Why remove the anti-aliasing (AA) filter in the Nikon D800E?

Nikon 1 concept lens: moire example (taken with Fuji X100)

Moire example (taken with Fuji X100)

Why would Nikon release the D800E with the anti-aliasing (AA) filter removed? The simple answer is to produce sharper images with more details and better resolution. The AA filter removes information that cannot be recorded "correctly" by the sensor. It's basically an extra layer on top of the sensor that reduces the image quality in order to remove certain undesired artifact. If you remove the AA filter, the drawback is that you can get moire patterns in certain situations (see example above). Since several readers have asked me about this topic, here are few related links about anti-aliasing (AA) filters and moire (feel free to add more links in the comment section):

Leica M9, Fuji X100, X-pro1 and many medium format cameras have sensors without AA filters (or with very "weak" AA filters). With this move I believe Nikon is directly targeting medium format users by offering a 36MP sensor without the AA filter in a much smaller and affordable package.

Moire can be removed in post processing. Capture NX also has a moire reduction tool. Here is the above image processed in Lightroom:

Moire removed in post-processing

This entry was posted in Nikon D800 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Olaf Deneberger

    Hi Admin,
    is it possible, that the Version without the AA comes with only 24MP? Because of the lower price..? Just thinking… 😉 Greetings from Germany

    • no, both are 36MP

    • It comes with a higher price.
      Also the D800E will have allot more effective resolution than the D800, if it has a similar AA filter to the D700 etc.

      • RichardinJax

        It does not. At 100% the difference is hardly detectable. If you are going to print images on the side of a house..of subjects taken under controlled conditions get a D800E..otherwise avoid it.

    • timon

      Nikon ought to the provide d7000E.
      The APS-C cameras are more negative issues from the AA-filter, their pixel size is smaller than a 35mm sensor

    • Peter

      According to Nikon’s patent filed in 2011, the d800e is likely providing a switchable AA-filter, there is price higher of reason.

      Nikon ought to provide d7000E, directly remove AA-filter, no switchable AA-filter, would have a larger market than the d800e.
      APS-c sensors are a smaller pixel size, AA-filter are more negative issue in there.

  • Frank

    Meh, now all the people who get D800E’s will have a stuck up attitude towards people with the D800 like “well, the D800e is still the “best” option”. Just going to create more elitists.

    • So? it will be the best option for those who don’t do video, they are obviously releasing the ‘E’ version for a reason.

      • Andrea

        Right, removing moire artifacts in a video is possible using filters but slow the render time.

    • Art

      Yea. I hear that sort of elitist attitude from pro photographers all the time: “I shoot _Niiiiiikon_. I would _never_ shoot _Caaaanon_”. Lucky for me, I shoot _Niiiiiikon_. I would _never_ shoot _Caaaanon_. Soon, I’ll be shooting my brand spanking new Niiiiiikon D800EEEEEEEEEE. 🙂

    • F

      Well, that’s why it’s called the Nikon D800Elite 😉

  • Also with enough mega pixels you don’t actually need an AA filter to combat moire and jaggies, as the sensor out resolves the glass, video guys will still need an aa filter though, so that’s probably why there are two versions of the D800.

    • JED

      True in theory but 36MP D800 is a long, long way from outresolving the lens.

      • Anonymus Maximus

        That might depend on the glass?

        Holga lens, here we come!

        • Rob

          I have just sourced an adaptor for the Holga lens. Looking forward to the results.


  • Mike

    I’m a little lost here …
    Are you saying that there would be 2 D800 models announced on Feb-7 ?
    If you were to get the one without the filter, wouldn’t it be possible to add the AA effects through software, when needed?

    So for someone who’s not worried about too much technicalities, and spends his/her time shooting people and landscapes, and not interested in pixel peeping – which model would make more sense?

    • Ken Elliott

      For some shooters, they can get sharper images with a bit of work. For others, it will wreck their images and create a lot of work.

      In a nutshell, everyone should get the version with the AA filter, unless they know exactly why they don’t want it and are willing to put up with the drawbacks.

    • Ruben

      If you are talking landscape as in trees, rivers… then the D800E could give you a slight edge. But if you are shooting urban and “man made” landscape, then I’d recommend the one WITH the AA filter.
      Maybe something like this:
      D800E = Organic/natural/portraits
      D800 = general/man made/architecture
      If you don’t know if you need it, probably get the the one WITH.

      • That is a pretty good call… Honestly, I’d like to see samples from BOTH versions before I decide.

        I’ve shot with the 80 megapixel Phase One IQ180 and another poster is somewhat correct that the higher the resolution, the less moire that will be caused. I only had one very very slight spot of it on one image that I took, and even that was so miniscule in the image that it didn’t matter or distract. Having no AA filter can give you a boost in effective “resolution” (sharpness honestly) which may not even matter unless you are shooting with very sharp lenses that can even resolve that much detail to begin with.

        On the flip side, moire can be very time consuming and even difficult to remove, depending on the subject matter and how bad it is. When I was a retouch artist for a major lab, I had some orders come in to fix moire patterns and in some cases, it was virtually impossible to fix. In other cases, some nifty little tricks helped clear it up in minimal time.

        I would say that MOST people should go with the standard D800 over the D800E, however unless the difference is minimal, I will likely go with the E version.

        • Cyntha

          Thank you NR for this topic and thank you jason for this explanation. Is there anyone who can say something on whether I should choose with or without moire patterns if I want to make pictures through a microscope of crystals inside another Crystal. Or should I bring my microscope and test both versions on it?

