It's generally accepted that to minimise the effects of camera shake, the minimum shutter speed you should use when handholding is the reciprocal of the lens focal length. So if you're using a 200mm lens, you should be using a minimum shutter speed of 1/200th second.
A VR lens uses an in-built gyroscope to keep the lens steadier than you can achieve by handholding alone, enabling you to shoot at slower shutter speeds than you could achieve without it. The effect varies, but it's generally accepted you get a two to three stop improvement. So the 1/200th second minimum shutter speed in the above example could become 1/60th second.
To get the best from VR, half press and hold the shutter for about a second before actually making the exposure. When you half press the shutter the motor powering the gyroscope starts up and then it takes about a second for the VR to take effect.
All the above refers to handholding. When you mount a camera and VR lens on a stable tripod the effect changes.
In that situation, VR will introduce instability because the motor driving the gyroscope is moving and causing vibration. In other words, it will increase camera shake rather than reduce it.
Iif you’re using any of the following Nikon lenses:
- 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro Nikkor
- 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor
- 24-120mm f3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor
- 70-200mm f2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor
- 80-400mm f4.5-5.6D ED VR AF Zoom-Nikkor
- 70-300mm f4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor
- When handholding the camera and lens, have VR switched on
- When using the camera and lens tripod mounted, have VR switched off
- When using the camera and lens on a monopod, have VR switched on