LG G4 Optical Image Stabilization Explained

May 4, 2015

The LG G4 has an improved image stabilization mechanism, which improved upon the OIS+ of the LG G3 (dubbed OIS 2.0).  The new optical image stabilization now also compensate for camera movements along the Z-axis. LG also improved the image stabilization of the X- and Y-axis from one degree to two degrees.

The new OIS improved the correction angle of 0.7 compared to 0.5 on the G3. This means that that the image stabilization can better compensate for more harsh movements.

The image below shows the compensation for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 image stabilization. It put it here so demonstrate how the OIS works, but of course the LG G4 OIS is different than the E-M5 mirrorless camera.

2 axis vs 5 axis image stabilization

2 axis vs 5 axis image stabilization

You can see the Y-axis, X-axis and Z-axies. The LG G4 compensate for vertical and horizontal movements, and also for rolling movement along the Z-axis.

The optical image stabilization is very important when shooting in low-light, but not only in low-light. It’s main purpose is to allow photographers to achieve sharp photos when shooting handheld, and when using shutter speeds that are slower than the needed to get a sharp image for a particular focal length.

Let me explain to you what it means. According to the shutter speed ‘rule’ of thumb, when shooting handheld, you should pick a shutter speed that is equal or faster than the focal length of the lens. So if you shoot with a 28mm lens, you should set the camera’s shutter speed to at least 1/50 sec. Of course it depends how stable your hands are when shooting, but that’s the general rule and it works on most cases.

The problem stars when you need to shoot in slower shutter speeds than the recommended one. Why you need it? Because when shooting in dim light conditions, you need to lower the shutter speed to allow more light to reach the sensor in order to get a well-exposed image. So for example, you might want to shoot with a 28mm lens inside a dark bar and at ISO 200 to get a low-noise image. So according to that rule, you’ll need to shoot at a shutter speed which is at least 1/28 sec or faster. The problem is that if you shoot at that minimum shutter speed, you won’t get an optimal exposure and your photo might appear dark.

In order to get good exposure you have two choices, you can either use a higher ISO which will increase the amount of noise or use a shutter speed which is slower than the recommended one. But changing to a lower shutter speed can lead to a blurry image, especially if that shutter speed is significantly slower than 1/28 sec., like 1 second (also referred to as ‘long exposure’ shot).

The optical image stabilization comes in aid here. It allows you to shooter at slower shutter speeds and still get a sharp image. I didn’t find any official source that mentions how much stops advantage you get with the new OIS 2.0. I assume that it’s something between 2 to 3 stops.  Each stop allows two times more light. The OIS moves the sensor in the opposite direction of your hand movement to prevent light to ‘smear’ on neighbor pixels.

Just keep in mind that the OIS can’t correct harsh movements, only slight hand movements, 0.7° to be exact. These are very slight movements that the LG G4 OIS can correct.

You also have the option to use a higher ISO sensitivity or use a faster aperture (smaller f-number). If you didn’t have an OIS, you would had to either use a faster aperture or use a higher ISO speed. The problem is that in many cases you’ll already be using the maximum aperture of the lens (f/1.8 in case of the LG G4) and wouldn’t want to use a higher ISO speed because it will lead to more noise. So this is where the OIS becomes super useful.

At the end of the day, you’ll come home with more beautiful images, whether for sharing on the web or for print.

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