    • Komalkumar

      U get the one with AA and remove it later if u dont want it !!

    • The problem is that there will always be some problem with detail that’s close to the limit of the sensor resolution. When you “under sample” the detail (i.e. when there aren’t enough pixels to record all the detail the lens is putting on the sensor) you can wind up with artifacts like the weird color patterns in the top photograph*. It’s sometimes possible to correct for those effects in software, but the fundamental problem is that the sensor didn’t record enough information to resolve the image properly, so any software fix is still just a best guess at the right answer.

      The AA filter question is really about how to deal with this kind of problem. Adding an AA filter smudges the fine detail to below the level that can trigger artifacts, though that means smudging away some fine detail that might not trigger obvious artifacts. Going without an AA filter means you can keep more detail, but you can get artifacts at the limit of resolution. The artifacts are most noticeable on repeated patterns, especially parallel lines that aren’t perfectly aligned with the sensor grid. Those patterns are rare in nature but do exist. The flight feathers of birds are an example of a natural object that can trigger artifacts. Repeated patterns are obviously much more common in manufactured items, with cloth being a notorious offender.

      One more quirk is that you’ll only be able to see artifacts if you’re using a lens/aperture combination that’s sharp enough to out-resolve the sensor. That’s relatively easy if you’re using a modern prime or pro-grade zoom at close to its best aperture. If you’re using a good lens wide enough open to have serious aberrations, a lower quality lens that can’t match the sensor, or if you’re stopping down to the point where your overall resolution is limited by diffraction- probably around f/8 to f/11 for the 36 MP sensor in the D800- then you won’t have enough detail to trigger artifacts in the first place. Of course, in that case you probably won’t be getting enough detail for the presence or absence of an AA filter to make much difference anyway.

      *People sometimes say that this is only a problem with Bayer-type sensors, but that isn’t quite true. Bayer sensors can produce the obvious color patterns in the top picture, but you can still get strange effects with monochrome of Foveon-style sensors that record the same color information at each position.

      • zlik

        Excellent write up about aliasing and moiré.

      • jodjac

        Can it happen then that you’d get sharper pictures with a D800E and a crappy kit lens than you would with a D800 and a Pricey Prime? Is that incentive not to buy expensive glass?
        The irony!
        I’m interested in the D800e, but seeing as how most people insist on wearing clothes for Photowork, I’d probably be better off with the regular D800.
        So how hard is it to remove Moire in post processing? I didn’t know it could be done. See how much you can learn from a rumors website!

        • BartyL

          Get the D800E and take up nude photography. Best of all possible worlds?

        • The case that’s really significant would be a D800E and a moire inducing subject. In that case, and pretty much only that case, you might be better off with a crappy kit lens (or a high quality lens used far from its optimum aperture) than with a good lens that can outresolve the sensor. But that combination won’t be any better than a good lens on the D800, because you’ll only be able to avoid moire if the crappy lens blurs the picture at least as much as the AA filter does.

          And in that case, the fancy lens on the D800 will probably do better overall because the AA filter selectively smudges the fine details while leaving the overall contrast alone. The cheaper lens shooting under conditions that will blur things enough to avoid moire will probably suffer from reduced contrast and muddy colors compared to the more expensive model. Remember that sharpness is only one quality of a lens, and by no means the most important.

          • jodjac

            Ahhb… Thank you for a very sensible response.

  • Raoul

    If Nikon puts a filter in front of the sensor that filter must cost some amount of money to fabricate and install. Let’s assume that number is X and it’s a non-zero rational positive number. Now, if the cost of manufacture + shipping is Y then then shouldn’t the price of the non-AA filtered camera be Y – X which, because X is strictly positive means that Y – X < Y. So, why does the 800 E cost more? Is the cost of printing the "E" on the camera and in the manual really the same as the cost of not installing the filter in the first place?

    • You miss the number of produced cameras in your calculation. I assume that the “E” option will be an exotic option in low numbers for people who know what the can expect from this special kind of camera. Due to the low numbers of production and two product lines the “E” series will be more exclusive and costly.

      PS: Variables of course are possible from min to max 😉

      • Raoul

        That doesn’t really apply. It’s the same everything minus one common component that doesn’t have to be put in. It’s just that people who need a camera w/o an AA filter can be expected to pay more for it, and so, they will. Reading up on economic theory (suggested below) just means one is expected to convince oneself that the economic dogma of our times is in fact correct.

        • Komalkumar

          Any way it costs around $500 to remove it for any sensor…..so Nikon can charge extra 🙂

          • biho

            It seems that people at Nikon are very smart to earn extra money from removing an expensive component. They will produce the normal D800 on one line of production, pass it other workers to open it, remove the filter, and re-assemble it and print E for “efficiency” !!

        • There’s more to it than that. As was posted in a previous thread, think about producing a model of car without anti-lock brakes. You actually have to re-design the entire braking system to adapt to the new braking model. Same with removing the AA filter. Ideally the camera needs to be re-adjusted throughout its data path to optimize image quality. The AA-removal services cited on this site like MaxMax cannot do that entire data path redesign, but Nikon can.

        • PaulA

          If you work for a company that produces products you’ll learn fast that costs of a product is more that adding the number of components.

          What if there are brackets to hold the filter in front of the sensor? What if some other means of protecting the sensor have to be applied? What if the de-dusting feature is affected (since the ammount of mass that needs to be vibrated) changes?

