Like many photographers I started taking more and more photos without the tripod. I started this trend about 2 years ago.
Up until then I have always used a tripod. For everything. Studio work and on location my camera was always on a tripod. I started with the aluminum ones and when carbon fiber came out I got one.
When image stabilization came out I was temped to ditch the tripod but did not. Two years ago I decide to lighten the load by hand holding the camera. I realized I could take the photos a little quicker too.
Lately I have not been happy with the end result. I have noticed my composition has gotten a little sloppy, especially the background. I'm not happy about the sharpness either. So I did a test.
Is image stabilization really that good? It does help but it is not an equal substitute for a tripod. A good tripod kills all camera movement. Period.
Looking at the two photos it is "clear" which one was hand held and which was on a tripod.
Yes I know it's more equipment. Yes it slows me down a little. In the end it's all about image quality. I would rather take 10 amazing photos that are crystal clear than 50 photos that would have been amazing if not for the lack of sharpness.
I have decided to go back to using the tripod.