The effect of instrumental size resolution measurements on numerical calculations of optical cross-sections is investigated. The particle counting instruments considered are a FSSP-300, a large scattering angle probe instrument similar to a ASASP-X, and, an aerodynamical system ELPI instrument. The scattering and hemispheric backscattering cross-sections, C-sca and C-bk, are calculated on the basis that the full width of the instrumental size bin should be considered in modeling. An average process is applied on these quantities over the full size bin of the instrument; they are then compared to their usual estimation on the single mean diameter D, per channel. The effect of particle shape is investigated with ellipsoids and spheres. Results show sensitivity of the optical cross-sections to the shape of the particles as well as position of the mean geometrical diameter D-p of the channels within the interferences modes of the scattering efficiencies. The value of the width of the size bins, d log D, of each channel is crucial in the results. This comparison gives a useful estimation of error important in optical particle counting instruments based on inversion process of optical quantities. In addition, accuracy of size distribution measurements is found not to be representative of accuracy in the calculations of optical cross-sections. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.