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Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 09:51 am PT (12:51 pm ET)

Consumer Reports: 'Purple haze' not limited to iPhone 5, Android cameras also have flare

Consumer Reports on Wednesday declared that Apple's iPhone 5 is no more susceptible to lens flare than other smartphone-based cameras, including the latest devices running Google Android.

In response to reports about a so-called "purple haze" effect when taking photos with the iPhone 5 camera in bright light, the consumer advocacy group did a number of tests with smartphone cameras. Their results found that the iPhone 5 did display a "haze" when photos were taken in bright light, but the issue was no more pronounced with Apple's latest handset than with other devices.

Comparable issues with smartphone cameras were found with the iPhone 4S, the Samsung Galaxy S III, and the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx. All of the devices were tested under the same conditions in Consumer Reports' labs.

Their tests found that the haze captured by smartphone cameras was sometimes purple, while other times it was a different color. In some tests, the flare formed on images as a rainbow of colors.

Purple Flare


Purple flare around sun. | Source: weaksauce12 via Twitter


"All camera lenses, even those made for expensive SLRs, can yield lens flare, which is produced by scattered reflections inside the lens from a bright light source," Consumer Reports said. "How much flare appears in an image depends on how you orient the lens."

While the organization acknowledged the problem "can be annoying," they also said it's not likely to be something that will affect most photos. Users are also advised to minimize its presence by using their hand to shield their phone's camera lens from sunlight.

Days after the iPhone 5 was released, the so-called "purple haze" issue was noted by users online. While some speculated it could be related to a defect with the phone, further investigation revealed the problem is common with many modern digital cameras, especially miniaturized devices.

Over the weekend, Apple posted a support document on its website addressing the camera flare controversy. It noted that most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, could exhibit some form of flare at the edges of the frame when capturing images with out-of-scene light sources.