Lens Diffraction In Photography

Thanks for stopping by! This tip is all about lens diffraction in photography โ€“ as you probably guessed from the title ๐Ÿ™‚

The video discusses not only what diffraction is, but also how it can affect your photography. In addition, Iโ€™ve put a TON of examples in plus I answer five of the most common questions that come up when the subject turns to diffraction. The video is below โ€“ watch that first โ€“ and then under the video are some sample photos.

Did you see the video yet? If so, feel free to examine the sample images below ๐Ÿ™‚


NOTE โ€“ Iโ€™ve had some questions about the sharpening method used in some of the images below โ€“ itโ€™s all just the Unsharp Mask, nothing special.

Although the video gets the point across, I think the images below do an even better job. For best results, click the image to get a full-size view (itโ€™s the original 1920 pixel wide image I used in the video, so make sure if your browser resizes it you click the little magnifying glass to enlarge to full size).

Note โ€“ if you did not see the video, this probably isnโ€™t going to make any senseโ€ฆ

Map comparison from the 1.0 minute mark:


Overlook comparing effect of diffraction at different F/Stops at the 3.30 minute mark:



Depth of field vs sharpness comparison from the 4.34 minute mark:



โ€œSweet spotโ€ comparison from the 5.37 minute mark:


Low res with no diffraction vs high res with diffraction comparison at 9.02:


Same area, D800e and D4

D4 upsized to D800e size

D800e downsized to D4 file size

D4 upsized to D800e size, this time, F/16 for both

Same as above, only with equal sharpening added for both images

Sharpening out diffraction comparisons at 11.17:

D800e, F8 and F11, unsharpenedD800e, F8 and F11, unsharpened

D800e, F8 and F11, ONLY F11 sharpenedD800e, F8 and F11, ONLY F11 sharpened

D800e, F8 and F11, BOTH sharpenedD800e, F8 and F11, BOTH sharpened

D800e, F8 and F16, no sharpeningD800e, F8 and F16, no sharpening

D800e, F8 and F16, ONLY F16 sharpenedD800e, F8 and F16, ONLY F16 sharpened

D800e, F8 and F16, ONLY F16 sharpenedD800e, F8 and F16, BOTH sharpened

D800e, F8 and F22, no sharpeningD800e, F8 and F22, no sharpening

D800e, F8 and F22, ONLY F22 sharpenedD800e, F8 and F22, ONLY F22 sharpened

D800e, F8 and F22, BOTH sharpenedD800e, F8 and F22, BOTH sharpened


If you enjoyed this article, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System. They’re filled with hundreds of pages of information just like this. Check it out – click here (hey, it’s free to look ๐Ÿ™‚ )


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Bill Kendall
3 years ago

Wow. HOW I NEEDED THIS INFO!! Thanks so much Steve. Even though you made this half a decade ago, it’s certainly relevant today. I really enjoy your friendly and easy manner of delivery, it makes for a very useful teaching session. I recently sold all my old gear to KEH and swapped for a top quality D810 which I plan on learning and lasting me until my last days of shooting. Understanding what’s going on with the sweet Sigma 24-105 ART series zoom which I purchased to match has been a challenge. Understanding this dynamic of diffraction will help very… Read more »

Isam Naoom
Isam Naoom
4 years ago

Excellent presentation! You make difficult stuff so easy. I really enjoy your videos.


[…] Lens Diffraction In Photography […]

Tom Lee
Tom Lee
6 years ago

Jumped to this video from your excellent “Secrets to Nikon autofocus system” I really appreciate the clarity and plain common sense language that you use to help up. This video on diffraction was not only informative but entertaining to watch. I also have your “Secrets to Stunning Wildlife”. I am not too free with my cash and you are the only person on the internet I have found where I am willing to pay for additional stuff (like your e-books). You should be congratulated on that.
From East Sussex England.

3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Lee

Same goes with me. In addition I have your e book on mirrorless focus Techniques .

Edyta Girgiel
Edyta Girgiel
7 years ago

Wow! I have finally understood why my lenses on the new D810 were so blurry at small apertures during my tests!!!! Thank you so much!!! Your explanation is very clear and easy to follow, and your examples speak a tonne as well. Thank you so much for this article. I had been searching for the answer at the Nikon support in Poland and they couldn’t help me ๐Ÿ™‚ and then, by accident, I came across your post on NikonRumours site. That’s exactly what I needed. Thank you! You’re the greatest! ๐Ÿ™‚

Winston Shaw
7 years ago

I never cease to be amazed by the clarity and completeness of your explanations! I am the sort of guy who NEVER finds what he is looking for in a FAQ section and yet whenever I watch one of your videos I come away with every one of my potential questions answered! In the forty years I’ve been involved with photography I am never encountered more useful photo information than I find on your website and in your Post Excellent “Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography” eBook. To say that my ability to capture worthwhile wildlife images has improved as a… Read more »