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What is an aberration?

The Basics:

An aberration is where an image displays one or more forms of imperfection, due to certain characteristics of the camera equipment and settings used.

A Little More Detail:

Aberrations might show up in an image as colour fringing, light fall-off around the edge of the image, blurred detail across part or all of the image, distortion, whereby straight lines appear curved, or reflections.
Higher quality optics and imaging sensors do a better job of restricting aberrations, while advanced digital processing (in-camera and in post-production using software such as Canon DPP) can go some way to suppressing them further.
As a leading optical engineering company, it’s our job to continually develop new lens, imaging sensor, and processor technology to combat these various aberrations.
The photographer can also adjust their technique to avoid aberrations occurring, for example by using a smaller aperture, different focal length, attaching a lens hood to their lens, etc.
See VignettingPeripheral Illuminationghosting or flaring for more information.