I've used the 105 macro and 24-70 at those apertures. You definitely lose sharpness but it isn't a big deal unless you print large. Smart capture sharpening and output sharpening is enough and having more DOF is great at times. If your output is web I wouldn't even worry about it.
I appreciate your responses. I have heard alot about disfraction above f11 with the D800, and was wondering what experience others are having. I haven't tried it yet, but I am encouraged by your responses.
Diffraction is one of those things that some obsess about while ignoring the reason for and benefits of shooting at a smaller aperture. Try it. If you don't like the results delete the photos. It costs you nothing but a little time.
To me obsessing about diffraction is an example of can't see the forest for the trees.
I have found that the effective Depth of Field is less with FX format than DX which I had become used to. So a shot that would have worked at f11 on your DX camera might now require f13 of even f16 on the FX camera.
The upside is that the loss of image quality from diffraction effects is very much less noticeable than if you used a wider aperture that gives too little DoF for the shot you are attempting.
Sun 31-Mar-13 08:22 PM | edited Sun 31-Mar-13 08:23 PM by ajdooley
I absolutely agree with Mick Klass. Obsession with diffraction is the proper domain of people who spend their time and effort photographing test charts and brick walls instead of taking photographs of slices of life that they want to record or expressing beauty of the world in which they live. Is diffraction, caused by scattering of light from internal parts of a lens, specifically the diaphragm blades, a concern? It is a miniscule issue in comparison with a multitude of other factors in determining the excellence of your results and your joy in achieving them. So when the depth of field requirement, or the need to slow shutter speeds to show motion calls -- stop down and enjoy the results. As was also pointed out, except for the cause of making light beams go where you wish (camera body, lenses, etc.) the rest of the exercise is free!
Tue 02-Apr-13 02:17 AM | edited Tue 02-Apr-13 11:25 AM by mklass
With so many different combinations of bodies, lenses and exposure settings, I think the best factual data for me is looking at my images to determine what I can produce acceptably. Doing is the best teacher.
Nikon is coming out with a new line of lenses with a minimum aperture of f/11. Instead of being less expensive the those that go to f/22 and beyond, they will be premium priced for those who want a lens with no diffraction issues. Also, while rated as f/1.4, 1.8 or 2.8 lenses, they will actually only open up to 2 stops less than the advertised max aperture to eliminate vignetting and lack of edge sharpness. (AF!)
Photographic optics are all compromises in one way or another. It is merely a question of what is an acceptable compromise to the photographer.
Quite honestly, the only lenses that I have ever found to have a serious diffraction issue that was unacceptable in a print, were some of my original really cheap Nikkors (the 28-80G and 70-300G non-VR kit lenses come to mind). Of course it could be I'm just lousy at printing.
People have been advising me not to stop down so much for years. The D800 may be a little worse than its predecessors at provoking diffraction, but even back in the bad old days of 12mp, we had folks not willing to stop down past f/11 because of diffraction. It's all true, but let's put this in perspective: the shot is not as sharp at the point of focus as it would have been out of the diffraction zone, but that doesn't mean it's going to be "unsharp" or "soft." I routinely stop my 200/f4 Micro to f/22 and occasionally even to f/32, and I don't recall anyone - even the pixel peepers here - even noticing that.
Here's a photo I took yesterday with my D800 and the AIS 200mm f4 macro at f16. I was just walking around when I spotted him. The photo is handheld, ISO 1600, 1/800 sec. It's also cropped quite a bit. The bug is only 1/2" long from the eye balls to the end of it's wings. There is no sharpening, only cropping and down sizing.
edit: For those interested, this appears to be a Western Conifer Seed Bug.
Macro lenses are not a good sample. They are created to act like this, to be used critically closed, for max DOF. Go to DP review to the last test of Fuji 14mm. Loss of sharpness at 11.0 and up is clearly visible. Dimitri.
But Dimitri, most of the responses to this thread show the smaller apertures are mostly used with macro lenses. I almost never use f16 or higher with normal zoom or prime lenses. Lens performance at these apertures have mostly degraded the image even with 6mp to 10mp cameras. Of course it is more obvious now that we can enlarge the image to huge proportions with 24 and 36mp sensors. But you must look at lens performance on a case by case basis. Most fast lenses and long telephoto lenses have their best performance in the f2.8 to f5.6 area while as you already mention macro lenses have a wider usable range. I use my PC 85mm macro up to f32 and the photo benefits. It depends on the lens and the amount of enlargement you're willing to give the photo.
