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Handheld Sharpness

To obtain a critically sharp image (one realizing the full potential of the recording medium), either a fast enough shutter speed is required, or a tripod must be used. This section explores that statement using a 200mm lens.

The 200mm focal length was chosen because it is the longest focal length that is practical to shoot handheld on a regular basis (due to size and weight). While there are lightweight consumer zoom lenses that zoom to 300mm, those are typically f5.6 and require stopping down to f8 or f11 to reach their optimal quality, which requires a slower shutter speed or higher ISO (and even then such lenses may or may not reach the optical quality of their more-expensive siblings).

On the Nikon D2X, with its 23.7 X 15.7mm sensor, 200mm is equivalent in field of view to a 300mm lens on a full-frame (36 X 24) camera.  The results discussed here would likely apply to 300mm on the larger sensor size though the conclusions might be altered slightly.

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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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