Sony A-mount camera bodies have had 2-axis image stabilization since 2006. Now following the lead of Sony a7 Mark II mirrorless cameras, Sony a99 II (Pre-Order Here) brings 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization to A-Mount for the first time so that any lens you can mount on a99 II – even legacy glass – can be image stabilized for both for stills and video. [SPOILER ALERT: It does NOT require chipped lenses.]
Here’s how it works:
When using native A-mount lenses with an electronic connection select SteadyShot Adjustment > Auto
Manual SteadyShot Settings
Manual SteadyShot settings are available for lenses without electronic connections. This does not require a “chipped lens” (as others have speculated). You simply need to manually enter the lens focal length via a menu setting for optimal performance with any lens.
When using lenses without an electronic connection select SteadyShot Adjustment > Manual
Then choose SteadyShot Focal Length to manually select the correct focal length of the lens you’re using (available for 8mm-1000mm)
It’s worth mentioning what image stabilization can and cannot do. In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) can allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds without blur from camera movement – but it will not freeze subject movement. Image Stabilization won’t stop Usain Bolt in his tracks, but it will allow you to shoot images of a still subject in dim light at slower shutter speeds without camera movement.
Here’s 5-Axis Image Stabilization Works:
Pitch & Yaw Compensation:
Requires the awareness of focal length. It is available from the camera if either the lens provides the information or it’s inputted manually in the menu.
Requires nothing from the lens, and is always available.
Requires awareness of both focal length and camera to subject distance (focal distance). Bear in mind that X/Y compensation can’t be provided by a lens (with one exception – see below). If the lens can’t communicate focal distance, then the camera can’t provide it. This is the case for almost all 3rd party lenses.
8-pin A-mount lenses:
Sony 8-pin A-mount lenses communicate focal length and focal distance to provide 5-axis Image Stabilization from the camera.
5-pin A-mount lenses:
Sony lenses, without ADI (Advanced Distance Integration) – the ones with 5 pins instead of 8 – can’t provide X/Y Compensation. Because of this, lenses like the SAL 16mm F2.8, SAL 20mm F2.8, SAL 28mm F2.8 and SAL 500mm F8 lenses only get Pitch, Yaw and Roll stabilization – which is one more axis (Roll) than SteadyShot on any previous Sony A-mount cameras.
Lenses without Electronic Communication:
Third-party lenses will receive 3-axis IS from the camera IBIS using manual focal length SteadyShot settings as explained above. Bear in mind that 3-axis IS is one axis more stabilization than what’s available with almost any other image stabilization system. Lens-based image stabilization only controls Pitch and Yaw – with the exception of the “Hybrid IS” Canon 100mm macro and Pentax SR-equipped cameras with 3-axis IBIS.
Image Stabilization and Tripods
Conventional wisdom when shooting on a tripod is turn turn off image stabilization. From a power consumption standpoint alone, it makes sense to turn off SteadyShot when shooting on a tripod.