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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:35 am 
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NEW: Nikon D800 review!

Nikon has finally unveiled the D800, possibly the most anticipated - not to mention leaked - DSLR of recent times. The specifications confirm many of the rumours with the D800 based around a 36 Megapixel full-frame sensor with a 51-point AF system, Full HD 1080p video, and continuous shooting at 4fps, boostable to 6fps in cropped DX mode with the optional battery pack.

The D800 will be available in late March for the suggested retail price of $2999.95. The D800E version without the anti-aliasing filter will be available in mid April 2012 for a suggested retail price of $3,299.95.


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Press release from Nikon USA


Expectations Surpassed: The 36.3-Megapixel Nikon D800 Is The Multimedia HD-SLR That Shatters Conventional Resolution Barriers For Maximum Fidelity


The New Nikon D800 Offers Unrivaled Resolution and Features Designed for a Variety of Demanding Professional Photographic and Multimedia Disciplines, Videographers and Filmmakers

MELVILLE, N.Y. (Feb 6, 2012) – Today, imaging leader Nikon Inc. announced the highly anticipated D800 HD-SLR, engineered to provide extreme resolution, astounding image quality and valuable video features optimized for professional still and multimedia photographers and videographers. A camera with an unmatched balance of accuracy, functionality and image quality, the Nikon D800 realizes innovations such as a high resolution 36.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor, a 91,000-pixel RGB Matrix Metering System, Advanced Scene Recognition System and many other intuitive features designed to create the preeminent device for the most demanding photo and video applications.

Whether shooting high fashion, weddings or multimedia content, Nikon’s highest resolution sensor to date, a groundbreaking new 36.3-megapixel (7360 x 4912 resolution) FX-format CMOS sensor, affords flexibility and astonishing image quality to satisfy a myriad of client requests. The Nikon D800 incorporates the latest 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering III and the Advanced Scene Recognition System, coupled with an improved 51-point AF system for images with amazing sharpness, color and clarity. With its compact, lightweight D-SLR form factor and extensive video feature set, the D800 allows photographers to transition to multimedia to create an immersive story. Professional videographers will appreciate practical features that go beyond NIKKOR lens compatibility and Full HD 1080p video, such as full manual control, uncompressed HDMI output, and incredible low-light video capability. With this innovative combination of features, the D800 celebrates resourcefulness and a dedication to the flawless execution of an epic creative vision. All of this is driven by Nikon’s latest EXPEED 3™ image processing engine, providing the necessary processing power to fuel amazing images with faithful color, a wide dynamic range and extreme resolution.




“Whatever the project, visionaries need a tool that is going to help them stay on-time and on-task. The Nikon D800 re-imagines what is possible from this level of D-SLR, to address the needs of an emerging and ever changing market; this is the camera that is going to bridge the gap for the most demanding imaging professionals, and provide never before seen levels of SLR image and video quality,” said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc. “The D800 is the right tool for today’s creative image makers, affording photographers, filmmakers and videographers a versatile option for capturing the ultimate in still image quality or full HD content, with maximum control.”

Extreme Image Quality
The new Nikon developed 36.3-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24mm) CMOS sensor realizes Nikon’s highest resolution yet, and is ideal for demanding applications such as weddings, studio portraiture and landscape, where there is no compromise to exceptional high fidelity and dynamic range. Nikon’s first priority is amazing image quality above all else, and resolution of this magnitude affords photographers the ability to portray even the smallest details, such as a strand of hair, with stunning sharpness or crop liberally with confidence. Photographers also shoot with the assurance of NIKKOR lens compatibility, because only a manufacturer with decades of optical excellence can provide the glass to resolve this kind of extreme resolution.

For shooting with minimal noise in a variety of lighting conditions, the D800 features a wide native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 50 (Lo-1)-25,600 (Hi-2). Nikon engineers have created innovative ways to manipulate light transmission to the sensor’s photodiodes, giving users the ability to shoot with confidence in challenging lighting conditions. Internal sensor design, an enhanced optical low pass filter (OLPF) and 14 bit A/D conversion with a high signal to noise ratio all contribute to a sensor capable of excellent low light ability despite the extreme resolution. Every aspect of this new FX-format sensor is engineered to deliver amazing low noise images through the ISO range and help create astounding tonal gradation and true colors, whether shooting JPEG or RAW. Images are further routed through a 16-bit image processing pipeline, for maximum performance. To further enhance versatility, users are also able to shoot in additional modes and aspect ratios such as 5:4 to easily frame for printed portraits or a 1.2X crop for a slight telephoto edge. For even more versatility, photographers can also take advantage of Nikon DX-format lenses for more lens options and enhanced focal range (1.5X), while still retaining sharpness and details at a high 15.4-megapixel (4800x3200) resolution.

