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.

Canon PowerShot SX710 HS
Canon PowerShot SX710 HS
from $265
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
922k dots
Popularity Very popular Help
Among snapsort users
Sensor type CMOS Sensor Help
Better in low light

Learn more about the Canon PowerShot SX710 HS

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V
from $379
Zoom Great zoom Help
30x
GPS Built-in GPS Help
Great for travel
Supports 24p 24p movies Help
For that film look

Learn more about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60
from $251
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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60

Nikon Coolpix S9900
Nikon Coolpix S9900
from $219
GPS Built-in GPS Help
Great for travel
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
921k dots
Screen flips out Flip-out screen Help
Great for movies

Learn more about the Nikon Coolpix S9900

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 Stylus SH-1
Olympus Stylus SH-1
from $216
High-speed framerate High speed movies Help
240 fps
External mic jack External mic jack Help
Record higher quality audio with a microphone
Touch screen Touch screen Help
Fewer buttons

Learn more about the Olympus Stylus SH-1

Olympus Stylus SH-2
Olympus Stylus SH-2
from $211
Touch screen Touch screen Help
Fewer buttons
Battery life Great battery life Help
380 shots
Sensor type CMOS Sensor Help
Better in low light

Learn more about the Olympus Stylus SH-2

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3
from $349
High-speed framerate High speed movies Help
240 fps
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/2
Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
Shoot in extreme weather

Learn more about the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3

Olympus Tough TG-4
Olympus Tough TG-4
from $314
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/2
Battery life Great battery life Help
380 shots
Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
Shoot in extreme weather

Learn more about the Olympus Tough TG-4

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ10
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ10
from $79
Wide angle Wide angle lens Help
24 mm
Screen size Large screen Help
3"
Screen flips out Flip-out screen Help
Great for movies

Learn more about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ10

Nikon Coolpix S3700
Nikon Coolpix S3700
from $80
Size Really small Help
Super compact (96×58×20 mm)
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens
Weight Light-weight Help
118 g

Learn more about the Nikon Coolpix S3700

Sony CyberShot DSC-W800
Sony CyberShot DSC-W800
from $88
Size Really small Help
Ultra compact (50×22×54 mm)
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens
Sensor cleaning Self cleaning sensor Help
Avoids dust in your photos

Learn more about the Sony CyberShot DSC-W800

Nikon Coolpix S6900
Nikon Coolpix S6900
from $106
Screen size Large screen Help
3"
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens
Continuous shooting Rapid fire Help
9 fps

Learn more about the Nikon Coolpix S6900

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 $717
Movie format Full HD Help
1080p @ 60fps
Screen size Large screen Help
3.2"
Continuous shooting Rapid fire Help
8.3 fps

Learn more about the Pentax K-3 II

Pentax K-S1
Pentax K-S1
from $300
Viewfinder size Large viewfinder Help
0.63x
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Sensor shift
Light sensitivity High ISO Help
51,200 ISO

Learn more about the Pentax K-S1

Pentax K-S2
Pentax K-S2
from $441
Viewfinder size Large viewfinder Help
0.62x
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Sensor shift
Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
Shoot in extreme weather

Learn more about the Pentax K-S2

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.