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Image Stabilization Digital SLR Cameras

Image stabilization digital SLR cameras are great for two types of photographers: those with shaky hands and those who take photos in low light without flash.

The concept of image stabilization is nothing new: it's been available in Canon and Nikon lenses for years now.

But adding stabilization to the camera body is a recent development, and carries some significant advantages with it.

In the paragraphs that follow, I'll introduce you to the concept of built-in image stabilization and will list the digital SLR cameras that use it.

How Image Stabilization Helps

The Problem

There are times when you want to take photos in dim light but are not allowed to use a flash (or maybe you don't want to use a flash for aesthetic reasons).

  • Without flash, the camera must use a slow shutter speed to ensure the picture turns out
  • When you hold a camera in your hands it shakes
  • Slow shutter speeds + shaking hands = blurry photos

Before image stabilization became a common feature of lenses, the only options available to photographers who worked in low-light environments was to use a lens with a wide maximum aperture or to use a very high ISO setting, so that the camera's sensor absorbed more light.

The Solution

So what's the best way to compensate for a shaky camera? Devise a system that counteracts the shake.

Welcome to the world of image stabilization digital SLR cameras.

As I mentioned above, Canon and Nikon created high-end lenses that include image stabilization. Canon calls their lenses IS (for Image Stabilization) while Nikon uses the term VR (Vibration Reduction).

If you're thinking about getting either a Canon or Nikon digital SLR camera, then the only way to get image stabilization is to buy one of these lenses.

In order to compete with these two camera giants, the other companies were forced to get creative.

Instead of including image stabilization in the lenses, these companies built the stabilization into their camera bodies. The digital sensor is placed in what looks like a gyroscope, so that even if the camera shakes, the sensor remains still.

The Benefits of Built-in Image Stabilization

Image stabilization digital SLR cameras are great for people who take a lot of photos where there's not a ton of light.

The most obvious example is travelers who enjoy taking photos inside museums, aquariums and other monuments where flash photography is not allowed.

In these cases, image stabilization helps you get clear photos even if you have to use slow shutter speeds.

Image Stabilization Digital SLR Cameras

Here are the latest camera models that include built-in image stabilization.

Olympus E-620
olympus e-620
May 2009 An upgrade to the E-520, the E-620 includes an LCD that flips out from the camera body, built-in image stabilization, dust control and an enhanced live view mode.
$700 USD
Olympus E-30
olympus e-30
Jan. 2009 The E-30 includes special "art filters" that let you enhance the images you take without needing a computer. In addition, the E-30 is also a responsive camera, capable of capturing 5 photos per second, and it has an LCD that flips out from the camera body for high and low angle shots.
$995 USD
Olympus E-3
olympus e-3
Nov. 2007 The E-3 boasts one of the fastest autofocus systems you can get your hands on. It pairs this with built-in image stabilization, complete weather sealing, and an LCD that flips out from the camera body and rotates.
$1,200 USD (body only)
Pentax K-x
pentax k-x
Oct. 2009 The K-x is awash with features: it's small and light with a 720p video capture mode, built-in image stabilization and High Dynamic Range (HDR) capacity. An 11-point autofocus and 4.7 photo per second speed tops things off. Of note: the camera will be available in white, red and blue in addition to black.
$650 USD
Pentax K-7
pentax k-7
July 2009 The Pentax K7 is the only 14 megapixel digital SLR that can capture both stills and High Definition video. The K7 includes built-in image stabilization and a fast continous speed of 5 photos per second.
$1,200 USD (body only)
sony dslr-a500
Oct. 2009 The A500 is an all-around shooter with a reasonable price. Included in the camera are built-in image stabilization, dust control, a live view LCD (that flips out from the camera body) and an in-camera HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode that automatically blends multiple images with different exposures.
$850 USD
sony dslr-a550
Oct. 2009 The A550 can capture a speedy 7 photos per second, and pairs this speed with dust control, an LCD that flips out from the camera body and built-in image stabilization.
$1,050 USD
sony dslr-a850
Sept. 2009 Want megapixels? Then the A850 is your camera of choice - with a full frame sensor and a whopping 24.6 megapixels per photo. Just be prepared to pay a premium for all those extra pixels.
$2,000 USD (body only)

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