Contributing to the camera’s rapid performance and amazing image quality is Nikon’s new EXPEED 3 image processing engine that helps professionals create images and HD video with amazing resolution, color and dynamic range. From image processing to transfer, the new engine is capable of processing massive amounts of data, exacting optimal color, rich tonality and minimized noise throughout the frame. Despite the immense data, the new EXPEED 3 also contributes to energy efficiency, affording the ability to shoot longer.

The D800 also features the Advanced Scene Recognition System with the 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter III to provide unrivaled metering in even the most challenging of lighting conditions. At the system’s core is a newly designed RGB sensor that meticulously analyzes each scene, recognizes factors such as color and brightness with unprecedented precision and then compares all the data using Nikon’s exclusive 30,000 image database. Additionally, this new sensor now has the ability to detect human faces with startling accuracy, even when shooting through the optical viewfinder. This unique feature is coupled with detailed scene analysis for more accurate autofocus (AF), Auto exposure (AE), i-TTL flash control and even enhanced subject tracking. The Color Matrix Meter also emphasizes priority on exposure of the detected faces, allowing for correct exposure even when the subject is backlit. Even in the most difficult exposures the D800 excels, such as maintaining brightness on a bride’s face while retaining the dynamic range to accentuate the intricate details of a wedding dress beside a black tuxedo.

Advanced new automatic systems make it even easier to capture amazing images. The camera features a new enhanced auto white balance system that more accurately recognizes both natural and artificial light sources, and also gives the user the option to retain the warmth of ambient lighting. Users can expand dynamic range with in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture, and enjoy the benefits of Nikon’s Active D-lighting for balanced exposure. Another new feature is direct access to Nikon’s Picture Control presets via a dedicated button on the back of the body to tweak photo and video parameters on the fly, such as sharpness, hue and saturation.

True Cinematic Experience
The Nikon D800 has a compact and lightweight form factor that’s preferable for a production environment, yet is packed with practical and functional features. The D800 is ideal whether the user is a filmmaker on location or in the studio or a documentarian in the field who requires portability and the NIKKOR lens versatility and depth of field that only a HD-SLR can offer. Filmmakers have the choice of various resolutions and frame rates, including Full HD 1080 at 30/24p and HD 720 at 60/30p. By utilizing the B-Frame data compression method, users can record H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format video with unmatched integrity for up to 29:59 minutes per clip (normal quality). This format produces higher quality video data without increasing file size for a more efficient workflow. The optimized CMOS sensor reads image data at astoundingly fast rates, which results in less instances of rolling shutter distortion. The sensor also enables incredible low-light video capability with minimal noise, letting filmmakers capture footage where previously impossible or expensive and complex lighting would otherwise be necessary. Users are also able to have full manual control of exposure, and can also adjust the camera’s power aperture setting in live view for an accurate representation of the depth of field in a scene. Whether shooting for depth of field in FX-format mode, or looking for the extra 1.5X telephoto benefits of DX mode, the high resolution sensor of the D800 allows videographers to retain full 1080p HD resolution no matter which mode they choose to best suit the scene. Users are also able to easily compose and check critical HD focus through the 921,000-dot, 3.2-inch LCD monitor with reinforced glass, automatic monitor brightness control, and wide viewing angle.

For professional and broadcast applications that call for outboard digital recorders or external monitors, users can stream an uncompressed full HD signal directly out of the camera via the HDMI port (8 bit, 4:2:2). This output signal can be ported into a display or digital recording device or routed through a monitor and then to the recording device, eliminating the need for multiple connections. This image can also be simultaneously viewed on both the camera’s LCD and an external monitor, while eliminating on-screen camera status data for streaming purposes. The D800 also includes features concentrated on audio quality, such as a dedicated headphone jack for accurate monitoring of audio levels while recording. Audio output levels can be adjusted with 30 steps for precise audio adjustment and monitoring. The D800 offers high-fidelity audio recording control with audio levels that can be set and monitored on the camera’s LCD screen. A microphone connected via the stereo mic jack can also be adjusted with up to 20 steps of sensitivity for accurate sound reproduction. What’s more, recording can be set to be activated through the shutter button, opening a world of remote applications through the 10-pin accessory terminal.

