Apple support says iPhone 5 purple camera haze is 'normal behavior'

By on October 2, 2012, 7:30 AM

Reports of a flaw in the iPhone 5’s camera surfaced shortly after the handset launched just over a week ago. Users described seeing a purple haze or flare when snapping photos containing brightly lit objects like a lamp or the sun. Apple has officially been mum but they are at least aware of the issue according to an email sent to a concerned iPhone 5 user.

Gizmodo reader Matt Van Gastel received an email from AppleCare Support specialist “Deborah” informed him that this was normal behavior and can be adjusted by simply angling the phone’s camera away from the bright light source when taking pictures.

The message reportedly came after a long support call with Apple where he was initially told that this was strange behavior and shouldn’t be happening. His complaint was then escalated to a senior tech (Deborah) who again said it was odd and shouldn’t be taking place. He supplied her with sample photos which were then sent off to the engineering team for further evaluation.

There’s plenty of speculation as to what is causing the purple haze. Some believe it could be related to the sapphire glass covering the iPhone 5’s camera although not everyone is convinced. Others seem to think its chromatic aberration – a type of optical distortion that occurs when the lens fails to capture all colors to the same convergence point. Still there are some that dismiss this as the culprit and instead suggest it’s a limitation / defect with the camera’s sensor or the lens.




User Comments: 40

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m4a4 m4a4 said:

And people support this half-a$$ed phone?

2 people like this | mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

"Purple Haze was in my brain,

lately things don't seem the same,

actin' funny but I don't know why

'scuse me while I kiss the sky."-JH

2 people like this | Guest said:

It is 100% without a doubt chromatic aberration. this affects all camera lenses to some degree, but is more noticeable in cheaper and/or more compact lenses. Most lens manufacturers will use exotic glass (Fluorite) and aspheric lens elements in an attempt to produce better color/contrast and eliminate chromatic aberration. Why do you think pro camera lenses cost $1k+ and way up, while consumer lenses cost $100-200? bigger heaver and better glass in the lens improves contrast, color and sharpness immensely. However, In recent years many camera utilize software to correct for this and other lens limitations "in camera" which makes the lens seem better than it really is. I would imagine that at some point Apple will be able to roll out a software fix that will reduce or eliminate this. However, you can't magically restore missing detail to an image. The most software can do here is make the purple fringe white.

Jim$ter said:

So is "White Eyes" apparently.

Guest said:

I can see the world is more purple-ish with iPhone..

p51d007 said:

I wish more people would understand, that a "lens" that is less than 10mm in diameter isn't going to achieve the same quality as the $1,000.00+ lens on my dSLR. Between the purple fringing, poor S/N ratio, unless you have ideal conditions, you are not going to be happy with

a "camera phone". Those that have this purple haze, try this. If you have a good pair of GLASS polarizing sunglasses, hold them over the lens and snap a photo, then rotate the sunglasses approximately 90 degrees and snap another photo. Look to see if the purple haze is reduced. If it does, then you have your answer. The "UV" end of the light spectrum is messing with the sapphire coating or whatever they call it, on the iPhone.

Guest said:

Well This is pretty stupid. Why don't we follow simple rules? Even with $3000 lenses shooting in the or toward the sun is suicidal. So why do it with a camera phone just to prove a point? I want to see shots with the sun behind one. If those are ok. Well what expectations should you have for a camera phone. I don't have much. But its good to have lower and lower price for people bit chin.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I like Apple's answer to angle it away from a bright light. Basically saying, "Don't do that."

A good alternative answer could be, "Because.", or "So?" or "New feature!".

grvalderrama said:

This is why I love my Carl Zeiss lens in my old N97 Mini!

tehbanz tehbanz said:

I like Apple's answer to angle it away from a bright light. Basically saying, "Don't do that."

A good alternative answer could be, "Because.", or "So?" or "New feature!".

Remember that old internet joke revolving around the PSP "It's not a feature"? It kind of reminds me of that.

Basically the game release lever was right near where your index finger would rest, while getting intense into a game some players would bump it and the game disc would shoot out.

It went as far as people making Half life 2 models replacing the grenade launcher with the PSP where gordon would shoot UMD's at enemies. pretty funny stuff...

1 person liked this | slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well This is pretty stupid. Why don't we follow simple rules? Even with $3000 lenses shooting in the or toward the sun is suicidal.

Erm no... lots of photographers shoot into the sun for effect.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

"Just angle it different" = "Just hold it different"

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

All I gotta say is that with all of its flaws and modest gains, I'd be pretty upset right now if I had bought an iphone 5.

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

Flawed Camera... yep yep... its a bad camera setup.. yep yep...

