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Study of the Effectiveness of Shake Reduction in the Pentax K7

Study of the Effectiveness of Shake Reduction in the Pentax K7



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Published by: pdo_smith4083 on Feb 22, 2010
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A Study of the Effectiveness of Shake Reduction in the Pentax K7
February 2010P Smith
Shake reduction, image stabilisation and optical stabilisation are all terms used to describetechniques to reduce image blur caused by camera shake. Pentax use the term 'ShakeReduction' to describe their technique. In the Pentax K7 this is done by mounting the imagesensor on a movable plate which is moved at high speed to compensate for camera shake.The image sensor movement is controlled by circuitry which senses camera shake and sendscorrective signals to an electro-magnetic controller to provide compensating movement tothe sensor plate. When the shake reduction is inactive one can hear the plate move as thecamera is rotated.While the consensus is that shake reduction is effective there have also been many reports of  perceived problems, mainly in the Pentax K-x but also in the Pentax K7. This study sets outto investigate how effective is shake reduction and in the process obtain a better understanding of the perceived problems. The author has a K7 so this study is limited to theK7.
Perceived problems
1. The sensor is loose and this can cause unsharp photos. This is a persistent belief andseems to have its origin in the fact that the sensor plate can be heard to move while thecontrol circuitry is inactive.2. Mirror slap causes the sensor to vibrate at shutter speeds of between 1/125 sec to 1/80sec. There have been many anecdotal reports of reduced sharpness at these shutter speeds.The same reports suggest that motion blur is well controlled at speeds between 1/20 sec and1/60 sec. This has led to the belief that there is a harmonic resonance effect related to mirror slap leading to sensor vibration to peak around 1/100 sec.3. Shake reduction is ineffective. Here the problem may be that photographers expect shakereduction to be more effective than it really is, leading them to relax their care in holding thecamera steady.
Objectives of the study
This study sets out to measure the effectiveness of shake reduction and to determine whether there is any substance to the perceived problems listed above.
Test methodology
The immediate problem was to accurately measure motion blur in the image. Fortunately asimple and accurate method can be found in the way lens resolution is measured. ISO12233describes the 5 degree slant edge method. Essentially the edge spread of a 5 degree slantededge is measured. This is differentiated to derive a line spread function and then processedwith a fast Fourier transform to yield the MTF. It is reasonable to assume that motion blur will degrade the image resolution and that the degradation is proportional to the motion blur.So by measuring changes in image resolution one can obtain a measure of the motion blur.While MTF is familiar to experts in the field it does not convey any obvious or intuitive
meaning to the normal photographer. So instead edge spread of the slant edge method will be used. This is mathematically related to MTF but has an intuitively obvious meaning.In this study the words 'blur' and 'spread' are used interchangeably.The package QuickMTF was used to measure edge spread.
Test conditions
A Pentax K7 was used with a Sigma 50mm F2.8 macro lens. Photographs were taken of afive degree slanted edge at the center of the image field (to avoid the effects of fieldcurvature) at a distance of 1.85 m. The camera was checked for front and back focussingerrors. None were found. Camera jpeg images were used with no further processing. Thecamera was set to Fine Sharpness 2 +3 (because that is the author's normal setting). Theimages were processed with QuickMTF and the 10-90% edge spread was measured in boththe vertical and horizontal directions.For the bench mounted photographs the camera was rigidly clamped to a large and heavyworkbench while for the handheld photographs care was taken to hold the camera as steadyas possible, just as if one was using a camera without shake reduction. A short rest was taken between every five photos (because preliminary tests showed that muscle fatigue quicklydegraded the accuracy of measurements).
Test protocol
The first stage was to measure the best image blur obtainable at each aperture setting. Thiswas done with the bench mounted camera (mirror locked up, remote control) and was theaverage of 10 measurements. Effectively motion blur has been eliminated and this forms the basis for comparison against the remaining measurements. This is also called static blur inthis study.In the second stage a set of 10 photos were taken with a hand held camera at each shutter speed between 1/6 sec and 1/800 sec. This was done with both shake reduction set to On andshake reduction set to Off in the camera. Care was staken to practice the good techniqueappropriate to hand held photography.Motion blur was computed by computing the difference between the image blur and thestatic blur at the same aperture setting. Motion blur is defined as the increased image blur resulting from movement.In this second stage it became apparent that variability in motion blur increased quickly asthe shutter speed became longer. This is plotted below in illustration 3.It also became apparent that motion blur reaches a peak at 1/80 sec, seemingly confirmingthe many anecdotal reports.So in the third stage of the study further measurements were done at 1/80 sec and F5.6. Theresults are shown below in Illustration 4. Here 20 bench mounted measurements were madein the vertical direction with no mirror lockup and these were compared to measurementswith mirror lockup to determine the extent of sensor vibration caused by mirror slap.A further 20 measurements were made with the camera hand held and compared with the bench mounted measurements to determine the extent of camera vibration cause by mirror slap.
Discussion of Test ResultsIllustration 1
. Static image blur measured at various aperture setting on a rigidly mountedcamera to eliminate motion blur. Mirror lockup and remote shutter release.These measurements represent the best possible case where there is negligible cameravibration and sensor vibration. These measurements show the limits of optical and sensor resolution for this camera/lens combination.As expected, the lens gives its best resolution in the F4.0 to F10.0 range. Above F16diffraction starts to limit the resolution. Below F4.0 optical resolution declines quickly.So what do these numbers mean in practical terms? When viewing the digital image at a 1:1ratio on a monitor it is unlikely that an image blur of less than about 1.5 pixel can be seen.This raises the question of Circle of Confusion when viewing the image as a print. If oneaccepts the maximum diameter of cicle of confusion of 0.018 mm (APS-C sensor) for a10x8 print, this translates into maximum 3.6 pixel diameter circle of confusion on the PentaxK7 sensor.The end result, though, is effectively the sum of static blur and motion blur. Motion blur, if large enough, can in practice, take the image blur above the circle of confusion. This studyexamines the extent of motion blur.
Static image blur and its relationship to aperture
Pentax K7 Sigma macro lens 50mm F2.8
Edgespreadin pixels(static blur)

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