Lens diffraction is an optical phenomenon that occurs when light is forced to pass through a small opening such as an aperture. As the light passes through the opening, it spreads out, creating a soft blur. This can be used to create artistic effects in photography, but it can also have a detrimental effect on the sharpness of your images.
Lens diffraction occurs when light passes through an opening such as an aperture or a small hole in a lens. As the light passes through, it bends and spreads out in a cone shape, creating a soft blur effect. This effect can be seen in many different types of photography, from landscapes to portrait photography.
The amount of blur that is created by lens diffraction depends on the size of the opening. The larger the opening, the more light that is spread out, resulting in a more pronounced blur effect. Conversely, the smaller the opening, the less light that is spread out and the less blur that is created.
How Does Lens Diffraction Affect Image Quality?
Lens diffraction can have both positive and negative effects on the quality of your photographs. On the one hand, lens diffraction can be used to create interesting and artistic effects. On the other hand, it can reduce the sharpness and clarity of your images, particularly when shooting at smaller apertures.
The effect of lens diffraction is most noticeable when shooting at smaller apertures, such as f/16 or smaller. At these apertures, the light is spread out more, resulting in a softening of the image. This can be beneficial for creating dreamy and atmospheric images, but it is not ideal for sharp, detailed images.
Tips For Avoiding Lens Diffraction
If you want to avoid lens diffraction and maintain the sharpness and clarity of your images, there are a few tips that you can follow:
- Shoot at larger apertures such as f/2.8 or f/4 whenever possible.
- Stop down your aperture slowly when shooting at smaller apertures.
- Use lenses with larger maximum apertures.
- Increase your camera’s ISO if necessary.
Lens diffraction is an optical phenomenon that occurs when light passes through a small opening such as an aperture or a small hole in a lens. It can be used to create interesting and artistic effects in photography, but it can also reduce the sharpness and clarity of your images. By following the tips outlined above, you can avoid lens diffraction and maintain the sharpness and clarity of your images.
Here are some videos about this topic
A great explainer here from Don Komarechka:
In this video by Tony Northrup gives a great walkthrough on this topic and the science behind it:
Steve Perry outlines everything you need to know about lens diffraction:
The video is loaded with practical examples that answer questions like:
- How far can you safely stop down?
- Does diffraction limit the usefulness of high res sensors?
- Can you sharpen out diffraction?
- Should you ever use small F/stops?
- What causes diffraction in the first place?
- What's the difference between sharpness and depth of field?