Mosaic engineering launch $365 VAF filter for Canon 6D – a budget shooter’s full-frame nirvana?

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Canon EOS-6D with Mosaic engineering VAF filter
The Canon EOS-6D with Mosaic engineering VAF filter

Canon’s full-frame EOS-6D has been largely ignored by most keen DSLR video shooters, mainly because it has bad moire and false colour artifacts in its video image. This was ably demonstrated by Dslrnewsshooter contributor Johnnie Behiri a few weeks ago when he shot this video using the camera. The camera also lacks a headphone jack despite its nearest competitor – the Nikon D600 – featuring one.

Even so, the camera does have a few things going in its favour. It has a reasonably sharp video image and at least a third cheaper than a 5D mkIII, depending where you are in the world. It is also smaller and lighter than its big sister.

But image quality is often what counts and to fix this, Mosaic engineering have launched a version of their VAF anti-aliasing filter specifically for the 6D, which should help turn the 6D into a better tool. For those unfamiliar with the previous VAF filter for the 5D mkII, this is a small unit that fits right inside the camera – fixing the mirror in the up position.

What does it do? Simply put, the filter blurs the image just enough to match the video resolution of the camera’s sensor. The aliasing and the moire are caused by the camera’s processing making errors downscaling the image to HD from the much larger 20 megapixel image captured. By adding a VAF filter the result is much improved.

To prove just how well it works Mosaic have posted the video below. Please log in and download it from Vimeo to get a better idea of the image quality.

VAF-6D & Canon 6D – Initial Demo Video from Mosaic on Vimeo.

As you can see the aliasing is not entirely gone, but the difference is obvious. I am confident that after tweaking the picture profile of the camera, the end result with a VAF filter should actually be pretty nice.

As with previous VAF filters it should not be used for stills as it softens the image far too much. That means removing it between stills and video shooting, which might put multimedia shooters off.

There is also a shift to the back-focus setting of the lens, which means that the distance scale will be rendered inaccurate. Early versions of the filter for the 5D mkII also had very soft and dark corners with wide angle lenses. Mosaic claim to have improved both back-focus shifts and wide angle performance with a new second version for the 5D mkII. The 6D version should share these improvements but I haven’t tested it.

At $365 US this filter is not cheap, but it does seem to do what it claims.


Side note: 6D audio improvements
One thing that has also been mostly overlooked is that the manual audio levels on the 6D have a nice feature letting you switch on a mic-input attenuator to allow direct connection to the output of an audio recorder. This is great in a dual system sound setup because you can monitor the audio from the recorder as well as sending it to the camera (although you might need a headphone splitter cable or recorder with both a line out and a headphone jack). In some cases the audio sent to the camera might even be good enough to use as primary audio.

So where does this leave the 6D? It will be interesting to test the quality of image out of the camera with VAF filter against the 5D mkII and mkIII. Until that is done it’s very hard to say. One thing is for sure – I’m not expecting miracles, so don’t expect it to beat a Canon C300.

However, if you are a student, on a budget, or are an EOS video shooter who wants a full-frame camera, then it is certainly one of the least expensive ways to go. Add the price of the VAF filter and it is a slightly different proposition. Other options at a similar cost include a new or used 5D mkII, or one of Sony’s NEX cameras with a Metabones EF to NEX Speedbooster adapter. Of course adding the VAF gets you much closer to the price of a new 5D mkIII.

Let’s see if the 6D with VAF will have the best image of them all – it is entirely possible.

You can find out more about the VAF filter range on the Mosaic engineering website. There is a full FAQ here.

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