Canon steals old tech from Pentax

Canon steals old tech trick from Pentax
(Image credit: Ricoh Imaging)

Canon is taking a cue from Ricoh, using an old technology trick seen in Pentax cameras to solve the issue of aliasing – without adding an anti-aliasing (AA) filter to its image sensors. 

A newly filed patent from Canon reveals that the manufacturer has taken inspiration from the AA Simulation technology debuted by Ricoh in the original Pentax K-3, and subsequently featured in cameras like the Pentax KP (opens in new tab) and Pentax K-3 Mark III (opens in new tab). This uses the in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system to simulate the effects of an AA filter by shifting the image sensor – as you can see in the video below.

• Read more: Best Canon cameras (opens in new tab)

In case you're wondering what aliasing is, and what an AA filter does, it's basically to do with moiré. This is sometimes seen when photographing things like clothing, where dense repeating details such as lines and dots that exceed a sensor's resolution, and are thus recorded as wavy patterns known as moiré. 

To counteract this phenomenon, many cameras use an AA filter on top of the image sensor – this, in effect, de-sharpens your images in order to prevent the fine detail from causing unwanted moiré. The trade-off, of course, is reduced sharpness. As such Canon has gone as far as to release two versions of the same camera, such as the Canon EOS 5DS (opens in new tab) and Canon EOS 5DS R (opens in new tab), one with and one without an AA filter. 

Ricoh's AA Simulation, and the new Canon patent (spotted by (opens in new tab) Northlight Images, courtesy of (opens in new tab) Canon Rumors), uses the IBIS to optionally shift the image sensor and achieve the equivalent amount of micro-blur as a filter. Which means that, rather than having a permanently de-sharpened sensor with an AA filter on it, users can opt to turn on the AA Simulation as and when it is needed. 

According to Northlight, the patent applies to both stills and video – as well as being a component of a potential pixel-shift feature (which quadruples native sensor resolution by taking and stitching a series of shots) where AA filters could also impede performance. 

It would make sense for this feature to be rolled out in the long-rumored Canon EOS RS (opens in new tab), which is said to have a 90MP sensor and 300MP pixel shift output. Though it's also possible that it could debut in the recently announced Canon EOS R3 (opens in new tab).

Read more: 

Pentax KP review (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS RS specs (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS R3 specs (opens in new tab)
Best Pentax cameras (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS R hacked (opens in new tab)

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.