          What if other SW-filters/processing is affected (e.g. color correction etc.)

          So many what ifs. So in sum it could cost some significant effort to remove a component and keep the entire system running.
          Then you could calculate the ammount you have to charge per camera for this development effort. And obviously you would also double the ammount of testing …

          Of course there is the other view:
          – if the market demands a special option
          – and you can get more money
          – and only you can provide it

          then you demand more money … so being the only camera (I know of – not that this means a lot) offering a choice regarding AA – Nikon can charge more.

          So it all depends on – what do you consider to be the main line (with AA here) and what you have to do to change to product. And additionally and obviously you try to get the money back (and even more if possible …).

          Here comes a businessplan estimating if this approach will give you more money back than it costs. Obviously Nikon decides they’ll go away with a profit, when they charge 500$ extra. (mean enough people still buying to justify the costs – and believe me, the costs ARE there). It is just the ammount that is in question.

          I offer you to buy me a AA-Version and one without AA – and then I’ll tell you the estimated ammount of effort 😉 Ok – I had to try.

          Chears guys

        • MarcoRo

          You know what marketing is? The price has nothing to do with production costs: it’s what people would afford to pay for it.
          So, D800E will cost more because the intended audience is Pro and willing to pay more. If it would have a lower price than the D800 than any amateur would buy the D800E, making a mistake…

      • Sahaja

        There are probably added costs involved in stocking a lower volume, lower turnover item.

        Up till now, you had to pay somebody to remove the AA filter from a Nikon camera – for those that want it, this will probably still end up being cheaper. Getting someone to remove the AA filter probably voided Nikon’s warranty – which could have been a bit of a cost saving for Nikon, though the numbers involved probably make that pretty insignificant.

    • Luis

      There will still be a non-aliasing IR/UV blocking filter in the D800E.

      • mikils

        are you sure? and what the implication of this filter are?

    • fred

      Read up on “supply and demand” and the “market mechanism” etc. It’s math too.

    • Rob

      It’s called “perceived value.” Sometimes they put “customer/consumer/buyer” in front of the term. A business does not maximize profits by pricing everything at the same profit margin.

    • El Aura

      The price something sells at is not directly linked to cost of production (+development+distribution etc.), it is linked to what the market will bear. And if third-party AA filter removal costs X dollars, than Nikon can charge the same X dollars for it. Of course, with enough competition the price the market will be bear is determined by cost of production + lowest margin any competitor will accept.

    • choiMatthew

      think of a racing version of a car – yep the engine is slightly tuned but it’s the same one. but pay more for less – no aircon, no satnav, no comfortable seats

    • Greg

      Y (and to a lesser extent, X) is a function of units sold. Supply chain management for a small volume product is not cheap.

      I don’t think this is Nikon gouging because of what “the market can bear”, otherwise we’d expect a cottage industry to develop for removing filters. I think some of the logic I’m seeing on this topic would predict that someone would remove your filter just to recover the resale price of the filter itself!

    • zigma

      Its not the cost of AA filter. In place of AA filter, Nikon will have to put a very high quality glass filter with exactly same optical properties like refractive index etc minus AA properties. Fabricating that small piece of near perfect optical glass for limited number of cameras is going to cost a lot in terms of money and effort.

      Having said that, I still feel the selling cost and manufacturing costs of these cameras have no correlation. the selling costs are determined by what market (read fools like us) que up and are willing to pay.


  • Chandra

    Assuming one can afford the D800E, would you recommend buying that version and removing Moire in photoshop? Will that generally result in overall better pictures where the moire is not an issue? Or will we have to do this removal on almost all

    • With 36mp their shouldn’t be any moire…

      • Chandra

        In that case, why are they even offering this option?

      • Fundamental misunderstanding of Moire (and other) problems. Moire do not arise because of the lack of resolution but because of poor data quality captured at each pixel site. 36Mpix without AA filter is indeed 36Mpix,… but 36 of very poor quality Mpix.

        • BornOptimist

          Instead of saying “poor data quality”, you can rather say the red and blue color in each pixel is measured at a different place than the green. This “error” is what creates the moire. This error is reduced with increased resolution, but it will never be eliminated on a bayer array sensor. Only sensors that captures all three colors at the same place will be immune to moire (foveon type).

          • No. Moire is not limited to bayer sensors. It is a principal problem of A/D conversion of images. Moire has been a problem long before the first digital cameras hit the market. You get the same problem when scanning printed magazines for example.

          • Doug

            Well im back to my old DP1 then.

          • …further correction: Foveon sensors are not immune to moire. They are relatively immune to COLOR moire. They are still prone to moire and aliasing, due to square pixels. It is at higher frequencies than an equivalent Bayer patterned sensor.

            I’d rather have the AA filter and minimize ALL aliasing, not just color moire.

            Honestly, I’m having trouble believing the non-AA version rumor. Time will tell…

        • Sorry but your not taking into account the resolving power of glass. Once the sensor as more resolving power than the glass, the lens itself acts like an AA filter restricting the level of fine detail, thus avoiding moire.

          • …there are few lenses that one resolve enough in the center to excite moire at at least some aperture setting.

          • gohf

            Aha, well then lets just slap a crappy lens on the thing and call it a day, Moire Solved!

            • I doubt a Nikon 70-200 at it’s sharpest setting has enough resolving power to cause moire, as the Canon 70-200 L mkii doesn’t. Just trying to find a lens that can.

