OIS and EIS: The Magic of Image and Video Stabilization in Phone Cameras

Let’s kick things off with a definition of the terms we are looking at. OIS is an abbreviation that stands for Optical Image Stabilization, while EIS stands for Electronic Image Stabilization. Both OIS and EIS are two technologies used in smartphones to solve the problem of camera shake when taking pictures or recording videos.

Camera shake is the movement of a camera at the point of snapping a photograph or during video recording, resulting in blurred or distorted images. It can be caused by a number of factors, including hand movement, wind, or uneven surfaces. Let’s look at some of the things you can do to solve camera shake.

How to solve camera shake

  1. Use a tripod: A tripod is a stable platform that can help keep your camera steady during exposure. It is especially useful for long exposures or when using a heavy camera.
  2. Increase shutter speed: A faster shutter speed can help freeze motion and reduce the effects of camera shake. Try increasing the shutter speed to at least 1/125th of a second or faster. This will sound like Greek to you if you are not a camera buff. Feel free to ignore it, if that is the case.
  3. Hold the camera properly: Hold the camera with both hands and keep your elbows close to your body. This can help stabilize the camera and reduce camera shake.
  4. Take multiple shots: Take several shots in rapid succession to increase the chances of getting a sharp image.
  5. Use image stabilization: Many cameras and lenses have built-in image stabilization that can help compensate for camera shake. Check in your phone camera settings to turn this feature on if your camera has it.
OIS and EIS in smartphone photography and video recording
Both OIS and EIS help address the problem of camera shake

This article explores the two types of image and video stabilization available in modern smartphones – OIS and EIS.

OIS and EIS work differently and have their unique advantages and limitations, but at the end of the day, they have the same goal – to reduce the impact of camera shake and and hence improve image and video quality.

Optical Image Stabilization (OIS):

  1. Physical Hardware: OIS is a hardware-based stabilization method. It typically involves the use of gyroscopic sensors and physical mechanisms, such as a floating lens element or sensor shift, to counteract unintended movement.
  2. Stabilization Quality: OIS is highly effective at reducing camera shake and is particularly beneficial for still photos and video recording, especially in low light conditions. It can provide smoother, more stable shots.
  3. Low-Light Performance: OIS helps in low-light conditions by allowing the camera to use slower shutter speeds without introducing blur due to hand tremors.
  4. Mechanical Complexity: The hardware used for OIS can add weight and thickness to the camera module, which can affect the overall design and size of the smartphone.

Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS):

  1. Software-Based: EIS, on the other hand, is software-based. It processes images and videos in real-time to compensate for shake, primarily by cropping and digitally shifting the frame.
  2. Stabilization Quality: EIS can be effective at reducing minor shakes and vibrations, but it is very often not as robust as OIS, especially in challenging conditions.
  3. Low-Light Performance: While EIS can help stabilize images and videos in low light, it is not as effective as OIS because it can’t address issues like motion blur due to slow shutter speeds.
  4. Minimal Hardware Impact: EIS doesn’t require additional physical hardware, which means it has a minimal impact on the smartphone’s size and weight.
  5. Crop Factor: EIS often involves cropping the frame slightly to achieve stabilization, which can result in a slight reduction in image or video resolution. This is not the case with OIS.

Differences between OIS and EIS

Essentially, there is one key difference between optical image stabilization (OIS) and Electrical Image Stabilization (EIS) is that the former is implemented via physical parts and mechanisms, while the latter is all electronically done via software.

Which is better: OIS or EIS?

In terms of overall results, OIS is the preferred option because there is no reduction in image quality in the resultant photos and videos, which happens with EIS. The reduction is not massive, but it counts. The time may come in the future when software will do a better job and EIS take the lead. Till then, a camera phone with OIS remains preferred by photography enthusiasts and professionals.

If you are out shopping for a smartphone and have photography as a priority, wherever you have to choose between OIS and EIS, all other things being equal, pick the cameraphone with the former. Of course, there are sometimes other factors that may influence your final decision, so take that as a general principle and not a hard-and-fast rule.

Leave a Comment