iPhone 5 users seeing 'purple haze' in pictures, claim camera is defective

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An AnandTech forum thread started on Monday regarding "purple flare" or "purple haze" anomalies in images taken by the iPhone 5 has sparked concern that the issue is related to a possible defect, however further investigation reveals the problem is common with many modern digital cameras, especially miniaturized units.

Purple Flare
Purple flare around sun. | Source: weaksauce12 via Twitter


While posters to the now three page-long thread are quick to claim the purple haze is a flaw in Apple's 8-megapixel shooter, the problem is actually common to digital photography and is called chromatic aberration, otherwise known as "purple fringing." The image distortion is especially evident when a strong specular light source, like the sun or a flashlight, is present in or near the image.

Some speculated the purple fringing seen with the iPhone 5 was caused by either a fault in the camera's design, new lens structure or sapphire lens cover, however it appears the problem lies in one of the most basic shortfalls of camera technology: distortion.

As with all optical elements in a camera's lens array, light is bent at different angles as it passes through the substrate, usually some form of glass or plastic, to converge at a single point on the focal plane. In the case of digital cameras, the focal plane is the unit's imaging sensor which, in the case of the iPhone 5, is of the backside-illuminated CMOS variety.

At issue is a lens array's refractive index which numerically represents the manner in which light, or more specifically wavelengths of light, moves through the optics system. Ideally, a lens will focus all colors, or wavelengths, at a single point on the focal plane, thus creating a near-perfect replication of an image. In practice, however, lenses don't allow for wavelengths to meet at a convergence point, creating what is called chromatic aberration.

Due to a number of factors, including reference tuning, architecture of digital sensors and relatively short focal lengths in smaller camera systems, chromatic aberration usually presents itself in shorter wavelengths like violet.

Purple Fringing


High-end lenses can be adjusted to deal with axial chromatic aberrations, those that cause color fringing, and are called apochromatic lenses, though these types of systems are costly and bulky as additional glass elements are added to the array. Another form of compensating for the distortion are aspherical lenses that are specially designed to reform light to achieve more accurate focus. These elements are also costly, however, as a multitude of steps are needed to manufacture the glass.

In the end, the iPhone 5's camera most likely has no tangible design flaws and is only a victim of the intrinsic qualities of photography. Perhaps a specialized algorithm can be instituted to compensate for the violet push, though any changes made to the existing post-processing flow will likely throw off other finely tuned aspects of the system.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    I'd have to see more samples to make a judgment, but it seems like a nonissue to me. I can see the headlines: "iPhone 5 Photos Contain Artifacts When Pointed Directly at Sun". SunGate!
  • Reply 2 of 63
    The haters are having a hate-fest of biblical proportions.
  • Reply 3 of 63
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    The new lens is made of a different material than the 4s. Maybe its the coating of the material on the lens?
  • Reply 4 of 63
    I'm a professional photographer. What you are seeing is an artifact initiated by lens flare. This iphone is a teeny camera with a teeny lens. There is nothing wrong with it. But that's why serious photographers are lugging around heavy cameras with heavy lenses. They perform better.
  • Reply 5 of 63
    Yeah, this is lens flare. What is it about Apple products and people trying to find every little thing to complain about?
  • Reply 6 of 63


    I think the it's of greater concern that that is a *really* bad position for a shot. 

  • Reply 7 of 63


    Otherwise known as the "Star Trek 2009 Effect."

  • Reply 8 of 63
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by montefuego View Post



    I'm a professional photographer. What you are seeing is an artifact initiated by lens flare. This iphone is a teeny camera with a teeny lens. There is nothing wrong with it. But that's why serious photographers are lugging around heavy cameras with heavy lenses. They perform better.


    Is there a way to remove that with something like Aperture or some decent photo editing software that you can recommend?

  • Reply 9 of 63
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by montefuego View Post



    I'm a professional photographer. What you are seeing is an artifact initiated by lens flare. This iphone is a teeny camera with a teeny lens. There is nothing wrong with it. But that's why serious photographers are lugging around heavy cameras with heavy lenses. They perform better.


    That's why the serious pros use Hasselblad cameras and lenses worth about $100K.  :-)

  • Reply 10 of 63
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by montefuego View Post



    I'm a professional photographer. What you are seeing is an artifact initiated by lens flare. This iphone is a teeny camera with a teeny lens. There is nothing wrong with it. But that's why serious photographers are lugging around heavy cameras with heavy lenses. They perform better.


    I have to agree with you.  I have two DSLR cameras and use large lenses.  I do see that both of those photos in this article have light flare effect.  I will try to produce that with my 4s to see.

  • Reply 11 of 63
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member


    ...whatever it is, that girl put a spell on me.


     


    image

  • Reply 12 of 63
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member


    I can reproduce the same effects on my iPhone 4s with iOS6.

  • Reply 13 of 63


    same here w my 4s, seems like another NON issue.


     


    haters gonna hate...my 4s with ios 6 works great, no issues. none with maps, photos, photo stream, love the DND feature on and on...

  • Reply 14 of 63
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by drblank View Post


    Is there a way to remove that with something like Aperture or some decent photo editing software that you can recommend?



     


    There is plenty of information about this.


     


    Here's some tips I found.


     


    http://www.discoverdigitalphotography.com/tag/remove-lens-flare/


     


    btw you should be careful not to point camera's directly at the sun, you can damage the sensor, think magnifying glass on a piece of paper.

  • Reply 15 of 63

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post



    Yeah, this is lens flare. What is it about Apple products and people trying to find every little thing to complain about?


     


    AAPL shorts... and they're doing a heck of a number on the stock since the iPhone 5 announcement.

  • Reply 16 of 63

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post



    Yeah, this is lens flare. What is it about Apple products and people trying to find every little thing to complain about?


    Because Apple are held to a higher standard.

  • Reply 17 of 63
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 18 of 63


    I'm truly glad that there are so many "problems" with the 6th iPhone and its software.


     


    We're already to the point of outright mocking into insignificance all this crap that could have "-gate" appended to it, which will serve as a very effective means of keeping disproportionate reactions to non-issues, blown up by the Anti-Apple Brigade to be "newsworthy" items (in essence, pure idiocy) in check.







    Originally Posted by JBytes View Post

    Because Apple are held to a higher standard.




     


    When Apple invents a lens that creates zero lens flare, they'll be multibillionaires for that innovation alone.


     


    Do you know of a lens that has no flare?

  • Reply 19 of 63
    I understand that this may be due to miniaturization of the camera elements and it may be common to phones and such. My question is: does the iPhone4 have this issue? I have never had this issue even when shots were poorly composed on my 4 or 4S.
    I'm wondering what the deal is...
  • Reply 20 of 63
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    I'm truly glad that there are so many "problems" with the 6th iPhone and its software.


     


    We're already to the point of outright mocking into insignificance all this crap that could have "-gate" appended to it, which will serve as a very effective means of keeping disproportionate reactions to non-issues, blown up by the Anti-Apple Brigade to be "newsworthy" items (in essence, pure idiocy) in check.



     


     


    When Apple invents a lens that creates zero lens flare, they'll be multibillionaires for that innovation alone.


     


    Do you know of a lens that has no flare?



     


    No, but I have a hand I can use to shade a lens from a bright light source like the sun.

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