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Criticality of Focus

This page establishes a baseline for understanding just how important focus accuracy is to exploiting the 24+ megapixels of the Nikon D3x. The goal is not any absolute metric, but rather simply to show that small focus differences (eg 1% of the subject distance) can produce subjectively quite different results, with high or lower contrast and more or less color fringing.

Resolution target

A resolution target was photographed at a distance of approximately 9 feet (2.7 meters) at a reproduction ratio of approximately 1:24. A tripod, mirror lockup and remote release were used on the D3x. Live View was used to focus wide open at f/2 on the Zeiss ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar, zoomed in maximally for the best possible accuracy.

As seen below, the target shows some vignetting at f/2, and some uneven illumination (numerous Solux bulbs for near-daylight). We are concerned only with the center portion.

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Since 2006, Diglloyd Advanced Photography is the authoritative review and reference for DSLRs and their lenses: Canon and Nikon primarily, but also Pentax and some medium format. Reviews of key DSLRs are included, but the primary focus is on lens performance. Also included is a wealth of technique and workflow approaches.

DAP includes thousands of pages of exclusive coverage and high resolution Retina-grade examples detailing Canon and Nikon DSLR bodies and their lenses, with in-depth analysis of sharpness and contrast, color, bokeh, vignetting, distortion, MTF, and flare, behavioral and practical usage.

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resolution target
The well-used target. The strip of center patches is stacked, for “depth”.

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