              “Sensors for larger formats are approaching the diffraction limit of real lenses, and it is more difficult to get high levels of aberration suppression for them. The point is that you cannot fully exploit the resolution potential of high-resolution sensors with regular mass-produced lenses, particularly for larger formats.”


      • JED

        Get ready for a surprise then…

      • Roger

        Ohhh you’ll be seeing plenty of moire at 36mp.

    • fred

      No. If you think your shots with the D800E would have Moire, it’s the wrong camera for you. Buy the D800 instead.

  • Chris

    Without the AA Filter, is it possible to take Infrared shots? Or does this require to remove another filter?

    • Keith Seric

      This would require removal of the IR filter, another filter. And preferably a new filter put in it’s place to filter out UV light and visible light under a certain threshhold. A 720nm filter is popular for this. Otherwise, you would have a Full Spectrum camera, which requires a filter in front of the glass to obtain the desired effect. The advantage of a Full Spectrum camera being that you can make it an IR, UV, or Visibile light camera just by switching the filter in front of the lens.

      • Art

        Yea. The downside of course is that you will have issues using the 14-24 zoom. Could be a real problem.

  • Frank

    My D700 didn’t need the AA removed, and neither does the D800. This was a stupid move on Nikons part creating this separation. Should of just left the removal of the AA up to the customer after they bought their camera.

    • Luis

      But that instantly voids your warranty. Buying a D800E you still have the 1 year warranty.

      • WoutK89

        2 years in most of Europe 😉

        • Luis

          It’s only 1 year in the USA because Nikon knows we will break the equipment faster than the Europeans will 😛

          They also want the USA buyers to buy the 2 year extended warranty for 200USD

    • jorg

      so you already tested the D800E and found out “it´s stupid”?
      and you compared your stock D700 to one with the aa-filter removed?

    • Dan

      Stupid move ? Oh boy, let’s see. You would lose these if you remove AA filter.
      – auto sensor cleaning unit is gone
      – WB is changed
      – warranty is voided
      Would you do AA removal ?

  • Pkr

    I wonder if it will make it harder to clean as I thought you were cleaning the filter and not the sensor. You might have to send it off to remove the dust spots.

    • BornOptimist

      It will still have an IR-filter in front of the sensor. The sensor will under no circumstances be exposed without any kind of glass-protection in front of it. So don’t worry, you can clean your sensor the same way as you always do.

  • Frank

    Guarantee this was a list minute move to try and make up money in the wake of the Thailand flooding and loss of money resulting from it.

    • fred

      Sorry, I will not guarantee this.

    • Hi, Fucking Frank.

      Do you know about insurance?

  • Some science needs to be underlined here:
    “Why would Nikon release the D800E with the anti-aliasing (AA) filter removed? The simple answer is to produce sharper images with more details and better resolution.” followed by an explanation that directly contradicts said “The AA filter removes information that cannot be recorded correctly by the sensor.” You do not gain anything if you do not remove garbage that sensor can’t record correctly!

    Anti Aliasing filter is needed for Bayer pattern sensors because each pixel site collects limited real information (one color) and makes up the rest by mathematical approximation. Mathematical approximation will almost always be somewhat wrong, making Bayer pattern sensor incapable of capturing true image at the resolution equal to the actual number of pixels. Incapable. Hence the latter quote above is the one that is mainly correct.
    Consequences are much deeper than the most obvious artifact: Moire lines. Solution for those deeper problems is not in Moire lines removal. Those deeper problems are indeed exactly opposite of what author above claims (first part of the quote): There is indeed more resolution but each bit of it is more distorted. Hence the only physically possible result of the removal of AA filter is LOSS of resolution and LOSS of detail (most correctly: appearance of FALSE detail, messing up the picture like a noise). In other words – by removal of AA filter you REDUCE quality of information captured by every single pixel. You get more pixels but each of them is “wronger” than if you have AA filter. Higher number of pixels does not necessarily correspond to a sharper image!

    Real reason(s) for non-AA D800: 1) Marketing. Sucker is born every day. This is the very end of the Religion of Megapixels. Some out there will still buy into it. 2) The only real reason are highly specialized technical/industrial applications where due to specific conditions/subject it is known that lack of AA will not impact the result but contribute. That is not the case for random subject and situation, quite the opposite.

    • Paul

      Is it more fragile to cleaning dust off with it removed ?

      • fred

        No. There will be coated glass on top of the sensor package, whether or not there is a low-pass filter underneath it.

    • fred

      Low-pass filters are needed on pixel-grid sensors whether or not they have color filters overlaid. The regular spacing of sensor pixels, and regular patterns projected on the sensor, will interfere and produce Moire effects when their frequencies (or harmonics thereof) are close. But subjects without regular patterns will be rendered in higher detail without the low-pass filter, because the high frequencies will be passed through to the sensor without producing Moire. If you don’t think those high frequencies contribute real information to the image, you’re misinformed.

      • …information, sminformation…let’s see pics that illustrate this? Even the examples at the maxmax site suggest the extra information.

        • Actually, what those images show is loss of accutance in the model with the AA filter, not loss of real resolution. If you look carefully, you’ll see that the “lost” detail is stil there, but at lower contrast than the image taken without the AA filter. You could recover a fair amount of that detail with careful sharpening. That would introduce some artifacts of its own, like increasing noise, but wouldn’t trigger the moire you see in the no filter photograph.

