Apple publicly responds to iPhone 5 purple lens flare complaints

“Soon after the release of the iPhone 5, some users began noticing a purple flare or halo showing up in photos taken with the device’s camera pointed at or near bright light sources,” Eric Slivka reports for MacRumors. “Apple has now posted a public support document…”

A purplish or other colored flare, haze, or spot is imaged from out-of-scene bright light sources during still image or video capture.

Most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the edge of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources. This can happen when a light source is positioned at an angle (usually just outside the field of view) so that it causes a reflection off the surfaces inside the camera module and onto the camera sensor. Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens, or shielding the lens with your hand, should minimize or eliminate the effect.

Apple’s support document, “iPhone: Camera image effects” is here.

MacDailyNews Take: Do not eat iPod shuffle.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]


  1. Doesn’t happen on the sammy. what else can apple stuff up. oh yea. wait for it, lost screen pixels because of crappy manufactoring . too many suppliers and lousy product quality control. iphone 1, 2 ,3, 4. Were reliable for one reason. Samsung components .

    1. It is an optical phenomenon so it happens on every camera with multiple lens elements (virtually every camera made)
      So no, silly little boy, the iPhone 1,3,4 (there was no iphone 2 you idiot) and ALL samsung phones AND cameras ALL exhibit lens flairs.

      As a matter of fact as a compositor I spend a fair amount of time matching camera lens flairs from live shots on 35mm mp cameras onto CG sequences (otherwise you would easily be able to tell the CG cuts from the live camera shots. )

      1. To Tessellator and other knowledgable posters following, for really putting Chris -Gupta – whatever Samdung paid troll in their place.

        Sometimes there are young people that are cynical of everything and even raise a semi valid point or two.

        Sometimes there are people that an Apple store person has messed over and they carry a grudge..

        But its these paid (?) trolls that spit such stupid random anti-apple junk that just give trolls a bad name. (Are they really that stupid??) lol

        So once again, thanks for taking the time to reply in a manner that just puts their BS firmly in its place..(Gupta ?? maybe somewhere in India maybe?) lol

        So thanks to you and the other fine posters. PS, I work at a NASA Launch facility but my camera lens knowledge ended at the optics class in college. 🙂


    2. Bullshit. I own a professional photo studio, with everything from an 8X10 Deardorf, 4X5 Linhofs, Hasselblads, Leicas, and all sorts of digital. Every lens, Nikon, Canon, even prestigious Schneider, Leitz, Fuji, Rodenstock, and Zeiss will flare with unflagged backlight. Because of refraction, the flare will be colored, depending on the angle of the backlight and the exact type of glass. Also Chris, Kim, Hoon, or whatever your Korean name is, you should also check out the ratings on the myriad of phone cameras where you will discover Apple has maintained the top spot with every generation of iPhone.

      1. You are absolutely correct. I was a professional advertising photographer for 20 years and lens flare can happen with ANY camera. A tip for users: if you can’t avoid the sun or a bright light at the edge of the frame of your photo, use your other hand like a lens shade to shield the lens.

        If you have seen lens flare from an expensive SLR camera, it is usually a spectrum of different colors. What you are seeing is the color cast of the otherwise invisible lens coating. In the case of the iPhone, it’s likely that you are seeing the color cast of sapphire. But as Apple suggests, if you slightly change your camera angle or fashion a lens shade with your hand, the problem can easily be avoided.

        It’s not BS. I should know. I shot food ads and package fronts for General Mills and other big companies for many years.

      2. @m159 Agreed. I was Professional Photographer back in the days of Film. Just small town weddings and portraits, local rock bands. Stuff like that. Lens flair is always an issue you either work with, for an effect. Or work to minimize with a lens hood, or getting lighting right. Even my old Hasselblad would have this issue if you get light bouncing around the lens at a strange angel. My old Nikon F1 with a c 1968 105 lens and my old 35mm wide angle lens both were particularly nasty about flaring. I don’t think the coating was that good back then.

    3. Well said. Apple will not be able to sustain its claim to better quality than others without Samsung and every iSheep knows it but will not acknowledge it.

      Not sure if folks are aware of what Samsung will roll out shortly but it will render Retina displays as a lack lustre display.

      1. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrry,
        WTF does your troll post have to do with the subject of this article, or even as a response to the intelligent postings preceeding it?!? Guess you just can’t help your low IQ and comprehension capabilities, like all the other sDungs. Actually starting to feel sorry for you.

      2. iSheep: Haha… you’re such a sheep, going for Android phones like all the other clueless morons out there.

        samSheep: Haha… you’re such a sheep, going for an iPhone like all the other clueless morons out there.

        See what I did there?

    4. Don’t you know physics? Light dispersion and refraction? Different camera will still have this effect at different angles of the light source, whether its purple or other colours.

