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Nikon D800
Nikon D800

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.

Note well that unless the D800 image is sharpened to an equivalent level (because of the blur induced by its anti-aliasing filter), one could erroneously conclude that the D800E is more prone to staircasing, due to its inherently higher contrast fine details.

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diglloyd Advanced Photography

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.

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Nikon D800E + Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagon @ f/5.6, ISO 200
Nikon D800E + Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagon @ f/5.6, ISO 200

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