          • Exactly! It’s easy to run some USM on the one with the AA filter and get the same amount of detail, with less moire. Silly kids!

    • Luis

      The real-world effects of removing the AA filter from a digital camera body, with sample photos. These are on lower resolution bodies than the D800, though.


    • Ralph

      Tripe !!

    • Frank

      Exactly the comment I was looking for! So the D800E isn’t the “ultimate” choice. It’s just there for those who “need” it. So now if someone who doesn’t need it but maybe can afford it, gets one, they can’t act all elitist and say “well it’s more expensive for a reason” LOL! If you buy into marketing BS, sure.

      • Stupid judged the camera that they never have.

  • R!

    Maybe a lighter AA filter like canons or panasonics should be enough !!!!!!!!

  • Hey Admin, here’s a good link to some raw shots with the M9. The test charts show exactly the worst case scenario for moire with the M9. However, it cleans up with the latest ACR/LR beta. Of course, that take manual application.

    I have to say, if you look at the jpegs of the same shots straight from the camera, the software on the M9 does an excellent job of removing the moire automatically, and so proves an automated software solution is possible. It’s probably tied up by a Leica patent, but if there’s one solution, there are likely others.

  • Dweeb

    Of course not supplying the customer with something translates into a big price boost, eh? What suckers we are.

    The D200 was bad for moire in my experience.

    In any case — here’s to Tuesday. 🙂

    • fred

      Economics 101. We will pay more for something that’s worth more to us, regardless of how much it costs to produce. That doesn’t make us suckers, it makes us consumers.

  • Alex

    Did you use Lightroom 4 beta to remove moire, or how did you do it?

    • …it’s an adjustment brush. Give it a try.

      • Alex

        In 4 beta right?

  • T.I.M

    What about a AA filter that can be rised up (as the mirror-up function) when the picture does not need the filter ?

    • KnightPhoto

      How about this: 😉

      “Nikon filed a patent application in Japan (2011-97288) for an optical low-pass filter OLPF (aka as anti-aliasing filter) that can be turned ON or OFF depending on the need of the photographer”


      • F

        How about this: 😉

        “Nikon filed a patent application in Japan (2011-97288) for an optical low-pass filter OLPF (aka as anti-aliasing filter) that can be turned ON or OFF depending on the need of the photographer”


        ^^Now THAT would definitely justify the extra price on a D800E if this is how it dealt with the AA filter.

        • I agree, I would no doubt pay $500 extra for the ability to turn on/off the AA filter within the settings. That would really be nice.

        • Yes, I mentioned this patent in my previous comment, this however will NOT be implemented in the D800/D800E. Maybe in the next generation? D900 anyone? 🙂

          • T.I.M

            D900 ? Ask the Invisible man…..

  • Steve Starr

    Wouldn’t be surprised if DxO Optics Pro 7.x will come out with the ability to correct or remove any moire issues in the D800E (I think that ability is in the program now?).

    Maybe even Capture NX2.x or Capture NX3 if it comes with it, or maybe View NX2 or View NX3 in some “Save to” format.

    Shouldn’t be that big of an issue else they would have left it in.

    • Let’s see if there are moire issues first, I doubt there is sharp enough glass to cause such problems. If you do happen to find some incredibly sharp glass, you could open the aperture or close down the aperture past F11 to limit the resolution of the lens, or simply correct it in post.

      • William Layman

        The Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.4G, at f/4.0, delivers higher resolution in the center of the image, than the D800(& E) sensor.

        PS: I’ve shot thousands of landscape shots with my MaxMax D700″HR” (AAF removed) over the past two years. THe D700″HR” has SIGNIFICANTLY better resolution and higher local contrast than my standard D700 (with AAF). The extra performance is REALLY evident in the fine detail and “pop” of my landscape shots.

        See MaxMax’s website for convincing comparisons of the D700 with and without the AAf.

  • Derek Matarangas

    I think If Phase one does not use an AA filter it should be okay.?

    • If the pixel density is dense enough relative to the sharpness or resolving power of the lens, then there is simply no need for an AA filter.

      • fred

        From the samples I’ve seen, the resolving power of some lenses is at least a match for the pixel density. The D800E will be for people who don’t shoot fine regular patterns. End of story.

        • Can you find an example of a lens with enough lp/mm?
          If so let me know the Lp/mm at it’s sharpest setting, and I’ll be able to tell you if moire artefacts will even be possible…

    • Roger

      Phase One shots are infested with artifacts due to no anti-aliasing filter. Try one, and you’ll see…

  • Thomas

    Uh oh, the Leica M9 test-patterns look awful!
    So for a lens-tester like me the D800E would simply kill my business.

  • mark china

    It’s already in captureNX2.

  • Nick

    I’ve removed the AA filter from my D90 and D70 (for IR photo). And I don’t see much moire. It’s in my pictures but not obvious. One example: http://photos.nickwong.net/landscape/h2767a8b7#h2767a8b7

    I won’t tell you where it is. Try find them out. The answer is at the end of my post. Also, in the 11×16 inch print, the moire is ok, not too distracting/annoying.

    And I can tell you, the pictures from my D90 and D70 are sharp! Really sharp.

    Also, the D800E should have a filter to replace the AA filter. It is because AA filter not only blur the picture a little bit to avoid moire, but also blocking certain non-visible spectrum which is sensitive to the sensor. These non-visible lights would alter the color of the pictures. (An example would be D2h/D2hs.)