Wield Speed and Performance with Astonishing Accuracy
Whether shooting the runway or fast moving wildlife, the enhanced 51-point AF system of the D800 delivers blazing fast AF with tack-sharp results. Nikon has enhanced the Multi-Cam 3500-FX AF sensor module and algorithms to significantly improve low light acquisition, for precise focus to an impressive -2 exposure value (EV). The focus system utilizes 15 cross-type AF sensors for enhanced accuracy, and the system also places an emphasis on the human face, working in conjunction with the Advanced Scene Recognition System to provide accurate face detection even through the optical viewfinder. The camera also utilizes nine cross-type sensors that are fully functional when using compatible NIKKOR lenses and teleconverters with an aperture value up to f/8, which is a great advantage to those who need extreme telephoto focal lengths (single cross type sensor active with TC20E III). For maximum versatility in all shooting situations, whether photographing portraits or static subjects, users are also able to select multiple AF modes, including normal, wide area, face tracking and subject tracking to best suit the scene.

The D800 delivers upon a professional’s need for maximum speed when it counts. The camera is ready to shoot in 0.12 seconds, and is ready to capture with super-fast AF and response speed. To photograph action in a burst, the camera shoots up to 4 frames per second (fps) in FX mode at full resolution, or up to a speedy 6 fps in DX mode using the optional MB-D12 Battery Pack and compatible battery. Further enhancing the speed of the camera and overall workflow, the D800 utilizes the new USB 3.0 standard for ultra fast transfer speeds.

Construction and Operability
The body of the D800 is designed to offer a compact form factor and a lightweight body for the utmost versatility. The chassis is constructed of magnesium alloy for maximum durability, and is sealed and gasketed for resistance to dirt and moisture. Users are able to easily compose through the bright optical viewfinder, which offers 100% frame coverage. For storage, the D800 has dual card slots for CF and SD cards, and offers users the ability to record backup, overflow, RAW/JPEG separation, and the additional option of shooting stills to one and video to the other. For high speed recording and transfer, data can be recorded to recent UDMA-7 and SDXC / UHS-1 cards. The shutter has been tested to withstand approximately 200,000 cycles, and the camera also employs sensor cleaning. The D800 also features a built-in flash and is compatible with Nikon’s acclaimed Creative Lighting System, including a built-in Commander mode for controlling wireless Speedlights.

D800E - Maximum Resolution Unleashed
In addition to the D800, Nikon will also be releasing a supplementary model for those professionals who demand even higher resolution and D-SLR versatility; the D800E. This model treads in medium format territory for studio work or landscape photography when there is no exception to only the highest fidelity and sharpness. This unique alternative model will effectively enhance the resolution characteristics of the 36.3-megapixel CMOS sensor by cancelling the anti-aliasing properties of the OLPF inside the camera. By doing this, light is delivered directly to the photodiodes, yielding an image resulting from the raw light gathering properties of the camera. A color moiré correction tool will also be available within Capture NX2 to enhance the D800E photographer’s workflow.

Price and Availability
The Nikon D800 will be available in late March for the suggested retail price of $2999.95.* The D800E version will be available in mid April 2012 for a suggested retail price of $3,299.95.*


Last edited by Gordon Laing on Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:36 am 
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Woohoo: List price in Germany: 2899 (incl. 19% VAT). I'll say that sounds fair.
Gordon: Anything from the video department of that cam that looks interesting for you, different from D4? Or is Nikon just playing catch-up to others?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:10 am 
Isn't the 1.2 crop mode exclusive to this camera?
This looks amazing. Now i just need someone to go to America and get it for an even lower price.

I'm keeping my D700 with grip for low light action tho. I've recently ordered a rolling bag that fits both bodies with my current lenses (plus a bit more, 105mm vr I'm looking at you).

Is anyone else keeping the two bodies?

I suspect this is going to sell extremely well. I hope Canon has something just as good. They probably do. I wonder what directions they are taking with the Mark III.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:28 am 
Equal noise performance to the D700 at 3x the resolution, if accurate, is quite impressive. That should put the pixel pitch at roughly the same as a 16MP 1.5x crop sensor doesn't it? If this technology trickles down, the future look good for DX sensors too.

