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Staircasing on Sharply Defined Edges

All digital cameras manifest artifacts under some conditions, due to the discrete sampling of the image (e.g. the rectangular grid of light-sensitive photosites).

This page explores what one could term “staircasing”, or the tendency of the image to have jagged edges akin to the shape of stairs of a staircase. Such edges tend to occur with sharp focus on straight edges, since any blur tends to smooth out the effect.

Whether one observes a jagged staircase effect, it is reasonable to ask if the image sensor is involved in some unusual way, or if it is perhaps the nature of the technology combined with a particular subject whose details are aligned in an “unfriendly” way for the digital sensor.

Since diffraction increases blur, observing the behavior across the aperture range and in particular at ƒ/16, one can deduce whether the D800E is more prone to staircasing than the D800.

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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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