Apple issues support article to address purple light flare from iPhone 5 camera

Apple has issued a support article to address the mounting concern over the strange purple light being found on numerous photographs taken with the iPhone 5’s camera. The problem shows on the photographs as a purple flare on the edge of a picture or as an actual purple spot in the main frame of the picture. Apple’s support article addresses these issues and claims there is nothing to worry about.

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

The question is how come we didn't experience this particular problem with other iPhone models? There is a thread in the iMore forums with examples of the problem. If you are experiencing it, make sure to drop by and leave a comment or even a sample picture. Do you think Apple’s resolution is acceptable given that we haven’t experienced this problem with any other iPhone cameras in the past? The idea of shielding your lens with your hand while taking a picture seems a little bit clumsy to me. Thankfully, I can’t seem to be able to reproduce the problem even when taking a photograph with a light source outside of the field of view, what about you?

Source: Apple Support (opens in new tab), Photograph: MarilynR

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

  • Apple sucks now! Look how many problems are we facing in ios 6 and the iPhone 5! Its a disaster and i hope Samsung will stop the sales of the iPhone 5 because Samsung phones are way better! I owned three iPhone's till know (3g ,3gs ,4) and the s2 which i have from 3 months till know is a hundred times better! Problems started after Steve Job died! Shame on you Apple!
  • Lol You must be blind, a fool or dont know a thing about photography like a ton of others out there. And if you think Samsung and other android devices don't have problems you're nuts. I can replicate this same flare with my Canon ELPH 510 HS point and shoot, iPhone 4,4S, 5, SGSIII and my $3,300 Canon EOS 5D. So why is this such a big deal? Every time Apple comes out with a phone people have to find some kind of "flaw" in it. When in most cases it's a flaw across the board on all similar devices. smh
  • So true Mritalian let them know. i am tired of hearing people bad talking the phone. i think most of them forgot when the 4 had same problems and it was fixed.
  • Spoken like a hardcore--Apple can do no wrong fan. I love my iphone 4 (with IOS 5.1.1.) and aside from the stupid antenna gripe that came out at the beginning--mine doesn't have a fraction of the gripes/issues that iphone 5 and IOS 6 have. To each his own.
  • Thanks for saying that. I was just going to say that I also can replicate it on my 7D camera. Sometimes, I do have to shade the lens on my very expensive (although not as much as yours) camera. It's something all photographers have to deal with. It's also why lens have hoods.
  • Word
  • All posts with the grammar and spelling of a 3 and a half year old should be removed! You "now" what I'm saying?
  • Thank you.
  • Read correct mister :).
  • Id like to add that when an apple device releases its ALWAYS going to receive the most criticism because they make products at a high standard. So small problems with the iPhone are exaggerated and big problems in other phones are not as big of a deal.
  • All cameras get lens flare. My HTC One X gets an orange flare. The iPhone gets a purple one because of the lens. Lens flare is lens flare. I don't care if it is orange, purple, white, green, or a freaking rainbow. Bigger cameras use hoods to guard against flare. The deeper the lens is in the camera the less likely you are to get it. This is more prominent in iPhone 5 not because of a defect, but because the thin size doesn't allow for a deeply recessed lens. The only way you fix this is to compose your shot differently so there is less head-on light. The only way Apple can fix this is to build the lens deeper into the case or provide a hood like you get with big cameras.
  • I tried and failed to reproduce it as well, but noticed lots of other flaring in the process. I do have a case that protrudes out a good quarter inch from the cutout around the lens. Maybe that has something to do with my lack of purple.
  • So Apple's response is the same as it was with the antennae issue- "you idiots are holding it wrong". Nice.
  • True in this case though
  • Love this reply.... thats so true.
  • Hey there all don't be angry about apple! Because every product at the beiging need to face problems even first shipment of car has some problems or defects!! Stuff happens and about the iOS 6 it's a new software!! As I said anything new will face problems but when I talk about S3 it runs a deferent software u can't compare android is just for Samsung but iOS is deferent anyone can make an app and put it !! Soo my point of view don't judg a book from its cover!! Just wait and will see what will happen.
