If you’ve shopped around for a camcorder lately, you’ve surely noticed the terms “optical image stabilization” (OIS) or “electronic image stabilization” (EIS) listed as one of the camcorder’s main features. Almost every camcorder manufactured today will have one, if not a combination of both, of these features built-in. This advanced technology allows you to shoot video, including long-range shots, while minimizing the amount of “camcorder-shake” you see in the video. This greatly increases the video quality and makes for a much better viewing experience when playing back videos on a large TV.
What is “Camcorder-Shake”?
Much like the blurry photos you may have experienced with a digital camera when taking photos at the highest zoom setting, camcorder-shake is caused by the camcorder moving slightly while filming. This is usually due to slight movements in our hands, and the slightest movement will be noticeable on film, even if you think you’re standing perfectly still. When zoomed in close to an object, the effects of camcorder-shake are magnified. To combat this problem, camcorder manufacturers have developed OIS and EIS technology to minimize the amount of visible camcorder-shake while recording video. OIS and EIS differ in how they work, and they each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Optical Image Stabilization
Originally developed by Canon and used in both camcorders and digital cameras, optical image stabilization (OIS) is a feature that is built into the lens of the camcorder, and it effectively minimizes vibrations and shakiness while filming. The OIS feature is built into the lens of the camcorder rather than the camcorder itself, and it effectively reduces camcorder-shake without sacrificing video quality. It’s effective in low-light or brightly-lit conditions, and it’s an especially useful feature if you plan to shoot lots of long-range video.
Reduces shaky, jittery video without sacrificing video quality
Works well in low-light
Great for long-range shooting
Camcorders with OIS are typically bigger and heavier in size
OIS is a more expensive technology than EIS
Battery power drains quicker with this feature
Electronic Image Stabilization
Electronic image stabilization (EIS) differs from OIS in how it works to steady the camcorder video, but it basically serves the same purpose – reducing camcorder-shake. Camcorders with the EIS feature use a complicated algorithm to compare one frame’s contrast and pixel location to the next frame. If there is a major discrepancy between the two frames, the camcorder will automatically compensate for the difference and ultimately reduce the amount of camcorder-shake in the video. EIS works well in most cases, but it varies in effectiveness depending upon the camcorder model and manufacturer.
EIS camcorders are usually more affordable than OIS models
Camcorder with built-in EIS are often times smaller and lighter than OIS models
If you film in brightly-lit areas, EIS works almost as effectively as OIS
EIS isn’t always 100% accurate, so it may affect the video quality
Works poorly in dimly-lit areas (i.e., concerts, night shooting, indoors)
Doesn’t work as well as OIS when at full-zoom (especially when using digital zoom)
Another Way to Reduce Camcorder-Shake
One of the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate the effects of camcorder-shake is to mount your camcorder on a high-quality tripod when filming. A tripod will keep the camcorder steady and works great for long-range shooting. Best of all, it works great for both EIS and OIS camcorders, so anyone can benefit from using one.