Solved: Image Stabilization with the Fujinon 18-55 OIS lens

Earlier this year, I posted about using image stabilization with the Fuji 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 OIS Fujinon lens. Actually, I posted about how turning OIS on ended up creating softer images than hand-holding at moderate to fast shutter speeds. It’s frustrating to me because I really like the overall sharpness and versatility of this lens, but I was at the point where I’d only turn stabilization (IS) on when I was shooting at very low shutter speeds (slower than 1/60s).

Today I got a message from a friend asking if I’d tried setting stabilization to Mode 2, as he’d heard this might solve the softness issue we were both seeing with the Fuji 18-55mm lens.

Huh? I had to plead ignorance on that one. I knew there were two stabilization (IS) modes with the Fujifilm X-T1, but I didn’t think they’d cause any major differences in sharpness. Why? Here’s what the manual says about the two image stabilization options:

  • Mode 1 (Continuous): Image stabilization on
  • Mode 2 (Shooting only): Image stabilization enabled only when the shutter button is pressed halfway or the shutter is released.

Ok, so reading that, you have either full-time stabilization in the viewfinder as the “Default” option, and “half-press” stabilization (similar to how Nikon VR works) as the other choice. What’s even more confusing is that you don’t see this reference to “half-press” in the in-camera menu. It simply says “shooting only.” I interpreted (wrongly) that this meant it would only kick in stabilization when I released the shutter, not with a half-press. Having continuous IS enabled means that the viewfinder image is always stabilized.

So, I did some quick boring test shots. I focused on a wall calendar and used settings that ought to be well within the “normal” zone for stabilization: 1/125s f/4 ISO 800. That’s typical indoor shooting with daytime window light, and something most IS systems should handle with ease. I made three shots: IS OFF, Mode 1, Mode 2.

Here are the results:

The full-frame images (Click to enlarge)

Stabilization off (click to enlarge)
Stabilization off (click to enlarge)
Stabilization Mode 1 (Continuous)
Stabilization Mode 1 (Continuous)
Stabilization Mode 2 (shooting only)
Stabilization Mode 2 (shooting only)

Crop views:

Stabilization off
Stabilization off
Stabilization Mode 1 (Continuous)
Stabilization Mode 1 (Continuous)
Stabilization Mode 2 (Shooting only)
Stabilization Mode 2 (Shooting only)

I think it’s clear that Mode 2 (shooting only) produced the sharpest image of the bunch. In fact, Mode 1 is slightly softer (to my eye, at least) than IS off.

So the good news is that I’m switching my Fuji X-T1 to use Mode 2 stabilization only from now on. I actually don’t mind this change at all, as it’s exactly what I’m used to with my VR Nikon lenses. As an added benefit, I would imagine using the Mode 2 setting would be more power-efficient, too. Of course, it’s still a good idea to disable IS when shooting at very fast shutter speeds (1/1000s or faster) or when using a tripod.

5 thoughts on “Solved: Image Stabilization with the Fujinon 18-55 OIS lens”

  1. Thanks Jason. That’s fantastically helpful. As much as I like my Fuji X-E1, the implementation of some aspects are somewhat bizzare.

    You’ve solvec a mystery for me. Thanks for posting your discovery.

  2. Ois mode1 and 2 doesnt feature of body, it comes with the lens…btw, thanks for sharing your findings…i was trying to figure out what are these modes on my xf1024.,,

  3. Thanks for posting this. I too have often wondered what effect these setting would have on IQ.

    The Fuji manuals are sometimes less than helpful.

    Well done!

  4. I have a similar experience – the IS mode 2 with IS lens on X-E2 seems to work better, more often.

    A question: with X-E2, IS mode 2 doesn’t seem to engage IS when the shutter is half-pressed – it seems to work only during the shot, with stabilization being ‘invisible’ to the user – is this something that has been changed in X-T1/10?


  5. Really interesting observation, thank you. HOWEVER, the instruction manual is also silent on the question of panning. My Canon 70-200L has a Mode which only stabilises 90 degrees to the panning path. This is great, and I use it widely. I can’t seem to make the Fuji work like this.
    Secondly, the 50-140 makes a constant “gyro running” noise even when in mode 2, IF stabilisation is switched “On” on the lens. This means it must be draining powere even when the lens is doing nothing. Why do Fuji so often ALMOST get it perfect?

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