Ever wondered why all your digital pictures seem like they're shot through a soft veil, a slight haze? That's not inherent to the Bayer pattern—it's the helpful AA (anti-aliasing) filter that the manufacturers use to prevent moiré. Trouble is, the AA filter also prevents sharpness. For a mere $450, MaxMax.com will hot rod your DSLR for sharpness by removing its AA filter for you. (I suppose they'll let you throw out your own warranty.) In the pictures above, the one on the left is the hot-rod mod, the one on the right is the stock D200. Click in the image area to see it larger. Sure, you'll get moiré occasionally—live with it.
I'm sure someone will quickly correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is also Leica's trick on the M8—they leave out the AA filter to improve sharpness. (Wonder if a hot-rodded D40x is as sharp as an M8?)
The link leads to the D200 page, but they'll do it on a Canon 5D and other Nikons, too. Turnaround time is one to two days. Live dangerously.
Mike (Thanks to Oren)
Featured Comment by Carl Weese: "I'd seen links to this before: 'image quality' in this usage means resolution at 850% view. In fact, they want to sacrifice balanced image quality at the altar of resolution.
"Moiré can be a huge problem with all sorts of subjects—backlit leaves come to mind—in landscape work. Restoring resolution lost to the AA filter is what capture sharpening is all about. One can certainly argue with the degree of AA filtration used on various cameras—it's a compromise so no one solution is perfect. Just as you can argue over the amount of in-camera high-iso noise reduction with some implementations of reduction looking worse than the noise itself. But the premise than AA filters are simply a bad idea and you'll get a global improvement in "image quality" simply by throwing away the AA filter, that's just plain silly."
Featured Comment by Andreas Manessinger: "Hmm...I suppose there is more danger to it than one thinks. I use a D200 and for many images, especially when I am satisfied with the colors of JPEG from the camera, I use Capture NX as RAW converter, even when I do all other work in Photoshop. Nikon really understand their camera and the conversion results are top-notch, usually much easier to achieve than in Adobe Camera RAW, but I guess Nikon's algorithms rely on the sensor being unmodified. Actually the same would be true for other software. Just think of DxO and their de-mosaicing and automatic image correction algorithms, and more so the new noise reduction on RAW data that will come in version 5. All that could cease to work when you do that modification. In other words: I would not do it."