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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