Is it just me or does it seem like Nikon has no intention of continuing the D300 line of cameras?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:54 am 
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So it really happened... On paper, call this a 5Dmk3 and I'll buy it :D

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:55 am 
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Brilliant news as Nikon leave the others in their dust! Sony and Canon will surely follow...

Of most interest, personally, will be sample comparisons of the D800 and the D800E of the same scenes. We'll get to see just how much blur the AA filter introduces and whether any resulting moiré can be tamed. Fuji, with their X-Pro1 and unconventional sensor colour matrix, certainly think it's worth getting rid of and my own experience with an astrophotography CCD tells me I'd rather buy a D800E than the D800. I think there'd be far more situations where, even at the pixel peeping level, I'd prefer not to have my images "pre-blurred" and moiré control via software has, surely, to be in a different league than when the decision to introduce AA filters was made years ago (anyone know when?).

Way to go, Nikon. 8)

Bob.

Update: Nikon have posted sample D800 and D800E images here and here. That moiré is not a serious issue on many D800E images is evident by its absence on the samples offered although, to be fair, Nikon may have only chosen to share images where there was an absence of evidence. :lol:

Update 2: Ah, Nikon did share an example of moiré on this page where they remark:
    With the D800E, moiré and false color may be noticeable when there are repetitive and fine patterns on a subject such as kimono fabric. To avoid this, it is necessary to take measures, for example, changing the focusing point or shooting distance.

    Image
Good of Nikon to share the example. I guess for some the AA filter is a safer option... :P

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:26 am 
If whats been said about the noise performance is true, then well played Nikon, you've got me interested.

The promo video looks good, I'd like to see some further tests. If they've finally caught up with nikon then I might be tempted doubly so.

Link to the video.
http://vimeo.com/36305675


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Here are my initial observations from today’s announcements. Let’s have a look first at the different formats that the D800 offers for photography.

D800
FX...: 36x24mm, 7360x4912, 36.2MP
5:4..: 30x24mm, 6144x4912, 30.2MP
1.2x: 30x20mm, 6144x4080, 25.1MP
DX..: 24x16mm, 4800x3200, 15.4MP

D7000
DX..: 24x16mm, 4928x3264, 16.1MP

D300(s)
DX..: 24x16mm, 4288x2848, 12.2MP

Let’s compare the DX crop first:
- To all practical intents and purposes the DX-crop of the new D800 sensor is identical to the D7000. But it’s probably not the same photo-cell as in the D7000. Everybody is hoping for an improved performance on a pixel level, but only rigorous testing will show how the sensor performs with regard to dynamic range, signal-to-noise ration and color.
- Compared to a D300(s) the D800 DX-crop has 32% more pixels and 15% more linear resolution.
- Compared to the D700 and D3 the DX crop of the D800 is a huge improvement going up from 5.4MP to 15.4MP, a gain of 50% in linear resolution. So anybody with considerable investment in DX glass could comfortable say that the upgrade-path to the D800 does not render his lenses obsolete. See more on this in the following comments on the 1.2x crop factor

Looking at the new 1.2x crop there are some interesting observations to be made:
- That’s something for people that don’t need or like 36MP but are content with 24-25MP. Saves space esp. when shooting RAW and processing power in post.
- It gives you a slight (20%) magnification / more reach over FX without cutting off wide-angle views by too much. A 24-70mm would (almost) have the angle of view of a 28-85mm. Quite a nice zoom if you just need a tad more reach.
- And it only has a 28% longer diagonal than DX (FX diagonal is 50% longer than DX). That might give some of your DX lenses some lease of life, e.g. the AF-S DX 35/1.8 which had quite an astonishing image circle (see my comparison here), or the AF-S DX 18-200mm at longer focal lengths (>100mm). So you might just turn on 1.2x crop mode with your DX lenses and crop in post as needed.
- The other potential benefit of the 1.2x crop is with FX lenses. With a diagonal of 36mm it needs an image circle that is 7.3 mm smaller in diameter than FX and thus is less demanding of the lens in the corners. This might avoid visible resolution and/or light fall-off with certain lenses. It might just be your ticket to images that are crisp and clean border-to-border. And remember: you still have more resolution than with the D3x to play/print with.
- The D800 can shoot 1.2x crop (and DX) images at 5 frames per second, instead of “only” 4 fps at larger formats. No battery grip needed for that.

