Pan Handling with IBIS

As in… getting a handle on our panning!*  Tell me when the title puns become too much!  This is becoming fun.

So I ran into something on a recent shoot that I didn’t expect but figured many of you might encounter.  I almost always shoot with In Body Stabilization on when hand holding.  Trust me…I need it.  Coming from other brands and equipment, I just always left it on, even if I was panning motion.  When panning motion I am referring to the technique of using a slow shutter speed to blur or streak the background while following the motion of a moving subject.  The subject looks sharp while everything else looks blurred.

Here is an example from the shoot I was on.

olympus, panning, ibis

1/8th shutter handheld. Panning left to right.

The subject is nice and sharp but there is implied motion from the wheel spin and the motion blur background.  Normally I was used to leaving image stabilization on and just setting my camera for a slow shutter and off to the races. (another pun! must be a long week!)  I was trying and all my shots kept coming out blurred.  I just could not make a solid image.  I thought I was out of practice or that I just sucked at panning for a moment.  Then I remembered Olympus offers different panning modes.  Where they really needed?  Yup… I switched modes and my images instantly came out sharp assuming I panned well.  There was an obvious difference between the IBIS modes and just me not keeping up with my subject.

What is going on here?

You can adjust IBIS settings from the Super Control Panel by hitting the OK button and then selecting the 4th box down on the first column.  Or you can go to Custom Menu C2…but that is too much work.  Just use the SCP.

There are 4 settings.

IBIS Auto – The camera evaluates your motion and auto decides which mode is proper.

S1 – All 5 axis are on and all motion is compensated for.

S2 – Vertical stabilization only so you can pan the camera in “landscape” orientation

S3 – Horizontal stabilization only so you can hold the camera in portrait orientation and pan left to right.

Sorry…but I just don’t trust auto to figure it out for me yet.  I need a lot more trial and experimentation.  For now I always use mode 1 for full stabilization.  When I was shooting though, mode 1 was blurring my panned shots.  Must be a strong stabilizer!  The moment I went to S2 my shots fixed up instantly.  Same with turning the camera vertically.  I had to switch to S3.  It made a real difference.  I would definitely keep this in mind and actually change your stabilizer setting if you are panning motion.

Also note…if you have a lens with image stabilization built into it like the 12-100 Pro…the lens switch that turns on IS is a master control.  That means it turns on or off IBIS as well.  Both lens and body work together.  And it turns back on to whatever you last left it to…or to whatever is programmed in your custom setting.

Thoughts, comments, leave them below!

*For those unfamiliar with the term… “panhandling” is another phrase we basically use for public begging for money.  And it is generally not legal.

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4 thoughts on “Pan Handling with IBIS

  1. I have a Leica / Panasonic IS f6.3 100 – 400 lens. Several photographers suggest I turn off the Olympus IBIS when using this lens. When I turn off the IS using the Super control panel does that leave the lens IS on? What setting do you suggest for this lens?

    1. Hi Jim, if you go to custom menu C2, there is an option called Lens I.S. Priority. You want to modify that option. On Olympus bodies with Panasonic lenses that have lens Image stabilization, you have to pick if you want your in body stabilization or the lens stabilization. You can’t use both together. The Lens priority option lets you pick. If this option is set to ON, then only the lens IS will work. If the option is set to OFF than your IBIS will work. and not the lens. The lens switch will simply turn your IBIS on or off at that point.

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