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Thread: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Seeing as we have the M8 and M9, and other AA filter-less cameras providing super-high quality images at their designed resolutions, why aren't more cameras made that way? Is it a manufacturer fear that the general public might react negatively to moire, etc. in their photos, and that pros (or high-end amateurs) are OK with a trade-off in this area?

    As I mention in the title, maybe this is a stupid question and I'm missing something obvious. Enlighten me...

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by mathomas View Post
    Seeing as we have the M8 and M9, and other AA filter-less cameras providing super-high quality images at their designed resolutions, why aren't more cameras made that way? Is it a manufacturer fear that the general public might react negatively to moire, etc. in their photos, and that pros (or high-end amateurs) are OK with a trade-off in this area?

    As I mention in the title, maybe this is a stupid question and I'm missing something obvious. Enlighten me...
    Because more cameras would likely show greater aliasing effects (moire and other artifacts) which would be unsatisfactory to their buyers. Software-based moire removal has improved a lot in recent years but not all manufacturers have it in their in-camera JPEG rendering software.

    Focusing on one technical attribute of a camera's design has little predictive value as to the quality of images a camera can make.

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Hi Mike
    Not a stupid question.
    It always surprises me as well - over 18 months shooting with the M9, well over 20,000 images, and I don't think I've spent more than 1/2 dealing with moire - specular highlights in sparkly water can be an issue, but it's still easy to sort.
    It's not a stupid question . . .. I'm afraid the answer has to be that the focus groups of the big camera companies have decided that the average photographer is happier with blurry images than with a bit of moire. . . . . sad really.

    all the best

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    My guess is that it is the wedding shooter market.
    With hundreds of images of moire-prone fabric and little time for processing, AA filters help them a lot.
    I really would prefer that they were dialed-down or if cameras were offered in versions with and without.
    -bob

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Was just about to write, as a wedding shooter who gets moire all to often with a standard 5D, no thanks!
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Thanks for the responses, guys. I had wondered if it might be subject-specific, and the wedding photography example is great.

    Jono, thanks for not thinking it's a stupid question . I've only gotten one instance of objectionable moire out of my M8, and that was of a brick wall at an angle, and at a considerable distance (and a small part of the overall image). Most people would not have noticed it.

    Here's an inline of the image. The bricks to the right side of the clock are where the moire is visible.

    Click to see a bit larger.


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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Simple answer . Just imagine 10k to 100k in Canon shooters or Nikon shooters running into moire issues. Just think about the PR mess that would be. That is the real reason in my mind.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Was just about to write, as a wedding shooter who gets moire all to often with a standard 5D, no thanks!
    Hi Ben
    It's interesting to hear you say that. I'm not a 'real' wedding shooter, but I've shot . . .erm 4 or 5 weddings with an M9 over the last couple of years, and I can only think of one shot which really needed to be dealt with (and Aperture is very good at it - 2 minutes max). The M8 was more of a problem.

    Maybe it's my aged hands providing an exactly controlled amount of camera shake to mitigate the moire

    I wonder if it's an out of date concern?
    I'm sure that Guy's right about the motivation, but IMHO it's a horrible case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    all the best

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    I'm pretty sensitive to aliasing artifacts, and I've found from experience that those usually bother me a lot more than does throwing away a little bit of acutance.

    Some moire problems are sort-of-fixable using C1's tool, but some are not, and to my eye the fixes often leave collateral damage. And wrestling with the cleanup to try to get the least-bad result is no fun at all.

    So I've come to think that a reasonably well-tuned AA filter is, on balance, a good thing.

    That's a subjective call, and obviously there are lots of AA non-fans here. It would certainly be nice if one could have a choice, though I expect the cost would be prohibitive. The optional AA filter for the ZD had a crazy price. (No, I didn't buy one when I had a ZD - it would have cost almost as much as I paid for the camera.)

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Oren: here is the problem: there is no way to have universal agreement on a "reasonably tuned" AA filter. That said, if what you mean is a weak filter that would take care of moire in most but not all circumstances, I would agree.

    I wonder if there has ever been a comparison of the strength of AA filters in different cameras. My sense of the one in my 5Dii is that it is pretty weak and little pp sharpening is needed (and my other camera is a M9) so there is one comparison there (zero vs "weak").
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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by weinschela View Post
    Oren: here is the problem: there is no way to have universal agreement on a "reasonably tuned" AA filter.
    I'm not sure there's a way to have universal agreement on *any* camera feature.

    Quote Originally Posted by weinschela View Post
    That said, if what you mean is a weak filter that would take care of moire in most but not all circumstances, I would agree.
    I'd say my standard would be to never see it at the print sizes I prefer, which tend to be on the small side - rarely more than 10" on the long dimension. I imagine there's some point at which sheer pixel density will overwhelm the problem - Phase One is welcome to send me an Aptus-II 12 or IQ180 for testing - but some cameras with AA filters fail too. (When judging prints rather than on screen, one also has to be careful to distinguish between camera effects and printer/driver effects - my 3880 generates nasty aliasing all by itself when sent high-resolution files at the hardware resolution "magic numbers", something my old B9180 has never done.)

    Quote Originally Posted by weinschela View Post
    I wonder if there has ever been a comparison of the strength of AA filters in different cameras. My sense of the one in my 5Dii is that it is pretty weak and little pp sharpening is needed (and my other camera is a M9) so there is one comparison there (zero vs "weak").
    There's lots of anecdotal talk about it, but I've never seen anyone describe an objective measure that could be used to compare cameras in any consistent way. Possibly one could define a set of standard test targets. Yes, no standard target set would be a foolproof measure. Still, carefully designed, I think it might be useful.

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Some moire problems are sort-of-fixable using C1's tool, but some are not, and to my eye the fixes often leave collateral damage. And wrestling with the cleanup to try to get the least-bad result is no fun at all.
    There was a thread about this a while ago - C1 didn't do too well, and neither did Lightroom, but a few seconds in Aperture seemed to remove moire (from an M9) almost entirely . . . . . FWIW! (n.b. I think Aperture is more of a culprit with specular highlights).

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    There was a thread about this a while ago - C1 didn't do too well, and neither did Lightroom, but a few seconds in Aperture seemed to remove moire (from an M9) almost entirely
    Not available for us Windows users to try, alas.

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    Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    There was a thread about this a while ago - C1 didn't do too well, and neither did Lightroom, but a few seconds in Aperture seemed to remove moire (from an M9) almost entirely . . . . . FWIW! (n.b. I think Aperture is more of a culprit with specular highlights).

    Do you mean this thread, Jono ?

    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?p=211925

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    Re: Stupid question: why don't more cameras leave out the AA filter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    My guess is that it is the wedding shooter market.
    With hundreds of images of moire-prone fabric and little time for processing, AA filters help them a lot.
    I really would prefer that they were dialed-down or if cameras were offered in versions with and without.
    -bob
    Right on Bob

    And, they could charge customers more for leaving the AA filter off and increase their profits.

    Paul

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