For in-depth coverage of focus shift and many other topics, see Making Sharp Images.
Focus shift is a little-discussed optical phenomenon which can lead to blurred images and erroneous conclusions about lens sharpness. It is of particular concern when shooting a “fast” f/1.2 or f/1.4 lens stopped down to the f/2 - f/4 range. While slower lenses (eg f/2) can be affected this is rare.
Observe the crop below. Precise focus was achieved at f/1.2 on the eye at right. However, the image was taken at f/2.8. Focus has shifted to the eye at left, blurring the desired eye. If you’ve just promised a customer a fine portrait, you’re going to be exceedingly unhappy with such results. In fact, the right eye is barely “rescued” until f/8, so you’re going to have to understand and deal with focus shift with this lens!
Article continues for subscribers...
If you’re already a subscriber, CLICK HERE TO LOG IN
diglloyd Advanced Photography includes hundreds of pages of exclusive coverage and high resolution, Retina-grade example pictures detailing Canon and Nikon DSLR bodies and their lenses, with in-depth analysis of sharpness and contrast, color, bokeh, vignetting, distortion, MTF, and flare. Also included is a wealth of in-context technique and workflow insight. Since 2006, diglloyd Advanced Photography is the authoritative review and on-line reference for discerning Canon and Nikon shooters. Subscriptions cost $ per year.