  • My head hurts... If you aren't fluent in English, ignore the "First" and "Second"
    First, "beginning" not beiging.
    Second, do you know how to use a comma? They're handy. Like when, you know, you want to break up a sentence? As in after your "iOS 6" mention. Although a period would be better there, as "Stuff happens" and "about the iOS 6 it's a new software" are different thoughts. I don't have time to fix the rest.
    Lastly Android takes any app you make, mostly, iOS only takes what Apple approves, and should therefore be more stable. How is Android Samsung only? Touchwiz is, but that's a different thing. Also, it's not like Apple was given iOS 6, and they have to work with it, they made iOS 6, so they should know how to address issues. If my professor has me fix my homework, I can't act like I haven't seen it before. As a lot of people are thinking Apple seems to be doing. I think it's fine, I haven't heard of issues, and I do iOS tech support. I'm just waiting for a 4s iOS 6 jailbreak before I upgrade.
  • There Their They're grammar nazi. :D
  • Thank you for your wisdom, Bob.
    Still, I don't believe that anyone fluent in the English language should be composing sentences such as the following:
    "As a lot of people are thinking Apple seems to be doing."
    Perhaps you should lay off the foreigners and work on your own grasp of proper sentence structure.
    I love seeing people corrected for their improper use of grammar and spelling as much as the next person (perhaps even more). However, seeing you berate a commenter who obviously doesn't speak English as a first language, only to watch you screw up your own comment really tickles me pink!
    Keep it coming, you've really made my day. I'd become bored with playing the role of "grammar nazi," but correcting other grammar nazis for their mistakes seems like a really fun sport! Thanks again.
  • Any photographer who knows their stuff, will make sure the light sources are not going to cause
    a problem. Keeping sun behind your or alter the camera angle to avoid the camera catching the unwanted flare. This problem will happen with any camera or video camera, it's not an apple thing.
  • Thank you.
  • You can't say it happens to every camera. I have a Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom, and a Thunderbolt here and I can't make it happen on those.
  • This is a general problem of even good lenses on expensive cameras. The flare is caused by the bouncing of the rays of the sun off of the internal parts of the lens. Depending on the angle of the sun striking the lens the flare will be greater or less. The colour of the flare is related to the angle of incidence and the material of the interior of the lens. If smartphones used lens hoods the problem would be considerably lessened. It may be that the thinness of the phone and the camera redesign has somewhat amplified this problem ( due to the angles involved in the new shortened depth of the lens) but its an issue of physics not sloppy engineering. I don't know what coatings Apple's suppliers are using on the inside of the lens and perhaps a different one would lessen (or increase) the problem. Nobody has ever really made a camera this thin that is used by so many people, hence the publicity. But anyone who thinks this is an Apple problem is ignorant about cameras and lenses. Unfortunately that's a lot of people.
  • I completely agree. If you read reviews of small point and shoot cameras, purple fringing and lense flare are always addressed, because they are always present to a certain extent. They do seem to be worse in this particular iPhone, but this a very common issue, not a new one.
  • Ok people, think back to what apple touted regarding the iPhone5 and its camera...There is a sapphire piece of glass on the back panel of the phone in front of the lens to protect the lens. I know for a fact due to a lot of amateur photography with a normal 35mm SLR years ago that if you add a clear filter to a lens and your shooting a photo like is shown at the beginning of the article you will see a 'flair or starburst' effect. We (the people who are affected by this) are seeing the purple hue due to the sapphire. A simple case should fix the issue... This issue was never seen on previous iPhone models due to the fact the camera sensors lens was mounted directly to the back plate.
  • While you're correct that filters over a lens generally increase flaring, I don't believe that there is a sapphire filter over the new iPhone lens, my understanding is that the lens itself is made of sapphire glass. If you Google sapphire glass lenses you'll see that there are several manufacturers of sapphire lenses for situations that require a relatively unscratchable lens.
