I've been writing about technology in one form or another for well over a decade, and in the past six years I've used and reviewed maybe 500 different digital cameras, but I am still often astonished by the level of advanced technology that can be squeezed into a small portable device and sold for just a couple of hundred pounds. Sensor resolution has increased by a factor of ten since 2001, and features such as automatic red-eye detection and removal, advanced noise reduction and even face recognition are now commonplace in the more advanced cameras. With huge budgets being invested in digital camera research and development, the major manufacturers are fiercely competitive, knowing that the first one to the market with a new technology can have a decisive advantage.
This leaves the smaller manufacturers and those with more restricted R&D budgets at a serious disadvantage, and so some of the less scrupulous brands have taken to the age-old marketing technique of inflating their product's abilities with dubious claims and fancy-sounding jargon, relying on the fact that the average consumer isn't likely to be sufficiently informed to spot the deception. Nowhere is this tactic more prevalent than in the field of camera shake reduction. Almost every camera on the market has some variation on "shake reduction", "anti-shake mode or "image stabilisation" listed as one of its features, but not all of them are what they appear to be, and some of them don't actually work. So why is image stabilisation important, how can you spot the fakes, and what are the differences between genuine image stabilisation and "anti-shake"?