With Nikon cameras, VR stands for ‘vibration reduction.’ This is what Nikon calls their image stabilization technology, and you can compare Nikon’s VR lenses to Canon’s ‘IS’ ones. If you need to avoid blurriness from camera shake, a VR lens is a great option.
I’m Caleb, and I have five years of photography experience. My specialty is sports photography, and I’ve shot plenty of leagues and sports over the years, from the college to the semi-pro level.
In this article, I’ll explain Nikon’s VR lenses, whether the vibration reduction is worth it, and why you may or may not want to use this feature.
If you’re looking at a new lens and unsure if the stabilization is worth paying for, keep reading for the full breakdown.
What Does VR Stand For on Camera Lens
VR stands for vibration reduction. The term is exclusively used by Nikon to refer to its image stabilization technology. While Nikon is the only brand to call it this, they aren’t the only one to make stabilized lenses. Both Canon and Sony have their own names for this tech.
The feature is pretty straightforward and does what you’d expect. When enabled, it stabilizes the image and helps to avoid the kind of blur that can come from camera shake.
While not every photo needs stabilization, it can be handy in certain contexts. For example, when recording video, stabilization can help you get by without a separate, expensive gimbal. It can reduce blur in still photos, even with shaky hands.
With that being said, there are both pros and cons to using image stabilization.
The Pros of Image Stabilization
The biggest upside of image stabilization is obviously the clearer pictures that result from it. Whether because of a windy day or shaky hands, there are plenty of possible causes for camera shake. Stabilization can reduce much of it.
It also makes recording videos much easier. Camera shake is more noticeable on video compared to still photos, so it’s recommended to have a lens that supports image stabilization if you want to shoot videos.
The Cons of Image Stabilization
Stabilization isn’t without its downsides. When stabilization is enabled, lenses might have a slower shooting speed, which can get in the way if you’re doing something like fast-paced action photography.
Because stabilization adds another mechanism into the mix, which has to be powered by your camera’s battery, it can also decrease battery life when turned on.
Another thing to consider is cost. While stabilization on its own isn’t usually enough to make a lens expensive, it’s usually a feature found on newer, more expensive lenses with costlier components. This is true with Nikon’s VR lenses.
Is Image Stabilization Important?
At the end of the day, the answer depends on your goals with photography. If getting sharp results is important for you, or if you naturally have difficulty holding the camera still, getting a Nikon VR lens might be the right choice.
On the other hand, if you mainly care about shooting fast, you might want to pass up on a VR lens.
But if you’re recording videos, you should definitely aim for a VR lens over a non-VR one, as it can make a major difference in your video quality.
Here are some other frequently asked questions about Nikon’s VR lenses.
Is a VR Lens Necessary?
It depends on what you’re doing with your camera. For most types of photography, vibration reduction isn’t strictly necessary. However, I highly recommend using a stabilized lens for video.
Should VR Be On or Off on Nikon Lens
Most photographers won’t see any downside from keeping the VR feature on all the time. But if you want to save battery, you may want to turn it off, as your camera will go through battery faster when VR is enabled.
Should I Turn Off VR When Using a Tripod?
If you’re using a tripod, VR might be redundant. However, It may help you get an even clearer shot, especially if environmental factors are at play, like wind.
What is the Difference Between VR and DX Lenses?
VR stands for ‘vibration reduction’ and is an image stabilization technology, while DX is a lens format and the cheaper alternative to Nikon’s high-end FX lenses.
VR means ‘vibration reduction’ in the context of Nikon lenses and is what Nikon calls their image stabilization feature. You don’t strictly need a lens with VR capability, but it can be very useful if you want sharper images or if you plan to shoot video.
Are image stabilization lenses worth it to you? Let us know in the comments!