    But I don’t see how a non-blur filter is EURO 300-500 more expensive than the blur AA filter. (From the manufacturing point of view, it should be less expensive. However, it is really arguable that this filter is a special order.)

    BUT… I really wish that the D800E would have some internal feature to digitally remove moire. Something like noise reduction having setting low, mid and high. If this is the case, the price different makes sense. I really wish I’m right on this.

    No matter what, I’ll take D800E. 😉

    Answer in reverse: .seinoclab eht fo secnef eht ta si eriom ehT

    • You’ll inherently see less moire in IR photographs than you do in true color pictures for several reasons. One is that you’re getting mostly luminance information from every pixel and only a bit of color information, which mutes the effect of color moire. Your lenses also aren’t as well corrected for IR wavelengths, so there are more aberrations that rob the image of the high-frequency detail that triggers moire in the first place. Also, IR is longer wavelength than visible light, which means it has more diffraction at a given aperture, robbing it of even more high-frequency detail. Put that all together, and you’re much less likely to see moire than you would be with the same photo taken in visible wavelengths with the AA-less color version of the same camera.

  • My guess is that when Nikon removes the AA filter, they have to replace it with *something* with the same refractive index of the filter they removed. This *something* will be produced in much smaller volumes than the normal AA filter. Hence, the higher price. In other words, the D800E is not a D800 with one less part; it is a D800 with a different set of the same number of parts in front of the sensor.

    • No need to have the same refractive index, instead I presume the camera would be setup differently some how. What you still need in front of the sensor though, is an infra-red filter.

      • The AA + IR could be a single element in the D800. It would then be replaced with something that is only an IR filter in the E. I can’t wait until these things are in the wild, the reviews are in, and someone’s torn a few of them apart. Also curious about the vertical downsampling in the video modes on the D4 and D800.

      • fred

        What is more expensive? To replace the AA filter with something of equal index, or to change the actual flange-to-CMOS distance? Obvious answer.

  • ykh

    A “removable” AA-filter?

    I think most of you missed one important piece of info, which is the first link up there. Nikon has a patent for the low-pass filter (which is another name for AA filter) that can be turned on and off! If D800E has that kind of filter in it, it will justify the extra cost.

    It might be that Nikon really means “an AA-filter that can be turned on or off”. It might not be a “removed” filter, but a “removable” one. Is this a possibility? I assume [NR]admin puts that link up that for a reason.

    • arne

      great! you got it!
      so we will probably have the option via menu to decide wheter to use the AA filter or not.
      this are great news and I don’t really see that patent going “wasted” without being used in the D800E.

    • I remember that patent:


      unfortunately this is not going to be implemented in the D00/D800E cameras – they will be two identical models and the only difference will be the AA filter

  • alvix

    IMO the bad is not the aa filter but the bayer stuff…compare images on IR with SD1 sigma…apart from the price tag..even the Pentax645 or M9 are not so great..and with the usual digi artifacts..but the SD1 has a nice “feeling” on the images..at least for me…tried to resize the SD1 files at 100+ Mpixel…not so ugly as it may seem..for b&w a very nice behaviour..

  • InfraRed

    Does anyone know if removing the AA filter will impact the ability to ortonize images?

    • InfraRed

      or create a different result…

  • Simon

    The reason why there are 2 versions are to limit the damage to video caused by 36mp down sampling in the D800. Moire is going to be pretty bad for video so a stronger than usual AA filter is needed. However the drawback of a strong AA would impact on IQ causing it to look soft and robbing details which defeat the 36mp resolution advantagefor stills. There is no 2 different versions of D4 with and without AA because Nikon don’t feel either moire for videos or detail for stills is as badly affected on a 16mp as it would on a 36mp.

    • MarkR

      If what you’re saying is true, than this really does not bode well for the D800.

      As for using the AA filter or not, I remember all the PP work I had to do to fight moire and multi-colored fringing around objects back in my D1X days. And that was A LOT of work. So, if I had to get the D800(which I don’t), I’d take the version with the AA filter, even if it softens the image a little.

      But I think Nikon may have bitten off more than they can effectively chew trying to cram 36MP onto even an FX sensor. Would have been better to have refreshed the D3X with same # of pixels, but added 1080P or even 4K video, and improved high ISO performance by a couple stops, borrowing technology from the D3s.

      Or maybe 28-32MP instead of 36 with other same specs above would have been better.

      • MarkR

        In a somewhat smaller body like the D700 or 800’s size.

  • pabs

    I am curious if there will be any other differences between the D800 and the D800E than the presence of absence of the AA filter.

  • Ken J

    what if the AA filter version is not much worse in terms of resolving power, which one will you choose if you were shooting primarily Fashion and Clothing or lets say portraits /headshots for example.?

  • mayflower

    what if the AA filter version is not much worse in terms of resolving power?.

    which one will you choose if you were shooting primarily Fashion and Clothing or lets say portraits /headshots for example?

    • Adrifter

      My professional work consists mostly of stills for films, portraits, and headshots and I have the AA filter removed on my D3. It makes a huge difference, for me at least. I like my portraits sharp out of the camera. That way the eyes really pop and I can selectively soften the rest. I also really like the effect of using it with a light promist filter, such as a black promist 1/8. It’s a cool combination of the extra detail but lowered micro-contrast. I’ve only shot fashion once, and dealing with the moire later was a pain. It takes pretty complex cloth patterns to really show though. On all of the films I’ve worked on only one had wardrobe that gave me moire problems, and it wasn’t that bad. I generally shoot my headshots with a super shallow depth of field (85mm @ f/1.4), but I suppose moire may show in hair if at a smaller stop (say f/11).

