A Deeper Explanation: OIS vs Digital Stabilization

Posted on Posted in A Deeper Explanation

When reviewers review a phone, they often put a lot of emphasis on its camera. When this happens, a lot of terms go flying by and sometimes we get a little lost. A couple of those terms are OIS and digital (or electronic) stabilization. Not much is said about these terms outside of whether or not a device has them and how good they’re implimented. So let’s do something about that, here’s a deeper explanation on what OIS and digital stabilization are and how they’re different.
To start off, OIS and digital stabilization are both features that are meant to keep your video stable by compensating for the subtle movements your hands make while holding your phone. The terms OIS stands for Optical Image Stabilization. If a phone is equipped with OIS, then the lens is not stationary inside the phone. It’s actually “floating.” It’s suspended by a couple of microcontrollers that move it in different directions. How does this stabilize the video? Well, when you have shaky hands, you run the risk of having a blurry photo or a shaky video. The microcontrollers move the lens in the opposite direction of your hands. If your phone detects that your hand moves up, it moves the lens down just the right amount in order to keep the video from showing any movement at all. This doesn’t compensate for large movements, though, as the lens can only move so far due to the small amount of space inside of the camera. It helps only the tiny shakes that your hands make when holding the phone, but even compensating for those movements help the stability of the picture immensely. One drawback of optical image stabilization is the “jello-ing effect” that happens. It’s a noticable warpping that occur at the edge of the picture. It’s the effect of the lens actually moving to compensate for the movements. The lens doesn’t move perfectly in sync with your hands. This is a minor trade off, as OIS is the more preferred of the video stabilization methods. The two methods of stabilization are present in most smartphone cameras, but OIS is typically present in higher end smartphones.

Digital Stabilization
Digital or electronic stabilization is the other, and less preferred method of video stabilization. As its name implies, it handles the stabilization process digitally, as opposed to the physical movements employed in OIS. What digital stabilization does is it takes the video and crops it off, leaving a small section of pixels outside of the visible area. When your camera senses that your hand moves, it’ll move the cropped section in contrary motion to the movement of your hands, the same way that optical image stabilization works. Since it’s not a physical movement, there’s no jello-ing effect, but digital stabilization is all together less effective than optical image stabilization. If a device doens’t have OIS, then it’ll most likely have digital stabilization.

And there you have it. Hopefully this look at these two terms helped your understanding of smartphone photography just a little bit more. Be sure to keep tuned to Techleagues.com for more articles like this including the latest news about what’s going on in the mobile tech world.

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