When the iPhone 5 came out, everyone expected it to be perfect, so when gripes did arise, they hit the internet pretty quickly. One of the biggest issue has been purple lens flare.
Samsung Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 5 camera test
The first person to talk about this was an iPhone 5 user on a tech forum. It happens when you take a pic with a bright object in the corner – you get purple lens flare. This happened years ago with uncoated lenses, and modern digital sensors are prone to capturing the purple colors associated with lens flare. Some photographers still complain about purple fringes in dark photos, but they can sort this out in production!
PCMag’s guys tried to replicate the flare in the studio with using a daylight gel filter, and then tested the iPhones 5, 4S and 4, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One S. Only the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 4S managed to suppress flare, and the iPhone 5 was the worst of all.
What’s causing the problem? Is it the coatings and the design of the lens? Modern day lens coatings minimise reflections and prevent all but the worst flare. Nikon claims you can take photos facing the sun with no loss of contrast. The iPhone 5 should be able to do this, but its lens has a new scratch-resistant sapphire coating. Is this it?
Petapixel and PCMag have said that Apple might have removed the IR/Cut filter, causing the lens flare. Leica put a weak IR filter on one of its early digital range finders, but lens flare stayed slight. What did happen, though, is that some black artificial fibres took on a magenta cast, and green plants looked yellow. This isn’t the same problem as the iPhone 5 is having, though.
Is this a good enough reason to eschew the iPhone 5, though? Taking photos facing the sun is a bad technique anyway, although you can’t always avoid it.
Purple flare is only one thing, though. The photos taken with the iPhone 5 are way better than those from the Samsung Galaxy S3 when it comes to low light conditions so it really matter exactly what you’re trying to click.