The Apple iPhone 5, which our Ratings reveal is a standout camera, is no more prone to purple hazing on photos shot into a bright light source than its predecessor or than several Android phones with fine cameras, according to special Consumer Reports tests.
We carried out our tests in response to reports, including those from PCMag.com and DPReview.com, that the iPhone 5 had a tendency to display a distracting purple color over parts of certain shots and videos. In our tests, the phone's camera did indeed display such a haze when we shot into a bright light source in our labs.
But it didn't do so in any more pronounced a fashion than did the iPhone 4S or two Android-based smart phones, the Samsung Galaxy S III and Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, when we tested those under the same conditions. In the course of our tests, the haze was sometimes purple, but sometimes another color or even a rainbow.
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. How much flare appears in an image depends on how you orient the lens.
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For example, lens flare often occurs on bright, cloudless sunny days, when you include the sun itself in the image or, if the sun isn't in the image, strong sunlight shines into the lens from an angle. Some expensive advanced cameras, and even many point-and-shoots, have special lens coatings that can limit or eliminate such flare, and possibly associated colored haze. So can attaching a shading hood around the lens's edge. But smart phones' cameras are designed differently, so it's typically more difficult for manufacturers to minimize flare in them.
Although this problem can be annoying, it's one that will probably not affect most of your photos, since it occurs only when a bright light source, such as the sun appears in the frame of the photo or just outside it. It's also pretty easy to minimize by using your hand to shield your phone's lens from the sunlight. You can avoid it altogether by reframing your photo or video whenever a bright light source appears in or near the frame.