Kolari Vision launches OLPF upgrade for LUMIX S1 and S5
Image courtesy: Kolari Vision

Kolari Vision has launched a new optical low pass filter (OLPF) upgrade for the Panasonic LUMIX S1 and S5 mirrorless cameras. The filter has been developed in collaboration with Dan Hopkins of Hopkins Films.

What’s an OLPF?

An OLPF is also called an anti-aliasing filter. These filters block high-frequency information in an image to help prevent moiré. Moiré is the swirling pattern of colors that can appear when you record subjects such as pin-striped fabrics or detailed brickwork. This issue is caused by interference between the pattern of the subject and the image sensor in your camera. You can’t see moiré with the naked eye and it’s challenging to remove in post production without negatively affecting your images. In addition, you can’t always fix moiré in post which means losing some shots or accepting distracting artifacts. Therefore, it’s best to avoid moiré issues at the time of filming.

LUMIX S1H vs. S5II

Dan Hopkins had been shooting with a Panasonic LUMIX S1H which includes an OLPF. However, more recently he began using the LUMIX S5II and S5IIx. These cameras don’t have an OLPF and Hopkins soon began to see moiré problems in his videos. Hopkins produces high-end wedding videos and sometimes had to spend hours tracking and removing artifacts from areas such as the groom’s suit. As a result, Hopkins reached out to filter manufacturer Kolari Vision to see if it could help.

Kolari Vision

New Jersey based Kolari Vision carries out full spectrum conversions on a range of mirrorless cameras. The company also produces a range of filters and adapters. Kolari told Hopkins that it had an OLPF that it thought would work with the LUMIX S5II, so he shipped his camera to the company. The first filter that Kolari tried wasn’t strong enough to tackle the camera’s moiré issues. However, the second option turned out to be perfect.

Results

In his tests, Hopkins found that the Kolari filter removed moiré even more effectively than Panasonic’s filter in the LUMIX S1H. However, it can cause a shift in the white balance of your video which you will need to compensate for when grading. There is also a slight loss in sharpness as with all OLPFs. In practice, this isn’t an issue and reduces the overly sharp video look from your footage. In addition, Kolari advises that all dust reduction systems are disabled after the conversion. Finally, as with any similar modification or service, the filter upgrade will void the camera’s original manufacturer’s warranty.

What we think

Moiré is very distracting and can ruin a great shot. Removing it from your video in the edit takes time and can affect your image quality. Therefore, anything you can do to prevent moiré from being captured is welcome. Hopkins and Kolari Vision have developed a great solution for LUMIX camera users. It’s not a cheap option, however the upgrade will soon earn back its cost if you shoot video for a living. There’s no worse feeling than seeing that a fabulous shot has been ruined by moiré, especially for a one-time event such as a wedding. The peace of mind that comes from knowing that a good OLPF is protecting your image is priceless.

Pricing and availability

The Kolari Vision OLPF upgrade is available for the Panasonic LUMIX S1, S1H, S5, S5II, S5IIX, GH6 and the Sigma fP cameras. It costs $699 and you need to mail your camera to Kolari for installation. The standard turnaround time for the service is two weeks.

Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.