Image stabilization worth the extra cost?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by daniel martins, May 11, 2009.

  1. Hi there,
    I am looking at buying the Canon 70-200mm L series lens. I am trying to justify the extra cost of getting the IS version of this lens. My budget is about $800. So my question is, should I get the non-IS version now or save up a bit and get the IS version later. Is the Image Stabilization worth the extra cost?
    I want to use it for sports photography (mostly outdoors but some indoors) and have a Rebel T1i. Your opinions are greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.
  2. IS isn't designed for use with moving subjects so it might be of limited use for your sports shots. IS reduces blur from camera shake only.
  3. IMO i say save up a bit more or look for a used 2.8 version without IS or maybe a fast prime like the 135 2.0 or 85 1.8. the reason is most sports will be fast action ( fast shutter ) negating the benefit of IS. If your shooting outdoors the IS is even less useful. Consider a decent tripod or monopod as well.
  4. If you plan to hand hold the shot, IS is valuable with a lens of that magnification.
  5. For sports and action photography, the IS has limited use, unless you're sitting in the stands and can't use a tripod. Even if you are hand-holding, you still can probably get away without IS because typically you are going to be using very fast shutter speeds to freeze subject motion, easily less than 1/200s. 1/1000 and faster is not unusual for sports/action. At that speed camera shake is not the critical determinant of sharpness.
    IS is for people who are taking photos:
    1. of subjects that are not moving a whole lot
    2. in low-light conditions where fast shutter speeds are not feasible
    3. where discretion is desired--i.e., you can't use tripod or don't want to be conspicuous
  6. I agree with the others. If you need to hand-hold, it's definitely worth getting the IS, but it's pointless if you are using a tripod. I suspect if you get IS, you'll find yourself hand-holding more often.
  7. You might want to read the article at
    It was informative to me, as I'm considering purchasing this lens too.
    Jim McMann
    San Jose, CA
  8. I didn't see what you were considering: the f/2.8 or the f/4 version?
    Even in pan mode, IS does nothing for me as a wedding photographer when I'm tripod mounted, which is typical of a sports shooter, no?
    However, shooting and focusing @ f/2.8 does.
    In order to freeze action, you need, what, 1/200th? I think that's right, I forget exact speeds. It's around there. With a shutter speed high enough to effectively freeze your subject playing on an indoor court, my personal opinion is that you're not really going to need IS that much. A fast aperture on a tri- or monopod will suit you much, much better.
    OTOH, image stabilizer will indeed benefit you if you ever, say, shoot at a play, a concert, across a dark room towards a stationary object, shoot slow moving or stationary things at night, want to pan with your subject at low shutter speeds, etc.
  9. Thanks a bunch for all of your comments. There was some good information. I will most likely end up buying the non-IS version. I will, however, keep an eye out for a possible deal on a used IS lens. Probably hard to come by but you never know.
    Thanks again.
  10. I'm considering 70-200 as well. For Wedding photography, could the 70-200 non-IS be used?
  11. If your main reason for getting a lens is for action sports, then IS is of limited usefullness. IS deals with camera shake from hand holding the camera at low shutter speeds. At such slow shutter speeds your subjects will likely be more blurred than they would be if you used the largest aperture , and higher ISO , and a faster shutter speed.
  12. Just got myself the 70-200 f/2.8 non-IS to use for indoor and outdoor sports. I'm always shooting at 1/500 sec or above handheld and haven't had any issues with shake. This is always at f/2.8. You don't mention whether or not you're interested in the f/2.8 or f/4 version, but I'd definitely recommend the f/2.8 non-IS over the f/4 IS for sports.
  13. I'll also throw in the suggestion to consider the irrational / human nature side of the question. Say I'm considering a new widget, in this case a lens, and I can get it with or without IS. I can list 10 reasons why I don't "need" IS but if that little voice in my head keeps saying "yeah, but wouldn't it be nice to have it" then maybe I ought to just spend the money and be done with it.
    I'm just throwing this out there for condsideration... I'm not advocating this approach. Listening to the voices in my head already gets me in enough trouble.
  14. O.K. you should always listen to the experts.
    But one thing: on a crop camera I get reliable results at shutterspeeds of 1/25 with the IS version of the F4 at 200mm.
    That's gotta be worth something at any time other than during pure die hard fast moving target photography.
    So the question is... are you sure you'll only use the lens for fast moving objects?
  15. Darren,
    Yeah, go for it. In fact you can get a better deal by hunting for an 80-200 f/2.8L (yes, "80"), if you're looking for a good cost/benefit solution to avoid dropping $1200 into one lens. I've seen one go on the Auction Site for $500 US, and they hover around 5-650 USD dependping on condition and accesories.
