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Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS lens - has anybody tried IS/VR underwater?

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#1 nathanm



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Posted 30 December 2012 - 03:57 PM

Has anybody tried the Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS lens, or more generally other IS lenses (which Nikon calls VR).

Canon claims that the IS system gives 4-stops worth of image stabilization in terms of shutter speed. If so that would be pretty interesting.

One alternative is to use the Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens, which gives you 2-stops.

Of course f-stop versus IS isn't really a fair test. For moving subjects (for example, fish) using the f/1.4 lens wide open will clearly be better - it would get you 2 stops of shutter speed which might help stop the subject. IS will not help you much with a moving subject.

But IS ought to be a help in a lot of other underwater situations.

If you want depth of field, so you want to be at say f/8 to f/11, then the IS lens could potentially save the day. Topside, one uses a tripod for such shots, but obviously that is very limiting underwater.

Normally the topside rule of thumb is that your shutter speed should be 1/focal length - i.e. 1/24th of a second (round to 1/30) for a 24mm lens. 4 stops of stabilization would imply you could go to 1/2 second.

This review http://www.the-digit...ens-Review.aspx has photos shot at 0.8 sec handheld that look pretty good. I doubt that this would apply underwater where you float around and have less stability. However it may still help.

I have used the Canon 100mm IS macro underwater, and the IS seems to help in terms of the image that I see in the viewfinder being more steady, but most macro shots use strobes for the light, and the strobe exposure is very short (1/1000 and sometimes much less), so the IS is going to be less important.

With WA shots, there is often a mix of strobe for the foreground and natural light for the background, where IS would be helpful. Wreck diving, silhouettes and other circumstances make IS potentially useful.

Some people use the 24-105mm IS zoom underwater, and might have some perspecitve on how much the IS helps.

I am less familar with Nikon, but their VR lenses ought to be pretty similar.

#2 StephenFrink


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Posted 31 December 2012 - 07:31 AM

Nathan - I can't speak to the efficiency of IS, for it is not a switch you can hit through a lens port so I've never had occasion to shoot the same subject side-by-side, IS and without. I did test the 24mm f-1.4 though, and it is very nice and bright (as you would expect). Very good resolution and corner performance with the Superdome. However, I couldn't see much difference between that and the 16-35II at 24mm, so it was just another lens to schlep around and I gave up on the idea.

As per recent e-mails between us, http://www.seacamusa...s-testing.shtml, points to an older lens comparison I did for a variety of Canon lenses on full frame. No direct comparison of 1.4 at that time, as it was the 1.8 lens. And I used wide port while you shoot Superdome. But, when I did test the 1.4 at another time I couldn't see that the 24 prime optics significantly trumped zoom versatility of the 16-35 II. Although, using it with a wide port instead of a Superdome creates a much smaller package with less upward torque due to air volume inherent in an 8-9" diameter dome. The PVL 35 (24mm) vs the 57.5 (16-35II) likewise contributes to enhanced UW ergonomics.

Back to your original premise, IS or VR, I too would be interested in any real world and definitive testing.

Edited by StephenFrink, 31 December 2012 - 07:33 AM.

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#3 Drew


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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:22 AM

I personally don't think IS is of much use underwater. The motion we as divers create isn't the same micro/mini vibration from coffee hands etc. I do remember testing the 24-105 with IS on for video just to see if it jumps when it detects motion, and it does, causing the frame to jerk. With a proper balanced housing, the kind of "shake" I generate tends to be either from buoyancy variations or current/water movement. Those things aren't what IS is designed for.
I can't help you with situations for using shutter speeds less than 1/30. Maybe wrecks but I shoot stuff that moves.
I've been playing with the 24mm IS and it is a nice lens. I wanted it as a low key party lens to replace the 24 1.4II and Zeiss 21mm which are big. It's not as sharp as the f1.4II in the center but the corners are as good if not better. If you are looking for a 24 mm, it's worthwhile but as a travel lens I'd choose either the 24-70 or 24-105. Critical quality isn't an issue as much as versatility for me.

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#4 Paul Kay

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:32 PM

The motion we as divers create isn't the same micro/mini vibration from coffee hands etc.

We operate in a 'damping' environment (in both senses of the word) and I am perfectly happy to shoot at 1/30s or even 1/15s underwater with my 24/1.4 now, especially when balancing light. IS might help but at these shutter speeds subject motion is already a problem so IF IS works at slower speeds it is potentialy still of limited use underwater.

I use the 24/1.4 underwater because of its bright viewfinder image (especially with an S45). Its fast aperture does not help otherwise underwater as it still needs to be used well stopped down on any subject with corner detail.

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