being blurred. There are different types of image stabilization. Lens stabilization is the best, senor stabilization second best and digital stabilization the worst. If image stabilization is important to you than we recommend either lens or sensor based stabilization and don't recommend digital image stabilization.

Lens Stabilization

Lens based stabilization is the best and most versatile option. A portion of the lens group is typically moved horizontally and vertically to compensate for vibration/shake, depending on the implementation accelerometer, gyros and electro magnets and tiny motors do the work. Fortunately lens based image stabilization is not that expensive of an addition to most digicams but it can be with SLRs because each lens requires it. Since mid to high end dSLRs don't have image stabilization built into the body the only way to get image stabilization is to buy lenses with it built in - the cost of this adds up over time. SLRs with sensor shift can avoid this price premium on each lens. Nonetheless lens based image stabilization is king and that's why the most camera manufacturers use it in their best cameras. Additionally, it is the only option that provides stabilization during video recording.

Travel Zooms with Optical Image Stabilization

The following are some of the best travel zooms digital cameras with optical image stabilization.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V
from $428
Zoom Great zoom Help
30x
GPS Built-in GPS Help
Great for travel
Wide angle Wide angle lens Help
24 mm

Learn more about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS
Canon PowerShot SX720 HS
from $299
Zoom Great zoom Help
40x
Size Really small Help
Mid size (110×64×36 mm)
Announced New Help
February 2016

Learn more about the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50
from $279
Zoom Great zoom Help
30x
Wide angle Wide angle lens Help
24 mm
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
1,040k dots

Learn more about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80
from $348
Zoom Great zoom Help
30x
Wide angle Wide angle lens Help
24 mm
Supports 24p 24p movies Help
For that film look

Learn more about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80

Green arrow See more of the top travel zooms with lens image stabilization

Sensor Shift

Sensor shift can provide excellent results and provides a means of giving non image-stabilized lenses free image stabilization, this can lower the cost of your lens collection significantly and instantly modernize a collection of vintage glass. Some very high end full frame cameras do use sensor shift so it is indeed a viable option, although it is still largely used by the smaller makers of dSLRs, namely Sony and Pentax. Its use in digicams is more widespread. Sensor shift detects vibrations and physically adjusts the position of the image sensor accordingly to cancel out shifts in the image. One disadvantage to sensor shift is the image in the viewfinder is not image stabilized which can make composition harder. A further disadvantage is the inability to use image stabilization during video shoots as the image sensor typically must be locked. Finally auto focus performance in low light can suffer in cameras using phase-detection auto focus (typically SLRs).

Best Sensor Shift Digital Cameras

The following are some of the best cameras that incorporate sensor shift image stabilization.

Olympus Tough TG-4
Olympus Tough TG-4
from $328
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/2
Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
Shoot in extreme weather
Battery life Great battery life Help
380 shots

Learn more about the Olympus Tough TG-4

Olympus Stylus SH-2
Olympus Stylus SH-2
from $273
Touch screen Touch screen Help
Fewer buttons
Battery life Great battery life Help
380 shots

Learn more about the Olympus Stylus SH-2

Ricoh WG-5 GPS
Ricoh WG-5 GPS
from $297
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/2
Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
Shoot in extreme weather
GPS Built-in GPS Help
Great for travel

Learn more about the Ricoh WG-5 GPS

Fujifilm XP90
Fujifilm XP90
from $179
Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
Shoot in extreme weather
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
920k dots
Screen size Large screen Help
3"

Learn more about the Fujifilm XP90

Green arrow See more of the top digicams with sensor-shift image stabilization

Digital Image Stabilization

Although theoretically capable of reducing blur, we do not recommend digital image stabilization because it is difficult to ascertain how good the software algorithms will be in range of conditions, especially in low light when they are most needed. Theoretically by reducing the resolution of the sensor and using the outside border to approximate sensor shift image stabilization should be possible but typically digital image stabilization is a technique utilized in lower end cameras and again the effectiveness across all conditions cannot be guaranteed. We suggest you stick with either optical or sensor shift image stabilization.

Ultra Affordable IS Cameras

The following cameras use lens image stabilization and are ultra affordable illustrating that there is no need to settle with digital image stabilization.

Nikon Coolpix S3700
Nikon Coolpix S3700
from $89
Size Really small Help
Super compact (96×58×20 mm)
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens
Thickness Thin Help
0.8"

Learn more about the Nikon Coolpix S3700

Canon PowerShot ELPH 170 IS
Canon PowerShot ELPH 170 IS
from $119
Size Really small Help
Compact (100×58×23 mm)
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens
Thickness Thin Help
0.9"

Learn more about the Canon PowerShot ELPH 170 IS

Canon PowerShot ELPH 180
Canon PowerShot ELPH 180
from $119
Size Really small Help
Super compact (95×54×22 mm)
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens
Weight Light-weight Help
126 g

Learn more about the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180

Nikon Coolpix S7000
Nikon Coolpix S7000
from $129
Screen size Large screen Help
3"
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens
Continuous shooting Rapid fire Help
9.2 fps

Learn more about the Nikon Coolpix S7000

Green arrow See more of the top digicams with sensor-shift image stabilization

DSLRs with IS

Although many manufacturers only offer image stabilization in lenses, some DSLR manufacturers do offer IS in the body meaning you can use it with all of your lenses.

Pentax K-3 II
Pentax K-3 II
from $846
Screen size Large screen Help
3.2"
Movie format Full HD Help
1080p @ 60fps
Continuous shooting Rapid fire Help
8.3 fps

Learn more about the Pentax K-3 II

Pentax K-S2
Pentax K-S2
from $499
Viewfinder size Large viewfinder Help
0.62x
Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
Shoot in extreme weather
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Sensor shift

Learn more about the Pentax K-S2

Pentax K-70
Pentax K-70
from $647
Light sensitivity High ISO Help
102,400 ISO
Movie format Full HD Help
1080p @ 60fps
Viewfinder size Large viewfinder Help
0.62x

Learn more about the Pentax K-70

Green arrow See more of the top entry level DSLRs with image stabilization

Discussion

Showing 3 comments

Avatar for Dude-e Dude-e (1:39 PM, May 06, 2014)
Old link, here's the new one. Very nice animation
http://nikon.com/about/technology/life/imaging/stabilization/index.htm
 
Yohanes Martino (6:00 AM, March 24, 2012)
Why Snapsort don't accept lens image stabilization for DSLRs and Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras?
 
Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (6:22 PM, July 14, 2010)
Nikon has an indepth article describing the different types of image-stabilization found in Nikon cameras here:

http://www.nikon.com/about/technology/life/stabilization/index.htm

It includes an animation that tries to show visually how each method works.