  • Karl Nyqvist

    Congratulations to the Nobel prize Admin!
    You have made the biggest leap forfard in the field of sampling theory!

    Please read up on sampling theory.
    or at least think about how many vertical lines you could display in an 10 pixel wide image. Now think about what happens if you put MORE lines in there!

    Removing the AA is only good for blurry images.

    • I am not sure I understand your point

      • you surely got the Nobel Prize for sure hahaha

        • Not Surprised

          I’m with Admin — lost.

          What are these two saying? It sounds like there might be a point in there somewhere and the sarcasm implies they know what they are talking about (although we cannot just assume that).

      • Ola

        Probably, he is getting at your (earlier) implicit claim that you could replace the AA filter with software. Inventing such an algorithm would, at the very least, give you the Nobel price.
        Though I think you are a very reliable source, I don’t believe in an AA less D800 from Nikon. I refuse to believe that there are enough aliasing-lowing people to make Nikon produce broken cameras.

  • Thomas

    Why is moire worse on video? If the full 36MP image has little moire it depends on the downsampling algorithm to prevent moire from being newly created. No need to use a heavier AA-filter then…

    • Simon

      Good point but Nikon is handicapped by what Sony gave them. For effective HD video you need to be at 22mp were resampling corespond exactly to 3×3 which get rid of moire . The 5DIII or 5DX is rumoured to be 22mp, this way they can retain a AA filter while not handicapped by moire in the video resampling. The next one is 39mp for a 4×4 resampling for effective HD video without moire.
      At 36mp D800 does not fall into either above categories and with such high MP an AA filter option is needed to overcome the disharmony of stills and video because moire cant live with both.

  • pabs

    I guess the other question regarding the presence or absence of the AA filter is this. Is it better to post process by increasing sharpness with the AA filter in place or decrease moire with the AA removed. Which post-precessing yields a better image with less work?

    • javaone

      If you have moire it may be impossible to “filter” it out. It depends on how close the frequencies in the object aligns with the frequency of the sampling.

      I will never buy a SLR without AA.

  • Chip

    Enough talk about the removal of the AAFilter on the new D800, for comments sake the Leica M8 also had a problem without a AA filter , but all you need to do to fix the problem if any moire or any other problems occur in you video or images is no problem jist attach a B&w AA Filter to your lens. I do this on my M8 Lenses all the time

  • KT

    Forgive me if I sound a bit naive, but explain to me why the version WITHOUT the AA filter would end up costing more than the one WITH the filter? You would think that something that cost MORE should have some extra part built-in not removed from it. What does the D800E have that the D800 doesn’t?

    • double e

      they can charge more because canon doesn’t have any bodies without the AA filter. No competition for nikon, therefore they can price it higher and profit more.

    • Psycho McCrazy

      My question exactly!

      Unless they bundle a powerful software tool specifically designed to remove moire in post processing, without degrading image quality, the price premium is totally unjustifiable!!!

      • KT

        I think they are raising the price on the strength of the argument that if you buy such a model D800E you’ll be getting a sharper image than the other guy who settled for the cheaper AA model. If you care for the sharper picture then go pay for it. Then unless you are an avid video fan, you’ll say to yourself, if I’m going to pay that much for a D800, why not throw an extra $300 and get the better one. I doubt they will be releasing special software for handling the moire effect, We’ll all be using Adobe Lightroom 4 for post-processing.

        • Halo9

          I have been thinking the same thing. Why can something with less cost more?!!?! It does not make sense. I guess your explaination about sharper images makes sense, but it is still wrong. These people in marketing are evil. The great Bill Hicks put it aptly about people in marketing “there’s no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. Okay – kill yourself – seriously”

          All I’m saying is it better be an amazing difference. Otherwise every company might as well start pulling parts out of their products, making them cheaper, and then have marketing people come up with adds about how much better they are so they can bump up prices.

          I can hear it now “Yes we had to put up the price for ‘X’ by $250, but we have made it 200g lighter….. and it’s new and improved”. Yes you idiot, that’s cos you pulled parts out of it. Ahhhhhhh!!!

          Seriously though, I can’t wait to see what Nikon have come up with and hope I can afford an upgrade by the end of the year.

  • Marc

    So after all this go for a D800 (with filter) if you are going for video?

  • THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!! you have answered my question. i have google and never truly found a simple answer like this one. Thank you for your help [NR]Admin!

  • The LogicFail

    Well, really…but, the camera without AA should not be cheaper? or is it a matter of selling less material for more money? Attention to marketing movements.

  • Onkin

    IF the Nikon have the ON/OFF optical low-pass filter OLPF (aka as anti-aliasing filter) that can be turned ON or OFF depending on the need of the photographer, why Nikon don’t use this function on this camera, and put only one version for the market? Am I wrong in this reasoning?

    • ykh

      the reason would be the price.

  • Doug

    my real believe is: no 36mp, not 2 models, ISO quality will have to be better than d700, or else nikon is doomed, i just think that nikon is planting info in believing that the d800 won’t be as good as the d700, so then the release comes and everyone will be relieved by the actual real specs and then stay put with nikon for a long time to come, if nikon fails to deliver a d700 killer, well as i said before, they will be doomed, because the d4 ain’t the d3s replacement, just as i think that nikon on their infinite wisdom will do the same with the so called d700 replacement.

