The camera on the Google Pixel phones has gotten largely positive reviews, but some folks have complained about a lens flare issue with the devices. Now Google has acknowledged the situation.
In a post on the Google Product Forums, many Pixel owners are saying that they’re seeing a “Halo effect” in their photos that results in a heavy lens flare. In its response, Google explains that “flare is a property of ALL camera lenses” and that it “can even be used for creative effect — good and bad.” You can see an example of this effect in the lower right corner of the photo below, courtesy of Droid-Life.
Google acknowledges that some Pixel owners see this as an issue, and so it will release a software update to improve the effects. Google explains that its working on algorithms that’ll recognize the lens flare, characterize it, and then remove it from the image. You’ll need to use HDR+ mode to see the benefits of this update.
Google also stresses that if you’ve got a Pixel, you shouldn’t try to replace it with another Pixel if you’re seeing this issue.
Here’s Google’s full announcement on this matter:
"First, for some background -- flare is a property of ALL camera lenses. It comes in a ton of different shapes and sizes and can even be used for creative effect -- good and bad :-). The shape, color, amount, etc. of flare is related to dozens of different parameters of the lens structure and inclement light.
However, we have seen reports about this "halo/arc flare". This is the specific kind of flare that appears as a bright/low-contrast arc in the corners of the frame.
You can expect a software update in the next few weeks that will improve the effects of this issue. We're working on some algorithms that recognize the halo/arc flare, characterize it mathematically, and then subtract it from the image. :-) You will need to use HDR+ to see the benefits of this software.
Also, there is no point getting your device replaced thanks to this issue. The Pixel camera's lens structure is very highly controlled -- this means that all Pixels take high-quality images, but it also means all Pixels have the same flare characteristics.
I wrote a post a while ago about how by doing things in software, we are able to make Pixel's camera even better over time. This is one of those ways."
Not all Pixel owners are seeing this “halo” flare in their photos, but it’s understandable that those that are would be concerned about the problem. The Pixel phones are flagship smartphones, and they’re priced like flagships, too, so owners want their phones to work as they expect them to. Good on Google for responding to their complaints and addressing them.
If you’ve got a Pixel, are you seeing these “halo” flares that other owners are complaining about?