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Recommended Focusing Apertures

A camera that can stop down to a desired focusing aperture in Live View is your best bet for accurate focus.

The table below summarizes the recommended apertures for focusing a lens that exhibits focus shift, bearing in mind that focusing at a smaller (darker) aperture than f/2.8 may itself introduce error due to a darker image and increased depth of field, making it more difficult to judge precise focus.

These figures are guidelines. Typically, aperture f/2.8 - f/4 is where the most severe shift occurs. There are always oddball exceptions such as the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, which should be focused at f/4 or f/5.6.

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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.

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