Counterbalanced Image Stabilizer


Counter-Balanced Image Stabilizer



      This mechanism compensates for camera shake of hand-held cameras.  The technique works passively and requires no electrical power, gyros or warm-up time.  The technique can also be used in camcorders, binoculars, and telescopes and is particularly useful in news-gathering video cameras shooting from helicopters, and for sports photography with telephoto lenses.  This mechanism was developed by Steve Hines at the Kodak Research Laboratories, and is the subject of a U.S patent U.S Pat. 4,290,684 which is assigned to Eastman Kodak.




      The image-stabilizer in a clear camera body, showing the lens, film and holder, and three parallel support rods.  The lens and film are supported on opposite ends of the three parallel rods.  If hand shake causes pitch or yaw motion, inertia causes the lens and film to lag behind at their original angular relationship, but the parallelogram legs cause the lens and film to follow the rotation of the camera housing, having the effect of the camera housing rotating around the internal camera parts.



      When the front of the camera body pitches up or down, the mechanism's support legs remain at their previous angle.  As a result, the lens remains on a line between the object and its image on the film.  The cameras in these drawings are shown at an exaggerated 5° angle for illustration; however, virtually all camera shake can be compensated with 1° of angle.  


Pitch or yaw angular change

Defocus*, mm standard mechanism (smaller is better)

Defocus*, mm Hines' mechanism (smaller is better)

0.0 0.0


2.30 0.061
3.46 0.137
4.62 0.244
5.9 0.381
6.96 0.548
8.13 0.745
9.13 0.973

*Measured 57mm off axis, and based on 100mm focal length lens.


What it provides:

      Any movement can be described with lateral, vertical, and longitudinal translational motion, and pitch, roll and yaw rotary motion.  The camera motions which have the most serious effect on image smear, are pitch and yaw.  If the photographer tipped the camera down 1°, it would have the effect of an object at 50 feet, being lifted 10 inches.  The shake-compensating mechanism compensates for five times this amount in both the pitch and yaw directions.


Motion affects picture quality:

Hines' mechanism compensates for:

Lateral motion


Vertical motion


Longitudinal motion






only for off-axis images

No, but not needed




*Pictures are rarely affected from a rolling motion.  

      This mechanism can withstand, but is not affected by translational motion (ex.: bumping).



      The mechanism uses agile cone-and-cup supports for the lens and film (the 2-axis version of a knife-edge hinge).  The weight of the camera lens and lens board is used to counterbalance the film and film holder, therefore the system is in equilibrium at any angle.  

      The mechanism is caged when not holding the shutter button, allowing the mechanism to float during exposure but otherwise be locked.


      This is not a product for sale.  This project is shown only as an example of past engineering by Steve Hines who currently offers consulting in the area of image stabilization and optical equipment design, as well as a variety of licensable technologies.

HinesLab, Inc.

Glendale, California, USA


Phone: 818-507-5812