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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses
Thread started 25 Mar 2012 (Sunday) 08:14
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Lens that's good at small apertures?

 
chris_holtmeier
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Mar 25, 2012 08:14 |  #1

I've been all prime (50L, 85L, 135L on FF) for a little while now, but I've found these lenses are getting soft by f/11 and suffer major diffraction at f/13 and 16. f8 is the max I'll shoot at with these.

I find even f8 on my 135L to have a short DOF on my 5D for headshots and 3/4.

Anything out there consistent in quality that stays sharp from f16-22? This lens would probably only be used in the studio.



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JeffreyG
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Mar 25, 2012 08:19 |  #2

Nope, the effects of diffraction are strictly a function of the size of the aperture, not the lens design. So all 135mm lenses should be about the same for sharpness at f/11 or smaller.

If you shot landscapes I'd recommend a TS-E lens to gain DOF without having to stop down so much, but for people this doesn't work.


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pulsar123
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Mar 25, 2012 08:42 |  #3

For a given camera sensor (size and pixel density), diffraction effects become noticeable around the same f-number for all lenses, at any FL. See e.g. here:

http://www.cambridgein​colour.com ...al-camera-sensor-size.htmexternal link


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FuturamaJSP
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Mar 25, 2012 09:00 |  #4

http://www.cambridgein​colour.com ...ffraction-photography.htmexternal link


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jra
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Mar 25, 2012 09:32 |  #5

Why would you limit yourself only to F8 when you need something smaller? A little diffraction is certainly better than having important parts of your photo being out of focus due to a smaller than needed DOF.




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Sirrith
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Mar 25, 2012 09:34 |  #6

Macro lenses maybe? They're designed to go down to very small apertures after all.


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amfoto1
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Mar 25, 2012 10:40 |  #7

Your observations and previous responses about diffraction are correct, however you might be exaggerating it's effect in your application. It's something you have to consider when using digital cameras. Diffraction "robs" fine detail from an image and at it's worst can make an image look soft and "plasticky" overall, similar to running really strong noise reduction on it. There's a calculator at that link to let you determine the Diffraction Limited Aperture of any camera.

However, are you using a 5D classic?

The reason I ask is that diffraction is effected by three things: the density of pixel sites on the sensor, the size of the lens aperture, and the final use/output of the image. Full frame cameras have far less crowded sensors than crop sensor cameras, so are more resistant to diffraction. A specific example... the 21MP 5DII has less than half the pixel sites per square millimeter, vs the 18MP crop cameras.

If you calculate the Diffraction Limited Aperture (DLA) for an 8x10" print from a 5DII you'll find it's f10. For a 7D or 60D or T3i or T2i, the DLA is f7.1.

Now, the DLA is where diffraction first starts to set in and you probably won't be able to see it with your naked eye. In fact, it increases gradually from there and you can probably use a bit smaller apertures without much concern. For example, I'll use f8 and sometimes even f11 with my 7Ds. With 5DII, I'll use f11, f16 without worry, sometimes even f22.

If you are using a 13MP 5D classic, with an 8x10" print it has a DLA of f15. You can almost certainly use f16 and probably f22 without much concern.

Read the details about diffraction at the above websiteexternal link... As it notes, it's a trade-off, like everything in photography. A little diffraction might be just fine, if allowing it to occur offers greater depth of field that's needed for a successful image. Also, note that the viewing distance with the final product is important. Often when calculating DLA an 8x10 viewed from a normal distance is used. If instead a 24x36" print were made, viewing distance would change, otherwise one would be overly critical of the image. In other words, viewing digital images on a computer monitor at 100% might be a bit like walking up to an old master's painting in the Louvre until it's a few inches from your nose... what was a masterpiece from a normal viewing distance is nothing but a bunch of messy brush strokes from a few inches away.

Don't confuse diffraction with the optical limitations of lenses. Large aperture lenses are designed to work best at their larger apertures, of course. They might not be at their best stopped down. So a lens that's designed to work best at smaller apertures, such as a macro lens, might give you better results.

You probably are aware, DOF is controlled by aperture size, focal length and working distance. So if you are looking for more DOF, you might try backing off a little, and/or using a slightly shorter focal length, then shooting the image a little loosely to allow it to be cropped later. A limitation might be the size of your studio, how much you are able to back up. Ever notice what fashion and large product photographers tend to do? They use quite large studios where they can shoot from quite a distance with a moderate telephoto lens. 200mm lenses are popular portrait lenses with fashion photographers, while most other portrait shooters traditionally use 85mm and 135mm. The longer lens natural renders shallower DOF if used at the same working distance, however they have plenty of room to allow them to back up and shoot less tightly, making for more DOF with the same aperture. (Another reason fashion photogs use longer lenses is the subtle perspective flattening effect that occurs.)

You might want get a good test target, something with shape and lots of texture and fine detail (maybe a large, furry, stuffed animal?), to run a series of tests with your lenses in your work space.... to find the optimal apertures and working distances of your lenses on your particular camera. You might need to make some prints initially, since something is always lost viewing images on a computer monitor, but then can probably do most of the analysis comparinig images on your computer. Boring stuff, but a test series can help you develop a plan for how best to use each of your lenses, what their limits are. Without shooting a boring test series, it can take years to learn the nuances of gear performance and how to optimize it. The tests can be a short cut to getting the best out of a particular piece of gear (testing done every so often also might find gear that needs repair or calibration).

