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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    19

    How much difference does VR make?

    I went into the camera shop this week, to seriously look at buying the new Nikon 18-200 VR, as a replacement for my 18-70mm DX kit lens. Surprisingly, they had one for hire, so I got it for a day and did some shooting. To be honest, I was disappoined. I didn't notice that much difference between the VR lens, and my 18-70, and my 70-300 ED (and yes, I was looking at the shots on a 24-inch high-res LCD screen). How much difference does VR make? Does it improve every picture? (given that camera-shake must effect each shot we take .... even if ever so slightly).

    I would be interested in the experience of others who have used this lens. Is it worth the money? How much 'shake' can it undo? (I take alot of photos in very dark situations .... underground mines, using vehicle headlights/ambient light, etc, instead of flash .... with fairly slow hand-held exposure times). I'd appreciate any helpful comments

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    10
    Does VR or IS improve every image, certainly not.

    It only improves your ability to shoot handheld. Typically VR/IS improves 2-3 stops of light. Meaning for shutterspeed with a 60mm lens you can safely shoot to around 1/60 sec without VR, 1/15 to 1/8 sec with VR.

    So if you shoot indoors or in low light situations, then you'll benefit most from VR. Then you can either shoot more often without tripod or at lower ISO (less noise) or with smaller aperture (bigger f-number, for more depth of field).

    The rule of thumb for shooting handheld is 1/focal lenght. So at 35mm 1/35 sec, at 200mm 1/200 sec. With steady hand you can usually get better results, but these are safe numbers.

    So at longer focal length VR pays of more.

    To be honest I have no at hand experience with the 18-200mm VR lens, but I do own a Canon PowerShot S2/IS. I would love to have an IS 18-200 lens for my Canon 350D though. If the 18-200VR Nikkor was out earlier I would have considered buying a D70s instead.

    Regards Remko
    Canon EOS 350D; Kitlens; Sigma DC 18-200; Canon Speedlite 380EX; Canon RC-1 Remote; Filters: UV, C-Polar, Close-up
    Canon PowerShot S2 IS; Canon WC-DC58A Wide Converter; Filters: UV, C-Polar

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    181
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim R
    To be honest, I was disappoined. I didn't notice that much difference between the VR lens, and my 18-70, and my 70-300 ED (and yes, I was looking at the shots on a 24-inch high-res LCD screen).
    I've been shooting with a VR/IS/AS type system for less than a week so this isn't based on long-term experience with the "technology". I originally read your post as if you expected the quality of the image to improve in some way beyond less blur. I don't think you meant that so let's just talk about the subject of blur.

    Of course, VR/IS/AS won't do anything about subject motion, just motion of the camera in the hands of the user (and can actually make thing worse if it's left on when the camera is on a tripod).

    VR/IS/AS in my estimation is valuable for what it can assist you in doing. Here's an example. Last evening I was walking by a fountain. I wanted to photograph it at a slow shutter speed to emphasize the motion of the water. Because of lighting conditions I would have had to bump the ISO up in order to make the shot handheld. A tripod would have been the solution if I had one but this was just a casual impulse shot (life is full of those) and there wasn't even anything to brace against. VR/IS/AS was a useful tool to assist me to lower my shutter speed enough to get the effect I wanted without the whole image being blurred by camera shake. It worked fine. Did it "improve" the quality of the photo? Only in the sense that it helped me do something I wanted and overcome a technical limitation that has always existed with cameras.

    Someone in another thread said about VR/IS/AS that it has an on-off switch and you can use it when and if you want to. That's my opinion as well. For those times where it helps you get a photograph that you otherwise may not have ... it's like chicken soup ... it couldn't hurt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,225
    The published spec for the 18-200 claims up to 4 stops difference in hand holding capability. Of course, this is only useful for static subjects. If you have a tripod, that is always the best solution for a low shutter speed, but with VR, you can still get the shot.

    VR won't make much different at high shutter speeds, because camera shake is not really a factor. It also has greater influence over longer telephoto lenses, because they are most affected by slow shutter speeds.

    I was playing around with the modes today on my 18-200. There is definitely an advantage to VR, at least for me. Unfortunately, I don't have the photos handy to post, but on the cameras monitor, there was a clear difference between VR on and OFF. There was less difference between Active and Normal modes, but I wasn't using Active from a moving vehicle, so I really didn't really test it in its proper environment.

    One thing people don't really think about is the crop factor when they think about 1/focal length. Hand holding capability is influenced by the crop factor, because it is the narrower angle of view that causes camera shake to be magnified. So when figuring the normal minimum hand holding speed and 200mm, it's really 1/300. The D70 and, I suppose, the D50 are very forgiving if you tend to follow the basic rule without taking into account crop factor. This may be due to having lower resolution than my D200, but I'm just guessing. I can say that the D200 is not as forgiving.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    6,590
    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund
    One thing people don't really think about is the crop factor when they think about 1/focal length. Hand holding capability is influenced by the crop factor, because it is the narrower angle of view that causes camera shake to be magnified. So when figuring the normal minimum hand holding speed and 200mm, it's really 1/300. The D70 and, I suppose, the D50 are very forgiving if you tend to follow the basic rule without taking into account crop factor. This may be due to having lower resolution than my D200, but I'm just guessing. I can say that the D200 is not as forgiving.
    Your D70 did apply quite some sharpening, even with RAW, so that may be a factor in it being forgiving (this also made it more forgiving with cheaper optics). Also what may be a factor in this is that a movement of two pixels on the D200 is smaller than a movement of 2 pixels on the D70, so camera shake does show up a little bit sooner.
    Canon EOS 350D, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC EX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Tokina AT-X124 Pro 12-24mm F4, Soligor 1.7x C/D4 DG Teleconvertor, Manfrotto 724B tripod, Canon Powershot S30

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    40
    I think VR will help different people in different situations.

    I was told by a co-worker "I don't need to spend that kind of money on anything with anti-vibration...I am steady enough!"

    I'll point out that this co-worker was NOT with me on the waterfront, in temps below zero, and -teens chill factors.

    That said...this is where I hope VR will work for me. One tends to shiver under those cold circumstances!

    I will post any results...my 18-200 arrived two hours ago, and I will be looking to try it out very soon!
    Nothing fancy...Just a Nikon D50,SB600 with 18-200 VR,70-300 Nikkor glass and a Tamron 2x T-converter

    I'm also into cars...see my ride along with some friend's rides at my website: www.n2ovette.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    40
    Two things I love about the VR on the 18-200

    1. It lets me leave the camera @ f/8 assuring great sharpness (unless I am going for shallower depth of field)

    2. I can shoot @ 200mm hand held without worrying to see if I have enough light to get 1/200 or better shutter- this time of year where I shoot there is almost never enough natural light for shutter speeds like that unless you bump the ISO way up.


    I don't have terribly steady hands and have real good results with the 18-200 at 1/30 second @200mm. If I take the same shot with VR off it's unusable. Perhaps if I lived closer to the equator where there was more than a few sunny days a month it wouldn't be that big a deal, but I don't so for me, at least till April or so, it's either a tripod or VR.
    Last edited by BigConig; 02-08-2006 at 07:12 AM.

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