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Sony Optical SteadyShot vs In-Body Image Stabilization (A6500 vs. A6400)


Arthur Reutov (from the TechnologyMafia channel on YouTube) recently published a video looking at an interesting topic – how does the Sony built-in in-camera stabilizer technology (IBIS) compares to that of the company’s own optical SteadyShot technology found on many of the company’s lenses – we have his results and a few notes of our own.

Reutov starts by taking a look at the video performance of the A6500 with an unstabilized lens and the A6400 with a stabilized one. when walking with both cameras the results are less than ideal (this is something that we have experienced ourselves using both the A6500 and the older A6300 which just like the new A6400 has no IBIS).

When comparing the results of normal handheld video shooting (standing in one place) the OSS seems to have just a little bit more wobble (by the way both cameras suffer from chronic rolling shutter but that is a different issue).

What Reutov didn’t test enough in our opinion (and to be fair is actually quite difficult to test in any repeatable objective way without expensive lab gear) is stills shooting. In good lighting conditions OSS/IBIS are typically less critical for stills (unless you close down a lot or as we will mention next – use a long telephoto lens). In low light conditions, things become more interesting but Reutov didn’t really show any demo of that.

As we mentioned another condition where you might want some sort of image stabilization is when using long telephoto lenses. Sony is still pretty weak in this department compared to Canon/Nikon especially when looking for native affordable lenses – but this might change in the not too distant future.  Historically both Nikon and Canon told us that optical stabilization is better for long telephoto lenses than IBIS (which makes sense) but the two systems working together might (if calibrated correctly) produce even better results.

At the end of the day – this is an interesting test but far from conclusive in our opinion and there are some important examples that were not demonstrated enough.

It is also important to keep in mind a few other things. Reutov tested the IBIS on the A6500 which was never considered one of the best in the industry. The in-body stabilization on Panasonic cameras and even more so Olympus advance models with their smaller sensors always seemed to perform much better from our experience and also seems to work better in conjunction with the optical stabilizers on some micro 4/3 lenses. We are eagerly waiting to see if Sony will bring any new significant IBIS technologies on its upcoming line of cameras from 2019 onwards.

You can check out more of videos from our photography gear guides section here on LensVid.

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