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Image Stabilisation

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Hi there,


I am a german-based cinematographer an I have observed dslr video only from a distance until recently. To many problems to really see the picture. The GH2 I once played with for a day or two, I actually liked he best - lots of detail in the pictures, and that little screen is useful - but than again the clipping of the highlights and the banding in the sky, and worst, those deep shadows - not really an option. Now I have a project I have to shoot with a small camera, it need to be almost invisible. I did some testing with the Mark III and the d5200. At first I was really impressed with the d5200 - I like the image, it has a lot of detail, the dynamic range is not bad, an it feel rather natural. But then there is the noise in low light ... and the handling is a mess. You need to go out of the live-view to change the aperture - not very usefull. Then I had a close look at the Mark III, which has a much better handling - except for the fixed screen. But comparing the images of both, in the Mark III I saw all the things I don't like about dslr video. So for me it is the d5200 - the pictures feel much more natural an organic. Anyway, here is my Topic: I am looking for a proper wide angle zoom with image stabilisation. I am shooting documentary style, and I cannot use a shoulder rig or anything like that. Has anyone got experience with this type of lenses? I am talking about the nikon 1:4 16-35mm VR or similar. I am right now testing a Sigma 2,8 17-55, and it is not convincing. To soft, to much distortion, all straight lines are bending, no matter whether it is at 17, 21, 24 or even 50 milimeters. So what is a proper lens with image stabilisation?  

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

About the Tamron 17-50, check out this video review that compares Nikon, Canon, Sigma and Tamron 24-70 lenses: http://youtu.be/xat-cF1Aess?t=3m59s


The Tamron 24-70 seem to work quite alright with video stabilisation, and I assume the Tamron 17-50 should be around the same performance. 


Don't expect magic wonders from image stabilisation, though. It surely helps with image stabilisation and with some additional tricks you can probably get it quite stable while still being quite invisible. If you can get one point of contact with your body - it will help. Perhaps even with camera strap somehow.


Practice also helps. My video here is shot with D800 + 50mm f/1.8 lens with no VR:


In the video I'm holding the camera with my right hand, left hand constantly on the focus ring of the lens - so this is quite close to your invisible shooting. Using the camera like this makes your focusing hand VERY tired, so for longer shoots it won't be an option.


I have the Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR. On fullframe at 16mm it has a bit of distortion, which will be a lot less on an APS-C camera like D5200. From 20mm and upwards, there won't be any distortion on the D5200 since it's just using the center crop (very minimal amount of distortion from 20mm and upwards on a fullframe D800 too).


Unfortunately I haven't used the 16-35 for filming anything, just for stills, so I have no comments about VR & filming on that one, yet.

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thank you, folks.




Try the Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC or the Nikkor 17-55/2.8 VR


Is there a 17-55 2.8 with VR? Seems a good option, but I don't think it exists. Only without VR! I tried that in the store, it's nice, but no VR! Is the Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC really any better than the Sigma?


I find using a pistol grip with these cameras helps a lot, and pressing your face against the viewfinder


I got this one



sorry, but with a viewfinder and a pistol grip I am not invisible anymore. I got some shots using a Zacuto Z-Finder evf I connected to the camera with a simple Manfrotto tripod plate and a ballhead. With this simple construction the Z-Finder evf almost was at the same level as the lens. Images were fine - very steady, in a medium wide shot using the 35mm f2.0. Especially if you are following an object, this gives nice shots, an it is kind of fun, except for the poor resolution of the Zacuto Z-Finder evf. (By the way - does anyone know a better viewfinder? Small, lightweight, but better resolution? Full 720p would be great for this camera.) But obviously this will not work for the shots I am thinking of - just holding the camera in your hands, no viewfinder attached, looking at the display from above, and filming wide shots, little movement / movement only in the distance.

So far the Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR for me seems the best option - only the focus ring on the lens does not move very fluid. It has this strange friction to it, that some of the modern nikon zooms have. So once you start focussing manually, you will somehow move the camera. That was the good thing about the Sigma lens - the focus ring runs very easy and fluid in manual mode.

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So far the Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR for me seems the best option - only the focus ring on the lens does not move very fluid. It has this strange friction to it, that some of the modern nikon zooms have. So once you start focussing manually, you will somehow move the camera. That was the good thing about the Sigma lens - the focus ring runs very easy and fluid in manual mode.


I'm with you on this one. I can never really like the new plastic feeling in the modern lenses. I'm all for the old classic metal constructions with solid feel for aperture & zoom. 

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Thanks for suggesting Tamron. I tried the short 17 - 50 2.8. Interesting range ... but it it not very sharp, and that is what I expect in a wide angle lens: a lot of detail, as wide shots usually have a lot of detail.

The Tamron also 24 - 70 2.8 seemed a good option. There is no comparable lens by Nikon. Nikons 24 - 70 2.8 does not have an image stabiliser. But, sorry - I am sending back the Tamron tomorrow. It is not a 2.8, rather a 2.8 1/2. It has a yellow tone to it. It has by way less contrast than the nikon lenses. It has a lot of distortion a the lower end of the range. And again, it does not give enough detail for a wide angle. The image stabilizer works quite well, though, and  I also like the manual focusing on this one. It works better than the modern Nikon lenses.

So after a lot of testing I ended up with a Nikon 24 - 120 4.0. VR . The image stabilization is excellent for filming. It has a lot of detail - even more than my Nikon 24mm 2.8.. Manual focussing is a problem though - the image "jumps" when you change the direction of the focus ring. A group of lenses is moving sideways. It has a lot of distortion at 24 to about 35 mm. But what is really giving me a headache - it is only a 4.0. By still, i did not find a better solution, so I will stick with that lens for now. By the way - in the very nice Nikon 16 - 35 4.0 VR the image stabilization does not work nearly as effective as in this one. And the 16 - 35 is almost impossible to focus manually, the distances are so close together on the focus ring. Otherwise this would have been my choice. It gives good contrast, distortion is not so bad, and it gives a lot of detail, as you would expect in a wide angle. 

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