Video: How much does an anti-aliasing filter effect image quality?

Some digital cameras currently on the market don’t have a traditional optical low pass filter (OLPF), or anti-aliasing feature, in front of the sensor. Manufacturers claim this makes images sharper though it comes with an increase in moiré patterns. Does this significantly affect image quality? New Zealand-based wedding photographer Richard Wong wanted to find out. In the video, above, he displays side-by-side comparisons of images taken with similar full-frame mirrorless cameras. One has an anti-aliasing filter while the other leaves it out.

By zooming in on images taken with a Panasonic S1, which leaves the anti-aliasing filter out, and a Panasonic S1H, which contains an OLPF, Wong illustrates some subtle differences. Both cameras boast a 24MP sensor and photos were captured with the same lens, a Lumix S 24-105mm f/4, with an aperture setting of f/8. While it might be easy enough to correct minor flaws in the post-production process for photos, it gets a bit more complicated with video.

Even when zooming in 200%, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the images taken with the two different cameras.

“If there are two cameras out there that are pretty much identical, and the only difference is that one camera doesn’t have the anti-aliasing filter and one has it, if you want to maximize the image sharpness and don’t worry too much about the moiré pattern, then definitely go for the camera that doesn’t have the anti-aliasing filter because that will give you the best image sharpness,” explains Wong.

“On the other hand, as you can see from the comparison photo, even when I zoom in and look at the photo side-by-side at 100% zoom level, I can’t really tell the difference,” Wong continues. “I have to zoom in to 200% or 400% before I can actually see the difference between the two photos.”

By zooming in 400% to 800%, differences become more defined. You can see discoloration or false colors on the balcony with the S1 while the S1H is slightly more blurry in the details.

One final note: Wong recommends you watch this comparison video from a full screen instead of a smartphone to see the subtle differences. What do you think? Would it be worth upgrading to a camera like the S1H, which contains an anti-aliasing filter, if you were using it for video as well?