Diffraction Limit

Started Aug 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
RichRMA Veteran Member • Posts: 4,073
Resolution law is carved in stone

Resolution is solely determined by lens aperture in a perfect or near-perfect lens system.  A 50mm f/2.0 lens will resolve more detail than a 50mm f/2.8 lens because it has a larger maximum aperture IF both lenses are truly diffraction-limited.  However, since camera lenses are rarely (if ever) diffraction-limited, they often display better resolution by being stopped down and reducing aberrations visible in the whole aperture.

No current camera has enough pixel density to challenge a diffraction-limited lens to produce its best resolution, so even if you have diffraction-limited lens, you can't make full use of its resolution capabilities.  Once cameras hit 100MP on an APS sensor, then you might be able to reach a good lens's real resolving power.

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