    5. It can happen on any camera, even my canon 5Dmk II, thats why they invented lens hoods to eliminate that. Someone should market a mini lens hood for the iphone…

  2. Seriously? Oh brother talk about Photography 101. Apple has to take the time out to explain basic photographic facts to the dummies out there? Unbelievable. It’s a wonder Apple isn’t blamed as some sort of iPhone defect in natural lens flare issues. Something all DP’s (like me) and still photographers have to deal with, whether to exclude and include. Ask J.J. Abrams who went lens flare nuts on the first Star Trek movie.

    1. No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. — H L Mencken

  3. All experts agree that this is a common phenomena with all digital cameras. Certainly I have experienced it on both my iPhone 4S and my Lumix digital camera, no matter what settings I put it on. Perhaps you’re more of an ex-spurt than an expert?

    1. Yes, but it is the multi-element lenses causing the reflections not the sensor, so it occurs on virtually ALL cameras not just the digital ones.
      As I indicated (above) we spend a fair amount of time emulating the lens flairs of 35mm movie cameras so that CG cuts look consistent with the live action cuts
      And this is actually not dead simple, different lenses exhibit different amounts and types of lens flair elements (and exhibit oblate distortions, in the case of anamorphic lenses). Add to that the the flairs need to bloom, wane & move when the camera or lights move in relation to each other.)

        1. Mmmm… A fresnel is a collimating or condensing lens that features a series of concentric V grooves cut in the lens. As far as I know they are used primarily in stage lighting (i.e. the front of a PAR unit) & projectors (to condense or converge the diverging light rays from the bulb or arc) and not in imaging.
          Have never come across one used in any motion picture lens I have ever worked with, (or on any still camera lens FTM), though I am not the last word in lenses and optics, I am a compositor/VFX TD not not a DP (cinematographer).

          As I recall from school (a loooong time ago) the fresnel lacks the spherical aberration of normal lenses because of the constant (or near constant) distance through the lens (constant thickness edge to edge). The problem with using them (in imaging) is that the “stepping” causes optical inaccuracies.

          1. They’re commonly used in satellite based telescopes because they’re much lighter than a standard lens — much less mass. But I don’t know anything about their flare properties…

            1. Again- Mmmm, in my youth I was quite a astronomy hobbyist. My understanding of telescopes is dated (pre space based) but typically all large telescopes are reflectors. The only large (where you would worry about the weight) optic on a telescope is the primary element, which in a reflector is a mirror (which even in earth based telescopes is typically hollow honeycomb in large telescopes to save weight)

              I would be very surprised if they were designing large refractor telescopes for space, it just doesn’t make sense, unless some new laws of physics (optics) have been discovered (but again my knowledge is very dated)

              In any case my understanding of lens flairs is mostly practical (this goes for bokeh as well, which is the blurring and spotting of out of out of focus specular highlights (reflected light sources) which we also generate synthetically in CG clips) We simply just duplicate what is there, we don’t actually calculate how and why the original optics generated them.

  4. Why is it that the camera pros don’t report about this? No need to answer.

    Anyway, I have been looking though all my photos, for one reason or another, and frankly this is not an iPhone 5 issue. It’s an all camera issue. If you say your Sammy phone doesn’t do this, then you are lieing or haven’t taken enough pictures. It’s annoying when it happens, but like the recommendation says, “adjust your fov.”

  5. This flare issue if what lens shades are for. It is good advice on Apple’s part to say shade the lens. Flare is a problem for your $100.00 camera and for your $10,000.00 camera. It’s optics 101.

  6. Another physics lesson from apple to the world

    Others were:
    2G phones cause interference with speakers
    Attenuation matters most in areas with weak signal

    I’m sure there were others…

      1. No, moron. This isn’t the product of an ‘excuse machine’ but rather a fact machine. Or, is your reading comprehension so bad, you’ve missed that point?

  7. Only a phone photographer would be surprised by this flare. People who have used real cameras know of this phenomenon it totally expected. That’s why people with cameras buy lens hoods. I iPhone camera is so wide it picks up all kinds of stuff. Here is a tip, move in closer and pay attention to where the light is coming from. This is Photo 101. I just saw Dave’s comment, we agree.

  8. I got the girlfriend an iPhone 5 last night. The thing that surprised me the most was just how small the lightening connector is – totally didn’t expect that just by watching the keynote.

  9. m159 hit it right on the mark. I’ve been a serious photographer since the late 1960’s and have learned to use lens flares creatively. ANY compitent photographer knows how to avoid lens flares when they are not desired. This whole thread is a non issue. It makes about as much sense as SUV owners who sue the manufacturer because the driver did something stupid and rolled it over by trying to drive it like a ‘vette. How do you protect incompitent people from their own stupidity?

  10. I am a pro photographer and the fact that Apple has to defend lens flare is laughable….. every camera will have lens flare….. ever see a lens hood before? Ever wonder what it’s used for? This is not even news worthy…….

  11. Someone posted here that lens flare was annoying….. If I could post images here, you would see that lens flare can make the most boring images into stunning images…… now we have a new set of photo critics….. smdh

  12. When the iPhone 7 comes out (6 will be a smaller upgrade) people will complain that it doesn’t have the same purple flare.

    In the meantime, Samsung will sue Apple because they have the patent on purple flare.

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