Anti-moire and aliasing filter for the 5D Mark II – is it any good?

Buy the Mosaic Engineering VAF-5D2 Anti-Aliasing Filter for $385

The biggest issue with Canon DSLRs is the rainbows – I don’t so much mind the lack of resolving power relative the GH2, sometimes a softer image is more organic and cinematic. Certainly when you project the footage on a big screen and sit back, it looks detailed enough yet organic. Quite unlike on an LCD monitor. The worst thing you can have is an image that isn’t organic but over-sharpened with the bright high contrast jagged lines around every single detail – it’s extremely tiring on the eyes and very DV.

The 5D is still pretty unique because it has the best colour, gradation, a high bitrate and a full frame sensor. But the GH2 performs better in two key areas – resolution and the cleanness of the image. 1080p on the GH2 makes the 5D look like 720p, and it’s clean. On the GH2 you only really get moire and rainbow patterns around incredibly fine details and such fine details almost always occupy a tiny part of the screen, such as the very end of a brick wall tunnel. In all my real world shooting I have never noticed moire on my GH2 footage, it really is that good. The NEX 5N sits somewhere in-between the 5D and GH2 for moire, not as bad as the Canon but not as good as the GH2. Still, I’ve found that on a projector where moire occurs on NEX 5N footage it is always on small areas of the image, not all consuming like on the 5D. For example you can shoot a brick wall on the NEX 5N without it turning into Nyan Cat.

Now the Mosaic Engineering anti-moire filter is going to sell like hot cakes. It reduces moire and aliasing on the 5D by a very meaningful amount as Philip demostrates above. What it doesn’t do is completely elliminate it.

This tasty pill also has a side effect. At 24mm and wider you can forget about shooting wide open because it blurs the edges of the image. At 35mm it’s fine.

I’ll be interested to find out why the filter is positioned so close to the back of the lens, and not directly over the sensor further back. Possibly because the frame would be visible in the image and you’d have to crop. But further back from the lens would avoid the kind of blurry edges we’re seeing with it at 24mm and wider. At 16mm it’s pretty hideous, occupying over 2 thirds of the image.

The filter is just shy of $400 but I think the price is decent. It’s just a shame about the wide angle issue, since that is where moire and aliasing becomes more noticable across a large part of the image. For static wide angle shots of finely detailed scenes (especially buildings and water) use a GH2 and the Lumix 7-14mm F4, Olympus 9-18mm or Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 with vari-ND filter instead.

For everything else static, like interviews on sticks with a 50mm prime – the anti-moire filter will give you the comfort of not having to worry about the camera making your subject look like a zebra at an industrial paint factory accident.

In the case of handheld footage, I don’t think you really need the filter since moire isn’t as noticeable with heavy movement and action, certainly not with a fast standard prime.

All in all, the Mosaic Engineering is just a stronger anti-aliasing filter but it is worth the money for 5D shooters.