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Reducing the aperture increases the depth of field of the image. In the case of film cameras, this allows less light to reach the film plane – to achieve the same exposure after stopping down, it is necessary to compensate for the reduced light by either increasing the exposure time, or using a photographic film with a higher speed. In the case of digital cameras, this allows less light to reach the image sensor – to achieve the same exposure after stopping down, it is necessary to compensate for the reduced light by either increasing the exposure time, or increasing the signal gain of the sensor by increasing the camera's ISO setting. Alternatively, in both cases, more light can be added to the scene by employing or increasing the strength of electronic flash.
In general, stopping down increases image sharpness. This is true for out-of-focus objects, and for cameras with inexpensive or simple lenses, because spherical aberration, coma and astigmatism are less apparent at smaller apertures. High-quality lenses are corrected for these aberrations, and usually give the sharpest images for in-focus objects at about one or two f-stops below maximum aperture. When using very small apertures, diffraction reduces sharpness. One generally obtains a sharper image by stopping down one or two f-stops because lens designers optimise their designs for a compromise between admitting the most light to shorten the exposure time and producing a sharply focused image. If the lens designer optimised for sharpness only, the lens would have a smaller maximum aperture which would be too dim for some poorly lit scenes.
- Cicala, Roger (2011-11-13). "Stop it Down. Just a Bit". LensRentals.com. Retrieved 2015-06-07.
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