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Lens Reviews How-to's

Vibration Reduction - The way to a blurry free image?

Jan Stimel (photocyan)


Keywords: nikkor, vr

Vibration reduction (VR) technology in a Nikkor lens is a great way to reduce shaky images in general. The technology may be great, but some users are confused about how it really works, and what it can and cannot do. To help ease that confusion, I would like to present the basics behind image stabilizing techniques and go deeper into the topic of reducing shaky images with Nikon's VR.  By understanding how VR works you can use it effectively to the benefit of your shooting techniques and your pictures.

The need to reduce shaky images came from both still and video photo professionals. They needed a system that would allow reducing the vibrations caused by a person hand-holding the camera, especially in the tele-zoom range. Our body is not stable enough to hold a camera in the same stationary position for a long time, especially when carrying a heavy lens load.  The invention of vibration reduction systems solved major portions of the problem for professionals and it was not too long before beginners and amateurs were benefitting from this technology. As time went by, Nikon began to incorporate VR into cheaper lenses as well (e.g. the popular AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens introduced over five years ago).

 

The evolution of new technologies brought many concepts and innovations to life, which successfully suppresses the hand shaking and I don’t mean the morning glass of whiskey. Jokes aside, let me shortly explain the main technological solutions.

 

1.Optical stabilization

2.On-chip stabilization

3.Electronic stabilization

nikon zoom 700VR

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9 comments

Aart Louw (AartPapaya) on July 1, 2016

I would like to know when not to use VR. and What is the down side using VR and Using VR with a tripod one gets a minuscule softening of the image. Not correctable? Not applicable for a A3 or smaller print? and How soon does the mechanism work out?

Franklin J. Ellias (Franklin43) on August 19, 2014

Very well written. An easy to understand article. With the information that most readers need without getting so technical that you are lost after the first sentence.

User on July 12, 2014

An informative technical article, thanks. However, I am still confused as to gaining a definitive answer as to when in terms if shutter speeds the use of VR may become counter productive. I have read many articles, Thom Hogan as an example, where higher shutter speeds with VR on can cause problems. I wouldn't expect a definitive answer to be available here, however I wish lens manufacturers would give further advice. Richard

Frederic Hore (voyageurfred) on July 8, 2014

As one who gives photography workshops in Montreal (Canada), Jan is correct to state that VR (Vibration Reduction) should be turned off when your camera is mounted on a tripod. In a Still Photography assignment in which students used a tripod for rock solid support, some of their images were slightly soft, when they were enlarged and projected onto a screen. You cannot see this softness in the viewfinder, or even when enlarged on your LCD. Only when viewed at 100% on a properly calibrated monitor, does image softness become evident. The culprite - VR! For exquisite feather rendering on birds, or any subject with fine detail, turn OFF your VR when your camera is mounted on a tripod. Remember that VR is really designed for slower speed, hand held photography. Hope this helps. Frederic in Montréal http://www.RemarkableImages.ca

Tavia Tindall (tavestar) on July 5, 2014

The article mentions there are drawbacks to VR stabilization, but doesn't explain further what the drawbacks are. However, I did find the overall information helpful since I was interested in learning more about VR. Thanks for sharing!

Antony E.B. Hoare (Antuk) on July 2, 2014

Good review. Covers the bases.

Roger Browne (RogerBrowne) on July 2, 2014

Many thanks for this overview of VR. It answers many of my questions, but at the same time poses many more. In my own photography I am still experimenting to determine when VR is an advantage and when not.

Joseph Kiernan (JosephK) on June 29, 2014

Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit.

Good write up. The only thing that might be missing could be some info about how VR helps with panning for moving subjects.

User on June 28, 2014

Hi,The subject of VR is more important than explaining the fabrication pricipals which do not help a lot photographers. I feel that the help of a Professional photographer on Micro and Macro technicalities will be more helpful, efficient and productif. Finally, I find the raised subjects above re very interresting. Thank you for the good ideas.

G