Purple iPhone pics? You ARE holding it wrong, experts agree

Published October 08, 2012

| FoxNews.com

The latest flaw in the iPhone 5 isn’t a flaw at all, it turns out.

Avid iPhotographers who rushed out to buy Apple iPhone 5 quickly noticed that photographs taken with it sometimes show off a purple halo effect, leading to a chorus of complaints about a new problem in the gadget.

But it’s not the iPhone, said Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies and a digital imaging expert. It’s every phone.

“This effect is found in all cameras, even the most advanced and expensive units,” Soneira told FoxNews.com. “Tiny amounts of light always creep in from anything slightly outside of the field of view.”

“This is called lens flare. Normally you don't notice it,” he said. “This effect applies to all cameras and most optical systems.”

Soneira’s explanation echoes one Apple offered for the problem on Monday. In a document posted to its public support site, the company explained that the purple burst was nothing more than lens flare.

“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,” the document explains. “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.”

In other words, if you see a purple haze in your pictures, you’re holding it wrong. Sorry, Jimi.

The purple coloring comes from either absorption of green light (the complement of purple) or “spurious reflections before the sensor,” Soneira explained.

Jim Fisher, digital camera analyst for PCMag.com, had the same thought: Lens flares, even purple ones, are common to digital imaging.

"Under the right conditions, any lens can flare, which is why most SLR lenses ship with lens hoods," Fisher told FoxNews.com. "Modern coatings really minimize the effect. The iPhone 5 seems to be more prone to it than its predecessor, but both handled the lighting situation much better than my aging iPhone 4."

Should this issue prevent you from buying an iPhone? Probably not, Soneira said. 

“The itty bitty iPhone camera is amazing,” he told FoxNews.com, “but it can't perform as well in extenuating circumstances as a full size camera with a full optical system.”

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http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/10/08/iphone-purple-flare-are-holding-it-wrong-experts-agree/