The only other things I can think of... Have you had the focus calibrated on your camera lately or run Micro Adjust on each of your lenses, if the camera is a model that has that feature? And, do you have protection filters on your lenses? If so, try shoothing without them. Smaller apertures can make filters have greater effect on images, particularly with wider lenses.


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Wilt
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Mar 25, 2012 12:28 |  #8

I need to not let misinformation go perpetuated to others.

amphoto wrote:
Full frame cameras have far less crowded sensors than crop sensor cameras, so are more resistant to diffraction.

No, larger format cameras are more resistant to diffraction only because the image is MAGNIFIED LESS to fill the same 8x10 final print size, so diffraction effects are not magnified so much and therefore not visible as much.

amfoto1 wrote in post #14149782external link
...if you are looking for more DOF, you might try backing off a little, and/or using a slightly shorter focal length, then shooting the image a little loosely to allow it to be cropped later.

Cropping alters the effective magnification required to make a final print of a given size, which itself changes DOF! The blur circles (the Circle of Confusion) are magnified at the same time that sharp points are magnified, so they become more visible by the magnification and this effectively reduces the DOF (what the brain perceives to be 'in focus').

amfoto1 wrote in post #14149782external link
... Ever notice what fashion and large product photographers tend to do? They use quite large studios where they can shoot from quite a distance with a moderate telephoto lens. 200mm lenses are popular portrait lenses with fashion photographers, while most other portrait shooters traditionally use 85mm and 135mm. The longer lens natural renders shallower DOF if used at the same working distance, however they have plenty of room to allow them to back up and shoot less tightly, making for more DOF with the same aperture.

A longer FL lens will make the out-of-focus things in the background to be more blurry, but the DOF (how much is in focus) is virtually the same!

  • With 50mm lens at f/4 on FF camera, when subject is at 5m distance, the DOF zone is 0.85 m deep.
  • With 200mm lens at f/4 on FF camera, when subject is at 20m distance, the DOF zone is 0.844m deep.


...there is only a 0.2" difference in the DOF, a 6' tall subject fills the same amount of the 7.8' frame height captured in both shots.

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xarqi
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Mar 25, 2012 16:28 |  #9

Sirrith wrote in post #14149486external link
Macro lenses maybe? They're designed to go down to very small apertures after all.

Alas, no. The same limitations imposed by the laws of optics apply. Very small apertures are provided for on macro lenses because at the small distances typical of macro photography the need for increased DoF is much more important than the consequences of diffraction softening.




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Sirrith
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Mar 25, 2012 17:08 |  #10

xarqi wrote in post #14151347external link
Alas, no. The same limitations imposed by the laws of optics apply. Very small apertures are provided for on macro lenses because at the small distances typical of macro photography the need for increased DoF is much more important than the consequences of diffraction softening.

Right. I suppose I was just under the impression because they're so sharp to start off with anyway :)


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The ­ Fox
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Mar 25, 2012 22:55 |  #11

This is one reason why I shoot crop bodies. I dont have to use super small apertures to get DOF. I am not doing it for diffraction as much as I am doing it to avoid using more power in the strobes.

Nick


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ejenner
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Mar 26, 2012 09:26 |  #12

The Fox wrote in post #14153503external link
This is one reason why I shoot crop bodies. I dont have to use super small apertures to get DOF. I am not doing it for diffraction as much as I am doing it to avoid using more power in the strobes.

Nick

It actually doesn't make much difference. With a crop such as 7D diffraction starts around f7-f11 where as for a 5DII it starts around f11-f16, so apart from getting the same DOF with an extra stop of light it doesn't make much difference.

OP: while some lenses are definitely sharper than others at f11 as you decrease aperture the differences reduce as diffraction becomes more evident. Still on FF I do notice some lenses definitely a bit sharper than others even at f16. This isn't something that a lot of people test though, so I don't think you're going to get much help in this area.


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bpark42
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Mar 26, 2012 10:59 |  #13

chris_holtmeier wrote in post #14149215external link
I've been all prime (50L, 85L, 135L on FF) for a little while now, but I've found these lenses are getting soft by f/11 and suffer major diffraction at f/13 and 16. f8 is the max I'll shoot at with these.

I find even f8 on my 135L to have a short DOF on my 5D for headshots and 3/4.

Anything out there consistent in quality that stays sharp from f16-22? This lens would probably only be used in the studio.

How are you evaluating the diffraction effects you are seeing? Are you only looking at your shots at 100%, or are you making large prints that just aren't holding up?

Even if you are an obsessive pixel-peeper f/11 at least should be perfectly fine with (e.g.) the 5D+135L.




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chris_holtmeier
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Mar 26, 2012 11:21 |  #14

bpark42 wrote in post #14155778external link
How are you evaluating the diffraction effects you are seeing? Are you only looking at your shots at 100%, or are you making large prints that just aren't holding up?

Even if you are an obsessive pixel-peeper f/11 at least should be perfectly fine with (e.g.) the 5D+135L.

Just looking at shots at 100%. I notice a sharpness difference between f8 and f11.



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bpark42
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Mar 26, 2012 12:08 |  #15

chris_holtmeier wrote in post #14155899external link
Just looking at shots at 100%. I notice a sharpness difference between f8 and f11.

Everyone has their own standards of course, but minor differences at 100% are rarely meaningful to final output. I admit to my share of pixel-peeping, but I have plenty of prints from shots in the f/11 to f/16 (and beyond) range.




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Lens that's good at small apertures?
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