    • JED

      A 36MP D800 using a Sony sensor related to the D7000 will at worst equal the D700 for high ISO performance when viewing images at the same size. It will infact likely perform a little better with considerably better dynamic range.

    • Common dood ,it is miini D3x on steroids as said by many users here ,but people only want high iso files to be clean .I wonder how many pictures you will shoot at 6400iso .Unless you shoot sports at night or wedding without light .

    • MiKE

      How is the D4 not a D3s replacement?! Ignorant. . . How come I don’t see Canon went doom when they have nothing up to now the ISO quality of neither D3s nor D700??? If you’re all about spec than really taking photographs. . .go print some camera specs and wank to it. . . Jeez

      • Doug

        well canon was cheaper and it had the 5d with video it might not be a plus for you, but it was for many wanna be prosumers that bought the 5dmk2 ove the d700, i had a d700 and it was the best, d4 is just too many whistles for the same IQ, dont think it is worth the upgrade, for the d700 replacement, well i just think that it has to be better than the d700 to at least convince d700 owners or someone who wants to upgrade from a dx format like the d300 or d7000 to switch, as i said, if it is a 36mp sensor well it will be fun to watch this forum change their views pretty quick.

    • QQMoar

      D800 will kick D700 @$$ x 3 time with it’s monster MP 😛

  • Casey

    So if the AA filter reduces the MP, what will be the MP on the D800 with the AA filter. Reduction will happen as that is a part of what the AA filter does. My concern is it worth it as a photographer to get the one without the AA filter or should I just stick with the basic D800 with filter as I am someone who shoots everything from portraits, landscapes, buildings, weddings and even hopefully underwater with this camera.

    • GregS

      Both versions will be 36 MP.

    • Psycho McCrazy

      AA filter does not reduce MP. You may say that it reduces per pixel sharpness. Total number of pixels remain the same.

    • Roger

      Get the AA version.

      Without AA filter, you’ll see moire in ladies hair in your portraits and in their clothes. You’ll see moire in buildings. False detail galore in your landscape.

      I have files from cameras without AA filters, various medium format gear AND THEY ALL SUFFER FROM THIS PROBLEMS.

  • As an architecture shooter, I really need the AA filter. I’ll trade a little sharpness (very little) to eliminate the moire. A royal pain to get rid of when it happens. And it does all the time with furniture and rugs in the shots.

    • Derek matarangas

      Medium format cameras don’t seem to have this problem do they?

      • tonyc123

        My Sinarback 75h does big time. It has a multi shot mode white the colour channels are captured in separate exposures which usually gets over the problem, but its a pain & obviously no good with people or moving subjects.

      • capture one removes it without problem.

      • Roger

        They do….

  • Harsh M

    I have a basic question. Does the d7000 has this filter or not?

    • Every other Nikon DSLR has AA filter. Leica M9, Fuji X100, X-Pro1 are some of the cameras without AA filter.

  • Aaron Shepard

    It’s remarkable how everyone is missing the obvious. This camera will have an Expeed3 processor, with power to burn. If Nikon is giving you the option to remove the AA filter, it means they’re ready to correct for moire IN CAMERA. If not in RAW, then in JPEG.

    So, all the people saying this will give you lousy JPEGs probably have it backwards. The JPEGs will be clean of moire, the RAW shots will need it removed later.

    • Thomas

      Nothing in (post)processing can remove moire like an AA-filter does.
      All corrections that happen after the sensor was exposed work on digitized information which already has the false AA-information superimposed. So all efforts to deal with this after the sensor need to know whether that red pixel is caused be a red dot on the subject or via some sampling error.

  • Hendrik Mintarno

    How bout diffraction? The advantage of Medium format camera is they have larger sensor which also means they can stop down the lens to get sharper image; even stopped down MF still have shallower depth of field compared to full frame.

  • Rafael

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. Someone was very rude on here when i asked what an aa filter was. No one even answered my question until NR posted this. Thank you Admin. One guy told me with sarcasm to google it. Screw the rude community.

  • Andrew B

    Interesting, I could see the E fitting into my workflow nicely. Been waiting for my P45+ back for a little while now, will have to get my hand on, one of these to test it. If they are any where close maybe i can save myself some money.

  • stve

    Lightroom 4 & Photoshop CS 6 both have a local adjustment brush for moire, if the 800E was the same price I’d go for it unless moire was really bad , need to see reviews & feedback from users first though.

    • Thomas

      “need to see reviews & feedback from users first though.”
      And don’t get fooled when there are images without moire. that does not mean a thing. It is simply proof that moire will not be turning up under every condition.
      A little defocus, a little shake, a little weakness of the lens, a little diffraction, or the absence of regular pattern that are close the resolution limit will all make it hard for moire to turn up.

  • kevin

    Will D800 have illuminate buttons?

    • not sure, but since I have not heard about it, I would assume it won’t

  • Removing moires isn’t always as easy as shown in the example above. Having it on an object that has more than one color, things become really difficult. If you are interested and able to read German, I suggest to read this article.

  • Admin, I tried to use LR4 Beta to remove the moire in the lens sample above, but found that it only reduced the color moire and the light/dark “rings” were still very evident, nor did the image look as sharp afterwards. Does it work better with RAW files, or is that an entirely different image?

    I am glad to see LR adding a moire “fix” in an adjustment brush, but it doesn’t work as good as I would have hoped. (At least not with the few images I have tried so far.)

  • Back to top