Point and shoot cameras have been boasting about having stabilization for a couple of years now. In the beginning they didn’t specify whether the stabilzers were optical or digital and there is a big difference.
Digital stabilization means that the camera boosts the ISO setting let’s say from 400 to 1600. This means the camera requires less light to take the photo. When it does this, it increases what’s known as noise. These are specs on the photo that make an image look like it’s broken apart, so to speak.
Optical stabilization means that either the lens or the sensor inside the camera are moving along with you. This is the type you are looking for in a camera.
You’ll find that different camera companies refer to things a bit differently even though they mean the same thing. Here’s a quick rundown.
Canon – IS = Image Stabilization (lens adjusts to your movements)
Nikon – VR = Vibration Reduction (lens shifts accordingly)
Panasonic – Mega OIS = Mega Optical Image Stabilizer (lens adjusts to your movements)
Fujifilm – Dual IS = Dual Image Stabilization (their cameras have both moving sensors and a boosted ISO)
Olympus – Dual Image Stabilization (sensor shift and a high ISO)
Sony – Super SteadyShot (lens adjusts accordingly)
Pentax – Shake Reduction (sensor shifts)