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Canon IS lenses and tripods/monopods

Ian Pratt 16 75
15 Feb 2007 7:38AM
Somewhere I have read that IS lenses should have the IS turned off if using a tripod. Is this correct, and if so does it apply to using a monopod?
I use a Canon 300 mm F4 USM IS lens with a 1.4 converter on a monopod and often the photographs are not as sharp as I would expect. Has anyone else experienced similar problems?

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albi 13 68 1 England
15 Feb 2007 8:09AM
Never turn mine off when using a tripod unless I'm using a cable release, the IS motor can move the focus point when it starts up, and the only time I've turned it off when I was using a monopod was when I was panning, the IS couldn't keep up with the panning which was making the image in view finder skip about.

This has only happened a few times to me, I think it depends on the speed your panning at for this problem to arise, other than that I've had no problems with the IS being left on..

stevebostock 12 244 England
15 Feb 2007 8:37AM
i use the 100-400 L IS on a monopod regularly, there is sufficient motion to warrant it trying to catch action at matches, I've never tried it on a tripod though. The only issue i've had with sharpness is at full aperture, backing off two stops or so brings it back up.
JohnHorne 13 1.0k
15 Feb 2007 10:18AM
What shutter speed are you using ? And what shutter speed do you find that you can manage if hand-holding without monopod or IS ?

A monopod reduces camera shake to the extent of allowing you to use a shutter speed a couple of stops or so slower than if you were hand-holding the lens. By using IS you can gain a further two or three stops, so with your lens, converter and monopod combination you might be able to get away with a shutter speed of 1/125 sec without IS and 1/30 with IS switched on. (That's assuming that you accept the guideline shutter speed of one-over-focal-length, which a number of people consider a bit optimistic. Unfortunately it has been repeated so often that it is often assumed to be a universal rule, regardless of any other factors.)

Whether or not you switch off the IS when using a tripod depends on the lens and your personal working methods. I believe that switching off IS was advised with early IS lenses, but that doesn't seem to be the case now. I don't switch it off, for fear of forgetting to switch it back on again subsequently.

Tha manual for my 24-105 IS lens says:
- When you use a tripod, the Image Stabiliser should be turned off to save battery power *
- The stabiliser is equally effective for hand-held photography and photography with a monopod.

* My italics. The point is it doesn't say that it must be switched off for reasons of image quality. Compare with the manual's advice when using Bulb mode, where using the IS function "may introduce errors". It would be worth checking the manual for your lens to see what it says about use with tripods.

So, to get back to your setup, I would use IS but check the shutter speed.


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