The standard kit lens for most of the Fujifilm X-mount cameras, including the X-T1 I just purchased, is the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS zoom lens. There’s a lot of alphabet soup going on with that name, but the main feature here is OIS, or Optical Image Stabilization. This in-lens stabilization system is intended to improve the sharpness of hand-held images of static subjects at lower shutter speeds. As someone who’s used Nikon’s VR lenses for nearly a decade now, I’m very much happy with the feature, especially when shooting indoors. Keep in mind that no stabilization system will prevent subject motion blur at low shutter speeds.
I was doing some test shots with the 18-55mm lens, and I just wasn’t getting satisfactorily sharp results. As I was shooting hand-held, I had OIS enabled. Just for fun, I thought I’d test my lens with the OIS turned off. What I saw was amazing as my image sharpness rivaled that of my 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS G Nikkor lens. It is true that in certain situations, stabilization systems can actually introduce softness when using fast shutter speeds, but it’s not something I found to be an issue with my Nikkor glass. But with this particular lens, it makes a huge difference!
Note: I tested my lens with Firmware Version 3.11, which is supposed to improve OIS functionality.
Just for fun, here is a series of hand-held test shots captured with the 18-55mm lens, with OIS off and on. These images were in-camera jpegs which I cropped and saved with mild sharpening applied. The point is to evaluate relative sharpness with OIS. In the images below, click to enlarge.
Shooting at 55mm (83mm equivalent in 35mm format) and 1/15s, you can clearly see that OIS stabilizes the lower image.
OIS also improves image sharpness at 1/60s. Again I expected this because I’m still shooting slower than 1/1.5x focal length.
At 1/125s, the differences are minimal at best. I’d call this a tie.
At 1/250s, the image at top (OIS off) is actually sharper than the image captured with OIS on. Click the image to see a larger view.
I’ve seen this kind of result consistently with the 18-55mm Fujinon. Fine detail seems to be lost at shutter speeds faster than 1/125s. For that reason, I’ll be keeping OIS off on this lens unless I’m shooting indoors at slow (1/60s or longer) shutter speeds.