Earlier this year, I posted about using image stabilization with the Fuji 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 OIS Fujinon lens. Actually, I posted about how turning OIS on ended up creating softer images than hand-holding at moderate to fast shutter speeds. It’s frustrating to me because I really like the overall sharpness and versatility of this lens, but I was at the point where I’d only turn stabilization (IS) on when I was shooting at very low shutter speeds (slower than 1/60s).
Today I got a message from a friend asking if I’d tried setting stabilization to Mode 2, as he’d heard this might solve the softness issue we were both seeing with the Fuji 18-55mm lens.
Huh? I had to plead ignorance on that one. I knew there were two stabilization (IS) modes with the Fujifilm X-T1, but I didn’t think they’d cause any major differences in sharpness. Why? Here’s what the manual says about the two image stabilization options:
- Mode 1 (Continuous): Image stabilization on
- Mode 2 (Shooting only): Image stabilization enabled only when the shutter button is pressed halfway or the shutter is released.
Ok, so reading that, you have either full-time stabilization in the viewfinder as the “Default” option, and “half-press” stabilization (similar to how Nikon VR works) as the other choice. What’s even more confusing is that you don’t see this reference to “half-press” in the in-camera menu. It simply says “shooting only.” I interpreted (wrongly) that this meant it would only kick in stabilization when I released the shutter, not with a half-press. Having continuous IS enabled means that the viewfinder image is always stabilized.
So, I did some quick boring test shots. I focused on a wall calendar and used settings that ought to be well within the “normal” zone for stabilization: 1/125s f/4 ISO 800. That’s typical indoor shooting with daytime window light, and something most IS systems should handle with ease. I made three shots: IS OFF, Mode 1, Mode 2.
Here are the results:
The full-frame images (Click to enlarge)
I think it’s clear that Mode 2 (shooting only) produced the sharpest image of the bunch. In fact, Mode 1 is slightly softer (to my eye, at least) than IS off.
So the good news is that I’m switching my Fuji X-T1 to use Mode 2 stabilization only from now on. I actually don’t mind this change at all, as it’s exactly what I’m used to with my VR Nikon lenses. As an added benefit, I would imagine using the Mode 2 setting would be more power-efficient, too. Of course, it’s still a good idea to disable IS when shooting at very fast shutter speeds (1/1000s or faster) or when using a tripod.