Anti-Shake Camera Mechanisms in DSLR Cameras

How DSLR manufacturers help you cut down on camera shake

Canon DSLR Camera

Brian Ach / Getty Images

Camera shake can be caused by many things, but a common problem is the weight of cameras and lenses. Even the most steady of hands can struggle to keep a big telephoto lens stable.

Fortunately, most DSLR manufacturers have developed anti-shake camera mechanisms to help prevent camera shake.

Anti-Shake Mechanisms in the Camera

The most sensible form of stabilization is obviously when manufacturers use an anti-shake camera system on actual DSLR camera bodies. This means that stabilization is in place, no matter what lens you are using.

Manufacturers who currently use anti-shake camera technology on their DSLR bodies are:

  • Pentax (Shake Reduction)
  • Sony (Super Steady-Shot)
  • Konica Minolta (Anti-Shake)
  • Olympus (Sensor-Shift Stabilization)

The only downside of in-camera stabilization is that you cannot see the effect that it is having on your images as you shoot your photos. But this is a small price to pay!

Anti-Shake Mechanisms in the Lens

Why do the two biggest camera manufacturers — Canon and Nikon — only offer stabilization on some of their lenses, and not in camera?

Simply put, both manufacturers produced (and still do produce) film cameras. The lenses that were built for film cameras still work on DSLRs today with all of the AF (autofocus) functions.

Canon and Nikon have simply produced too many lenses with stabilization in the past to switch to in-camera technology at this point.

Unfortunately, you will pay more for a lens with built-in stabilization. Both manufacturers are starting to produce lenses with stabilization for their APS-C range of cameras, and prices are gradually coming down on these. 

Canon uses the abbreviation "IS" (Image Stabilization), and Nikon uses "VR" (Vibration Reduction) to denote lenses with stabilization in them, so make sure to look for this before you buy!

Don't Rely on Anti-Shake Technology

As great as technology is and as quickly as it is advancing, it is not perfect and will likely never reach the point of fixing all of the world's camera shake issues.

Anti-camera shake mechanisms are designed to give you a little bit of an edge to prevent blurry photographs. It may help you reduce your shutter speed one more stop to get a little more light or sharpen up your 500mm lens images just a touch. However, it still will not produce a sharp image while hand-holding the camera at 1/25 of a second.

Image stabilizing is not the magic cure-all for blurry pictures and it is still important for photographers to use tried and true techniques and tools that have worked for decades. Namely, a tripod or monopod, faster lenses with wider f/stops, and a higher ISO or artificial light.