One of the concerns I had about the D800 was using lenses at physically small apertures as I take a lot of macro shots. In reality it has not been a major issue. I use f/16 if I fell I need it for the desired DOF.
Tue 02-Apr-13 04:29 PM | edited Wed 03-Apr-13 08:29 AM by ericbowles
Diffraction is a physical issue. It's going to start to impact the image at f/8 or so, but the impact is very small. Even at f/22, there are good reasons to accept the impact of diffraction if DOF is really important.
Subject sharpness is greatest if diffraction is minimized. That's going to be at f/8 and below.
Sharpness is usually greater stopped down - and the amount varies by lens. Some lenses are designed to perform at or near wide open. Others are better stopped down a bit.
Depth of field is increased with higher apertures. You may have more of your image acceptably sharp at f/16 or f/22. While the subject or the sharpest point may be diffraction impaired, the impact is so slight that the added DOF more than justifies the decision. Macro and other situations with small DOF typically benefit from stopping down more - but not necessarily to the highest possible aperture.
Virtually all zoom lenses are softer than primes. If you're using a zoom, you may not have enough resolution to see the impact of diffraction at f/8-f/9.
As a practical matter, I typically get adequate DOF at f/8-f/11. I'm reluctant to stop down a zoom much further (such as the 16-35 or 24-70) without a good reason. With my long lenses I'm looking for a shallow DOF and subject isolation. Its very rare for me to shoot a long lens higher than f/7.1 to f/8. Macro has such a tiny DOF that I need to use a higher aperture. Most macro work is at f/8 or above - often f/16 or higher. And my Nikon 105 is a very sharp lens - much sharper than one of my zooms.
Why should I be disagree with you, gentlemen, if there isn't any contradictions to what I said. Out of questions, true. Even more, old style Tessar-type glass is as sharper as you closed it, to 16 and up! Not so with Sonnar-type, 8 is a border line. Good quality macros to compensate geometrical distortions and CA, have floating group/asph. That's why we can close it to the max. THX. Dimitri.
Wed 03-Apr-13 02:18 AM | edited Wed 03-Apr-13 02:23 AM by avisys
Now, it has been many years since I obsessed over these kinds of things, and my physics is rusty, but I will risk an observation . . .
Diffraction is a function of the edge of the aperture, and how light behaves passing over that edge.
Therefore, the area of "open" aperture in relation to the circumference of the aperture (the "size" of the edge) should determine how much diffraction affects the image from a given lens at a given aperture.
Longer lenses have a much larger "open" area for a given f stop, so unless my math is bad, longer lenses will be less affected by diffraction at a given aperture than shorter lenses. This suggests to me that you could use a narrower f-stop with a 200 micro than with a 105 micro, possibly making up for some of the DOF difference of the two lenses.
If my trig were better, I could probably figure out the improvement with focal length increase.
Or has a piece fallen off my brain?
I will add, the suggestion that the higher resolution D800 would "provoke" diffraction, as I think I read earlier, is a misinterpretation of what is going on. Diffraction is diffraction, for a given lens and aperture --- the sensor has nothing to do with it; the diffraction was always there and always the same. Of course, a higher resolution sensor gives you a much better view of the effect as you crank in zoom in Photoshop or whatever.
Oh, to think that I used to have to mount my enlarger horizontally to project it on a wall to see diffraction (and ruin an image?). Now all I do is push a virtual button!!!!
>Diffraction is a function of the edge of the aperture, and how >light behaves passing over that edge. > >Therefore, the area of "open" aperture in relation >to the circumference of the aperture (the "size" of >the edge) should determine how much diffraction affects the >image from a given lens at a given aperture. > >Longer lenses have a much larger "open" area for a >given f stop, so unless my math is bad, longer lenses will be >less affected by diffraction at a given aperture than shorter >lenses. This suggests to me that you could use a narrower >f-stop with a 200 micro than with a 105 micro, possibly making >up for some of the DOF difference of the two lenses. >
You would think this is true but it isn't. Since the light has to travel further when hitting the sensor with telephoto lenses, the beneficial effect of a larger aperture is offset. In that case only the f stop matters when calculating diffraction. Cambridge in Colour has a very good explanation of what causes diffraction in a lens and the contribution of pixel size in a digital camera.