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What is Acceptably Sharp?

The term “sharp” by itself is fairly meaningless; it’s an arbitrary judgment based on print size or viewing distance. View a magnified image, and what appeared sharp at a smaller size might be blurry. But reproduced on a postage stamp, the image might contain more than adequate detail. View a billboard from a car, and a very blurry image looks perfectly crisp.

In the past, a rational way of judging “acceptably sharp” (e.g., adequate depth of field) has been to reference a print size and a viewing distance, taking into account the acuity of the human eye.   But that approach has its own issues with human perception. Why not make the sharpest possible image so that its future potential is not limited to any particular print size? Especially when high-resolution digital systems cost up to $50K, it makes no sense to be content with images having less than the potential sharpness.

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Diglloyd Making Sharp Images articulates years of best practices and how-to, painstakingly learned over a decade of camera and lens evaluation.

Save yourself those years of trial and error by jump-starting your photographic technical execution when making the image. The best lens or camera is handicapped if the photographer fails to master perfect shot discipline. High-resolution digital cameras are unforgiving of errors, at least if one wants the best possible results.

  • 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.

Figure P: Shallow depth of field is just right for some images @ f/8

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