The low pass filters or the OLPF as it is called in technical terms is one of the essential elements that would make a camera. One of the consistent features that we have observed in the Digital cameras of the days gone by – recent innovations from camera manufacturers has been opting for no low pass filters. Aimed at professional photographers who want the absolute sharpness in their masterpieces, the lack of low pass filters has been fast catching up. However, a few manufacturers have been moving towards variable low pass filters. Let us check out what is a variable low pass filter and which cameras are currently available with the feature enabled.
Low Pass Filter – What does it Do?
Before we can move on to understand what is a variable low pass filter, it would be practical enough to give a shot ar knowing more about the actual use of a low pass filter. If you are a pro/enthusiast in photography, you are already aware of what is a low pass filter, but this introduction is for those who are still newbies in the concept.
A low pass filter, also referred to as Anti Aliasing filter is a technique that focusses on removing the Moire effect in your images. This happens typically in case of pictures where you have regular patterns. The patterns get superimposed on one another and produce a messed up look. You may observe the phenomenon when you are watching your TV presenter with checked dresses. The checks on his clothes tend to overlap on one another.
This happens because the sensor can see only red, blue and green pixels, and any of the other colors are interpolated concerning the adjoining pixels. Low pass filters are used with the aim of minimizing the effect of these Moire effects and artifacts.
What is a Low Pass Filter?
The low pass filter comes with three layers. The top layer displaces the image in a horizontal direction slightly. The middle layer acts as a means to remove the unwanted infrared radiations from your picture. The third layer displaces the image somewhat in the vertical direction. This will eliminate the Moire effect, but n turn slightly blur the image.
However, with the recent launch of cameras that come with high-resolution sensors, you would not need low pass filters as they do not produce noticeable Moire effects. Moreover, the professional photographers who are into landscapes and similar genres want a better sharpness in their images. In fact, landscapes have irregular patterns and as such would not be affected by Moire effects or artifacts.
The Cameras with Variable Low pass Filters
Well, we have seen cameras with low pass filters, a few without the low pass filters and now the trend changes with innovation in the arena of low pass filters.
We have seen why professional photographers detest anti-aliasing filters and have a keen eye on the sharpness of their images. However, there are a few who typically work in studio environments and need a low pass filter. From that perspective, a few manufacturers have been into opting for two models when launching new models – one with the low pass filter and the other without the filter. However, Sony seems to have understood the futility of such exercises and has been trying to incorporate the two options within a single model with a variable low pass filter.
The Sony RX1R II – The first to Introduce Variable Low pass filter
As things stand now, the Sony RX1R II is the only digital camera to feature a variable low pass filter. The camera features the low pass filter as required for those working with regular patterns and studio environments, it provides the control of whether they want the low pass filter or not depending upon their subject.
This is the first time that the variable low pass filter has been introduced on a digital camera. You would be able to adjust the balance for image resolution manually and takes care of the Moire effects.
The Low pass filter comes with the three standards – High, Standard and Off. Understandably enough, the off position would be equivalent to having no low pass filter. This should be the best for the situations where resolution is a priority. The Standard option will help you strike the right balance between the resolution and the Moire effect if any. Finally, the high mode will emphasize the reduction of Moire effect and would be equivalent to having a full-fledged Low pass filter.
Other Features in Sony RX1R II
Apart from the variable low pass filter, the Sony RX1R II does come with a host of other features as well. Joining the family of full-frame compact digital cameras along with the Sony RX1 and RX1R, the Sony RX1R II comes with a high resolution at 42.4 MP.
Moreover, you also have a 30 percent improvement in autofocus functionality. There are several optimizations seen in response to autofocus speeds. The camera offers ISO sensitivity of 100 to 25600 that can be expanded too up to 50 to 102400.
A few salient features that the camera offers you include
- 35 mm F2.0 ZEISS Sonnar T* lens with macro capability
- Faster hybrid autofocus with 399 AAF points.
- The XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF with 2.4 million dots
- The 3 inch LCD that has tilt functionality for an easier maneuver
- Smartphone connectivity through NFC and WiFi.
The Parting Thoughts
The debate on whether you need a low pass filter on your digital camera or not is a never-ending battle. There are equally strong arguments in favor of either of the options. In any case, a new concept in the form of a variable low pass filter should indeed be the best you can go with. In essence, we would suppose this will put an end to the arguments.