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Olympus E-510 Gordon Laing, June 2007

Olympus E-510 video tours: Major features / Body versus lens anti-shake

Olympus E-510 with Leica D 14-50mm lens

The Olympus E-510 is the first Four Thirds body with built-in stabilisation. The Leica D 14-50mm is the first Four Thirds lens with optical image stabilisation. These two products give us a unique opportunity to directly compare sensor-shift with lens-based optical stabilisation, along with trying both systems simultaneously. Double stabilisation or double trouble? We’ll show you right here!

First things first: both Olympus and Panasonic independently advised us the two different stabilisation systems would not work together. You could choose one or the other, but shouldn’t have both running at the same time.

To put this to the test we shot the same scene handheld and moments apart with the Leica lens zoomed-into 50mm and the E-510 set to a shutter speed of just one quarter of a second. We took four different shots: first with both the lens and body-based stabilisation switched off. Second with the Leica’s OIS switched on, but the E-510’s body IS switched off. Third with the lens OIS switched off and the body IS activated. And finally with both lens and body-based systems enabled simultaneously. Below are crops taken from each sample, reproduced at 100%.

Olympus E-510
Lens OIS off / Body IS off
Olympus E-510
Lens OIS on / Body IS off
Olympus E-510
Lens OIS off / Body IS on
Olympus E-510
Lens OIS on / Body IS on
Olympus E-510 Lens OIS off / Body IS off   Olympus E-510 Lens OIS on / Body IS off   Olympus E-510 Lens OIS off / Body IS on   Olympus E-510 Lens OIS on / Body IS on
100% crop, 50mm (100mm equiv), 1/4, f18, 100 ISO
100% crop, 50mm (100mm equiv), 1/4, f18, 100 ISO
100% crop, 50mm (100mm equiv), 1/4, f18, 100 ISO
100% crop, 50mm (100mm equiv), 1/4, f18, 100 ISO


The two different stabilisation technologies illustrated in the second and third crops clearly show a sharper image than the first crop where there’s no stabilisation. Judging from these samples, the body-based IS system appears slightly more effective than the lens-based one, although these are of course just one example. Different people, conditions or subject matter can produce varying results, so we're not yet at a position to conclude one system is more effective than the other.

Olympus E-510 with Leica 14-50mm

Interestingly the sample taken with both systems running simultaneously though looks virtually identical to the sample taken with just the body-based system. We believe this is because at the point of taking the photo when the body-based IS kicked-in, the lens-based IS was disabled. Certainly immediately after taking the photo, the lens-based IS system could no longer be heard whirring quietly in the background, and its effect was also not to be seen in the optical viewfinder. Normally you’d hear the lens stabiliser and see its effect in the optical viewfinder both before and after taking the shot.

The E-510’s Live View and IS preview mode can give us more clues to what’s going on. By activating Live View and the manual focus assist mode, you can clearly see the effect of stabilisation on the screen. With just the lens stabilisation active, the Live View showed a steady image. Similarly with just the body-based IS active (by pressing and holding the IS button), the scene was also effectively stabilised. However if we pressed and held the IS button while the lens-based system was also enabled, the scene jumped around erratically. We have a full demonstration of this in our video tour below.

As Olympus and Panasonic claimed, the two systems are not aware of each other, so their attempts to interpret and counteract shakes can actually work against each other. As the video clearly demonstrates, both systems interfere to deliver an undesirable result while running in the E-510’s IS Live Preview mode. From the results above though where the body-based IS is only enabled at the point of taking the photo, it would appear the lens system is disabled, leaving the E-510’s body-based IS to exclusively stabilise the image.

This may only occur with the particular firmware combinations we had on test and would love to hear from anyone who’s also tried this combination in practice, but from both our still photo and Live Preview video demonstration, we’d say there’s no benefit to having both systems active simultaneously.

To find out more about either product, check out our Olympus E-510 review and Leica D 14-50mm review, and to see a demonstration of the pair together, check out our video below.

Olympus E-510 with Leica D 14-50mm video demonstration

We're pleased to present a short video demonstrating the different stabilising options of the E-510 when mounted with the Leica D 14-50mm lens. We'll show you each stabilising system separately, then together. Double stabilisation, or double trouble? You'll see right here!

There's no need to download any new software - just press the play button in the middle of the screen below and wait for the video to start; you may need to press the button twice. The quality and any delay before playing may vary depending on your internet connection.

Olympus E-510 with Leica 14-50mm video - live view Olympus E-510 with Leica 14-50mm video - build quality Olympus E-510 with Leica 14-50mm video - IS demo

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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