How to see diffraction in photos

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Tivoli Tuesday
Tivoli Tuesday New Member • Posts: 18
Re: How to see diffraction in photos

cba_melbourne wrote:

It is impossible to see diffraction in a single photo. Especially so, if you do not know what lens what used to take that photo.

In a single photo you can easily see lens aberrations, like for example chromatic aberration or distortion. But not diffraction, even not when pixel peeping.

All you can see, is that the picture is not as tack sharp as other similar pictures you have seen before. But there is no way to tell if this is due to diffraction, or to using a lens that has a lower resolution, or to using an inferior filter, or to using a macro tube, or a diopter lens, etc etc. It may even be pretty hard to tell conclusively, if it is due to using a camera with a lower resolution sensor, or if it is due to using a dirty lens, or if it is simply due to a slight misfocusing.


The only way to "see" diffraction, is by comparing two or more near identical pictures taken with the same lens under same conditions, but at different apertures.


And this is why diffraction is hugely overrated. If you are happy with a picture, if you like it the way it is, diffraction is totally and utterly irrelevant. Unless of course, if all you ever do is taking pictures of resolution test charts, brick walls and newspaper pages

Jokes aside, a picture taken with a very expensive pro lens that has been stopped down into diffraction territory (say f/11 or f/16) simply looks like a picture taken with a half as expensive lens. That is all. You are forfeiting some of the sharpness your lens is capable of, in order to enhance some other features in your picture like depth of field or sunstars or a softer look. To some people, that is just part of the art of photography - to some others it is a sacrilege because they paid so much for that ultra-sharp pro lens and therefore each and every pic they shoot must be pixel peep tack sharp each and every time regardless of subject and artistic intention... The danger of such tech-driven mindset, is to end up with technically perfect, but boring pictures.


Very few technically perfect (and diffraction free) pictures are outstanding pictures

But many outstanding pictures are not technically perfect

Thanks for this!  I keep checking my photos, and others posted here and elsewhere, to see if I can spot diffraction (or aberrations, distortions, and other technical stuff, for that matter) and it can be discouraging to NOT find these things that so many people talk about and judge an image on.

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~ Peter

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