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The new E-M5, GH2, GX1 and G3 and diffraction limits

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Posted 9th February 2012 at 08:56 AM by Ian

Over at our sibling site I covered the issue of diffraction limiting digital cameras some time back. If you reduce the aperture setting in your lens beyond a certain point that relates to the pixel pitch of your camera's sensor and your images will get softer because of diffraction.

With 12.3 megapixel Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras the theoretical diffraction threshold is almost exactly f/8 although in practice I find that f/7.1 is the aperture to aim for. Users of Micro Four Thirds cameras that feature the new 16 megapixel Live MOS sensors might be concerned that the smaller pixel pitch of these sensors would further limit the minimum aperture before diffraction sets in. The 12.3 megapixel sensor has a pixel pitch of 4.3m and the 16 megapixel sensor is 3.7m.

Happily, I can report that this only makes about a third of an EV difference so theoretically the limit is f/7.1 instead of f/8 and I will probably tend to use f/6.3 instead of f/7.1 wherever possible.
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