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Sony RX10 III

Diffraction Limits on Image Quality

Because of the exceedingly tiny photosites, image quality begins to see the dulling effects of diffraction right around f/3. In other words, peak image quality ends by f/4 except that going to f/4 improves lens performance somewhat at some focal lengths. This is not to say that use of f/5.6 is bad; it is still quite good, but visibly less contrasty.

It appears that Sony uses diffraction-mitigating image processing to reduce the effects of diffraction, but as the examples show, this processing only defers losses by a stop or so, with f/8, f/11, f/16 all seriously degraded.

Sony RX10 II aperture equivalency vs full frame

Obviously, there is almost no depth of field control—very little ability to blur background material. Shoot at f/2.4 - f/5 and you’re done as a practical matter, with f/5.6 the outer limit for most all purposes (or image quality as a whole really begins to suffer).

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Special emphasis is placed on Sony full-frame, including Sony lenses and the high performance Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia lenses plus Rokinon/Samyang and others. Fujifilm X, Olympus and Panasonic M4/3, Sigma dp Merrill and dp/sd Quattro are also covered in depth. Years in the making, it offers a wealth of material for choosing and using a mirrorless camera.

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  • Aperture series from wide open through stopped down, showing the full range of lens performance and bokeh.
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Aperture series 3.5,4,4.5,5,5.6,6.3,7.1,8,11,16 available in full article

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