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How to Read an MTF Chart and Why They Are Useful for Photographers

How to Read an MTF Chart and Why They Are Useful for Photographers

If you have ever looked at the product page for a lens, you may have noticed some strange graphs called MTF charts. Though they look a bit unusual, they are not particularly hard to read once you know what data they convey, and they can tell you a lot of useful information in a short amount of time. This helpful video will show you how they work. 

Coming to you from Dustin Abbott, this great video will show you how to read MTF charts. MTF stands for “Modulation Transfer Function” and is a measure of the optical quality of a lens. They can be especially useful if you are the type of person who wants objectively quantifiable data on optical quality instead of prose or if you want to quickly gauge the performance of a lens (though be careful using them to compare lenses between manufacturers, since standards and procedures differ). Using an MTF chart, you can quickly get information on a lens’ contrast and resolution performance as compared to an ideal lens, both in the center of the frame and out to the corners. You can even ascertain the softness of the bokeh. While an MTF chart can’t tell you everything about a lens, it can very quickly give you objective data on some of its most important characteristics, making them a useful tool when buying new gear. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Abbott. 

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