A few days ago, Nikon issued a service advisory for a fault with the VR (Vibration Reduction) system built into the Z6 and Z7 cameras, and it got me thinking about how you would test the performance of the VR system (or really the image stabilisation system in any camera or lens, not just Nikon’s VR). So I had a bit of a play…
The Reikan FoCal “VR Analysis Test” – Teaser!
Here’s a quick teaser of what we’ve got so far:
Note – this is pre-release info, so the test isn’t available yet but we’re working hard to get it out to you quickly. Also I’m deliberately trying to keep away from the details in this post but I will publish a more technical post shortly to explain what the results mean and show some great examples from our testing.
What’s it all about?
The idea of this test is to have a look at how the VR system on your camera is performing by comparing image quality with VR on and off, both tripod mounted and handheld.
As part of this test involves hand-holding the camera, in order to make it as comfortable as possible we’ve hugely cut the time it takes to capture images – here’s a video showing over 20 shots being taken in around 15 seconds!
The analysis had to be tweaked a little so it’s both more consistent and faster. These improvements will make their way into FoCal’s other tests shortly.
How do you use the VR Analysis Test?
We’ve tried to make the test as easy as possible to capture all the data. Once the standard FoCal setup is done (attach the target to a wall, put the camera on a tripod and connect to the computer), you just have to follow a few simple instructions from the computer to take four sets of shots:
- VR enabled on a tripod
- VR disabled on a tripod
- VR enabled hand-held
- VR disabled hand-held
For the hand-held shots, you just hold the camera as you would normally for about 15 seconds, and FoCal will take all the shots it needs – see the video above for an example.
What results are available?
As usual with FoCal, you can dig pretty deep into the details! At the moment, you can see:
- Overall image quality with VR enabled and disabled, both tripod and handheld
- Horizontal/Vertical sharpness comparison with VR enabled and disabled, both tripod and handheld
- VR Effectiveness – how much sharper (or in some cases, worse!) your images are with VR enabled, again both handheld and tripod mounted
- Handheld/Tripod quality difference, which can give you a view of how many stops benefit you’re getting from VR
There’s extra information too, as well as numeric results, reviewing of analysed images to see the real effect VR is having and more.
Here’s an example of some of the results to whet your appetite (if you’re interested in tech details, the next post should answer some questions!):
Is this test available now?
Right now, No. But we want to get it out so people can have a look at their systems, especially in light of the Nikon recall. More people running the test would allow us to gather data from the results and start producing a profile for “normal” behaviour with our FoCal Comparison Data (as we do for the Calibration, Aperture Sharpness and Focus Consistency tests already), and we will be able to show you if your camera/lens VR system is working properly.
With that in mind, we’re planning on releasing an Alpha-stream build with this feature in within the next few weeks. This will be for FoCal Pro users within their support period. It will only work for the Z6 and Z7 initially, and there may be a couple of simple manual steps to perform at the beginning of the test which will be automated in time, but overall the internal testing we’ve done suggests it’s solid and reliable and gives another great insight into your kit.
When can I try out the VR Test?
To stay updated and find out about progress with the VR Test (and other) new features, make sure you’re subscribed to the Technical list on your account – log in to your FoCal account via lms.fo-cal.co.uk and under Contact Preferencessetting make sure Subscribe to Technical Information is ticked.
If you don’t have a FoCal account subscribe to our newsletter via FoCal Newsletter and we’ll drop you an email.