Finally, before going up to full FX, we have the 5:4 crop:
- at 30MP that’s nothing to scoff at of you think that the D3s and D700 “only” had 10MP in this mode.
- would be ideal for shooting in portrait orientation to avoid the overly tall 3:2 format. very practical if you want to capture the bride and groom side-by-side.
- Saves 20% of disc-space and 20% of processing times, or to put it differently: do 5 (images) for (the space and time of) 4 ;-)

And than there’s full unadulterated FX:
- The standard format ever since cameras became small (1925).
- A huge jump for people coming from APS-C (or smaller) sensor sizes. The FX sensor area is 2.25x larger than the sensor of a e.g. D7000. Thus it collects more light and has the potential to produce images that are roughly “double as good” as images from a APS-C sensor : Either double the resolution, or double the sensitivity or double the signal-to-noise ration, or… well, you get the gist.
- No other camera below 10k Euro offers that much resolution: 36.2MP. That is double of what the Leica M9 has to offer, even the Leica S2 has only1.3MP more than the D800 (with a larger 30x45mm sensor and price tag around 20kEUR)
- if you like even sharper than that with the AA-filter removed (D800E) for only 10% more – but watch out for moiré (nasty artefacts on regular small patterns).

Summary: The FX format is certainly what you will buy the D800 for. But as you can see from my comments above the other formats offer quite some interesting options without ever being worse than the best DX-body, the D7000.

Other “like”s and “don’t like”s that I observed from the announcement (remember, this is my personal evaluation – your mileage may vary):

[+] No new software required. Just update your ViewNX2, CaptureNX 2, CameraControl Pro 2 and you’re ready to go. Those updates should be available when the D800 hits the streets with Adobe certainly following suit. This spares us the multitude of new bugs that a version 3 of those software-packages would have certainly contained.
[++] The Auto-ISO function takes the focal length into account when setting the minimum shutter speed. Finally! This makes auto-ISO much safer to use with a zoom or when changing lenses. You should end up with less blurred images.
[+] All formats are masked in the viewfinder. Nothing new, but I’m sure this makes working with those cropped modes a breeze.
[+] CF card-slot complemented with an SD slot. Put more memory in the box and use it as you like. No new format (like XQD with the Nikon D4) just use all the cards you find in your drawer!
[+] Quiet shutter option, finally! The normal noise associated with slapping the mirror and activating the shutter can be a real nuisance when shooting in certain situations. Just have to wait to hear how effective it is…
[-] What, no body-based image stabilization, not even a software-based algorithm that combines several shots at faster shutter speeds into one well exposed image? You know my constant haggling about this when Nikon releases another nice lens w/o VR. Now even Tamron has announced a stabilized 24-70/2.8 zoom. All of Nikon’s beautiful large aperture primes below 200mm go unstabilized, and that disappoints me.
[-] Maximum 1EV steps with exposure bracketing? Even my old D80 did 2EV. And the built-in HDR function puts two images 3EV apart together – but does not give you access to the individual shots. They could have easily done better in this department. But if you’re satisfied with the in-body HDR you might not bother too much.
[+] EN-EL15 battery is the same as with the D7000 and Nikon V1. So it's available and you can share your packs between systems. unfortunately not the same as with the D300 or the D700.

Well, that’s it for now.
Have placed my order this morning.
Now the waiting begins – again. :wink:

Happy to hear your comments and questions. I’ll try to answer as good as is possible without having the real thing on my table.

Cheers!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:59 pm 
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Melikey

What more can I say? It would be a joke if Canon decide to go 18 megapixels on their 5D III right now... And it isnt even that expensive, is it?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:42 pm 
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On the AA or not AA choice and moire, that sample output certainly looks horrific, but I have to wonder if a more intelligent raw converter would be able to control that better? Certainly the maze could be better, leaving the colour to deal with.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:02 pm 
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An additional information from a Nikon Service-Point: Delivery in Germany should start 23.3. (of the D800).

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:59 pm 
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All of this is interesting; now, to see what the successor to the Canon 5D Mark II will have to offer. :) Any substantial purchases before Autumn 2013 are unlikely, so I have plenty of time to think about all of this.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:49 pm 
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And another information regarding RAW file-sizes: NEF, uncompressed, 14bit = 75MB. What you get with lossless compressed I can only extrapolate. I assume 45MB.

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Wow - but the non-AA version looks quite a bit sharper indeed.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:10 pm 
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It wouldn't lure me into getting the non-AA version.
36MP is enough resolution for me, no need to risk moire under these circumstances.
And if I'm not satisfied, I could let someone remove the AA-filter later...

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