You probably realize that a small aperture will provide you with the most depth-of-field, but stopping ALL the way down to your smallest aperture (usually the largest number, i.e., f/22, etc.) is not always a good idea. Many lenses offer a more appealing image at one stop shy of their smallest aperture. This is because of lack of contrast or flare at the smallest aperture.

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  1. Particularly true with many 3rd party lenses!

  2. Particularly true with many 3rd party lenses!

  3. Isn’t this caused by Diffraction?

    Keep Shooting!
    BruceHP

  4. Isn’t this caused by Diffraction?

    Keep Shooting!
    BruceHP

  5. It’s also worth noting that most DSLRs are diffraction limited somewhere around f/11-f/16. Going with smaller apertures will increase the DOF, but result in an overall softer image.

  6. It’s also worth noting that most DSLRs are diffraction limited somewhere around f/11-f/16. Going with smaller apertures will increase the DOF, but result in an overall softer image.

  7. Thanks for that. Took some night shots around my suburb and noted the flaring at the lowest aperture. Now I know why.

    Great show and podcast guys.

    Dean

  8. Thanks for that. Took some night shots around my suburb and noted the flaring at the lowest aperture. Now I know why.

    Great show and podcast guys.

    Dean

  9. Is that a cougar??

  10. Is that a cougar??

  11. @argyle yes – rare shot of a big cat in water – they don’t like water – cougar, also called a mountain lion or puma depending on what area of the country you live in.

    This is a young cat – not fully grown, but getting there.

  12. @argyle yes – rare shot of a big cat in water – they don’t like water – cougar, also called a mountain lion or puma depending on what area of the country you live in.

    This is a young cat – not fully grown, but getting there.

  13. How does this problem effect really long lenses, where the physical aperture is large even at small f stops?

  14. Hmmmm, where’s Mom? (of the mountain lion)
    Did someone have your back?
    Does it matter what the max aperture is as far as how far to stop down to get the least softening? (i.e. if the lens is a 1.4, should we stop down more or less than if a lens is a 3.5)
    Same with the zoom – if the max is 3.5-5.6 does that affect how far to stop down depending on your focal length?
    (I would think not, but I checked amateur on your poll)

    Thanks for a great podcast.

  15. Hmmmm, where’s Mom? (of the mountain lion)
    Did someone have your back?
    Does it matter what the max aperture is as far as how far to stop down to get the least softening? (i.e. if the lens is a 1.4, should we stop down more or less than if a lens is a 3.5)
    Same with the zoom – if the max is 3.5-5.6 does that affect how far to stop down depending on your focal length?
    (I would think not, but I checked amateur on your poll)

    Thanks for a great podcast.

  16. Chuck every lens has a “sweet spot.” Typically a lens that’s variable 3.5 – 5.6 is going to have a sweet spot in the neighborhood of f/8 – f/11.

  17. Chuck every lens has a “sweet spot.” Typically a lens that’s variable 3.5 – 5.6 is going to have a sweet spot in the neighborhood of f/8 – f/11.

  18. […] Ours Don’t Go to F22 – The good folks at the This Week in Photography podcast posted a helpful tip about “stopping down”, going one F-Stop short of the smallest aperture setting. Â This gives you the best sharpness and a long depth of field. […]

  19. good point, I have always hated stopping down all the way, great advice

  20. good point, I have always hated stopping down all the way, great advice

  21. Thanks a lot, Scott,
    chuck
    ps. just got 3 more subscribers to your podcast at a meeting today….

  22. Thanks a lot, Scott,
    chuck
    ps. just got 3 more subscribers to your podcast at a meeting today….

  23. […] May 23, 2008 at 12:37 am · Filed under Uncategorized TWIP – Stopping Down […]

  24. […] May 23, 2008 at 12:37 am · Filed under Uncategorized TWIP – Stopping Down […]

  25. do you mean diffraction? i tend to shoot full power with stobes that sometimes bring up to the upper 20’s. the school of thought there is that the higher the exposure the better the detail… do you agree at least for studio photography?

  26. do you mean diffraction? i tend to shoot full power with stobes that sometimes bring up to the upper 20’s. the school of thought there is that the higher the exposure the better the detail… do you agree at least for studio photography?

  27. Yes diffraction is part of the problem fully stopped down and it happens regardless of the setting; studio, outdoors, etc.

  28. Yes diffraction is part of the problem fully stopped down and it happens regardless of the setting; studio, outdoors, etc.

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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