Major iPhone 5 Camera Issue Is Causing Purple Halo Effect On Photos [updated]

Major iPhone 5 Camera Issue Is Causing Purple Halo Effect On Photos [updated]

Do your iPhone 5 pictures have a purple flare like this?

The iPhone 5’s new camera is supposed to be incredibly amazing with improved low-light performance and a fancy crystal sapphire lens that is less prone to scratching, but for many users though, the new camera is having a weird issue where a purple halo or flare splashes across a photo when a bright light source is just outside the frame, and there’s no way to get rid of it.

Lens flair is a common occurrence with all camera lenses, but it’s generally not purple and this issue never happened with the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s which is why many iPhone 5 users have been upset by the purple halo discovery.

To test your own iPhone 5 for the purple flare issue, aim your iPhone 5 camera towards a bright light source, then move the camera so the light source is off-screen. Look for a purple halo, flare, or haze emanating from the direction of the off-screen light source.

The purple flare defect was first reported on Anandtech’s forums and appears to be fairly widespread. We tried it out on our iPhone 5s and experienced the issue on a couple of our cameras, while some users have reported to have no issue at all.

At this point it’s unclear whether the cause of the purple flare stems, but a popular theory is that the issue is coming from the Sapphire lens. Sapphire comes in a range of colors and the halo might be cause by light refracting through purple sapphire lenses.

Some iPhone 5 camera enthusiasts have commented that Apple has changed the noise on photos from speckles to smearing, and that this may cause the purple halo effect to be more pronounced in photos. We reached out to Apple for comment this morning on the issue but have yet to receive an official reply related to this issue.

Here’s a video example and more pictures of the iPhone 5 purple flare:
Major iPhone 5 Camera Issue Is Causing Purple Halo Effect On Photos [updated]

Major iPhone 5 Camera Issue Is Causing Purple Halo Effect On Photos [updated]

Major iPhone 5 Camera Issue Is Causing Purple Halo Effect On Photos [updated]

Major iPhone 5 Camera Issue Is Causing Purple Halo Effect On Photos [updated]

Major iPhone 5 Camera Issue Is Causing Purple Halo Effect On Photos [updated]

  • dusteallen

    I noticed this over the weekend when taking photos directly towards the sun, but didn’t realize it was a “problem.” I actually thought it turned out awesome and made for some great photos.

  • TLoke2112

    The more I read the happier I am that I’m on the S schedule. By that I mean my upgrade eligibility rolls around when the S version comes out. It seems like a 5s with minimal improvements but all the kinks worked out will be welcomed this time around.

  • Whodakat
    That’s a bummer. Haven’t noticed this yet. Seriously though WTF is up with quality control this time around?

    You haven’t noticed it yet, but it must be a problem, or else it wouldn’t be on the internet, right?

    When are you idiots going to realize a smear campaign when you see one? Google probably has 1000 people that do nothing but write in these tech blogs trying to create an issue. When one of them takes, they all start blogging about it. What? Someone in West Africa can’t find the Starbucks that is coming next year? OMG! Everyone attack maps! 5 minutes later, 1000 people can’t find anything on their maps either… and the sheep follow right along.

    Well I haven’t noticed a purplish hue in my photos when I try to photograph the sun, but baaaa baaaaa, it must be true!

    Its the same concept as the political email forward. Just write a bunch of nonsense, and send it out. See how many idiots we can get to believe this. And its shocking how many do.

    If you actually got a purplish hue every time you took a photograph, take your phone to your local Apple store and get a new one. They are ranked #1 in customer service for a reason. No need to go paparazzi on the tech blogs.

  • dick_richie

    Wait you mean images look bad when you take a picture where the bright light is in front of you instead of behind? Isn’t that like day one lesson one in Photography 101?!?! Ever since “antennae gate” every release of an iPhone has had these so called issues that only a minority experience. Squeaky wheel I guess. I love my Cinco. I think the journalistic integrity is at odds with accounting for web traffic. That is all.

  • Jason Bartlett

    I was planning on getting the iPhone 5, which would’ve been my first iPhone. I’ve been rocking the iPod touch & flip phone combo in my pocket for a while now and I’m sick of the extra bulge. I’ve read a lot of problems with the iPhone 5 though, so I think I’ll wait until iPhone 5S comes out. The current one just sounds too crappy (but not as crappy as my flip phone, although my flip phone doesn’t cost $800)

  • lkahney

    @Whodakat

    When are you idiots going to realize a smear campaign when you see one? Google probably has 1000 people that do nothing but write in these tech blogs trying to create an issue. When one of them takes, they all start blogging about it.

