I had a number of discussions with other fellow photographers and our readers about Vibration Reduction (also known as Image Stabilization, Vibration Compensation and Optical Stabilization), its behavior and how to best use it. While I will provide detailed information on how to properly utilize Vibration Reduction on Nikon’s lenses in a separate article, for a while I wanted to prove that letting VR stabilize first yields sharper images. There are a number of folks out there, who seem to think that just firing the shutter button is sufficient and that VR will stabilize those images as good as if one were to half-press the shutter button, wait a few seconds and then take an image. From my experience, letting VR stabilize first for a few seconds always yielded better shots, but I just could never actually prove it. Until today.
I have been spending a lot of time in my lab during the last several days testing almost all Nikon’s super telephoto lenses including the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II, 200-400mm f/4G VR, 500mm f/4G VR, 600mm f/4G VR and the new 800mm f/5.6E VR with various teleconverters (using Imatest) and I came across three different scenarios to test how VR affects sharpness:
- Vibration Reduction Turned Off. Camera set to Self Timer (5 seconds), Exposure Delay (3 seconds). Remote cable release.
- Vibration Reduction Turned On. Camera set to Self Timer (5 seconds), Exposure Delay (3 seconds). Half-press the shutter button for a couple of seconds, full-press, but continue to hold the shutter button. VR stays continuously on throughout the sequence.
- Vibration Reduction Turned On. Camera set to Self Timer (5 seconds), Exposure Delay (3 seconds). Remote cable release. VR turns on at the beginning of the sequence, turns off before the timer ends and turns on again during the exposure.