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Reader asks: Will Moiré Be Fully Correctable on the D800E?

Keep reading below.

A particularly nasty case of moiré
(Leica S2)

Steiner K writes:

I have ordered the D800, but I am still in doubt if it should be the E, and I can change it. Have read all your stuff about moiré, so I do not need help here, I understand the difference. But I have 2 questions:

1) I often do "heavy" PP using NIK Color Efex Pro, in fact most of my pictures are "rounded" NIK Color Efex Pro, and also sometimes HDR via Photomatix (tone mapping of course also) and after that .....again NIK. I like PP nearly as much as shooting, but that is me. Would that show more moire or other troubles with the D800E versus the D800?

2) Nikon will update their NX2 with a moiré-removal feature... do you think that can remove all moire - I think not, but what do you say, have you any experience from other programs, that can do that ?

DIGLLOYD: I do not have a crystal ball, and cannot be certain until I have a D800E in my hands. Until then, what I say is a BEST GUESS based on experience with the Leica M9 and Leica S2, neither of which has an AA filter

For a worst-case example, see the “Large Crop at actual pixels" example for the S2 on the Comparison: Leica S2 vs Nikon D3x Deconvolution Sharpening page of my Guide to Leica. See also the Moiré and Aperture page for one workaround, along with its detrimental effects on image contrast.

I will definitely be seeking to provoke some “ugly” moiré cases with the D800E to explore the bounds of the issue, in a didactic way, along with work-arounds. And along with a D800 comparison of the same.

Here is what I can say until I actually have a D800E—

  • Moire is a pattern tied to sensor resolution relative to detail frequency of the subject. Post processing that merges layers is in general just working on pixels like any other, BUT multiple frames (HDR) could naturally generate very different moiré patterns with tiny changes in camera position (as in how the image falls onto the sensor grid, varying just a bit enough to shift the pattern around). Hard to say whether this is a theoretical or real issue.
  • Various programs like PhaseONE CaptureONE Pro have anti-moiré features, which is how medium format users address moiré. I cannot speak with experience on how well it works in general.
  • Nikon Capture NX2 will contain a moiré-removal feature, and presumably Nikon will have it coded to work especially well for the D800E— but that remains unproven. The awful sharpening options in NX2 are a serious downside to using NX2— I prefer deconvolution sharpening in ACR.
  • Some readers have reported troublesome moiré issues with the Leica M9 when shooting buildings (stonework and the like), but the M9 is 18 megapixels and with very high contrast lenses that contribute to the issue by virtue of their high performance. In my 2 years of shooting the 18-megapixel Leica M9, I can count the number of moiré problems that actually mattered to me as zero. Which is not to say that there are not negative effects (color speckling, a few small and ugly areas).
    But I rarely shooting buildings and artificial subjects that have repetitive patterns of frequencies that can induce moiré. Even on portraits, I go for the eyes, and so fabrics have not been an issue, since I tend to shoot with very shallow depth of field, and thus fabrics tend to be out of focus slightly (eyes in focus).
  • I do not like any post-processing to be required. If I thought that moiré were a serious general issue, I would not buy a D800E. But I do not think that— with 36 megapixels, the chances for moiré are even more reduced over 18 megapixels. It certainly will be possible to find scenes with the right lens at the right focus and f-stop that can be shown to be “ugly”. If I were shooting architecture or fabrics (full-length or group portraits at f/8 for example), then this might concern me. However, stopping down to f/11+ should also act as an anti-aliasing filter, as I show in my Guide to Leica on the Moiré and Aperture page, and this should also be true with the D800E. At the cost of contrast and some image dulling, from diffraction.

Luis F writes:

Images not shown, but I examined them, and CaptureONE Pro has done a very good job at removing moiré.

If I may, I’d like to share my experience — which is not that much… I’d say Capture ONE Pro works very well although it can’t do miracles. Please see attached files — same picture from my Leica M9 processed by ACR and Capture One.

To process pictures from a PhaseOne back you can’t even think about work with Adobe raw converters. IMO CaptureOne is the best raw converter nowadays.

Interesting point: ICC profiles for PhaseONE match with Leica M9 files, in some cases better than the default provided by the CaptureOne, like the ones for flash light — I don’t know why.

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