Is Image Stabilization Needed for Macro in 2023?

is image stabilization needed for macro

Hey, it’s Mehmood and Camlense and this time again I will be talking about Macro and IS. Most of the new photographers on social media are asking these questions like is Image Stabilization Needed for Macro Photography? Or is image stabilization important for macros? Etc.

Therefore, our team decided to publish a detailed review about this issue so that the new photographers or even the old ones who are not involved in macro photography, can have a guideline knowledge about the issue. So, is image stabilization required in macro photography? Let’s dive into it.

Use of IS/OIS in Macro Photography

From my point of view, I think Image Stabilization (IS) is far from necessary in Macro. I personally would never make Image Stabilization a deciding factor when choosing a macro lens or a camera for macro photography.

I have shot with a lot of cameras and a lot of lenses, with and without IS and I never noticed that big of a difference. Well, that’s just my gut feeling, and I had no evidence that image stabilization is not important in macro photography. So, today we will be gathering some evidence. 

Image Stabilization Test in Macro Photography

Micael Widell made a thorough test with both still photographs and videos and also with the flash and without the flash and in this post, I am going to tell you the results. So, the Macro lens used was Tamron 90mm Macro Lens with image stabilization built-in used on the Sony A7III.

Let’s try all the combinations of lens stabilization, in-body stabilization, and both and without stabilization. He also tested a Laowa 60mm without IS lens and also tried these lenses on another Panasonic Lumix G9 too.

You can watch the video below and then check our review about it. If the video doesn’t play, click here. The video will play if you wait for a second.

Video footage Comparison

Play Video about is image stabilization needed for macro

Tamron 90mm on Sony a7III

So, as you were able to see with the Tamron with Image stabilization, the footage was a bit shaky but not too bad. After the lens IS ON and the camera IS OFF, you can see that the footage is comparably a bit smoother but not enough to make it a prime factor. When both stabilizations were ON, the footage was actually shakier.

Laowa 60mm on Sony a7III

Next, Laowa 60mm was used which does not have any stabilization and the camera stabilization was turned off. The footage was pretty shaky. After it, in-body IS was turned on, but it was disappointing to see that there were no major improvements.

However, keeping the focal length between 100mm to 200mm, the smoothness was actually improved. Beyond it, it started getting worse.

Laowa 60mm on Panasonic G9

On the G9, with no Stabilization and IBIS turned off, the video seemed pretty shaky, and results were the same with IBIS turned on. I couldn’t notice that much of a difference.

Photos Comparison

When it comes to photography, all possible combinations were tried on in-body and lens stabilization and off-course completely without stabilization and looked for the slowest shutter speed to take these images. The subject was completely still, so it was pretty easy to test these lenses out.

With flash, I can go to lower stabilization as there will be more light to enter the shutter and strike on the sensor. Without flash, these lower shutter speeds would result in blurry images no matter what kind of stabilization you use.

With Flash ON, it matters even less because flash allows fast exposure of about 1/1000 of a second, and with flash, you can get sharper photos even at much lower shutter speeds.

Do I recommend Image Stabilization for Macro?

As I have mentioned multiple times above, I don’t think that IS would play a vital role in macro photography because after looking at the results, one can clearly see that the quality and smoothness of footage and photos won’t change with using the image stabilization.

Therefore, if you are a macro photographer and or want to be, then I won’t recommend going for an expensive lens having IS because IS lenses are pretty much expensive. Instead, you can look for an affordable lens without IS and it won’t have any noticeable change in your work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn’t Stabilization work in Macro photography?

Image Stabilization is not helpful in macro photography because it doesn’t work at high magnification. You can use flash or tripod which will result in a much better outcome.

Do you need autofocus for macro photography?

Yes, autofocus is equally important for macro photography. Autofocus makes it easier to capture macros rather than keep spinning the focusing ring till the image seems sharp.

Do you Really Need Image Stabilization?

Yes, for handheld photos, stabilization is very important, and I would really recommend it. Stabilization balances the vibrations or shakiness of the hand when taking photos. Though if you are doing macro, then it won’t work.

Why Should you Not use IS?

Image stabilization in photos is important because you can have faster shutter speeds but if you are using a tripod or shooting in bright light, you probably don’t need any stabilization.

Final Verdict

After testing these lenses in all tests, IBIS ON and OFF, flash ON and OFF, my conclusion is that stabilization does not help at all in macro photography. I won’t be able to get lower shutter speeds with any sort of stabilization than without. It can help make the composition and frame easier and helps if you are doing video, but it won’t help while taking photos.

Do you have a different experience? I will be happy to know about it if you shared your experience in the comments. Also, you can ask more questions regarding photography in the comments below. Thanks for staying. Good day!

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