What is Moiré?

Moiré pattern occurs when a scene or an object that is being photographed contains repetitive details (such as lines, dots, etc) that exceed the sensor resolution. As a result, the camera produces a strange-looking wavy pattern as seen below:

Moiré

(Image courtesy of photo.net)

See how noticeable the moiré pattern is on the jacket? That’s moiré for you, at its worst. Moiré is almost never seen in nature, but is very common in everyday objects and items around us – you might see it in all kinds of fabric, straight hair, architecture, etc. You might have even seen it on your television. In photography, moiré happens mostly because of the way light reaches the sensor and how the sensor interprets the light through the bayer interpolation filter.

While there are methods to effectively reduce moiré, there is no easy way to completely remove it in post-processing software. Lightroom 4 will ship with a moiré reduction tool and Nikon will also ship its next version of Capture NX with built-in moiré reduction functionality, but neither one will be able to fully get rid of the worst moiré pattern occurrences.

Here is a comparison between the Nikon D800 and D800E (the latter is prone to moire), which clearly shows Moiré on the Nikon D800E (Image courtesy of Nikon):
Nikon D800 vs D800E Moire

See “How to Avoid Moiré


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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Charles Weinberg

    Hi Nasim,
    I found your web site quite by accident when I opened up your article on the D700 vs. D800.
    Your photographic tips are right on the money and answer many on the questions I have had. Thank you for doing what you. I am I new fan and look forward to your new articles.
    Charles

  2. 3
    ) Sumanta

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks for the explanation. Can you tell me something though:
    Is Moiré the same as interference of light?

    Thanks & best regards.

    • 4
      ) Sumanta

      Also, can you please explain the difference between using sRGB and Adobe RGB?

      Thanks again,

      Sumanta.

  3. 5
    ) Elimliau

    Looking forward to D800U (ultimate) – D800 with AA filter that can be turn on/off :-))

  4. 6
    ) EricD

    “Is Moiré the same as interference of light?”
    Not really – both do involve two repetitive patterns that gradually go from matching to not-matching.
    Interference is light acting on light, so it matches at the wavelength of light itself – about 1/2000 mm.
    Moire matches the image of the fabric to the spacing of the sensor elements – 1/200 mm for a D800.
    So the scale of Moire is 10x bigger.

    “difference between using sRGB and Adobe RGB?”
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/adobe-rgb.htm
    He usually makes sense, but is occasionally off-mark.
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/sRGB-AdobeRGB1998.htm
    http://www.petapixel.com/2009/09/17/why-you-should-probably-use-srgb/

    Shoot in RAW ?

  5. 7
    ) Paresh Sawaiker

    Hi Nasim,
    I liked your explanation about Moire patterns.
    Also, your visual about Nikon D800E indicates that it is prone to such patterning though I read, elsewhere, that it is/may not.
    Having said that, I would like your advice on whether I should go for Nikon D7100 or the older D7000 thereby sacrificing some sharpness?
    Please help.

    Regards
    Paresh Sawaiker

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