    This is not a smear campaign cooked up by Google, and by implication, fake news cooked up by us.

    This appears to be an issue that is concerning some customers. And it is widespread enough to warrant attention.

    We are not trying to knock the iPhone 5 (which we love) but bring a potential issue to the attention of our readers. That is what we do.

    We will continue to investigate and report what we find.

  • FriarNurgle

    Sapphire, baby. Its all about the sapphire.

  • John Clinton

    I lean towards Whodakat. Every single nitpicky problem suddenly becomes a major issue. Let’s take the maps issue for example. What part of the map that may or may not show a coffee house a problem with the iPhone5 specifically….It’s software, and software can be fixed over time. A photo taken of the sun has a purple flare on it, big deal, call it an instragram filter and be hip! Other than the body of the phone prone to scratches and some units leaking light, the physical phone is fairly tight.

  • SupaMac
    That’s a bummer. Haven’t noticed this yet. Seriously though WTF is up with quality control this time around?

    OMG! Everyone attack maps! 5 minutes later, 1000 people can’t find anything on their maps either… and the sheep follow right along.

    I agree with gist of what you’re saying, other than the fact that the maps have been pretty bad for me personally. Not that I need the directions, but I put in a location this weekend when driving back to my alma mater for a Saturday afternoon football game in Southside Virginia and the map had the College as being in a town 45 miles to the west of its actual location. Then, when inputting the exact college address, maps would repeatedly say that location can not be found.

    I realize that this is an isolated incident, but it seems to be happening to a lot of people.
    Other than that, I love the iPhone 5. The thing is friggin awesome.

    **EDIT** **UPDATE**
    I reported the issue to Apple on Sunday through their built-in error reporter and
    it has already been (partially) fixed. The college now comes up when you search for it. However, when putting in the actual address, it still says “No Results Found.” Also, when you search the college (which, as I said, does come up) the address they provide is still completely wrong – street, town and zipcode are all wrong.

    It appears Apple is fixing (some) issues fairly quickly. That’s good to see. It’s only been out for a week.

  • ZeusCarver

    I noticed it but it falls into the category of shots I don’t take. Either I shoot directly at the light source (sunrise, sunset, street lamps) or with it behind me. The rest just doesn’t make good photographic sense. Besides why is everyone complaining. It just makes it look like the crappy Instagram filtered junk that is flooding the web.

  • technochick

    MAJOR issue. Really. Even in the article it says this is not a universal issue and you have offered perhaps 8 examples out of at least 5 million phones. To me that is hardly MAJOR other than major hyperbole.

    And Leander wonders why folks call you all hit whores etc. this kind of shoddy ‘reporting’ has become the rule around here so the name calling is very justified

  • stulevine

    Well, I too have had this issue crop up but only in one photo so far where a light on the edge of the frame caused a purple halo:

    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/2534919/2012-09-22%2012.08.46.jpg

    And, I believe this is a direct result of the sapphire crystal lens cover diffraction. Might also be internal reflections off the inside of the lens cover. Either way, this is not good at all :(

  • hanhothi

    Sapphires and rubies are composed of aluminium oxide, and get their respective colours from the impurities in them. The lens cover of the iPhone 5 is not made of sapphire or ruby, but is made from manufactured aluminium oxide. The lens is clear. This coloration we see in the lens flare is not because the lens is made of sapphire, it is’nt really, it just sound good and is a typical marketing ploy. Aluminium oxide is more scratch resistant than silicon oxide (sand) that normal glass is made from.

  • Tao Jones

    aberrations of this type are usually called fringing and can be seen in images taken by inexpensive digital cameras . they are more often caused by the sensors than the lens. you will see the same magenta fringing in a digital photo where say a tree and the sky are the border. in this case i see what would be called a specular highlight an area where either the light source or a reflection of it are in the picture .they typically are “blown out” and contain little or no digital information . the banding (gradual zones of digital information might cause a elongated fringing effect . i would not guess that it was the material in the lens unless the coatings typically used on glass lenses were used on the sapphire (the coatings are designed to correct for the slight differences in index of refraction for different colors of light contained in white light)

  • CharilaosMulder

    I always put my finger in front of the camera when I take a picture. And somehow, all pictures are ruined.