  • The question is how come we didn't experience this particular problem with other iPhone models? This question was post by the writer. You sure? How about showing some links that other iPhone cameras are lens flare free.
  • Yep. Every iphone as well as other similar cameras suffer from this. It's just more noticeable in the iphone 5. I'm surprised the writer doesn't know better.
  • "Problems started after Steve Job died! Shame on you Apple!" -mritalian. I'm sure as a corperation, Apple's number one priority is to drive a very passionate man's dream of legacy into the ground. As far as the "purple flare", many high quality camera lenses fall victim to it. Considering the constraints of space, and popularity of iPhone cameras today, you're bound to get a slew of subpar pictures nevermind a few light refractions. (Consider the idiots using them!)
  • I'm sorry to say, thats rubbish. Steve Jobs died after leaving apple in Tim Cook hands, get over it. Steve told every one don't say what would Steve do, make your own decisions. Tim will never be Steve and no one else will be either. We will have to see what will happen once all the product plans left by Steve have been and gone.
  • This whole article is just link bait in that it's based off the premise that this "never happened" before, when in fact, it is extremely common just as Apple indicates in their advice. The same issue occurs with "most" small cameras (when taking bad pictures with the camera pointed into the sun), and there are numerous examples available online of this happening with *every* version of iPhone previous to this. This article is just wrong (or purposely deceptive).
  • I have had a similar color come off my sapphire watch crystal. Done right, this Canberra used to create neat photos. I remember a photographer that used a bellows type camer that had a leak in it. It made unique and valuable photos. He used a flaw in the camera as a plus.
  • Look up lens hood in Wikipedia. Pretty much every lens design has it to some degree or another.
  • Complete and utter BS!! I'm a huge Apple fan but this simply is not true. I have an iPhone 4S and use it extensively for photography and additionally, I'm a good amateur photographer. I have intentionally tried to replicate this on the iPhone 4S and I can not do it. I was about to upgrade to the iPhone 5...but this is a showstopper for me.
  • WOW - get over it people. iPhone sucks just like every other smart phone out there. There is nothing different or magical about any other phone and especially iPhones.
  • It's actually pretty easy to reproduce...... Just aim at a lightbulb that is turned on.... then slowly move the bright light toward the edge of your picture.... you will see the purple start bleeding in slowly....and sometimes more noticeable than others. I get the worst purple with the new Energy Effecient bulbs that are like very white compared to your yellowish bulb.
  • Hmmm...just now tried it with my 4S, using a 40W small table lamp and also with a 100W larger incandescent lamp. I didn't see any purple at all. I don't have any of the HE bulbs (hate the stark white light) so wasn't able to try it there. Little too dark here to try with the sunlight right now <lol>.
  • Yes, you’re absolutely right I have same purple haze problem in my Iphone 5 camera. Some people said that it is due to introduction of a sapphire lens in iPhone 5 cameras but apple has refused all these issues and said that it is normal behavior of Iphone 5 camera and the lens has nothing to do with this. So I decided to find the solution on internet and I successfully got solution here You must see these solutions. After applying these solutions on my Iphone device, my Iphone camera started working quite nicely. Hope it will also help you.
  • Even though I couldn't reproduce this until I tried it with a fluorescent is a really good explanation about the purple haze:
  • You can talk about lense flair and the all photographers will know what you are talking about. The consumers won't listen and they won't care. To them it's a flaw and you will never convince them otherwise (especially because the flair is purple instead of a more normal light color). To me it's a flaw because the 4S camera is better; which is a cut and dry argument. If the main reason I purchased an iPhone 4S was the camera; why should I consider an iPhone 5 or the 5S next year if it's a downgrade in capture quality?
  • my first i5 did that and was very bad, my lte stopped working and i got a replacement and tested purple fringing , with the new one i got i have none , amazing
    im shocked the diff in units and i wish i could post pics to show u not all cams arethe same on i5
    - brought to you by J.J. Abrams -