Image stabilization (IS) technology seems to be the photographic tool du jour. Most new lenses released nowadays come with built in stabilization technology, and many digital cameras have it built into the body. I'm a big fan of this technology. My only regret is that it wasn't developed earlier. For example, although I have always loved this photo of Capa's
the amount of camera shake bothers me. Granted, Capa was being shot at by Germans while attempting to establish beach cover at the time he took this. You can't really fault him for having jittery hands. If ever there was a perfect opportunity to use image stabilization technology that would've been it. Instead of the fuzzy dim image above he might've come up with something like this:
Now tell me honestly, which photo is more pleasing? Is a nice clear image of Tom Hanks easy on the eyes or not?
The great thing about image stabilization is that it simplifies photo taking. With IS, now anyone can take photos just like the ones in magazines. But image stabilization didn't just drop out of the sky. It is merely the latest in a long line of photographic tools designed to help everyone take the same high standard of photos. First there was automated metering, then automated flash and fill flash, then zoom lenses, autofocus, face recognition technology, and on and and on to our current ability to transfer any image onto a computer screen and manipulate it pixel by pixel. These were all nice developments, but without image stabilization they fell short. There was still a chance of someone like Nancy Rexroth shooting this photo
or, say, Sylvia Plachy forgetting her darned tripod again:
Not to mention Robert Frank:
Alas, poor Robert. What a shame you built your ouvre without proper technology. Aside from the obvious need for image stabilization, the photo above would benefit from fill flash and face recognition technology. Maybe a zoom lens would help. I'm thinking it should look more like this
You don't have to hang out at Sotheby's to know which is the more financially successful photograph.
We can now look back on these shaky old photos and see them for what they are, little glitches in the system. Imperfections. Fortunately with IS, everything at this point has been more or less corrected. Now making photographs is a uniform process, and all photographers can enjoy working together toward the same goal of shooting perfect magazine photos.