  16. I found the 70-200 F2.8 non IS to be sharper than the IS version. As others have said for sports with a DSLR you do not need IS as you can use higher ISOs and you need to stop subject motion. You may find that the 70-200 F4 (IS or non IS) may be a bit slow for indoor sports. I find that at some hockey venues I need both F2.8 and ISO 1600 on my 5DII to get shutter speeds above 1/250. I would be tempted to save and get the 70-200 F2.8 non IS rather than the 70-200 F4 IS if I was shooting sports as IS never gives the extra stop. The 70-200 F4 (non IS) is a very good lens. Look at what speeds you are getting, the ISo you need and the type of sports you shoot.
  17. I find Mode 2 stabilisation very useful for panning shots. Here only the vertical shake is corrected so you get a much clearer panning shot.
  18. Daniel:
    I'd buy the IS. Even if I had to save up and wait. You can *always* turn the IS off if you don't want it.
    Even if the subject is moving fast and you're shooting at high shutter speeds, IS is helpful when you are looking through a lens for a long time. Helps reduce eye fatique if the image is more stable.
  19. Hi Daniel,
    You say you have $800.00 to spend but you did not say if you were looking to buy a f2.8 or an f4. I could not afford the 2.8IS, but I did want the IS even if I don't always need or use it. I bought the 70-200L f4IS and love it. I've read that it has a more newer generation of stabilisation than the f2.8, but that's not an issue here. I bought mine for about $1000.00 during the Canon rebate, which isn't too much more than what you are looking to spend.
    I'd wait until you can afford the IS. It's better to have it and not need it...
  20. I find IS is worth the price as you will certainly find a need to hand hold it. You can get sharp shots at very low shutter speeds. It's kind of like cruise control... Once you use it, you will miss not having it.
  21. les


    I have the 70-200 IS version. Yes, you can shoot w/o IS, but it comes oh so handy at times. It is worth the additional cost IMHO.
  22. I also agree that the IS is worth the extra cost on the 70-200/2.8. I've had excellent results with fast action using this lens. It's been my lens of choice at air shows and at the US Nationals drag races every year.
  23. The EF 70-200/4 L is reportedly sharper than the 70-200/2.8 L, and the 70-200/4 IS L is reportedly sharper than the non-IS version. So for my applications (walkabout use), the choice would be a no-brainer. But I'm still more than content with my ancient 80-200/2.8 L.
  24. You'll love the IS when you need it. This shot was taken hand-held with my 50D and 70-200 2.8L IS @ 200mm, f2.8, and 1/25. That's a full 3 stops below the 1/FL rule, and nearly 4 stops if you include the crop factor.
  25. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Canon 70-200mm L series lens . . . should I get the non-IS . . . I want to use it for sports photography (mostly outdoors but some indoors).

    Is the Image Stabilization worth the extra cost?"
    . If the lens will ONLY be used for sports photography AND
    . that sport never requires panning capture AND
    . that sport (when in low light) requires a shutter speed (around) 1/320s or faster to freeze motion

    If all three above do not apply.

    In either case a monopod will be likely more your friend than a tripod.
    For indoor sport do not consider the F4 version. Also for indoor sport F2.8 might be too slow in some circumstances: in this case the 85F1.8 will be your friend.
    I think very few people buy a 70 to 200F2.8, only to use it for sport.
  26. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I'm considering 70-200 as well. For Wedding photography, could the 70-200 non-IS be used?"
    Darren. Yes it can.
    But the better choice is the 70 200F2.8L IS USM, and it is a better choice by a very long way.
  27. I'm thinking you should get the IS version, as you can turn it OFF when you don't need/want it. Cheaper in the long run than buying one without IS, and then deciding that you'd like to have an IS lens anyway for those certain "special" opportunities.
  28. Hi Daniel,
    My aim is to give you the general scoop on IS versus non-IS, but not as it pertains to sports photography. I'll leave this to the more experienced sports photographers. So here goes: if you get the non-IS version and assuming you are hand-holding the camera, it's a safe bet you will be able to record tack-sharp images at a shutter speed of 1/200 sec. and above. If you get the IS version, you should be able to shoot handheld at a shutter speed of 1/50 sec. and above. Normally, you would need a tripod when using a shutter speed of 1/50 sec. So the advantage of the IS version is that you can handhold the camera at a slower shutter speed, and still get a sharp image. This is worth the extra cost IMHO, especially when travelling and don't want to be burdened by a tripod. Hope this helps.
