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D800E Diffraction and Optimal Aperture (Mosaic, Zeiss 50/2)

Here we examine the effects of diffraction on peak sharpness and contrast through ƒ/11 using the Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar.

Stopped down to ƒ/4 - ƒ/5.6, the Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar offers exceptional contrast at a level close to that of Leica’s 50/1.4 Summilux, so the 50/2 makes a good lens to evaluate diffraction. We are not concerned here with aspects of lens performance over the frame, only what peak performance looks like at each aperture.

Due to windy conditions (and bars on the windows), this example was shot handheld, but focus was done with Live View and appears to be very accurate at ƒ/2 ( the very good sharpness with the lower contrast seen at ƒ/2 is consistent with the MTF chart). Aperture ƒ/16 was not included because of concerns about shutter speed (1/250 @ ƒ/11). ISO 200 was used to keep the shutter speed respectable.

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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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