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Reader Comment on Nikon D800: Aliasing

Thorsten K writes:

I just wanted to thank you for this excellent comparison, the D800 RAW Sharpening Comparison to Nikon D800 (Aerial, Fountain). This comparison of the same scene taken with D800 and D800E and processed with different amounts of sharpening is exactly what I was looking for. This one page is worth the DAP subscription price right there. And as with all your material, you provide the evidence on your website so everybody can reach his own conclusion. Everywhere else, people just write about it and one needs to take their word for it, or the test images on those sites are of such poor quality as to be worthless.

As for the D800 vs D800E, I happen to reach a different conclusion than you did. While you tended to favor the D800E in your conclusion, for me it is now clear that the aliasing in the D800E is not acceptable. Right in the first image on that page, the black letters mounted on the building at the top of the image show such hideous color errors in the D800E, I can only guess that must come from the lack of the AA filter. I don't want to have that in my files. The D800 looks much better overall for my taste after sharpening. But that's the whole point of your high quality material, that people can make up their own mind. And you mention as much on that page - that everybody will have a different tolerance for those aliasing issues and can decide for himself.

DIGLLOYD: The aliasing Thorsten K notes is definitely due to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter on the D800E. Leica M9 users as well as medium format users should be quite familiar with this behavior, which is not endearing, but tolerable for the sharpness delivered as compensation, which is usually a “win”.

However, Nikon seems to have designed an unusual and wonderful choice: a D800 with a superb anti-aliasing filter that with appropriate sharpening appears to deliver all but the same resolution as the D800E. Which is remarkable.

However, until I have both a D800 and D800E in hand to do side-by-side comparisons with my reference lenses (the Zeiss 15/2.8 Distagon and 100/2 Makro-Planar), the nuances remain elusive. Often only a variety of subjects will suffice to describe the full range of behaviors.

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