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5D3 Firmware Hiccups (2): No IS (Image Stabilizer) support


Almost all new lenses have IS. Yeah, I know: almost. (I'm looking at you Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8 Mk II). But a bunch of them have. Not only from Canon, but also from other 3rd parties like Tamron (Ha!), Sigma and others.


But let’s take a IS zoom. For example, EF 70-200mm L IS II USM. You cannot say that this lens is rare, a corner case or an unsupported one. However, 5D Mark III does not fully support it. In fact, it doesn’t fully support its Image Stabilizer. 

How can this be?

First, let us briefly remind what is the Image Stabilizer: (for our discussion) Image Stabilizer is a lens’ feature which allow the photographer to shoot un-blurred photos at significantly (several stops) lower shutter speeds than the focal length.

However, we cannot leverage the advantage of the Image Stabilizer if we use the AutoISO with the Min Shutter Speed set to Auto because the AutoISO uses in 5dMk3 the actual focal length of the lens. So, all the advantage of the Image Stabilizer is mitigated.

Hence in order to really use the Image Stabilizer we need to ‘freeze’ the shutter speed by using the Tv or M modes. In Av mode (one of the most used modes today) or P mode, the camera nullifies the advantage of having an Image Stabilizer.


And this can be a major problem in the case of a zoom like the one in the example above (70-200 f/2.8 IS) because when you are at an event where the things are rolling quickly (sports, weddings, concerts, news events etc.) it is quite hard to adjust “by hand” the shutter speed by looking back and forth at the lens’ barrel and to the camera’s screen to match the ever-changing actual focal length with the shutter speed. And of course, this applies only if you remember that you must change that.

And now I’m thinking at a superzoom like 28-300mm L IS. How can one use it with ease leveraging the advantage of the IS and the AutoISO? And when one thinks that the main reason for such a lens is that the things are happening so quickly that you cannot change the lens…

Another problem is what happens when we are shooting from a moving platform? Shooting nautical sports and landscapes from boats come in mind, but also safari from cars moving at reduced speeds, street photography (including manifestations, riots etc.) from cars, trams and trains moving slowly etc. Here we must not reduce by a fraction the shutter speed (because we have IS) but rather to increase it , in order to mitigate the movement of the vehicle (even if we have an IS lens attached).


Yet another problem: Nikon has it. And yet another one: Isn't only Nikon which has it.

Proposed solution: Add in the AutoISO settings menu a new option called AutoShutterSpeed Compensation which will specify in 1/3 EV increments how much lower or higher the shutter speed should be relatively to the actual lens’ focal length. Of course, this value will be taken in account when the Min Shutter Speed will be set to Auto. 


Thoughts? Comments?


PS: If the R&D engineers are trully geeks, perhaps they can implement via lens+camera firmware in order to autodetect the IS and automatically adjust the shutter speed if the user chooses this? ...or perhaps I'm thinking too iPhonesque?...


Yeah, I know: John, be super happy if you'll see a barebones implementation in a new firmware, even in April.

my 2c & HTH,

John Th.

Rising Star
Yes, I like your suggestion very much! Reading the focal length value to set a lower (and even upper) TV limit would be very clever and useful.

Not savvy on Nikon firmware, do they offer such a feature?

Nikon has it but only on the flagship cameras (ie. D4).


However I don't like their implementation. They use a slider (trackbar) control, while IMHO a better solution would be a spin (up-down) edit - it is more compact, allows a bigger range and, also, DryOS (Canon's dSLR internal OS) has it already.


For ref.


slider control - see:


spin edit control - see:



my 2c & HTH,

John Th.

...Now this feature is present in Nikon D7100 also. A $1199 body...


Boys, wake up. Canon is way bellow / behind - don't trust very much in your market share. There is inertia but not for long..


Just sayin'...

my 2c & HTH,

John Th.


This is a great idea. I've been wanting this for ages in my 7D.

The best, simplest way to implement it would be just as John says. An option that lets the user set "Shutterspeed with AutoISO" or "shutterspeed compensation" to 1/FL (default), 1–4 stops slower than 1/FL, and perhaps even an option to set it 1–2 stops faster than 1/FL for action shooters.

One question that arises: Should this option be used only for when IS is detected?

I guess the intelligent thing to do would be: If a slower value is selected, use it only when IS is active. If a faster value is selected, use it regardless of IS.

Hmmm... good question. Smiley Happy


I didn't thought at but now I find also use cases even for a slower value - if one knows from experience that his (more or less) steady hand (or, ok, his sharpness / quality expectations) can cope with a little slower shutter speed in order to get his exposure right in low-light conditions.


Hence we distinguish the following cases for "Shutterspeed compensation" (good name btw):


  • "Always on regardless IS"
  • "Always on for a faster value"
  • "Always on for a slower value"
  • "On only if IS is detected"

...but the problem is: Does the firmware (ok, the main processing engine) knows that the lens has IS and its state (is activated or not)?


IMHO, if they implemented the things correctly, the lens should fully advertise itself, hence besides the actual focal length, aperture (etc.) the lens should communicate the IS's state also (ie. On/Off). The other part (if the lens has IS or not) is much easier - one can fake it by using profiles. This is the solution which they use in the case of vigneting, correction of aberations etc.


In any case though, even if this improvement would be very wellcomed, I would be satisfied even with the original proposal. And this is because we're speaking like users / programmers etc. from 2013 (iPhone etc.) and their mindset is very very very conservative (mainframes 1960).


But I know that they are very smart guys and can change that. It needs determination and flexibility.

my 2c & HTH,

John Th.
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