I think we offer more than our opinions. We share our experiences, our understanding of the technologies, and our resources that form these opinions. This is why I like this forum.
I've heard the IS/VR has no affect at speeds above 1/500 argument before. But, this never made sense to me.
My experience has been heavily influenced decades ago by trying to get sharp images with an FTb-n and an FD 80-210 f4.0. 1/500 just wasn't fast enough to reliably eliminate camera shake. Consequently, I equated the "turn VR/IS off after 1/500" as "1/500 is fast enough to eliminate shake" debate.
More recently, I've taken photos of still subjects (people posing) with small primes including the 40 f2.8. According to the reciprocal rule, 1/80 of a second should be more than fast enough to eliminate camera shake. But, group photos of my kid's volleyball team at 1/80 just aren't nearly as sharp as ones taken at 1/800. Similare phots taken with IS lenses at 1/80 were tack sharp.
Thanks to Northstar's link to Scott Kelby's comments on VR, I did more digging on the technical limitations of VR and IS. I can see where 1/500 does represent the upper limit of VR lenses, but I'm still in search of that limit for Canon's IS lenses. (Sure wish Canon would address how best to use IS on it's lenses, which I suspect may vary with the lens.)
Most of my action experience with the 70-200 f2.8 has been with a 7D in poorly lit ice rinks and gyms. (Sadly, the rinks don't often use all the lights for figure skating, but they turn them all on for hockey.) I've rarely been able to shoot above 1/640 and most often shoot at 1/500, not fast enough to feel I didn't need IS. So, I've been eager to learn of the experience of professional Canon shooters.
The post of Jon Willey was most informative, just the kind of first-hand experience that I was seeking. Thanks for posting it. What was missing in the interview was typical shutter speed range. What's the slowest Willey feels comfortable with? I can't say that I've ever experienced the IS "jump" to which he referred. This does make me wonder if this is more an issue with the big lenses and not so much with the 70-200.
I've recently purchased a 5D3 and can now shoot closer to 1/1000 at the rink. Thanks to this discussion, I'm compelled to experiment more with IS on and off. At the rink, I do shoot with a monopod (and IS on) and believe it has helped sharpen my images. But, I don't have concrete evidence (haven't really tried side by side comparisons).
Northstar, about those hockey shots, do you recall the shutter speed? Were you hand-held or monopod (or something else)?
FTb...those particular hockey shots were at the Xcel center, home to the MN Wild, so the lighting is much better than a local rink. So I had the luxury of shooting at f4, 3200 ISO, and 1/1000...If I was shooting at a typical local ice arena, the settings would usually be 1/800, 3200 iso, f2.8.... Bad light arena, 1/640, 3200 or 4000 iso, f2.8.
Re Monopod -it's not needed at 1/640 and faster for my 70-200, so it doesn't matter for sharpness....imo. Similar discussion as IS. If you're shooting at 300mm or 400mm, then a monopod would probably help.
Also, I find IQ better when you keep the lens hood pressed up against the plex glass...tough to do with monopod.
Good discussion FTb.