Sony A7 II 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization Explaination

Sony A7ii IBIS – 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization

With A7II 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization – any lens you own – even lenses that could never have it before such as Leica and other legacy glass – can now be image stabilized for the first time on a fullframe sensor both for still and video.

Sony A-mount camera bodies have had image stabilization since 2006. When E-mount was introduced, the goal was to make E-mount bodies as small and light as possible, so Sony chose to put image stabilization into lenses when possible. This represents a great leap in technology to miniaturize the Sensor shift mechanism so 5-Axis image stabilization, only previously achieved in Olympus cameras with sensors 1/4 the size, could fit into a body that’s a mere 10mm deeper than it’s predecessor.

It’s first 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.

It’s important to understand how each axis compensation works and just what they require to function:


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. In the case of Sony lenses with IS, the camera recognizes and relies on the pitch and yaw compensation of the lens, freeing the cameras IBIS to concentrate on X/Y and Roll.

X/Y Compensation:

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 (although we haven’t tested an AF capable mount adapter, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work). As for Sony lenses, those without ADI (Automatic Distance Encoder) – the ones with 5 pins instead of 8 – also can’t have X/Y.

Roll Compensation:

Requires nothing from the lens, and is always available.

Only those lenses without OSS, such as non-OSS E-mount lenses, and 8-pin A-mount lenses when used with LA-EA series adapters, that can also communicate focal length and focal distance enjoy 5-axis IS from the camera. Sony E mount lenses with OSS get 3-axis compensation from the camera, and the other 2-axis pitch and yaw compensation from the lens.

Other lenses will receive 3-axis IS from the camera IBIS (Pitch & Yaw and Roll) – but even 3-axis is one axis more than what’s available with almost any other image stabilization system. Lens-based image stabilization only controls Pitch and Yaw (with one exception – Canon’s “Hybrid IS” in their 100mm macro). With this exception (at least for now), Sony and Olympus 5-axis IBIS are the only IS systems that offer X/Y and Roll compensation. [EDIT: Pentax SR-equipped cameras have 3-axis IBIS]

Sony A7II 5-Axis Sensor-Shift Stabilization is designed to work with – not fight – OSS. It can detect when an OSS lens is attached and apply stabilization in the following ways:

Sony E-mount Lenses with OSS:

In-lens OSS system applies Pitch and Yaw stabilization and the in-camera SteadyShot applies horizontal X-axis and vertical Y-axis shift, plus Z-axis Roll. NOTE: When using lenses like the FE 70-200 F4 OSS with an OSS switch on the lens, turning the OSS switch on the lens OFF will turn off in-camera OSS as well.

Shelbourne Hotel - Miami Beach
Sony A7II | FE 70-200 F4 OSS lens at 200mm | f/5.6 | 1/8 sec Handheld | 5-Axis Image Stabilization ON
Click to Enlarge

Shelbourne Hotel - Miami Beach
Sony A7II | FE 70-200 F4 OSS lens at 200mm | f/5.6 | 1/8 sec Handheld | 5-Axis Image Stabilization OFF
Click to Enlarge

Sony E-mount Lenses without OSS:

Sony E-mount Lenses without OSS get all 5-Axis sensor shift stabilization in-camera.

Sony A-mount Lenses using LA-EA3 or LA-EA4 Adapter:

the A7II sensor shift will add image stabilization in all 5-axis. NOTE: SAL 16mm F2.8, SAL 20mm F2.8, SAL 28mm F2.8 and SAL 500mm F8 lenses only get Pitch, Yaw and Roll stabilization when attached using a Sony LA-EA3 or LA-EA4 adapter.

Third-Party Lenses using Lens Adapters:

If the lens adapter can transmit the focal length and focus distance electronically to the A7II, the camera apply all 5-Axis sensor shift stabilization. But if the lens adapter can’t transmit this information to the camera, you must set the focal length manually for the particular focal length used. NOTE: When using 3rd party lenses with image stabilization – TURN OFF OSS on lens or the combined systems will over-compensate.

Manual SteadyShot Settings

Manual SteadyShot settings are available for lenses without electronic connections. You need to manually enter the lens focal length via a menu setting for optimal performance with any lens.

Set it here: Menu > Camera Settings 7 > SteadyShot Settings > SteadyShot Adjust > Manual


Then for optimal results, select the focal length of the lens you’re using (available for 8mm-1000mm)

Image Stabilization and Tripods

Conventional wisdom when shooting on a tripod is turn turn off image stabilization – but it’s unclear if that is still the case with A7II. However a mind much brighter than my own, suggested that from a power consumption standpoint alone, it makes sense to turn off SteadyShot when shooting on a tripod.

EVF Active Stabilization

When SteadyShot is turned on, the live view EVF or LCD screen image is also stabilized either with a half-press the shutter button, while shooting video in movie mode or whenever viewing a magnified the image such as when using Focus Magnifier.