Can lens sharpness change with subject distance?

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Platographer Contributing Member • Posts: 569
Can lens sharpness change with subject distance?

When I get a lens I test it for sharpness on a stone wall from about 3-4 feet away. But according to Camera Labs reviews "performance of lenses also depends on the shooting distance," so they test lenses from a hilltop focused on a town about a half-mile away. How can distance affect sharpness, assuming the camera can focus properly and is focused on the subject? Also, if a lens appears tack sharp with no indication of decentering when focusing on a subject that is four feet away, what are the chances the image would show softness on one side or corner when focusing on a subject that is 400 or 4,000 feet away (assuming in all cases the subject is properly in focus and fills the frame)?

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