Sunday, December 28, 2014

Using Image Stabilization on a Tripod

I had been taking lightly the recommendation that Image Stabilization (IS) be turned off on my Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens when using on a tripod. After having many soft pictures, I did another side-by-side test on a real subject.

The images below were taken of a snowy egret at about 50ft with camera mounted on a tripod. In both cases, I used back-button focus in AI Servo mode. Before each shot, I unfocused the lens, let AF acquire focus on the feather detail, and let the IS settle for a second before taking the shot. The effect of using IS when "not needed" is pretty dramatic. What I am still uncertain of is what constitutes "not needed".  I have taken slow tripod shots where the IS slightly improved the shot. Is it "tripod and fast shutter" or "tripod or fast shutter" that requires turning off IS.


  1. Hmm. Now I want to go try the same thing with a monopod. I rarely use a tripod in the field but frequently use a monopod.

  2. Several sites, including this post,, indicate that when the level of shake gets too low, the stabilization does more harm than good. The reading I have done indicate that IS should only be enabled for hand-held AND low shutter speed (how low needs some experimenting). A monopod probably sits somewhere between hand-held and tripod.


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