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Blur and Haze from Spherical Aberration

Spherical aberration (SA) is one of the few aberrations that affects the entire frame, causing a veiling haze to “glow” around details, a “soft focus” effect that can be a positive quality for some types of photography e.g., classic portraiture.

Spherical aberration is often found with fast lenses. For 35mm cameras, that means f/1.2 and f/1.4, though it can also be found at f/2, and even with f/2.8 lenses, such as the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G.

Stopping down reduces and then eliminates SA, with associated focus shift.

Usually, but not always, spherical aberration causes low contrast wide open; sharpness might actually be quite high, but the contrast is so low as to give the impression of little detail. Low contrast from spherical aberration can be enhanced nicely in post-processing.

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  • Eases into photographic challenges with an introductory section.
  • Covers aspects of digital sensor technology that relate to getting the best image quality.
  • Technique section discusses every aspect of making a sharp image handheld or on a tripod.
  • Depth of field and how to bypass depth of field limitations via focus stacking.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • MTF, field curvature, focus shift: insight into the limitations of lab tests and why imaging performance is far more complex than it appears.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • How to test a lens for a “bad sample”.

Intrigued? See Focusing Zeiss DSLR Lenses For Peak Performance, PART ONE: The Challenges, or (one topic of many) field curvature.

Spherical aberration (and more) with Nikon 50mm f/1.2 AI-S @ f/1.2, actual pixels

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