  29. i'd like to recommend a course of action for you. I'm going to work on two assumptions: 1)you currently do not have a good telephoto lens and 2)you are impatient to get a good lens and go have some fun shooting. The first assumption comes from the fact that you have a T1i, so i'm assuming that you only have the kit lens and you are looking for your first major purchase into lenses. The second stems from the first, and this being a new camera, you really want to get out and take some pictures, not being an old dog at photography and used to the waiting. I'm saying these because they are pretty accurate about myself as well.
    Now, on this assumption that you don't have a good telephoto, buy, this very instant, on adorama, the used 70-200mm f/4 non IS or a new 70-200mm f/4 nonIS for 539 or 600, respectively. Immediately go out and being shooting and having fun. This satisfies the two assumptions and you are happily shooting away enjoying your new camera.
    Continue saving money while doing so. This way your palate is satiated with a big purchase, and you are shooting some good shots and learning what pitfalls, if any, there are with your setup. For instance, would you prefer faster or more accurate autofocus that might come with a constant f/2.8? Would you like a faster lens? Have you found yourself wishing that you had that extra 3stops of IS in some situations?
    Having shot with the lens for three months or so and saved up another couple hundred or a grand, ask yourself if you would like to sell the lens. You can recoup maybe 80% easily and more if you are a little more patient. Get that used copy from adorama for 539 and then sell it for 450 or 500 and be done with it quickly, having spent only 50-80 to evaluate a lens for several months. In effect, rent the lens for an extended three months while you evaluate it, deciding if you need to sell it or it meets your needs. But lenses, especially of this caliber, hold their value well. Try it out and see where your photography leads you.
    But i think that this process will mitigate the pressure that you really want new toys, something that we are all plagued by. Blow off that steam by getting the base version and keep saving. This will alleviate that steam and allow you to evaluate your beautiful lens.
  30. Dan's advice is sound.
  31. Dan's advice makes sense. I have had a 70-200 2.8L non IS for fourteen years now. I did sports for a newspaper for seven years with it shooting several thousand pictures. I did weddings with it, mostly head shots and some dancing. I have done wildlife with it with an extender. Not great at that but I have gotten awards for a few pictures of birds on the wing taken that way. I have IS on a 100-400 and used IS for a dove sitting on a nest on my front porch yesterday (we have to coma and go through the garage as she and he now own the porch). I managed to live without IS for all those years and get paid for my work. I would like to have the f4 version because either the 70-200 or the 100-400 weigh three pounds and I think I am permanently stooped from carrying them around my neck. 2.8 is very useful, however, on dimly lit high school football fields at night. But as Dan says, start with the f4 70-200 f4 non IS. You may never need anything more. As WW says a monopod helps with sharpness and to get the strap off your neck and he's right about 1/320th although that's a little iffy at times. I have a 5D and the high ISO performance of this camera allows me to go a stop or so higher in ISO than I could with earlier digital bodies which argues a bit more for the f4. I don't know how that is on the Xii.
  32. +1 on Dan's advice given your situation and goals.
  33. Dan,
    Very good advice. This isn't actually my first major lens. I have already gotten the canon 100mm macro and also bought the 17-40mm L lens that I use for some real estate photography I do. I am, however, looking for a telephoto and I will follow your advice. You made a lot of sense. I'm going to pick up the 70-200mm f4 and go from there.
    Thanks alot for everyone's help.
  34. I haven't used this lens but Nikon VRs. I also don't know the difference in price.
    Image stabilization is a huge, huge advantage except for always shooting on a tripod, always and exclusively shooting stop-action sports. I personally would pay the extra money for the IS - once you have had a longer lens with IS, it makes a huge difference and you will not want to go back. (Although you may turn it off once in a while).
    This is one of those technological advances that it is worth paying for. I think the only people disappointed with IS are those who did not realize that it wouldn't improve pictures (much) where the primary problem is the subject moving.
    The biggest surprise on this is children - some kids seem to be vibrating on a frequency that is the opposite of the image stabilization ;). For that, only a very fast lens or flash, or pharmaceuticals will work, and only two of those are legal.
  35. I have the 2.8 IS version and love it. I also shot sports but don't use the IS when doing so, however when I need it the IS is there for other subjects and I find it makes a huge difference, obviously everyone is right in saying a tripod or monopod is the best at elimanating blur from shake. Canon has the rebates going on right now so my opinion for what it may be worth is to save up a little more and take advantage of the Canon rebate and get the IS version. Check Adorama's prices they seem to have the lowest compared to Calumet. Just my opinion, good luck!
  36. I use the non-IS F4. It is truly superior in sharpness, and is also an amazingly lightweight, easy to carry and use lens. But I agree with much of the above, which as often should be very useful for you!
  37. I had the F4 non-IS. I liked it but once I got the 24-105 and got used to IS and lower shutter speeds I decided to buy the overly priced (but very nice) 70-200 F4 IS.
