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See Inside October 2006

Steady Cam

"Hold still while I take your picture."

Photographers who instruct their subjects this way can still end up with a blurry image if they themselves move their hands even slightly when depressing the shutter, shaking the camera. The problem is so common among people who use digital cameras and camcorders, especially in low light when the shutter must stay open longer, that manufacturers are introducing image stabilization systems that automatically correct for human shudder. "The industry is moving toward cameras with higher megapixels, smaller size and longer zoom lenses that magnify shake," says Jay Endsley, manager of digital camera advanced development at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, N.Y. "So we're adding whatever we can to improve picture quality."

Digital cameras employ two different image stabilization hardware schemes. One system moves a segment of the lens to deflect incoming light, compensating for the direction of shake; the other moves the CCD--the sensor that captures the image. Engineers who favor the lens approach say moving the CCD complicates the recording of sharp images, especially when using a flash. Designers of the CCD method note that it works with every lens a user might attach to the camera, negating the need to buy different lenses.

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