Understanding Stabilization in Rangefinders: Gyroscope Magic, EIS vs. OIS


In the pursuit of precision in golf, understanding the technology behind rangefinders can be quite enlightening. Central to this discussion is the concept of stabilization - a feature that combats the natural shakiness of hands to provide clear, steady images. Let's dive into how stabilization works and the differences between Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) and Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

How Does Stabilization Work?

At the heart of stabilization technology in rangefinders is a device known as a gyroscope. This ingenious component measures every movement, no matter how slight. In response to these measurements, electromagnets adjust a lens within the rangefinder to counteract any motion. This mechanism ensures that the image remains stable, making it easier for golfers to focus and measure distances accurately.

EIS vs. OIS: Understanding the Difference

The world of stabilization is primarily divided into two camps: EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization).

  1. Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS):
    • EIS works by stabilizing the image digitally.
    • A common example is the Garmin Approach Z82, which uses EIS. In this system, instead of directly viewing the landscape, you look at a screen inside the rangefinder. The CPU processes the image captured by the camera to stabilize it.
  2. Optical Image Stabilization (OIS):
    • OIS, on the other hand, involves physical movement of optical components, such as lenses, to counteract hand movement.
    • This method is generally more effective in providing a stable view because it compensates for movements in real-time.

The Limitations of EIS in Golf Rangefinders

While EIS might sound technologically advanced, it comes with certain drawbacks, particularly for golfers:

  • EIS is not as effective as OIS in compensating for hand movements.
  • The internal screen of EIS-based rangefinders often has lower resolution, which can affect the clarity of the image.
  • Many golfers prefer not to rely on a screen, seeking a more direct and natural view of the landscape.

Why OIS Reigns Supreme in Golf

For the precision and clarity required in golf, OIS stands out as the more suitable option. It offers real-time compensation for movements, ensuring a clearer and more accurate view. Additionally, the absence of a screen provides a more direct and immersive experience for the golfer.


In the world of golf rangefinders, understanding the difference between EIS and OIS is crucial. While EIS may find its place in other applications, OIS offers the direct, high-resolution, and real-time stabilization needed on the golf course. For those interested in delving deeper into the technicalities of OIS, the white paper from ST Microelectronics offers an in-depth look at this technology (Read the White Paper).

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