    This is a very light and nice lens. I believe it is about the same weight as the 24-105. The IS is slightly better and I can get sharp shots (with good breathing techniques!) at 30th sec at 200 mm, which I still find quite amazing.
    I don't know if it is sharper than the non-IS but it is definitely the sharpest zoom I have.
    Buy it.
  38. Just one final point - IS is a technological advance but the question is do you need it. Remember FD lenses when the Canon top zoom in this range was 80-200 F4L (still a great lens) we were usually shooting 50-400 ISO and yet most of us got most of the shots we needed without IS. Unless you are versy susceptible to shaking or do a lot of long lens low light shots I can think of few occasions when you may need it. Maybe I am biased as I use the non IS version but i am struggling to think of situations on a digital body where I would have needed IS. With the 5DII going to 1600 ISO with good results you already have a 3 stop advantage over the FD lens with a 400 ISO film. The price difference on the F2.8 is quite significant $600 when I bought mine. This would go a long way to buying another lens (e.g. 70-300 IS or even the 100 / 135 F2) that can give you extra flexibility. THe main reason you should buy the F2.8 lens is for its wide open shooting - if you want to shoot at F8 then get the F4 lens it is smaller, cheaper and just as sharp. With a 1600 ISO at F2.8 and at 1/250 of a second gives a LV of 7 - this is pretty dark (e.g. Night time Urban street with lighting) or poorly lit room. If you plan to shoot in these conditions get the IS version. If you just want IS as in insurance policy think about how much you need it carefully from my perspective I have three observations:
    1 It costs about $600 more on the F2.8 (I paid $1120 for mine and the IS version was $1699)
    2 It is about 25% heavier
    3 In my tests it was not quite as sharp although this may be a quality variance issue with the individual lenses
    4 It is probably slightly less durable given it has more moving parts
    That said I am not anti IS - on slow lenses it is a big advantage, before I replaced my 24-105 F4 with the 24-70 F2.8 I was glad the F4 lens had IS. It helps to handhold very long lenses (e.g. my 300 F2.8) and for certain applications is a big help (e.g. indoor concerts) although even here if you a buying a lens specifically for this application there are faster primes.
  39. IMO the 2.8 is much more important than IS. IS does allow some more working room. IMO though, for the stuff I do the 2.8 gives more working room.
    Since the budget is low, see if you can find an old 80-200 2.8L. I have one and it is my best lens, blows away my 100-400 IS L. I can use the 2.8 in more low light situations. Even a person moving their hand in a shot can cause bluring with the slow shutter speeds IS can give you. So, I find that I have more discards when using IS. The poorer AF performance with a F4 lens adds a lot to that count. But, I have a 5D MkII so the AF is not great to begin with...
    Now, at more than 200mm IS is great and is very handy. I do use IS, but pretty disapointed in it overall. Guess I shouldn't be reading camera forums so much.
  40. Speaking personally, I wouldn't have a lens without IS (my 50mm f/1.8 excepted).
    There's never an argument against a stable "shooting platform", and IS goes a long way towards providing that.
  41. Even a person moving their hand in a shot can cause blurring with the slow shutter speeds IS can give you.​
    a too-slow shutter is a too-slow shutter regardless of the lens you use - and it's the photographer that's to blame, not IS.
    That's why we've got high ISOs.
    In fact nothing in your post argues against the benefits of IS. It simply states the obvious - that in low light there's a benefit to fast glass too if high shutter speeds are required.
    Looking at your gallery, I can't see anything that suggests you're routinely working in circumstances where a fast enough shutter speed would be difficult to achieve with a slower lens, though ironically I do see quite a few images (the filly, for example) where your shutter speed wasn't fast enough...
  42. I would love IS on ALL my lenses. My 50L would be even better with IS, as would my 16-35.
    I don't get people who think it's a waste of time, sorry. Having IS on my 24-105 and 70-200 F4 has made me a believer.
  43. I've had the 70-200f4 non IS about a year, and can't say I've ever wished I had IS on it. If I'm shooting in lower light I always use a tripod or at a min. a monopod. I invested "a sum of money" about a year ago to switch all my pods and cams to arca-swiss system, and it hasn't been cheap lol. I used the 70-200 yesterday in early evening light to shoot a kids soccer game on a 40d, what a gem to use.
    My only IS lens is the 300f4, and I got that by default since I couldn't find a used non-IS version at a significant discount, so I bought the new lens rather than a used one. It does come in handy for grab shots, like 1/125 or 1/250 of a second, but I still use a monopod in mode2 when practical. but I'm an FD user from 1980, and continuing, so I like my stuff low tech, if that's possible with digicams anymore.

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