The Image Stabilization Miracle

Who would have thought how much the image stabilization can improve in just a few years? When Olympus introduced their 5-Axis Image Stabilization in the OM-D E-M5 in 2012, it made huge waves across the photography-sphere. Fast forward a few years later, evolving to the IS in their E-M1 Mark II, now I am able to hand-hold confidently at 4 seconds shutter speed and get blur free images! Do bear in mind that this only works for wide angle shots, shooting subjects from quite a distance away from the camera.

4 seconds shutter speed, hand-held. E-M1 Mark II and 12-40mm PRO lens. 

Crop from previous image

I was conducting a night photography workshop recently and encouraged the Olympus participants to try push their ability to hand-hold long exposure shots with the E-M1 Mark II. Some doubted my claim but when I made them do 4 seconds hand-held shots and they got sharp images, obviously they reached a new level of astonishment!

I am not saying that you no longer need a tripod with such capable image stabilization built into the camera. A tripod is still a necessity, especially if you do a lot of slow shutter speed works and landscapes, nothing can truly replace a sturdy, reliable tripod. However, for frequent travelers and photographers who are always on the move and do not do slow shutter photography so much, carrying one around all the time is a burden. In cases when tripod is not around, having a powerful image stabilization is a life saver.

Oh, and that means I can drink more coffee too.

To E-M1 Mark II owners out there, how many seconds can you confidently hand-hold for your slow shutter speed shots? And how many cups of coffee do you drink per day? I want to know!


  1. 2 seconds maybe? oh and 4 cups, sometimes 5.
    I still have the original E-M1. Been itching to get the Mark II but just haven't got the cash saved up yet to purchase.

    1. I couldn't even do 1 second with the old E-M1!! You have super steady hands

  2. Yes, 4 seconds is what I still got sharp photos with. But I used the 12-100 f/4 Pro lens - which has image stabilization too.
    With a non-stabilized lens? Need to try for 4 :)

    1. The sync IS will benefit the longer telephoto end more. Shooting wide angle, say at 12mm or wider, the built in body IS is already super capable.