  • Thjodbjorn Kjærstad

    This also happens with the new iPad. Not just the iPhone 5. I just took a picture of the same thing (light fixture out of frame), and received the same result.

  • enderwiggin21

    @dick_richie, sometimes the shot doesn’t let you avoid the light. Also photography 101 – Better the shot you have than none at all.

    My 4S doesn’t do it and my new 5 does. That’s now an n of 9, if we’re to go by the snarky @technochick and her very own hyperbole. A buddy just texted me a pic of the haze from his phone too, so now it’s an n of 10.

    It’s easy to see prior to taking the picture and easy to avoid by panning just a bit further, but should we have to? It reminds me of older point-and-shoot cameras that had this issue everywhere, which is a step back in my book. That said, I *do* have a photography background and *do* compose properly… *when possible.* Sometimes it’s not and the only choice is to not capture the picture. But again, it happens in a sweet-spot of the angle to the light source, so it should be pretty easy to avoid and may not even happen to many.

    Squeaky wheel indeed. The alternative being…. “shut up and take what you paid several hundred dollars for, without question or complaint” ??

    Bottom line: if the 4S doesn’t do it and the 5 does, it’s a hardware and/or software issue, not a compositional “people need to know photography 101″ issue.

  • Steve Peterson

    Here, let me help you guys out: Flaregate, or if you’re feeling colorful, Purplegate (I think Purpleflaregate doesn’t really roll off the tongue). Now that you’ve got your label, go forth and sensationalize!

  • enderwiggin21

    Dupe post.

  • Michael Harris

    It’s not the lens, Apple eliminated the IR cut filter and in some cases that causes some shades of black to be purple. They did it for cost or thinness. Leica did it with their first digital rangefinder camera and it had the same effect.

  • Michael Harris

    It’s not the lens, Apple eliminated the IR cut filter and in some cases that causes some shades of black to be purple. They did it for cost or thinness. Leica did it with their first digital rangefinder camera and it had the same effect. It can’t be fixed with software, Leica had to actually send IR filters to people who purchased the camera. Unfortunately you can’t put a screw-on filter to a cell phone.

  • Sean Liu

    Wait you mean images look bad when you take a picture where the bright light is in front of you instead of behind? Isn’t that like day one lesson one in Photography 101?!?! Ever since “antennae gate” every release of an iPhone has had these so called issues that only a minority experience. Squeaky wheel I guess. I love my Cinco. I think the journalistic integrity is at odds with accounting for web traffic. That is all.

    From the article: Lens flair is a common occurrence with all camera lenses, but it’s generally not purple and this issue never happened with the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s which is why many iPhone 5 users have been upset by the purple halo discovery.

    Normal non-purple flare is fine, and can be used creatively. No one is saying this is ruins the phone, but it is an issue for iphone photography.

    Also, why do people keep acting outraged about “journalistic integrity” on cult of mac. If you want well edited, fact checked, thought out, noninflammatory tech journalism, you wouldn’t be here.

  • theobserving

    Oh everything’s major if it’ll get you some clicks.

  • geeduhb

    I see the same issue on my old iPhone 4, though not as pronounced.

  • Cgs101

    Free filter! yay

  • technochick

    Unlike Buster and the crap ass excuse for experts posing as journalists that write on this blog, I actually do a little research before I state something is ‘fact’

    Today on set I conferred with our cinematographers who are knowledged professional photographers and have worked on major films like Avengers, Transformers etc and this effect has nothing to do with any iPhone flaw but is inherent to all smaller cameras. Chromatic aberations, as the pros call it, typically present as a violet color due to wavelengths.

  • baby_Twitty

    It’s just a lens flare.

  • CurrentNewsMeme

    It’s nice that Apple realizes the purple haze is an issue, but it’s something that only hipsters would create an uproar about.
    I made some memes about this situation that are pretty funny.
    http://cmemes.com/iphone-5-purple-color-tinthaze-memes/

  • mediaadvantages

    Is the purple haze on the iPhone 5 Camera that big of a deal? You can make that happen if you try it but how many pictures do you really take directly at the sun. I wish they would fix the zoom though. I have been using lenses designed for the iPhone to get better pictures.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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