Alvaro Alvaro said:

I don't know the EXIF data on those images, but assuming all the parameters were the same, I'd say it's a mixture of both, chromatic aberration and a bad chip. Contrast is way higher on the 5, meaning lots of blown out areas. Also, there's quite some lens flare, and this can be either a good or bad thing.

At any rate, even though I believe this is an issue that needs to be fixed (and Apple and its followers sorely need a reality check), serious photographers shooting with an iPhone 5 will just adapt and get creative with what they have. Any camera is good enough if you know how to use it.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Another reason not to use you phone as a camera for anything important, have people just been brainwashed into thinking anything apple is so amazing that a flaw that ALL Cheap cameras suffer from makes them complain. Last I checked it was called the iPhone not the iCamera and until Apple comes out with a real camera they're phone solution will always be piss poor in comparison to even a midrange point and shoot, there isn't even a point in comparing it to a digital SLR. Look at the bill of materials, the two cameras together are valued at less than $20. Now realize why it does what it does?

j05hh j05hh said:

Quality Assurance = fail

Guest said:

There is no amount of slick marketing, "cool and hip" factor, or "style" that can change the realities of physics. To properly gather enough high quality light on a sensor, the larger and better optics and sensors win every time by a huge margin. The race to the bottom with cell phone cameras is interesting to watch. It is basically how small and cheap they can make the lens and sensor to "get by" with passable images. The opposite is happening with dedicated cameras, where they are fiercely competing to increase image quality. If you only want some low quality facebook upload, ok stick with your phone. I've never be able to tell and plan ahead when a photo opportunity will result in just some snapshots or in something great, that I want on my wall forever. To me, relying on a phone camera for a "on my wall forever" photo opportunity would just make me sick.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

"I've been so many places, I've seen so many faces, but nothing compares to these blue and yellow, purple pills". (D12 & Eminem)

Q: How're u doing kids? Do you like violence?

A: Yeah, yeah!

Q: Wanna see me shove iPhone 5 up and see how reception is?

A: Yeah, yeah!

Camikazi said:

Well This is pretty stupid. Why don't we follow simple rules? Even with $3000 lenses shooting in the or toward the sun is suicidal. So why do it with a camera phone just to prove a point? I want to see shots with the sun behind one. If those are ok. Well what expectations should you have for a camera phone. I don't have much. But its good to have lower and lower price for people bit chin.

Umm right on top in the article, 4S pic and 5 pic next to each other just about identical yet the 4S does not show the purple. If the older phone doesn't show this issue yet the newer "better" one does then it's an issue that needs to be addressed with more than just "you're angling it wrong". If you look at the pics the 4S pic is actually angled up higher towards the sun than the 5 pic is yet still shows no purple.

Guest said:

Well I take back all I commented earlier. Also to the user who thinks I am an ***** and don't know about rambrant style photography back at you. The other thing you have to realize is that the photoes are useless. If you notice the road and its relation in the pictures. Why do you think the road is a lot lower in the second picture? Anyone guessing? My guess is that the iphone 5 was pointed at least 10 to 15 degree higher to get the fringing to try to defemate Apple that it has a cheaper product. Try to keep the same angle on both cameras and maybe we will believe that you got something. This whole test is invalid. The fringing even though is there it still can be minimized by your cameras angle in relations to the light source. If you show me that you took 50 takes with both camera and 2 degree increments and one camera has no fringing what so ever I will trust your finding but when you show me 2 shots with one obviously pointing more into the sun. You have no claim and your credibility with me just took a nose dive. Good luck convincing your sheep. I am not convinced that the camera is that bad. It is good enough for a phone cam just to take snaps while you don't have your d800 or 5d mark III on you with L lenses.

Guest said:

Also to you amature photographers out there. How about using your hand as a shield for direct light kinda like you would shield your own eyes from direct sun light would that work to avoid fringe effect. Or sometimes just 1 to 2 degree angle change can make a big difference at getting the effects you want. And you can delete the pictures you don't like. It takes but 10 seconds to take 10 pictures at 10 slightly different angles. And takes about 10 more seconds to sort through them later to delete the ones you don't like. The iphone 5 is great. I love it. And I see no point in dweling on it's short falls. There is no matter how advanced something gets. It will never stand the test of time. Things are in constant motion towards perfection. The absolute is always moving away as we gain more reality on perfection. As they say perfection as an absolute is unobtainable. But it is always good to try for it and come close.

Uvindu said:

Seems like with every major face lift, Apple is trying to include a "You're holding it wrong" "FEATURE" into the phone. "That's the way it's supposed to work, no it's not a bug, see, just hold it like this".

It started with the iPhone 4, and now the 5....

Guest said:

"Why do you think the road is a lot lower in the second picture? Anyone guessing? My guess is that the iphone 5 was pointed at least 10 to 15 degree higher to get the fringing to try to defemate Apple that it has a cheaper product."

