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homemade steadicam Image stabilization is one of the current digital camera buzz features. Its job is to compensate for any tiny hand movements that occur when a picture is being taken. These movements can lead to pictures that are blurred. In theory image stabilization can sharpen up your photos helping you to achieve crisp prints to impress your family and friends with. How much you will benefit from buying a digital camera with image stabilization built in depends on two main factors. These are the type of digital camera you buy and also the type of photos that you are planning to take. Lets start by looking at the type of photos you will be taking most of the time with your digital camera. If the main use is likely to be taking photos outside on a sunny day then image stabilization will be less important to you. This is especially true if you plan to take photos where you do not need to zoom in. In these conditions and for this type of photo the camera only needs to keep the shutter open for a split second. In this time there is not much chance of the camera moving unless you have shaky hands. Therefore image stabilization does not have much work to do and you are unlikely to see much difference between a picture taken with image stabilization switched on or switched off. If you zoom in on a subject this cuts down on the amount of light reaching the sensor inside the digital camera through the lens. To compensate for this and to make sure the picture is not too dark the camera leaves the shutter open for longer. This gives greater opportunity for camera shake. Therefore the importance of image stabilization starts to kick in. Taking this a step further if you take a picture in lowlight the camera will keep the shutter open for an even longer period. At this point it is difficult to avoid camera shake, especially if the lens is fully extended. This is where you are likely to gain the maximum benefit from image stabilization. Next let us consider the type of digital camera you are planning to buy. The importance of image stabilization is much more apparent if you are looking to buy a super zoom digital camera. With a long lens offering 10x or 12x zoom the decrease in the amount of light hitting the sensor is magnified. A secondary issue is super zoom digital cameras are much larger and heavier than smaller compacts. This makes it much more difficult to hold them steady. Therefore image stabilization has a much more important role to play with this type of camera. As you can see image stabilization has a kind of progressive influence. By thinking through the type of pictures you plan to take and the type of camera you are planning to buy you should get an indication as to the level of benefit you will gain from it. A potentially confusing aspect of this subject is that you may come across two different methods of image stabilization. The most common method is optical image stabilization. This works through tiny gyroscopes within the lens. As any movements are detected the gyroscopes move to keep the lens still. The second method is a technique that moves the image sensor to counteract any movement. One thing that can trick image stabilization is if you use a tripod. Using a tripod is one way to avoid camera shake altogether, but when used in combination with image stabilization it can actually cause blur in a photo and it is advisable to make sure you have turned image stabilization off before you take a picture.