Fuji 18-135mm zoom lens - 5 stops IS??

Fuji claim 5 stops image stabilisation with the 18-135mm zoom lens. These claims are notoriously unreliable, as they depend on all sorts of factors involving the photographer. Since I don't drink alcohol or coffee, take beta blockers to prevent migraines, which slow my heart rate and generally have a steady hand that allowed me to hand hold medium-format film cameras, I should be better than most. 

So I updated my X-T1 firmware, attached the lens and set it at the longest end. Using the old formula for shutter speed to match lens, based on the 35mm system, I would normally use a minimum of 1/250th. sec. at an equivalent / approximate focal length of 200mm. So 5 stops should give me 1/8th. sec. Pretty impressive if it worked. Unfortunately it only did one out of five times. So I then set it to 1/15th. sec. and got four out of five times. 1/30th. sec. was the slowest shutter speed that gave me five out of five, reliably and consistently. 

Now this is still pretty good and 1/30th. sec. for pin sharp pictures at the long end of this zoom is very useful. In an emergency I would try a few shots at 1/15th. sec., assuming I had time to do that of course, but I can't see myself going lower than that. So pretty good, but no cigar, as far as I'm concerned. Others may get better results and with some bracing I may get a higher %success myself, but I tested it under normal shooting conditions. i.e. standing still with the camera to my eye, supporting the lens with my left hand and not breathing. 

The conclusion of all this is that everybody needs to find out what their lowest hand holding limits are for any lens they might use in a situation that requires it. Consequently, I always test out just exactly what I can get away with. It does make the zoom more useful, but if I'm planning to shoot in low light then it's a much better idea for me to take out my 23mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2 lenses, since they are much better suited to low light high ISO work. However, I've always thought that the Fuji lens IS system is the best out there and I've always taken their and other manufacturers claims with a pinch of salt. Maybe if they all stopped trying to one upman their competitors, these IS claims might revert to something more sensible (and accurate!!) Still, as I say, if you have an IS lens or body, you need to check it for yourself.


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