You got it wrong. So... the ground is a lot lower in the 4S picture because the phone is angle higher at the sky. The ground is higher in the iPhone 5 picture because the camera is angle lower.

Arston said:

Users are again just "using it wrong".

eltoro eltoro said:

So is getting lost using ios 6 maps

Guest said:

Thats funny, I dont see anything like that on my S3

Guest said:

So much new technology packed into the newest version of the iphone and so many issues. I don't get it. Going backwards maybe?

Guest said:

Did y'all spot the purple "rainbow" line just above the road ? That's the lens. It'll do that even with the sun out of the frame, so it's not just a recompose problem, you'll need a lens hood (your hand) to shade the lens from the sun to avoid this completely.

Twixtea said:

So it's normal that it's shit?

Guest said:

Someone give us the exact angle coordinates to hold the iphone right, to unleash its powers!

Guest said:

My Droid never does that...

...And if it did, I wouldn't act like the rest of these AppleFanBoys and rant about how "This is not a DSLR" and cry about a million things before admitting it's just working the way it's supposed to.

Yes, we know, your iPhone is perfect no matter how many problems it has. How about. Grow up.

Butch said:

Well I guess I won't be getting the iPhone 5 because the only thing I use the camera for is to take pictures of the sun...

Guest said:

Okay, enough everyone.. for this matter let me explain this to you all..

since iPhone 5 has extra one row of icon and slimmer, for that, there is a trade-off with the camera.. now let just see the positive thing here, now with iPhone 5 we can see the world in a new way, we can see the world a bit purple-is through iPhone 5 while other phone cannot.. :D

TJGeezer said:

The older version shows better detail in the foreground trees, too. If that's an upgrade and I were an Apple guy, I'd pass. Not a real issue for me, though.

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

If you notice the road and its relation in the pictures. Why do you think the road is a lot lower in the second picture? Anyone guessing? My guess is that the iphone 5 was pointed at least 10 to 15 degree higher to get the fringing to try to defemate Apple that it has a cheaper product.

Actually, angling the phone towards the sun would create MORE purple in the iphone 4s's photo. You just can't tell because the iphone 4s doesn't have that problem.

Try to keep the same angle on both cameras and maybe we will believe that you got something. This whole test is invalid. The fringing even though is there it still can be minimized by your cameras angle in relations to the light source. If you show me that you took 50 takes with both camera and 2 degree increments and one camera has no fringing what so ever I will trust your finding but when you show me 2 shots with one obviously pointing more into the sun. You have no claim and your credibility with me just took a nose dive.

Actually that picture isn't a test, its a report. And the issue has been reported by many users, as the article said. Also Apple doesn't even deny the problem. They admit it is there and told costumers to stop angling the phone like that.

Also to you amature photographers out there. How about using your hand as a shield for direct light kinda like you would shield your own eyes from direct sun light would that work to avoid fringe effect. Or sometimes just 1 to 2 degree angle change can make a big difference at getting the effects you want. And you can delete the pictures you don't like. It takes but 10 seconds to take 10 pictures at 10 slightly different angles.

Or buy a good phone and don't even worry about that.

Things are in constant motion towards perfection. The absolute is always moving away as we gain more reality on perfection. As they say perfection as an absolute is unobtainable. But it is always good to try for it and come close.

Except for the iphone 5 of course, which seems to have discovered a new low for smartphone cameras. But its good to have an example of what not to do :-)

Emexrulsier said:

Its kinda like the fault that has plagued the Samsung Galaxy S2 and 3. And yes before you start ranting I am a devoted Galaxy user

Anyways simply point your camera at a white wall or something and take a photo ... now look in detail at the photo and you will notice a pink spot in he middle (yes they all do this its not just a faulty batch) "working as intended" was the old motto.

Guest said:

Alright, enough everyone.. let me explain this matter

we know iPhone 5 has extra one row of icon and slimmer, but there is trade off for this innovation that make the camera a bit purple when taking photos. But, let see the good point here, now we can see the world in a new way, the world is new purple-ish through iPhone 5's camera while other phone cannot.. :D

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Its kinda like the fault that has plagued the Samsung Galaxy S2 and 3. And yes before you start ranting I am a devoted Galaxy user

Anyways simply point your camera at a white wall or something and take a photo ... now look in detail at the photo and you will notice a pink spot in he middle (yes they all do this its not just a faulty batch) "working as intended" was the old motto.

The Galaxy S3 doesn't do it. I tried it with a blank white screen on my laptop and a white piece of paper. Nothing but white in the pictures.

joshieboy joshieboy said:

Another (key word here) reason why I'm happy I still have my 4S.

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